Welcome to Speaking the GospelOne of the reasons for this website is to help you better grow in the word of God. The articles written on this site take an honest and straightforward approach towards God's word. It is my hope that in reading the articles presented will not only challenge you but also gain a deeper and greater understanding towards God's Word in your life. I take the studying of the word of God very serious, as I will be held accountable before God for what is taught here, Galatians 1:9. The articles come from a personal bible study, and it is my joy to be able to share these with you. The first article is on "examining yourselves "I have placed it at the beginning, as a way of introduction, because we all have a certain concept about the "faith" we are walking in, and many times we take for granted that what we are being taught is really based on the word of God. But what if what is being taught is not in line with the word of God, would we be able to discern if it is God's word or not. It is important to understand that what we believe may well be denying the power of God's work in us. If the gospel we present is just a reflection of a worldview which is not based on the word of God but rather on phycology which those who need to hear the gospel already have, than what does the gospel have left to offer them. The message of the gospel is not popular and it never was or will be, our calling as Christians is not to edit the message, to suit the hearer, but to deliver it in truth.
Show me Your ways, O Lord;Teach me Your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation;On You I wait all the day.
My prayer is that this site will help everyone who in their desire to walk in Christ will grow in the grace and understading of our Lord. To defend the truth, and grow in the faith.
The Holy Spirit - A Person or Power?
This is a study concerning the holy spirit. There is much debate on this subject . In my studying of this topic from both sides of the issue, I came to understand why there is so much confusion, I came to see that "the opinions of men have been clouding the whole issue". Both sides want to be right and use the word of God to give support to their point of view, one side claims that the holy spirit is a person because of the many references in the word of God about having a "personality" the other side claims that it is just a "force" used by God. I came to ask myself, can the word of God be divided on this issue, the clear answer to that is NO, both can’t be right, that leave’s two other options, both are wrong, or, only one is right.
Some have even gone as far as to insist that one must believe that god is a trinity in order to be saved, but that teaching does not measure up to the word of God. Yes, how we view the holy spirit will effect us in understanding God's plan of Salvation. A person’s salvation is founded on the belief and faith that Christ is the Son of God, not whether God is a trinity. But in order for us to walk in truth we need to know the truth. I believe and will prove that there is a very clear biblical teaching about this issue in the word of God. It is the goal of this study to present from God’s word what the holy spirit is, and is not, and what role it has in mankind’s relationship with God and Christ. Before any meaningful understanding of the holy spirit of God can be made we need to begin with a clear understanding of the term “spirit.” in the Old Testament and in the New.
Spirit Of God" In The Old Testament
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for "spirit" is Ruach(pronounced) roo-awkh its primary meaning is "breath." or more specifically, a breathing out. The word "breath" may not make sense as a way of expressing the meaning for spirit, but when we learn from God's word that breath represents life we can make the
connection. When it is put in proper context, the word Ruach (spirit or breath,) as used in scripture, as is relates to God, speaks of God as (the spirit of the holy or divine one) put another way, (the spirit which belongs to the Holy One,) to be very clear the word Ruach, is not a word that is expressing a different entity distinct from God, but an aspect or characteristic of God.
We read in Genesis 1:2-3"The earth was without form and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep; and the Spirit ( roo-awkh,) "breath"of God was hovering over the face of the waters, Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. When reading these opening verses we clearly see that the Spirit of God is moving over the surface of the waters before the beginning of God’s creative words spoken in verse 3 "than God said." We come to understand also that there is no other instance in the Old Testament where (roo-awkh) means anything other than "the spirit of God or "the wind of God." So when we read "And God said," in the Genesis account, we are being introduced to each creative movement of God as creator.
Genesis 2:7 "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed ( roo-awkh,) into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." Without the breath of God there is no life.
The "Spirit Of God" In The New Testament
Now we come to the New Testament, the Greek word translated as "spirit" in the term "Spirit of God" is (new-mah) and means the exact some thing as in the Old Testament discussed above, “breath”, but has a more profound usage. In the Old Testament the word Ruach is generally being used to refer to the creating of physical life, while in the New Testament the word is used to refer to the creative power that will, in due time, create eternal life. We read this in 2 Corinthians 1:22"who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit (new-mah) in our hearts as a guarantee,"(a future event) . Ephesians 4:30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit (new-mah, "breath") of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."( a future event).Matthew 3:16-17 " When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit (new-mah, "breath") of God descending like a dove, and alighting on Him; and suddenly, a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased."
