Christianity, what is it? Christianity has become so diversified and varied that no one is able to agree on its tenets. Is it my viewpoint, your viewpoint, or some other guy’s point of view? Consider these statistics:
- · According to About.com, Christianity is ranked the largest religion in the world today. In 2010 there were 2.18 billion Christians around the world, nearly a third of the global population.
- · The Pew Forum from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) conducted research that estimates that there are about 41,000 Christian denominations worldwide.
Denominations are defined as, a large group of religious congregations united under a common faith and name and organized under a single administrative and legal hierarchy. A denomination can be further described as a religious organization whose congregations are united in their adherence to its beliefs and practices. Here are a few of these denominations:
Baptist, Anabaptist, Oneness-Pentecostal or Unitarian-Pentecostal: Jesus Only, Baptistic-Pentecostal or Keswick-Pentecostal, Holiness-Pentecostal: 3-crisis-experience, Apostolic, or Pentecostal Apostolic (living apostles), Pentecostal (Protestant; Classical Pentecostal), Friends (Quaker), Reformed, Presbyterian, Christian Brethren (Plymouth Brethren, Open only), Congregational, Congregationalist, Disciple, Restorationist, Restorationist Baptist, Christian, Dunker (Tunker), Dipper, German Baptist, Brethren, Exclusive Brethren (Plymouth Brethren, Closed, Strict), Anglican Evangelical, Independent Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Christadelphian apocalyptic, eschatological (i.e. "end times" Christians), Divine Science, Gnostic, esoteric, anthroposophical, Holy Spirit Association for Unification of World Christianity, Jehovah's Witnesses (or "Russellites"), Latter-day Saints (Mormons), including Mormon schismatics, Liberal Catholic (Theosophical, Masonic, Gnostic), Bulgarian Orthodox, Byelorussian / Belorussian (White Russian / White Ruthenian), Coptic Orthodox, Czech / Slavonic-speaking Orthodox,Estonian Orthodox, Ethiopic, Ethiopian Orthodox, GeOez-speaking, Byzantine-rite (jurisdiction for more than one ethnic group), Chaldean (Eastern Syrian rite), Coptic (Alexandrian rite), Ethiopic (Alexandrian rite), Greek (Byzantine rite), Hungarian (Byzantine rite), Italo-Albanian (Byzantine rite), Charismatic.
Wow, what a list! When you consider that there are about 40,972 more denominations we see the magnitude of this division. Notice my use of the word ‘division’; I use that word because this is EXACTLY what it is. You see EACH of these denominations hold to the belief that they are carriers of the TRUTH from God. The problem is that the whole point of a denomination is that there are disagreements in beliefs. So when the apostle Paul asks the question ‘Is Christ divided’ Christianity’s answer is a resounding YES.
Of all those who call themselves Christian there is NO unity in faith. In fact there can be found divisions and differing beliefs even within some households. So what’s the big deal? Do we all have to believe the same thing? According to Paul and Jesus YES! There can be NO division in Christ. Consider this:
This reference by Paul is the first recorded set of denominations in the church. They had come to segregate themselves based upon differing beliefs. Paul’s declaration here shows that divisions are not good. Let us consider Jesus’ position on the matter:
According to Jesus this perfection in UNITY was essential to the world knowing that he was sent by God. Based on these verses, it is clear that Christianity is its own worst enemy in proclaiming the truths it receives from Jesus. Because of their divisions Christians do more harm than good to the cause of Christ.
The source of all confusion
So what is the cause of all these divisions in the so-called ‘body’ of Christ? It is obvious that the divisions are sourced from our propensity to denominate. We have defined denomination as ‘a religious organization whose congregations are united in their adherence to its beliefs and practices’. We must conclude, therefore, that divisions arise out of a difference of beliefs and practices. But why would there be differing beliefs? Consider that in the entire world, from culture to culture and ethnic group to ethnic group, the following calculation is agreed upon:
How is it possible that the whole world inclusive of Hindu, Muslim, Atheist, Agnostic and every single denomination of Christianity can all agree on the summation of this simple computation? The reasons being are that the principles of mathematics are universal and unchanging. It is because of this that unity can be achieved despite differences in culture. Therefore there will never be a council coming together to dispute the veracity of this conclusion.
