Isaiah 52:7-10

Isaiah 52:7-10
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” 8 Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the Lord returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes. 9 Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. 10 The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The truth is…….Truth is.

As a Christian….I believe I can speak collectively in saying that Christianity asserts certain specific truths, starting with the existence of God, the Father of Jesus Christ. If we Christians know the characteristics of truth we will be more able to both understand our own faith and communicate it to others. Also, we will be more able to understand the attacks on the Christian faith, and not only defend it, but perhaps on occasion even win over our adversaries. After all, since the universe is based on truth, a faith based on truth makes sense to the mind and fulfills the soul.
After having studied and examined the subject of “truth” I have come to recognize six characteristics that bring forth the essence of truth being.  These six characteristics of truth are….absolute, correspondent, coherent, universal, exclusive, and objective. Of course these characteristics are not totally separate and individual portions or isolated parts. In fact, they dovetail into each other and overlap each other. Nevertheless, they define truth in distinctive ways that help us understand it and recognize it.
Lets look at “absolute”.  When something is absolute, it means that it is not dependent upon anything else. We can better understand absolute if we understand its opposite, “relative.” Something that is relative has a necessary dependence on something else. For example, we tend to think of the passage of time as absolute, that one minute is the same for everyone everywhere. However, scientists can now show that time is relative, and that time for an object depends on the speed of that object. For any given object, time slows down as it approaches the speed of light. Thus time is relative, it is dependant on something else. However, truth is not relative; it is not dependant on anything else. An example of a truth is that God exists. He exists everywhere for everyone. He is not a different God at differing speeds, or with or without a gravitational field, inside or outside of a church, or for different people. He is the same for everyone, everywhere, for all time.
At this point we should note that not all truth is immediately evident to everyone. The fact that many people do not recognize the existence of God does not mean His existence is not a truth, it just means that they have failed to perceive the truth. Truth is absolute, not relative, so truth does not depend on people recognizing it for it to exist and be true. God does not have to be known or believed to be God.
As a Christian…..we must understand that people’s beliefs and perspectives, although very real to them, may not be true. With a compassionate heart we must not deny that we all have differing perspectives…(which can be biased, prejudiced, ignorant, arrogant, uninformed and so on) …. but our perspectives only affect our sense of what is true.  Now listen…… they do not determine truth. A perspective may be partially true, largely true, or mostly false
I don’t think any of us can possibly deny that we live in a world that elevates man’s ideas, beliefs, and perspectives. In fact, some people consider it rude and uneducated to assert that another person’s beliefs are wrong. Just check out any “controversial” blog post and you will see this stated over and over again. They would be correct in their assertion if there were no such thing as truth, because then everyone could be correct no matter how widely their beliefs differed.
However, there is truth, and because of that, people cannot hold inherently contradictory views of something (i.e., there is a God and there is not a God) and both be correct. In fact, because there is truth, the value of any given perspective depends on how accurately it corresponds to reality, to truth.
What makes lies and untruth dangerous is that they lead us from the truth. We see this in the world around us all the time. A lie or untruth about what is good to eat, or is a good medicine to take, can leave a person sick or dead. Sadly, the consequences of believing a lie about God and Jesus (such as they do not exist, or Jesus is not important for salvation) will leave one just as dead, but the death will be everlasting. Thus untruth and lies about God and Jesus are dangerous indeed!
It is important to understand that truth is internally consistent when it comes to obeying God, and it is one reason that logic plays such an important role in faith. If God could be internally inconsistent, then we could not use logic as a tool to understand God or our faith. Logic is what allows us to extrapolate from the rules and regulations in the Bible to practical use in our world today.
Understandably, the concept of internal consistency can cause Christians to be uncomfortable, because there are so many denominations on the earth today, each with somewhat differing beliefs. No matter how we try to explain it away to minimize our differences, there is not a different truth for different Christians. God asks Christians to get to the point “…that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Cor. 1:10b). The way to get there is not by compromising what we believe, but by much prayer along with careful, diligent study of the revelation that God has given us about Himself: His Word.
The universal nature of truth should drive each one of us to seek it until we are confident we have found it. Being content or comfortable with where we are and what we believe is not good enough. Many people say they are “content with what they believe,” but that does not make them right, and it can be a dangerous place to be if what they are content with turns out to be an untruth. God expects us to seek Him, and He promises that if we seek we will find. Interestingly, sometimes finding God actually makes us uncomfortable, because we may find that God has more for us to do than we are comfortable doing, or we may find that the evil in the world marshals against us in a way that makes us uncomfortable. That is when the truth of the next life becomes a true comfort.
At the same time that the universal aspect of truth describes its broad nature, the exclusive aspect of truth describes its narrow and specific character. Truth always “draws a line in the sand” in the sense that anything contrary to it is false, or error. Truth excludes anything that is contrary to it. It is the exclusive nature of truth that causes people to think of those who embrace it as “narrow-minded.” Since God created both the physical world and the spiritual world, it makes sense that they would both reflect the exclusive nature of truth, and they do. The exclusive nature of truth is built into the fabric of the material world in which we live. Romans 1:20 points out that God’s creation points to the Creator, and the “narrow-mindedness” we see in nature would naturally be a reflection of the exclusive nature of truth.
Examples of the exclusive nature of truth, which show up as inherent narrow-mindedness in Creation, are all around us. It may seem “narrow-minded” to use only gasoline (or substances with similar combustible properties) in our gas tanks, but when we pour our leftover soda pop into the gas tank, the car stops. Thus, drivers are all very “narrow-minded” about what they put in their gas tank. Silly example I know….but you get the picture.
So I ask you…could it be that the God who created inherent exclusiveness, or inherent “narrow-mindedness” into His physical creation would then not have such exclusiveness in His spiritual creation? As Christians, it should occur to us that God is no less “narrow-minded” about spiritual things and His spiritual Creation than He is about His physical Creation. God wove it into the nature of truth to be exclusive, and there is no way around that. It should not upset us when non-Christians call us “narrow-minded” because we are, and that is the nature of truth. The fact is that many people are wrong when it comes to what they believe about God, and our not being willing to confront that, or hoping to “include everyone” will not change the nature of truth. It will only help keep people from coming to terms with the way reality, and God, really are.
So we now come to  truth being objective.  The word “objective” means in the realm of experience but independent of a person’s thoughts or perceptions. Truth is not dependent of any person’s desires, beliefs, or emotions. Truth is not subject to man’s control, determination, or veto. No one gets to decide what truth is; it is not subjective, subject to man. It is objective, outside of man. It must be revealed to man, because man cannot make it or change it. There are people who think in terms of “their own truth,” but thinking that way is contrary to the nature of truth. If everyone could have his or her own truth, then truth would not be true, but would be only a personal experience or belief.
Now please hear this…..when it comes to God, the objective nature of God seems obvious. We do not make God, nor can we change Him. Nor does it modify Him if we do not believe in Him or believe something false about Him. It is our job, as created beings of God, to discover the truth that lies outside us, and discover, and develop a relationship with, our Creator. There are religions that teach that we must discover God “inside us.” Those types of teachings have been around a long time, and their fruit is consistent: each person ends up with a somewhat different view of God. God is not inside us, nor can we find Him by looking inside ourselves. The Bible guides us to read and learn about God in it’s pages, and from there develop a personal relationship with Him.
So now together we have examined the characteristics of truth…that it is absolute, correspondent, coherent, universal, exclusive, and objective, many things about God, the Word of God, the Son of God, and life itself, should come into clearer focus. For one thing, we become more acutely aware of the spiritual battle raging around us. A primary weapon of the Adversary is lies and untruth, but a lie cannot be seen for what it is if no one believes in truth. No wonder the Adversary has such an intense campaign going on against the existence of absolute truth. If he can get people to believe that all that matters is “what is true for them,” or “the truth they find inside themselves,” he will succeed in his mission to “steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).” People will meet God at the resurrection and find that “their truth” was just a lie they were comfortable with while on earth. At that time the scripture that says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Prov. 14:12 and 16:25; said twice for emphasis) will be seen to be “the truth,” but it will be too late for those who did not seek God and get saved.

