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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

He Has Explained

. . . Him.


This peculiar phrase, which is borrowed for the title of this article, is found in the opening words  in the first chapter of the gospel according to John. The words refer to God whom no one has seen, but whom Jesus has explained.


There is a second and equally interesting phrase which appears immediately prior to that phrase. It is a brief summary which distinguishes between the Law which was given through Moses for Israel and grace and truth which were realized through Jesus.


What is the significance of how Jesus realized these things? What was it that Jesus explained about God for believers in Christ? Similarly, what is the significance for atheists, well represented in John’s gospel in Pontius Pilate, who look to see God, but who can not see him and would not know him or recognize him if he were in their presence?


the gospel according to John
Before looking further into these things

Friday, February 19, 2016

What's In Your Heart?

Do you trust that God knows what is in your heart? Do you trust that what you teach and how you worship is from the heart? Do you trust in your love of God?

Many of us have heard the credit card commercial which asks viewers: What’s in your wallet? The sales pitch is to persuade listeners to make no mistake about all credit cards being the same. Trust the right credit card in your wallet, Capital One assures its customers, to get more than any other card.

a man after God’s own heart
There is a similar view about the heart among some saints, but with a notable difference. Specifically, this view is one of self-reassurance that as long as you believe it in your heart and it feels good in your heart then it must be right and that’s all you need.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Were The Prophets Called Gods?


Today, there is a teaching which denies the deity of Jesus. It is not true. It is mistaken. It is ignorance. It is a lie. It purports to be scholarly. It is false. It is not new. It is bad enough when an individual struggles to understand the deity of Jesus, but it is a vastly different matter when that individual joins with others to take this teaching to others. Although there are a number of different reasons and passages which are cited to substantiate and bolster this mistaken teaching. This article will focus only on one. It is the particular mistaken claim that when Jesus stated he was the Son of God he was not saying anything significant or suggestive of his deity. He did not mean anything more than to simply equate and cast himself as just another messenger of God to whom the word of God came in the same manner as the prophets.

Friday, February 12, 2016

They Saw God

Seeing is believing or so the saying goes in America. But how true is that saying? Do we believe it? Generally speaking it is safe to say that it is true and that we believe it in its colloquial use. It is in this same sense that we understand without confusion or question what a blind man means when he says, like sighted people, “I see.” We recognize the expression, not as referring to visual sight, but to understanding. Otherwise, we might see with our eyes what we had suspected or something about which we had been told and a visual sighting is sometimes added corroboration.


Yet, there seems to be something of an aversion by which people who think and do their jobs with certain mental faculties become utterly lost outside of that environment. Suddenly, the thought processes which are part of their daily lives are abandoned. What they see; they are not sure that it is real or that it can be trusted. Among believers this seemingly extraordinary abandonment of the thought process and the input of virtual and literal sight by which something is seen results in a nonsensical riddle concerning God and seeing God.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Not All Things Edify

pillars, leaders, teachers and preachers
There are various decisions in recent decades which the church has made, or conversely, has not made with no particular reason, understanding or guidance and authority from the scriptures. Sometimes the decision to do something or to go in a particular direction is nothing more than the carnal stubborn mindedness of those who are reputed to be pillars, as Paul referred to some in the church at Jerusalem. (As an aside, but one not unrelated, the standard, not for pillars or leaders, but for those in the church in Jerusalem who were to carry out the menial task of serving on tables was that they be full of the Spirit and of wisdom. How much more so those who lead, teach and preach

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Worship: With All Your Heart, Mind, Soul, and Strength

There seems to be a great bit of effort among the saints in Christ to sharpen the precision of what they profess and teach concerning salvation, worship and other matters of faith. This seems admirable. It seems commendable. It also reveals a tendency towards some form of pseudo science as opposed to trust and adherence in the same scriptures which the saints profess as their guide and which they teach.


There are some areas in which this is almost virulent and rampant such as what is the exact point of a person’s salvation. (The memory comes to mind of seminarians laughing at monks and theologians who pondered and argued about exactly how many angels can stand on a pinhead? Sounds like nothing new, right?) Another one is exactly what and how is worship acceptable to God? It is this latter area which is the subject of focus in this article.


performing experience, inexpressive experience
Some brothers and sisters, with good intentions, practice and teach a form of worship
which must consist of a certain number of elements and nothing more. The sole focus of this worship is long and hard on what one does or performs. It has little or nothing as to whom we belong and what we are towards the one to whom we belong.