Let me ask you the reader a question. If individuals wish to insist that the holy spirit is a "personality", then would not we be forced to conclude from, Matthew 3:16-17 that the Spirit is really a male dove (a bird with wings, ) for does not the word of God clearly states in Luke 3:22, that the Spirit has the bodily appearance of a bird specifically a dove. “And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon him, and a voice from heaven which said, "You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased." Even in the book of Genesis 1:2 the Spirit is described as "hovering over the waters" just like a bird would do, so can we conclude that the spirit is indeed a bird?
If these descriptions about the spirit mentioned in Matthew and Luke are simply symbolic (which they certainly are) then we would not be led astray into believing the Spirit actually is a bird that we call a dove. On the other hand, if one insist that the Holy Spirit is indeed a personality and that the verses are literal, then we have effectively created a "bird god" like the ancient Egyptians and heathen societies have done.
1 Corinthians 2:10-12 "But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God."
In verse 11, What Paul is drawing is an analogy between the spirit ("heart" or "mind") of man and the Spirit of God. The teaching that Paul wants us to understand is that the holy spirit is really God's Mind. To demonstrate this, he makes a comparison between the human spirit and God's Spirit. Paul tells us that only the spirit ("mind") within a man understands the thoughts of man. Paul then goes on to say that only the Spirit ("Mind") of God knows the thoughts of God. The connecting phrase that Paul uses is"even so" what Paul wants us to contrast is that of the human spirit or mind, in the first part of the verse, with God's Spirit or Mind in the final part. What Paul wants us to understand is that unless God's (mind) combines with our human (mind), man cannot or will not be able to understand the things of God from a Godly perspective. But when God gives us His Spirit, (mind, or understanding ) we begin to comprehend what He is doing and why He is doing it.
We have now come to clearly see from the above verses of 1 Corinthians 2:10-12 that the expression "the spirit of man" corresponding with "the Spirit of God, provides us the most clear, and simple ways of understanding the subject of God’s Spirit. Just as people have a "spirit," (breath of life that comes from God) so does God.
Romans 8:14"For as many as are by led by the Spirit (new-mah, "breath") of God, these are sons of God. The meaning of this verse in Romans,should become even much clearer in it’s meaning when we compare it with Psalm 51:11, where David prays in penitence to the Lord, "Do not cast me away from Your Presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me!
David knew that if God took away His spirit (to understand the things of God and to help him walk with God) he would no longer have the kind of relationship with God he was having. This is what Adam and Eve lost when they disobeyed God and ate the fruit, and they died that very day, God took away his spirit of understanding from them.
It is also interesting to note, that in the Jewish tradition the holy spirit referred to in the Hebrew Bible is not taken to be the third person of the "Trinity," The Jewish view is that "the spirit of God referred to in the Bible speaks to His energy, Isaiah 40 :13 "Who has directed the spirit of the Lord, Or as His counsel has taught Him?"Zechariah 4:6. "So he answered and said to me: This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might nor by power, but by My spirit, Says the Lord of host. Although the "spirit of God" is of divine origin, this does not mean that there is a "holy spirit" as a separate divine person. We see in reading Isaiah and Zechariah, that the holy spirit is a mode of the one and only God, that is the self-expression of God in both word and action. It is this self-expression in word and action such as (the spirit of truth, bear witness, guides, reproves, speaks) that God uses, and are found in many New Testament scripture’s in reference to the holy spirit, that is being used and taken out of context by individuals to prove the distinct personality of the spirit. But the fact is the Holy Spirit is God’s very own mind set being expressed and preformed upon mankind and creation as a whole. God is revealing himself, by the work of His Spirit, and through His Son Jesus so that we can see Him, know Him, understand Him and worship Him.
Let us see what Christ has to say about what the spirit is. InJohn 3:8. Christ described the holy spirit as being something like the wind. "The wind blows where it lists, and you hear the sound thereof, but can not tell whence it comes, and whither it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit" Christ says in John 4:24 "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." In the word of God we read that God is Holy, and God is Spirit, so God is a Holy Spirit. The holy spirit is a quality of the mind of God; and where it proceeds from Him for the accomplishment of His purpose, it is His power or influence. And where holy spirit is within the believer, it renews the mind after the pattern of Christ, through the word of God. Contrary to what is believed about John 1:1-2 the "word" is not Jesus, but the Fathers spoken words that created and sustains all life. Scripture itself is called the "word" does that make scripture a God as well? Jesus Christ is the "word" in the flesh, Scripture is the "word" in writing. Its that simple.
