The Key to Understanding God’s Word

Photo by Bethan

Arnold Cook makes a wonderful point in his book, Historical Drift which we all must keep in mind as we study the Word of God and teach and preach its principles.

I again argue for a view of Scripture that begins with the question: “What appears to be the clear pattern in the Bible?” In our academic sophistication we easily forget that the Scriptures were written for the ordinary believer. The vast majority of Bible readers world-wide have no access to commentaries, seminaries nor even a formally trained pastor. But they do have the Holy Spirit to illuminate their understanding.

Let me take this a step further. Not only do many lack the access to “theological resources,” but many Christians and potential Christians (everybody) do not have the ability to read or learn through written means. We easily forget in Western culture that most of the rest of the world is comprised of oral learners, they learn through audio visual means.

I have no problem with Biblical scholarship, in fact, I support it and I practice it to the best of my ability. However, do we not at times over-complicate matters? Do we do more harm than good for ourselves and others by constantly question everything when the Bible clearly teaches that God’s Spirit will lead and guide us into all truth? The Holy Spirit is the key to understanding God’s Word.

Again, I don’t wish to oversimplify. I do, however, attempt to re-prioritize. We need to be in tune with the Spirit. Let’s allow the LORD to open up our understanding as He illuminates the Truth revealed in Scripture. In a world of confusion and questions, we must have a clear sound for those who Cook calls the “ordinary believer” as well as those who will never have the ability to read a single word of Scripture for themselves.

Body of Christ, Who’s In?

“R only Acts 2 believers a part of the body of Christ?”

This is the question that was posed on Twitter by a friend of mine. Although the question was not directed to me, my wheels immediately began spinning.

Photo by bemky

I’m not sure that the tweet expressed my friend’s true question. My response to the question as stated would be, Yes, only those who believe Acts 2 are a part of the body of Christ. In fact, I believe that anyone who rejects any portion of Scripture would be exempt from the body of Christ. It makes no difference if it is Acts 2 or Isaiah 48.

However, I don’t believe that this is the question my friend was asking. I believe he was asking if those who do not interpret and apply Acts 2 as Apostolic Pentecostals do are a part of the body of Christ. In order to answer that question, we must answer the question, How does someone become a part of the body of Christ? The Word of God speaks a clear answer.

We are baptized into the body.

“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” – 1 Corinthians 12:13

The Greek preposition translated by is en – the same preposition is used in Acts 1:5 (ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.) We could translate this verse, “With one Spirit are we all baptized into one body…” When we are baptized in the Spirit we receive Christ into our lives and become a part of the body of Christ (read also Ephesians 2:13-22).

This is exactly what happened in Acts 2 when Peter stood up and delivered his sermon. When the people were convicted and had faith to accept the sacrifice of Jesus he commanded them to “Repent and be baptized…and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Spirit)” (Acts 2:38).

That being said, let me add one more thing, and I believe this will get down to the real issue that my friend was concerned about when he posed his question.

Only those who have believed and applied Acts 2 are a part of the body of Christ. However, we must be careful not to have an “us versus them” mentality. What if Peter would have had an “us versus them” mentality concerning Cornelius? What if Aquila and Priscilla would have had an “us versus them” mentality concerning Apollos? This world is full of people like Cornelius and Apollos. They love the LORD and are sincere in their desire to please Him. They need someone to preach the truth to them that they may be a part of the body of Christ.

Outlast the Stars

All Christians and all churches are engaged in one of three activities: guarding the dead past, creating fleshly trifles that will perish, or working in cooperation with the Holy Spirit in the constant creation of eternal treasure that will outlast stars. – Tozer

This quote has been on my mind and in my spirit for a while. It has caused me to take an honest look at my life direction. It is an irritant that is buried deep down in my soul and I am hoping it produces a pearl.

Photo by Adam Foster

Which activity are we engaged in?

Are we content with guarding a dead past? I am thankful for every blessing, every miracle, and every soul saved. I thank God for every great revival that has swept through this world but I am not satisfied with staying here. I’m not satisfied with guarding the gift that God gave us as if someone could come and take it away. He didn’t give us the gift to guard it, He gave us the gift so that we could share it. We must move forward from here.

