Monday, April 30, 2012

How I View the Deceived

Being someone who was once deceived by religion myself I can't really look down on others. I think I have always been open to God rather than having a strong affinity about what I believe as to be unwilling to let it go. However there were some times I changed my mind about things too fast.

I wonder why I've learned what I've learned and experienced what I've experienced. I ask "Why me God?" in a positive way. So much of who I am, not willing to conform to the world, willing to research and study, is just natural. I didn't try to be like this. It was easy. As I go on I realize much is because my parents loved me so well.

I've seen people be unable to entertain the idea that they could be wrong about something. I've heard of Christians on their death bed dying in misery thinking God was punishing them all because they don't understand God's love for them. My life does seem to be "There but for the grace of God go I." I don't think God will punish His children for their disbelief but He might show them what kind of wonderful life on earth they could have had if they had trusted Him more.

I guess I see people as victims of lies, even those who teach the lies are victims of them. Seldom does someone knowingly teach a lie, but they are certain about things which are terribly false. While I hate the positions and traditions that harm people I don't wish people would "get what's coming to them" based on what they believe and how they behave. What every Christian has coming to them is the love of God because of what Christ did for them. I just wish they knew it. The first step to believing the truth is to know that it exists.

Matthew 9:36 really shows me how God views the world, not with contempt for disbelief and disobedience, but with compassion. "When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."

Friday, April 27, 2012

Can God Look Upon Sin?

Jesus Christ became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). The idea that God can't look upon sin is silly. Habakkuk 1:13, which seems to speak of this, refers to God not being able to look upon sin with approval. If God could not look upon sin then He would have never looked at the earth again after the fall. Jesus looked at sin over and over when He lived as a man on earth. To say God cannot look upon sin is like saying Jesus is not God.

Jesus is God. Is He less holy than the Father? Holy means pure and unmixed. People claim God is too holy to look upon sin. I say God is so holy that He can become sin and still stay pure and unmixed. That is a holiness beyond what we can imagine.

The good news is that because of Jesus, "God no longer charges people with sin" (2 Corinthians 5:19). God is not blind to help those in need out of sin or out of sinful ways yet He does not count people's sins against them.

Related Posts
God's View on Sin
Who's Counting? The Honest View of Christians & Sin in The New Testament

Friday, April 20, 2012

What Jesus Hates & Despises

What Jesus Hates
"Yet this you do have assembly in Ephesus, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate" (Revelation 2:6).
"You assembly in Pergamum have some who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans" (Revelation 2:15).

Nico means to rule over. Laitans means laity which simply translated means "people." God hates the deeds & doctrines (teachings) that involve some people ruling over other people in His body. That means God hates hierarchical authority in the body of Christ.

Interesting that the assembly in Ephesus is the first one written to, it represents the first century body of Christ, those who had not adopted the ungodly doctrine and deeds of hierarchical authority.

The assembly in Pergamum is the third one written to. Pergamum means "mixed Marriage" or "perverted marriage." Jesus says they "have some who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans" meaning hierarchical authority. He says hierarchical authority is "a stumbling block" and it causes people to "commit acts of immorality" (Revelation 2:14-15). The assembly in Pergamum represents the beginning of the institutional church from around the third century which began to have "leaders" (bishops, priests etc) rise up over other people thus usurping the headship of Christ. Headship which of course points to marriage thus setting up a "mixed marriage." How hate worthy is the thing that causes someone to cheat in their marriage? That friends is what hierarchical authority in the body of Christ is.

Hierarchical authority is the only thing in the New Testament that Jesus personally says that He "hates." The entire institutional church is built on hierarchical authority. No church of that sort can claim to "hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans" like Jesus said those in Ephesus did because they are all doing those deeds and in fact not only approve of the deeds but highly exalt the deeds.

Jesus also spoke harshly to the self-righteous but notice that those self-righteous people were exclusively people in positions of hierarchical authority. Hierarchical authority is the fertilizer that makes self-righteousness grow.

Here are two other places where Jesus spoke against hierarchical authority:
Jesus said, "Do not be called leaders because you have one Leader, Christ and you are all brothers" (see Matthew 23:1-12). In this context Jesus speaks against accepting (allowing others to call you by) honorary titles. He also speaks against lack of humility, laying burdens on people, bossing people around, doing things to be noticed by others so you can receive acclaim, loving to be in places of honor, & being greeted as better than others based on your position.