Let me ask you a serious question, if the holy spirit is a personality like the Father and Christ as the trinity doctrine states, what is that relationship? Is he our brother like Christ is to us? Is he the Fathers son as Christ is? Is he the second born son, since Christ is the first born? If the holy spirit was a third member of the Trinity why was it omitted in favour of the angels, who indisputably are of lower status? Here, to add weight to this argument, are two comparable passages where reference to the holy spirit is lacking but one to the angels included.
Would a 'God the Holy Spirit' be absent from the scenes described here?: Luke 9:26"For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels"
Revelation 3:5."I [Jesus] will confess his name before my Father and before his angels"
What about Christ’s conception and birth? Do not the Scripture says that it was the holy spirit which caused Christ to be conceived and placed in the womb of Mary (Matt 1:18), it was only through the creative power of God’s Spirit, that Christ was conceived through Mary. If God can create the entire universe, would it be too difficult for Him to use the same birth process he made at the beginning of creation to impregnate Mary with a sperm that he created as He did with all of His Creation ? God did not need Josephs help. I believe that was the case.
When we understand the Holy Spirit as being the creative power that the Father uses to accomplish His purposes throughout the universe, we can come to better understand how God can be everywhere in the universe. Ps, 139:8-10. "If I ascend up into heaven, You are there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me"
We are also told in Psa.139:7"Where can I go from Your Spirit". It is God’s Spirit, which pervades the totality of the universe. God,(as a personality and as an individual ) is in one place at one time and He is not located everywhere at the same time throughout the universe. But if the Spirit is simply the creative, expressive, power of God to accomplish his purposes, that Spirit can encompass at all times the totality of the universe. Consider also that if the holy spirit was a separate identity, it would not be God according to Christ.
Matt. 11:27 tells us: "All things have been delivered to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, Nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him." So, according to Jesus, the holy spirit does not fully know either the Father or the Son, unless the Son were to teach the holy spirit. Why would anyone have to teach the holy spirit anything if the holy spirit were a God? If the doctrine of the Trinity were true, (we would have three gods not one)there could not be anything known by the Father that the Son and the holy spirit did not also know. Another scripture to consider is in Matt. 12:31
"Therefore I say to you, Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come."
If the trinity doctrine were true, if the holy spirit were actually a "person," separate from the Father and Son, and all three were God, according to what Jesus says here, the holy spirit would in some way rank even above the Son, since sin against the holy spirit would not be forgiven. What’s more, if the holy spirit were a person and God, these words of Jesus would destroy the trinity doctrine and place the holy spirit as "God" higher than both the Son and the Father, since “every sort of sin and blasphemy” would also include that against the Father too. Yes I do know that the trinity teaches that God is one in three, and not three separate persons, so that would make Christ all three at the same time, for the teaching states that they are indivisible. Which goes against the word of God. The trinity teaching causes confusion, and God is not the author of confusion.
In Revelation 21 and 22, we read about the Kingdom of God being setup on earth, we see that both God the Father and Jesus Christ are prominently featured. In Rev. 22:1 we read that "a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb." Each is sitting on his throne. But there doesn’t seem to be a throne for "the holy spirit". If the holy spirit is a "co-eternal" member of a triune Godhead, it is not strange that He seems to have no seat of authority on the final throne. The reason for this is simple, the biblical truth is that there is one God, the Father, and one Lord Jesus Christ, and no such separate person known as “the Holy Spirit.
Is it also not strange that in the opening of their New Testament epistles, the writers identifies himself with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, but not one give’s any acknowledgement to "the Holy Spirit.”"One has to ask, were they ignorant of the truth of a "tri-personal" God, a truth that supposedly constitute the foundation of the Christian faith. If so then their apostleship was incomplete, and at worst they were teaching error. Their failure to clearly teach a three person Godhead proves the assertion that the doctrine of the tri-personal God and a third person in an eternal Godhead was not believed or practiced by the Apostles. Since it was not believed nor practiced by the apostles, and the apostles were commissioned by the Lord Jesus himself, then the doctrine was not believed or practiced by the Lord Jesus either.