Christianity finds no such universality in its foundation to ensure the same conclusions. You may say ‘But what of the bible, doesn’t it serve as a foundation of our faith’. Oh, does it really? I can say without fear of contradiction that the bible and in particular the scriptures of the New Testament are the CAUSE of the divisions in Christianity today. Blasphemy you say? I refer again to the definition of a denomination:
A religious organization whose congregations are united in their adherence to its beliefs and practices.
To the good Christian I ask this question ‘From where does your belief arise’. Most would say that they arrived at a certain set of beliefs from conclusions they gleaned from the bible. These conclusions may either be from personal studies or an acceptance of teachings from some pastor or priest. Since this is the case how is it that there are so many denominations? It is because there are so many differing beliefs. But if the words on the page are the same in your bible and in my bible how can differences in beliefs arise? (Remember there is no mathematics sect declaring that 2+2=5.) The reason for these differences is that no one can accurately determine the exact meaning of the words in the bible.
Consider that when a person writes words on a page in order for understanding to occur there must be more than just a comprehension of the words. In fact comprehension would only get you so far; what is essential is a grasp of the intention and mindset of the writer who penned the words. This principle can be realized in observing arguments over the United States Constitution. This document was created on September 17, 1787, less than three hundred years ago. Its reading is not hampered by translation issues yet arguments for and against a particular issue may be predicated on its words. How is this possible? It is because the framers of the constitution are ALL dead, and as such are unable to declare the intent behind the words in the document. Without knowing the intent true understanding is lost, and what is left is subjectivity. One can be assured that the framers themselves were COMPLETELY aware of what they meant when they wrote those words, but because of the passage of time we can never know for certain.
The problems in understanding are monumentally magnified in regards to the bible. Consider this:
- · The words of the New Testament were written THOUSANDS of years ago
- · We have authors that cannot be definitively verified
- · The words were written by authors of a different culture, time and language
- · We have translations of translations of translations
- · NONE of the original writings were preserved
- · Everyone who wrote books or letters comprising the bible are now dead and cannot be interviewed
Any two of these issues would cause differences in beliefs, but combine them and we have a glorified mess.
Consider the beliefs that arise from the NT in regards to God’s judgment on the unbelieving. Some groups say that God punishes the unbeliever in a burning hell forever; some say that God annihilates the unbeliever. All find basis for their beliefs in the VERY SAME scriptures. But either God is schizophrenic or there is another problem. The problem in this fundamental doctrine is based on the fact that the bible we have is a translation of a translation of a translation. In a blog I wrote here I prove that the problem with our understanding of the judgment of God lies in an erroneous translation using the word ‘eternal’ found throughout the NT. This simple example helps us to see how these differing beliefs can arise.
Distortions can also arise from misunderstandings in culture. Understanding the culture of the day is paramount to our understanding of the intent of the writers at the time of their writings. In reviewing the following verse we can see the result of cultural misunderstandings, consider:
We read this today in 2012, but Paul wrote this at about 70 A.D. Here is the problem: these words do not change, whatever the words are they were the same when he wrote them. One thousand years from now this verse will still read the same. Do you think that his intent translates to us today in regards to how women should adorn themselves? Keep in mind that the intent behind what he wrote is just as important to our understanding as the words that he wrote. Ask any 10 Christian women on their idea of MODEST and DISCREET apparel and you may get 15 different answers. Why would this be? It is because an understanding of these written words has become subjective, and in this case they are subjective to time and the degradation of morality in general. What was considered modesty at the time of Paul’s writings INFORMED HIS IDEAS ON THE USE OF THE WORD FOR MODESTY; the problem is that his ideas may be considered REPRESSIVE in today’s culture. If we seek to obey these words we must realize that a correct appreciation of the words is based on the intent of the writer and NOT your interpretation.
