Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Knowledge Is Not Power; The Spirit Is

     I have been in some good discussions these past two weeks. Some with believers, some with people of other religions and some with unbelievers. I hit a snag with some conversations with unbelievers. They often would debate faith, the Spirit and the capacity to believe. They would debate the authenticity of the three and the amount we as Christians rely on them. With all the knowledge they had, they couldn't understand why Christians would believe in the gospel and Bible. With all the information we shared, why would Christians have the faith to believe, and the understanding of the things of God, and unbelievers so clearly disagreed.

     I would share what the Bible defines as faith and prayer and the gospel. We would be able to go from that point and grow in knowledge in the topics. But even with shared knowledge, unbelievers just can't grasp why Christians can believe in it all.

     What I finally found in this study really put the pieces that I had together. What I knew already, but had trouble articulating is easily found in scripture. This helped as a guide and comfort to me in my discussions with unbelievers. That no matter how much knowledge one has, the power lies in the Spirit's gift of understanding and guidance.

     God also makes believing in Him simple. To those that only have a basic knowledge of the gospel and of God can be saved by the power of the Spirit. It isn't a case of how much one knows, but the Spirit intercedes for us and gives us the understanding. This is why it is easy for anyone to believe, but not everyone. The gospel int't just for the "smartest" and most knowledgable in the Bible.

     There was a time where knowledge equaled understanding. That was in the garden. When God dwelled with Adam and Eve. But once the fall happened, faith became a requirement for belief. Sin and the fall took away God's light from the earth and Satan was given dominion. Unless that veil of darkness is lifted by the power of the Spirit, the world system is all that we can comprehend. I found that no amount of scientific, prophetic, or historical evidence is sufficient. That those aspects of faith come after belief to grow a believer in their faith, not the other way around.

     It is such a miracle that the Spirit would dwell in a believer. That we are rescued. That we need to go out and share this miracle as much as possible. That as believers we can grow in knowledge and understanding and grow in our own faith. How regular study in God's miraculous revelation, particularly the Bible, can not be under appreciated. I am so grateful that the Bible makes this particular topic clear to us and that I have the capacity to study it. 

Thought putting the verses down here would be better. Please add to them in the comments. Thanks and God Bless.

  • 2 Chronicles 12:14 - And he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord. 
  • Psalm 119:41-45 - Let Your mercies come also to me, O LordYour salvation according to Your word. So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me,For I trust in Your word. And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
    For I have hoped in Your ordinances. So shall I keep Your law continually, Forever and ever. And I will walk at liberty, For I seek Your precepts.
  • John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
  • John 15:26,27“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.
  • John 16:7-15Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. “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.
  • 1 Corinthians 2:5that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
  • 1 Corinthians 2:9-14But 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.
    These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 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 Thessalonians 1:5For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:10and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
  • Ephesians 2:1-8And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
    But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly placesin Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
  • Hebrews 11:6But 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.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Paul: Prisoner, Leader

Thoughts This Week

     I see a lot of Christian leaders around America like Joel Osteen. They are utilizing motivational techniques and leadership skills contrary to the examples of the Bible. There goals are to get butts in seats and make people feel good. They tell you what you want to hear, not what the Bible says you need to hear. As I read through the final chapters in the Book of Acts, I see what it means to be a Christian leader. Paul is heading out to Rome as a prisoner and by the time he gets to Rome he shown us the Biblical examples of leadership. 

     As Acts 27 begins, Paul is leaving as a prisoner toward Rome. You sense here that Festus and King Agrippa have a lot of respect for Paul. Paul is granted company and aide for the journey. There is also a centurion present. Like other centurions this one also proves wise and able in his judgment and duties, for the most part, and is a significant character during the rest of Acts.

     Paul in verse 10 begins his transition to a leader and prophecies: "Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives." Though the centurion is wise later on, here faith evades him and he decides not to heed Paul's warning. Shortly after setting sail the ship encounters a tempest. 