In fact, the doctrine of the trinity was not codified until the fourth century in the Athanasian creed
Most Christians today believe that the Spirit is the third person in a divine trinity. However, this teaching we have come to see is not scriptural. The doctrine of the trinity is only the speculations of men (sadly by church leaders). John 5:26 "For as the Father has life in Himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself." Jesus received his life from God. God received his life from no one. He is eternally self-existent.
One final note, here are just a few New Testament scriptures where the Apostles had opportunity to mention that the holy spirit was part of a trinity, but never brings it up, why is this?
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Paul, an apostle—not sent by men nor through any man, but sent by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—(2) and all the brothers who are with me, to the churches of Galatia: (3) Grace and peace to you, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, together with the elders and deacons; (2) Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The New Testament writers never meant for the phrase ‘Son of God’ to just mean ‘God.’ Yet evangelicalism today insists on that equation if one is to be considered a Christian!
To fully understand Christ's preexistence (in Gods Plan) ought better to be understood on the analogy of the pre-existence of the Torah, indicating the eternal divine purpose being achieved through him, rather than pre-existence of a fully personal kind. The seed of Trinitarian doctrine was planted in the thinking of Justin Martyr, the second century Christian apologist who "found in Platonism the nearest approach to Christianity and felt that no break was required with its spirit and principles to pass into the greater light of Christian revelation. Also read What Jesus Christ accomplished as Savior for a deeper understanding of this topic.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
The various topics that are covered in this study are by no means complete, rather, they are more of an introduction to an aspect of the word of God. It is my hope that in reading the topics covered within these pages, it will spark a desire in your heart to do a deeper search of the Scriptures so that a fuller and deeper foundation of God’s word may become a part of your life.
I would like to ask you a personal question, are you willing to be hated for being a follower of Christ?
If we only want to seek the approval from those around us such as family and friends, those we come in contact with, at work, at the expense of representing Christ, are we really living godly lives in Christ Jesus? Are we willing to suffer persecution? I am in no way saying that we deliberately go around seeking to be hated. It is good that we live our lives with graciousness, kindness and a servant-heart attitude, as we speak the truth to others. But one thing we must remember about the good news (gospel) and that is that it does involve the giving of some very bad news about our human sinfulness, and it is this part of God’s word that makes the cross an offense to others, and creates a negative resonance towards us. Why? Because of the current ideology in the world of what is considered "hate speech" or not in line with "political correctness". There is now a censorship on truth.
The truth is, its not easy for you or I to be labeled in a negative way, I know I don't like when it happens to me, and it is not something I mark in my calendar by saying "today I plan on being hated by x number of people" nor plan to be called ignorant or intolerant or anything else that is meant to degrade because I decided to speak the truth. We must however be careful as Christians that we don’t fall in to the trap of following what is considered the social norm, or political correct speech at the expense of not standing up for truth, even at church. I believe that there is a healthy balance in how we are to present the word of God. We willing stand up for truth not to seek the approval of our culture, but for God the Father and Savior. The standards that our culture views as “right” or “good” are in fact contrary to God’s ways. It is sad that even among Christian leaders the modern concept of evangelism is little more than be nice to your neighbor and loan him your hedge clipper and somehow through that act of kindness he will come to Christ without you actually having to say the words of the gospel which may run the risk of him thinking you’re weird. Our examples of good acts are important, but it’s not sufficient. Let us take what Paul is asking of us in 1 Corinthians to heart.
1 Corinthians 15:1-6. 15 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of who are still living, though some have fallen asleep.
When it comes to the speaking the gospel to others let us, instead of the world, set our agenda and the ground rules of what we can and can’t say, lets take the timeless examples from God’s word and teach the message of the gospel to people. How can we properly do what we are asked in Matthew 28: 19 of teaching to others and making them disciples as we have become, if we let ourselves fall into the trap that many have already and alter the contents of the gospel to make it something everyone can easily agree with.I’m sorry but that approach is not the truth about the word of God.