The rise of heresies
A heresy is a harsh sounding word that means an opinion or doctrine that is in opposition to what is generally accepted. Baptists consider Mormons heretics, Methodists consider Jehovah’s Witnesses heretics and Catholics consider EVERYONE heretics. What most people do not realize is that MOST of Christianity is heretical because ALL of them have moved away from an understanding of the intent of the original writers of the bible. When reading the bible we cannot transfer our own sentiments on its words because we did not write them. The problem is that sentiments color our opinions and inform are interpretations. Without a clear grasp on intent then we have NO RECOURSE BUT TO BE SUBJECTIVE, and because the intent is lost to us due to the death of the writers of the New Testament there will NEVER BE CONSENSUS OR UNITY when reading its words.
Jesus had no scribe
The fact that Jesus had no scribe among his disciples is an important detail that is overlooked. Jesus, after prayer to God, chose the following:
- · Peter, he was a fisherman by occupation.
- · John, He was a fisherman along with his brother and father. (Mark 1:19-20).
- · James, by occupation a fisherman along with his brother and father at the Sea of Galilee, in partnership with Peter and Andrew (Luke 5:10).
- · Andrew was a fisherman by occupation.
- · Philip, unknown occupation.
- · Bartholomew, there is no other reference to him in the New Testament. Nothing much is known about him.
- · Thomas, his occupation is unknown.
- · Matthew, he was a tax collector by occupation. He is ascribed to be the author of the Gospel according to Matthew.
- · James, nothing much is known about him.
- · Thaddeus, nothing else is known about him apart from the mention of his name.
- · Simon the Zealot, occupation unknown.
- · Judas Iscariot, he was a treasurer of the group (John 12:6, 13:29). Because he was chosen as treasurer we can conclude that he may have been a bookkeeper.
There is no text that tells us that Jesus ever commissioned any of his disciples to write down the words he was speaking. Because there were no recording devices during this time the ONLY way to capture what was spoken orally was for one to write it down on paper. Now consider this, Jesus knew that he would only be on earth for a time. He spoke, what his apostles considered to be, 'words of life'. You have to then ask yourself why he didn't have someone commissioned with the task of writing down all the words that he was saying for future reference.
Consider what preachers do today; they have you sit and listen to their teachings, then they encourage you to buy a CD of the same teaching, take it home and listen to it seven times. Why didn't Jesus have someone just to write? Consider the authenticity we could claim if someone was there writing as the words were coming from his mouth. An even better scenario would have been for Jesus himself to have taken pen to paper. All we have today is mostly accounts of events that happened retold by persons who may or may not have been eyewitnesses of these accounts themselves. Even more startling is that Jesus never gave the apostles the command to write. Jesus’ command to them was to go and preach.
Are the WORD of God and the Bible synonymous?
Let's begin with a few blasphemous/heretical statements:
- · Blasphemy one- the bible is NOT where you were to learn about Jesus
- · Blasphemy two- the bible is not THE word of God
The word of God is not a book – it is a person. This is often the point where someone would declare that I am nit-picking, splitting hairs, or being caught up in semantics. But in reality that is like having a headache and popping a few cyanide pills because they look like aspirin.
Most Christians today regard the bible as the word of God. But is really? Consider our understanding; the bible is a collection of statements from God, activities of men, historical documents, wise sayings, letters, prophecies, songs of praises et.al. But do we have a biblical definition of what the word of God is:
If you had no concept of the phrase ‘word of God’ and I presented you with these two verses and asked you the question 'What is the word of God', what would you answer? You would conclude that the word of God was Jesus himself and not some words on a page. If I were to take a photograph of you right now what would the photograph be? Could I claim that the photograph was you? Wouldn't it be more accurate to conclude that the picture was an IMAGE of you and not you yourself? In this same way the bible is not the word of God but a snapshot of the word of God. Therefore, the bible includes words from God but it was never intended to be a conclusion, in the same way that a picture of you doesn't represent the totality of your existence.
