Friday, June 19, 2009

All My Rights Are Reserved by God

I wonder what God thinks of Christians copyrighting His scripture (all rights reserved) and selling it for profit. I also wonder what God thinks of Christians selling sermons or teachings which use his words for the gospel and to edify others.
Should we be withholding the truth for money?

Is not spreading God’s truth to the world more important than making a living off of it?

Let us look at 2 Thessalonians 3 (v7-8)
“For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you.”
Paul is saying how he worked night and day to not be a burden to anyone and he also tells us elsewhere to follow his example (1 Corinthians 11:1). Do you think Paul would have charged the Thessalonians for his letters to them?

If the spiritual is truly worth more than the physical wouldn’t we consider God’s truth to be priceless and give it away to those who need it? Instead we say “I’ve got life changing truth and I’ll give it to you but it’s gonna cost ya!”

In Luke 10 the 72 were spreading God’s word freely. Luke 10:7 says “Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages.”
"Whatever they give you." It doesn’t say to demand a certain amount of food from them before you give them truth. God is our provider. In Luke 10 they didn’t take money with them and they didn’t know when they would run into men of peace (who would give them food), they were trusting God to provide for them as they share His truth.

I’m not saying everything should be free but everything should be more than readily available to be free. Honestly if I post on the web too much scripture from a copyrighted version of the Bible, like the NIV, then I have broken the law for exhibiting God’s word. Does that send up a red flag to you as wrong? It is "all rights reserved" copyrighting that is the real problem. For example, there is a group called "Truth and Freedom Ministries" but I didn't have the "freedom" to share their "truth" on a Christian forum because of their rigid copyright notice. Paying for cost of material is ok. Even putting a notice to credit or not to alter your work can be fine. But to not "allow" me to quote the truth you got from God for the benefit of others is downright stupid. It is like saying "I own this truth, even though God told me it, and you can't share it regardless of the benefit."

I’m going to leave you with this scripture showing that it is ok to make a living from God’s work but perhaps that is not the best way to go about it. I’ll let you decide.

1 Corinthians 9:9-19
“For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?
But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me. I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of this boast. Yet when I proclaim the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to proclaim. Woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! If I proclaim voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. What then is my reward? Just this: that in proclaiming the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in proclaiming it.
Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.”

Monday, June 8, 2009

Learning Scripture: Perception, Purpose, and Practice

Today's mindset of learning is to get knowledge or retain knowledge. Learners usually think of themselves as containers with space to be filled by information a person or book possesses - the from "jug to mug model." Learners look to be filled with "truth" that may or may not later make some difference to their own life. The learners' goal is to put information into themselves. And our most common method of testing if someone has learned something is by written tests to see if the information can be reproduced in language or words rather than how the information actually affects their lives.

In Jesus' time the goal of a teacher wasn't to impart information, but to impact the life of the hearer, leaving a lasting impression without the benefit of notes or recorders. Whatever didn't make a difference in the hearer's life simply didn't make a difference. We instantly remember what makes a real difference in our life.

Knowledge of scripture shouldn't be held as trivial knowledge which in no way relates to our real day to day lives but being about God and who He is and what He has said in order for us to grow in love in our relationship with Him.
• This is the difference between what is often called "head knowledge" and "heart knowledge"
• Head knowledge is information that doesn't make a change in our life except that it is just more information. With just head knowledge a person can easily become prideful and argumentative.
• Heart knowledge changes our perceptions, beliefs, and character. Those things effect everyday life.
• We must not look at knowledge concerning God as trivial or a static list of memorization. Memorization can be good but knowledge for the sake of knowledge gets you nowhere. Knowledge for the sake of knowing a living God and to grow in a love relationship with Him, that knowledge can take you anywhere.

Jesus says in John 6:63, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life."
• This is a proper perception of learning God's words
• The Holy Spirit gives life & illumination.
• The flesh is no help at all. Trying to change in our own strength is like being on a tread mill. We get wore out assuming that because we are moving we are progressing.
• Paul says in Philippians 2:13, "It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."
• Jesus' words are life
• Jesus says in Matthew 4:4, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." Note that Jesus said "every word." God has not stopped speaking to us just because we have the Bible. Illumination involves present interaction from God.
• God is not going to hand a written test to us when we get to heaven and say, "Here you go, you pass this test and you get in." No, God wants us to know Him before we get there.

Jesus is the Word of God
• Revelation 19:13 says, "He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God."
• Jesus says in John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
• If our perception of learning about Jesus is less than this, seeing Him as the way, the truth, and the life our perception is wrong. For years I saw Jesus only as the way and the truth. Then I saw Him as the life, as my life (Colossians 3:3). Seeing Him as life grew my realization of His love for me and grew my love for Him. And the love we share continues to grow & grow to this day.

• As discussed the proper perception of learning scripture concerns a change of heart by God and not a simple addition to the mind.
• God wants to change our heart, our character, our day to day life not by changing what we do on the outside but by changing who we are on the inside.
• Jesus prays to the Father concerning His disciples in John 17:17, "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth."
• God's words help sanctify us. He can use them to change who we are instead of just what we do.

Our modern purposes of learning are almost purely selfish. We look for a blessing or a benefit and if we find one it stops & stays with us.
• Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, "All Scripture inspired by God is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
• Teaching, rebuking, & correcting.. none of those can apply to a single person.

So God wants us to not just learn of Him for ourselves but for the sake of others as well?

Let's see what Paul says to Timothy right after what we just read.
• I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: proclaim the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
• God wants us to share His truth so that others may not only come to know Him but come to know Him better.
• How much value do we have in what we know if we are not willing to share it?
• God wants us to teach not for someone to simply learn information but to learn God's love more and more.

First I must point out that Christianity is not about practices to perfect but rather about a perfecting person who is God.
• It isn't about do, it is about who. Not about what we do but about what God has done, is doing, and will do.
• No practice, curriculum, or method can be of any worth without the work of the Holy Spirit
• The Bible is unique in that it is essential to know the author in order to truly understand it.

One important thing to realize is that while the bible is written for you it is not all written to you.
• Paul wrote in Romans 15:4, "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope."

God doesn't want us to have what He called "the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees' They knew about God in their head but their hearts were far from Him. They tried to obey the law for the sake of obeying the law and impressing men.

So in closing I would just like to reiterate.
• Knowledge of scripture shouldn't be held as trivial knowledge which in no way relates to our real day to day lives.
• Knowledge of scripture should be held as being about God and who He is and what He has said in order for us to grow in love in our relationship with Him.