However, we must be careful that we don’t fall into the second group; a group that is especially prevalent today. The plans that God has for us, the work He has called us to do, the revival that He wants to send, cannot be sustained by our own talent and creativity. Yes, God gave us the talent. Yes, God gave us the creativity. But these gifts can only be maximized when used under the direction of the Holy Spirit. We cannot go forward without His leading.

I’m not interested in staying where we are and I’m not interested in moving forward on our own. I’m listening for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Where He leads me, I will follow. It is my prayer that as I go, His will is accomplished and His Kingdom is advanced through me.

I’m going to be a part of something that outlasts the stars because I am going with Him.

Extraordinary

In Extraordinary, John Bevere unpacks the truths from God’s Word which show God’s desire for His children to live an abundant life. We are not called to the “status quo.” John shows us exactly what it takes to move beyond an ordinary existence and to take hold of an extraordinary life. Prepare to be challenged and changed if you read this book!

If you have ever asked the question, “Is it possible to live a life free from sin?” this book is for you. If you find yourself constantly battling the same sinful habits, this book is for you. If you want to live life in the power that God has given and not through your own effort and ability, this book is for you. If you are looking to live a life fully immersed in the extraordinary, then this book is for you.

The truth is, as John points out, “many of us have been taught that grace is an unmerited gift and by it we were given eternal life in heaven. However, what’s been neglected in many evangelical circles is the understanding of how grace provides the power to live – extraordinarily – a successful life that pleases God before eternity.”

How is this possible? Grace. “Grace gives us the ability to exceed our own ability. It gives us the ability to live extraordinarily!” In fact, God’s expectations of those filled with His Spirit are greater than His expectations were of those who lived under the law because of His empowering grace.

Where does this grace come from? Faith. “We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Romans 5:2). “Faith deeply believes God will do what He says, and it subsequently produces (both) words of agreement and actions of obedience.” Genuine faith speaks and acts on what it believes. “Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Without faith and grace, we live in the ordinary, not the extraordinary.”

How do we have access to this faith through which we receive grace? The Holy Spirit. “We resist carnality through the power imparted by the Holy Spirit into our spirit.” Even our mortal bodies are restored to (overcoming) life by the power of the His Spirit dwelling in us (Romans 8:10-11).

Live in the power of the Holy Spirit; live Extraordinarily!

Four Vessels for Revival

In 2 Kings 4 we read of a widow who owes a debt that she cannot pay. All she has is a pot of oil, not enough to make a difference (so she thinks). The creditor is really putting on the pressure, threatening that if she does not pay, he will be forced to take her sons as slaves.

Completely desperate for help she asks the Prophet, Elisha, what she should do. He tells her to go and borrow vessels from all of her neighbors; every empty vessel that can be found, bring it into the house. After collecting every vessel that could be found she was to take that pot of oil and pour it out into all the empty vessels.

The widow sent her sons to gather all the vessels in the village. It did not matter if they were large vessels or small vessels, ornate or plain. The only thing that mattered was that they be empty vessels. When they had finished gathering the vessels, she began to pour out the oil. As she poured, God miraculously multiplied the oil until every vessel was filled.

The oil represents the Holy Spirit. The empty vessels represent the empty souls of mankind, but notice, it took four types of vessels for the miracle to come to pass; it took a vessel of vision to see (Elisha), a vessel of faith to believe (widow), vessels of courage to do (sons), and empty vessels.

May God give us the vision to see, the faith to believe, and the courage to do.

The LORD is still filling empty vessels!

Love and Holiness

I recently read an article highlighting the letters of Francis Schaeffer. The post called attention to Shaeffer’s emphasis on the Christian’s responsibilty to reflect both the love and the holiness of God. It was Schaeffer’s conviction, and I believe he was correct, that these two characteristics could coinside in an individual only by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Photo by leicadog1

Here is the quote from an undated letter:

Increasingly I believe that after we are saved we have only one calling, and that is to show forth the existence and the character of God. Since God is love and God is holy, it is our calling to act in such a way as to demonstrate the existence of God–in other words to be and to act in such a way as to show forth His love and His holiness simultaneously. Further, I believe that the failure to show forth either of these is equally a perversion.