Jesus IS the word of God, whenever God speaks it is Jesus that comes out of his mouth. What was spoken thousands of years ago is akin to a picture of you when you were ten years old but you are now thirty. Based on this we can now understand the verse:
Hebrews wasn't talking about words on a page; it was talking about the fact that Jesus is ALIVE. In comprehending this truth we now realize that the words spoken by God today have just as much power and are just as binding as the ones written on pages thousands of years ago.
Consider the use of the phrase ‘Word of God’ in the bible, and see if you can glean from these verses that it is referring to a book:
NONE of these verses are talking about a book – but a living being. You can prove this by substituting the name Jesus for the phrase ‘Word of God’, and in every instance it would make perfect sense.
Consider this verse:
To conclude that Hebrews is talking about the bible here is LUDICROUS since the worlds were formed before even one of its writers came into being. And in another place:
These verses prove that the Word of God is NOT words in a book but a living Entity.
This is the go to verse for a devoted Christian seeking to prove that the bible is inerrant. It tells us that all scripture is inspired by God and therefore is incapable of containing error. But what scripture is Paul referring to in this letter to Timothy? When we read this today we are not reading Paul’s intent but our interpretation. Ask any Christian and they will confirm to you that the ‘Scripture’ referred to by Paul are the words written in the New Testament book they have in their hands. But is it really? In order to find out we must consider the context of this verse by examining the verse immediately preceding it:
Now considering that Timothy was a man at the time of this writing Paul could NOT be referring to the 27 books of the New Testament, because as of the writing they were not as yet compiled. A similar statement is attributed to Jesus:
Could an argument be made that the scriptures referred to by Jesus here are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Absolutely NOT! Jesus and Paul in these instances were referring to what is known as the Old Testament. Paul referred many times in his writings to these verses in the Old Testament, and in fact they form the bases of the teachings in his letters.
What is the purpose of the Spirit of God?
So why didn't Jesus have scribes and why wasn't there an accurate collection of the exact words of Jesus? The answer to that question is the same to the answer to why questions of biblical errancy are ridiculous. The answer is that Jesus never intended for his message to be captured on paper. This is the reason why the original manuscripts of the New Testament were NOT preserved. God had no reason to preserve them. If you were able to do whatever you wanted are you dependent on anyone? Was Jesus hoping that the disciples would retain the words he was speaking accurately so that they would be transferred throughout all generations to come? Not in the least, for if he wanted that then he would have ensured the invention of the iPhone and YouTube a long time ago! God knew that anything written down is captured in time and subject to the intention of the writer. Just like you may look nothing like your baby pictures these words too would become ravaged with time, locked in cultural relevancy and hampered by losses in translation. What then was God's plan to deal with the accurate spreading of the gospel? The Holy Spirit.
Depending on your denomination to some the Holy Spirit is that thing that gets you to huck and buck, to others it’s the thing that causes you to fall down and foam at the mouth while writhing on the floor. But what is the purpose of the Holy Spirit, and how does it preserve the word of God throughout all time?
How many theologians and dedicated students of the bible go to extreme lengths to buy this book, that commentary, this bible version, that biblical dictionary? They pay substantial sums to go to Israel to see firsthand where Jesus walked in hopes that this would in some way help them to understand the bible better. When you examine the reasoning for these augmentations to comprehension you come to the conclusion that this is all nonsense. Why would Jesus base his gospel on words whose understanding is culturally-dependent for persons thousands of years removed from the relevancy of the words, ignorant of the language and void of cultural references? In this instance UNDERSTANDING WILL NOT OCCUR. In fact this is the reason for all the divisions today. Consider this verse:
When we read these verses we are seeing words that are locked in a time and a culture. A cursory reading of this passage today would yield a conclusion that Jesus is talking about trying to get a camel to go through the eye of a needle. We hold a ridiculous picture in our minds of a 1,000 pound camel trying to get through the eye of a sewing needle. Theologians in their augmentations to understanding inform us that this parable is based upon a cultural peculiarity. They say that the eye of a needle had nothing to do with a sewing needle, but it was a narrow opening in the walls of cities that allowed passage to travelers when the city gates were shut. It was difficult to enter because it was so narrow, and if one had a camel it would have to be forced through. Now does that understanding come to mind apart from us having some knowledge of this narrow opening? No it doesn’t; in fact we are still envisioning a sewing needle, because we have no mental reference for this wall opening thingy. But what was the point of this parable? Jesus was telling us that entrance to the kingdom of God is HARD for some and EASY for others. If Jesus came here today would he talk about some needle in the wall thing? No, he wouldn’t; the verse would probably say something like:
The point is that the parable’s meaning is what is important and the Holy Spirit, that transcends culture, is able to transmit the understanding to you. Yet the augmentations of understanding would rather bog you down in unnecessary muck rather than transmit the simple truths of God.
