Beware of Ignorance

Today the following statement from Jesus stood out as I read Matt 22:

Jesus replied, ‘You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God’. (Matt 22:29) NIV.

This was spoken to the Sadducees who tried to argue against Him, with their own faulty logic, to dispute belief in the resurrection of the dead.

Jesus’ words can also be applied to any people who share the ignorance of the Sadducees in full or in part.

Some may be ignorant of the scriptures, others of the power of God – many like the Sadducees are ignorant of both.

Those who want to serve Jesus can’t afford to be ignorant of either.

Disciples of Jesus need to know BOTH the scriptures and the power of God. It’s not acceptable to focus on one at the expense of the other. Both played a vital role in the early church and their preaching of the gospel and SHOULD be seen as vital today.

For some reason (Satanic influence I’d suggest) the church long ago turned its back on the power of God, suggesting it was no longer needed after the canon of scripture had been compiled. *

In more recent years some have swung the pendulum in the opposite direction and have sought the power without the balance of a scriptural foundation.
Both have produced detrimental outcomes to the church and our commission to take the gospel to those outside of the Kingdom.

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* Those who have chosen to follow that path show their ignorance of both the Scriptures and the power of God, as scripture is very clear in its teaching about God’s power continuing as a means of confirming the preached gospel.

Beware of the “Ministry” of Division (2)

(Continued from previous post)

To replace the current “ministry of division” there is an urgent need for the “ministry of reconciliation” between believers, that can only come by putting off prejudices and favoured theologies and putting on love – for each other and for the Word of God.

Among the commands given to His disciples towards the end of His ministry, Jesus gave a “new commandment”.

John 13

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another

This was something important enough for Jesus to say it would be the distinguishing feature revealing to EVERYONE that we are His disciples. Surely a vital ingredient when taking the gospel to an unbelieving world.

It was also important enough for Jesus to repeat in John 16:

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command

Not only does this statement repeat His command to love each other, the latter part clearly infers that failing to do so disqualifies someone from being Jesus’ friend.

The command for believers to love one another is also repeated several times in 1 John and Peter adds another voice saying in 1 Peter 1: 22

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.

1 Peter 3: 8-9

love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.

1 Peter 4: 8

Above all, love each other deeply

I now suspect that some might try to find a bit of wiggle room by insisting that those they are labelling as false teachers/prophets/etc aren’t really fellow believers so the obligation to love them as Jesus loved His disciples doesn’t apply.
But even if we allow that presumptuous conclusion, Jesus also said we should love our enemies, so there’s no avoiding the commandment to love. And who are we to judge who belongs to Him, and who doesn’t – thereby excusing ourselves from loving them as fellow disciples?

It seems that so many features of the gospel preached and commanded by Jesus – some of the very important aspects of it, by which unbelievers will see its validity – are being far too casually denied by professing believers. That denial includes the rejection of present day confirming signs following the preaching of the gospel (something affirmed most times that preaching of the gospel is mentioned in scripture) as well as a distinct lack of love being shown between those claiming to follow Jesus.

Through that ongoing denial, the church is allowing Satan to do a very effective job of disempowering what little gospel message remains within the church, by convincing professing believers to avoid and dismiss instructions Jesus gave in the latter days of His time on earth. Instructions regarding a gospel confirmed by signs, and instructions regarding the love of believers for each other.

There is an urgent need for us all to make sure that ALL of our beliefs and practices are consistent with God’s word, without closing our eyes to inconvenient passages, and without resorting to childish clichés to excuse ungodly excesses.

That means NOT trying to explain away Spiritual gifts and/or miracles. It also means abandoning inane claims like ‘you can’t put God in a box’ to justify some of the more dubious things that some charismatics have promoted for too long as being genuine works of the Holy Spirit.

I recently read an astute statement, saying something like the following: “we might not be able to put God in a box, but He did put Himself in a book” – meaning He has revealed Himself, His character and His purposes in scripture; written through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Himself and won’t act in anyway contrary to that revelation.

And it is the revelation given by God through scripture that is the key to resolve the problems on both sides of the divide being addressed. Both sides need to give scripture its rightful place as the foundational revelation of truth, against which any belief and practice can be measured. That does NOT mean that all truth is contained within the pages of scripture, but it does mean that anything inconsistent with scripture is NOT truth.