Of course, in one’s own strength it is only possible to show forth either love or holiness. But to show forth the holiness and love of God simultaneously requires much more. It requires a moment by moment work of the Holy Spirit in a very practical way.

In the flesh we can exhibit a pharisitical vengance against sin or we can exhibit a benevolance that dismisses sin. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit do these characteristics come into balance.

“All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.” Psalms 25:10

Marching Orders: 2

Part 2 of 4

Last week I started a series called Marching Orders (first post) which I intend to finish this week.  In the first post I gave three orders given by the Apostle Paul to the Church at the end of the Church age (Hebrew 10:22-25).  Each order begins with the words “let us”.

1. Let us draw near.

2. Let us hold fast.

3. Let us consider one another.

In part two of this series, let us look at the first of these orders.  Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”

First we must understand what a miracle it is that we even have this ability!

All throughout the Old Testament men were separated from the presence of God.  The presence of God dwelt in the tabernacle within the Holiest of Holies.  The only person that was allowed to enter that place was the high priest and even he was only to enter one time in a year.  There was a veil of separation between God and man.

Thank God that there is a new and living way, that being Jesus Christ.  When He died, the veil was rent from top to bottom.  Through Him, we have direct access to the presence of God.

But it doesn’t stop there, He poured out His Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.  He no longer dwells in temples made with man’s hands, but He dwells in the hearts of men!

The greatest miracle is the fact that a sinful man can be forgiven and granted access into the presence of a Holy God!

How do we draw nigh to God?  We need to have a relationship with Him.  We draw near to God by basic spiritual disciplines; prayer, fasting, study of the Word, etc.

If you have ever been to a Hibachi grill, you have watched as the Chef prepared the food while performing all sorts of amazing tricks; the onion volcano, the twirling spatulas, the tossed eggs.  After watching one of these performances, I asked the chef what the most difficult part of his job was.  His answer shocked me.  He told me the most difficult part was stirring the food.

All the tricks are nice but the most difficult part is often the most basic!

The Church needs a revival of spiritual discipline and meaningful relationship with God.

Warriors of Morning Draw Near to God!

“Follow Me” Means Everywhere (An Easter Post)

Jesus did not offer any conditions when He told his disciples to follow him.  He didn’t give them any specifics.  He didn’t tell them where they would be going.  He didn’t say follow me, unless I go somewhere that you don’t want to follow.  He simply said, “Follow Me.”  And that meant Everywhere.

And if I may, let me suggest on this Easter week, that there are three very specific places that we must follow Him; we must follow Him to the cross, we must follow Him to the grave; and then (and only then) we will follow Him in resurrection.

1. The Cross

“Take up your cross and follow me,” is what Jesus said.  There is no following Christ without a cross.  There is no following Christ without repentance.  Many imagine that they are following Jesus but they have not turned from their sin and toward Him.  Paul knew it and understood it.  He said, “I die daily,” and “I am crucified with Christ.”  If we are going to follow Him, following Him to the cross will be one of the first steps that we take.

2. The Grave

Just as Jesus was buried, we also must be buried with Him in Baptism.  Baptism is done by immersion (greek: baptizo) and is in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Paul had more to say about this in his letter to the Romans, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death…”  If we have followed Jesus to the cross, it is only natural that we will follow Him to the Grave.

3. The Resurrection

Finally, if we have followed Jesus to the cross and to the grave, we are promised that we will follow Him in resurrection.  “…that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection:”  When we follow Jesus to the cross in repentance and to the grave in baptism, we are promised that we shall follow Him in resurrection as we are gloriously filled with the Holy Ghost!

What do you say friend?  Have you followed Him Everywhere?  If not, this Easter season would be a great time to fall in behind Jesus and let your heart sing, “where He leads me, I will follow.”