     The ship is tossed around in the tempest and the crew struggle to keep it in tact. The crew grows hungry and desperate. Paul, the prisoner, in verse begins to show how it is to lead and says:

  • "Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.' Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told to me."Acts 27:21b-25

     Paul as a leader shows confidence, faith in God, comfort and instruction. He doesn't give them false hope or vague inspiration. He doesn't say that if they have faith in themselves they will be successful, like so many "Christian" motivational speakers. Further in the chapter Paul instructs them to eat and be nourished. He is concerned for their safety as any leader should be. The crew eats and as a result they are encouraged, another sign of a Godly leader. 

    Paul is such a great example to all Christians. He shows what it means to be a Godly man and leader. He tells us what we need to hear because of his love and concern for us. He doesn't tell us what we want to hear, or give us some false hope or promise. He requires our obedience for survival and our trust in the Word of God. This type of leadership can be difficult to respond to in this age. Most people just want to hear about how good we are, and can be, and how we will prosper in the future. But the Bible and Godly leaders are concerned about our eternal well being. How we may struggle in this world by our obedience and following of His Word. That in the end, before God, we will of been following the right kind of leaders. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Paul Meets the King

Thoughts This Week
     I have been very encouraged this week by all the people that I've been able to talk to. I have been enjoying the fellowship that I miss out on from working a weird schedule. I have enjoyed talking with people who don't know Jesus and helping them become more familiar with Him.

Acts 26:24-32
     In Acts 26 Paul has arrested and has been taken in by the Romans as the Jews in Jerusalem were trying to kill him. He has talked to Governor Festus and asked to appeal to Caesar his case. Festus readies to send Paul but needs to indict him on a legitimate charge. Festus uses an opportunity to ask King Agrippa, who's knowledgable in Judaism, to meet with Paul. Festus is hoping Agrippa can find fault, or a hole, in his case that Festus can use an indictment. I think about what most of us would do. How most of us would handle the situation. Most of us would have our tail between our legs. Not Paul. Not God's man.

      Paul begins by being convictive in bearing his testimony and his past sins. He show the sin that was in his life, and shows the truth that is in Jesus Christ, the gospel, that resulted in his conversion. He begins the process of trying to bring the gospel to Agrippa and all of those around Him.

     The verse that I'm memorizing this week is easy to pick out of the paragraph, and I know most of us need to use it in our lives. When you are in a tough time how do you react? What is the first thing that you do or think? I know I need to center my life more in the Word of God and the proclaiming of His name. Agrippa, Festus and the whole gathering didn't know what they were getting themselves into when they asked Paul to speak. What they got was the proclamation of the gospel. Paul lets God work through him and knows when its time to stop talking and let God do the rest.

Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You almost persuade me to become a Christian." And Paul said, "I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains."

Friday, July 17, 2015

What About Prayer?

I have my notes on Acts ready to publish but the topic of prayer has been coming up often and I have been pulling and taking notes about it and wanted to get them out.

I was in a discussion this week where a missionary was having trouble coping with an instance where he lost someone he thought was coming to Jesus. He said that the individual was being taught the gospel for weeks. The missionaries accepted a request to pray and fast for this persons failing vision. They prayed together for hours praying over this individual asking God to repair their vision. After over a day of fasting and prayer the eye remained damaged. The individual ceased to be interested in the gospel and the missionaries lost contact over time with this person.

During the discussion many other people had similar stories and how it still plagued on their faith. We need to see what does the Bible say about miraculous healing? And what do we tell individuals that desire health issues healed by God's power? What does God say about prayer and what are our examples?

I struggled with these questions particularly over the last two years. After my wife and I had our third child (3of3 girls...) we were followed by three miscarriages. They were horrible times and without a Godly, Biblical perspectives, they seem even more tragic. I had prayed and prayed and prayed, so hard, yet I didn't understand if it was doing any good or if I was doing something wrong.

