Showing posts with label truth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label truth. Show all posts

Monday, June 1, 2020

Don't Miss Out

Did you ever have an event that you wanted to see or be a part of only to miss it. I am not one for high school reunions, but I remember when my 30th year high school reunion was coming up. I thought that it would be interesting to attend so I sent in the registration form stating that I would attend. The weekend before the event, I once again looked over the invitation but to my surprise the reunion was taking place that very moment. I had inadvertently placed in my mind, is was in one more week. Well, I was wrong and I missed the reunion. Needless to say I make it a point not to repeat the same mistake again.

This brings me to my point. How many times have we placed within our mind something that we thought was truth but in fact it was contrary to it (the thing is, we did not know it at the time). Maybe some pastor or other church leader had presented what they believed was true but it could not be substantiated by the Bible. Maybe it was something that the mainline church has accepted as truth for years or even centuries but we cannot find chapter and verse to prove that it is so. Honestly, this happens all to often and continues to plague Christians with much misunderstanding of the the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit.

Hosea says it this way, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge..." (Hosea 4:6) Another version of the Bible says it this way, "My people are destroyed because they don't know me..." This is certainly a sad commentary that God says that His people do not know Him and therefore suffer because of it. This is a prophecy concerning Israel but it is an unfortunate reality today. Look at what the apostle Paul states concerning the church and Israel, (for the sake of space I will narrow the scripture to the point) "Now these things became our examples...Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come." (1 Corinthians 10:6-11) In other words, the things that Israel did or failed to do were written for the church so that we do not repeat their failures. But it is apparent that Hosea's prophecy (Hosea 4:6) is as real today as it was when it was spoken.

Today, many Christian leaders in colleges, universities and local churches are inoculating people with philosophies and psychology that have nothing to do with the knowledge of God. Many doctrines that the church still embraces are from the Mosaic economy, the Dark Ages or the old wine skin of the Protestant Reformation. Every now and then they are tweeted to make them seem like truth, but if we have to adjust doctrine then the chances are it is false doctrine. One example of many, concerns God's will, especially when it comes to healing. A great segment of the church does not believe that God heals today like He did in the early church. Many others believe that healing is entirely up to God, meaning that if He wants to heal, He will, if not, He won't.

The problem with this type of teaching, is that it is not found in the Bible. It is the product of church leaders lacking in understanding God's true nature, character, will, purposes and plan. It is a lack of knowledge that only comes by way of the Spirit by exercising faith. When I talk about faith, I mean the Bible or God kind of faith that comes from the heart, not the mystical kind of faith that comes from the head nor the natural kind of faith that comes from the senses. The only way to operate and understand true Bible faith is to do as Jesus did, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4:4) We must live on God's every Word.

This means letting go of mans wisdom, your own personal reasoning and using your senses to understand the things of the Spirit. The apostle Paul says it this way, "The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14) Paul is not only referring to those who are spiritually dead, but he is also addressing Christians who are carnal. You cannot expect to know the things of God through the natural mind. Jesus said, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." (John 6:63) We can only discern or understand spiritual things through the Spirit which requires true Bible faith.

So, if we do not want to miss the wonderful things that God has for His children, then we must come to grips with what faith really is and shed all of the doubts that have been entertained in the mind. We must embrace God's Word with all of our heart. We must "...believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6) and remember, "God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19) 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Not Natural, But Supernatural

It has been said, "Our attitude toward the Word determines the place that God holds in our daily life." In other words, it is not simply making statements like, "I believe that the Word of God is infallible" or "I believe God's Word is true" or "I believe in the inerrancy of God's Word" which statements are true concerning God's Word, but moreover, are we settled in our thinking to the place where by faith we act on God's Word? What is meant here is, are we going to allow dogma and doctrine, to continue to hold the church in bondage or are we willing to let every Word of God loose? Jesus, in speaking to the devil said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4)

What we need to see here, is Jesus, God the Word made flesh (John 1:1, 14) does not say that man lives on dogma, doctrines or creeds developed by man concerning the Words that God speaks, but man is to live by every word that God has spoken. The entire Word of God should always be received as though the Father is speaking directly to us. It should never be like the message from an ordinary book. It should be as real to us as though Jesus Himself is in the room and speaking to us personally. We must see the Bible as a supernatural book containing the supernatural, life changing, powerful, Word of God that does not change! (Malachi 3:6; Mark 13:31; Hebrews 13:8)

We must see that although Jesus is at the right hand of the Majesty on High, that God's Word, the Bible, is taking Jesus' place in His physical absence because He and His Word are One. To have God's Word, the Bible, is to have Jesus presence with us. Jesus tells two things that need to take hold in our hearts and minds concerning God and the Word, "God is Spirit..." (John 4:24) and "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." (John 6:63) The Holy Spirit through the Apostle John also tells us the same, "For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one." (1 John 5:7) In the Revelation of Jesus Christ, we see, "He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God." (Revelation 19:13) Do we see the connection that God and His Word are One?     

The Word of God is Christ (God the Word) revealing Himself. It is God Himself present with us, speaking the living message that transforms lives. (Hebrews 4:12) Jesus said, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last." (Revelation 22:13) This means that Jesus is not bound by time or space, He is ever-present. It also means that as Jesus is, so is the Word. The Word is not bound by time or space, it is always now, ever-present, to the world today and every day. It is the very voice of God speaking His message to us. It is living, powerful and limitless. It is God's mind and will spoken to humanity.

I believe that revival, even a third awakening, would break out if God's Word was as real to us today as it was to the early church. The book of Acts reveals this over and over, "But the word of God grew and multiplied." (Acts 12:24) and "So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed." (Acts 19:20)  Look what happens when the Word of God is spoken from the mouths of faith, "So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs." (Mark 16:19-20) Unfortunately, in many sectors of what we refer to as Christianity, the word of man has gained more influence and authority than God's Word.

