[STUDY] GALATIANS/JOHNS GOSPEL
(1327) GALATIANS; INTRO- Okay, finally made it, been wanting to teach this letter for a while. Let me overview some church history that I feel would be helpful in understanding the book. During the 16th century Reformation you had an explosion take place within Christianity, though the official ‘schism’ dates back to the year 1054 between the western [Catholic] and eastern [Orthodox] expressions of the church, yet in reality it was the 16th century upheaval that really split the church. A few centuries before [14-15th century] you had rumblings within the church that had well taught Catholic men challenging many of the institutional concepts of the church; men like John Huss, Wycliffe and others. These men were extremely influential and had an effect on the church. Then in the 16th century you had Catholic writers who remained within the Catholic Church, but they too challenged the status quoi. Men like Erasmus of Rotterdam, these intellectuals would call for the idea of going back to the original sources of study [Greek New Testament and also other renaissance ideas] and this too would lead to the historic Reformation. But without a doubt Martin Luther [the Catholic monk out of Wittenberg, Germany] would be the firebrand of the movement. Martin was a well trained Augustinian monk who struggled with the guilt of sin for many years. Not normal guilt, but extreme. A fellow Catholic leader would encourage Luther to trust in the grace of God for his forgiveness. While reading the book of Romans [whose themes relate strongly to Galatians] he would come along the famous passage ‘the just shall live by faith’ and in Luther’s mind this was a total release from the bondage of trying to appease God thru all the religious works that he was going thru. In essence Luther discovered the historic gospel of grace thru the reading of Romans and was set free. Now Luther had no intention of leaving the Catholic Church, but as a very influential teacher/scholar out of the university city in Germany, he had lots of influence. The Catholic church at the time was worldwide and you had differing views of the church in various states. Many saw the state of the church in Rome as having given in to materialism and become too worldly. Rome was at the time trying to raise money for the restoring of the religious buildings at Rome and one of the priests going around selling indulgences was named Tetzel. The abuse of selling these ‘get out of purgatory early’ things was offensive to many Catholics, and Luther had ‘no small stir’ when Tetzel reached his area. These things would lead to the famous nailing of the 95 questions on the door of Catholic academia and would be the beginnings of the historic split. While it would take way too much time to go into all the theological differences between the Protestants and the Catholics, one of the main issues deals with how we as Christians view ‘being saved’. The historic Protestant position is called ‘justification by faith alone’ [Sola Fide] the Catholics counter with ‘the only time ‘faith alone’ is mentioned is in the book of James, where it says a man is not saved/justified by ‘faith alone’. Ouch! The main point I want to make is this letter deals with the early church’s belief that man is accepted with God based on the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. Paul will challenge the ‘Judaisers’ [those who believed you needed to keep the law in order to be saved] and will argue that the law itself [Old Testament books] teaches that men are justified/accepted with God based on believing in the free gift of God thru Christ. Make no mistake about it, the New Testament clearly teaches this doctrine. Catholic and Protestant theologians BOTH agree that man is freely saved by the grace of God in Christ. But at the time of Luther’s day these glorious truths were lost in the morass of religious tradition and works. As we read thru this letter in the next few days, I want all of our readers to see the argument Paul is making from this basic theological view point. Is man saved by works [keeping Gods law] or grace? The bible teaches grace. Now I don’t have the time to also introduce the modern controversy between the ‘new view’ of Paul between Protestants [called new perspective]. There is an ongoing debate over whether or not the historic Reformation view of Paul is correct [men like N.T. Wright and John Piper are hashing it out] and I do think there are some merits to this discussion, but before we can delve into that aspect, we first need to see the historic question of works versus faith, and this letter is one of the best to deal with the issue.
(1328) GALATIANS 1- Mark Twain said ‘the classics are books that everyone loves to praise, but nobody wants to read’. As we begin this study I can’t emphasize enough the need for Christians to read the bible! Many of the current problems in Christianity would be solved if we simply got back to reading the bible in context. Okay, in chapter one Paul defends his authority as being one who was sent by God, not man. He explains how after his conversion he spent years receiving direct revelation from God; he was not taught the gospel of grace by consulting with man. Paul was in a unique situation compared to the other apostles, Paul was the first apostle to have had a strong intellectual background in both Judaism and philosophy; he knew his stuff. This ‘allowed’ God to reveal things to Paul FROM THE SCRIPTURES that revealed Gods grace and the reality of how men are justified by faith and not thru the law. In essence Paul wasn’t out in left field receiving Divine revelations about things that nobody ever heard about. They were new things in the sense that they were hidden in God until the time that God chose to reveal them [Ephesians 3]. Paul rebukes them for forsaking the true gospel and being drawn to another gospel ‘which is not another’. Okay, what’s the true gospel Paul is speaking about? It’s not only the definition given by Paul in 1st Corinthians 15 [the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus] but it includes being justified by faith and not by the law. The Judaisers did believe in Jesus, but they were rejecting justification by faith alone. The false gospel that Paul is refuting is the gospel that said the Gentiles must ‘keep the law in order to be saved’ [see Acts 13 and 15]. In no uncertain terms Paul condemns this message; there was no compromising the reality of Gods free grace given to the elect. The actual faith itself that is deposited in the elect is a divine act of God [Ephesians 2] the unbeliever is dead in sins with no ability to ‘resurrect himself’ and the new birth is Gods sovereign act of raising a person from the dead [spiritually] and giving them faith. This is the gospel of grace. Paul was adamant about rejecting false gospels! In our day there are so many ‘gospels’ going around it’s not funny. I caught a few minutes of a TV evangelist the other day quoting verses from all over the bible in order to entice people to vow money to him; yes he used these words in no uncertain terms. He told the people they must quickly pick up the phone and dedicate the money to him, because it was this act of faith that would release the harvest. Now I don’t know how much longer God is going to allow stuff like this to go on, how much longer networks will continue to air this stuff, but we as believers/preachers need to condemn these false gospels in no uncertain terms. Paul will use strong language when defending the gospel; we need to get back to defending it too.
(1329) GALATIANS 2- Paul recounts his meeting with the apostles at Jerusalem; some feel he is talking about his first visit [Acts 11- before AD 50] others think he is discussing his Acts 15 meeting [right at around AD 50] I’m in the latter camp. Paul is basically telling the churches of Galatia that he already went thru this whole discussion with the main apostles at Jerusalem [Peter, James and John] and that they had already agreed that the Gentile believers did not need to get circumcised and come under the law in order to be saved. I do find it interesting that out of the 4 decrees that were made [read Acts 15] that the only one Paul recounts here is ‘to remember the poor’. The only decree worthy enough for Paul to recount is the one on charitable giving; those of you who have followed this blog for a while know how much I emphasize this point. If the early church was teaching tithing to the Gentile churches, surely it would have come up at the Jerusalem meeting, but it didn’t. This chapter has some important verses that all believers should commit to memory ‘if righteousness come by the law, then Christ died in vain’ ‘the life that I now live I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me’ etc. I really want all my Catholic/Protestant readers to pay attention to the verse’s that I just quoted; the bible clearly teaches that if men could ‘be saved’ by keeping Gods law, then Christ died in vain. Paul will go on to teach [chapter 3] that if there had been a law given that could have given men eternal life, then ‘being saved’ would come that way; but he then goes on to say that there never was a law given that men could keep in order to be saved. Paul always gives the caveat ‘does this mean we go out and break the 10 commandments’? And his answer is always a big NO! The point of this chapter is we as believers are saved because Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sin; the proof that the penalty was completely paid is in the fact that Jesus rose again [Romans 5]. All who believe in this reality are now the children of God, indeed ‘we are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ’.
(1330) GALATIANS 3- The main point of this chapter is God made a promise to Abraham that he would ‘bless’ all nations thru one of his kids someday [Genesis 12). This promise was given to Abraham 430 years before God gave the 10 commandments to Moses. Therefore the promise that men would be justified/saved by faith cannot be ‘undone’ by a later act of giving the law to Moses. The point being that Paul is arguing with the Galatians that their new view that they need to keep the law in order to ‘be saved’ [the blessing of Abraham IN CONTEXT!] is false because God already told Abraham it would be by faith in the coming Messiah. Paul then asks ‘is the law then against Gods promise’? No, it was given to man [Israel] until the time came for the promised child to be born [1st century], but now that the promised child is here we are no longer under the ‘schoolmaster’. The schoolmaster term can be confusing; the word in Greek means the person who walked the kids to school [truth] and then dropped them off AND LEFT. Paul is saying the law period served its purpose; it revealed mans sinful nature to him and then ‘dropped him off at the Cross’. Paul is saying the law fulfilled its purpose and we are now under grace. As new creatures in Christ we walk in love and fulfill the righteousness of the law by our new nature, it’s not a legalistic thing. There is some confusion today on this chapter; some were taught that ‘the blessing of Abraham’ was speaking of the promises in Deuteronomy on financial blessings. And that the curse is speaking about the curse of ‘poverty’. Though it is true that the bible does speak about this in the Old Testament, in context Paul is not saying this here. Paul explains what he means about the ‘curse of the law’. He says it’s the curse of never being able to do enough to appease God, the man that is under the law puts himself under this mindset of perfectionism and lives under this constant feeling of never being able to do enough. This was Paul’s previous experience as a Pharisee. When Paul teaches that we are delivered from ‘the curse’ so the ‘blessing of Abraham might come on the gentiles, that we might receive THE PROMISE OF THE SPIRIT BY FAITH’ he is not saying Jesus died to make us financially rich, he is saying Jesus delivered us from the old law mindset of legalism and we now have forgiveness and acceptance as a free gift- ‘being now justified by faith we have peace with God thru our Lord Jesus Christ’ [Romans 5].
This post deals with the faulty understanding expounded by many Evangelical/Protestant ministers [end times scenarios, Tim Lahaye type books] that exalt ethnic/racial elements into the gospel, and contribute to the many present tensions between Muslims/Jews/Christians.
(1331) GALATIANS 4- Paul says there was a time period before the promise would be fulfilled thru Christ; that time has come to an end [the law] and we are now in ‘the fullness of times’. When we were under the law we were no different than servants, but now in grace we are mature sons, people able to inherit the promise. Paul says why do you desire to go back under the ‘restraint’ phase, the time of discipline and legalism, we are now in a fullness stage thru the New Covenant and we don’t need the old mentality anymore. Once again Paul really ‘spiritualizes’ the Old Testament in his teaching, he says that the law [Old Testament] taught this difference between law and grace. He uses the story of Abraham having 2 sons [Ishmael, Isaac] and he says ‘cant you hear what the law is saying’? One son was born by promise [Isaac] the other thru the works of the flesh [law]. And just like it was back then, the one born after the flesh persecuted the one born after the Spirit, so today [1st century] those after the flesh/law are persecuting those born after the Spirit. It’s important to see that Paul DOES NOT use this analogy to describe Jewish/Muslim [Arab] relations; he actually refers to natural Israel as ‘Ishmael’! He says the Judaisers [Jews zealous of the law] were fulfilling the type/symbol by persecuting Gentile believers. We need to keep these distinctions in our minds, because when we don’t rightfully discern the truth we do damage to the non ethnic testimony of the gospel. Paul says the law relates to natural Israel/Jerusalem who is under bondage with her children, but the ‘New Jerusalem’ which is above is the mother of us all, and this Jerusalem relates to the church. The New Jerusalem is not referring to a physical city that will ‘hover over the earth during the millennium rule’ [EEK!] But it refers to the new community people of God, the church. I have written on this before and these references in the New Testament [Revelation, Hebrews- us being the new Zion, etc.] are speaking of the church, the people of God. Paul once again speaks of ‘natural Jerusalem’ in a negative light, in the sense that he teaches those who are under the law are not walking in the fullness of the promises of God as come in the Messiah. The New Testament spends no time engaging in the glorying of any ethnic group [whether it be Israel, Gentile, etc.] It’s not that the apostles were being anti Semitic, it’s just the emphasis is on the new kingdom of God and the new people of God [the church made up of both Jew and Gentile]. Its striking to compare the writings of the first Jewish believers to the current trends amongst many evangelical preachers, the two don’t mesh well.
(1335) GALATIANS 5- Paul’s main theme is if we possess the Spirit as believers [being indwelt by God’s Spirit] then let us also walk in/by the Spirit, as opposed to trying to please God by the law and being circumcised. Paul will use the somewhat controversial term ‘ye are fallen from grace’ which simply means that these Gentile believers started by faith and went back to the old Jewish system, much like the themes in the book of Hebrews. Paul says when you go back to the law you have left grace. Christ has ‘become of no effect to you, you who are justified by the law’. This is a good example of how words and certain phrases can develop over the centuries of church history and develop a different meaning over time. In essence the bible does teach that a person can ‘fall from grace’ but this does not describe what the modern reader might think. The first church father who attempted to formulate the Christian doctrine of the Trinity was a man named Tertullian, he lived in the second century and was what theologians refer to as one of the Latin fathers [as opposed to the Greek ones- Origen, etc.] Tertullian was famous for the sayings ‘what does Jerusalem have to do with Athens’ and ‘I believe because it is absurd’ he was resisting the influence of Greek philosophy on the church, he felt that Greek wisdom was influencing the church too much. He was trained in law before becoming a theologian [like Luther and Calvin of 16th century Reformation fame] and he used the words ‘God is one substance/essence and also three persons’ later church councils would agree with this language. But the word ‘person’ at Tertullian’s time was the Latin word ‘personi’ which was taken from the theater and meant a person/actor who would put on different masks during the play; the word had a little different meaning then what we think of today as ‘person’. Later centuries would come to condemn certain Christian groups who seem to have formulated language on the Trinity that expresses the same thing as what the original developer of the doctrine meant to say, but because words and their meanings change over time we get ourselves into disputes that might be getting us off track. Paul also tells the Galatians that if they become circumcised that they are obligating themselves to keep all the law. Of course the medical procedure that many have done in our day is not what he is speaking about, but in Paul’s day getting circumcised was the religious rite that placed you into the religion of Judaism, and this is what Paul is refuting among the Galatians, he tells them not to go down that road. This chapter has lots of good ‘memory verses’, the famous lists of the works of the flesh versus the fruit of the Spirit are found here, and it seems pretty clear to me that Paul identified circumcision with the moral law of the 10 commandments, that is he saw being circumcised as an act that obligated you to ‘keep all the law’ some theologians are discussing whether or not Paul meant the law of Moses when speaking about going ‘back under the law’ some think Paul was speaking only of the ceremonial law and the system of animal sacrifices when he was telling the gentiles that they should not go under the law, I believe if you read Paul in context both in this letter and the book of Romans, that he is speaking of the moral law too, not just the ceremonial law. All in all Paul exhorts these believers to fight for their right to be free from the past restraints of religion and bondage, he tells them to not desire to go back under a system of bondage, that Christ has made us free from that legalistic way of life and he has liberated us by giving us the Holy Spirit- if we ‘walk in the Spirit we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, for the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, and these two are contrary one to the other, so that you cannot do the things that you would’ amen to that.
