One of the things all Christians need to do is to examine themselves and try to understand who it is they are listening to and learning from because the gospel truth is not from men, but from God.
There is only one truth of the New Covenant, just as there is only one God and Father, One Christ who is the Son of God and Saviour of all mankind. But in this world we do not see this same oneness of mind, spirit and purpose. This is especially true in the church today, for the church is widely splintered in a multitude of sects, denominations and groups, all of whom claim to be Christians, but who frequently disagree on what is the fundamental truth of the New Covenant.
That is why it is important to examine yourself and determine from whom you are learning. Is the quality of the doctrine and teachings that you accept and believe really the truth, or is it a concoction of teachings, some of which are true and some of which are not, for the purpose of bringing you under the dominion and bondage of men rather than into the freedom of Jesus Christ. Continue reading “Gospel Truth Is Not From Men”
It is a common thing among Christians to think less of themselves than they should. By this I mean that many Christians seem to be constantly aware of sin and sinning and a great many live in guilt and self-condemnation.
But here we see an interesting comment from Paul that shows a very different mindset than we see today.
And it is not easy to pick out because even the Bible translators have either missed it, not believed it or chosen to soften the truth of this verse, for they have modified the true meaning of the Greek word into something less than what Paul was talking about: Perfection.
When you went to school, (or if you are still attending), there were always tests and examinations to ensure you were competent in the subject being studied. I am sure we all groaned about the litany of pop quizzes, tests and exams when they came along, but they were being done for our good.
Generally, at least in my own experience, as we approached the end of year examinations, we would test our knowledge by doing exams from previous years so we could understand the types of questions likely to be asked. By this process we could examine ourselves to see whether our knowledge was going to be adequate to gain a passing mark, or if we needed to do more work.
Likewise, in the scriptures, we are told in many and various places that we will be tested for the sake of what we believe. But here in 2 Corinthians 13:5-8, we are being told to “test ourselves” and to “examine our faith” to ensure we are holding fast to the truth of the faith that is in Jesus Christ. So let us look at that process and see what needs to be done to meet the test.
I travel a lot each year, often going into distant cities as well as the remote towns and communities of outback Australia.
In my travels I have often visited churches and listened to the messages being preached in those churches. Some of these have been small country churches with just a handful of people, while others have been the large mega-churches with congregations in the thousands.
As I have listened to the messages preached from these various platforms, I have been often joyfully surprised at what I have heard. But at times I have left the churches stunned at the deceptive lies in messages preached and sick to the stomach at the damage being done to those who are receiving these messages.
This is the thrust of Paul’s words today where he too was horrified at how easily people in his time accepted a different gospel, a different Jesus and a different spirit than what is taught in the truth. And they submit to these lies and accept them readily. It was happening then, and I would go so far as to say it is worse today. Continue reading “A Different Gospel”
This scripture clearly tells us that this whole world has been and continues to be polarised by Jesus Christ.
It was because Jesus came that a line in the sand was drawn separating people clearly into two camps: the good and the evil. No other person ever had such an impact on the world as He did.
And we must learn and understand why this polarisation exists. Jesus explained in Matthew 5:48 that, “You must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” It is because the power of the teachings of Jesus and the working of the new covenant are aimed at bringing man into perfection that the whole world has been polarised. In Christ we learn the difference between good and evil, and we learn to discern what is good and what is evil and unfortunately in this world there are things that are evil that the world calls good and vice versa.
What is holding you back? Are you seeking to be a “better Christian” but can’t seem to achieve what you are looking for? And do you really know what it is you are actually looking for as a Christian?
Many people have an ideal in their mind as to what it means to be a Christian, but often they live lives in condemnation because they can’t measure up to that ideal. They think a Christian should be a certain way, act in a certain manner or think a certain way and they cannot achieve those ideals. And so they condemn themselves for their lack of control, lack of motivation, lack of faith or whatever.
Which brings me back to my first question and the title of this post: What is holding you back? That is what we need to look at today as Paul discusses aspects of this question in these few verses.
Those of us who teach and preach the word of God need to listen very carefully to the words in this section of scripture.
Our work is ministry and ministering to the spiritual needs of those we come into contact with. Our work is to feed people with spiritual food so as to nourish and replenish the spirit’s of men and women, so that they do not starve and shrivel for lack of God’s sustenance.
We are stewards of God’s word and we need to use it to instruct, teach, encourage and help others so that they will grow to maturity in Jesus Christ. This is our mission, and these words today exemplify the extent and extremes of that mission. So you teachers out there, listen carefully and prayerfully. Continue reading “Faultless Ministry”
Point of view is a powerful thing. Every person on earth assembles their knowledge of what is happening around them according to a unique and individual point of view.
Our unique points of view are being molded from the day we are born, and often take a long time to become fully established in our own minds. In some cases, they are very quickly determined, especially where harm may occur. Most people quickly learn and develop a point of view that if you touch something hot (fire, boiling water, etc.) that you will get burned. And since it is an unpleasant experience, our point of view very quickly becomes one where we avoid touching those things that will harm us.
But when it comes to more abstract matters, we may take a lot longer to develop a point of view. Our thoughts on matters of politics, good versus evil, morality, prejudice, artistic endeavor, and so on will take time to solidify in our thinking minds. It is easy to go along with the crowd, but there will come a time when we have to make a stand in our own mind and decide for ourselves; where we have to have a decided and thought out point of view.
Nowhere is this more evident in our point of view regarding religious belief, and especially as it pertains to the person and nature of Jesus Christ.
There is a blindness on the people of this world that causes them not to see the truth of God. They demand proof that can be seen and measured scientifically before they will accept the truth of any matter. They say that “Seeing is believing.” But in Christ we learn the opposite is true, as Paul wrote in these verses, for we walk by faith, not by sight.
The truth of God and His ways cannot be approached from a physical point of view. God is spirit and so we must approach Him and His kingdom through the spirit. You cannot see or measure the things of the spirit because they are not physical. So physical measures do not work.
“Seeing is believing” will not work for the things of the spirit. And even though there are many things that can be seen, the blindness of the people of the world who are unbelievers refuse to see and accept that these things are from God. They reject the spirit because they reject anything they do not and cannot understand.
These verses teach us many things and one of the most important is about the nature of the person of God. There is a foundational truth in these few verses that goes deep into the heart of what we as Christians believe.
Who is God? More specifically who is the God worshipped in Christianity? Is it the god of the trinity that is so strongly held by almost all Christians sects, denominations and faiths or is the true God someone else?
This is an important issue and one that must be discussed and addressed for if we are wrong, we may be worshiping a myth and a lie. If the God we worship is not in fact the God of truth, then who or what are we worshiping?