Hebrew 4:12-13 12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Do we truly understand the depth of God's word from what we read in Hebrews 4:12-13? We must never forget this one point, we as Christians, are also being judged by the very word of God we preach or teach. 1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
If the gospel we present is just going to be a reflection of a worldview that is not rooted on the word of God, but rather on phycology, which those who need to hear the gospel already have, than what value does the gospel have to offer them? No the message of the gospel is not popular and it never was or will be. But our calling as Christians is not to edit the message, to suit the hearer, but to deliver it in truth.
Don't be afraid of those who call themselves believers yet stand ready to defend what they call a new definitionof the word of God as to what it means to be a good Christian, holding to the view that your beliefs must be held privately, and must not in any way challenge those who publicly share beliefs that dishonor Christ, and avoid controversy at all costs lest we be perceived as “those kind of Christians” who hate gays, oppose abortion etc. Do we want the world to love us that we would be willing to distance ourselves from a true Christian faith, from biblical doctrine? If we end up doing that, are we not ourselves becoming indistinguishable from the rest of the world, and therefore have nothing of value to offer the world?
The Word of God speaks just as strongly to us who have been called as it does to those who are being called by the gospel. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.What is our reaction to these word’s to us?
As Disciples of Christ it’s not our job to be popular. He’s the King, He tells us how we are to conduct ourselves with His word, not we Him. We are His ambassadors. So let’s represent Jesus, as portrayed in the Word of God. Let us not bow down to the culturally acceptable one. Discernment means learning the difference between revealed truth and pagan, philosophical teachings which originated outside the Bible yet affected what is now called "orthodoxy."
There is nothing new about the gospel turning some people off. That has always been a truth in every generation, just as it’s always been true that some are longing to hear it and will deeply appreciate it.
Let us never forget what Christ said to us. “All men will hate you because of me.” Mark 13:13 and, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” John 15:18
May you all grow in the grace and understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Are you willing to be hated for Speaking the Gospel.
Please note: Any links to other websites provided from this site does not necessarily mean that I endorse every doctrine laid out on these websites. I provide these links as a way to give weight to a topic discussed. I advise you therefore; to please be careful and discerning as you read what is being presented in these linked sites. And remember the words of Jesus, "Take heed that no man deceives you."
Is the Gospel teaching about salvation really something that is hard for us to understand? Are there ministers who stand behind the pulpit presenting the word of God in a way that robs it of its power and making it ineffective? Have some willingly held back the most vital truths, simply to advance their own cause?
These are very important questions that we need to ask, our very salvation may be at stake. But before going on there is something that needs to be made clear concerning our understanding of 2 Corinthians 13:5 this verse has been expressed in two ways. (1) Paul is asking us to examine ourselves to see if we are indeed in the faith. (are we really saved or not, this view is the one most often used in sermons) (2) Paul is asking us to confirm to ourselves what he already knows about those who have chosen to follow Christ, that we are in the faith because we believe in the gospel he is teaching.) When we examine 2 Corinthians 13:5 we come to see that our second answer is the accurate one, Paul is telling the Corinthians, s well as us today. (Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you.) Paul is confirming their salvation, and He is concerned that they are now being led astray by another gospel.
The focus Paul has in mind in 2 Corinthians 13:5 is not him asking the Corinthians to engage in self-examination as a proof of their salvation, rather he is asking them to find in their salvation a proof of his apostleship.Is he teaching the truth? Either Jesus Christ was in them, because Paul was teaching the truth, and their belieif in that truth, or he and they were disqualified, because he was teaching a lie. Since Paul knew that Christ was in them because of his teaching, he was very concerned that they were losing sight of this fact and were being lead astray by false teachings that started to influence them. The focus for my writing in relations to 2 Corinthians 13:5 is to encourage us to stay alert, and stay rooted in the faith, and not be moved by every wind of doctrine. Is what we are being taught (the truth of God's word) building up our faith so as to be on solid ground, or are we allowing our faith ( by teachings of men) to be high jacked?
2 Corinthians 13:5Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus IS IN YOU unless, of course, you fail the test? When it comes to the question on our salvation, this statement in 2 Corinthians should be taken seriously, one we need to take to heart, the answer we come up with, will tell us whether we pass or fail, are we allowing our faith to be high jacked by those who profess to be men of God teaching the truth, but are really wolfs in sheep's clothing? This was the question that Paul was confronting the Corinthians with, because he deeply cared for them. This is my challenge to you.