(1338) GALATIANS 6- Paul closes this short theological treatise with some practical stuff; help each other out with their burdens, if you see a brother struggling, restore him in the spirit of meekness. Those who are teaching you Gods word, ‘communicate’ to them in all good things [share with them financially and materially]. Good advice that Paul gives to all of the churches he writes to. As we close our study of this letter, I want to emphasize that the majority of what Paul is teaching [over 90%] is great theological truth, it would be silly for preachers/teachers to grasp hold of any single verse and to exalt that above the main body of truths that we have discussed. It isn’t hard for any preacher/teacher to go thru this letter on a few Sundays and teach the main truths of the letter. We desperately need to get back to doing it this way in many Pentecostal/Protestant/Evangelical churches- and yes, the ‘organic church’ guys too! We all have a tendency to pick out pet doctrines out of the New Testament and then to make the side issues the main thing. I think the main thing [justification by faith, the blessing of Abraham in context, etc.] is good enough without us having to try and find some type of ‘Rhema word’ that is not the main word of God. Recently a good man died, Oral Roberts. A few weeks have passed and I think it is okay to mention a few things. The media reported how many preachers showed up to the funeral in Cadillac’s and expensive cars, there have been various articles written about the legacy he will leave behind. Some wrongly said he was the father of the ‘Word of Faith/prosperity movement’ [E.W. Kenyon was the real father, and Kenneth Hagin and others lay claim to the title]. The point I want to make is Brother Roberts was a good man who did good things, but his way of doing doctrine is not my cup of tea. He was famous for popularizing the ‘seed-faith’ teaching. It comes from Paul’s letters when he does tell believers that if they give in faith God will bless them, true enough. But when we read the New Testament there are many warnings against greed and materialism, and when we take a simple practical truth from Paul, even though it’s true, and when this truth becomes our main message, then we err. In this last chapter of Galatians Paul gives practical advice about giving financially to those who are teaching you, good. But this is one verse in a letter filled with other main teachings, the important stuff if you will. For believers in our day to have built ministries/churches and to have as the foundation of these ministries the few practical side verses, is wrong. We need to focus on the main thing, and keep the main thing the main thing! [Redemption thru Christ’s Blood, eternal life to those who believe, etc.] I don’t want to speak bad about brother Roberts, he was a good man who went home to be with the Lord, it’s just the discussion that has happened after his passing shows us how easy it is for good men to get sidetracked with a verse or 2 and then to exalt it out of context. As I conclude this brief study on Galatians, I think I will go back over a few main verses in the next week or so and give you some ‘practical’ things that I have gleaned these last few weeks. In a sense I will show you how God can speak to us in a personal way thru these letters, yet at the same time not losing the original meaning of the letters. One of the distinctions of the early church fathers was this Christ centered approach to the scripture, they looked for Jesus on every page. I’ll end with an example form Saint Augustine; he shared a thought on the story of Jesus walking on the water to the land, and that the disciples needed a wooden boat to ‘cross over’ he then applied the wood of the boat to the wood of the Cross and said how the Cross allows us to cross over to God, just like the boat let them cross over to the land. Now this is a simple example of applying scripture in a sort of symbolic way that is not in context, but nevertheless it’s okay to do. So I will do a few things like this in the next few posts. But while doing this, we want to not forget the main meaning of the letter, a good ‘side example’ should never negate the main body of truth.
(1340) GALATIANS AFTER-THOUGHTS: As I said the other day I will try and go back over a few verses and share a few more things on Galatians. One of the things I wanted to mention was the fact that I purposefully chose to teach the letter in the classic Protestant way [mostly] I avoided getting into the ‘New Perspective’ ideas on Paul and ‘what he really meant’. So let’s talk a little on it; as of the date of this writing there is a theological debate going on [mostly in the ivory towers, but seeping somewhat into mainstream thought] that re-looks at Paul and what the context of his day was. For instance when the Reformers of the 16th century spoke about being Justified by Faith and not by works, many of them were speaking about the works of tradition and the things they felt were wrong in the Catholic faith. Were they wrong in applying Paul this way? No. In context was Paul talking about the works of ‘Catholic tradition’ when saying men are not justified by works? No. So it’s good to point stuff like this out. The problem I see with some of the New Perspective theologians is they can explain stuff and when you’re done listening [reading] it’s possible to miss the heart of the New Testament doctrine on Justification by faith, we don’t want to lose people in the weeds when trying to peel the layers of the onion. So I purposefully chose to teach this letter in the plain way that most Protestants would understand it, but I do think that N.T. Wright [Bishop of Durham, Church of England] has good things to add to the debate [as well as John Piper- the Reformed Baptist preacher who has taken the New Perspective group and rebuked them]. It’s good and profitable to engage in these types of theological discussions, but we need to once again ‘keep the main thing the main thing’. I also avoided getting into the debate on exactly what ‘works of the law’ meant. Some think Paul was only referring to the rite of circumcision. In some verses [both here and in Romans] this is true. But some [N.T. Wright] apply this in a way that says the act itself was simply an ‘identifying badge’ that brought you into the community of God, while this is true, they get a little off track by not fully seeing that in Paul’s writings these things go hand in hand. Paul mixes in the ‘work of circumcision’ with the idea of keeping the moral law/10 commandments. When saying ‘we are not under the law’ Paul includes all of it, not just the ceremonial law. How do we know this? Because whenever Paul makes this argument he always adds ‘does this mean we go out and sin’? And his answer is always no, but instead of saying ‘no, don’t sin because we are still constrained by the 10 commandments’ he says ‘no, how can we who died to sin still live in it’. To be frank about it, many of the Reformed guys have problems with this as well, they teach a kind of theology that says the N.T. believer is under the law, I disagree. So as you can see this debate can go on for a while, that’s why I chose to avoid it in this study. I want all of our readers to be grounded in the basic truths of the letter before launching into a deeper level. Okay enough for now, tune in the next week or so and I’ll try and do some practical stuff from Galatians.
(1342) WHEN THE SEED SHOULD COME TO WHOM THE PROMISE WAS MADE- As I was teaching thru Galatians this verse ‘spoke to me’ in a personal way [will explain it in a second]. I felt like the Lord was saying that there are long term promises/destinies that he has planted within us, both as individuals and communities, and that often times he is waiting for the ‘seed to come to whom the promise was made’. In the parables of Jesus the seed speaks of a few things. Most of us are familiar with ‘the seed as the word’ imagery- ‘the sower sows the word’. But Jesus also speaks of ‘the seed’ as the children of the kingdom that his father has planted in the world. And of course in Galatians Paul is specifically referring to the singular seed, who is Christ. Every few years I go thru our radio messages and will adjust the programs I air. I often find that the messages that I marked as ‘o.k.’ are not o.k. anymore, it’s not that they are bad, it’s just I notice a tone/level of ‘seed’ [spoken word] that is not mature enough, it seems like as the years roll by the later messages just sound better. God has all of us in a maturing process; things that we thought were ‘deep revelation’ at one time, now sound quite silly. As I was marking off the programs that sounded too immature, I felt like the Lord was saying ‘the seed has come to whom the promise was made’ sort of like the lord was saying ‘son, I was waiting for your level of maturity to catch up to the promise’. Also in Romans it says ‘the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now’ I also felt like the Lord was saying the seed, as it pertains to all the people groups we relate to, were also in a ‘birthing process’ that too had to mature to a point where the promises could be inherited- ‘when the fullness of times was come, God sent forth his son, made of a woman, made under the law’ [Galatians] God has ‘fullness seasons’ times [Kairos] when he says ‘okay, the promises I made to you at the beginning of the journey are now ready to be experienced’ in essence the seed has come to whom the promise was made. Now, this sort of spiritual/symbolic way of hearing God, is it a good way to develop doctrine? No! Never, ever! Pope Benedict critiqued the ‘historical, critical’ method of liberal theology in his book ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ the method developed out of the liberal universities in Germany in the 19th– 20th centuries. Men like Rudolph Bultman would popularize it. It was a way of reading scripture thru an historical/archeological lens. Some of the ideas are good and profitable, but some are not. Many would reject the supernatural aspects of scripture and come to deny the resurrection. Not good. The Pope also warned against this way of ‘dissecting’ Jesus and Christianity to a point where you really don’t see the true Jesus anymore. The real Jesus of Christianity and history, the Jesus that we all have a relationship with by faith. The point being we want to go to scripture with an open heart and expectancy to ‘hear God’. While doing this, we also want to recognize that the scripture had the SAME MEANING to the first century church as to us today, the meaning never changes, the applications do. That’s the main point I want to make, so today the Lord might be speaking to you about certain ‘seeds’ coming to maturity in your own life, things that you have been waiting for and maybe the lord was saying he needed a maturing process to take place, both in you and the people you relate to. The ‘whole creation’ if you will.
(1343) One of the other themes that spoke to me from Galatians was the idea that Israel and the world were under a ‘schoolmaster phase’ until the fullness of times arrived. This phase was the whole economy of Old Testament law and rule. I felt like the Lord was saying that many of us have been led, and actually have arrived, at places and purposes the hard way; i.e. – the ‘tutor’ phase. That is God allowed the process of trial and error and discipline to work in us until we arrived at the purpose and goal. Isaiah says that ‘I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction’ yes, this way of ‘arriving’ is much more painful, but it still gets you there. Now the entire discipline phase for the world was the time period before the Cross. The law and the Old Covenant were the only way to ‘get there’ so to speak. If people wanted to have a relationship with God, they were either born Jews, or converted to Judaism. Today of course we have access thru the Cross. One of the earliest ‘cults’ of Christianity was a sect call ‘Gnosticism’ these early adherents mixed Greek dualism [material world bad, spirit world good type of a thing] in with Christianity, they taught that the God of the Old Testament was the evil God who created the material world, and that thru Jesus we can come to know the true God of the New Testament, the God who gives us salvation by delivering us from the material world. Though it seems like there are verses in the New Testament that teach that the ‘world’ is evil and that God wants to ‘deliver us from this present evil world’ [Galatians] yet in these contexts ‘the world’ is simply speaking of the lost system of man and the ‘way of the world’. In Christian theology matter is not inherently evil. The Apostle John would deal with the Gnostics in his first epistle by saying ‘whoever denies that Jesus has come in the flesh is not of God- they are anti-Christ’. Because the Gnostics believed all matter to be evil they would reject the humanity of Jesus, John was targeting them in his letter. As I mentioned before the controversy over the Trinity was settled at the council of Nicaea [a.d.325] but the church still battled with the nature of Jesus. Nicaea said ‘God is one essence/substance and 3 persons’. But this did not fully deal with the nature of Jesus, various ideas rose up [Monarchianism, Dynamic Monarchianism] that challenged the nature of Christ. In 451 a.d. the church settled on the language that ‘Jesus is one person with 2 substances/essences [natures]’, though to some this looks like a contradiction to the earlier language of Nicaea, this council in 451 [Chalcedon] was simply saying Jesus was ‘fully God and fully man’ so anyway we were all under the discipline phase until the ‘fullness of times’. I am believing God to get us to the destination with less ‘tutoring’ if you will, less trial and error. Sure, we will never fully get to the point of not making a few mistakes and stumbling along the way, but as we get older hopefully we will ‘stumble less’.
(1345) BUT BEFORE FAITH CAME, WE WERE KEPT UNDER THE LAW,SHUT UP UNTO THE FAITH THAT WOULD AFTERWARDS BE REVEALED- Galatians 3:23 Over the years I have grown in my understanding of ‘church/ministry’ and have come to see that God requires of us to ‘do justice, love mercy and walk humbly’- that is we often begin the Christian life [especially minister/pastor] with a bunch of noble goals and dreams and we become fixated on the finances and buildings and all the outward stuff that we think is needed to ‘reach the world’. All well meaning men with noble goals, but often times the whole thing devolves into ‘if these parishioners would be obedient and tithe 10 % of their income we could do great things’ and behind the scenes there begins to be an accusatory spirit by the leaders/pastors towards ‘these rebels’. As someone who does not receive offerings or money I have been freed from this whole scenario. Now, how does ‘faith come/ be revealed’? In contrast to the above picture, God will often speak to us and use us when we do not have the cart before the horse- when our time and efforts are not always consumed with building ‘our ministry’ or getting the funds needed for what we think is Gods purpose. In the parable of the great supper, Jesus says a man prepared this great meal/table and he sent his servant out at suppertime to call the guests, and out of the first 3 groups he goes to, 2 out of 3 couldn’t make it because they purchased stuff [land, livestock] then the master gets mad and sends him to the poor, blind and maimed [do justice] and there is still room so he is told to go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in. The point I want to make is those who were preoccupied with stuff missed the true riches, it’s not that they meant to be rebellious; it’s just the nature of the beast. I want to encourage all of our leaders to re-focus as the New Year begins, sure- you are going to have to deal with practical things [money, etc.] but don’t become so consumed with ‘the ministry’ that this becomes the driving factor of your life. I have had ‘minister friends’ who were always talking about, or trying to ‘build up the work’ some times when we would interact [run into each other] if I had a homeless guy they couldn’t wait until I would ‘lose’ the brother so we could talk ministry. I know they mean well, but they are so consumed with ‘the stuff’ they couldn’t see the true riches; they were missing the ‘great supper’ and didn’t even realize it. ‘In as much as you did it unto the least of these, you did it unto me’.