As your brother in Christ….may I just plead with you that we should believe the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, that the Word of God is the truth (John 17:17), and we should labor hard to understand it, believe it, and teach it to others. At the end of time, the only theory, idea, concept, ideology, or belief that matters will be those that are actually true, that correspond to the reality that God has set in place. We need to honor God, and bless ourselves and others by discovering truth and communicating it to those around us. ……would not you agree?

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Life Governed by the Holy Spirit

The number one mark of a life governed by the Holy Spirit is that such a life is continually and ever more and more occupied with Christ, that Christ is becoming greater and greater as time goes on.  The effect of the Holy Spirit's work in you and I is to bring us to the shore of a mighty ocean which reaches far, far beyond our range, and concerning which we feel…..oh, the depths, the fullness, of Christ.  If we live as long as ever any man has lived…we shall still be only on the fringe of this vast fullness that Christ is.

Now….immediately that becomes a challenge to us before we go any further.  These are not just words.  This is not just rhetoric….this is truth.  So this begs us to ask ourselves  a question….Is this the kind of life that we know?  Is this true in our Christian experience?  That is the mark of a life governed by the Holy Spirit.  Christ becomes greater and greater as we go on.  If that is true for you….well then that is the way of life.  But….we must remember….if ever you and I should come to a place where we think we know, we have it all, we have attained, and from that point things become static, we may take it that the Holy Spirit has ceased operations and that life has become stultified. 