Jesus said to His disciples, "The kings of the Gentiles have power over/exercise authority over them but it shall not be so among you" (see Luke 22:13-30). In this context Jesus speaks against exercising authority over brothers and sisters in Christ (abusive or non-abusive), seeking status over others, & using honorary titles to make yourself seem kind or superior.

What Jesus Despises
The writer of Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus despised the shame of the cross, meaning He felt all the shame and disgrace that mankind has ever felt because of sin. Christ despises the shame we feel, not us but the shame that causes us to feel far from Him as it did with Adam and Eve in the garden (compare Genesis 2:25 with Genesis 3:10). Shame is disgrace, the literal opposite of grace. It is the feeling or perception of disfavor, that you've lost favor with God. God gives grace not disgrace. “Everyone who trusts in Jesus will never be put to shame” (Isaiah 28:16, Romans 9:33, 10:11, 1 Peter 2:6, Joel 2:26-27, Isaiah 45:17, 54:4). He wants us to know His love. Imagine if something made someone you love feel as if you didn't love them or that you loved them less. That is how Jesus felt on the cross when He was despising the shame. The God who loves us without measure felt how unloved we feel. 

Sadly hierarchical authority & shame meet at the pulpit, an unbiblical place at every church institution where the so called "leader," "pastor," or "man of God" slings shame and condemnation over a subdued crowd. I have yet to hear a sermon that didn't at some point disgrace grace. I don't say this to shame anyone but to warn of the danger in it. If those on top don't suffer, those on the bottom will and in ways many can't begin to imagine. Usually both suffer but are fooled into thinking that this is "God's way." Be assured that it is not. Heed the words of Jesus. Drop your titles, leave your positions, become a brother or sister and let Christ do what He came to do, build His people.

Jesus did away with the old covenant system of hierarchical authority when He rose again and sent His Spirit. This allowed Him to be the only & perfect mediator between mankind and God (1 Timothy 2:5). He made all of God's people kings and priests, all honored but all equal. What an amazing Lord we have!

Related Posts
The Word Leaders in the New Testament
Older People as Guides not Officials as Governors

Friday, April 13, 2012

Thoughts on The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs

Law Broken: Stealing/hotlinking this image.
Just finished going through the book The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible By A. J. Jacobs. I'm a Christian. I'm relational & non-institutional. I know of our freedom from the law and that Christ ended it on the cross which also ended Him charging us with sin. Here are my main take aways and thoughts from the book:

Keeping the law doesn't result in knowing in God.
After over a year of trying to keep all of the biblical commands literally Jacobs still did not believe in God. Truly you can't know God through the law but only through trusting Jesus. After a life time of being an agnostic & a non-practicing Jew to 8 months of being a practicing Jew Jacobs began his quest to keep the New Testament commands. One reason he said that he did not keep the command to believe in Jesus was that he felt it would betray his Jewish heritage, very interesting considering all of the Jews who have and do reject Jesus. Some laws did improve his character. After all one of the purposes of the law was to help people know how to love others.

No one can keep the whole law and certainly not all the time.
After hearing about the multitude of laws Jacobs tried to keep along with the many Jews who try to do the same it is absurd for any Christian to claim that we should keep the old testament laws. No christian comes galactically close to keep the laws that many strict Jews do and even the strictest Jews don't recognize or keep everything. The worst screaming from the pulpit legalists still only hold most biblical commands' importance in the abstract (only mentally, impractically).
Everyone does picking and choosing when it comes to the bible and its commands.
Continuing from the above, most Christians think that we still are bound to the 10 commandments (which we aren't, see 2 Corinthians 3:6-18) but I've never seen one try to keep the real sabbath (sundown Friday to sundown Saturday). Absolutely nothing in scripture says that the sabbath became Sunday and Julian calendar Sunday at that! I don't understand this type of pointless hypocrisy. Why claim to hold something so important and push it on others when in practicality you don't ever feel like you need to keep 1-2 of the commandments. Again I know people aren't to be burdened by having to keeps laws anymore so I'm not saying they should try. But 10 commandment pushers are as perplexing to me as someone who says, "I use all of the ingredients of mac & cheese" and never uses the cheese. The emperor has no clothes! Why pretend?