(1353) THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS WERE UNTIL JOHN, SINCE ‘THAT TIME’ THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS PREACHED- When teaching Galatians we got into the ‘Kairos’ season- that is a time period when God said ‘the old dispensation has fulfilled its purpose and the new time has come’. In the above heading Jesus says it’s a ‘kingdom time’. One of the good things about the New Perspective teaching is they bring out Gods greater world purpose for the whole creation [Romans 8]. It is easy for believers to see their entire Christian lives thru the lens of individual salvation, while this is certainly an important subject, if this becomes the main focus of the believer he can become myopic and miss the greater intention of God- the ‘since that time the kingdom of God’ intention. When Jesus turned the water into wine at Cana, what exactly was he trying to show us? Do you find it strange that there just happened to be all these water containers sitting around? The Jewish religion was very familiar with the idea of ‘washings/baptism’ the temple system was surrounded by these baths and pools and in the gospels we see people linking water with ceremonial cleansing. No one said of John ‘what in the heck is he doing baptizing people in the Jordan’ they were familiar with the rite. Now Jesus doesn’t pick any old water buckets lying around, he is using the symbol of ‘old law’ cleansing, he’s saying ‘look, I just turned your water [old way of getting clean] into wine [my Blood which will replace/fulfill the old system]’. The significance of what he did was heavy. The appearing of Jesus in the 1st century and his death, burial and resurrection [ascension too] enacted a major change from old testament economy into a new kingdom age, the water served its purpose, but the new wine has come- party on.
(562) John:1[radio # 584] Jesus is called the Word of God, he comes into the earth as the incarnation, the ‘fleshed out’ fulfillment of Gods Word. John the Baptist is asked who he is. The Jewish leaders ask ‘are you that prophet?’ he says ‘no’. What prophet? The one Moses said would come ‘the Lord God will raise up a prophet unto you, like me. Whoever doesn’t listen to him will be destroyed’. We covered this in Deuteronomy. They ask him ‘are you Elijah’ he says ‘no’. John was the fulfillment of the Malachi prophecy that said before the Lord comes he will send Elijah the prophet. Jesus says this about John. Why did John deny it? I am not sure, but it might be because he really didn’t know. Sort of like the thorn in Paul’s side, God allowed things to happen to Paul so he would not get puffed up in pride and side track his mission. Maybe the Lord never let John see how truly effective he was. John does say ‘I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness’ John does see himself thru the prophet Isaiah. I like this. I have personally had many words from Isaiah that I felt the Lord had given me, John saw himself in this book too. John was ‘the voice’ just like Jesus is ‘the Word’ John is ‘the voice’. John was a voice before he was a man. God had predestined John to carry a message before he was born. He had this word in his DNA at birth. His body was simply a carrier, an ‘incarnation’ of the voice that he was to have. God has predestined all of us with a purpose before we were born. Our appearing on the planet is for the sole purpose of carrying out this destiny. You are not here to be happy, have a nice income, go to a nice church. You are here to fulfill Gods will, you can have the other things or not, that is irrelevant. You must first fulfill the mission! John testifies of Christ by the Spirit descending on Jesus. John says ‘I knew him not, but by the Spirit’ John knew Jesus, he was his cousin! But John was only going to recognize the gifts and callings on people. He would follow Paul’s admonition ‘know no man after the flesh’. It is incumbent upon us to recognize the gifts in others and to operate accordingly. Don’t make alliances and pacts with people based on friendship and personal affiliations. It’s good to have friends and all, but the Kingdom is built upon recognizing and receiving those who have come with a mandate from God. John saw Jesus in this light. Scripture says ‘the world was made by him, he was in the world, yet they knew him not’ Jesus was creating a divine atmosphere of grace for people to access. They didn’t even know or recognize him, yet this didn’t side track him from his purpose. Understand that God has placed you in a geographical location with a pre planned destiny in mind. God has chosen you to be where you are and for this season. You will fulfill your calling whether people ‘know’ you or not. God requires us to see the gifts in each other, but many will not appreciate what you are doing, do it any way, you have come with a destiny to fulfill, so fulfill it!
(563) John 2[radio # 585]- Jesus does his first miracle, changes water into wine. They say ‘most people put the good wine out first, but you have saved the best for last’. This is a type of the new covenant of his blood [wine], Jesus will introduce a better covenant thru his blood. Many will not accept this new way because they have been ‘drinking’ old wine for so long, they are not willing to change. We often see this in Christian circles, people who have functioned in a limited way for years, God might bring to them new ways of seeing things, they will often reject the new wine on the basis of being comfortable with the old way, we don’t want to shake the apple cart. God wants us to shake it! Jesus finds the money changers in the temple and drives them out with a whip, turns the tables over and gets mad. He didn’t take the ecumenical approach! There are times for radical transition, I feel we are at that place now as the people of God. The gospel is not about us increasing our portfolio, it’s about laying our goals down for the kingdom. These money changers lost their influence in the ‘temple’ after Jesus got thru with them, I think it was prophetic. Jesus says ‘destroy this temple and in 3 days I will raise it up’ those hearing this mistake his Body [temple] with the building [temple in Jerusalem]. Evangelicals [some of them] make the same mistake today. They are looking to the natural events in natural Jerusalem, they should be looking at the real temple! [Both Jesus and the Body of Christ]. Jesus goes to the Passover, the people hail him and Jesus says he will not commit himself to them, because he knew what was in man. What was in man? These same people will be asking for his death not long from now. Jesus did not seek commitment from men, contrary to the way we see ministry today. Modern ministry seeks to increase man’s commitment to them ‘pledge so much money, join this or that’ Jesus knew he had a destiny, he would fulfill it without the help of man!
(565) John 3[radio # 586]- Nicodemus comes secretly to Jesus, he is one of the few in leadership that is having doubts. The others with one voice reject Jesus, Nicodemus is wondering. Jesus rebukes him for being a ‘ruler’ of the Jews and not being able to comprehend the most basic stuff. I have found it disheartening over the years to talk with Pastors who heard someone teach that because Jesus had an expensive coat, that he must have been rich. Despite all the evidence in the New Testament how Jesus was the son of a carpenter and lived an average life. The tons of verses where Jesus is reproving rich people. The whole historical and biblical truth of Jesus being a man of humble means. The fact that he had an expensive coat can more than likely be explained by the custom of people doing extravagant acts of worship towards him. The woman and the expensive perfume poured on him. Things like this. Someone probably gave him the coat. But for Pastors, who are good men, to fall for this stuff was unbelievable. Sort of like Jesus telling Nicodemus ‘you are a leader and can’t discern the most basic stuff’! Jesus teaches the reality of the new birth. All people must be born of God thru belief in Jesus, or they will not be saved. We must stand strong for Jesus as the only way to God. John the Baptist will be told that all men are going to Jesus. John says ‘great, he must increase and I must decrease’ John understood that the role of leadership [prophets] was to point to the fame and persona of Jesus. Not to go down the common road of pointing people towards us. In modern ministry we draw people to our gifts and abilities. We structure modern churches around the gift of the Pastor. We allow leadership to become preeminent in our minds and thoughts. John knew better. We also see that the wrath of God abides on all who do not believe in Jesus. If you believe in Jesus you escape Gods wrath. It can’t touch you. Whether you are in heaven or earth, or like David said ‘in hell you are there’. That is you can’t escape Gods presence anywhere. So if you are in Christ, wrath can’t get you. If you are not in Christ, it continually abides on you. You do not escape wrath by leaving the planet during the tribulation. If an unbeliever was on a rocket ship right before the tribulation started, and wound up on the moon during the 7 years of wrath, he wouldn’t escape Gods wrath. You don’t escape judgment by being in the right geographical location, you escape it by being IN HIM! John also says a man can receive nothing unless it is given to him. Why be jealous if all of our gifts and abilities are free gifts? We act like we earned them! John says no man receives his testimony, then he says ‘to those who have received it’. What’s this mean? Paul told the Corinthians that we have received the Spirit of God so we might know the things that are freely given to us from God. God gives us his Spirit first, so we can receive his testimony. This goes back to the early centuries of the church and hits all the major doctrines on sovereignty. Augustine, Calvin, Luther [Yes Luther was a strong believer in predestination, it was no accident that he was an Augustinian monk!] Paul tells the Ephesians that were are dead in sins and completely incapable of receiving spiritual truth until God pours his Spirit into us and we become alive. Thank God that even though no man [in the natural] can receive his testimony, that God gives us his Spirit and births us so we can know the things that he has freely given to us in Christ!
(566) John 4[radio # 587]- Jesus talks to the woman at the well. She is Samaritan and he violates the cultural norms of the day by speaking to this woman. Critics often say Christianity is bigoted against women, Jesus gave more honor to women than any other religion of the day. He tells the woman that if she asked, he would give her the Spirit that would be a well of water in her. God wants us to flow in revelation and truth, not just teach from the intellect. Now the intellect is important, God says ‘worship me with you heart, soul, MIND and might’ but you must allow the Spirit to spring up from you like a well. Jesus tells the woman ‘you have had 5 husbands and the guy you’re shacking up with now is not your husband’ she then says ‘I perceive you are a prophet’. Funny, she turns the conversation over to religion! She recognizes the prophetic aspect of Jesus words and says ‘I think you’re a prophet’. Unlike many Christians today, she believed that prophecy was more than just preaching, she knew it carried a supernatural element. They continue to talk ‘religion’ and Jesus tells her all worship takes place in Spirit and truth, not at a specific location. The religious mind looks for ‘religious’ places to carry out worship, Jesus says ‘from now on it will be done thru all who worship in Spirit and truth’. He is speaking of the new concept of the people of God being the temple. No longer will they need the temple down the block, but they will be the actual dwelling place of God. Jesus says his meat is to do the will of him that sent him and to finish his work. We often do the will, but don’t finish the task! I just retired after 25 years as a firefighter [actually the retirement is in process] and I have seen so many talented guys join the dept and do a few years and go somewhere else. They might stay a few years at the next dept. and leave again. It’s not that they aren’t talented, they just don’t stick it out. God wants us to finish his task, don’t have a resume with a lot of activity, have one that has some assignments that were completed. Jesus says look on the fields, they are ready. Don’t say ‘4 more months and then comes harvest’. We are always in the harvest. It is not something that only happens in church on Sunday. Break the mindset that is always looking down the road for ministry to happen. Ministry happens right now, all the time. You and I are in the harvest, are you picking any fruit? Jesus says a prophet has no honor in his own country. We often want a prophetic word from some out of town prophet. We enjoy going out of town to a conference or some vacation venue to get a ‘word from the Lord’. We do not like to receive from prophets in our midst. They often don’t give good words like ‘Thus saith the Lord, you will be rich’ and stuff like that. We need to stop looking for the word we want to hear, and receive from prophets in our area.
(567) John 5[radio # 588]- Jesus heals the man at the pool of Bethesda. Scripture says an angel went down into this pool at a certain time and stirred the water, whoever got in after the water was stirred was healed. How do we explain this? Were the people superstitious? Well I think it happened just like John wrote it. We believe in a supernatural God, he raised his Son from the dead, he surely can send an angel to stir up some water. Jesus asks the man ‘do you want to be healed’? You would think ‘of course’ but people that are in situations that can lend to being irresponsible, having others take care of them, they often want to stay that way. It gives them an excuse to ‘not act responsibly’. The man says ‘I have no man to put me into the water after the angel comes’ he is looking for others to do something for him. He has a victim mentality. Jesus says ‘quit blaming everyone else, take up your bed and walk’. It’s time for our society to tell people ‘take up your bed and walk, we love you, we want to help you as much as possible, but you need to eventually take up your bed and walk’ hard stuff! Jesus will call God his father, making himself equal with God. The Jewish leaders will be offended. He then will tell them if they do not honor him, they are not honoring the Father. He says he only does what he sees the Father doing first. His life was an exact duplicate of the heart of God. Our lives should be the result of what God wants and reveals to us. Your life is not the result of your confession, or you seeking success. Your life should be the outcome of what God has revealed to you. It might mean less money, or less success. It might mean a Cross or martyrdom. Don’t presume that Gods plan for you is simply to have lots of money and be successful, it might mean less money and obscurity. But it will be an abundant life because you lived it in the purpose of God. Jesus says the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and they that hear will live. You had as much to do with your spiritual birth as you did with your natural one. Before you were born you had no power or ability to choose to be born, so in your new birth you were dead in sin and unable to ‘choose God’ he chose you. Jesus will tell the religious leaders ‘how can you believe if you seek the honor of men’ he will challenge the religious mindset of the day that thrived off of the notoriety of ‘being in ministry’. The leaders loved the greetings in the markets and public places. They lived for the honor that came from their status as ‘preachers’ who were well known. Jesus condemned this mindset. He says ‘I receive not honor from men’ in essence I am here to lay my life down, I will suffer shame and public humiliation, I will do the will of my Father and bare tremendous reproach and hatred from men. I will please my Father. Jesus tells the Jewish leaders ‘Moses wrote about me, you have his writings. If you don’t believe his writings, how can you believe in me, he wrote about me’ we have covered a lot of the ‘hidden’ images of Jesus found in the Old Testament. Paul will use these images time and again in his debates with Israel. I find it interesting that Jesus saw himself in the Old Testament also.