I declare to you that NONE of these augmentations are necessary, and in fact they are all hindrances of the truth. Why is it essential to go to university to get a firm grasp on something that illiterate fisherman completely understood? Ask yourself this, fifteen years after Jesus was resurrected what were the apostles doing? They were preaching the kingdom of God. Okay, was any of the New Testament written at this time? No, in fact the first gospel was not said to have been written until around 50 AD. Well how were the Christians of the day growing? They had no New Testament. Were they inferior to you? Did they miss out? Consider these words:
Jesus was consoling his disciples with this promise because they would not see him again. But how does he fulfill this promise of coming to them again? Consider:
And in another place:
The promise of the spirit is it to the disciples only or to all those who will believe through them:
These verses show clearly that the promise of the Spirit is to ALL those who are called by God. Since this is the case what then is the purpose of this Spirit?
This is more profoundly declared in another place:
This is a phenomenal declaration found in these verses because we can see that Jesus’ intention is to have the HOLY SPIRIT be the conduit for learning this ‘New and Living way’. In this way there is NO NEED to have a physical record of the things that Jesus said because the Holy Spirit would LITERALLY teach you of these things. To those familiar with the current rave in technology, cloud computing, this is easy to understand. Through cloud computing it is no longer necessary to physically carry documents. All that is needed is a connection to the Internet and any files that you have stored in the ‘cloud’ can be accessed by you or ANYONE you give privilege to. Physical documents can be lost or damaged, but data stored in the cloud can be recalled in an instant. Anyone can come into the same information anywhere over the earth once they have access; NO MIDDLE MAN, no interpreter, no dictionary or commentary needed.
To testify about Jesus
This purpose of the Holy Spirit is remarkable. The Spirit in essence would be a witness for Jesus. It is remarkable because to be a witness involves providing information on or about a person. Do you understand this? A person upon receiving the Spirit will began to receive information that he heretofore had NOT KNOWN about Jesus. This, however, shouldn’t be that strange considering what was written here:
Think about it, why would God give a revelation of himself to a single person and tell that person to tell the world about him? Wouldn’t that be like giving a single person a taste of vanilla ice cream and letting him describe it to the whole world…in words. If you wanted someone to experience something wouldn’t it make more sense to provide the means for all who you want to experience the thing to receive it? The Holy Spirit is the conduit God uses to give the knowledge of God to ALL he calls. In this way we can fully realize the command of Jesus when he says:
How is it even possible for us to ‘learn FROM Jesus’? This knowledge is not resident in a book. This learning from Jesus is as a result of increasing ones knowledge directly from the Word of God, who is Jesus, via the Holy Spirit and NOT a book.
Look at the function of the Holy Spirit in these verses. The highlighted words are his work in the life of the believer. In the first instance we see that it is the Holy Spirit that convicts the believer of righteousness. This is important to know because Jesus then goes on to say that he goes to the father and they will no longer see him. What does that mean? It meant that he would not physically be there to tell them what was right and what was wrong in regards to righteousness with God. Then how would they come to know this information, by what means? The Holy Spirit would now convict them. Don’t we search our bibles to find out what God requires; well according to this THAT ISN'T EVEN NECESSARY since the Spirit which is a more definitive medium would perform this duty?
