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Teaching Truth for Transformation

Acts 16:6-7 – Need Doesn’t Necessarily Determine Direction

Acts 16:6-7

Need Doesn’t Necessarily Determine Direction

 

Acts 16:6-7 – Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.  After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go to Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.

 

This was during Paul’s second missionary journey with Silas.  They traveled towards Asia Minor, modern day Turkey and God forbid them to go.  Why?  Didn’t these people need to hear the Gospel?  Of course they did.  Everyone does.  But, though there was a need, God didn’t want them to go that way.  God would get the Gospel to those areas, but not through Paul, nor the way Paul thought.  He wanted these 2 men to go to Macedonia, which He showed them in a vision soon after this, see verse 9.

 

There are needs all around us every day.  The poor need help, people are in pain and there will always be children with swollen stomachs that need food, abused women, addictions and people on the street.  Should the Body of Christ help them?  Absolutely!  The Church should do everything possible to appropriately help those in need through ministries within each local Church and specific ministries dedicated to providing both the spiritual and physical needs as God leads.  We must remember that we are not to enable irresponsibility or sin.  In addition, because there is a need, it doesn’t necessarily mean God is leading someone to go in a specific direction to fill that need.

 

Can God put in someone’s mind to create a ministry to help pregnant unwed women?  Completely!  Most ministries have begun this way.  We should listen to those things in our hearts and pray, study and seek the Lord.  He may be leading someone to create a unique or specific ministry to people or an area.  Numerous great ministries have been founded based on a need that God leads someone into.  Yet, how often do people use only emotions to try and guide them or others into supporting or starting a “ministry?”  Some use manipulation in order to support their own vision and not God’s. We must be willing for God to say, “No.”  Paul and Silas wanted to go one way, but were willing to hear the opposite and listened to the Spirit of God and submitted to Him to lead and not the need.  If they went the way God didn’t want them to go, not only would they have disobeyed God, but things would have been far different and they would not have shared the Gospel with those God wanted them to share it with.  God obviously would have found another way but chose Paul and Silas to go.  This is so important to remember today, particularly when those on social media are crying out for support.  No doubt some are legitimate, while others merely want to contact others to ask for money while not ministering to anyone but themselves.

 

There was a need in Macedonia too!  The need is determined by God, not man.  God’s plan was that Paul and Silas not go Asia or Bithynia.  How about us?  Do we focus on what we think is a need so much we forget or neglect what God says is the true need?  It is our “vision” or God’s direction?  We must be wise.  Paul and Silas were wise, discerning and listened to God’s word, as we should with prayer and Scripture, which is God’s word because we will find that, though there are times when it will happen, the need doesn’t necessarily determine our direction in life.

 

Acts 4:12 – Don’t Try Jesus

Acts 4:12

Don’t “Try Jesus”

Acts 4:12 – Nor is their salvation in any other, for there is no other Name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Peter, John and others have been brought before the Sanhedrin, the religious counsel of the day, because they preached Jesus and the resurrection.  Peter is filled with the Holy Spirit, preaches the Messiah to them and says there is no other Name anyone can be saved.  That is, Jesus is the only way of salvation.  This is the way it has always been.  Those in the Old Testament were saved by grace through faith just as we are today, under what they understood.  God pointed to the death of Christ as a sacrifice in the Garden of Eden when He shed an animal’s blood providing covering to Adam and Eve, Genesis 3:21.  The sacrificial system in the Mosaic Law pictured the perfect sacrifice of the Lamb of God who would come to take away the sin of the world.

In the world today, while Christians believe this is true, we have belittled this truth by using the pithy and demeaning phrase “Try Jesus.”  This is said perhaps in an attempt to reach people, but it conveys the wrong idea.  Jesus is not a brand of shoe, show, drink or food to see if we like Him or not.  This phrase conveys this thought because we live in a society of market driven philosophy.  We treat the Lord of Glory as a commodity, the Holy One of Israel as “something to try” to see if we like Him or not.  This is nothing short of blasphemy.  You may think I’m going too far with this… but think about this for a moment.