(568) John 6[radio # 589]- We see the first miracle of the feeding of the multitudes. It has been commonly taught that this was a miracle of ‘location’, that is they were far from the market and couldn’t get food to feed everyone. This is not the heart of the story. It is actually a question of finance. Jesus in essence asks ‘how can we buy enough food for everyone to eat, where’s the money gonna come from?’ His disciples say ‘200 pennyworth is not enough to feed them’. They tell Jesus we don’t have the cash to cover it. This is important to see, many have taught a doctrine that says Jesus and the disciples had a large treasury with lots of money. This refutes that. This story is one of God being our supply, we don’t need to trust him for the millions of dollars we think we need to reach the world. We need to believe that he can use our limited finances to reach the world! He did it with Paul, why not you? We also see the doctrine of sovereignty again. Jesus says all who the Father gave to him will come to him, and he will raise them up at the last day. No man can come unless the Father draws him. The Father will draw all who are called. Jesus will lose none of the ones the father gives to him. These doctrines are without a doubt taught in this Gospel. I believe them. Some try to make them ‘fit’ the reasoning of men. They eventually taught that Jesus died only for the elect. That the ‘world’ in John 3:16 speaks of the ‘world of the elect’. Others taught that Jesus blood was only shed for the elect [limited atonement]. Christians have fought for centuries over these doctrines. Our Catholic brothers do not officially teach predestination, though Catholic scholars have believed in it [Augustine]. Some will later be called ‘5 point Calvinists’ others ‘4 points’ and so on. I simply believe the words of Jesus. All that the Father gave to him will come to him, those who come will be raised at the last day. No one comes unless God brings them. The point is God is the initiator, sustainer and completer of our salvation. In our minds we can’t grasp this, but without a doubt Jesus teaches it in this chapter. Now, Jesus will also teach that he is the bread from heaven and unless a man eats his flesh and drinks his blood he will not have eternal life. Many good Christians have taught that the way this is carried out is thru transubstantiation, they teach that the bread and wine turn into the literal body and blood of Jesus at the Mass [Catholic theologian Scott Hahn believes John chapter 6 is the foundational chapter for all Catholic theology]. That it just looks like bread and wine, but it is really flesh and blood. Luther and Calvin taught something almost identical, consubstantiation. The doctrine that the bread and wine stay bread and wine, but that the flesh and blood of Jesus are also literally contained within the bread and wine. This doctrine differs very little from the Catholic one. Both of these doctrines are called ‘the real presence’. The only reformer who taught what much of modern Evangelicals believe was Zwingli. He took it to be a symbol only. Zwingli was the dear brother who killed the Ana Baptists for their faith! I visited the spot where this took place in Switzerland many years ago. There is this huge statue of Zwingli overlooking the town where he drowned the poor brothers! The Jews in this chapter say ‘how can this man give us his flesh to eat and blood to drink?’ They are clearly seeing this in the natural. Jesus goes on and teaches that all who believe in him will never hunger again. He is associating eating with faith. He also says ‘the flesh profits nothing, the words I am speaking to you give life’ he is clearly teaching that he was not going to figure out a way to change bread and wine into his literal flesh. He was teaching that all who would believe in his death and resurrection were eating and getting life from Jesus, they would have eternal life. The bread that if a man eats from will live forever. I believe my Catholic and Orthodox and Lutheran brothers are Christian, I do not hold to the view that the ‘real presence’ is a doctrine from hell. I believe good Christians took the words of Jesus literally and developed a belief that became an historic belief amongst many Christians. Some of the greatest Christian theologians hold to this belief. I simply disagree with them.
(572) John 7[radio # 590]- His brethren say ‘if you do these things, go up to the feast and show yourself openly’. The mindset was if you are really as special or gifted as you think, then go public! Jesus did not seek honor from men. He will ‘go public’ at the right time, but it will be a public crucifixion before many witnesses. He would not let them make him a king, or exalt him in their own way. Before exaltation there would be a Cross. ‘Some say he is a good man, others that he is a deceiver’ Jesus caused polarizing reactions from people. Prophets will be seen as false or good, there is very little middle ground. ‘How knoweth this man letters, having never learned’ Jesus learned, he was a good Jewish boy. They had the Old Covenant and were taught it ‘religiously’. The leaders meant he did not have the ‘higher education’ from the institutions of the day. I want to make a note here, I am not against higher education, Jesus did avail himself of the Old Testament, which was the ‘library’ of the day. A great collection of books and wisdom, if you read the gospels carefully you will also see that Jesus knew current events, he was not an isolated person coming up with his individual conclusions of scripture. I think it hurts the church to have an attitude of ‘all I need to know is the bible’ while it is good to know the Word, you should also expand your knowledge as much as possible. You don’t need the ‘letters’ or titles from men, but you should be educated as much as possible. ‘I have done one work and you all marvel’ the leaders were condemning Jesus for healing the man on the Sabbath, he tells them ‘you circumcise on the Sabbath, why cant I make someone whole on the Sabbath?’ circumcision was the cutting away of the ‘flesh’ in consecration to God. In essence it was saying ‘all that proceeds from me from this day forward, my lineage and seed and everything I am, is dedicated to God’ if they were allowed, by their own conscience, to ‘cut the flesh away’ on the Sabbath, then why not permit [in their own mind] the ‘adding’ unto a person by healing his flesh and giving him back his health. Jesus showed them that even in their own reasoning they could allow for what he did, but they didn’t give him the same lenience that they gave themselves. We often reject what a person is saying based on the actions he has done in the past, even though we allow many of the same things. Jesus said ‘judge rightly’ use the same measure that you would use on your self. ‘Yet a little while I am with you, you will seek me and not find me’ Jesus says this to the Jews who do not accept him as Messiah, they have been looking for him [unknowingly] for 2 thousand years and haven’t found him yet, boy are they gonna be surprised! The Pharisees send the officers to take Jesus, even though he didn’t openly go up to the feast, he later went secretly. He is teaching publicly and the people are amazed. They say ‘if this is the one the leaders are trying to get, why don’t they just take him?’ the officers couldn’t stop him! The Pharisees ask ‘why didn’t you capture him like we asked’ they respond ‘never man spake like him’ the authority that he had from God protected him. As the Pharisees discuss Jesus, they say ‘this people who do not know the law [word] are going after him, none of us are’. Well Nicodemus is in this group, and we know he snuck out in chapter 3 and did go ‘after him’. He is feeling a little guilty about it and speaks up on Jesus behalf ‘well, let’s not be so quick to judge, lets hear him out’. The other Pharisees reject him too ‘are you also from Galilee?’ They had this intellectual argument going that took all the Old Testament prophecies about Messiah and where he would come from. There are different prophecies that speak of Jesus in different ways, they held to a belief that when Messiah came, no one would no where he came from. Their understanding kept them in the dark. They were not willing to be corrected, they saw everyone else as ignorant, and they were the true ‘elites’ of the day. Pride keeps people form truth. We often can’t be corrected, we think the ‘correctors’ just don’t know the word. This comes from spiritual pride. Many who view themselves as religious leaders, or gifted in some way with bible knowledge, can not humble themselves and receive correction in the area where they pride themselves. For the Pharisees to have accepted Jesus, they would have had to admit that they were wrong about certain prophecies, and that the ‘under class’ was right, this was too much for them to accept.
(585) John 8 [radio # 591]- The Pharisees catch the woman in adultery and bring her to Jesus ‘Moses in the law says kill her, what about it Jesus?’ Religion digressed into this conservative moral crusade that went and found people in sin and singled them out for judgment. Jesus doesn’t say ‘oh, don’t worry about that silly law of Moses’ he says in essence ‘you guys are right, justice demands strict holiness, you got me now’ instead he agrees that justice does require her death, and he says ‘go ahead, start stoning’. One thing ‘you must be free of sin in order to carry out this punishment’. The law required total righteousness from everyone, even the moral crusaders! When religion digresses to the point where all it does is go out into society and find fault, then this type of religion is powerless to change the ‘fault finders’. Jesus doesn’t side with the ultra liberals either, you don’t see him marching for the right for homosexuals to marry. He tells the woman ‘neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more’. Jesus said this to the guy he healed a few chapters ago. ‘Go and sin no more less a worse thing happen to thee’. Was Jesus simply telling them the same thing that they heard from the religious right their whole lives? Was he simply saying ‘watch out, if you sin again you will get in trouble’ not really. Jesus words had tremendous power and authority, he told people who couldn’t see ‘see’ and they would! People who couldn’t walk ‘get up’ and they did. He was empowering these people by his words. When he said ‘sin no more’ he was giving them the first freedom from years of bondage that they ever had. He also was saying ‘I don’t condone sin’ but he was saying much more! Jesus tells the Jews who ‘believe in him’ if you continue in my word ye shall be free. In the next chapter  we will read of the guy Jesus heals, who also says ‘Jesus healed me’ but doesn’t know who Jesus is yet, then later he believes in him as Messiah. This is the type of belief that Israel and Islam and other religions have about Jesus. They accept him as a good man, prophet even. But not the Son of God. To these he says ‘if ye continue in my word then you will know the truth and be free’ if they stick around long enough they might just see that Jesus is for real! Truth is progressive, often times I will give a book to someone, or teach something over the radio. People will see things that they haven’t seen before. A few years go by and they ‘fall back’ into the old mindset. They sincerely forgot that some of the questions they have now have actually been answered already. ‘Go read the first book I wrote, it explains it’ oh yhea, I see now. People need to ‘continue in the word’ in order to be changed. It is not just the one time ‘revelation’ of a certain doctrine that changes you, it is continuing in Gods truth and knowing him, that is Jesus, who is the way and truth and life. Knowing doctrine does not set people free, knowing Jesus does.
(586) John 8-9 [radio # 592] before I cover this, last night I was watching a preacher from a classic type ministry. Not the flamboyant ‘prosperity’ type with gold hanging off and all. I was a bit surprised [let down] to hear him teach the classic errors of the prosperity movement. He took the verse in Corinthians where it says ‘though he was rich yet for your sakes he became poor’ and taught that Jesus died to make you rich financially [ a direct violation of 1st Timothy 6]. He went to Genesis and showed how Abraham was rich, then jumped to Galatians 3 and taught ‘we are Abrahams kids, therefore we get his blessings[stuff]’ a classic mistake in doctrine. I explained this in the book ‘House of Prayer or Den of Thieves’ in the chapter ‘The Abrahamic Blessing’[you can read this book on this site!]. This stuff shouldn’t have been coming from this program, they are not the type that teach this stuff. You could tell from the look on the faces of the audience that they were feeling uncomfortable with what this guy was teaching! Now John 8-9. Jesus says ‘you seek to kill me, a man that has told you the truth that I heard from God’ often times when people are reproved, they don’t like it. It’s not that what the ‘reprover’ is saying is wrong, it’s just we don’t like being confronted with truth. We usually take it out on the messenger. Jesus says ‘before Abraham was, I AM’ this is the name of God in the Old Testament ‘the I AM’. Jesus is the ‘I AM’ in Johns gospel. I AM the door, I AM the resurrection, I AM the way and the truth and the life. I believe you find 7 different ‘I AM’s’ of Jesus in this gospel. Jesus now heals the man who was blind from birth. They ask him ‘who sinned, this man or his parents’? They had a mentality that always wanted to place blame on someone for sickness, sort of like some in the healing movements of today. Jesus said ‘neither’. He simply said ‘this happened to him so I would heal him and God would get glory’. He heals the man and the leaders are mad. ‘Who healed you’? A man called Jesus. They get the guys parents and say ‘you say he was blind, then how come he can see?’ They say ‘ask him’. They go back and ask again. The healed guy answers ‘how many times do you want to hear it, I told you already’. Though the man still doesn’t know Jesus is the Messiah, yet he starts to defend him, and even prophesy! ‘We know that if any man be a worshipper of God, and does his will, him God hears’ good stuff coming from an ‘unsaved’ guy! Jesus hears that they rejected him, he tells the guy ‘I am messiah’ and the guy believes. Jesus says ‘I come to give sight to those who are blind [admit they need help] and to take away sight from those who see’ [think they know it all]. We often can’t receive correction because of religious pride, we think we ‘see everything’ someone comes along and shakes the cart, our first response is ‘who does he think he is, doesn’t he know that we all know more than him’. Quite often whole groups of leaders have the same blind spot. This is what enforces the belief that they must be right! Jesus told them ‘you guys are blind, if you could just admit you didn’t know it all, then I could show you some good stuff, but because you think you already ‘see’ everything, then you are gonna miss out’. Pride is destructive, it keeps us in the dark spiritually. NOTE; Let me give an example. I remember reading an article on tithing from one of the best Christian historical review magazines in print. They do exhaustive historical research on many subjects. To the surprise of the readers, this well respected historical magazine, read by many theologians, showed that all the historical evidence points to the fact that the churches of the first century did not practice tithing! This seemed to go against the grain of what many of the theologians believed, who regularly read this magazine. But you could have easily come to this same understanding from simply reading the New Testament in context. I have basically taught you guys this for years, from scripture. Yet this ‘blind spot’ was an area where many intelligent ‘religious leaders’ were all wrong. They ‘corporately’ were wrong on this subject. It took a ‘jolt’ from true historical evidence before they could ‘see’ the obvious! It would be too humbling to have seen it from a ‘layman firefighter’ who has a web site. NOTE; Tithing as a practice for Christians developed at the same time as ‘the church building’ and the office of ‘Priest’ and eventually the altar [in the Catholic system] and the mass. The church got away from the family/community mindset and took on more of the ‘church building’ form. Tithing fit in easily into an idea of church that asked ‘how much should we put in the offering basket on Sunday’. The whole language and style of church called for the doctrine of tithing to be taught, sort of like a ‘tax’ on the people of God to support ‘the church’. Now, there are some good things that came out of the ‘dark ages’ of Christianity. The ‘desert fathers’, the Catholic mystics and other good spiritual disciplines. I don’t want to fall into the category of those who see the dark ages as a time of no good whatsoever. But we also need to see how the church during that time was very legalistic in the sense that the Mass and Altar and ‘Priest’ presiding over the liturgy were all forms of Christian service that were absent from the churches in Scripture. The tithe was just one added aspect of this legalistic approach that seemed to make it all the way into the Protestant churches of today. All these churches are good Christians in my view, but we need to be open to change and reformation as the Spirit leads.