Jeremiah speaking of the work of the Holy Spirit declares:
This same verse is also referenced in Hebrews. Again we see that God is telling us that he would give us his law – not in some inefficient way by writing it down but by placing it in our hearts. Coincidentally, it is in our hearts where the Holy Spirit comes to live:
Another reason why relying on the conviction of the Holy Spirit is necessary is for issues touched on before i.e. being able to distinguish between right and wrong. I wrote here on how maturity is dependent on our being able to distinguish between right and wrong. What must be realized is that personal sentiments of successive generations have eroded our understanding of the strong moral fiber that is obvious throughout the scripture. We therefore cannot rely on our personal sentiments, and this is why the Holy Spirit that is untouched by times but remains an anchor that DOES NOT move, and a light that is constant in the face of increasingly dark moral concepts.
Isn’t this a wonderful promise! In the Bible Limitations section of this paper I explore the necessity for guidance that is not met by the bible.
To Glorify Jesus
And in another place:
Consider that the early church had no bible BUT they had the Holy Spirit and power; today we have the bible, along with commentaries and what do we have—Apologetics with NO power.
Paul’s life can be a model for how we were to come to learn of Christ. Do you realize that in his lifetime he had no reference of the four gospels? This is important to know because here was a man who became the pillar of our faith writing 2/3 of the New Testament. Consider this:
Have you ever stopped to think how incredibly awesome these verses are? First he says to them:
Do you realize that Paul is actually saying here that he learnt the gospel NOT FROM MAN? How was this possible? Remember he had no four gospels and he claims that he learned the gospel but not from men. HOW DID YOU COME TO KNOW THE GOSPEL? Most of us will proffer the answer: well we got it from the book of John or Matthew or some preacher. But how was it possible for Paul to learn the Gospel without ANY OF THESE THINGS? Here is how:
Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit; and just as Jesus declared, the Holy Spirit was the source of this new knowledge that Paul came to know. He further confirms this:
THIS IS INCREDIBLE! Paul is saying to us that he DID NOT seek out those who walked with Jesus and talked to him face to face. But why? These men could have easily given to him the very words that Jesus spoke to them. Why didn’t he go to learn from them? BECAUSE IT WAS NOT NECESSARY! Paul already had all that he needed; he had the Holy Spirit and the Spirit was able to present him with more certainty of truth than those who actually walked with Jesus.
If we understand the magnitude of what the Holy Spirit is and its purpose it would completely FREAK US OUT. We seek out men to teach us and we spend thousands at bible colleges and go from one conference to the next and for what? OPINIONS!
Do you know why the Christian church is so divided? It is because we have TOO MANY SOURCES which inundate us with opinions. If we all relied upon the same source, that is the Holy Spirit, then we would all SAY THE SAME THING:
Such a thing is impossible if there are differing sources.
The limitations of the Bible.
Consider the gifts of the Spirit. According to the gospels there is no mention of the gifts of the Spirit by Jesus. (Although there is an obscure passage at the end of the book of Mark declaring that the believers will speak with new tongues this is generally agreed to not have been in the earliest manuscripts.) Since we have no details from Jesus in this regard, neither do we see him speaking in tongues, how then did these gifts arise? Remember there were no bibles and no letters from Paul to which they could refer and tailor their expectation from God.
The gifts listed by Paul were in complete operation by the time he came to know about them. He did not introduce them to the church he just wrote about what was already occurring. The point is that there was no bible to which the early church could refer to understand these things and yet they thrived in the manifestation of these gifts. Even without the bible and letters from Paul these things arose as the Spirit determined they should.
But aren’t the gifts of the Spirit over and done?
Some think the gifts of the Spirit are done away with because of this verse:
But this conclusion is contradictory since that the whole reason for faith is the fact that we CONTINUE to know in part. In fact it is BECAUSE we know in part that faith is necessary, and since the need for faith would not cease until the perfection comes then one must conclude that the gifts themselves continue up until the perfection that Christ brings.