This needs to be repented of immediately.  Would Paul, Peter, John or others in the New Testament say something like, “Try Jesus.”  Imagine Isaiah in chapter 6 of his prophecy, where he confesses he is a man of unclean lips and lives among a people of unclean lips.  Imagine him who hears the Lord is “holy, holy, holy” from the lips of the seraphim.  Imagine him who saw the Lord high and lifted up with His glory filling the Temple of Solomon saying “Try the LORD.”  NO.  He never would have said that and nor should we.  What about John the Baptist.  Would he tell someone to “Try Jesus?”  How about the martyred saints down through history and even today?  Do they tell people to “Try Jesus?”  No.  This is only done in a society that has so much to choose from, thinking it is all equal, where absolutes are called ignorant opinion and experience is more important than truth.  We believe in Him or not, trust Him or not and put our faith in Him or not.  No matter what we do or don’t do, say or don’t say, believe or don’t believe it doesn’t change who He is!

He is not a fad, but God Almighty, the only One who can change the heart and the only One who has risen physically from the dead and returning again, as Peter said.  He is the Lord of glory, whether or not we admit it.  He is the only way of salvation.  There is NO other way.  He is not someone or something we “try” but someone we bow before in humility and love, in repentance and faith trusting in Him alone by his grace.

Acts 4:12 – Don’t Try Jesus

Acts 4:12

Don’t “Try Jesus”lift-high-the-cross-1311747-1918x1356

Acts 4:12 – Nor is their salvation in any other, for there is no other Name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Peter, John and others have been brought before the Sanhedrin, the religious counsel of the day, because they preached Jesus and the resurrection.  Peter is filled with the Holy Spirit, preaches the Messiah to them and says there is no other Name anyone can be saved.  That is, Jesus is the only way of salvation.  This is the way it has always been.  Those in the Old Testament were saved by grace through faith just as we are today, under what they understood.  God pointed to the death of Christ as a sacrifice in the Garden of Eden when He shed an animal’s blood providing covering to Adam and Eve, Genesis 3:21.  The sacrificial system in the Mosaic Law pictured the perfect sacrifice of the Lamb of God who would come to take away the sin of the world.

In the world today, while Christians believe this is true, we have belittled this truth by using the pithy and demeaning phrase “Try Jesus.”  This is said perhaps in an attempt to reach people, but it conveys the wrong idea.  Jesus is not a brand of shoe, show, drink or food to see if we like Him or not.  This phrase conveys this thought because we live in a society of market driven philosophy.  We treat the Lord of Glory as a commodity, the Holy One of Israel as “something to try” to see if we like Him or not.  This is nothing short of blasphemy.  You may think I’m going too far with this… but think about this for a moment.

This needs to be repented of immediately.  Would Paul, Peter, John or others in the New Testament say something like, “Try Jesus.”  Imagine Isaiah in chapter 6 of his prophecy, where he confesses he is a man of unclean lips and lives among a people of unclean lips.  Imagine him who hears the Lord is “holy, holy, holy” from the lips of the seraphim.  Imagine him who saw the Lord high and lifted up with His glory filling the Temple of Solomon saying “Try the LORD.”  NO.  He never would have said that and nor should we.  What about John the Baptist.  Would he tell someone to “Try Jesus?”  How about the martyred saints down through history and even today?  Do they tell people to “Try Jesus?”  No.  This is only done in a society that has so much to choose from, thinking it is all equal, where absolutes are called ignorant opinion and experience is more important than truth.  We believe in Him or not, trust Him or not and put our faith in Him or not.  No matter what we do or don’t do, say or don’t say, believe or don’t believe it doesn’t change who He is!

He is not a fad, but God Almighty, the only One who can change the heart and the only One who has risen physically from the dead and returning again, as Peter said.  He is the Lord of glory, whether or not we admit it.  He is the only way of salvation.  There is NO other way.  He is not someone or something we “try” but someone we bow before in humility and love, in repentance and faith trusting in Him alone by his grace.

Acts 2:41 – Method or Message – Church Growth

Acts 2:41

Method or Message – Church Growth

Acts 2:41 – Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added.

The context of this verse is Peter’s preaching at the Jewish Feast of Pentecost or Weeks, 50 days after Passover.  The people were questioning what was done and Peter stands up and boldly proclaims Jesus as Messiah and the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.  It was this Jesus they crucified (2:23) as a nation.  The Gentiles carried out the crucifixion.  The Messiah was put to death, but physically arose 3 days later and Peter quotes extensively from the Old Testament to prove this, as well as stating the Apostles and others were witnesses (2:32).  Then Peter commands them to repent (2:38) and be baptized, as the expression of repentance and faith in the Messiah.  It was these words and others, he exhorted them to be saved (2:40).  3,000 believed.  There was no methodological means, but the preaching of truth.