Amongst men….there is one man given to us, I believe, as the example for showing forth God's ways….the Apostle Paul.  The words which he uses to define and express what happened to him right at the commencement are these…."It pleased God… reveal his Son in me". Gal 1:16

We know that Paul did a great deal of teaching and preaching.  He put out a lot of stuff.  He had a long and very full life, not only in the amount that he put out, but in the concentrated essence which has defeated all the attempts to fathom.  At the end of that long life, that full life, that man who said concerning its commencement, "It pleased god….to reveal his Son in me", is crying from his heart this cry…."that I may know Him" Phil 3:10….indicating surely that with the great initial revelation and all the subsequent and continual unveilings, even being caught up into the third heaven and shown unspeakable things, with all that, at the end he knows nothing compared with what there is to be known.

That I may know Him!  That is the essence of a life governed by the Holy Spirit, and it is that which will deliver us from death, from stagnation, from coming to a standstill.  It is the work of the Spirit.  So…God….right at the beginning, brings Christ forth…presents Him….attests Him….and in effect says, This is that to which I will conform you, to this image!

But…..having first the presentation, the basic lessons begin.  The Holy Spirit is not satisfied with just giving us a great presentation…..He is going to begin real work in relation to that presentation.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me…..Mat 11:29

From the objective way…to the subjective way

The Lord Jesus, while He was here, could only put the learning of Him in and objective way because the subjective time had not yet arrived.  So He said, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me."
It was not until after our Savior Jesus rose again to Heaven the subjective time came.  The Apostle Paul, in a slightly different form of words, gives us what Jesus meant.  "Ye did not so learn Christ" Eph 4:20.  

Leaving out one very little word makes all the difference and gives the true sense.  When the Holy Spirit came, the apostle would be lead to leave out the 'of', and say instead, 'learn Christ'.  This seems to be a flaw in a very great deal of popular Christianity today….a kind of objective imitation of Jesus which gets nowhere, rather than the subjective learning Jesus which gets everywhere. 

The Scriptures tell us that the Holy Spirit is the great Teacher and Interpreter.  And when we become disciples of Christ the very first thing the Holy Spirit does for us is to show us in a comprehensive way what it is that we have to learn, to present to us the great object of our education.

God's method with His people, in order to secure a full expression of His thought, is first of all to present the perfect object….and this He did when at the Jordan He rent the heavens and said, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased".  He presented and attested that which was the full, comprehensive and detailed expression of His thought for His people. 

 Now the Apostle Paul, in words familiar to us, expressly voices the fact, "Whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed in the image of his Son". Rom 8:29

"This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased" ……."Conformed to the image of his Son".  There is the presentation and the attestation and the declaration of Divine purpose in relation to Him.

So, again, I say….the Holy Spirit's first object is to acquaint us with what is in view in our spiritual education; namely, to reveal Christ in us and then afterward to get to work to conform us to Christ.  To learn Christ we must first see Christ.  

So then……what would be the pre-eminent mark of a life governed by the Spirit?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

"Prove all things"

The right and duty and necessity of private judgement

These words were used by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians.  He was writing to a Church which he himself had planted.  At the time of this letter Paul was an inspired Apostle writing to young inexperienced Christians.  He was writing to the whole professing Church in this certain city.  It included the laity as well as clergy and writing with special reference to matters of doctrine and preaching. He says to "Despise not prophesyings"….and yet notice that he also adds to this "Prove all things".

He clearly is not saying that whatever your apostle, whatever your evangelist, whatever your pastor, whatever your teacher, whatever your Bishop or ministers tell you is truth….that you are to believe. Not at all….he says we are to "Prove all things".  

The principal presented is this:  Prove all things by the Word of God….all ministers, all teachings, all preaching, all doctrines, all sermons, all writings, all opinions, all practices…all must be proved by the Word of God.  Measure all of it by the measure of the Bible. Compare all of it with the standard of the Bible.  Examine all of it by the light of the Bible.  What ever is able to withstand the fire of the Bible, receive, hold, believe, and obey. That which cannot…cast away.

This is private judgement.  This is the right and responsibility we are to exercise if we love our souls.  We are not to believe things in religion merely because they are said by Popes or Cardinals…Bishops or Priests….Pastors or Ministers….Presbyters or Deacons….by "churches", councils, or synods…by Fathers, Puritans, Reformers, UMCs, Baptists, etc. … . We are not to believe simply because a group of people declare their philosophy a church makes it a part of the Church. 

The problem seems to be today that humankind desires to be "as a god".  Humans believe they have the authority and wisdom to determine what love is, what church is, what truth is, what sin is.  Who would argue that it is much simpler to find a teaching and church that provides safety for our sins rather than diligently and daily seeking the truth in the Word of God and in prayer.  I mean….thats hard work and takes an actual commitment.  

So it is today… is just a word in the world used by the world to deceive many and lead many away from the truth and from God.  I wanted to begin this blog encouraging any readers to prove all things because as we peel away the trappings of man from the Church in future posts it will be your duty, your right, and your judgement supported from the Word of God that will join us together.