One note of importance is that the gifts of the spirit are avenues for the word of God. When someone presents a word of wisdom that is actually a direction from God. When someone is healed that is a word from God; a prophecy, this too is a word from God.
The need for a personalized word
The word of God is personal to you; it comes to you for you
These verses give us incredible insight into understanding the nature of the Word of God. All these verse help us to realize the personal interaction of God in our lives. When you read the phrase ‘All the days ordained for me were written in your book’, what does this mean? It means that God has a book on you detailing ALL YOUR DAYS. How important to you is THAT book? Do you think that THAT book has more relevance to you than 2 Timothy 4:13 where Paul reminds Timothy to bring a coat he left in Troas? What exactly is in this book that God has on you? Could it be filled with ‘Thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end’? Since this book is specifically for you, would you EVER be able to read it in the 66 books you call the bible? So we have this monumental book specific to us, filled with the Word of God to us, detailing his plan for us, and declaring to us the steps we should take. How do we get access to this book? The Holy Spirit!
Consider that there is no verse in the bible that tells you to move your family to Colorado in March and to buy a house and live there for four years! But the living word of God that manifests by the Spirit of God IS able to be this specific. If God were to send you a word in this way do you think it has any less weight than something written in the book of Isaiah or Daniel or Zephaniah? In fact the word of God to you in this way has even more potency because it is directly to you and not shrouded in transference.
The connection between the Will of God and the Word of God
The bible is filled with promises from God. The promises are of deliverance from oppression, victory over enemies and help when we are weak. The problem is that we assume that the promises we find are indeed for us. We use our faith in hopes that God would ‘fulfill his word’ from some scripture we found in Habakkuk chapter 3 or Ephesians chapter 2. Most Christians reading this paper believe that God has the power to heal the sick, and we can find promises from God where he promises in the bible to heal diseases. Well how is it then, even in the face of our strongest faith in these words, do our loved ones or some stricken soul we intercede for dies. Doesn’t the bible state that God watches over his words to perform them? Doesn’t the bible say that if we believe he will fulfill his promises to us? So why do we still end up with death? Here are possible conclusions:
- · God is a liar
- · The Bible is a book of lies
- · You are faithless
Many Christians in the face of tragic circumstances are unwilling to confront the likelihood of any of these possibilities, so they just move on to the next faith encounter. I submit that there is another reason for death. Yes the bible is filled with promises from God but the problem is that these promises are SUBJECT to the will of God and NOT your faith. The will of God is the determination that God has decided will occur. It is through this will that all things come into being:
And thus we have a glaring limitation of the bible. Yes, there are promises but those promises are DEPENDENT on the will of God, and that will is DIFFERENT for EVERYONE. You see the sovereignty of God may determine that your sister dies from breast cancer at the age of 50; it also may determine that your brother-in-law recovers from a brain tumor at age 56 and lives on until he is 89. In both cases the promises of healing are listed in the bibles they cling to, but the will of God determines each outcome. Consider this:
Now since our days are determined by God, and no amount of negotiation can stave off death; what is more important to know in these times of trials? Is it more important to memorize 300 bible healing promises OR to be ‘filled with the knowledge of his will’? Consider:
The Spirit of God fills us with the knowledge of his will so that we do not waste time with useless words when we pray:
This is very important because the weakness talked about here has to do with our ignorance since the will of God must be revealed to us in every situation. Apart from the knowledge of his will our prayers, even if they are based on scriptures, are USELESS in that God ONLY hears requests that are in accordance with His will:
Consider how important our concept of the Word of God is to our understanding of spiritual warfare. When we read the following what do we understand:
If we hold to the view that this is somehow talking about words in a book we will be severely hampered in our effectiveness. Understanding that the word of God is a living being you can now realize that this brings a level of specificity that cannot be offered in blanket verses.
Wouldn’t this realization bring about an increase in heresies?
If we had a system where ANYONE could have access to the Holy Spirit and declare the Word of God wouldn’t that be chaos? Wouldn’t all the crazies be unleashed with their spooky utterances? Actually no it won’t because there are safeguards that one would learn in the elemental phase of ones training to maturity (more on this in the next section).