Paul is asking us to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith.( in this context "the faith" ) means "what you believe" ( concerning the gospel, is what you are being taught inline with God's word? ) The faith being referred to here by Paul does not just apply to our believing something to be true, but to the object of our belief, what is it that we really believe? Is our salvation the result of Christ living in us, or because of the works we think we must do to earn salvation? No one is saved because of works, but saved because they confess that Jesus is the only Name that saves. But it takes more than just saying one believes, one must trust for "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble" (James 2:19). Devils believe also but tremble knowing their fate. Do we truly trust God to save us, through Jesus?
Examining ourselves involves more than just checking to see if we are reading the word of God, praying, etc. The emphasis being placed on each one of us as individuals, is to examine ourselves to see whether Jesus is still a reality inside of us, and to be careful that we have not and are not slowly and unknowingly being led away from the truth, by what is being taught to us as the gospel. We read in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15:"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works"Are we being careful that we don’t develop an attitude of "it's not going to happen to me" or " I can trust everything that is being taught me, because he is a man of God" Many may feel they are in the faith just because they go to church on a regular bases, are involved with church activities, are giving offerings, singing praises to God, say they believe in Jesus. Is this really what Paul is talking about? Is Paul really asking us how faithful we are in church attendance, how well we offer grace at the meal table, or does he ask us how much Bible knowledge we have. No, Paul is asking us the most fundamental of questions, "Are we still standing in the faith in which Jesus Christ called us to or have we begun backsliding?" How can you tell? Paul's message is to believers not non-believers.
Examining ourselves is not as easy as we may think, it first involves that we be rooted in the truth. For example, we are warned concerning the teaching of a false gospel in Galatians 6:7,8: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." This is a very serious warning to all of us in this day of free-believism, such as the false doctrine of our never-dying souls. This lie is being preached on a large scale. What does God's word say on that matter. We read in Ezekiel 18:20 The soul that sinneth it shall die. Who are we to believe man or God. What this false teaching is doing is it is teaching justification in Christ alone, at the expense of holy living; and those hearing this one-sided gospel are being left in the dark as to God’s requirement of the necessity of a holy life. God’s grace has been turned into lasciviousness; "A little sin won’t hurt-I’m just a carnal Christian’ you know, and besides, doesn’t grace cover it all?" Let me state here that there is no such thing as a carnal Christian.
There are far to many individuals that attend a church and take for granted that what is being taught is the true gospel.Are you one of them? Many are currently being influenced by Gnostic and mystical teachings within the various assemblies, and are unaware that philosophical, mystical ideas have invaded the church (true followers of Christ) that the apostles died for, from the second century onwards via the "Church Fathers," who were themselves steeped in pagan philosophy and were the ones who laid the foundation of the creeds now called "orthodox." " make no mistake, the forces which operated to change apostolic doctrine were derived from paganism, The habits of thought which the Gentiles brought into the church, explain the corruptions of apostolic doctrine which began in the post-apostolic age." I ask you not to just take my word but to prove the things I say for yourself, is not your salvation worth it?
So ask yourself, what if what is being taught is not in line with the word of God, would we be able to discern if it is God's word or not? Would someone be walking in truth? There are many ministers today who stand behind pulpits using the name of Jesus Christ, proclaiming they speak the word of God in truth, but are nothing but lies. Would you or I know the difference? Does it really matter whether we believe the truth or not? What about the teaching on the trinity, (see next article) is it the truth. What are we to do in such a situation, lets read 2 Timothy 3:5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. Ministers who teach a false doctrine are trying to cause us to lose the power that the true gospel has on us. Let us never forget that Satan is very clever in the way that he works, he is able to present himself as a minister of light and he is hard at work to get us to walk according to the flesh rather than the spirit.
Let us test ourselves to make sure we are solid in the faith and not drifting along taking everything for granted. Let’s give ourselves regular check-ups. You and I need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay that Jesus Christ is still in us. Remember the one goal that Satan has is to lead you and I away from Christ, and false teachings can do just that. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it. The book of Hebrews is an excellent book to read, it was written to encourage believers to stand true in the faith.