Because there is a failure to acknowledge this, then it is obvious that one or all of the following conclusions exist; God's Word has changed with time; His Word is not being preached; We lack faith in His Word or He is no longer I AM but I was. However, the truth is, the Word is alive and talks to us. God is I AM. He and His Word are now. It has the same authority that it would have if Jesus Himself stood in the room and spoke it. If we say we have faith in God then we are saying we have faith in His Word. Jesus said, "According to your faith let it be to you.” (Matthew 9:29) As we consider the Word and act upon it, it will become real to us. It is the very Bread of Heaven to those hungry in spirit. (John 6:35-40)

Food for thought. If believers want to build the highest type of faith, then they must become a faithful person by believing and acting on every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. In doing so, God's Word will transform our lives "from glory to glory" (2 Corinthians 3:18) and "from faith to faith." (Romans 1:17) Do not be a hearer of the Word only, but a doer of the Word. (James 1:22) What one does with the Word of God will determine what God's Word will do in and through that one. By letting God's Word go to work in us, it will build the life of Jesus in us. God's Word will build life, faith, love, grace, strength and on and on into us as we continue in and abide in it. God's Word will reveal the very riches of our inheritance. (Romans 8:16-17) It will build the very character of Christ us. It has the power to save the lost; it has the power to heal the sick. So, let us let the Word of Christ then dwell us richly (Colossians 3:16), because His Word is not natural but supernatural.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Freedom Has Come

What does it mean to be free? What are we free from? Well, freedom comes in various forms. From a worlds perspective, freedom is the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. Constitutionally, the people of the United States may boast in this definition of freedom. However, is this true freedom? Only in minor respects. Biblically speaking, freedom is the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved to anyone or anything. Although, the United States has more constitutional freedoms than any other country on planet earth, these very freedoms are being eroded by the one who imprisons and enslaves many of the people of the earth as well as many American, that is, Satan.

The Bible describes man as the only thing in all creation that was created in the image and likeness of God the Creator. Not only was man created in God's image and likeness, but God gave him dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. (Genesis 1:26) King David tells us, "You (God) have crowned him (man) with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands." (Psalm 8:5-6) In other words, man was (is) God's crown jewel above all else created, even angels. The freedom that man lived in, in the Garden of Eden, was a complete freedom. He had no bounds, no limitations at all. But we know what happened. Satan caused the woman to reason, doubt, that she was already like God, so she fell prey to his seduction. In turn, Adam, the federal representative of mankind chose the woman over obedience to God and forfeited all, which included himself and all future mankind. Now, mankind had become imprisoned, enslaved, under Satan's dominion.   

Man was now lost, spiritually dead and unable to fellowship with God. However, God in His great love in which He loved man, did the most amazing, astonishing, stupendous thing that ever happened in the history of mankind, He became a man. (John 1:1, 14) "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son..." (Galatians 4:4) God in His providence had now brought redemption to mankind. In the midst of mankind's condition of despondency, failure, rebellion and hopelessness, there came relief. Only God knew what man's need demanded, and only God could meet that demand. It was the Incarnation.

Man throughout the ages has hungered instinctively for three things. He has desired fellowship with God; he has desired to possess the life of God, eternal life; and he has desired the strength, and ability of God. Every ancient human religion has tried to answer this cry.  Even today, man still hungers for the same. All of the knowledge that our educational institutions of learning have provided has not eliminated from man's spirit this hunger. Every modern human religion tries to answer this hunger. It is not only the educated who seek to fill this hunger, but every level of humanity, in every society. It has been the same for every man from the time man died spiritually, until the present day, he has hungered for union with Deity

It has been our tendency, when thinking of Christ's coming to earth as a man, to dwell upon His self-denial, His sufferings, in coming to earth from Glory. Yet, as we know Him better, we believe that it was a joy to Him (Hebrews 12:2) who so loved man (John 3:16) and so desired man's fellowship, (1 John 1:3) to dwell on earth among men that He might give to man, who had never known his Creator, a true conception of Him. (John 14:1-11) How clearly Christ realized and appreciated this phase of His mission. The Apostle John said of Him, "No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. (John 1:18) How different was His life from the lives of the greatest philosophers and religious teachers before Him. They had come as seekers of the truth. He came as the revelation of the Truth (John 14:6).

Unlike fallen man, Satan had no dominion over Christ, because Christ was not spiritually dead. He walked in oneness with the Father. Although full human, His body was not mortal, that is, death doomed. He possessed a perfect eternal human body, the kind of a body that Adam had before the fall where he died spiritually, became death doomed. Therefore, as Jesus walked this earth His body was not subjected to death. It was impossible for man to have taken the life of Christ before His time had come. (John 10:18) He walked this earth free from Satan's dominion. As He walked the earth, He revealed the Father to man which is seen in His preaching, teaching and delivering them from the bondage of Satan. (Acts 10:38) Jesus said, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) In the life of Jesus, as He lived utterly free, rich and full on earth, we see revealed, the life that the Father had planned for man from the beginning.

Now comes redemption, freedom, through faith in Christ. There are two sides to redemption, the legal and the vital. The legal side is what Father did for us in Christ and the vital side is what the Holy Spirit does in us in Christ. As all mankind were partakers of Adam's death, bondage, judgment and all that spiritual death made him, now God has redeemed man completely from every result of Adam's treason through the identification of humanity with His Son. This is the message that comes to us by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul as recorded in Romans 5:12-21. It reveals, that if the lordship of Satan over humanity was due to the identification of humanity with Adam in his crime of treason, then it is also legally possible for the works of Satan to be destroyed by the identification of humanity with the Son of God, the second Adam. (1 Corinthians 15:45)

The Apostle Paul tells us, "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:21) Jesus not only bore our sins, but our sin nature itself was laid upon Him, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Christ suffered until God could justify the human race. (Romans 4:25) In the mind of God, it was not Christ who hung on the cross, but the entire human race. So each one of us may say with Paul, "I was crucified with Christ" (Galatians 2:20). 

Jesus legally put all things under His feet (that is, under His Body, the church) in His resurrection. (Ephesians 1:22-23) We, believers, are seated with Him in heavenly places. (Ephesians 2:6) In this position, that of triumph, in His Name every enemy of ours is under our feet that we might reign as kings in this life with Him. (Romans 5:17) Christ has destroyed the work of Satan (Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8) and now those who confess Jesus as Lord and take Him as Savior are completely free from, sin, sickness, poverty and all the works of the devil. We are no long slaves under Satan's rule, but masters, reigning with Christ. This is freedom

So, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage." (Galatians 5:1) "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." (John 8:36) PTL...

Monday, September 19, 2016

What Have You Heard

The word "percolate" means to, "filter gradually through a porous surface or substance." Looking at the first part of this definition, "filter gradually through" we can, in a sense, apply this to the words that we hear and their affect on us. For instance, if a person grows up in a household where negative speech is common, then all the negativity that is heard will eventually "filter gradually through" and effect that person in some way, most likely in an adverse way. In the same manner, if a person grows up in a household where positive speech is common, this also will "filter gradually through" but will have a positive effect upon the hearer. This is to show us just how powerful words are, or can be.