(591) John 11[ radio # 594]- Lazarus is sick and Mary and Martha send for Jesus. They were all friends and supporters of Jesus ministry, surely they will get special treatment, they know for sure he will be healed! Jesus waits a few days and lets Lazarus die. When he finally shows up, Martha comes to ask him ‘why weren’t you here! He would have not died if you were here!’ Jesus also earlier said ‘I am glad I was not there’ not ‘I am glad I didn’t heal him’ it’s like Jesus knew if he were there he would have had no choice but to have healed him, his compassion would have taken over. Martha and Mary knew it too. These are Jewish friends that are all sympathetic to his cause, they were known to have been friends with Jesus, they already carried a cross for him. For him to have let this group down was hard. He knew God had a better plan, but it still was hard. Martha tells Mary ‘come quickly, Jesus wants you’ Mary gets up and runs to Jesus. I don’t read where Jesus asked for Mary, I think Martha might have just said this to encourage Mary. Often times the closest followers of Jesus need to be encouraged. They have been with the Lord for years, they have given so much to the cause. They see how God is doing so much for others and yet all things don’t seem to be working out for them. They feel like Mary ‘what’s the use, I was following him years before these others, and yet he doesn’t even have time to come and heal my brother, he’s out all over the place healing everyone else, his so called ‘great ministry for God’ and yet I really needed him’ Mary needed to be encouraged, Martha encouraged her! Jesus does raise Lazarus and God is glorified. Word gets back to the religious leaders and they are afraid if they don’t do something they will lose their influence and power among the people. It was a power issue. Often times leadership will resist the ‘Body of Jesus’ coming into full functioning maturity, they are afraid that if the Body of Jesus becomes too influential, they might lose their place. John the Baptist taught us earlier that this was to be, the Pharisees had other plans. As they hold a council, Caiaphas the high priest says ‘leave him alone, Rome will come and kill him and it will be better. That way they can vent on him instead of all of the Jewish nation’ he prophesies the truth of Christ’s substitutionary death, and doesn’t even realize what he’s saying! Often times you will get a word from the Lord from people that don’t even realize they are prophesying! NOTE; I forgot something. When Jesus and his disciples are going to raise Lazarus, they will be entering an area where the Jewish leaders ‘have a contract on him’ they are looking to get him! Jesus reassures the guys they will be safe if they walk in ‘the light’ of Gods will. Thomas says ‘Oh great, lets all go and die with him’. Gee thanks for the support brother! Jesus never kicks Thomas off of the ministry ‘team’ he lets him stay on. You often hear ‘if you are the smartest person in your group get a new group’ or ‘evil communications corrupt good manners’ [scripture does say this]. But we sometimes teach it in a way that says ‘Don’t ever listen to the naysayers, eliminate them from your group. They will destroy your team spirit’ while there is some truth to this, remember Jesus was the smartest person in the group, his critics actually accused him of having ‘a bad group’ [this man eateth with sinners] so keep a balance in this. We are here to help the sick, not the well. If you don’t have some ‘bad apples’ in your sphere of influence than how are you gonna help them?
(618) JOHN 16 (radio # 599) Jesus says ‘these things I have spoken unto you that you should not be offended’. What things? The reality that after he leaves they will suffer and go thru stuff. He also tells them it is necessary for their own growth for him to leave. If he doesn’t leave them alone they will never experience the true ministry of ‘the comforter’. The Spirit comforts those who need it. They will need it! If Jesus didn’t tell them about the difficulty up front, there would have been cause for offense. When the American church preaches only a gospel of success, when people later go thru stuff they feel like ‘what’s wrong with me? God, you told me thru your preachers that if I believed you all would go well’ they get offended because they weren’t given both sides. Jesus gave both sides. When the Comforter comes he will reprove of sin, righteousness and judgment [do justice]. Some times we think the purpose for the church is to simply reprove of sin. God wants us to do justice [civil rights] and show what is right. I heard a preacher say ‘the only reason Christians should ever practice civil disobedience is if the govt. said you couldn’t preach. But if they are killing babies, you shouldn’t practice civil disobedience’. Remember when we said to use the same measure for others as you would use on yourself? I would ask this preacher ‘what if the law allowed for your 2 year old to be killed.’ Say if the law came to your house and said ‘we are going to get your last bible copy and destroy it, or take your little girl and chop her head off’ would you use ‘civil disobedience’ to save the baby or the book? ‘I have yet many things to say to you, but you can not bear them now’ I think the American church is simply not able to ‘bear stuff now’. It’s not like we couldn’t understand the stuff, or ‘receive it’ into our ears. It’s just we are way too immature as a corporate people to truly grasp it. The need is really not more knowledge, its more growth [not numbers, maturity!]. I remember reading how Dietrich Boenhoffer visited a Christian university in New York. After his trip he commented on the surprise he had to see the level of immaturity in the American church. He would soon become a martyr under Hitlers 3rd Reich. ‘Ye shall weep and lament, the world shall rejoice. Your sorrow will turn into joy’ Jesus wants us to know that a day of recompense is coming. We will go thru stuff, but God will bring you out on the other side! We need both truths to stay balanced. ‘When a woman is in labor, she wants to abort the process. But after the child is birthed, she forgets all the pain’. A very important aspect of your calling is to ‘bring forth’ the thing God has destined you for. There comes a time where you need to pass the test. God is merciful, he lets you ‘re take’ the test. He brings teachers in who know how important it is for you to pass. They even will ‘teach to the test’ some will curve the grade. All types of stuff to get you to the next level. Sooner or later you gotta pass the test. If you don’t, God will still love you. You can even attend the graduations of your friends. But at the end of the day you will have been a spectator in the auditorium as opposed to a graduate on the stage. It’s better to be on the stage! ‘In me you will have peace, in the world you WILL HAVE TRIBULATION, be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’ Jesus promise isn’t to get us out of the world or the tribulation in it. But to keep us at peace by having our minds fixed on him. The world runs back and forth [I was gonna say ‘to and fro’ but that would have been a little to preachy] trying to extend their lives. Have enough money to retire on. Keep from getting blown up in a terrorist thing. They really have no peace, no matter how hard they try they will all die sooner or later. The only peace to be found is in God. To have the promise of future resurrection and living forever with God is the only lasting thing you can have. All the money you earn and save will be as useless as toilet paper in a few years, start living for eternal rewards!
(1372) JOHN 17:1-7 Jesus said his hour has come, ‘glorify me with the glory which I had with you before the world was. I have manifested your name [who you are] to the men that you gave to me, they were your men and you gave them to me. They have received the words that you gave me, and they know for sure that the things that I taught them came from you.’ There is an element in Christian ministry/teaching when the rubber meets the road, after a period of time people either say ‘you know, I believe what he is saying is accurate’ or when you say ‘enough, I really can’t take this anymore’. Now Jesus will also tell us later in the chapter ‘I have kept the men you gave me, but Judas had to fall away for the scriptures to be fulfilled’ Jesus also dealt with the pain of losing one of his guys. A while back I read an article about a famous evangelical in the UK, he made some waves by referring to the Mother of Jesus in a sort of Catholic way [I forget the exact wording] but he got some heat over it. While trying to defend his new view of becoming more open to the Catholic Church, he said ‘I am as sure about this as I was about the truth of the prosperity movement’ not too comforting for me. The point though is Protestants have a tendency to journey thru the Christian life in sort of a haphazard way, we often see a certain viewpoint about some doctrine [whether true or not] and that becomes what we teach the people, then we see another thing and that becomes the next road. Too often the individualism of the Protestant way of approaching Gods kingdom has us ‘revealing to them the next new thing coming down the pike’ as opposed to saying with Jesus ‘I have manifested thy name unto the men which you gave me’. We have all been put here with a predetermined purpose from God, we can’t say ‘glorify me with the glory which I had with you [father] before the world was’ but we can say ‘father, carry out the purpose that you gave to me before the world was, that eternal purpose that you destined me for, before I ever existed’ we need to grasp a better hold on the purpose of God for our lives. We need to stop following people, even good intentioned people, thru all their ups and downs and highs and lows of new experiences and teachings; in Ephesians Paul said the purpose of us being ‘a body/community’ was so we could be built up and not be tossed around by every whim and new doctrine that people come up with. The ‘Body’ imagery speaks of the people of God as a worldwide community, a living corporate being whom God indwells. When we hear and grow with the ‘whole church- of all time’ then we do well, when we follow too closely individual men/teachers we spend too much time going up and down.
(1373) JOHN 17:8-14 Jesus says he has given the words that the father gave to him, to his men. He is preparing to be ‘no more in the world’ but these are in the world, and I am glorified in/thru them. Jesus saw his mission thru the paradigm of having faithfully deposited Gods truth into the people that the father ‘gave him’. This group of men were planned by the father to have been impacted thru his life, Jesus did not see them thru the lens of ‘these men are here to promote/support my calling’ sort of like God gave them to him in order for them to help him reach some type of goal or personal achievement in life. Instead he realized that thru serving them and laying down his life for them, that thru these acts he would be ‘glorified/honored thru them’. That is the people of God would carry on the legacy of Jesus after he was gone, they too would be ‘sent out into the world, even as the father sent me into the world’. He would entrust to them Divine realities and they would pass these truths along to those who the father ‘gave to them’ [Paul- I do all things for the elects sakes]. I want to encourage/challenge our leaders today- do you primarily see the people around you [whether church members or simple friendships in the kingdom] as people God has brought to you in order to help you achieve your mission? That is are they simply assets to ‘the ministry/church’? It’s easy to fall into these mindsets, and it’s not wrong to see God as bringing relationships into your life for the purpose of a great goal, but I think it would be better if we saw these things thru the mindset of Jesus; he knew that his life being poured out as a sacrifice would impact his followers in such a way that for generations to come the ‘words that the father gave to him’ would continue thru the lives of his friends. Don’t be too consumed with the material aspects of the here and now [facilities, finances, etc.] they will all pass away, but those that do the will of God will abide forever.
(1382) IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD; AND THE WORD WAS WITH GOD, AND THE WORD WAS GOD- John 1:1 Jesus is called ‘The Word’, the Greek word for ‘word’ is Logos. In the first century this word was common among the philosophers, it stood for a sort of overriding principle that would explain and bring together all the fields of science and learning, the same obsession of Einstein in his search for a unified theory. The philosophers believed that there had to be some type of base principle of truth that would bring together all the other fields of wisdom and learning. In essence John was saying ‘This is it, we have found the Logos- the answer to everything- his name is Jesus!’ It’s always difficult to teach these types of verses, they are fraught with only seeing one aspect of what God is saying, and then dividing lines are drawn between the Christian camps. I was having a conversation yesterday with a person who was asking questions about a Muslim friend who used to be a Christian. The Muslim said that he wanted a religion that he could understand, that God is the only God and Jesus is not God. I explained the best I could and shared this verse and a few others, but I also explained that various ‘Christian’ groups have argued over the way to express the deity of Jesus for centuries. There are groups that say ‘Yes, Jesus is the redeemer, he is Gods Son, but only God is God’. From the catholic bishop Arius in the 4th century all the way up to the Unitarians in Boston in the 20th century, people have debated the language we use. I explained to my friend that the bible clearly does teach us that Jesus is God, but I do see how people have problems with the language. But I told my friend that for a person to use the difficulty over the Trinity to embrace Islam is going way too far in my view. I mean the fact that someone has a problem with the wording of the Trinity should not mean you abandon all the realities of redemption and Christianity and embrace a movement that was started by a ‘prophet’ who killed and murdered and had ‘many women’, I mean no other prophets ever had a track record like that! As we read the rest of John chapter 1 we see how John the Baptist says he came to bear witness, to give a record of Jesus, the ‘Lamb of God’. The religious leaders come to John and ask him ‘who are you, we need an answer to bring back to the authorities, the movers and shakers of our day’ John says ‘I am the voice of one man crying in the wilderness, get ready, the lord is on his way’. John quoted Isaiah 40, he is also said to be the prophetic voice that Malachi spoke about- the Elijah that was to come. Johns only significance was in the fact that he was chosen by God to trumpet the reality of the Messiah, his purpose was not about him or his prophetic gifts, his purpose was to proclaim the last true prophet [in the sense of Hebrew messengers who came down the line- see Hebrews chapter 1] and John the Baptist said ‘this is the one, the one whom the Spirit descended on- he’s going to baptize you guys with the Spirit’ [and fire!]. John testified that Jesus was the end of the line for promised Messiahs, he was the ONE. Why look we for another?
(1384) YOU’RE NO EINSTEIN! A few weeks back my wife was getting on me for looking like a homeless guy, she tells me ‘John, why don’t you cut your hair- at least brush it’ and I responded ‘Einstein let his hair grow out’- the response ‘your no Einstein’. Humility is one of those gifts that just keeps on giving. Okay, seriously I have become a little messy these last few years. I am feeling okay physically though I realize all things are not well. About a year [actually a few years] ago I noticed some physical signs that probably needed to be checked out, but I had just lost my health insurance and finally went on line and did the best with what I had. At the same time there were days where I would get off of work and barely be able to walk [back problems] and would go to the homeless mission to see the brothers and some of them are in there 20’s, doing much better than me, and yet they are on Social Security, getting medical stuff for free, and I couldn’t even get the darn VA clinic to check me out! [I was in the navy, and my wife also. Tried but failed to get approved for the clinic]. So I guess after a while you get frustrated. Okay, in John chapter 2 Jesus turns the water into wine. The governor of the wedding drinks it and says ‘wow, most people serve the best stuff first, and after everyone is feeling good- then he sets out the cheap stuff. But you have saved the best for last’. Of course we know this is a story that speaks about the New Covenant in Jesus Blood being better than the old, but the point I want to make is this governor testified about Jesus and he didn’t even know it. Later on after the leaders draw up their personal opinions of him, they will not give him the credit for ‘the good wine’ they will find all sorts of reasons to demean him, but those who simply got a taste of the wine said ‘wow, that’s some of the best ever’. Do you [I] have a tendency to reject the ‘wine’ because we have already pre judged the source? Have people ever approached you and said ‘hey, did you hear that brothers teaching, it’s really good’ and yet you felt offended because ‘that brother’ might have hit a nerve or 2 along the way. Jesus turned the water into wine, not just any wine, but some of the best stuff on the planet. Many wouldn’t access it because they were offended by his straight forward approach- they even said of John the Baptist that he had strange eating habits [locusts!] and looked a little shabby [camels hair wardrobe]. Don’t let the personal animosities keep you from the good wine, people are going to drink it whether you like it or not, might as well get in on it while there’s still some time left.