Some brothers and sisters seem to be, unwittingly, more the adherents of existentialism than faith in Jesus and the Lord who is one. What does this mean? It means that much like the existentialist who is not able to express with words the experience which he has just had and by which he has authenticated himself/herself. Indeed, he sees no need or reason to explain with words the experience which is supposedly so monumental in his life existence, so too the Christian. The Christian who is not able to articulate with words what they profess or to have experienced much less their practice of worship has underestimated or forgotten the word of God in his life. The experience for both that existentialist and that Christian might have been a joyful, but fleeting feeling of their inexpressive experience.


to be worshipers
Jesus did, in fact, tell us in his own words that the Father seeks true worshipers to be* his worshipers in truth and spirit. (John 4) It is true that Jesus did not elaborate as to the particulars of what constitutes worship in truth and spirit. It is also true that as much as some saints dispense short lists as to a specific elements of worship these have the effect of performance fulfillment. Yes, worship does and must involve doing what is worship to God, but is there anything which might possibly be missing?


Jesus had a way of bringing things down to their simplest level. When he was asked, by men with evil and impure hearts, what is the foremost commandment he replied:


Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD;
30 AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.'


heart, mind, soul and strength
If ever there were a list; this is it. You may wonder, perhaps even resist, what this has to do with worship. Now I draw your attention back to the words of Jesus: “. . . the Father seeks to be* his worshipers.” While worship does involve doing something it must not be detached from who we are, or our very being.


What more could ever possibly encompass who we are than when we reveal and present our HEART, MIND, SOUL and STRENGTH before God, to God and in the company and fellowship of fellow true worshipers of the Father?


Yes, there are some saints whose life in the Spirit has been a struggle because they have been told, not something they have learned from the written word of God, that either worship is all about letting yourself go with unbridled abandon, or keep a tight rein on your emotions.


heart
Nothing could be farther from the truth. The reason this is so is because somewhere between the HEART, MIND, SOUL and STRENGTH which God has given each one of his children is the feeling of emotion whether of joy, pain or rejoicing in worship. It may seem outlandish to you, but the HEART seems the likely vessel of that emotion.


mind
Whomever we might have allowed to get into our head and plant in our MIND the mistaken notion that knowledge and understanding have no place in who we are before Father and how we worship the Father did not understand these things themselves. The mind is where and how we process, discern and understand what we profess and what we teach such as in worship.


soul
Who hasn’t had the experience of having driven through several towns on a long trip before they realize that they had pass those towns many miles ago. We say the person zoned out, or he/she was running on auto-pilot. In other words, what we did, namely, driving and navigating along through the traffic was done without thinking about it. When we reach a level where we can do things without thinking about them we say they have become second nature. Worship with all your SOUL is to worship, not zoned out, but even more than second nature; it has become our first nature. The psalmist’s life was one of continual worship, much like what Paul states in Romans 12:1, and the commandment of the Lord was ever on his mind, his lips and in his hands to fulfill it gladly and joyfully.


strength
Whether it is the capacity to get up in the morning when your body is telling you to sleep-in, driving to assembly, standing up to sing in the assembly or going over to meet and greet a stranger, a visitor or a fellow brother or sister; it is by the simple God-given STRENGTH in your God-given body to worship the Father.


conclusion
Jesus said, the Father seeks true worshipers to be his worshipers. It is significant and it is to be noted that Jesus included the qualifier true of these worshipers; they are to be true worshipers. It is also significant to note that Jesus stated these are to be the worshipers of the Father. It is not vague, ambiguous or impersonal. Worship is to the Father.


Worship to the Father is to be in spirit and truth. It is in spirit in that it is with and according to our understanding of the written revelation of the will of God as to how we live, worship, and yes, how we die. It is truth in that worship has the richness of the heritage. It is worship with the perspective of past, present and future of our brothers and sisters, whom, as Jesus noted, knew what they worshiped. The glorious blessedness of the saints in Christ is that through the same word of God we are guided by the Holy Spirit in order that our worship might be in spirit and truth.

Worship involves doing, but it no less involves being worshipers who love God. They are those who love the Father and they readily reveal that love with all their heart, with all their mind, with all their soul, and with all their strength in their worship.