Jesus warns us, in two important ways concerning words. First He say, "Take heed what you hear." (Mark 4:24) Take heed to what you hear, tells us, that we are to be selective, that is, use caution to what we hear. Why? The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul warns, "that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting." (Ephesians 4:14) Children (new believers) are very impressionable and can be drawn into various church doctrines that are contrary to the unadulterated Word of God, which can "filter gradually through" and cause them to remain, "as to babes in Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:1) or as Paul also says, "Carnal and behaving like unsaved people." (1 Corinthians 3:3) It also implies, that we should make good use of every opportunity to learn. If we consider what we hear and make improvements or advancements in God's Kingdom, we shall be well rewarded. (Mark 4:24-25)  

We see a great example of this, "When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Matthew 16:13-14) Notice, the report of His disciples, "some say...others say." They were reporting what they had heard. But was what they heard true? No! We are not sure as to whether they believed these reports or not, but one thing is certain, out of the twelve disciples only one heard and spoke the truth, "Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16) How do we know that Peter heard and spoke truth? Jesus replies, "for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 16:17) It can be very easy to hear and speak, even when what we have heard is not the truth, which leads us to the next statement that Jesus made concerning words. Jesus also warns, "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37) 

Our words can either hold us in bondage and in constant defeat or they will put us over and we will live in victory. It is simply our choice. Jesus tells us, "For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says." (Mark 11:23) Basically, we can say what we have, problems, troubles, lack or put this verse into practice and have what we say, the promises of God. Of course to have what we say must be spoken with faith and it must be in line with God's Word. The simple truth is, as long as we say what we have, we will have exactly that. Saying what we have will produce nothing more than what has been said. Unfortunately, many believe fall short of what God has for them as they serve Him, due to hearing and speaking the wrong things.  

Believers must train themselves in these two realm. We are to take heed to what we hear and take heed to what we say, because words are that powerful. We can do this by studying the life of Jesus. In doing so, we will find some very important facts that caused Him to overcome the world, the flesh and Satan. He spent much of His time in prayer, (Luke 5:16); He never prayed the problem. He always prayed the answer. He never spoke idle words. He only spoke what God said, (John 12:49); He only and always spoke the desired results, God's will, (John 5:30); He used the written Word to defeat the devil, (Matthew 4;1-11) If we will become imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1) and speak the things that God said, we will rise to a new level of faith (Romans 1:17) and walk in the same level of life that Jesus walked in as the Son of Man. (John 14:12). So, let the Word of God percolate, filter gradually, through our hearts and mines, always "speaking the truth in love and grow up into all things in Christ." (Ephesians 4:15)  May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ rule in our hearts...

Monday, August 17, 2015

Do You Really Know Him - Part 2

 In our journey to know "Truth", that is, to intimately and personally to know Jesus, we have discussed that it will never be accomplished through intellectual knowledge, the natural realm. Although God has revealed Himself throughout creation, our ability to truly know Him can only come by-way-of the spiritual realm. Jesus tells us, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3) Jesus is expressing and defining the parameters by which one must experience, that is, being born from above, or he is not fit for, nor a partake of God's Kingdom, either in this world or in that which is to come. The kingdom which Jesus was about to set up was so pure and holy that if one was not born again, he could not partake of its blessings. Again, to be born again is something that takes place in the spiritual realm, but its manifestation is in the natural or physical realm, that is, in the life of a human being. This cannot be understood through intellectual means, but through a spiritual awaking, an encounter with God.

Although there is a place for intellectual knowledge and I consider myself to be and intelligent person who enjoys learning, I know that there is knowledge to be gained that far surpasses the natural realm. Thankfully, we do not have to be slaves to intellectual knowledge. God has made available something that enables us to move beyond the natural realm and tap into His supernatural realm through revelation knowledge. It is called faith. (Romans 12:3) If God had intended for humanity to remain only in the natural realm, He never would have provided a way through His Son Jesus for man to be restored to a relationship with Him and give him access to everything He is and has. By exercising our faith in God, through which we enter into the spiritual realm, we receive revelation of and from Him through the Holy Spirit. "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come." (John 16:13)  

By applying our faith to the revelation knowledge of the truth the Holy Spirit guides us in and responding to it, we not only come to know God, but He also activates His supernatural power on our behalf, or on behalf of others through us. It is in the supernatural realm of God where miracles occur.  We can move beyond the natural realm into the supernatural realm by exercising our faith in God, and responding to the revelation knowledge that we receive. James challenges us to come to a place where we exercise the revelation of God's Word revealed through the Holy Spirit, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was." (James 1:22-24) He goes on to tells us, " What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?...Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." (James 2:14, 17-18)

Intellectual knowledge or common sense cannot produce miracles, which are manifestations of God's supernatural power in the natural realm. The Apostle Paul tells us, "But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God." (1 Corinthians 2:9-12) The human mind is not able to know everything that is in man, let alone everything about God. Only God knows all things and as mentioned previously, the only one who can reveal Him to humanity is the Spirit of God. (John 16:13-16)

It is mind boggling that so many Christians turn to philosophy, psychology, and psychiatry, that is, the natural realm, to try to resolve their problems. Although these academic disciplines genuinely try to help people, their failure rate far exceeds their success because they do not utilize the power of God to change and transform humanity. Even most "Christian" counselors try to apply biblical terms while pursuing man-made methods,  but their efforts are ultimately ineffective also. The Apostle Paul tells us, "For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power." (1 Corinthians 4:20) These three areas, philosophy, psychology, and psychiatry are the result of following the intellectual knowledge of man, while rejecting revelation knowledge from God.