(1385) JOHN 4- Jesus does the unthinkable, he travels thru a bad side of town- Samaria. If you read our Kings study you will remember the history of the region, by the time of Jesus day they were considered the ‘dogs’ of society. Now Jesus meets the woman at the well and they engage is this intriguing conversation, she brings up the debate over where the true place of worship should be- do we meet in the church building or the house? Ah, Jesus says ‘woman, the time is coming and it is even here now when the true worshippers of God will do it in spirit and truth’. It really wasn’t a matter of ‘where’. Okay, she gets into this religious discussion with this strange person in the middle of her busy day, she really doesn’t have time to get into the whole thing. But for some reason she’s drawn to this person, he seems to have insight that is rare for the day. Jesus tells her ‘if you knew who it was that you were talking to, you would have asked for water and I would have given you water that once a person drinks from they will never thirst again’. Okay, another one of those strange sayings, but she’s running out of time, she needs to finish her business at the well at get back to town. What the heck, she says ‘Okay, give me the water’ well, first we have to deal with a few things- remember I’m looking for sprit and truth, brutal honesty about your life and situation. This isn’t an encounter with some ‘wealth coach’ for heaven’s sake! Here we go ‘call your husband’ what? What a strange question to interject at this point-okay, she knows how to answer questions about her past in a way that makes it sound like everything is all right, when we all know it’s not. She says ‘I have no husband’ got ya now. Jesus tells her ‘you have spoken the truth’ the man your living with now is not your husband, and you have been divorced 5 times already, so yes, you ‘have no husband’. Okay, this is where the rubber meets the road, this is what Jesus was getting at when he told her that worship is not about ‘where’ but about truth and honesty when confronted by God. At this point many walk away and stay offended for life, but she was thirsty enough to allow the confrontation/offense to happen. ‘Well, I know that the Messiah is going to come some day, and when he comes he will tell us all things’! It was really a shot at Jesus ‘sure, you know SOME STUFF about me, but the real Messiah knows everything!’ Jesus says ‘I that speak unto you am he’. At that point the disciples returned with the food, they are shocked that Jesus is engaging this woman, they must be thinking ‘thank God the Pharisees aren’t here for this one’ I mean they were always looking for an excuse to discredit him. Well the woman goes back into town and tells all the other ‘mongrels’ about Jesus, he is invited to the town and spends 2 days and this truly is the first great ‘gentile/Samaritan’ outreach of the first century. In our day there is much debate about the how and way to ‘do church’ much of what is missing from the conversation is the ‘spirit and truth’ aspect. I have noticed that when a famous preacher falls into some public sin, that when they make the rounds [Larry King, etc.] there is much interest. People want to know that the things that they have struggled with are also things that we all deal with. The ‘spirit and truth’ aspect is often missing from our modern practice of Christianity. This woman allowed the confrontation to happen; it needed to happen for her to get to the next step where she would believe that Jesus was the Messiah. She truly found the water that she asked for.
(1386) DROP THE BED [AND GIVE ME THE WINGS] – I was reading a news story about a Dominoes guy who was robbed; the brothers who robbed him found out he had no money on him, so one of them said ‘just give me the wings’, now that’s a brother that I could go easy on if I was on the jury. Recently I made a few comments on line dealing with the Emergent movement and stuff, all things I have written on before. Though I have been both critical and at times supportive of certain aspects of the movement, I felt some who also made comments were not leaving enough ‘room’ [grace] for the author of the book being critiqued. In John chapter 5 Jesus heals the guy at the pool of Bethesda and he tells him ‘take up your bed and walk’- take up my bed! That’s the reason I have not been able to get healed by making it into the water after the angel troubles the water, I mean if I could walk I wouldn’t be in this dilemma. The poor brother didn’t realize that he was talking straight to the source ‘forget about the angel thing, I am the Messiah man! Take up the bed now’ the man walks. Now that’s a real miracle, something that we could all be happy about, right? Not. The religious folk saw the man and their first response was ‘who in the heck told you to carry that darn bed on the Sabbath’? They immediately saw the perceived violation of their religious point of view, the bible says ‘they sought to kill him’. What! The same 10 commandments that speak about keeping the Sabbath has a little bit to say about killing people too. Sometimes we as believers [defenders of the faith] need to be able to look past the things we perceive as wrong- now there are times where we take a stand and say ‘enough is enough’ but there are also times where we need to ask ourselves if we are just looking for some guy carrying his bed- the person who seems to be violating one of our ideas. There is a difference between true rejecters of Jesus, and people who believe in Jesus but are coming at stuff from a different point of view. To shoot a pizza delivery boy in a robbery is a serious crime, to say ‘give me the wings’ I don’t know.
(1387) FOR THE FATHER HAS LIFE IN HIMSELF, AND HAS GIVEN TO THE SON TO HAVE LIFE IN HIMSELF; AND HAS GIVEN HIM AUTHORITIY TO EXECUTE JUDGMENT ALSO- In John chapter 5 one of the statements that irks the religious leaders is Jesus calling God his father- thus making himself equal with God. Those who doubt the deity of Christ should look at the way the religious leaders viewed him, they knew that he claimed equality with God. In some of the recent musings on the liberal ideas of ‘the evolution of God’ [those who see the church evolving in her view of God as time goes by] I want to say a few things. First, the incarnation is Gods way of saying ‘yes, your view of me was limited, the very fact that the incarnation is the full revealing of myself to man, shows that man never had the complete [full] view of me yet’. So in a sense, yes, our view of God ‘evolved’ [so to speak] from the wrathful God of the Old Testament to the merciful God of the New Testament. Now, are these contrary views of God? No. Are they views like some in the early days of the church taught- that the God of the Old Testament was a different God than the God of the New [Marcion and other Gnostic cults]? No. But our view of God from the Old Testament is a view of Gods holiness and judgment apart from the grace of the New Covenant. He is the same God, seen absent the Cross [for the most part, yet we do see Gods attribute of mercy even in the Old Testament]. Now, without getting off track too much, in the New Testament we are told that Jesus is the complete picture of God to us; Colossians says that ALL the fullness of the God head dwelt in Jesus bodily. We never had this fleshly reality of God before- the apostle John will say ‘we handled the word of life’ [1st Jn]. A few weeks back while watching an apologetic show I mentioned how some of the staunch apologists were labeling the UPC [united Pentecostal churches] as a cult because of their unique view of the oneness of God. The apologists at one point quoted the verse ‘all things were made by him’ referring to Jesus, and said ‘therefore Jesus is God’ true. But they were trying to combat the UPC brothers by using this verse, the apologists were using it in a way that said ‘see, Jesus created everything too, just like it says about God’ sort of in a disconnected way. In John 1 we read that in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. In Genesis we read that God ‘spoke’ all things into existence. Jesus in the New Testament is called ‘the word of God’ to try and simplify it, when Colossians says ‘all things were made by him’ it does not mean that Jesus created things separately from God, it means God spoke and that ‘the vehicle’ of creation was the Son. The act of God’s word [also called Jesus] going forth created all things. God did not create separately from the Son, or the Son from the father. I really loathe teaching this stuff because church history is filled with names that get tagged on all the various views of explaining the oneness of God while at the same time upholding the reality of the Trinity. The main point today is mans view of God did ‘evolve’ in a sense, it became fully revealed in Jesus. Now the liberal view of the evolution of God is something different than this, but I wanted to make clear that if the only view of God is seen thru the Old Testament, than yes we are not ‘fully’ seeing God, the full view comes thru Jesus. We reject the Marcion idea of 2 different Gods, the Gnostic belief that the God of the Old Testament was the God of matter and thus an evil God, while the God of the new testament is the spirit God- this is true heresy, but as Christians we accept the incarnation as the complete picture and revelation of God to man. This in no way negates the wrath of God [eternal judgment] but it tempers it with mercy.
(1388) 1, 2 MANY BISHOPS? In John chapter 6 Jesus is confronting the religious leaders, they are always appealing to some ancient hero of the faith [Moses, Abraham] and they are doing it in a way that violates the supremacy of Jesus. Jesus tells them ‘look, you guys are always appealing to the writings of Moses, if you really believed in the guy you would have also believed in me- he wrote about me!’ In ‘blog world’ there has been a scuffle over an overseas church that many have labeled as a cult. On the site ‘religion news blog’ they have been doing an expose’. The church is led by a man who calls himself a Bishop and one of his satellite churches had a Pastor walk out and split the church. The coverage of the ministry that I have read seems to place them in the prosperity/apostolic covering type movement. I have written on this before and have always felt that there were too many independent churches-ministries claiming ‘apostolic authority’ and these well intentioned people have crossed the line when it comes to the freedom of the individual believer’s conscience. Many are famous for rebuking ‘the maverick spirit’ while at the same time they seem to be totally mavericks themselves! In the above case I think the religious site went too far in calling them a cult. I have read from this site in the past and they are run by fine Catholic Christians, but they are too quick to holler ‘cult’. I personally do not recommend these types of church movements, but avoid the cult label. I also read an article a while back written by a leader in one of the more historic churches, they were rebuking the rapid spread of these types of churches thru out the world. The leader said they were sprouting up like wild fire, all with their self proclaimed bishops, who were basically starting their own independent churches and everyone in the organization is ordaining everyone else as a bishop, the leader saw this as a major problem. What exactly does the bible teach about this? The words for ‘bishop, overseer and elder’ in the bible seem to speak of the same office. Though different Greek words are used, most scholars agree that they seem to be used interchangeably. One thing we know for sure is in the New Testament there were no Bishops in the sense of an ecclesiastical authority over a number of churches. This developed over time and my purpose here is not to get into the whys and how’s this happened, I am not ‘anti clergy’ in that I reject the modern role today [in the historic churches]. Does the bible have any office that does show an extra local authority? Yes, the apostle Paul had a very effective oversight ministry to most of the churches we read about in the New Testament. So the idea of a church planting ministry to have a number of ‘satellite churches’ is okay. The Catholic Church has Bishops in the Cathedral cities who oversee the entire region. I live In Corpus Christi; the cathedral for this south Texas region for the Catholics is located in my city. San Antonio has another region. While living in New Jersey, Saint Patrick’s was the Cathedral in N.Y. that covered the region. So you have different views and out workings of how bishops work. The thing I would warn about is when these bishops [the independent ones] seem to teach a strong type of ‘covering’ authority over people. Many of these movements [sometimes referred to as the shepherding, discipleship movement] teach a controlling type spirit that has the main apostle as the person that the community submits to, but it is done in a way that violates the freedom that we see in the New Testament. The religious folk of Jesus day were enamored with Moses, to the point where they were never fully able to move on to Jesus as being the true authority figure that they would submit to, I think we could all learn from their mistake.
(1390) THE EXCLUSIVITY OF JESUS CHRIST- John chapter 8 begins with the woman caught in adultery, Jesus refuses to judge her but also tells her to go and sin no more. Then we launch into a conversation between Jesus and the religious leaders. Basically they claim belief in God and tell Jesus that he is their father. Jesus replies that if they do not believe that he is the Messiah, then in reality they do not have God as their father- he flat out tells them that satan is the father of those who claim belief in God while not accepting and honoring the Son. This chapter is important for the pluralistic society we live in today. How should believers approach other faiths that claim belief in God, but do not accept Jesus as the Messiah? First, we should respect the various beliefs/religions of others people groups. Now when I say ‘respect’ I mean we should give people room to form their own beliefs while at the same time challenging them with the truth claims of Christianity. We should not leave the impression ‘well, we all believe in the same God, so what’s the difference whether or not you believe in Christ’ well frankly the difference is between heaven or hell! The point being Jesus is ‘exclusive’ in the sense that you can’t really have God as your father without having Jesus as your savior. He can’t just be ‘one of the prophets in a long line of prophets’ no, he alone is the God man! God became flesh and dwelt among us thru the Son, Jesus said if you don’t hear his words, believe that he is the one sent from the father, then you don’t have God as your father. Jesus is ‘inclusive’ in the sense that he even accepted the woman taken in adultery, something the so called ‘God believers’ would not do. The religious acceptance of belief in God, absent the reality of Jesus, treats women and others with disdain [wearing veils, etc.] those who ‘have God’ and the Son, are truly the liberators of society. The world might accuse the church of being arrogant and believing in exceptionalism, but in the end we have the only answer to the human sin problem, that which G.K. Chesterton called the only Christian doctrine that has 100% empirical evidence of being true! Truly Jesus is the answer to fallen man, let’s not be ashamed of that fact.
(1391) NO MAS [SA]! Back in the 70’s us boxing fans were treated to one of those so called ‘super fights’ you know, a matchup between greats. Roberto Duran faced Sugar Ray Leonard. A few rounds into the fight Duran got so frustrated that he walked out of the ring while chanting ‘NO MAS’. Yesterday a Democratic congressman from N.Y. – by the name of Massa- resigned his seat and went on the war path against his own party. It seems like he has a history of making racy comments to other men, but his excuse for being rail roaded is that he voted against Obama Care. It’s quite sad, he is making the rounds [today he’ll be on Beck] and he’s describing all these encounters with the administrations men, he says they approached him in the showers at the gym, wearing nothing, and he describes Rahm Emanuel’s ‘tush’. He seems like he can’t escape language that pits him up against other men, while nude! All of this wouldn’t be so tragic if it weren’t happening to the most ethical congress in U.S. history! Plus, it really stains N.Y. politics, I bet Spitzer and Patterson can’t even sleep at night. Okay, in John chapter 9 Jesus heals a man that was blind from birth, the disciples ask him ‘who did sin, this man or his parents, that caused this man’s plight’? Jesus said neither, but this happened so the works of God could be manifested in him. This might be the most important verse in the chapter. This man and his family lived many years with the insinuation that they must have been children of a lesser God, sure their neighbors didn’t come right out and say it, but you could sure feel the underlying accusation. Now, the news makes it to the religious crowd and they find out he was healed on the Sabbath, a big no no, a real ‘No Mas’ moment. They question the man and his family, they can’t escape the fact that this is a real miracle, so they try and convince the man that he should thank God for the miracle, but this Jesus is not authentic. The more they question him, the more he becomes a vocal advocate for Jesus. Finally at one point the religious leaders get fed up and they say ‘who are you to teach us anything, YOU WERE ALL TOGETHER BORIN IN SIN!’ There it is, that underlying accusation that he always felt from the religious crowd- you know, the group who always had their act together, they prided themselves in their upper class status ‘thank God that I am not like this beggar’ type of thing. But now, at the moment of truth, they blurt it out ‘Look at you, your whole life has been a testimony of your utter worthlessness, sure we never said it openly, but we always felt that way’ so the truth came out. I had a good friend a few years ago, New York Tony, he was a homeless brother that came from my home turf, never knew him from the north, but ran into him while making the rounds. Tony was a good friend, hooked on Coke and Crack, but a hard worker and Army vet. Tony used to always question why he was like the way he was, he was adopted and he thought maybe his real mom passed something off to him- was he like this because of what he did, or what his parents did? In the religious world we often create mindsets that say to people ‘surely if you were right with God, these things wouldn’t have happened to you’ we often violate the mandate from James ‘Don’t despise the poor’. At the end of the chapter Jesus tells the man that he came into the world to make the blind see, and the ‘seers’ blind. The religious leaders would find no help until they got to the end of their rope, the point where they could say ‘No Mas’ to the road they were on, but instead they said to Jesus ‘No Mas’.