Literally vs. literally to me
The old testament laws were written to the Israelites. Some of what Jesus said clarified those laws. When Jesus died those laws ended. The bible says they were nailed to the cross with Jesus. The new testament letters were written much like an advice column or a letter from a parent to a child who lives away from home. The advice and commands given to the recipients of those letters don't apply to every Christian for all time. It may be beneficial advice especially if you have similar issues as they did but you are not bound to take the advice. It is still good advice but it was not advice for you. The general information presented can still be taken as universal truths without assuming that the commands apply to everyone.
Sadly most Christians seem to approach the bible as a rule book, "find the rules and obey them or you're in trouble with God." This approach is like reading a history book and seeing George Washington telling his troops to attack the British and thinking, "If I'm going to be a good American I need to go attack the British too" and then feeling guilty whenever you are not attacking the British.

Jesus used figurative language
This was a point I have never had emphasized to me before. In John 3 Jesus says to Nicodemus that "a man must be born again to see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus takes this literally and asks Jesus "How can an old man be born? He can't reenter his mother's womb." Jesus then goes on to talk about it referring to being born of the spirit. This story is a solid example showing that Jesus did in fact use figurative language even outside of parables. Thus statements such as "this bread is my body" can have symbolic or deeper meanings. Since Jesus is God that would suggest God would have used such language in the Old Testament too. It is usually pretty obvious but John 3 makes it undoubtful that God talks like this.
Freedom from the law is joyous
At the end of the book Jacobs no longer had to keep the law, his experiment was over. He said he felt free. He was astonished at the freedom of choice and lack of burden. He also said as time went on the guilt of not keeping the law faded away. As a christian who once felt obligated to & tried to keep commands I had a similar experience. Even though Jacobs didn't find the ultimate freedom of knowing Christ he did find the freedom from the law that Jesus earned on the cross for all mankind. No one is bound to keep the law anymore and only Jews were before Christ. Those to try to keep it now only pick up a burden to carry or have others encourage them to pick it up. Thank God for His freedom! Knowing Him is the greatest joy in life!   

The red marks of Jesus
Here is something the author didn't address but the symbolism sprung to life when I heard it. Jacobs was keeping the law that said to bind God's words to your forehead and at the same time the law that says to bind money to your hand. He said at the end of the day when he took them off they "left red marks on my head and hands." Wow! What a symbol of Jesus wearing the crown of thorns and having nails put through His hands.

Jesus said the scriptures point to Him and Hebrews says that the old covenant practices contained foreshadows to Jesus. So the strange things like this reasonably can somehow show us Jesus. Here the law is worn on your head. Jesus took the full judgments and curses of the law on His head. The law had money being bound to your hand. Jesus paid our debt for sin and that payment was paid in part with nails through the hands. Amazing!

The book is entertaining and exposes you to the multitude of commands and types people that are out there. So read it if you want to. You're not obligated by law nor do you have to be fearful of sin. And A.J., if you are still obsessively Googling yourself thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment telling me how many laws I broke in this post.

God's Love in The New Testament

The Son of Man was lifted up on a cross so that whoever trusts in Him will know God. God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever trusts in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but to save and cure the world through Him. (John 3:14-17, Post-Cross Paraphrase)

Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him. (Mark 10:21)

Jesus said, "Don't disregard the love of God." (Luke 11:42)

“Lord, behold, Lazarus whom You love is sick." Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Jesus wept. So the Jews were saying, “See how Jesus loved Lazarus!”  (John 11:3,5,35-36)

Jesus loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. (John 13:1)

The disciple whom Jesus loved was reclining on Jesus’ chest. (John 13:23)

Jesus said, "Love one another as I have loved you. I have loved you so that you may also love one another." (John 13:34)

Jesus said, "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have loved you; rest in My love." (John 15:9)

Jesus said, "No one has greater love than a person who lays down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)

Jesus said, "The Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have trusted that I came forth from the Father." (John 16:27)

Jesus said, "Father You sent Me, and loved my followers just as much as You have loved Me." (John 17:23)

Jesus said, "Father I have made who You are known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them, and I in them." (John 17:26)

When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” (John 19:26)

Hope does not bring shame because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:5)

Christ made His love towards us obvious by dying for us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8)

God has given us right standing with himself. Who or what then will condemn us? No one, nothing, for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us. He is sitting at God’s right hand, participating in our lives and interceding for us. Who or what then can separate us from the love of Christ? There is no such thing! We overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor demons, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:33-35,37-39)

Pray by the love of the spirit. (Romans 15:30)

The love of Christ surrounds us & completely holds us. He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live to themselves, but to Him who died for them and rose again. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

God loves the one who is happy to give. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

The God of love and peace is with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11)

The favor & grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the companionship of the Holy Spirit is with you all! (2 Corinthians 13:14)

I live by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20)

The fruit of the spirit is love. (Galatians 5:22)

Let us praise the God & Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He has blessed us in Christ giving us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to make us pure and holy and blameless in spirit before Him. In His love and with kind intentions He predestined us through Jesus Christ to be adopted as His sons & daughters. He did this to show the magnificence of His favor which has been freely bestowed on us in the Beloved Jesus. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the removal of our sins. We have this because of the riches of His favor & grace which He lavished upon us. (Ephesians 1:3-8)

God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our sins, made us alive together with Christ, and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His favor in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. By God's favor you have been made whole. By God's favor you have been saved through trust; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:4-8)

May you know by experience the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask, think, or imagine, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the assembly and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:19-21)

Be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)

Christ loves His people and gave Himself up for them. (Ephesians 5:25)

God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give the family of God peace and love with trust. (Ephesians 6:23)

You yourselves are taught by God to love one another. (1 Thessalonians 4:9)

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father have loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by Their gracious favor. They comfort and strengthen our hearts in every good work and word. (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)

The Lord directs hearts into the love of God and into the patient endurance of Christ. (2 Thessalonians 3:5)

God's love filled opinion of us is too wonderful for us to ever fully handle. It brings the trust and love which are found in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:14)

God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but of strength and love and competence. (2 Timothy 1:7)

When God our Savior made His kindness and love for humanity appear, He saved us & made us whole, not on the basis of good things we had done but because of His merciful kindness and good will towards us. He made us whole by the washing of new birth and renewing by the Holy Spirit. He richly poured His Spirit out on us through Jesus Christ our Savior. We are made righteous & guiltless by His favor & grace. We have become heirs and we are confident that we have everlasting life. (Titus 3:4-7)

My son, do not lightly regard the guidance of the Lord, nor be irritated or grieved when He  refutes you attempting to lead you out of false beliefs. For the Lord nurtures the one He loves like a father nurtures a son he is pleased with. (Hebrews 12:5-6)

The love of God has truly been perfected in the person that treasures God's words, trusts Him, & loves others. (1 John 2:5)

The Father loves us so much that He calls us His very own children (1 John 3:1)

We know love by this, that Jesus laid down His life for us (1 John 3:16)

All love is from God. God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)

Love does not come from our love for God but God's love for us. God defined love by making His love known to us by sending His only begotten Son into the world for our sins thus overcoming our distrust so that we can live through Him. (1 John 4:9-10)

If we love one another God is living in us and God's love is accomplished in us. (1 John 4:12)

We have come to know, rely on, and have put our trust in the love God has for us. God is love (1 John 4:16).

God's perfect love removes fear because God will not punish those who trust Him. Their standing in the world is identical with Christ's. If you fear punishment or judgment from God you do not understand God's perfect love for you. (1 John 4:18)

We love because God first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

Jesus, the truth, lives in us and will be with us forever. Truly from His love comes grace, favor, mercy and peace which will be with us from God the Father and from Him, Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father. (2 John 1:2-3)

Keep yourself aware of God's love for you by building yourself up in pure trust and praying in the Holy Spirit (Jude 20-21)

Jesus gives us grace and peace. He loves us and has released us from our sins by His blood. (Revelation 1:4-5)

Jesus says, "I lead those I love out of false beliefs and cause them to learn the truth. Let my love motivate you to the eager sincerity to change your mind." (Revelation 3:19)

“I have loved you,” says Jesus. (Revelation 3:9)

See Also
God's Love in The Old Testament & Grace is God's Love for You

Thursday, April 12, 2012

God's Love in The Old Testament

Lord, in Your lovingkindness You have led the people whom You have redeemed; In Your strength You have guided them to Your holy abiding place. (Exodus 15:13)

The Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with Moses as he called upon the name of the Lord. Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness, mercy, and truth; who keeps lovingkindness and mercy for thousands of generations, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; He forgives the guilty and limits the consequences of their actions to the third and fourth generations.” (Exodus 34:5-7)

The Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the stranger by giving him food and clothing. (Deuteronomy 10:17-19)

The Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the Lord your God loves you. (Deuteronomy 23:5)

Indeed, the Lord loves the people. All His holy ones (saints) are in His hand. (Deuteronomy 33:3)

May the Lord show lovingkindness and truth to you. (2 Samuel 2:6)

The Lord makes salvation and deliverance evident and shows lovingkindness to all His people forever. (2 Samuel 22:51)

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; His love endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16:34)

The Lord's lovingkindness is everlasting. (1 Chronicles 16:41, 2 Chronicles 5:13, 7:3, 7:6, 20:21)

Our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, You are a gracious and compassionate God who keeps lovingkindness and in Your great compassion does not forsake. (Nehemiah 9:31-32)

You God have granted me life, mercy, and lovingkindness; And Your care has preserved my spirit. (Job 10:12)

All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth (Psalm 25:10)

I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness, Because You have seen my affliction; You have known the troubles of my soul (Psalm 31:7)

Lovingkindness surrounds those who trust in the Lord (Psalm 32:10)

The Lord loves righteousness and justice; The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord. (Psalm 33:5)

Your lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. (Psalm 36:5)

The Lord loves justice and does not forsake His godly ones; They are preserved forever. (Psalm 37:28)

You, O Lord, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me. (Psalm 40:11)

The lovingkindness of God lasts all day long. (Psalm 52:1)

God accomplishes all things for me. He will send from heaven and save me. God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth. (Psalm 57:2-3)

You love is so great it reaches the heavens; your trustworthy faithfulness reaches to the clouds. (Psalm 57:10)

Your love O Lord is better than life (Psalm 63:3)

In Jesus lovingkindness and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other. (Psalm 85:10, New Covenant Paraphrase)

For You, Lord, are good, and eager to put your forgiveness on display. You are abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You. (Psalm 86:5)

You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, patient and abundant in lovingkindness and truth. (Psalm 86:15)

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Lovingkindness and truth go before You. (Psalm 89:14)

If I should say, “My foot has slipped,” Your lovingkindness, O Lord, will hold me up. (Psalm 94:18)

The Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His loyal trustworthiness extends to all generations. (Psalm 100:5)

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; He pardons all your sins, He heals all your diseases; He redeems your life from the pit, He crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; He satisfies your years with good things. (Psalm 103:2-5)

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, patient and abounding in lovingkindness. He no longer strives with us, Nor does He retain His anger towards us. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our faults. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who trust His Son. As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our sins from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord, our Father, has compassion on those who trust Him. (Psalm 103:8-13, New Covenant Paraphrase)

Consider the lovingkindnesses of the Lord. (Psalm 107:43)

The Lord's lovingkindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord is everlasting. Praise the Lord! (Psalm 117:2)

Put your hope in the Lord Jesus. He has lovingkindness and has abundantly paid for our debt with His blood. He has delivered all His people from all their guilt. (Psalm 130:7-8, New Covenant Paraphrase)

Give thanks to the God of gods, the Lord of lords, for He is good. He gives food to all beings. He alone does great wonders. The Lord has remembered us in our low estate and has rescued us from the adversary. Give thanks to the God of heaven, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. (from Psalm 136)

The Lord is gracious and merciful; Patient and great in lovingkindness. The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works. (Psalm 145:8-9)

The Lord executes justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, sets the prisoners free. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind & raises up those who are bowed down. The Lord loves the righteous. The Lord protects the strangers, He supports the fatherless and the widow, But He thwarts the way of the wicked. (Psalm 146:7-9)

My son, do not lightly regard the guidance of the Lord, nor be irritated or grieved when refuted by him. For the Lord teaches the one he loves like a father instructs a son he is pleased with. (Proverbs 3:11-12)

By lovingkindness and truth guilt is removed. (Proverbs 16:6)

Thus says the Lord, your Creator, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! I am the Lord your God, The Holy One, your Savior. You are precious in My sight. You are honored and I love you. Do not fear, for I am with you. You are My witnesses and My servants whom I have chosen, So that you may know and trust Me and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me. I, even I, am the Lord, and there is no savior besides Me. It is I who have declared and saved and proclaimed, and I am God. Even from eternity I am He, and there is no one who can deliver you out of My hand; I act and no one can reverse it." (from Isaiah 43)

"With everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you” says the Lord your Redeemer. "I have sworn that I will not be angry with you nor will I reject you. For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” says the Lord who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:8-10)

God has given us great things and done many great things for us by His compassion and from the abundance of His lovingkindnesses. (Isaiah 63:7)

In God's love and in His mercy He redeemed us. (Isaiah 63:9)

Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth because I delight in these things,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

The Lord appeared saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness." (Jeremiah 31:3)

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses certainly never cease because His compassions never fail. His love, kindness, and compassion are new every morning. Great is Your loyal trustworthiness O Lord. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Where there is sorrow & grief the Lord will have compassion according to His abundant lovingkindness. (Lamentations 3:32)

In that day I, the Lord will make a new covenant, “I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness and in compassion, and I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, and I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ and they will say, ‘You are my God!’” (Hosea 2:18-20,23)

I will heal your backsliding. I will cure you from turning away. I love you freely. I have no anger towards you. (Hosea 14:4, New Covenant Paraphrase)

There is no God like you. You pardon guilt and do not hold rebellious acts against us. You did not retain anger against us beyond the cross of your Son. You delight in unchanging love. You have compassion on us. You crushed our sinful deeds under foot. Yes, You cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You have given truth and unchanging love to us with your Son. (From Micah 7:14-20, New Covenant Paraphrase)

The Lord your God is gracious and compassionate, patient, abounding in lovingkindness. (Joel 2:13)

You are a gracious and compassionate God, patient and overflowing with lovingkindness. (Jonah 4:2)

“I have loved you,” says the Lord. (Malachai 1:2)

Continued in..
God's Love in The New Testament & Grace is God's Love for You

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Forgiven and Loving

Jesus said, "He who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47).
Most take this to mean, "The worse of a sinner you were before you came to Christ the more you will love God because he forgave you of so much sin." That may be true but let us look at this another way.

The truth is we have all been totally forgiven of all our sins, past, present, and future. If you think you must continue to ask for forgiveness (confess your sins, repent, etc.) then you will love little. You will love little because you will see God's love and forgiveness as conditional to your recounting of sins (how most incorrectly view confession) or promise to try hard to not do particular sins again (how most incorrectly view repentance). Whether you realize it or not those are conditions many put on forgiveness and fellowship which are in reality two things Jesus earned for you eternally. If you think God's perfect love is conditional then you will only love conditionally also. You will judge people harshly based on their behavior and I'm sure all of you know some religious person who does so.

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins" (1 John 1:9).
The word "confess" in 1 John 1:9 does not mean recount (recall & recite in prayer) but it actually means "to agree." It is to agree with God about your sins, that you had them and Christ took care of them. If you agree with God that Christ took your sins away, which He did, then you have no reason to recount them. Doing so would actually be the opposite of what John intended when writing this scripture. 1 John 1:9 simply means, "You receive His forgiveness by believing His forgiveness." It is not a rule for daily relationship. It is praising God that Christ finished the work of forgiveness on the cross and saying, "I want in on this!" And it is continuing to agree with and rejoice over Christ's finished work on our behalf!

The word "repent" by itself has nothing to do with sin. It does not mean "turn from sin" in the New Testament. It is a mistranslation that really means "to change your mind about something." We find no commands for Christians to frequently repent. No one was ever even asked to do it twice! Contextually repent almost always means "to change your mind from mistrust/unbelief to trust/faith in Jesus," in other words "get saved." Jesus also specifically says not to make promises to God (Matthew 5:33-37). Jesus recommends we respond to God in time with an honest ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ We aren't to live by the promises we make to God but the promises He has made to us.

Sadly Christians everywhere have been taught to live the opposite of what God desires, that which is best for them. To ask for what they already have, earn what has already been paid for, and promise to try harder to do better. All of this devalues the love of Christ because it says He didn't do or completely do the things He did for us. If we think we have to do something to continue to get God's favor, forgiveness, and fellowship then we will make others earn ours as well. We will live in the imprisonment of believing one of the worst lies ever told.

No one was forgiven little on the cross. Everyone was forgiven of all sin for all time. He who understands God's forgiveness little understands God's love little and loves little. He who understands God's total forgiveness is free to love totally; heart, mind, soul, and strength.

A World Without Law

The Bible says in Romans 5:13 says, "Sin is not charged when there is no law."

Imagine you lived in a society where there was no law or judicial system. Could you break the law or commit a crime? No, but you could still harm people. How then is destructive behavior handled in a society with no law? By relationships and consequences. Consequences play out in a sowing and reaping fashion. If you are watchful and compassionate you can learn from them. Relationally your Father says to you, "I want you to make amends for the harm you've done to that person." Your Father will teach you how to love others.

Where there is no system of law there is no punishment. God will not punish us. He wants to relate to us and help us in our relationships. Law is not necessary when you have a loving Father to guide you and embrace you. You don't have to follow the manual when you are living with the expert. Let the Lord love & lead you and leave the law on the cross where Christ left it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

God's Love for You

If someone likes you then you generally like them back. If someone loves you then you generally love them back. If someone is always judging you, dishonoring you, criticizing you, or finding fault with you then you don't want to be around that person.

Sadly God is taught to be that constantly offended nag who no one would want to be around in real life instead of the everloving Father that He is.

God loves you unconditionally and God likes you unconditionally. His disapproval of behavior never equates to His disapproval of a person. In God's view what you do does not define who you are nor does it define how He feels about you.

Jesus took whatever judgment God would have for you. God honors us with the uttermost value. God is not a fault finder, He is a healer and a helper. In fact scripture goes so far as to say that you can do no wrong in His eyes. "All wrongdoing is sin. Anyone who is born of God does not sin" (1 John 5:17-18).

Not only do you want to be around someone who loves you but you find yourself wanting to please those who love you. God's love has a trickle down effect. We love because He loved us first. God's kindness causes us to change our minds about the way we see things and how we live life (Romans 2:4). It is the absence of His offense, judgment, and condemnation that has us return kindness to Him and pour out kindness to others. God stirs us to love and good works not by exposing faults but by convincing us of the righteous perfection He has put in the true identity of our spirit.

We are the flawless bride of Christ and in that we are one with Him as the body of Christ. Marvel at His love for us and His opinion of us,

"You are so beautiful, my beloved, so perfect in every part. My darling, you are the perfection of beauty" (Song of Songs 4:7, 6:4).

Every part of the body of Christ is perfect & beautiful to Him. This is who you are. Your feelings may lie to you, so go with God's feelings instead. Accept nothing less than God's high opinion of you.

Friday, April 6, 2012

What Happened to Christians on the Cross and at Salvation

Every Christian knows what happened to Jesus on the cross, but not every Christian knows what happened to them. Because of this they’re striving to become someone they already are and they’re fighting to obtain something they already have.

1. What did I lose at the cross?
    My Old self, my sinful nature (Rms 6:6)
    All my sin (Ps 103:12)
    Any need for punishment or fear of punishment from God (1 Jn 4:18)
    My inability to please God (Rm 8:8)
    Any relationship I might have had with the law (Rm 7:6)
2. What did I retain after the cross?
    My physical body (Rm 8:23)
    Most of my way of thinking (Romans 12:2, Eph 4:23)
3. What did I gain after the cross?
    Peace with God (2 Cor 5:19, Col 1:20)
    Complete forgiveness (Col 2:13)
    God's acceptance (Eph 1:6)
    A relationship with God the Father and the Son (1 Jn 3:1)
    My New self, a God-born living spirit (2 Cor 5:17)
    His life: Christ is my life (Col 3:4)
    His Spirit (Rom 8:11)
    His righteousness (Rms 1:17)
    His holiness (1 Cor 1:3)
    His eternal perfection (Heb 10:4)
    The ability to stand on Christ's trustworthiness (Gal 2:20)
    The ability to think the thoughts of His mind (1 Cor 2:16)
    The ability to approach God with confidence knowing His favor for me (Heb 4:16).
    New desires and aspirations (Gal 5:18)
    The full rights of sonship (Gal 3:26)
    Everything I need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3, Php 4:19)
    Every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3)

The instant you were born again, God did an amazing work in your life. He gave you a glorious new past and a completely new life. He changed just about everything there is to change about you. But one thing God left unchanged was your mind, your way of thinking. Only you can change that.

Given that there is one part of you that did not change at the cross, what do you think is the key to living the victorious life that God wants you to live? That’s right, you need to change the way you think.

Everything we need pertaining to life and godliness comes through our knowledge of Him who called us (2 Pet 1:13). If you want to see breakthrough in your life, look to Jesus, look to the cross, and change the way you think:  “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Rm 12:2a)

Now repeat after me: “On the cross I died and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the trustworthiness of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” This is the glorious beginning of your new story!

This post is my summary of a post by Paul Ellis titled Your Glorious New Past

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Problem with Mistranslations

Example 1
Imagine that I do not speak English and I always have a translator accompanying me. I am a farmer but for whatever reason every time I say "farmer" my translator says "salesman." Let us presume that my translator gets everything else I say right. If you talk with me there are only a few ways to find out that I am a farmer and not as salesman.

One is to pick up on clues in the context when I speak about my job. I may mention livestock and farm equipment but even then you could assume that I sell those things.

Another way, if you ever even get to the point of questioning my translator's accuracy, is to look up the word salesman in the language I speak. You can find that the word I am saying is not salesman. You then need to find a way to discover the meaning of the word I am actually using.

The power of the word salesman being used by my otherwise trustworthy translator makes you believe something that is not true. It shapes how you view the context of my conversation. It perhaps makes you think that I sell farm equipment rather than farm the land myself.

Example 2
Imagine that your job position originated in a country that spoke a different language than you and they are just now expanding into your country. The person they have to translate their operating manuals grew up in a part of their country that has a slightly different dialect, where words mean slightly or drastically different things than they do where the manuals were originally written. The language barriers prevent you and others from doing the best job that you can and the business as a whole suffers. Everyone thought that they were doing the right thing and going exactly by the book but they never questioned the translation when one part of the book contradicted the other.

The Problem
These situations pale in comparison to the problems with our English translations of the Bible. Some words were intentionally mistranslated in the first place and tradition has kept them there (church, pastor, minister, deacon). Other words are unclear in meaning because they have little to no secular use (grace, faith, repent). These religious words are defined in many different ways but were not religious words in the original language. They were common words easily understood by anyone who spoke the language (grace=favor, faith=trust, repent=change of mind).

Some words are influenced by the beliefs of those who translated them (usually the institutional church). These translators and subsequently those who read their translation believe that the way things are today is the way things have always been and read the present situation into past events. When they see the word "church" in the bible they think of an organization or building, seeing "pastor" they think of the man in charge who preaches at the church, seeing the word "minister" they think of a leader, etc. People are thinking that the farmer is the salesman. Soon they hire salesmen to farm and all sense of meaning is lost to the masses.

From Guardians to Gurus
Untold damage is done by these mistranslations. One English word poorly translated in one verse (pastor in Ephesians 4:11) is part of the basis for thousands upon thousands of men to unwittingly usurp the headship of Christ. Too often I have heard people happily repeat things from sermons they've heard recently which are actually destructive lies. They instantly believe what they are told no matter how shame-filled, self-centered, unloving, or absurd  it is simply because the pastor said so. Pastors need only to point to the word "pastors" in Ephesians 4:11 to justify their office to most despite the fact that the word "pastors" only appears once in all of scripture, the word is plural, the context says little about what the pastor actually is, and the word is a mistranslation (it is supposed to be translated as "shepherds").

I specifically talked with two pastors who knew I was out of the church system and Ephesians 4:11 was the only scripture they used to support their existence. When asked if all Christian groups need pastors I said "Jesus is the Good Shepherd and speaking of Him in Ezekiel 34:15 God says, 'I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord.'"

The mistranslation perpetuates the false office and false authority. While not all motives are pure most pastors are simply following the traditions of the church thinking that it is what God intends. Sadly those traditions and falsehoods existed 400 years ago and certain words were placed into scripture to support them. While I wish pastors would research their supposed position solely using the scriptures, they aren't to blame. Hundreds of years of man made traditions, falsehoods, and mistranslations stand against the people of God.

Here two questions to ask yourself, "Am I believing false things because of traditions or mistranslations?" & "Do I trust what I hear over trusting the living God?"

Related Posts
Older People as Guides not Officials as Governors:  Explains what a shepherd (mistranslated pastor) actually is.
All Posts on Mistranslations