If man continues to reject the concept of divine revelation,we will never fully understand the truth and we will continue to live in confusion and deception, the very place that Satan wants people, especially believers to live. He knows that if believers receive divine revelation, apply faith, that is, act upon the revelation received, the supernatural power of God will heal and deliver myriads of people which in turn will turn them to Christ.  Doesn't that sound like a strategy that the enemy of humanity would devise? Actually, it has been since the fall of man. It began in the Garden of Eden and has not changed. The very thing that Adam had that could have banished Satan from the earth forever, the ability to function in the spiritual realm, is the very thing that he forfeited to Satan in exchange for intellectual knowledge. Not a very good exchange for man at all. It has kept man from a relationship with God, "And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh..." (Genesis 6:3)     

Being led by intellectual knowledge and living outside the supernatural realm is not limited to only those who deny God. The fact is, many believers and Christian leaders who have received Christ as Lord and Savior, still lack revelation beyond a basic knowledge of the gospel. As a result, they have no idea what God is saying or trying to do in their personal lives. Let us consider the following as we seek to receive revelation from God. God gives revelation according to His own timing. He will not reveal something to an individual believer or to a 1ocal church if the person or congregation is not ready for it.  We see this revealed in the Parable of the Talents, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability..." (Matthew 25:14-15) This is also revealed toward the end of Jesus' earthly ministry. He told His disciples, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now." (John 16:12) The main reasons why God may not give us revelation is, we are not yet spiritually mature enough to receive it and or God knows we would not obey it, which is actually evidence of not being spiritually mature. Only God knows the right time to unveil a specific revelation to us. Our part is to make sure we are willing to obey it by acting upon it.

Habakkuk tells us, "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." (Habakkuk 2:14) I believe that we are living in the days where this prophetic word is coming to pass, that is, the days in which the manifestation of God's glory will be evident all over the earth. God will fulfill His purposes by giving us incredible revelation of His Kingdom, Power and Glory, but are you ready to receive it? Jesus said, "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them." (Mark 11:24). So, let us exercise our faith in the one and only unfailing, faithful One, Jesus Christ, who is the Word who became flesh (John 1:14) Let us believe, receive and walk in the revelation knowledge that He desires to give to us. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit...

Monday, August 10, 2015

Do You Really Know Him - Part 1

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, (Reality) and the life..." (John 14:6) Jesus was saying of Himself, I am the totality of all things possessing actuality, existence, or essence. He is the personification of truth. Notice that I did not say Jesus is the personification of all truth. For there is only one truth, one reality, and Jesus is it! However, reality cannot always be seen, but it can be discovered. For believers, the most significant unseen reality that we must each discover, in order to live the lives that
we were meant to, is the spiritual reality of our supernatural God. One of the incredible things of God, is, He has left us evidence of Himself in the created world, the natural environment around us. Yet, when we contemplate the greatness of His creation, our finite minds still cannot begin to fathom who He truly is and His immense power.

Yes we have His Word that reveals His will, nature, character, purpose and plan, but man has mostly tried to know God through intellectual means. We can know facts and information about God, but we cannot know Him personally through intellectual knowledge. Why? Intellectual knowledge also known as mental ascent or better yet, sense knowledge is limited because it uses the five senses; taste, smell, touch, see and hear to acquire and assimilate knowledge. Due to our overemphasizing intellectual knowledge, people are very aware of the natural realm but are generally uninformed and or misinformed about the supernatural realm. The natural realm being the dimension that is subject to the laws of time, space, and matter is temporal. Whereas, the supernatural realm or spiritual realm is the dimension that operates above natural laws. It is permanent, invisible, eternal and is located outside of time and space that also exercises dominion over the natural realm.

Intellectual knowledge has its rightful place in society, but it is a poor substitute for spiritual knowledge. The Apostle Paul tells us two things to consider, "We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge (intellectual knowledge) puffs up..." (1 Corinthians 8:1) "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14) So we can see why intellectual knowledge pales to true knowledge which is of the spiritual realm. This is why in the absence of progressive divine revelation, people tend to rely on formal, academic education, much of which attempts to discredit faith. Jesus said, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." (John 6:63) This also shows us that truth is spiritual and therefore the reason why philosophers also fail to understand or come to know it. Things of the spiritual realm can only be discerned spiritually which is why Jesus said what He did to Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God...That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." (John 3:3, 6) So, in order to know God, one must be born again of the spirit. 

It was never God's intention to remain a mystery to His people. In fact, He has always desired for us to know Him intimately and to experience Him in a personal way. However, we must understand that only God can reveal Himself.  No person has the ability to know Him apart from Him revealing Himself, that is, a revelation of God. He also must do the initiating to accomplish this. This was the case even in the life and earth ministry of Jesus, "Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner." (John 5:19) "For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak." (John 12:49) Jesus was an obedient, willing and totally submitted vessel who revealed the will, nature, character, purpose and plan of the Father. However, we see it was the Father who initiated what Jesus spoke and did.

Since the only way to really know God is through revelation, let us investigate what revelation is. The Greek word for revelation means "an uncovering" or "disclosure." Revelation enables us to understand truths about the spiritual realm, truths that are hidden from the natural realm. In Jesus' conversation with a woman of Sychar near Jacobs well in Samaria, He reveals to her a very important key to knowing God, "God is Spirit." (John 4:24) This is a revelation of God. He is not of the natural, temporal realm, but of the spiritual eternal realm. The angel Gabriel tells the virgin Mary, "For with God nothing will be impossible." (Luke 1:37) This is another revelation showing us that God is all-powerful. Malachi reveals that God never changes, "For I am the Lord, I do not change." (Malachi 3:6) We also see that God is eternal, "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God." (Psalm 90:2) God dwells in the dimension of eternity, the spiritual realm. Even though He inhabits eternity, He manifests Himself and His works, at times, in visible form in the natural dimension of our physical world and universe.

God reveals Himself to us as the supernatural and all-powerful God through the Holy Spirit. There is no other means by which we can know Him. Again, we cannot know the "reality" of God without Him revealing Himself to us. Even a theologian may know that a superior being exists, but that does not mean that he knows God personally. Many theologians operate merely with information acquired through intellectual research, reasoning, mental processes, or through the experiences of others. But the Holy Spirit is the source of all revelation from God. Jesus said to His disciples, 
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you." (John 16:12-15)  

Now, some will say something to the effect, "the disciples needed revelation from the Holy Spirit, but we do not need it now because we have the Bible." This is only partially true. The Bible tells us, "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12) For instance, did you ever read a passage of scripture several times then all of a sudden it made complete sense or you see it in a different light that is life changing. This is God revealing Himself through a Word within the Word, revelation. Why does this happen? Because God's Word is living, not changing, not static, but alive, living. Remember, Jesus said His word is Spirit and Life. Revelation from God allows us to suddenly understand something without the aid of the natural senses.