(1392) CAN A DEVIL OPEN THE EYES OF THE BLIND? In John 10 Jesus defends his deity in sort of a strange way; he says ‘if those to whom the word of God came are called “gods” how much more shall it be said of him whom the father hath sent and sanctified, that he is called the Son of God’. Jesus is quoting Psalms 82, as far as I can tell this is the only attempt that Jesus makes to justify his deity thru scripture. He has said things like ‘before Abraham was, I AM’ and ‘how could David call the Messiah his Lord, if he is the Son of David’ all statements that speak of his deity, but this quote from Psalms 82 seems to be a direct reference to him claiming deity [Son ship] based on a verse that calls us ‘gods’. Over the years this verse has been used by certain camps to teach dominion theology, but I think they missed the point. The Psalm itself is a rebuttal to the religious leaders of Jesus day, it argues for the defense of the poor, the doing of justice- it is the ministry of Jesus in a nutshell, a strong reproof against those who refused to do justice and defend the poor and needy. I mean Jesus healed the crippled guy and all they could do was critique him for violating their view of the Sabbath. In this chapter they say ‘can a devil open the eyes of the blind’? Jesus purposely healed these people on the Sabbath, I mean there really were 6 other days to do these healings, why keep doing it on the Sabbath? I think he was sticking it in their faces, causing them to have to rethink their religious views. He was showing them the reality behind the law ‘the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath’ the rebuke of psalms 82 ‘do justice and quit using the law as some religious measurement of class and status’. Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus didn’t heal every sick person he met- I know the bible says ‘he healed them all- he went around healing all who were oppressed of the devil’ but this does not mean every person on the planet. I mean at the pool of Bethesda he healed only one, I mean that pool was like a hospice, people who were ready to die were showing up for one last miracle, yet Jesus healed only one. But these outstanding cases were proofs that just wouldn’t go away. The religious leaders kept going back to those events in their minds ‘can a devil do this’? The father testified of the authenticity of the Son by doing these miracles, Jesus even says ‘look, if you don’t believe me because you think my doctrine and claims are wrong, then at least believe for the actual works that I’ve done’ no matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t deny the reality of those few outstanding miracles-‘can a devil really do this’? No.
(1393) POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY- in John chapter 11 Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. The news gets back to the religious leaders and they say ‘If this keeps going on, we will lose our influence with the people and the Roman authorities will come and take away our position’ and one of their own, the high priest Caiaphas, says ‘Don’t you guys understand that it is expedient that one should die for the nation, instead of the whole nation suffering’ and John says ‘this spake he by the Spirit, being he was the high priest he was prophesying of Jesus death’. Okay, did the brother realize what he was saying? I doubt it. But he was stating a political reality of the time, that this railroading of Jesus would play a cathartic role for the political times that they were in. I finally watched the interview with the disgraced congressman, Eric Massa. He went on Beck and the whole thing is really a fiasco. Beck was hoping to expose the hidden conspiracies of the administration, instead Massa confessed to tickling his navy bunkmates! The sad thing is, as I listened to Beck, he really believes in many of the conspiracy theories he espouses. It doesn’t help that the president, as well meaning and pluralistic as he is, puts people to work for him that have held fringe beliefs. This allows the Becks of the world to find these hidden treasures [UTUBE] and lo and behold, we have one of his people praising Mau Se Tung, or signing a 911 petition that claims Bush was in on it. What purpose do the Becks of the world [or to be fair, the MSNBC crowd] play? I see them as sort of a cathartic for the people who also hold to their views, it seems to be a necessary evil that allows people to vent, a sort of political necessity if you will. I saw Patrick Kennedy, son of the late Ted Kennedy, rebuking the media for their coverage of Massa, while at the same time they have forgotten about the seriousness of the war in Afghanistan and the money and cost of lives on both sides, he was mad and raging on the floor. Though I am not a fan of Kennedy, yet I believe he spoke much truth. I thinks its appalling that the media has dropped the ball on this, every so often a story or so will leak out, a bunch of accidental deaths that our govt. denies being involved with, then a month or so passes and a small report comes out ‘yes, we did accidently kill 40 people’ what? The media seems to not hold the current president accountable in these things. They play sides to the point where real atrocities are glossed over. How many more stories on Sarah Palin’s daughter will they do? They trodded out the ex boyfriend onto the main media outlets to share their dirty laundry. They gave a forum to a disgruntled kid who posed for playgirl, and they keep on doing this stuff. I mean this is the daughter of a ‘private’ citizen for heaven’s sake. How much coverage did they give to the ‘partner’ of Joe Biden’s daughter who made a sex tape with her? How often have you heard the story? How many stories on Chelsea Clintons sex life? MSNBC is just as bad as Beck when they do these things to a girl dealing with all the situations that life can throw at you, and yet from letterman to Chris Matthews to the major news outlets, they have all been guilty of this double standard. Caiaphas saw the writing on the wall, he wasn’t worried about the fact that what he was prophesying was that a corrupt system was going to railroad someone thru a kangaroo court and execute an innocent man, he was simply calculating the political balances of the day ‘will this help or hurt our cause’ type of a thing. They should have been more worried about losing their souls, then their seats in congress.
(1394) THE TEXAS SCHOOL BOOK DEPOSITORY? In John 12 the Greeks come to Jesus disciples and want a meeting with Jesus, the Greeks are those who prided themselves in their wisdom. Jesus basically brushes them off and refuses to cow tow to the elites. He responds ‘unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone’ in essence- you guys ‘abide alone’ [no meeting with me] until you take up the Cross and follow me. This week [yesterday] the news has been reporting the Texas school book story. Basically every few years Texas school board members go thru the process of what the books for the state should include; basic guidelines and stuff. Texas is the nation’s number one purchaser of textbooks, so the theory is if Texas ‘conservatives’ get their way, then the rest of the nation gets stuck having to buy books that are tainted with backwoods idiots who imposed their views on the rest of the ‘Greek’ [intellectual world]. Do our schoolbooks in general steer away from the religious history and statements of many of the founding fathers? Yes. Do our schoolbooks in general avoid/edit out religious statements from their coverage of the founding documents. Yes. Why? There is a basic mistake made by many of the publishers of schoolbooks that say ‘if we show religious content, then we are violating the separation of church and state idea’. The problem with this approach is they have left out a large portion of history while trying to produce a product that will be accepted in both ‘liberal’ and conservative states. If you read the founding documents in their entirety [Mayflower Compact, etc.] they read like a ‘church covenant’ that any Christian community could adopt. Yet when the history books show quotes and portions of the documents, they never quote these sections, why? Because of what I just showed you. This has happened time and time again over many years until we have gotten to the point where many public school children are really not learning an accurate history of the country. The well meaning [but grossly misinformed] opponents simply do not know this. They see the struggle as one between ‘those darn Christian ignoramuses’ versus the enlightened crowd, they are really the ones who have no idea what they are talking about. Now, are we- quote ‘a Christian nation’? Not really. At least not in the way that some Protestant preachers claim. During the founding of our country you had the mindset of the European enlightenment affecting much of western society. Lines were being drawn that pitted a humanist form of belief in God [Deism] against the classical Christian view. Some of our founding fathers did adhere to a Deistic view. Deism said ‘we do not need tradition or religion to inform us of human value and dignity, we can hold to these principles by virtue of our human nobility and intelligence’ that is they believed these truths to be self evident, sort of like the current theme from some of the more popular atheists ‘do good for goodness sake’ [which by the way, fails in the long run- too much to explain right now]. Now, with this background, when our founding documents say ‘we hold these truths to be SELF EVIDENT’ this term smacks of the fact that some of our fathers did indeed reject the classical Christian view. So what does this show us? That some of the founders purposefully included language that would veer away from the Christian view. But you will never understand or learn this simple thing that I just showed you, if we continue to expunge from the record all the religious statements and views of the fathers! So the point is, when these so called enlightened ones try and approach teaching from a biased view, a view that they often don’t realize is biased, they do more harm than good to their cause. The Greeks said ‘we are willing to hear Jesus, let’s set up an appointment’ they went further than most of the liberals on the Texas school board.
(1395) GLTB community [might have left a letter out?] Last night I caught an interview on CNN with a transgender person. Tonight they will be doing a special on him called ‘my name was Stephen’ he has ‘transitioned’ and is now living as a woman. Then the next show [Anderson Cooper] interviewed Chas [former Chastity] Bono, the daughter of Sony and Cher who also is transgender. A few years ago I saw a documentary on a phenomenon where people had this compulsion, sometimes from as long as they can remember, to want to rid themselves of a limb. The interesting thing was many of these people came from various backgrounds and had no idea that others too grappled with ‘this feeling’. Eventually a community formed around them to affirm them and tell them there really is nothing wrong with them, after all many others have struggled with the same feelings from their youth, so it must be an identity thing. During the show they interviewed family members who dealt with the fact that many of their loved ones went thru with these desires and found ways to get their limbs amputated [freezing them to the point where the ER had no choice but to amputate the limb]. One person who finally gave in to ‘who he really was’ found out that after the first amputation, yes he felt a sense of relief, sort of like ‘well, I was told by many others that it was the answer to my problem, so I did it’ he was later interviewed and described how he eventually sought counseling and he now realizes that both his desires, and the good intentions of others who tried to affirm his desires, were actually very damaging. Others felt affirmed in their acceptance of his desires, but they really did not realize that their acceptance and encouraging was actually harmful. He said that after the first amputation, some time elapsed and he began having a desire to amputate another limb. He thanks God that a good counselor treated this disorder and he is happy he stopped at limb one. In the interview with the transgender person it showed how he went for many years without any inkling of wanting to go from man to woman, then one day he watched a show and they espoused this belief as the answer to some people’s problems. This idea stuck in his head and through the process of time he acted on it. His son and wife dealt with it the best they could, but it no doubt affected his entire life. They went thru the whole procedure of surgeries and hormone treatments and dealing with severe depression [and a high suicide rate] that many of these people deal with, and yet the whole flavor of the show was geared towards saying it was societies fault [church, morals] that has caused these people to feel unwanted. There was really no thought given to the possibility that these decisions, acting out on years of feelings, might in the long run solve nothing and actually lead to more problems. In so many words the psychologist who was also interviewed admitted that the depression rate is almost 100 % after the ‘transition’ is made. How should we as believers respond? In John 13 Jesus is with his men at the last supper, he takes a towel and begins to wash the disciples feet, Peter gets upset ‘No way Jesus, I won’t let you wash my feet’! Jesus says ‘Peter, if you don’t let me wash you, you have no part with me’. Then Peter says ‘fine, give me an entire bath’ and Jesus says he really only needs to admit that sometimes in life we need foot washings, not entire body makeovers! Some in the progressive church are trying honestly to deal with these issues by saying ‘they don’t need a foot washing, that’s the way God made them’ they are trying to be affirming towards people with struggles, but in the long run this affirmation will not work. Imagine trying that with the brother who kept ‘feeling’ that it was right to amputate his limbs! Jesus shows us that all people get defiled in life, whether a person’s struggle is with a sexual identity issue, or a heterosexual issue, we all have times where we need to go to Jesus for cleansing. It might very well be that some of our brothers and sisters in Christ will struggle and stumble in life with these things. We should help them ‘get clean’ even if it’s a life time struggle. But to espouse the idea of the world that says the answer is to affirm them in their sin, this is neither helpful to them nor the biblical thing to do. When the religious conservatives brought the woman in adultery to Jesus, Jesus received the woman; he accepted and did not reject her. He also told her to sin no more, he empowered her not by saying the lifestyle she was living was okay, but by telling her ‘yes, I love you, and this lifestyle you think is fulfilling you is not- you must let me wash you from it’. I know these issues are hot button issues, and I know many well meaning Christians are presently trying to work thru these issues, but the fact is many who have been told ‘to keep resisting this desire, to not give in to it is living a lie’, they are being misled. They are told year after year that to give in to whatever temptation they are facing would be the answer, this simply is not true. Many will eventfully find the same struggles all over again [remove another limb?] and finally realize that in life there are times when yes, our feet get dirty- we might fall and struggle for many years, but Jesus said you could still have a part with him, if you let him wash your feet- if you keep coming back, 70 times 7, he will keep working with you. The tragic thing is many of these precious people are told that this struggle, to keep trying to overcome, is not being open and honest, they are told this at times by the church. My brethren, we ought not to do these things.