There is a need for honesty – to be honest to ourselves – and truly examine our lives and beliefs alongside scripture. To put aside assumptions and take the time to search the scriptures; not through the lens of someone else’s teaching, not through a theological system, but going to scripture itself, scripture alone with the aid of the Holy Spirit. But we do it with the intention and desire to find Jesus and what HE wants of us. Both the scriptures and the Holy Spirit testify of Him.

Unfortunately the division I’ve been addressing is being fuelled by erroneous beliefs, practices and attitudes FROM BOTH SIDES, things that compromise Christian gospel witness.

That has to change – and maybe THAT is what God intends to address through the current world situation.

But will we take the opportunity to use this time of isolation and disruption wisely?

Do You Believe Jesus?

What do you make of the following statements?
Do you believe them?
If so, what PRACTICAL effect does that belief have in your life?

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. (Matt 21:22) NIV

I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24) NIV

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7) NIV

whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. (John 15:16)NIV

Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. (John 16:23-24) NIV

 

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. (1 John 5: 14-15) NIV

Are these promises we can actually believe?
Do we believe those promises to the extent that our lived experience is determined by them?

Or do we find ourselves having to “reinterpret” their meaning to make them fit our lived experience?

Does our faith in Jesus include believing what He said?
Does our faith in Jesus include believing in the wider scriptures , written by His disciples?

Is our faith in Jesus and God’s word or is it more focused on tradition and our personal experience?

In particular, what do we make of this?

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14: 12-14) NIV

If Jesus said “whoever believes in [Him] will do…”, how is that being reflected in OUR lives as professing believers?

Are we experiencing those works and greater things in our lives?
Are we expecting those works and greater things to be part of our lives?

If not why not?

Break up your unploughed ground and do not sow among thorns.

Jesus told the following story to the crowd of people who were following Him.

Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.

Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain.

Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”

Later He explained what the parable meant,

The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.

Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.

Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.

Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.

I find the story offers clear cautionary advice about the way we treat and receive God’s word, and the things that can prevent it from being fruitful in our lives.

1) We can allow birds/ Satan to snatch it away before it has any effect. It isn’t allowed to penetrate into our lives so becomes an easy target for removal. Something prevents the importance and relevance from being grasped and nurtured, it is ignored ,and therefore quickly lost.

When I’ve thought of “the path” where seed falls, I have pictured one of those tracks worn through a field by frequent foot traffic. People taking the easy route, creating a path trodden down and established by regular traffic. It gives me a metaphor for the traditional ways of those who have gone before, leaving us with a well-trodden rut to blindly follow and creates the kind of surface impervious to seed falling upon it. The perfect, seed resistant feeding ground for hungry birds (Satan).

2) Similarly, seed/ the word can be lost if its not given enough room in our lives. The initial acceptance of it isn’t nurtured and fed, so the roots don’t become established and its effectiveness is allowed to wither and die, especially when difficulties arise. How easy it is for discouragement to set in, How easy to give up when things start to get difficult.

It’s no coincidence that  faith and patience are linked together as needed when we are believing one of  God’s promises. Without patience faith will give up when results aren’t seen as soon as we would like. We have to retain confidence in the integrity of God and His word and not allow sensory experience  to make us doubt them.

3) Thirdly, the seed/word might be received and nurtured, even producing some growth, but it gets mixed with other interests and cares, and while there may be an appearance of health, that can be deceiving, and what may seem to be a thriving plant remains fruitless, thereby failing its reason for existing.

I recently came across the following quote in Andrew Murray’s Holiest of All. Regrettably it perfectly describes influences in my life until recent months, and sadly, I suspect, the experience isn’t mine alone, illustrating the effects of trying to grow a crop mingled with weeds.

The power of the world, the spirit of its literature, the temptation of business and pleasure – all of these unite to make up a religion in which it is sought to combine a comfortable hope for the future with the least possible amount of sacrifice in the present.

The conditions in our lives that make us open (or closed) to God’s word depend on us.

We can resist, neglect or compromise His word and get a fruitless outcome. Or we can make sure we are receptive to it.