Revelation includes knowing things you otherwise would not know, perceiving things without having a prior awareness of them, and seeing things that have yet to occur. It is God revealing His mind, His thoughts to man so that they can know Him personally and exercise their God-given roles and responsibilities on earth. Unfortunately, because we in the western world rely so much on intellectually knowledge, we are trained to reject anything that cannot be explained according to human understanding alone. This is why the Holy Spirit spoke to Paul to tells us, "For we walk by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7) The writer of Hebrews tells us, "By faith we understand..." (Hebrews 11:3) and "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6) True faith, the faith that comes from God, His Word (Romans 10:17), gives us understanding of spiritual things as well as pleasing God. Although the Bible consists of words written on paper, it is not of the natural realm. It is spiritual! Therefore, without a revelation from and of God, faith will not grow. If faith is not growing, it is because faith will not exceed our revelation of God. This is why it is so important for believers to seek God through His Word for revelation each day. 

An analogy of this is found in the history of Israel in their life in the wilderness before entering the promised land. The Lord provided manna for them to eat each morning, This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat. This is the thing which the Lord has commanded: ‘Let every man gather it according to each one’s need, one omer for each person, according to the number of persons; let every man take for those who are in his tent...And Moses said, “Let no one leave any of it till morning. Notwithstanding they did not heed Moses. But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank..." (Exodus 16:15-16, 19-20) Notice that they were in need of fresh bread every morning. The bread from the previous day was old and not worth feeding on. Jesus said, "...“I am the bread of life..." (John 6:35) Jesus is the bread that we believers also need every day. We cannot try to live off of yesterday's bread, revelation, or we may find ourselves "old wines skins." We also cannot know God through intellectual knowledge, by doing so we will not come to truly know God in a personal, intimate way and Christianity will be nothing more than any other lifeless, powerless world religion.  "Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish..." (Proverbs 29:18 AMP)   

Monday, August 11, 2014

Who Dunn It? - Part 6

Probably the most overlooked truth to specific matters involving healing is revealed in the earth walk ministry of Jesus Christ. There are several places in the New Testament that express this truth but it is more profound in the Gospel of John. During Jesus' final instructions to the apostles found in John chapters 13 through 17, we see a conversation that Jesus has that focuses around both Thomas and Philip. “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” (John 14:1-7)

Notice the statement that Jesus makes in response to Thomas. His response holds a very important key for us to grasp, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Jesus is the way to the Father, the truth concerning the Father and life as the Father is life. In other words, any teaching on healing must be built upon Jesus Christ. Keep in mind that John has already revealed to us in the first chapter of his Gospel who Jesus is. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God...And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:1-2, 14) God the Word simply put on human flesh and was given the name Jesus. The Word in human flesh did not change or diminish in any way. (Isaiah 40:8; Malachi 3:6) So when Jesus said, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also" He meant exactly that. Knowing Jesus, His nature, character, words, actions, His very person was to know the Father, that is, the Godhead. The apostle Paul tells us, "For in Him (Jesus) dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." (Colossians 2:9) Again, any teaching on healing (as well as all doctrine) must be upon Christ. "For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 3:1)

Next, we see Philip question Jesus and Jesus' response. Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves." (John 14:8-11) Here lies another important key. To see Jesus is to see the Father. Jesus is telling Philip that every verbal expression and every action that is observed in the life and ministry of Jesus is the Father. Jesus is revealing the Father's will, nature, character, purposes and plan. The writer of Hebrews tells us in a similar way, "Who (Jesus) being the brightness of His (The Father's) glory and the express image of His (The Father's) person..." (Hebrews 1:3} Another translation says, "And He  (Jesus) is the radiance of His (The Father's) glory and the exact representation of His (The Father's) nature..." To fully grasp this, faith must operate over the reasoning of the mind

Jesus tells Philip that His words and actions are not His but the Father's. This is due the the connection that Jesus has with the Father. Remember, the Word simply put on Human flesh. Jesus is God the Word in human flesh. He is the exact representation of the Godhead. The very essence of the Godhead in human flesh. Jesus makes another statement concerning His relationship with the Father to Philip. "Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works." If Philip does not have the faith to believe who Jesus is, then Jesus is asking Philip to consider the very works that He did or was doing. Facts are, no other person to date in the history of man performed the works that Jesus was doing. Why? His works were the works of deity. They were a reflection of the Father's will.

The sad thing for many believers today is that they have been inoculated with the doctrines of man that contradict the very words that Jesus spoke to Thomas and Philip. They teach that God does not heal in the same manner as He did through the ministry of Jesus and the early church. Therefore, healing is today is unpredictable, unreliable and inconsistent. That healing comes down to a choice that only God makes. God chooses who he wants to heal and when He wants to heal. This of course is completely inconsistent with scripture and has permitted the devil to raise havoc in the Body of Christ in the form of sickness, disease and even premature death. God's will has not changed. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." (Hebrews 13:8) Remember, God the Word simply put on human flesh, He was called Jesus and as we see clearly, He never changes. The statement that Jesus made to Philip is what must be addressed today, "Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works." What are you going to believe? Where is your faith? Whose report are you going to believe, Gods or mans?

In the next part of this series we will continue to look at the earth ministry of Jesus in relationship with healing.        

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Power of Worship - Part 1

During the ministry of Jesus on earth as the Son of Man, He had an encounter with a Samaritan woman who was from the City of Sychar. During His conversation with her He made this statement, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4.24) First let's look at what the word worship carries with it, to adore; to pay divine honors to; to reverence with supreme respect and veneration; to honor with extravagant love and extreme submission; to perform acts of adoration. In other words, worship is not just playing music and singing songs with nice lyrics, but is a deep heartfelt adoration for the Lord. To worship in spirit is to permit the Holy Spirit to move upon the believer’s redeemed spirit causing, honor, reverence, adoration and devotion to ascend to God. In other words, Jesus is saying that true worship only connects with God in the Spirit because He is Spirit.  We also see Jesus telling the woman that true worship to God is also through truth. In John 14:6, Jesus proclaimed Himself the ultimate reality of absolute truth. Therefore, the believer worships the Father by depending on and responding to the Holy Spirit then through Jesus Christ (the Truth) worship becomes genuine and acceptable to God.

When looking at praise and worship in the early church it is easy to imagine how intense and powerful it was. However, we must remember that the church started with the Jews at Jerusalem, a people who once had a king named David who was also a priest, prophet, warrior and most importantly, a man after God’s heart. The Bible records that as David brought the Ark of the Covenant to the City of David that he and all the house of Israel played music before the Lord on all kinds of instruments. (2 Samuel 6:5) This is important for us to see because it is quite sad that the church today differs on what instruments are considered appropriate and which ones are considered inappropriate when in fact we see that Israel played music before the Lord on all kinds of instruments.