(1397) IN MY FATHERS HOUSE ARE MANY MANSIONS- Yesterday I read an article by an Arab believer who grew up in a Muslim country. He shared how over the years he has learned how to dialogue respectively with Muslims and how important it was to share the Christian faith with respect, I really liked the tone. Jesus said ‘I have other sheep which are not of this fold, I must gather them too’. In context he is telling Israel that he too will gather Gentiles into the kingdom. I also read a verse [?] the other day that spoke to me about leaving the door open when dialoging with various groups. One of things that has surprised me since I started blogging is the Arab brothers [Christians] who have contacted me over the years and have been excited about our site. Many of them are pastors and are really laying their lives on the line to bring the gospel to Muslims. I do realize that my stance on natural Israel as well as how the western world should treat Muslims/Arabs is part of the reason why fellow Arab believers have been drawn to our site. For the most part I believe the church should put the gospel of Jesus above all ethnic/political concerns- when preaching the gospel we need to avoid getting into geopolitical wars or wars in general! Many believers in Palestine who are Arab face persecution from fellow countrymen who are Muslim, as well as persecution from Israel. These believers generally do not get support from believers from the U.S., instead when American believers go over there to interact, we usually are there to support natural Israel and to see how well the future ‘temple’ plans are going, and stuff like that. The Arab believers feel neglected by this attitude, some have actually said ‘why don’t you care for us, don’t you understand that we have been persecuted at times by Israel’? They feel confused and rejected when they read in the bible how Christians should love and care for one another, and then they see western believers taking sides in natural conflicts. Jesus said his house had many rooms, the people of God [Gods house] are diverse and come from many varied backgrounds. I do not hold to the thinking that says ‘all religions are Gods children’ in a pluralistic sense of all monotheistic faiths have the same faith. But when dealing with other fellow believers in the world [whether Arab, Jewish, etc.] we should defend our brothers and sisters and side with them in times of conflict, by ‘siding with them’ I mean we need to speak out in support of them and call for justice and help when they are in trouble. I do not advocate ‘siding with people’ when talking about actual warfare- believers should not be in the business of siding with any conflict when it includes killing other people [the sides you take as a citizen of a country are a different matter, I am speaking here as a citizen of Gods kingdom]. I am grateful for all my Arab friends and pastors who have been in touch with me over these past few years, I pray for them regularly and have embraced them as sort of part of the fellowship of brothers that I regularly reach out to. I do realize that they also enjoy the level of teaching we do [not that we are that great, but we do share from a broad range of teaching that many individual pastors might not be able to access on their own]. I thank God that ‘his house’ has many mansions, that Jesus calls sheep from ‘other folds’ that we might not be familiar with, let’s be open to those from other ethnic backgrounds that share the same faith in Jesus Christ- they are all our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
(1398) REV. ZEKE- [pastor from India] Brother, I accidently deleted your email, if you are reading this, email me again and I’ll put your email on our global section.
Okay, it’s a rare thing for me to take a ministry off of my blog roll. Once I put someone on our site I feel it would be irresponsible to drop them for any minor disagreement, or because they might hold differing views than my own. For the most part I add other web sites because I feel they add to the diverse conversation in the global church. Having said this, I recently deleted the site for Charisma Magazine. I originally put them on because I was blogging on their site and they eventually removed the blog section, but I felt it was okay to leave them on anyway. But after a period of time I just couldn’t keep endorsing ‘the level’ of stuff they teach- in all good conscience I hit the delete button. The other day I thought I’d give them a visit, on the main article page they had some sister sharing a vision and on the heading it said ‘I saw snakes wrapped around [something- I forget]’ and I just felt bad that a major Christian magazine would do stuff like this. In John 14 Jesus says he’s going away and will send ‘another comforter’ this word speaks about the Spirit coming, one just like Jesus. The disciples ask him how he will reveal himself to them, and not to the world. Jesus says if we keep his commandments and do his will, that the Spirit will manifest and come to us- but the world cannot see him and they will not benefit from his work. Though many Christians are divided over ‘Charismatic churches’ yet the need for the work of the Spirit is vital, I personally believe in the gifts of the Spirit and do not hold to a cessationist view. Over the years as I have read this chapter I have been inclined to see the promise of Jesus ‘going away and coming again to receive us’ as actually referring to the Spirits outpouring at Pentecost. This does not mean I reject a literal physical return of the Lord at the end of the age, but in context it seems that Jesus was telling the disciples that he would ‘come again and receive them’ in the sense that the Spirit would complete the ministry of Jesus by sealing them until the day of redemption [Ephesians]. Jesus said those who hear his word and do his will are promised the presence of the Spirit; truly God is no respecter of persons. There is a movement in the church today that appeals to the kingdom call of Jesus, versus trying to convince people of the truth claims of Christianity- to some degree I like this emphasis, it appeals to other religions in the sense that we are telling people ‘we are not here to change your culture [and make you accept ours] but we are here offering you the promise of Jesus, if you believe his words and do his will he will manifest himself to you’. There actually are some in the Muslim community who are claiming belief in Jesus [not just the ‘Jesus’ of the Koran] and yet still consider themselves cultural Muslims, this is certainly interesting. The point today is we need Gods Spirit desperately, though we have been guilty at times with confusing the work of the Spirit with people having visions of snakes! Yet we need the Spirit to work, Jesus said he would manifest himself to those who are keeping his word- a great promise indeed.
(1400) IF I HADN’T DONE WHAT I HAVE DONE AMONG THEM, WORKS NO ONE HAS EVER DONE, THEY WOULDN’T BE TO BLAME. BUT THEY SAW THE GOD SIGNS AND HATED ANYWAY… THEY HATED ME FOR NO GOOD REASON- John 15, message bible.
This is the chapter where Jesus tells us he is the vine and we are the branches; the father is the main gardener. If we remain-abide in him we will bring forth fruit, if we do not ‘remain in him’ we are cut off and burned. In Johns other writings [1st John] he speaks about those who did not remain in the doctrine of Christ, they went out ‘from us, but were really not with us’. John was speaking of the Gnostic/Docetist groups that would reject the incarnation of Jesus; these did not ‘remain in him’. Also what about the immediate circle of disciples that Jesus was speaking to, did any of them ‘not remain’? Judas would also reject Christ, and Jesus said he too was not really a part of them from the start. In the above quote Jesus challenges the religious leaders of the day by doing the works that he did. The religion of the day viewed God’s will as religious performance, public praying on the street corners, fasting ‘to be seen’, their mindset was one of public performance. Jesus put priority on doing acts of justice, reaching out to the poor, spending time with the down and out, and also rejecting the ‘crowd pleasing’ mentality of the day. In John’s gospel his brothers tell him ‘go up to the public feast and show thyself, no man who does these things secretly will not eventually go public’ they thought there was something strange about his unwillingness to ‘go public’. I have often found it strange that we as believers put such a high priority on ‘public meetings-ministry’ to the point where we really believe that this is the main part of Christianity. A few years back I visited/stayed with some brothers in Europe, they ran a Christian community where they all lived and helped each other out [addicts and stuff]. I spent about a week with them and it was great, I immediately saw the work as a legitimate expression of ‘local church’ [Ecclesia] I even defended them to others who were saying ‘they are not church’. During the week I spent with them, the main leader of the group was just beginning to rent another building so they could ‘do church’. I went to a few of the meetings and it was okay. The point being they kind of felt like the public meetings were ‘really church’ and the actual community was ‘Para church’ a very limited view indeed. The same thing has happened with many well meaning churches/ministries thru out the years. Jesus put a priority on things that the religious crowd deemed ‘non legitimate’ they would ask him ‘where are you getting your authority from, who gave you this authority’? In today’s jargon it might be said ‘who’s covering are you under, what ‘local church’ has legitimized you’. We often err, not knowing the scriptures or the power of God. Jesus put such a high priority on social justice, reaching out to the poor and needy, speaking out for the widow and oppressed. This same theme runs thru out the entire teaching of the New Testament. Very little time is spent on the idea of public meetings/ministry. Yet we have exalted the idea of church and ministry to the point where we see public performance as the main thing, that’s what we usually regulate our lives around. Jesus told the religious crowd that he came and did all the things that Gods kingdom was really about [helped the poor, raised the dead, etc.] Yet they found fault with him, they fulfilled the scriptures that said ‘they hated me for no good reason’ do the things we do have good reasons, or are we just following the crowd?
(1401) GLENN BECK- Okay, this past week Beck stirred up a controversy by telling people that if their churches use language like ‘social justice’ that you should leave the church. Beck showed how many of the liberal movements of the past, both inside and outside the church, used this language and also were socialist. Is Beck right to warn people about this? 50-50. In reality most Christian churches [if not all] have some belief about social justice, that is doing good, being charitable, etc. You also have strains of theology that touch on these issues [liberation theology, Rev. Wrights church, etc.] these see the role of the church in setting up systems that would mediate ‘social justice’ programs thru the state- not all Christians accept this premise. Overall we as believers should value social justice very highly on the scale of Christian service and belief. Beck seems to mean well, but the poor brother seems to be a little unhinged at times [like between 4 pm and 5pm every day or so]. In John 16 Jesus tells his men ‘a time is coming when those who kill you will think they are serving God’. Here in is a strange thing; out of all the commands of God, one of the most important ones is not to kill. But Jesus says that men are so susceptible to the influence of the world that they can even be convinced that killing other people is ‘doing God’s will’. Now, if I were to tell you at a young age ‘little Johnny, you will walk the planet for a few short years [70-80?] one of the most important things you need to avoid, more than anything else, is don’t kill other people’ got it- I mean how hard can this be? Yet Jesus says there will come a time when people think killing other people is ‘doing God’s will’ Huh? Okay as the year’s role by people all over the world are born and have been taught some version of this natural law, often given by their own belief system in God. So you have those in Islamic countries who eventually are shaped by their nations political causes and a time comes when they blowup other adherents to their own religion and shout ‘God is great’ as they kill themselves and others with them, they think they are doing ‘God service’. But you also have little Johnny growing up in the western world, he attends church as a boy, is taught lessons from the bible, and thru process of time joins the military. He is a good man, means well, and is taught that God and country go together. He even remembers attending some patriotic religious rallies over the years. He gets sent off to Afghanistan and winds up killing a woman with child. He either mistook her for an enemy combatant, or maybe she violated a safe zone. Either way, the one main command above all other commands, the thing that you were always told was the main thing to never do, you wind up doing. You even think that it is your patriotic duty to do this, yes you think the doing of this act is not only acceptable, but in a way it is ‘doing God service’. Now, as an ex Navy person, I support and believe in our military men and women, and in no way equate the act of a terrorist with that of our people; but what I am trying to show you is that as we go through life we can become effected by ideologies that are in conflict to our base principles, we can even do things that violate our most fundamental ideals, and be convinced that doing it is from God. When dealing with all types of social justice issues, we need to put Gods will first and foremost, above all other things. The message of Gods kingdom often runs contrary to the nations and governmental systems we espouse. When we confuse the two [whether the Christian patriot who chooses a career that may involve killing people] or the radical Muslim who confuses Gods will with the advancing of his political ideas, we need to re-evaluate our motives and think things thru before we embrace any world kingdom over Gods kingdom. Beck obviously had a point about the radical liberation theologians and their mixing of liberal politics with ‘church’, but Gods kingdom is all about social justice. Isaiah prophesied of the Spirit coming upon Jesus- to carry out social justice!
(1402) THIS IS WHAT I WANT YOU TO DO, ASK THE FATHER FOR WHATEVER IS IN KEEPING WITH THE THINGS I’VE REVEALED TO YOU; ASK IN MY NAME AND ACCORDING TO MY WILL AND HE WILL GIVE IT TO YOU. YOU’RE JOY WILL BE LIKE A RIVER OVERFLOWING IT’S BANKS- Jesus, message bible. In John 16 Jesus says the father will show us the things of the Son ‘all that the father has is mine, and he will take of mine and show it unto you’. I have been doing a little teaching on the nature of the church and how we as believers are affected by the way we ‘see church’. For instance in the bible the terms ‘where do you attend church’ ‘I am looking for a church to join’ ‘the tithe belongs to the local church’ all of these modern ways of viewing church are really not found in scripture. In the bible the gospel of the kingdom is proclaimed, those in the local communities who believed were baptized and became openly identified with the Jesus movement. From that time forward these communities of believers would be referred to as ‘the church’- they were not looking for a church to join, choosing between a buffet of ‘meeting places’ in their respective locals, no, they were actually referred to as the church! Of course it’s fine for believers to meet in buildings and give money to ‘the church’ and all the contemporary things we usually associate with church, but a part of the ministry of the Spirit is he takes what is Jesus’ and shows it unto us; he reveals the nature of the church to us [the church being the Body of Christ, his Body]. Recently I did some blogging at a Christianity Today article on Scot McKnight’s critique of Brain McLaren’s latest book. I Like Scot and have read McLaren. One of the critiques of Brian by Scot [of a previous book] Is Scot felt like McLaren left out Ecclesiology while talking Kingdom. While I do not defend Brian’s works [too much rejection of orthodoxy] yet in this area I think Scot may be confusing contemporary ideas of church [ecclesiology] with the idea of church in scripture. For instance, many theologians teach that Jesus really had no ‘ecclesiology’ in his teaching [or very little] and that Jesus preached a Kingdom message that was different than the church, I think this idea is wrong/limited. It is in the preaching of the reality of the kingdom of God, and the people of God actually doing kingdom works, it is in this atmosphere that true church occurs; people are begin called out of the world unto Christ and these people are becoming the church. It’s really a matter of fully grasping the nature of the kingdom alongside the reality of what church means in the bible. Now, I think modern expressions of church are okay. Much of my criticism of modern church has a lot to do with losing the real message of Jesus in the bible and having replaced it with a modern success gospel, but there are some mega church expressions that are utilizing all the modern means of communicating while at the same time holding true to biblical teaching. Mark Driscoll pastors Mars Hill church in Seattle, Mark teaches historic reformed theology in a contemporary setting. So the reality of the church being much more than we usually understand, does not mean that every modern expression of meeting in huge buildings should be condemned. The point today is Jesus wants to reveal to us much more than we have seen up until this part of the journey. When we ‘see more’ it usually brings with it adjustments and changes that at times can be difficult; I want to encourage all of our Pastor/Leaders to be open to the ministry of the Spirit in the area of him revealing to us the nature of the church, there are many learned men [Kluck, McKnight, Galli, etc.] who I think are not fully seeing what the more mature Organic church movement is really saying, we also need to be careful not to write off the historic church in one fell swoop- both of these extremes do not help the church in the long run.