2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine Yourselves (written for follows of Christ)
The approach that this writing is taking as to what we can learn from this chapter is from the perspective that God sees everything laid out before Him, and that the life of Jesus should be viewed from the prospective that indicates the eternal divine purpose being achieved through him, rather than pre-existence of a fully personal kind, as part of God the Fathers overall plan for establishing a Kingdom here on earth. According to Peter the Messiah himself was foreknown, not just his death for our sins but the person Messiah himself 1 Pet. 1:20. Peter uses the same word to describe the "existence" of the Son of God in God’s plan as he did to describe the "existence" of the Christian church (v. 2). Though the Messiah was foreknown (not known, but foreknown, as was Jeremiah before his birth, Jer. 1:5,)he was manifested by being brought into actual existence at his birth Luke 1:35. To view Christ in this manner (as a man) does in no way take away from his honor, but adds light to the way of understanding God’s purpose for mankind. He (God) executes the Plan at the appropriate time. Roman 4:17
The Son of Man is found in the book of Daniel. He "preexists" only in the sense that God grants us a vision of him in His Plan for the future. The Son of Man is a human being (that is what the words mean.) Thus what John wants us to understand is that the human Messiah was in heaven before his birth (in God’s Plan,) and was seen in Daniel’s vision of the future Dan. 7; John 6:62.
It is important to note that Jesus at his ascension went up to the position which had been previously prepared for him in God’s Plan.No text says that Jesus went back (upostrepho) to God, though this idea has been wrongly imported into some modern English translations to support "orthodoxy."
"During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him"
The Truth about Christ that is taught in the word of God is that Jesus had to walk a course of faith and obedience in order to achieve perfection. By achieving perfection, Jesus “became” the source of eternal life. It is also important to note that the verse states that Jesus prayed to his Father, now if he was God why would he need to delivered from death? Also read what this verse says concerning Jesus, (save him (Jesus) from death.) Now why would God the Father have to save Jesus from death, if as it is claimed, Jesus is God?
There’s more than just a healing at the sheep gate.
1 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, (It is interesting to note the connection that Jesus healed a man at the sheep gate).(sheep were used in sacrifice, and Jesus being the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.) which in Aramaic is called Bethesda (Bethesda=Merciful,God is merciful )and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” (it was not the water of the pool that was able to heal, but faith in God that he would heal, this event teaches us about having faith in the one who could save us, Jesus did not put the man in the water, which was something that the man thought would happen, rather Jesus just healed him, The apostle John focused on this event to give witness of who Jesus was, the prophesied savior.)
7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.
Whenever we read the word of God, old or new testament we many times lose site of the fact that it is a writing that is describing the work that God our creator is doing in bringing about his plan to establish a kingdom on earth. If we have read the above verses, and see only the fact that Jesus healed a man, than we, I believe have missed the true intent of why John wrote down this event for us. The healing event is important, but the true focus is on Christ, John is showing us by this event that it is he (Jesus) that is the prophesized Messiah.
The Authority of the Son comes from the Father
16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” ( God has never taken a day off from fulfilling his plan) 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath,(from their prospective, not God’s) but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. ( Yes Christ called God his Father, as we can, but it was the Jewish leaders that assumedthat by that comment Christ was saying he is equal with God, and many today make the same mistake and believe Christ to be god himself. But let us read on and see if we can understand what Jesus was really saying.
19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. (Jesus is confirming that he by his own power he can’t do anything that only the Father can do) 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.(God is showing Jesus what He is working on through him, and Jesus is willing to bring about his Fathers will) Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. ( I understand this as referring to the resurrection) 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.( v 21-23 I understand this to be referring to a future time when Jesus is resurrected, and not during his physical life, for when he resurrected Lazarus, we read that he prayed to the father for this witness, he did not as yet have that ability on his own, as we read in v 19.)
24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.(read that again…If we believe what Christ is telling us about who he is (the son of God) and believe that God the Father has brought to life Jesus to fulfill His plan through him, we will bypass judgment, and enter eternal life. 25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming ( a future resurrection) and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.(Those who are alive now and will believe the gospel) 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. ( Christ will be given eternal life, he did not have it as some claim)27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. (v 26-27 is not referring to Jesus having these things at the time he lived on earth, but what the Father will give him once he has resurrected him.
28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his ( the Father ) voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true.
33 “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.
36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing (Referring to Hebrew 5:7-9) testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form,(God the Father has always done his work through a representative, such as angels, or men.) 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, (Scripture testifies that Jesus was a servant of the Father, not God himself come down from heaven )40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
41 “I do not accept glory from human beings, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God.
45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”
May we grow in the grace and understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.