Another thing that we should note, is David the king danced before the LORD with all of his might. (2 Samuel 6:15) Unfortunately, David’s wife Michal despised him for leaping and whirling before the Lord. (2 Samuel 6:16) She equated him to one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovering himself. (2 Samuel 6:20) However, when we take a closer look at the word praise, it carries with it some interesting ideas: to make a show; to boast; celebrate; virtue; excellence; manliness. So, let's put some of these words together, and see why David danced with all of his might before the Lord. He was celebrating, acting virtuous’, excellent and manly. I always find it interesting how the people in the Old Testament were bound by the Law, yet free to express themselves in praise and worship while believers today are free from the Law but seem bound to express their heartfelt adoration and jubilation for the Lord through praise and worship. The early church did not have this problem, because the King of Kings was the focus, not themselves nor anything else.

Let us look at an extreme situation and what happened when the people praised God, “It happened after this that the people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat.” (2 Chronicles 20:1) Judah was facing annihilation, but the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel and he spoke to the people, “…thus says the Lord to you: 'Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's.” (2 Chronicles 20:15) “You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord…” (2 Chronicles 20:17) We read further, “And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. Then the Levites of the children of the Kohathites and of the children of the Korahites stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high.” (Chronicles 20:18-19)Notice in the midst of this peril, they stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high.

Next, “And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: "Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever." (2 Chronicles 20:21) Just as the prophet spoke, we see that the battle was the Lords, “So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.” (2 Chronicles 20:24) With their focus on the Lord and lifting up loud and high voices, the Lord defeated the enemy. Do we see just how important praise and worship is? It is not about us, the instruments we use or don't use, it's about placing our focus upon the Lord, magnifying and exalting Him.

In this particular situation, we see God defend His people and defeat the enemy that was set against them. The same thing holds true today. When the church worships God as He has prescribed, in Spirit and Truth, then we are permitting Him to have access to our difficulties. We give Him permission to bring healing, deliverance, that is salvation in our midst. This is defeating the enemy who has brought these things upon God's people. Psalm 22:3 tells us, "But You are Holy, Who inhabit the praises of Your people." To inhabit means, to live or reside in; to be present in; fill. God does not just hear our praise and worship, but He enjoys being in our very midst. As we minister to Him as priests, He reciprocates and ministers to us His children. What a most wonderful thing to experience. But are you experiencing these things? Are you worshipping God in Spirit and Truth so that He can inhabit your praises?

Next time, we will look at another Bible example of the Power of Worship. In the meantime, "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord." (Psalm 150:6)   

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Unveiling

In Paul's first letter to the church at Thessalonica he reveals an important piece of knowledge concerning the make up of man, "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Modern psychologists do not understand this so they do not really know man. Their problem is they cannot get past the realm of the senses. We see that man is a spirit with a soul inside a body. We see this further carried out when we look back to the creation of man, "Then God said,"Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness..." (Genesis 1:26) Finally, we see what being created in the image and likeness of God actually mean, "God is Spirit..." (John 4:24) So, behind the sense ruled soul (mind, will, emotions and intellect) is the real person (man), who is spirit.

Most of the church for centuries has been unfamiliar with this fact. They have not understood the full depths of the new creation, that is, mans recreated spirit through faith in Jesus Christ, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God..." (2 Corinthians 5:17-18) What an incredible fact! Just think if believers could learn to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit in their recreated spirit and keep intimate fellowship with the Father, there would be no limitation to where we could go in spiritual things, "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us..." (Ephesians 3:20)

The Holy Spirit was given to believers to guide us into all truth or reality, "when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth..." (John 16:13) However, the Holy Spirit has a difficult job at best trying to lead believers who live by their reasoning faculties. Therefore, truth seems to allude them and they tend to never move beyond the regeneration experience. Peter refers to the recreated spirit as, "...the hidden man of the heart." (1 Peter 3:4) For many, this has a somewhat literal meaning in that the recreated spirit within the believe is concealed rather than seeing it as an open avenue to receive all of the inheritance that we have now through Jesus Christ,  "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ..." (Romans 8:16-17) and "Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light." (Colossians 1:12)

The reality of the new creation, the recreated spirit of man was foretold through the prophet Ezekiel, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them." (Ezekiel 36:26-28) Notice the extremes that God said that He would do. He was not going spiritually heal man as some have been erroneously taught to believe. Nor was He going to fix-up or renovate man. No, He said, "I will put a new spirit within you; I will put My Spirit within you..." God said that He was going to give man a new spirit. He is going to make a new man out of him. This is the reality of the new creation.

What an incredible promise that has come to pass on all who are in Christ. The new creation means that the old sin nature has been taken out and replaced with God's divine nature. Man is no longer called the "old man" but the "new man, created in the image of God in righteousness and true holiness." (Ephesians 4:24) As a sinner, the old man could not approach God, but now through faith in Jesus Christ, God has performed a miracle. He has recreated man. The old man has stopped being and the new man has taken its place. The "hidden man of the heart" is now born by the very Spirit of God and has access to "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." (Ephesians 1:3) Now that we know these facts, we should see just how imperative it is to develop our recreated spirit by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. In doing so, believers will walk a daily victorious life knowing that "God always leads us in triumph in Christ..." (2 Corinthians 2:14)

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Purpose of the Church - Worship

I believe that the chief purpose for the church's existence is to glorify and worship God. My reasoning comes from what will take place in the presence of God at the end of time which is recorded in  Revelation 4:8-11 "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!"..."You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your pleasure they exist and were created." Notice that worship is directed towards God alone. What I mean is that if we look at many of the hymns of old and most of what we call contemporary Christian music of today, we will find that the majority of the lyrics are not focused on God but on the believer. For instance, many hymns put everything that believers are entitled to in this life off until they leave this life for the next. Also, the larger portion of the lyrics of contemporary Christian music tend to be beggarly prayers, that is, pleading with God by asking Him to do something that He has already done and made available to believers through Christ. Some other lyrics have taken scripture out of context or have declarations that are never acted upon and sadly, the lyrics almost never mentions the Name of Jesus.