The Holy Spirit is speaking, and it will continue to speak words to increase our understanding. Consider these words:
How did the word of God increase? Since Jesus is the Word of God does this verse mean that Jesus got fatter? What was happening is that people were being filled with the Spirit of God and as a result they were manifesting the gifts of the Spirit and with each manifestation the word of God increased. They needed no bibles because the word of God was with them, in them and came through them.
So how then do you judge what is crazy or not? Consider these words:
Remember that Paul’s concept of what was written was based on the scriptures of the Old Testament. Since the word of God does not contradict itself it is relatively easy to judge an utterance. Consider this prophecy:
The recession that began in 2008 was the beginning of the end for the united states of America. America WILL REGAIN its footing after the recession that began in 2008. This will be followed by another recession; from which it will AGAIN regain its footing. The recession that FOLLOWS THE SECOND IN THIS SUCCESSION will arise QUICKLY after the second recession and IT will be the last. The financial experts and economic gurus WILL NOT BE ABLE TO DEVISE A WAY TO STOP THIS COLLAPSE. They will make plans and overtures to try and stave off and mitigate the crisis but it will have NO EFFECT. This last recession in this series will result in the COMPLETE, TOTAL and UTTER ruin of The United States’ economy from which IT WILL NEVER RECOVER.
Since there can be found NOWHERE in the bible the words ‘America’ and ‘2008’ this prophecy classifies as an increase of the word of God. Does it meet the test of NOT going beyond what was written? Yes it does, consider:
As we continue to develop in the Spirit of God such judgments would become second nature to us.
The apostles were the foundation.
Well what are pastors/teachers for?
My animosity towards the pastoral system in place today is well documented in a paper about the Illegitimacy of the Clergy. It was important to denounce this system, because it has robbed the church of the reliance we should have on the Holy Spirit and the power that comes with that dependence. However, I make it clear that the offices explicated by Paul in his letters do have legitimacy; what is lost is their correct function. So what is the function of the Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher?
The problem with the pastor is that he sees his duty as a lifelong job, but if you read the above carefully you will see that their function was UNTIL. They had no enduring function just until. Until what?
Maturity was the goal of the functions not an everlasting process but maturity. Just like a baby matures into an adult the Christian too was to mature. There is a pop culture label for an adult child that won’t leave home, ‘Failure to Launch’. See even the world understands this concept but our churches are filled with eternal babies being enabled by pastoral den mothers whose egos are stroked by increasing numbers and a desire to be depended upon.
So how do we know when the Christian is mature? The Christian is considered mature when he is able to distinguish between good and evil. The pastors and teachers were to aid in bringing the Christian to maturity. In the same way we feed babies with baby food; the Christian was to undergo a similar process. The pastor/teacher was to teach the elementary principles of the oracles of God. It was an understanding of these elemental principles that leads the believer to maturity. In fact Paul’s letters were filled with just that – elementary principles. A key tenet of these elemental principles was for the believer to receive the Holy Spirit:
These examples are of persons who needed the elemental principles that led to maturity. Once the process of maturity is complete then that individual would now no longer be in need of a teacher but was capable of teaching others who would be in need of the elemental knowledge:
Once the Spirit had been received by the members of a particular body all the believers need do was:
There would at this point be NO NEED for the pastor to continue to function since the believers themselves are qualified, by virtue of the indwelling of the Spirit, to be teachers.
The point of this paper was to present the realization that there is more to the New and Living Way than meets the eye. The body of Christ has been hampered by issues of doctrine, opinions of men, losses in translation et.al. God is revealing the way out of this mess, and way out is through the Spirit of God. Having the Holy Spirit at the helm of your life will ensure that you are not ‘tossed about by every wind of doctrine’ or led into confusion. You will come to see the light of his way and he will lead you into ALL truth. You will find no need to seek out a bible college or read every bestseller, but you will come to know that the word of God is right next to you, in your heart and on your lips. Call out to God for his Spirit; after all we have this promise: