Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Follow Me

And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

Follow Me

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23

Deny himself!

Jesus said to follow Him we must first deny ourselves. That is the first step in the process! The NLT says of this turn from our selfish ways and the GOD'S WORD Translation says to say no to the things we want. Those adequately describe what Jesus says here, we must give up our desires and in essence as Paul says in Romans 6 die to our flesh! If anyone loves father, mother, brother, sister, or even themselves more than Jesus thy are not worthy of Him! We must die to ourselves as the first step of following Jesus. Look at the immediate context of the OP topic, Cephas, Andrew, John, James all left their families, businesses and lives to follow Jesus, that is the essence of the sacrifice required of all who seek to follow the Lord!

Take up His cross daily!

This process is more completely in line with what Paul described in Romans 6. When we are baptized into Christ we identify with His death, burial and resurrection. But to be baptized we must repent of our sins! So becoming a Christian is the first step in this process of carrying our cross, but not all of it. For Jesus said whosoever loves their lives will lose them but whoever loses their lives for the same of Christ will find life eternal! Carrying our cross is having the devotion and commitment to obey Christ even if it costs you your life! We are to be 100% sold out for the Lord, otherwise He is not really our Lord but one of but many things/people we obey and submit to. He must be all and in all and before all! Lastly notice this is to be done daily as well. Not just something we turn off and on when it's convenient or every Sunday in front of our religious friends!


Once we have these two principles down, we can begin to hear the Lord call out to us Follow Me! Then what does He say? I WILL make you fishers of men! Jesus says He will make us fishers of men when we fulfill our part of the equation. We do our part and He does His. Amen He is ever faithful! So for those of us who want to see souls saved but find not the strength to speak openly in the square or at work or anywhere Jesus says, Just follow Me and I WILL make you a fisher of man! Not maybe or if it pleases me, but I WILL!!!! Jesus walked in love, so we too must walk in love, sacrificial love that knows no limits and end! Have courage and take strength child of the Most High! Jesus will make you a fisher of man! Just do as He says do and He will be faithful to fulfill His part!

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love NEVER fails!

And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17, ESV)

Jesus tells all of us to follow Him. In so doing He will (emphasis on will) make us fishers of men. I know growing up I struggled with witnessing because I was such a timid and shy person. I wondered aloud how God could ever use me to share the gospel with anyone, because I could barely say hi to a stranger let alone talk about such a conflicting topic.

Well the other night I was praying and the following came to mind:

Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. (1 Cor 14:1, NIV)

Now I've posted on this verse before (Mark 1:17) and how Luke 9:23 plays into becoming fishers of men. Now given this increased revelation into this "mystery" I'd like to present that 1 Corinthians 14:1 and Luke 9:23 are not in conflict with each other if it may seem so, but rather they speak of the same thing.

You see Luke 9:23 says, "And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." This speaks exactly of what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:31-14:1, LOVE. The love that Christ requires of us, the greater love that sacrifices all, is exactly that; a love that forgets completely about self and looks only towards pleasing Christ first and others second.

So when Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:

13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

He's really giving us a spiritual "road map" of sorts on what following Christ really looks like. It's not about how gifted we are, it's not about how much faith we may seem to have, rather it's about how much love we have towards others. For how much we love others around us, especially our enemies, is a direct correlation on how much we love God. It's not about self, it's about those around us.

Thus fulfilling Christ's greatest command: To love one another as He has loved us!

So follow the way of love! Christ will then make you a fisher of men!

13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14 Do everything in love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14, NIV)

Monday, May 26, 2014

My doctrinal statement

We refuse the Pastor worshipping trends found in most traditional churches.  Pastors are but one of several gifts given to the entire church by Jesus Himself to build up the entire church (Ephesians 4:11-12).  We do not worship the men or women behind the callings, nor do we ignore those callings in their proper place.  If Jesus gives them, we accept them and cherish all Christ's gifts.  The Holy Spirit gives gifts to every believer for the good of all (1 Corinthians 12:7-11), so we encourage all believers to walk in their gifts.

I believe in the Holy Trinity (Gen 1:2, 26; Matthew 3:16-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:29-34; Acts 5:3-4; Romans 8:9; 2 Cor 13:14). I believe it is a mystery that escapes the human mind, and yet the three eternal beings are one in how they act and operate. (John 8:28-29; 10:28-30; 14:9-11, 26; 16:13-15)

I believe people are saved by grace alone through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), but that faith must be expressed by works (James 2:14-26).

These works include:

Water baptism (Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21) both as a regenerative work (Romans 6:3-5; Titus 3:5) and symbolic of what happens in the spiritual (John 3:3-7, 7:38-39; 1 Cor 12:13; Titus 3:5)

Confession of Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10; Acts 22:16; 1 John 4:15) and of our sins for forgiveness (1 John 1:9; Acts 19:18)

Once we enter the covenant of grace by Christ's blood, we must continue to abide in Jesus (Colossians 2:6; John 15:1-6; 1 John 3:23-24; Galatians 5:16-25; Ephesians 5:1-2, 18-21) by believing in Him and living in love as He commanded us (1 John 2:5-6, 3:23-24, 4:7-21; John 13:34-35).

I do not accept the Pentecostal teaching of receiving the Holy Spirit "baptism" after being born again. Several scriptures seem to indicate we receive the fullness of the Spirit when we believe (1 Corinthians 12:13; Acts 19:1-6; Ephesians 1:13, 22-23; Galatians 3:2-5; Col 2:9-10) 

I believe that all the gifts are active even today and necessary for the work of the gospel until the day Jesus returns. (Mark 16:17-18; John 14:12; 1 Corinthians 1:5-7, 12-14; Ephesians 4:11-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21; Revelation 19:10)

Believers are to be intercessors.  Every Christian has this calling on their lives and this is a point of emphasis within the fellowship.  (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Philippians 4:6; Luke 18:1-7; Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 4:1)

Believers are also to be people of one thing, dwelling in the Lord's Presense (Psalm 27:4).  We start in this endeavor and continue in it be seeking the Lord (Deuteronomy 4:29; Jeremiah 29:13; Psalm 105:4)  This is explained biblically in 2 Chronicles 20; fasting, praying, worshiping, scripture study, being humble, and waiting upon God.

I believe Jesus will return one time, at the end of all things (even the Great Tribulation) to gather His Church to Him and reign for a 1,000 years before judging those who were lost (Revelation 19-20; John 14:2-3; Matthew 24:29-31; 1 Corinthians 15:23-26, 52; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-10; 1 John 3:2; Philippians 3:20-21)

I also do believe we as the Church should partake of the Lord's Supper as often as we meet.  From John 6:35-58; Acts 2:42-47; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 we should partake of the Lord's Supper as often as we can, for it has spiritual significance.  It is to keep us in remembrance of what Jesus did for us so we live accordingly....

Friday, May 23, 2014

Works of faith

So James says, "Faith without works is dead."  He doesn't really give much context outside of that though.  The book of James itself is about being humble and loving in view of God's mercy and love.  So perhaps these works he discusses are works of love, just as Jesus (James' brother) preached and commanded.  That would be a perfectly sound biblical stance and view if one holds to that.  Faith without works of love is dead....

But what if there is more to it?  What if those "works" were more than just love?

To be sure, water baptism was heavily preached by the Apostles, even the early church.  I do not believe the act alone saves anybody, no more than I believe uttering a "Sinner's Prayer" saves anybody.  Faith is what saves us.

Abraham was justified by his faith as expressed through his work.  So are we.

Notice also in the types given in NT writings of water baptism, those who pass through the waters signifying baptism, leave behind their old lives and enter into a new beginning:

NOAH as written and described by Peter

to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, (1 Peter 3:20, 21 NIV)

ISRAELITES as written and described by Paul

For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:1-4 NIV)

They left the old behind and through the water are entering a new beginning.  God even gives both a new covenant once they pass through the water.

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.” (Genesis 9:8-17 NIV)

Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he splashed against the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.” Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” (Exodus 24:6-8 NIV)

So we can see the biblical precedent for water baptism as being pertinent to enter into a new covenant with God.  But as in all things, our faith is what justifies us.  Faith expressed through works.  I view baptism as just one of these as necessary.

What are the others?

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Romans 10:9, 10 NIV)

Confession is necessary.  We must not only confess Christ as our Lord, we must make Him Lord meaning He is in charge not self.  Most Protestants have no issue accepting this act as necessary for salvation, not even considering confession is a work that one must do.  They even preach that in a very blind sense.  You can not work for salvation but you must do this one work, confession, to be saved.  I used to accept that and teach it, so I understand.  It’s just not so.  You either teach no works can save us or some works save us.  But confession is an act, a work that is done.

Now look at this statement Paul made as he was testifying about his conversion to the Jews in Acts 22:

And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’ (Acts 22:16 ESV)

Be baptized and call on his name….

Aeneas as he ministered to Saul told him both were needed.  Paul seemingly agreed and complied, then taught as much.

he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:5 ESV)


Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6:3-5 ESV)

Even Jesus said in context of being born again that one is born again through water and Spirit.

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ (John 3:3-5, 7 ESV)

So while most, if not all, accept confession as necessary for salvation, almost none (in Protestant circles) accept baptism in the same light, even though it appears scripture says both are necessary.

Works of faith that save us.  Faith justifies, works save.

What is salvation anyway?  You are not saved yet.  That comes when Jesus returns correct?

who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:5 NIV)

Salvation in the eternal life sense is not received until we hear, well done good and faithful servant.  We see Paul clearly states in Romans 3:28, 5:1, 10:10 and Galatians 2:16, 3:24 that only through faith in Christ are we justified.  Yet he also states in Romans 10:10 that confession saves us, in Titus 3:5 that washing of regeneration saves us.  Peter joins in and says in 1 Peter 3:21 that baptism saves us (Washing of regeneration).  For again, as Paul explains in Romans 6, by baptism we join ourselves with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.

So it is my opinion that faith without works means:

We initially validate our faith through baptism and confession, and then continue to demonstrate that faith through acts of love.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Baptism of the Holy Spirit

I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ (John 1:33 ESV)

John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Luke 3:16 ESV)

I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:8 ESV)

“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matthew 3:11 ESV)

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4, 5 ESV)

So we see that in all four gospels the statement John made about Jesus baptizing individuals WITH the Holy Spirit is included. This is significant as it is one of the very few things that all four gospels state, clearly the Holy Spirit when He inspired the scriptures wanted us to understand the importance of the event. Jesus then right before He ascends reinforces His purpose in coming (again read John's statement) that the Apostles and the church would receive the promise of the Father (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-21) which is the Baptism with the Spirit.

WITH the Spirit, not in the Spirit....

Now, Jesus equated the Baptism with the Spirit with that of the promise of the Father in Acts. Luke when he wrote his gospel, concluded it with this statement, apparently an equivalent statement made by Jesus concerning the same event, the promise of the Father coming....

And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49 ESV)

In this statement Jesus indeed says the promise of the Father will bring power to the Apostles. So we can draw the connection with the promise of the Father, aka the Baptism WITH the Spirit, with Jesus statement in Acts 1:8:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 ESV)

Power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you (Acts 1:8)... clothed with power (Luke 24:49)... promise of the Father (Acts 1:4; Luke 24:49)

Baptism with the Spirit....

Now here is where the question comes in:

What is the Baptism IN the Spirit?

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:13 ESV)

Is being baptized IN the Spirit the same thing as being baptized WITH the Spirit. Both phrases use the greek proposition ev which means any number of things, but perhaps the connection can be made in context.

After Paul concludes his thorough teaching on the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, he goes into what the body of Christ is and how it should operate within itself. Before he can get to the meat and bones of the discussion (last half of 1 Corinthians 12) he needs to remind the Corinthians how they enter the body in the first place, Jews and Greeks, slaves and free, are all made a part of the body of Christ by being baptized IN the Holy Spirit. By this baptism in the Spirit, we identify with Christ's death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-5) Now Romans 6:3 says, "baptized into Christ..." this is significant because it draws a connection between the two experiences. Paul does make the connection in other letters between Jesus and the Holy Spirit (in the same letter and passage actually), Peter does too:

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (Romans 8:9 ESV)

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17 ESV)

inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. (1 Peter 1:11 ESV)

There is a connection between Jesus being referred to as the Spirit. So Paul making the statement in Romans 6:3:

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (Romans 6:3 ESV)

Baptized into Christ Jesus - he is saying the same thing as he does in 1 Cor 12:13 that we are all baptized in one Spirit....

So what I'm trying to say (perhaps somewhat unsuccessfully) is that:

The baptism IN the Holy Spirit is the event in which the individual comes to faith in Christ and identifies with His death, burial, and resurrection and enters the Church through faith. I'm talking about "the Church" the real Church, that only true believers are members of, the body of Christ, not the building down the street... Just to be clear on that.

The baptism WITH the Holy Spirit is an event where believers are given power to witness to Christ's resurrection. Given for ministry purposes. Gifts, boldness to speak, etc.... So when we see people who have no power, we should be right in asking, are you ministering? Are you going out into the highways and byways inviting people in? If not, this could explain the lack of power in the individual's life.

Now, the Baptism with the Spirit can occur many times in an individuals life, sort of as in the Old Testament where God would "clothe" individuals with the Holy Spirit for a specific purpose. Multiple times even if necessary. So there is biblical precedent. And this does not change the significance of the Baptism in the Spirit, as it is this event by which the Spirit enters us and we are born again, becoming children of God.

The significance of Water Baptism

In considering the significance of water baptism, this possibility came to mind and please entertain my thoughts. You see, water baptism is emphasized quite a bit in the New Testament for it to be just another sacrament that has no real significance over just another good work one might do in obedience. So throughout the course of considering this subject in prayer, this is a possibility I’m willing to accept.

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39 ESV)

Now Jesus here says if we are thirsty we should come to Him and drink. Thirst is the most intense of human desires and urges and water has always been the most thirst quenching of liquids. In fact Jesus says He gives living water to those who ask Him. (John 4:10-14) Jesus even says there, “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14 ESV)

Now Jesus says this “river of living water” that flows from within those who believe in Him comes from within their heart. In Romans 5:5 Paul writes God poured out His love into our hearts by giving us the Holy Spirit, a clear reference to the statement Jesus made in John 7. Yes it is possible for Paul to know about this because remember Paul learned his message from Jesus Himself. (Gal 1:12) He even said in Galatians 4:6, “Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father."” God sent the Holy Spirit into our hearts, which leads to eternal life (John 4:14).

So what does this have to do with water baptism?

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; (Matthew 3:16 ESV)

Jesus is our example in all things. He is the One we should follow and model our lives after. Jesus received the Holy Spirit at the moment in which He was baptized. This is significant I believe. Paul even makes the statement:

he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, (Titus 3:5, 6 ESV)

2 things here:

The washing of regeneration (Greek, 3824. Paliggenesia, the new birth, regeneration)
renewal of the Holy Spirit (Greek, 342. Anakainósis, Change of heart and mind)

so we are saved by the washing (Greek, 3067. Loutron, same word used in Ephesians 5:26 in stating Jesus cleansed the Church by washing her) the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. This sounds awfully similar to Peter’s statement on Pentecost!

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38 ESV)

Now I know the greek is different in the two verses by the two apostles, but the essence of the message is the same. Change your heart and mind and be washed so that you can receive the Holy Spirit, thus receiving adoption into God’s family (Romans 8:15; Gal 4:6) and eternal life (John 4:14; 1 John 2:25).