What about today?  What about the current “Church growth” movements?  Many have their own strategy, ideas, techniques or fads of how to grow your Churches… in numbers.  Many others flock to hear these individuals whose Churches have grown exponentially over a short period of time to see “how they did it so we can copy it.”  It should make us think.  Why are we so focused on the method over the message?  Now, don’t get me wrong.  There should be a plan, prayer and a strategy.  We see this in Scripture with Nehemiah or where the church and the Lord called out people to go, like Paul and Barnabas in Acts 12:25-13:3.  But we see a drastic and dramatic difference from what Scripture says to what is done today.  We are more focused on the method than the message!  We think numbers equal converts and that is not necessarily true.  Numbers are fine if they are true Christians, but we’re not called to make numbers, but disciples, Matthew 28:19.

The problem is we equate “God’s blessing” with high numbers and in our era of immediate gratification, if we can get lots of members quickly, then we’re doing great and “God is blessing.”  High numbers may be a sign of God’s blessing, but that’s not always true.  There are many false teachers who have tens of thousands going to “their churches.”  We call them “successful.”  God calls them heretics because they proclaim a false gospel, Galatians 1:6-9.

In the early Church was prayer and fellowship in the Apostles doctrine, Acts 2:42, in context in anticipation of the Kingdom. There was truth, love, commitment and community focused on God, His glory and His plan with the leading of the Holy Spirit.  We believe it’s “up to us” to grow the Church, when it has little to do with us, but Him who uses His children to proclaim His word and pray, because He is the Lord of the harvest.  He changes the heart and He grows His Church.  We are to be faithful to keep His message pure and proclaim that message and leave the results to Him.  So we must ask, do we as individuals focus on the method or the message?  Do we as the Church focus on the method or the message?  If the method eclipses the message, the message will suffer…

2 Timothy 4:5-6 – Dying with Purpose

2 Timothy 4:6-7

Dying with Purpose

img_0138
The Mount of Olives in Jerusalem with tombstones

 

 

2 Timothy 4:6-7 – For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

 

Death is part of life because of Adam’s sin, Romans 5:12-19 and it is sad when we have to say goodbye to those we love.  Young Timothy was reading the last letter from his mentor, friend and teacher, the Apostle Paul, as soon after Paul would be beheaded for the faith.  Paul wrote this while in a Roman prison, 2 Timothy 1:16, 2:9.  Paul likens his death as a drink offering, one of the offerings done at the Tabernacle or Temple as an act of worship towards God and thankfulness and faith for His provision.  Paul knew he was about to die and he was ready.

 

Many people fear death for a variety of reasons and if you don’t know Jesus Christ, you should fear death.  If you don’t, you are very foolish for the burning pain of the Lake of Fire awaits you for eternity.  Everyone dies.  There are young, elderly and those who are sick who want to die with “dignity.”  Societies idea of dignity varies, some perverted, like helping someone die, and some good, like bringing loved ones around the person who is about to step into eternity so they can see them one last time.  But the main way to die with dignity is to know you died with purpose!

 

Paul “lists” 3 things that gave him the strength to die with dignity.  The first is he fought the good fight.  He didn’t waste his time on meaningless fights as in battling with foolish arguments for mere argumentation.  He did not fight in the wrong way, but the good way.  He did not fight out of pride or a desire to prove something, but fought for God’s glory and picked his battles wisely.  He trusted God for the outcome of his life and his battles. Second, he uses the example of a race, which he often does and said he had completed it.  He had run the race God set before him.  While he was human like the rest of us, he ran by faith to the end, where he would get his reward.  Each Christian’s race is different, meeting different people and going different places.  Run the race God sets before you. Third, he kept the faith.  Yes, he had faith and walked by faith, but he kept the faith, the entire body of truth revealed by God in His word.  He did not waiver from God’s word, but though he was human, he persevered to the end.  It’s interesting to note the Greek form of the 3 verbs mentioned has the idea of a completed action with continuing results.  This is obvious, since we are benefiting today from his words written so long ago.  Will our lives have continuing results as well?  No life is a waste and Paul lived for God’s glory, died for His glory too.