Neither the Old or New Testament reveal a specific form or order of worship, but there is a way that God is to be worshiped. In John's gospel Jesus encounters a woman from a city called Sychar near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph, by a well. Although she insisted that she, a Samaritan (basically backslidden Israelites) worshiped the same God as the Jews worshiped, Jesus gives her a revelation of true worship, "Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:21-24)

Jesus reveals to the woman that God is Spirit. This removes any concept that God is an image or relic of any type. He also reveals that true worship of God will only be accomplished by worshiping Him in spirit and truth. Any other worship is actually idolatry. To worship in spirit believers must understand that God is Spirit and relates to humanity in the spiritual realm. With this knowledge, the believer then yields to the Holy Spirit who moves upon and energizes the believers recreated spirit to connect with God. God's Word is truth (John 17:17) so to worship God in truth means to worship according to His Word. In other words, the Bible records various ways to worship God, singing and speaking praise, shouting, lifting hands, clap, stand, bow, dance and playing a variety of instruments.

The bottom line is, worship is not just songs to sing that contain nice lyrics, but an attitude of the heart, exalting, honoring and adoring God Himself. The Holy Spirit speaking through the apostle Paul says, "For we are the circumcision, (Christians, circumcision of the heart) who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." (Philippians 3:3) This too should challenge believers to lay aside all the songs that take the focus off of God and causes believers to petition God for all their needs, wants, worries and concerns that He has already met and provided for His children through Christ. We should also consider eliminating songs that put all the promises that God has made available to His children off until we reach heaven as well as songs that have taken scripture out of context. These things may sound callous and even difficult to do, but they are necessary if the church is to truly worship God. Let's look once again at the revelation that John received concerning true worship. 

"And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth." Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing! And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying, blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever. Then the four living creatures said, "Amen!" And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever." (Revelation 5:6-14)

This my friends is worship!!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

What is Truth?

One of the questions that is still being asked today is, "What is Truth." Modern definitions of the word truth are..."That which is true or in accordance with fact or reality; the body of real things, events, and facts;
a judgment, proposition, or idea that is true or accepted as true." Although these definition may seem ambiguous, and they are, they only define truth from a natural sense. For thousands of years philosophers have been asking this same question, yet they are limited to natural knowledge, therefore they can only define truth based on their limited knowledge that emanates from the five senses. So, if fact or reality is based on solely upon natural human knowledge, then truth will never be found.

During Jesus' trial as He stood before Pontius Pilate, He made a very important statement that goes beyond the sense knowledge realm of the greatest philosophers, "...For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." (John 18:37) The latter part of Jesus' statement is very intriguing, "Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice."  Notice that this does not say everyone who hears my voice is of the truth. In other words, many people may hear the Lord's voice but is does not mean that they themselves are of the truth, that is, believe the truth, accept the truth or understand the truth. We see this in Pilates response to Jesus. 

He is hearing what Jesus is saying, but still asks the question, "...What is truth?..." (John 18:38) Now we know that Pilate was a pagan and that he was spiritually dead, but why do so many Christians who are supposed to have the Holy Spirit, the Teacher, living within them reject the truth? What do I mean?  Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life..." (John 14:6) and "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." (John 17:17) Jesus is truth! The Word of God is truth! However, in many ways many believers treat the truth as though it is only nice suggestions. Much of this is due to the erroneous doctrines of men that are developed by those who do not really know Him, but know of Him. Many say the Bible is the Word of God but claim that it does not do today what it did in the past. Somehow, God gives man His Word, which is truth, but it only worked in times past. God is unchanging, but somehow His Word is. Then how do we explain verses like the following... 

"God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?" (Number 23:19)
"My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. (Psalm 89:34)
"Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven." (Psalm 119:89)

Logically, if the Bible is God's Word, but what He has spoken is only applicable to a dispensation, especially that of the New Testament, then how can one say that Bible is relevant for today? You can't because it would be a book of historic events that are time dated or only a philosophy. Why should people teach and preach from the Bible if God's Word doesn't work today? They shouldn't unless they want to teach history or philosophy. Is truth not a constant from everlasting to everlasting or does truth change? It certainly is from everlasting to everlasting and it certainly does not change because Malachi 3:6 says, "For I am the LORD, I do not change..." and Hebrews 13:8 says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." 

So if God does not change with time and we believe that He is from everlasting to everlasting, that He has no beginning or end, then it is only logical to believe that His Word is the same. It does not change with time, but what it said (says) is applicable for all time. Truth does not change! So what is the problem? The writer of Hebrews tells us the problem when it comes to accepting and believing the truth, "For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it." (Hebrews 4:2) Although this is aimed at the Jews who heard the gospel but rejected it, it also applies to many believers today. When believers hear the truth if it is not mixed with faith it will not profit the hearer which makes it easy for a counterfeit (a lie, the opposite of truth) to get place. 

The apostle Paul had an experience along this same line. In Athens he encountered some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers who spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing. In other words their were looking for truth but were limited as philosophers are because they are limited to natural knowledge.  The wisdom of God upon Paul gave him an open door to preach Christ (the truth) by-way-of an altar with this inscription, "To the unknown God." Although these philosophers heard the truth "...some mocked, while others said, we will hear you again on this matter. So Paul departed from among them. However, some men joined him and believed..." (Acts 17:16-34)

The point in this matter is, believers need not see to believe, they need to believe so they can see (the truth). Experience is not the best teacher, the Holy Spirit is. As the apostle Paul say, "Knowledge puffs up..." (1 Corinthians 8:1) However, Proverbs tells us to "incline your ear to wisdom". (Proverbs 2:2) Why? Because wisdom is spiritual and gives one the ability to use knowledge. So to understand, accept and believe truth we need the wisdom that comes from the great Teacher, the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, "If you abide (continue, endure, remain, stand, tarry) in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31-32) It is accepting God's Word without wavering, without questioning, but through faith that God is able to perform what He said (says) He will do. When believers accept God's Word without "Buts or what ifs" then they shall know the truth and the truth shall make them free!

Monday, April 23, 2012

When You Look, What Do You See

Today one of the problems that captivates most people, including believers, is image. Just standing in the checkout line of most stores, all you see is tabloids and magazines concerned with how one looks. Basically image deals with how one projects themselves, which in turn becomes what people think you are. Although this issue has been present throughout man's history, since the mid 1990’s it has had a profound affect on the church. There is a greater concern about image that unfortunately is at the expense of integrity. What do I mean by this?

Today many church leaders seemed to have adopted various worldly concepts and have brought them into the "Body of Christ." Some of these concepts are; the church building needs to look appealing and non-threatening to an unbeliever meaning, remove anything that presents a Christian view (banners, scripture verses, etc.); church members need to refrain from using certain Christian phrases that may make unbelievers uncomfortable; the church needs world class entertainment to keep people interested and coming back; music must be upbeat only with a time limit; worship means maybe one slow song but no true expression of worship; and sermons also known as a message, are to be short and sweet to make people happy and feel good about themselves (this type of sermon is considered to be "relevant" for today). The thinking is that if the church does these things, we then can expect to reach unbelievers and have a successful ministry.

Naturally we should have clean facilities, but are we representing Christ or the local coffee shop? One of the things that separates believers from the world is how we talk and act. When the presence of the LORD begins to touch lives during a service believers should be shouting the name of Jesus. When Jesus entered Jerusalem look at the response of the people, the religious leaders and Jesus Himself...
"Then they brought the colt to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road. Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: "'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!'  Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples." But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out."
(Luke 19:35-40)

Notice that "the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice." This was a multitude of disciples not unbelievers. To keep believers from shouting or speaking "Christian Phrases" is to deny God the honor that He is worthy of. It is ignorance motivated by fear in church leaders that want to squelch believers from verbalizing their excitement about Jesus because it may offend an unbeliever or make them feel uncomfortable. Though the people may not be shouting out the praise due to the LORD one day the stones supporting the building may.     

There is certainly nothing wrong with doing drama or having special music during a church service. The problem lies when we saturate people with entertainment to keep them interested and coming back to "Our Church". The following is the entertainment that the LORD provided in the church to multiply the number of believers...

"And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all." (Acts 4:33
"And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed." (Acts 5:14-16)

"And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people." (Acts 6:8)
"And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city." (Acts 8:6-8)

Not to belittle or make light the power of God in any way shape or form, this is the entertainment that unbelievers truly desire. They do not want Broadway plays and concerts, but a demonstration of the Spirit and power. (1 Corinthians 2:4). However, this takes faith in an all powerful God who has not changed. It also take courage for church leaders to step away from the pressures that the world wants to conform the church to, and let Jesus build His church through His people.

Music is a powerful medium especially during church gatherings (not to exclude any other time). It is a means to usher in the presences of the LORD as we exalt and magnify Him through singing. David tells us, "...In Your presence is fullness of joy..." (Psalm 16:11) and "But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Your people". (Psalm 22:3) Why would any church leader want to exclude Gods presence as to not offend an unbeliever or to make them feel uncomfortable? I have been in numerous congregational and small group meetings where unbelievers were so taken by Gods presences that some were saved, some healed, some delivered and some a combination of them all. I have been in other meetings where the presence of God was so strong that the praise and worship continued unplanned for two hours. There was no preaching during this time and in the LORDS presence time seemed to stop. It was extremely power having such an affect on both believers and unbelievers that many still talk about the experience today. To exclude and intimate time of ministering to the LORD through worship or to place a limited time frame on worship is to say that God is not worthy of our admiration and we do not need His presences to have a successful church service.

I find it very interesting how church leaders advertise that they share a "Relevant Message" at their meetings but rarely preach from the Bible or use the Word of God in context. Honestly, the gospel (God's Word) has always been, is and will always be the only relevant message that the world will ever need to hear.  Church leaders must stop being ashamed of the gospel of Christ and begin to preach and teach God's Word without reservation or apologizing for what it says. Paul says,  "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." (Romans 1:16) Notice that the unadulterated Word of God has the power to save all people. To not preach and teach God's Word is to deny Jesus the preeminence in His Church. He is the Word!!! (John 1:1-2, 14, Revelation 19:13) 

When the Prophet Samuel was sent by God to the house of Jesse to anoint a king to replace king Saul He made this statement concerning David, "...For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, (Image) but the LORD looks at the heart (Integrity)." (1 Sam. 16.7) We should not be concerned as to how we match up with the worlds image, but realize that Gods presences and glory far surpasses the best the world has to offer. We should concern ourselves with being a people of integrity as we serve the one true God, more than trying to adjust our image with worldly concepts that are motivated by Satan and infested with sin that only appeal to the flesh.     

The real problem is not trying to reach the unbeliever per se, but how congregations go about it. We must stop reducing the church to a palatable organization where we fit into the world, but once again become a life filled Body that turns the world upside down. The church must begin to operate in faith and return to preaching the full gospel. The apostle Paul makes it clear as to what the full gospel entails, "For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient, in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel..." (Romans 15:18-20) 
As Paul tells us, the Full Gospel is preaching God's Word (the gospel) in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God. This is the churches legacy; this is how multitudes will be saved, healed and delivered; this is church growth Gods way!   

Won’t it be wonderful when the church becomes the envy of all once again. Well I have some good news and some not so good news, you can decide for yourself. We will see the so called "Open Church" (not the name of a congregation, but how they precieve themselves) continue to compromise the truth (God's Word) for the sake of unbelievers who unfortunately never come to Christ. We we see what is known as "Seeker Friendly" church's who currently have thousands of members begin to shrink and some will even be forced to close their doors (this is already happening) because all their programs and entertainment have not truly fixed broken lives. We will see many main line denominations reject sound doctrine and teach such things as Christ not being the only way to eternal life (this also is currently happening). Some will even be deceived by Mormon's, J---- Witnesses, Muslim's or other false religions and join their ranks. 

However, on the other hand, there are some church leaders and congregation that have not bowed their knee to the world for the sake of having a world pleasing image. They have maintained their integrity in Christ and have not compromised God's Word. They are not trying to please the world but save people from the world. They understand and embrace the kind of faith that pleases God which will open the door to many lost souls being saved, healed, delivered and becoming true disciples. We will see reformation taking place in some denominations. Many denominational church leaders will throw away doctrines that they have embraced for years which are contrary to God's Word. They will begin to live in a realm of faith that they have been taught to reject.   

Even now there is a stirring in many believers, young and older, who want more of Christ than they are receiving where they current attend. They have participated in many church programs that are built on psychology rather than the Word of God and they are still not walking in the freedom that Christ has provided. Even now many are seeking a congregation where the Full Gospel (as Paul presents it) is the norm and where true Christian community is experienced replacing the social club atmosphere. Why are these things happening and why will they be? Because the church is Christ's Body which He loves. Even now He is cleansing her so that she will be a "glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." (Ephesians 5:27) The sad news is, many will once again harden their hearts to Him and open their hearts to the world.

As I close I would like to share a quote from General William Booth, Founder of the Salvation Army. Although the church has entered the twenty first century, his statement is still worth pondering…
The chief danger of the 20th century will be religion without the Holy Spirit, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God and heaven without hell.” (William Booth Quotes) How prophetic...