The following instruction from God through the prophet Jeremiah seems appropriate – a command that if heeded would prevent the problems mentioned in Jesus’ parable of the sower, and would ensure a healthy harvest with no loss of seed.

“Break up your unploughed ground and do not sow among thorns”

In other words, preparation for, and commitment to, receiving God’s word is helpful.
Don’t sow the Word into a field of rigidity or distraction.

Be assured, that if the necessary attention is not paid – the birds will swoop in, the viability of the sprouting word will be compromised, or the eventual growth will seem impressive, but fruitless.

Giving Careful Thought to the Paths…repentance.

A very insightful and informative article from Art Thomas about the “guilt by association” accusations that have been levelled against his ministry and others.

I thank the Lord for it.

I know that a few weeks ago I probably would have eagerly dismissed and cautioned against ministries like that of Art Thomas and Todd White, not because of anything inherently wrong with the work or the message, but because of alleged associations with others.

Lord, I repent of that attitude and the broad-brush condemnation that it fuelled.

What is the New Apostolic Reformation?

What is the New Apostolic Reformation? Why is it such a big deal to so many people? And what threat does the New Apostolic Reformation pose to the Church?

I want to offer a balanced response to these three questions and hopefully clear up some of the rhetoric and confusion that’s out there. My primary goal here is to give the Body of Christ a reasoned look at a complex topic so that we can be discerning and loving in how we interact on the subject. My secondary goal is to call out false teachers, slanderers, and children of the devil who have built their audiences out of innocent people whose itching ears are eager to hear what they want to hear.

Today I’m going to expose some wolves in sheep’s clothing, prominent theological errors, and divisive lies that are tearing apart the Church.

But it’s probably not going to look like what you expect.

In my best attempt to be like Jesus, I intend to love and defend the innocent while not pulling punches against those who have sown lies, discord, and false doctrine in the Church.

So hold onto your hat!

https://supernaturaltruth.com/understanding-new-apostolic-reformation/

See full article at link above.

How Many Impossible Things Do You Need to Believe?

How many impossible things do you need to believe to not believe in God?

There is a decision to make.

Whether to believe in the existence of a single intelligent creator responsible for the complexity of the universe and life on earth – or to believe that an unimaginable number of spontaneous events somehow happened in order to bring about the same result, out of nothing.

The main difference as I see it, is that one scenario raises the possibility of us being accountable to a Creator God, and that can be a scary prospect for some people.

Over the past few days I’ve had a small discussion with a few unbelievers on a secular news site.

One of the responders asked a version of that old, naïve question:

…how do you explain your ‘single intelligent creator’, does he just pop into existence from, er, nothing?

Basically, if the universe and life within it required a creator, who created that creator?

To some that question must seem the pinnacle of sophistication – the argument to end all arguments, and yet there is a very clear and obvious answer that does not favour the doubter’s assumption.

The Bible describes God as being eternal with no beginning or end.

But Science recognises that the universe DID have a beginning.

Therefore, unlike the universe (according to the materialist viewpoint), God did not need to “just pop into existence from nothing”.

As for the question of how many impossible things need to be accepted in order to disbelieve in a Creator God, the following response in the same discussion shows how willing people can be to practice all manner of irrational, intellectual gymnastics to close their eyes and minds to God.

That ‘unimaginable’ number of spontaneous events took place over an equally unimaginable expanse of space and time, and if the many-worlds interpretation is correct, over an almost infinitely large number of universes. From another perspective, given these conditions, that series of spontaneous events had to occur somewhere, at some time. It just happens that here and now is where they occurred.

Just look at the many assumptions and speculations required to fuel that argument.

1) The assumption that given enough time, anything can happen no matter how improbable or impossible.
(Excepting the existence of a Creator to whom His creation might be accountable, of course)

2) If the “many-worlds interpretation is correct.
(One might as well say “if the easter bunny was real, chocolate eggs would magically appear at easter. Again – an avoidance of pondering whether the Creator God “interpretation” could be correct.)

3) An almost infinitely large number of universes?
(So now we have the existence of an infinite number of universes that spontaneously appeared, not just one).

4) Given all of those imagined conditions then this very real universe had to appear out of nothing.
(Do I need to comment further on that?)

So I’ll return to my original question…

How many impossible things does someone need to believe to not believe in God?