This is the significance of water baptism. Jesus draws the connection between the Holy Spirit and “living water” and the waters of baptism merely represent this living water that will flow from within your heart, where the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the believer. And as you are baptized, you join yourself with Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-11). By identifying with Him in this, you are given new life (the new birth, regenerated) by the Holy Spirit who is given to you.

So what does belief have to do with this?

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:14, 17 ESV)

As you hear the message of Christ, you accept that only through Him you can obtain cleansing for your sins. You decide to obey Jesus in whatever He wants you to do (make Him your Lord) through your believing in Him.

This is an inner truth expressed by an outward act. Thus statements about being born again through water and Spirit are made true.

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (John 3:3, 5 ESV)

he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:5 ESV)

Even the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel preached a message similar to this:

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:25-27 ESV)

Thus with the connection between the "living water" and the Spirit, when you are baptized in water, you are baptized in the Spirit and enter the new covenant. (1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans 6:3-11)

Monday, May 19, 2014

What is Christian prophecy?

Prophecy in the New Covenant is defined/broken down as:

For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:10 ESV)

testimony - Gr 3141
marturia: testimony
Original Word: μαρτυρία, ας, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Transliteration: marturia
Phonetic Spelling: (mar-too-ree'-ah)
Short Definition: witness, evidence, testimony
Definition: witness, evidence, testimony, reputation.

What does this look like outside the obvious "go into all the world and preach the gospel" (Mark 16:15) context:

On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. (1 Corinthians 14:3 ESV)

This is what prophecy does. New Covenant prophecy builds believers up. It encourages them. It also consoles/comforts them. Why? Because all prophecy, points to Jesus! Any prophetic word that does not glorify the Lord nor point the recipient of said prophecy to him is highly subject to falsehood, or even a lying spirit.

Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:20, 21 ESV)

Some have received prophetic words in the past in such environments and because they were false and said individuals had not received wise counsel on what to do with such words, they gave up on "prophecy" at all. I think we need to understand who gave such words, mark them, and avoid them, but never give up on hearing from the Lord. In context of 1 Thes 5:20-21 even, despising prophecy is a portion of quenching the Spirit (1 Thes 5:19) Confess such failings and hurts to the Lord and allow him to replenish you.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. (1 John 4:1-3 ESV)

Any time you receive a prophetic word, test it. As I stated already, all true prophecy points to Jesus. Whether prophesying to the lost, or to the saints, prophecy always points people to Jesus. John even said so much.

So remember, the testimony (or witness) of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Prophecy edifies (builds up), encourages, and consoles (comforts) the saints. Never despise prophecy, test it, hold to it if it is found to be true, reject the bad. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

What is basic, fundamental Christianity?

So what is plain, fundamental, easy to understand and follow Christianity?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. (John 6:37 NIV)

Jesus gives us rest from all our struggling to earn God's grace and salvation! And He rejects no one thatncomes to Him! With me so far?

This leads us to:

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4, 5 NIV)

This is the true state of basic, fundamental Christianity. Abiding in Jesus. Coming to Him and receiving His rest are just the beginning steps. Abiding is the daily state of blessedness for all believers. it is what God made us in Christ for. To abide in Him and He in us!

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27 NIV)

It's not about formulas and how many do-goods you can do before your time is up. It's about a relationship with Jesus, the One who shed is blood so you can draw near to God.

So how do you abide? It's not in doing good. Nor do you earn the right to abide by how well you behave or how many right deeds you do.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, (Colossians 2:6 NIV)

Just as you received Jesus! You are to continue your life in Him!

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” (Acts 16:31 NIV)

And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. (1 John 3:23, 24 NIV)

By believing you receive the Holy Spirit, (Ephesians 1:13-14) by continuing in that state of believing your "fruit" will grow (Galatians 5:22-23) First and foremost is love! 1 Corinthians 13

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

So we also see that there is a direct correlation between Him loving us and us loving others. We can do so only because he loved us first and poured out that love into our hearts by giving us the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5)

So basic, fundamental Christianity is to live everyday of your life in utter and complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus to you and transform you more and more into the image of His likeness!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5, 6 NIV)