As I was going through the book of Daniel, I came across chapter nine, Daniel's prayer. The series that helped a lot that accompanied my study was called, "Elements of True Prayer", by John MacArthur. This began another study that I did on prayer called, "Steps to Successful Prayer." In these studies we see the biblical examples and lessons on prayer:

The Bible says:
  • Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27)
Here we see how we cannot do anything without God. The Spirit has to be our prayer coach. And when the Spirit is helping we will pray "according to the will of God." Well what does that mean? What is the will of God?

Studying the Bible and looking at prayer we see what God's will is. We see that praise is the first thing Daniel declares to God. Is this the first thing we do when talking to God? After all, we are nothing without the grace and faith He has bestowed on us. Then we see a humbling and repentant heart toward God asking for forgiveness, and for our inability to meet his standards for holiness. We also see requests for the salvation for others, the repentance and regeneration towards peoples and nations, the turning of people and groups toward God, and His help to gather the called. Then, at the end, we see personal requests that would include health concerns. But in this period of the Church, we know that miracle of healing faded as the apostolic period ended. We can pray for the health and comfort of people, but miraculous healing do not happen as they did during the time of Jesus and the apostles. 

This is not me saying that God doesn't want our prayers for healing and comfort.
  • Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. (James 5:13-14)
We see that God does will us to pray for the sick. But we see further:
  • And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (James 5:15-16) 
God over and over emphasizes His desire for our salvation, purity and repentance. God desires these things above all for us. The New Testament has apostles dying horrible deaths. Paul dies, comes back to life, has many health issues, gets jailed and shipwrecked (multiple times). But Paul and the saints are focused on the growing and spreading of the Gospel of Jesus and the gathering of the called. When we are sick or injured or dying, what do we pray for? Who are we winning to Jesus?

We also need to be led by the Spirit so he can intercede for us: 
  • But now, O Lord, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand." (Isaiah 64:8) 
In order for us to be molded by God we need to be filled with the Spirit by the study and meditation of His Word. With that we will line our prayers more fully with the will of God and see God's answering of our prayers. Then we can praise Him even the more!

I think that when praying for the sick we need to remember that God wants us and them in His glory and salvation foremost. We see that miraculous healings do not occur in this age and that in every one of life's trials comes another opportunity to glorify God. To glorify and proclaim Jesus as Savior. I know this is a difficult subject, but using our Bible as the source material, we can find comfort and confidence in our prayer. After all we are talking to God. How cool is that!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

John 1:1-14 and Some More Thoughts

     Like I mentioned, I am going through the Bible systematically. I started with Daniel, then John, and now Acts. I am in Acts 20 right not. It has taken me a while to get into this chapter with all that is going on. New baby and all. 

     I usually read and listen to associated GTY.org sermons while I study.  I have done some topics as well. In December I went through a lot of Christmas related studies while breaking from Daniel. I've been through other topics like Being Born Again and the Strange Fire Conference. I have gotten into the habit of reading more at home and on breaks at work. Then I listen to associated sermons on the GTY Sermons app while I drive home. My drive is about 45 minutes, so I can go through two sermons a day some days. 

     This system of studying has given back to me so much. Our family has grown through regular studying. Taking time to read and listen God's Word often is something that I am so excited with. It should have been obvious to me. I have been casually Christian for too long. The last year has been so exciting. I just desire to study and share with other believers and non-believers all of the time.

     So these are some more of my favorite versus. John 1:1-14 along with other trinity related versus that deal with our Triune God. That is God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as one. Along with the last post, these also contributed to my conversion. Soon I'll start posting what I am going through in Acts, but for now I want to hit some high point, the areas that I have leaned on for a while.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.
8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.
11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

  • Jesus is the Word. The Word is God. Jesus was in the beginning, before time began, before creation. He always existed. We see God and Jesus given credit for creation as one entity. Again, the Word became flesh, Jesus, and He was with God and was God at the same time.
This was from Sunday School recently. I need to study more on Christophanies.  I think that's how you spell it.
Genesis 31:11Then the Angel of God spoke to me in a dream, saying, 'Jacob.' And I said, 'Here I am.'
12 And He said, 'Lift your eyes now and see, all the rams which leap on the flocks are streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you.
13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you made a vow to Me. Now arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of your family.' "
Genesis 32:24, 27-30
24 Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.
27 So He said to him, "What is your name?" He said, "Jacob."
28 And He said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed." (only God names Man)
29 Then Jacob asked, saying, "Tell me Your name, I pray." And He said, "Why is it that you ask about My name?" And He blessed him there.
30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: "For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." 
  • Jesus here is identified as the "Angel of God." Angels do not rename humans; only God does that. 
Acts 20:28 pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which He obtained with his own blood.
  • Paul here displays the Triune God. God obtained with His own blood. We know he is talking about Jesus.

Romans 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 
10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
  • The Holy Spirit here and elsewhere is the Spirit of God and Christ. And the Spirit is in you and Christ is in you at the same time, because they are the same.

2 Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ

  • "The Greek construction has only one article before this phrase making the entire phrase refer to the same person. Thus Peter is identifying Jesus Christ as both Savior and God." -John MacArthur
Mark 2:5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."
6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts,
7 "Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?"
8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, "Why do you question these things in your hearts? 

  • Jesus here has power over sin. The scribes accurately think Jesus is claiming oneness with God. As well as Jesus not rebuking them.
John 14:9 Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?
10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 
  • Further you see his oneness with the Spirit as well. As the Father/Spirit dwells in Jesus.
John 10:29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.
30 I and the Father are one."

We see again the Trinity as the Triune God. God the Father, Jesus, and the Spirit in one. They are treated this way throughout all of scripture. It is the only way to view God, otherwise you do not know God and can not receive the new birth, salvation. The Gospel of John is a great place for new believers and those seeking truth to begin. This is one of my favorite sermons on the subject. And here. You get the idea. 

My First Post (Intro)

     I am attempting to start a blog to help record my notes and progress through my Bible Studies. I may try to reach out and see if people will read or are interested in what I'm doing. For now though I am just trying to better compile my studies in a more organized manner for my benefit and of my family's. At first, I am going to get some of my larger posts on FB and get them here and expand on them. I will start with my first big post that really meant a lot to me concerning the new covenant. It had a lot to do with my conversion. God used this to draw me to Him and out of my past.

I am trying to change it out of rant format.

     I have been listening to the hymn "Agnus Dei". One of my favorites. "Worthy is the lamb" it says. I have been reading through and listening to a study on Hebrews and Daniel, it reminds me that His death on the cross and resurrection saved us and also gave us access to God through Jesus. There are no more old covenant customs necessary. The veil was torn, the temple destroyed. Jesus is now the high priest in heaven. The purpose of the Old Testament priesthood on earth was fulfilled (cf. Hebrews 7-8). Grace through Jesus now gives us access to God there is no more veil and holy of holies. It saddens me to see people adding barriers to God and taking people off the path to Christianity. Jesus was worthy and perfect. He took down the barriers. Don't put them back up. Over and over the apostles have told the church to stop adding to the gospel and to have faith in Christ ALONE. Anything else is not of God. Here are some areas we can study.

Galatians 1:6-9a I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-
7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

We can read Paul's epistles to see what he taught the churches. 

2 Corinthians 11:13 such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.
14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

Just like now and in recent past. False teachers disguise themselves but with an understanding of the Bible, you can unveil these men of Satan. Adding to scripture, desire of power, money and lusts usually is an easy sign to look for.

Hebrews 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,
10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 7:18 For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness
19 (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

If you are reverting to old covenant works and customs, that may be an indication you are not setting aside weak and useless commandment. 

Hebrews 7:22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.
23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office,
24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.

This is why the apostles founded churches with deacons, teachers and elders. The only head above an elder is Jesus. No temples were ever build, men and women of the Church are all priests in the sense we all have access to God through Jesus through nothing but His perfect blood. We are instructed to add nothing else to what was taught (New Testament Canon) Otherwise we are saying Jesus wasn't sufficient.