 

We can do the same.  Paul lived a life dedicated to the Lord in faith.  Whatever race God has put before you, whether a parent, student, businessman, teacher, pastor or janitor, you can run the race by faith for the glory of God.  You can serve Him there as well as in your Church because wherever you go, whatever you do, whatever you say, as a Christian, you represent Him.  By faith, we too can fight the good fight, finish our race and keep the faith once for all delivered to the saints.  When we do that, we will not only live with dignity, but die with purpose.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 – Where do you get your doctrine?

2 Timothy 3:16-17

Where do you get Your Doctrine?img_0342

 

2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

 

Paul writes his last letter to his pastor friend, disciple and man of God, Timothy.  This letter records Paul’s last written words we have in God’s word.  Paul tells Timothy what a man of God looks like and where the man of God gains his strength – the Scriptures.  He then exhorts young Timothy to “Preach the word…” and be ready at all times to proclaim that truth, 4:2 because a time will come when no one wants to hear it, 4:3-4.  Paul focuses on the Word of God – the Bible, in context the Old Testament and by implication, what was being written by the Apostles in the New.  The Scripture is the one thing necessary to become the man or woman God we are supposed to be.  This is where we get our doctrine.

 

What about you?  Where do you look to be conformed to the image of Christ and be equipped for every good work?  Programs, Christian psychology, fads, gimmicks, books, music, 4 step programs to become a better Christian and many other things are used today. Some have their place, but none of them will make you a mature Christian!  Only studying the Bible will do this.  Why?  For one, that’s what it says.  Secondly, when we study the word of God we get to know the God of the word.  When we get to know Him we learn to depend upon Him more and He conforms us to the image of Christ, based on the doctrine we learn and believe.

 

Doctrine means “teachings.”  It refers to objective truths we believe.  While there is true and false doctrine, the truth is, if we “get” our doctrine from anything outside the Bible, we are asking for trouble and will fall into error.  Paul says the Scripture is sufficient to make us mature.  Peter says something similar in 2 Peter 1:2-4.  We should be involved in a local church, we can learn from others and should read good books written by reliable teachers, but God will never lead us in the wrong direction from His word.  He cannot.  It’s against His nature!  So many today get their doctrine primarily from a feeling, an experience, someone else or something else other than Scripture.  By this, they say the Bible is not sufficient.  Then they wonder why there is no balance, foundation, power, strength or purpose in their life.  I’m not saying if you know doctrine, life will be easy or you will understand everything.  When you know what the Bible says, you discover there will be problems in life, but you also know to an extent, why and that God has a reason for all things and will never leave you alone in them.

 

True doctrine will lead you to true worship, praise and service the Lord more deeply and sincerely.  The deeper you dive into the sea of Scripture, the higher you soar in worship and praise.  The more you know God, the more you see Him for Who He is and for what He has done and the more love you have for Him, therefore you worship, praise and serve Him with passion and conviction because your doctrine, knowledge and love for Him grows because you learn of His love for you.  True worship is about the God we are honoring with our words and lives.  This is part of the good work we are equipped for, because we turned to Scripture alone (and not our experiences) to find our doctrine.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 – Conviction and Confidence

2 Timothy 3:16-17

Conviction and Confidence

2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

 

Paul addresses his last letter to his young pastor and disciple, Timothy.  Paul was going to be martyred soon for the faith.  His last exhortation to this young man and his friend focuses on God’s word.  While the context refers to the Old Testament, it also refers to the things written in the first century by the Apostles, known as the New Testament.  He tells Timothy that all of God’s word is inspired, or “exhaled from God” that is, through men with their own personality to write what He wanted without error in the original texts and we have excellent copies today.  Paul says the Bible is sufficient for a man, or woman of God to be equipped for every good work in this life.

 

Paul wanted young Timothy to have the conviction that God’s word is true, adequate, authoritative, applicable and useful.  He wanted Timothy to have the conviction that the Bible alone is GOD’S WORD and the confidence it was what it claimed to be.  While other resources are useful, the Bible stands alone!  When a preacher or teacher believes God’s word to be what it is, he has the confidence to proclaim it without fear because he knows it is the means which God uses to change the hearts of people.  This is not having confidence in oneself, but in the One who has always been and will always be.

 

Do we have this confidence in God’s word?  Do we believe it is what it says it is or do we think we need something more?  While medicine is needed at times, do we think we need more pills?  Do we need a “new revelation” or a “feeling” from God?  God gives no new revelation, but illumination out of His word.  So many Christians are powerless today or have fallen into sin because we don’t have the conviction that God’s word is from Him.  I include myself.  If we had the conviction and confidence that the Bible is something God wrote and is sufficient for all of life, our lives would be drastically changed!  May He grant that to us!  Even if we don’t fully understand it, it is still God’s word and we should obey it.

 

For most of us however, including myself, our confidence is usually in ourselves, our plans, our intellect, wisdom, money, desires or goals.  We leave out our Lord and His word, though not completely at times.  We want to do things “our way” and sometimes God says “ok” and we fall flat on our faces, sometimes literally.  But don’t mistake conviction and confidence someone has in the Bible as arrogance, pride or stubbornness.  No, not at all!  We must hold fast to it for as the old saying goes, “If we do not stand for something, we will fall for anything.”  Only when we have the conviction God’s word is His word, then we will have the confidence to proclaim it and live it out by His grace and through His power without fearing the consequences.

 

2 Peter 1:20-21 – But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Sorry for not posting recently

Hi everyone… sorry for not updating you sooner, but things got busy with Christmas, New Years and planning my wedding, so I will get back to posting as soon as I can :).

2 Peter 3:15-16 – How to Interpret Scripture

2 Peter 3:15-16

How to Interpret Scripture

 

2 Peter 3:15-16 – …as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

 

Peter wrote about false teachers and the return of Christ.  At the end of his epistle or letter, Peter tells his readers Paul wrote of these things too, which he calls Scripture, which the false teachers twisted.  The question arises, if there is a wrong way to interpret Scripture, then how do we properly interpret it?

 

The first thing we must remember is that the Bible is God’s book and only He can give us understanding, 1 Corinthians 2:10-16.  Unless you are a Christian or the Holy Spirit is working in your life, you cannot understand the Bible.  If you are a disobedient Christian, don’t expect God to speak to you unless it is for conviction of sin.  Next come 5 principles for which I will use the acronym G.L.I.T.C.H.

 

G – Grammar.  God used written language to communicate.  Language has rules, structure and form.  Each language uses figures of speech, poetry and historical narrative to communicate, including the 3 languages the Bible was written in, Hebrew and Aramaic for the Old Testament and Greek for the New.

 

L – Literal.  God’s word is to be taken literally.  This means we take into account figures of speech, phrases used in the culture of that day, but if it says David was the King of Israel, which it does, then it means David was the King of Israel.  When it says God is our rock, we know it is a metaphor to speak of Him being our strength.

 

I – Inspired, Inerrant, Infallible.  God “breathed out” His word through men who wrote it, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.  In the original writings or autographs were inerrant or without error.  They were also infallible or incapable of having error, because it was from God.  How we view Scripture will partly determine how we interpret it.

 

T – Time and Prayer.  One thing many people forget or neglect is that it takes time and prayer to understand God’s word.  You cannot learn it overnight, nor understand all it contains.  Because it came from God, we must seek His guidance and insight to understand His truth.  Be patient and ask Him to teach you.

 

C – Context.  This is a major one.  Context is the way words and phrases are put together to form meaning.  There is immediate context, like the chapter and book or letter you are reading, then overall context which is the entire Bible. The Bible interprets itself as you compare truth with truth.  God wants us to understand His word!  If we take Scripture out of context, we will say God said something He did not say!

 

H – History and Culture.  The Bible is a theological book written in a historical context.  It’s a book about God and His work in history.  Without an understanding of history and culture during the time the Bible was written, which you can get from Scripture and other wonderful resources, you won’t understand certain things.  Yes, God can “speak” to us without this knowledge, but we will hear Him more clearly if we learn to properly interpret His word and keep us from error.

 

These principles will help you to properly interpret the Bible to learn what God meant when He inspired men to write it and keep you from having a G.L.I.T.C.H. in your thinking.  Yes the purpose of properly interpreting the Bible is to know God more intimately, but we cannot do that if we do not get back to the meaning of the original writer.  When we start with the original meaning of a text, we will better put the Bible together as 1 book, with 1 central theme – redemption of fallen humanity through the Messiah.  While there is only 1 proper interpretation of a passage, there are many applications.  Today, we must learn to properly interpret the Bible because so much teaching is based on “feeling” or is perceived “need based” rather than Biblically based.  To o prepare for the future and live our lives for His glory and properly know God, we must learn to correctly interpret His word.

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