Election

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied (1 Peter 1:1, 2).

On 23rd May it will be polling day in the UK for the European Union Election. To me this is a very strange situation, since the British people made a choice by referendum to come out of the EU. Yes, there was a small margin in favour of leaving, but that is the way democracy works. I had hoped the country would get together, be united and go forward to make Great Britain prosper, but as we know, exactly the opposite is happening. People are more divided than ever.

Elections are all about making choices. To make good choices, one needs to know the truth, and to have a knowledge of the facts for assessing the pros and cons. If we apply this reasoning to our church outreach and to the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:1-16:20), then we must be well informed of the facts. We need to be able to present the truth as to who Jesus is (John 14:6) and what His gospel is. We must present these things in such a way that people can *understand them.

So far, so good, but now we come to a very important fact, and that is people must also *hear the gospel (Romans 10:17) before they can understand it. This is necessary for them to believe and to trust in Jesus (Matthew 13:23).

Sometimes we can feel frustrated because the hearing and the understanding is beyond our control. God is the One who enables people to hear and to understand (Matthew 13:14, 15). Of course, we shouldn’t be frustrated when they don’t get it, and be transformed (2 Corinthians 5:17) by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1:5; Romans 15:13). Instead we should relax in the knowledge that God ultimately chooses who enters His heaven. It’s all of Him, and He has everything under control (Hebrews 1:1-3).

This choosing by God is commonly known as the ‘doctrine of election’ . God chooses His elect.

Election, The Most Loathed of Doctrines

Election is perhaps the most loathed of all doctrines. Unbelievers can even hate it! They reason that God chooses His disciples, but He does not choose them. They say He is partial and unfair (cf. Mark 12:14). Why should they go to hell and believers go to heaven? Little do they know that God is holy (Psalm 99:5), righteous (Psalm 116:5) and just (Isaiah 45:21; Psalm 7:11); therefore He has to punish them for their sinning against Him. Those who are not forgiven for their persistent disobedience and rebellion deserve and get hell (Romans 1:18-32; Deuteronomy 32:4). Others who repent of their sins and trust Jesus are saved from hell because Jesus suffered (1 Peter 4:1) hell in their place. He is their Substitute. He is their Saviour (2 Timothy 1:10; 2 Peter 1:1).

In my efforts to obey the command of the Lord Jesus to make disciples (Matthew 28:19, 20) this grievance on the part of the unsaved is often a sticking point. I think this is because people like to be in control of their own destiny. They are mistaken, since they are unaware of the fact that God fashions their destiny (Psalm 139:1-18). When they are told that not all people go to heaven they can sometimes become very aggressive. They resent not having the power to overrule God. Indeed, many genuine, loving and faithful Christians become upset when they are told that Jesus chose them (Ephesians 1:4). They always thought they had chosen Him (John 15:16). In actual fact, He first loved them before they loved Him (1 John 4:19), and He chose them from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).

God does all the choosing. He is the Sovereign King (Psalm 47:2), and He rules over all He has created (2 Chronicles 20:6). Paul the Apostle tells us that God chose some for noble purposes and others for ignoble purposes. He is the Potter and He does what He likes with His pots (Romans 9:21). He elects people for different purposes; for example, He used Pharaoh to show His power (v 17). He appointed Moses as leader of His Old Testament people (Exodus 3:10) and He inspired him to write His laws for all His people to obey (Exodus 19:3-8). He appointed Joshua to take the second generation of the Israelites over the river Jordan and into Canaan (Joshua 3). There, with God’s help, they conquered the inhabitants and their kings, and occupied the land (Joshua 21:43). God gave Abraham faith and accounted it to him as righteousness (Romans 4:3, 9)! [Some may try to argue that faith is not a gift, but Ephesians 2:8 shows that it is.] God chose Saul, David and all the Prophets. He has predestined all and everything that will happen (Ephesians 1:11).

Free Choice and Accountability

This begs the questions, “Who has free choice?” and, “How can we be held accountable (Hebrews 4:13)?” The Scriptures tell us we are all accountable for our actions, words, and even our thoughts (1 Peter 4:5). Now, that’s hard to grasp. The fact is we do not have total freewill; for God has planned all actions and all things, and He will accomplish what He has decreed (cf. Romans 9:19). He elects His chosen ones and adopts them as His children (Romans 8:15, 16), and at the same time He assures everyone who believes in Him they have eternal life (John 3:16; 1 John 5:11). God’s Word is true; therefore what He says in the Bible is true. 

Trying to work out how this apparent paradox is in fact not a paradox is hard to fathom. What I do know is that I do not have total freedom. The only Person who does, is God. Within the limited freedom He gives us we are free to make decisions. We are free to elect for that or for this. We can choose to do wrong or to do right. We can chose to do evil or to do good (Joshua 24:15). Yes, we who are born again have been created for the purpose of doing good works that have been preordained (Ephesians 2:10). I have no problem with that; indeed, I’m elated that God has chosen me to do good works. There’s nothing more satisfying and rewarding. The greater reward is yet to come; for at the second coming of Jesus He will say to those who have been faithful, “Well done, good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21, 23).”

The Doctrine of Election

The doctrine of election is truly a difficult one to present to unbelievers. They resent it – even hate it. That’s not surprising, since they know they are excluded from heaven, unless they repent and believe (Mark 1:15). God immediately accepts those with faith (Luke 23:43). The difficult conclusion is that the unsaved have been predestined to go to hell. There are Christians who say that all people have a choice. They can choose not to believe, or they can choose to believe. The truth is, if they don’t repent and believe, they deserve hell (Job 31:28) for their rebellion against God (Romans 1:32). Paradoxically, God hardens (Exodus 10:1) or softens hearts. He can change hearts of rock into hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).

God makes it clear to all that He created the world (Genesis 1:1—2:1), and He gives to all a knowledge and awareness of Himself through His creation. This is sufficient for them to seek Him out (Romans 1:20). He gives them an innate understanding of good and evil (Genesis 3:22). They have a deep inner awareness of sin which is inherited from Adam who ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:6). Because of Adam’s disobedience everyone without exception has inherited his sin (Romans 3:23), and thus they sin. God makes them aware of their sinning through their conscience (Romans 2:15), and particularly through His Word, i.e., the Bible, which clearly **defines sin. In His mercy and love God sent His Son Jesus as a testimony (1 John 5:11) of His love and to give eternal life (John 3:16). He died for those who repent of their sins (Acts 3:19). Jesus’ death on the cross and His suffering (1 Peter 2:21) in Hell was sufficient to pay for the total debt owed by everyone who repents and believes (Hebrews 9:13-15).

God’s election gives Christians great ***joy. They forever praise God (Psalm 75:9) the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, because of their salvation thorough Jesus.

*Hearing and Understanding the Gospel

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2019/04/17/hearing-and-understanding-the-gospel/ 

**Sin and Its Consequences

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2019/03/05/sin-and-its-consequences/ 

***Joy

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/02/19/joy/ 

***Happiness and Joy

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2019/04/13/happiness-and-joy/ 

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A Letter to a Friend

‘Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Philemon 1:3).’

I’m presenting here a letter of the imagination written by one *soul [Person] to another. They have corresponded for years, and they know each other well. The writer is a Christian, and the recipient an atheist. They are friends, but they are as different as chalk and cheese. This is because the writer has the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:10, 11), and is born of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8); but by contrast the recipient does not have the Spirit and is of the world, and as such is unable to comprehend the things of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14-16).

For a long time the faithful Christian (Matthew 25:23) prayed to God for the salvation of the other, but there was no positive response. The lost soul was incapable of hearing (Mathew 13:15; cf. Romans 10:17) and asked the other to stop preaching (2 Timothy 4:2). In respect (1 Peter 2:17), the Christian agreed to no longer preach the good news of salvation in Jesus (Isaiah 52:7).

But the Christian did not give up (Romans 5:3, 4), and wrote this letter in the hope that the contents may trigger thoughts about the taboo subject.

The Letter

Dear Friend,

Thank you for your beautiful words that reveal your generous heart. This is not flattery (Proverbs 29:5). Together we share words for pondering and cherishing. By contrast the words of many in the world are vile (Romans 1:26-31), but there is hope (1 Peter 1:3); for there are others like you who speak with love (Ephesians 4:15) and tenderness (Colossians 3:12). They are poets who rise above the filth.

Their language at best is the epitome of verbal expression. They probe the deeper understandings (Mark 4:13) of humankind. They excite and thrill their hearers with their sonorous and sometimes shrill notes. They express views and opinions about many things such as ‘existence, beauty, ugliness, death, love, hate etc..’ Honourably they seek truth (John 14:6) and hate lies (Proverbs 13:5; Psalm 119:163):

Who and what are people (Job 25:6)? What is their destiny? There is but a brief moment of breath (Job 7:7, 16; Psalm 78:39) upon this planet that is suspended in space. This unique blue pearl hangs (Job 26:7) amidst a myriad of stars that are surrounded by galaxies of countless more stars (Genesis 1:16).

My friend, you are to me a poet! Thank you for your crafted words that sometimes challenge, and always build me up (Romans 14:19). They test (1 Galatians 5:21) and occasionally stretch me, by taking me to far horizons where there are new-found mysteries hard to understand (Luke 8:10). You always offer worthy subjects (Philippians 4:8) for discussion, and you present theses that are based on the rational or they depend upon existential factors. I value your analytical assessments and well-thought-out propositions.

Our current theme is the ‘mundanity of human existence’. You describe humans as being lesser than the animals. You are appalled with their uncaring and despicable selfishness (James 3:15, 16). You describe them as a depraved subspecies (2 Peter 2:12) that are bent on killing not only themselves, but every creature that shares our planet. They do this by pouring out their putrid effluent upon the earth (Isaiah 64:6). We inhale toxic fumes that are spewed from thousands upon thousands of man-made ‘midges’ that fly high in the sky. They weave webs of deadly destruction (James 3:8).

At the roadside, and even in our homes, we inhale toxic particles that have been breathed out by bug-like, mechanical beasts. These killing machines are mass-produced by brainless robots designed by idiots who couldn’t care less that they are suffocating themselves and their kind.

We poison our bodies by ingesting processed foods filled with harmful chemicals, and we unwittingly expose ourselves to life-destroying rays of radiation emitted from thousands of beacons in and around our cities – all for the sake of communicating by mobile phones. Practically everywhere, ear-shrieking noise ceaselessly dumbs our sensibilities (1 Timothy 4:1, 2). We can no longer think. We are squashed and flattened by a descending, homogenous, black cloud of depression. We fear there is no hope. We are doomed. …… What shall we do? …….. Help!

I think that is enough of this vein for now!

But let me assure you, I am not depressed. You know why I am NOT depressed, and that is because I have a HOPE (Hebrews 6:19) of better things to come. You also know why at this moment I cannot elaborate on my hope. However, I am happy (Psalm 146:5) I have the privilege of conversing with you on other matters.

We do not speak TO one another, but WITH one another, because we are buddies. Our relationship is one of freedom (cf. Romans 6:15, 18) and of respect (1 Peter 2:17). Our sharing is not of things, but of thoughts. Our minds engage as if wired together. There are no physical caresses, no realtime hugs, no taste of the other’s tears, no touch of lips (Song of Solomon 4:11) and no actual hearing of voices that thrill the heart and make knees limp. Our two minds are tuned into the same frequency; each energising the other. We are lost in a wonder-world of our own. [All of us sin. (Romans 3:23)]

[In this next section the writer’s imagination runs riot, but the hope is that the recipient will be pointed to God’s heaven (Matthew 6:33), not a false heaven of sensuous indulgence.]

Waves rhythmically lap the sandy shore that forever drinks of the salty brine. The sand’s thirst is never quenched (Mark 9:43). The bottomless pit (Revelation 9:1) never relents, greedily sapping the living waters (John 4:14). But there is hope! The sun’s soothing glow gently warms two mortals. Nymphlike, they stand gazing upwards at an azure sky that is speckled with silver plumes of ice cold crystals, and between them there are golden wisps of fine gossamer. It’s not a vision, but a paradise of peace and love [Satan deceives them. (2 Corinthians 11:14)] . There, on the beach the two souls entwine (Song of Solomon 7:10). They are bound together by ribbons of freedom (John 8:36). Their fingers touch and they embrace. The spark of life [Jesus is the true light (John 8:12, 9:5)] pulsates between them. Fused together and no longer mortal, they are translated into creatures of immortal bliss. [Actual immortal bliss is only found by resurrection in Christ (1 Corinthians 15: 53, 54).]

What a dream! Life is not like that. Instead we experience the realm of subjective **reality. After our glimpse of a fictitious paradise we plummet back to earth. We are grateful for not being burnt to a frazzle (2 Peter 3:10) when entering the earth’s atmosphere. Our charred capsule is slowed by its life-saving parachute, and we gently descend to the ground. There we wake up, open the hatch, and the air smells better than before.

Maybe things aren’t as bad as we thought? Some humans are kind and loving. Some care for others and all that has life. They love our planet and will give their lives to save it, so that others will not perish. [Jesus gave His life so that believers will not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).]

Kind thoughts from me to you,

Your Friend.

*Mind, Body and Soul

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/07/23/mind-body-and-soul/

**The Reality of ‘Now’

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/11/28/the-reality-of-now/

 

 

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Ritualistic Practices

‘Test all things, hold fast what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).’

Let me first define what I mean by a ritualistic practice. Throughout this article the definition is limited to, ‘repeated actions that are carried out over a period long enough to become a tradition.’ Here’s an example: For as long as I can remember, church services have always ended with a benediction. Thus, the benediction has become a tradition and a ritual.

My Personal Rituals

Each day I routinely perform a number of actions that I believe help me with my physical, spiritual and mental wellbeing.

The first one of the day is getting out of bed at 6.30 a.m., or thereabouts. I put on my dressing gown, plug the mobile phone into its charger and pull back the curtains. When downstairs in the kitchen, I prepare and have breakfast and eat it while listening to the radio. So my routine of more repeated actions continue at certain times throughout the day until it is bedtime. Yes, I recognise how fortunate I am to be retired and to have established my own personal traditions. My relatives and friends have got to know of them. They know what time I have lunch, and what I am likely to be eating! God is truly gracious (Psalm 116:5), for I am blessed, indeed.

Church Rituals

As explained above, I believe my personal rituals are beneficial for my wellbeing. If they are beneficial for my wellbeing, then I am better fitted for serving the Lord. However, not all rituals of tradition are beneficial. What about bell ringing? The sound of cacophonous clanging bells breaking the peace of a Sunday morning doesn’t appeal to those who want to sleep on when it’s their day off work. The irritating call to worship will not endear them to putting on their trousers and going to church!

Sadly, the Church has by tradition engaged in rituals that are not helpful in promoting the gospel. Take for example the format of a typical Sunday morning service that you may find at a Baptist church in the UK.

The service will invariably start with a prayer said by one of the elders. He will probably read a passage from the Bible and make an apposite comment for setting the theme of the preaching that will follow later. Immediately afterwards, there will be a hymn or a song. Some churches, will at this point have an elder who will present an illustrated talk aimed at the children. At its conclusion he will say a prayer. Afterwards the offering will be taken, followed by the notices.

All of these things are preliminary to the major event – the presentation of the SERMON, but before it is delivered, there will be the singing of a hymn or a song and the younger children will leave the room for their crèche or Sunday School. The speaker will open his preaching with a prayer. After his sermon there will be a final hymn and a benediction.

Before leaving the building people will engage in conversations, and perhaps on every second and third Sunday of the month tea and coffee will be offered to those who want to continue chatting. Eventually people will drift away and leave for their homes.

The description I’ve given may represent a typical routine that has taken place on Sunday mornings for years and years at your place of worship. You may wonder why the format hasn’t changed. In fact, you may be bored with it, yet you continue and persevere. According to my definition, these practices are both habitual and ritualistic.

Evaluating Church Rituals

These rituals are not bad in themselves, but maybe they should be tested by Scripture (1 Thessalonians 5:21)? – Particularly comparing them with early church practice at the time of the disciples.

As a starters, we accept by tradition that one does not speak or intervene during the preaching of the Word. We do not question or add to what is being preached. But would this have been the case within the early church? Christians worshipped in one another’s homes, not in purpose-built buildings. Their setting was intimate and informal. Furthermore, the Bible does not tell of anyone ‘preaching’ to the ‘converted’ within their homes. Preaching always took place outside (2 Timothy 4:2) of their homes to the unconverted (Acts 4:11-26). It is notable that believers able to teach were encouraged to teach their brothers and sisters (Colossians 3:16; 1 Timothy 3:2;  2 Timothy 2:2).

Today, in a traditional Protestant/Reformed service there is no opportunity for anyone who has been prompted by the Spirit to speak. Unscheduled interjections into the service are not by tradition permitted. Worshippers more than likely would be frowned upon if they, on the spur of the moment, asked for a hymn to be sung. And, as for spontaneously ‘bringing a word’ – that is presenting a Scripture with a short commentary – such an intervention would not be contemplated.

Changes in Practice

I must admit that introducing changes to ritualistic church practices requires wisdom. A case would have to be made to a church as a whole, and for them to agree to new ways of doing things. That would minimise the risk of division and discord within the body. Unity in Christ through the working of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:1-6; 13) should be their prayer. I am convinced the bond (Colossians 3:14) of Christ’s love will hold a faithful church together when it seeks to serve Him to His glory.

It is my belief that habitual, ritualistic practices can stifle a church, and they give little latitude for **organic growth whereby members can play a fuller part in the life of the church and in the making of disciples (Matthew 28:19) and in the planting of new local churches.

We would do well to reconsider all rituals practised by us, and to conform more to the proven traditions (1 Corinthians 11:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:15) of the early church.

Note – I’ll probably be writing an article about the practices of speaking in tongues and prophesying (Colossians 3:16, 17; Acts 2:18) that took place in the early church. I personally believe those gifts were for authenticating the newly established church, and in these times they have lapsed.

*Mind, Body and Soul

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/07/23/mind-body-and-soul/

**The Organic Church

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/03/18/the-organic-church/

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The Mind of Christ

‘These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:13-16).’

On the face of it, and particularly from the viewpoint of those who are outside Christ’s body, i.e., unbelievers; they say that for us to claim we ‘have the mind of Christ’ is presumptuous, even arrogant! But what do they know about it? They don’t believe in God. So how can they have that view? They have no spiritual discernment (v 14) and they are unable to judge (v 15). Paul writing in the Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20, 21) affirms that we believers have ‘the mind of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 2:16). We know this is true; for God’s Word is true (2 Corinthians 6:7; Colossians 1:5), and there is nothing false in it.

So What is the Mind of Christ?

The *body has a mind and a soul (cf. Matthew 22:37). That’s the way God has made us individually, but He has also made us to have a special **relationship with Him. Not only is there an individual relationship between Him and each one of us, but there is a collective relationship (John 15:14, 15). This is best experienced when individuals join together to worship Him on a Sunday or any other day of the week for that matter. As we do so, we are His body. He is there with us (Matthew 18:20). We are His temple, where His Holy Spirit dwells (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16).

There’s more to it than that. Christ’s holy body, His Church, does not operate without His mind (1 Corinthians 2:16), nor does it operate without the Holy Spirit. Christ leads His Church (2 Corinthians 2:14) through His Spirit and directs (1 Thessalonians 3:11) it through His mind.

He is the head of the body (Colossians 1:18). He is the One who equips (2 Timothy 3:17) and directs the Church for the fulfilment of His Father’s will. His will is done here on earth, irrespective of what appears to be happening in the world where there is chaos, conflict and confusion, but all things are being held together and function according to God’s predestination (Ephesians 1:11; cf. Romans 8:28). Nothing can frustrate His design. He will accomplish what He has decreed (cf. Philippians 1:6).

This sure hope of salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:8) in Jesus Christ brings us great ***joy. By faith we know that our present and future lives are secured in Him. He loves us to the extent that He gave Himself to die on a cross (Ephesians 5:2) to bring us into union with Him. We are no longer estranged from the Father, lost and condemned to everlasting hell (Luke 12:5). For this great mercy, our praise and adoration of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit never ceases (Psalm 145:2).

The Mind of Christ in Action

In the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:5)’ we ‘speak’ of ‘Jesus Christ and Him crucified (v 2)’. In ‘the power of God’ and ‘the wisdom of God (v 7) we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:15).

If we truly have the Spirit of the Lord Jesus dwelling within us, we are made sufficient as ministers of the new covenant (2 Corinthians 3:6). We are enabled to obey His command to make disciples ‘in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).’

This is the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 2: 7) operating through ‘the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).’

*Mind, Body and Soul

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/07/23/mind-body-and-soul/

**God?Man Relationships

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2017/11/17/relationships/

***Joy

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/02/19/joy/

***Happiness and Joy

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2019/04/13/happiness-and-joy/

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Perception of the Scriptures

We do not all perceive the world in the same way. Perception is understanding what we see, or comprehending what we see. Perceiving is more than seeing with the eye. It is grasping the truth of what is being considered.

When we consider the Scriptures we perceive them through our understandings, but our understandings may be limited by our lack of knowledge. What if we have never seen or heard of swine? How could we possibly imagine what sort of creatures they are? We would know nothing about them, and yet the Scriptures mention swine sixteen times. Leviticus and Deuteronomy define them as unclean animals that should not be eaten (Leviticus 11:7; Deuteronomy 14:8). Even so, there are people in parts of the world who do not have the word ‘swine’ in their vocabulary. They have never seen or heard of them, and so for them to understand what is meant by ‘unclean’ must be a very difficult concept to grasp. Their perception is governed by what knowledge they have . This it true for all of us.

Perceiving the Bible

If we apply this reasoning to gaining a right perception of the Bible, we really would be wise to extend our *knowledge of the historical settings of the various books of the Bible. We need to be informed of the culture of the times when the books were written. A broad view of history over the timespan of the writing of the Bible will help us put things into perspective. A true perspective will place actions and events in the right settings and in the right chronological order.

The Bible’s focus is centred on one major theme – God’s plan of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16). God created the world as a temporary abode for mankind, from whom He would choose (Matthew 24:22-30) a **people for Himself as a heritage (Joel 3:2; Micah 7:18). This heritage, His people, would love and adore Him forever. They would also love one another (John 13:34). Ultimately all of them will live with Jesus and His Father in a new and perfect world (Revelation 21:22-27) where they will be in Him (John 14:20; 15:1-8) and like Him.

So, this is the picture, the overall view of what the Scriptures are about. We are fortunate in our age; for we can look back and see things in perspective. We have the revelation of Jesus. He came to the earth and showed us God. He was and is God (John 8:14-19), the second Person of the Trinity. John testifies of Him thus: ‘And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:11).’  ‘And of His fulness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:16, 17).’ What a blessing this is!

The Shaping of Our Perceptions

We perceive the Scriptures in light of our knowledge, not just our knowledge of what is contained within the covers of the Bible, but our knowledge of the world and the universe as we see them and understand them. We cannot escape from our personal experiences that have shaped our understanding. We live in an age when scientists, mathematicians and astronomers have advanced their knowledge and technologies. Astronauts venture into space, and satellites and probes travel to the furthest edges of our galaxy. Astronomers have discovered black holes; indeed, they have made images of them by coordinating multiple telescopes in different parts of the world, proving they exist.

We perceive and understand the Bible within this context. The Bible does not change. God’s word does not change (cf. Matthew 5:18), and God does not change (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 1:12). What He has decreed will take place. He is the Sovereign LORD who made the universe (Genesis 1:31-2:2). He preordained and predestined (Romans 8:29, 30) all things, and nothing will prevail against Him (cf. Matthew 16:18).

Our Times

Living in our times is a special privilege because our perception of the world, i.e., our understanding of what we know about it is so much greater than previous generations. We have the advantage of being able  to see films and videos made from space. We can get an astronaut’s view of God’s beautiful planet. Deep diving submersibles can take us to the lowest depths of the oceans where we can see fabulous and incredible creatures we didn’t know existed. We know of the wonders of genetics, biochemistry, and of the intricate workings of multitudes of organisms.

We have this privilege of perceiving God’s awesome creation. The more we learn, the more we comprehend His glory, adore and love Him. But some say that science and man’s knowledge of the universe proves the Scriptures are wrong. God could not possibly have created the world in six days (Genesis 1:1-2:2). The universe is more than thirteen billion years old, they say. It was created by the Big Bang. Those who have this view lack understanding of God’s Word. They do not perceive it through faith. They are incapable of perceiving the Scriptures through eyes of faith as those who have been enlivened by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8). They have not received the Spirit who is from God (1 Corinthians 2:12), and because of this they cannot comprehend things of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14-16). They do not have ‘the mind of Christ (V 16).’

*Knowledge and Wisdom

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2019/04/22/knowledge-and-wisdom/

**Biblical Perspective – God’s People

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2019/04/26/biblical-perspective-gods-people/

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Biblical Perspective – God’s People

‘But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light; who were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy (1 Peter 2:9, 10).’

The Bible was written over a period of about 1,540 years, and since its completion another 2,000 years have passed. Questions arise as to how it has been understood by the peoples of God, and how they have responded to its teachings. 

The Peoples of God

The Old Testament people of God were ancestors of Abraham through Jacob, and when they moved to Egypt, they were just 66 [70, 75] souls (Genesis 46:26; [Cf. Exodus 1:5; Acts 7:14]). God promised Abraham that his offspring would become as numerous as the stars (Genesis 15:1-5). He acted in faith and obeyed God by leaving his home and going to a land to which God would lead him (Hebrews 11:8-10).

The New Testament people of God came into being at Pentecost when the Church was inaugurated. To begin with there were about 120 souls (Acts 1:15), but with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on that blessed day, about 3,000 more ‘souls were added to them’ (Acts 2:41)! Since that time a vast, but unknown number have joined them through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8) and they have been drawn (John 12:32) by Jesus to His kingdom. They are His new Israel (Galatians 6:15, 16) to which more will be added in ‘the fulness of the times (Ephesians 1:10).’

God’s *Relationship with His Old Testament People

The Old Testament people were, on the whole, an unbelieving and disobedient nation (Romans 10:21). They were chosen of God (Deuteronomy 7:6), and He promised they would inherit a physical land (Genesis 15:7), the land of Canaan. God did not fail in His promise; for by God’s help the offspring of Abraham overcame those who lived there and occupied the land (Joshua 21:43-45; 24:13). Nevertheless, God was not pleased with them (1 Corinthians 10:5). He sent them into exile (1 Chronicles 9:1) before restoring them, and eventually He brought them to live in the united kingdoms of Israel and Judah under the reign of king David (2 Samuel 5:2-5) and king Solomon (1Kings 8:56).

So how did the Old Testament people of Israel and Judah understand their relationship with God? Moses, their spokesman and God-chosen leader (Exodus 3:10), made it clear to them they were a separate, a special nation (1 Kings 8:53) different from any other. They were a kingdom of priests and a (Exodus 19:6) holy nation, consecrated to God (v 10). God gave them the Ten Commandments which they were to obey (Exodus 20:1-17). Moses told them the words of the LORD, and with ‘one voice’ they agreed to obey them (Exodus 24:3; Deuteronomy 26:16-19), but as we know, they failed miserably.

Time and again the Prophets warned them (Isaiah 65:2-5) of the consequences of disobedience, and because of it they would reap God’s wrath (Exodus 32:11; Deuteronomy 9:7; 2 Chronicles 30:6-9) and lose their inheritance. He would replace them with a nation who did not seek him (Isaiah 65:1). That nation is composed of post-Pentecost believers in God’s Son, Jesus. Jesus chose them; they did not choose Him (John 15:16), and since Pentecost more and more people have become followers of Jesus (Matthew 4:19, 20; 8:22; 16:24; John 13:36) who is their Saviour (2 Timothy 1:10).

God’s *Relationship with His New Testament People

The New Testament people of God are grateful that their inheritance (Hebrews 9:15) of eternal life is a gift from God (1 John 5:11). Unlike the Old Testament people, they do not have to obey a set of commandments to gain an inheritance of a physical land. Jesus has given His life in exchange for theirs, and He gives them citizenship of His spiritual kingdom [land]; a citizenship they could never earn an entrance to by merit or by work (Ephesians 2:8, 9). By virtue of His fulfilment (Matthew 5:17) of the new covenant in His blood (Matthew 26:28) He paid the price (Cf. 1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23) of their freedom from death (Romans 6:9; Revelation 21:4) and everlasting hell (Mark 9:44-48).

Their relationship with Christ is effected and effective through and by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1:5). They are His body (1 Corinthians 12:27) on earth, and they express His love (Matthew 5:43, 44), His care, His compassion (1 Peter 3:8), and by the example of their life they preach His gospel of salvation (Luke 9:6). They meet and break bread together, in remembrance of Him (Luke 22:19). Their commission is to make disciples (Matthew 28:19, 20) ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ Their future is guaranteed – eternal life (John 10:28) with the Father and the Son. Their forever blessing is to live together with Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:10).

‘For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him (1 Thessalonians 5:9, 10).’

*God/Man Relationships

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2017/11/17/relationships/

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Knowledge and Wisdom

‘Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding (Daniel 2:20, 21).’

Knowledge on its own is useless, but when used wisely it can be of great benefit to those who have access to it.

Never in the history of mankind has there been a time like now in 2019, when people can freely gain access to information [knowledge] about practically anything. Just one click of a computer’s mouse can reveal a great deal.

The digital revolution, scientific discoveries, and technological innovations have changed our perceptions of life, the universe and our ways of thinking. The educated masses of the Western World are composed of individuals, each having their own their own concepts of the nature of life. They can easily communicate with one another via the Internet. Travel between continents by plane takes but a few hours, unlike times past, when it would have required weeks, even months, and in some cases years. This unprecedented flux and cross-fertilisation of cultures, the exchanging of ideas, exposure to beliefs systems and ways of governance is causing confusion in the minds of many. The world is approaching a point where the surfeit of knowledge bewilders us. We cannot decide where to go or what to hang on to.

Why are we here and for what purpose?

The Times of Moses

If we could transport ourselves back in time to Egypt when Moses wrote Genesis we would find that only a small percentage of the populace were literate, and they were limited as to what they could do because of their poverty and ignorance. Many of them were slaves. On the other hand, the educated, and those in positions of power were able to achieve marvels. The Egyptian pyramids and temples, for example, were extraordinary feats of engineering, and their hieroglyphics engraved or painted on monuments were astonishing, but when it came to devising an easily portable means of transferring or storing information, the best they could come up with was writing with reed pens on papyrus scrolls. Their inscriptions on tablets of clay were nowhere near as convenient, or as portable.

The Writings of Moses

The writings of Moses, i.e., the first five books of the Old Testament, plus psalm 90, were written on papyrus scrolls. Forty or so years ago *one charred remains of such a scroll was discovered, and a forensic examination of it revealed the first two chapters of Leviticus. The script was found to be identical to that of the **Masoretic Text – the authoritative Hebrew and Aramaic books of Tanakh. The discovery provides an affirmative link that helps confirm the accuracy of the Masoretic Text. Experts who have examined codices that are held in the Vatican Library, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris, the National Library in Jerusalem, and the British Library in London also confirm their accuracy.

The Bible

The Bible is comprised of sixty-six books written by a number of authors, who lived within a timespan of about 1,540 years, and the New Testament was written during the last 50 years of that span. In 367 AD Athanasius, who was the bishop of Alexandria, confirmed the authenticity of the earliest Greek version of the New Testament, which is known as the Codex Sinaiticus. Today it is held in the British Library.

Knowledge Used Wisely

The Bible tells of the wisdom of God, and according to Daniel, God ‘gives wisdom to the wise. He also ‘gives knowledge to those who have understanding (Daniel 2:21).’

As I said at the beginning of this article, knowledge on its own is useless, but when used wisely it can be of great benefit to those who have access to it. It could be a matter of life or death…….. So we would be wise to take note of what Daniel has said about a time to come, because God gave him wisdom and knowledge. Thousands of Christians believe the time he spoke of has come. It is now, or very shortly. The Lord will appear (Colossians 3:4) when not expected (Matthew 24:36-44), but there are clues as to the time.

Daniel prophesied that ‘many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase (Daniel 12:4).’ Doesn’t that describe our time?

He also wrote: ‘And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever (12:2, 3).’ What are your thoughts on this?

King Solomon, a man of wisdom (1 Kings 4:29-34) gave us this pearl of wisdom:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10).’

If we seek knowledge and wisdom, let’s search for it in God’s word, the Bible. We Christians are not a people of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33); we are unlike those of the world who are totally confused. Our trust is in Him (1 Timothy 4:10; 6:17), the God who gives us His peace (John 14:27).

Don’t let us be caught napping (Mark 13:28-33)!

*An Investigation: Materials Used to Write the Bible

https://www.josh.org/materials-scribes-used-bible/

**Masoretic Text

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masoretic_Text

Links to Related Articles

Wisdom and Folly

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/10/05/wisdom-and-folly/

Wisdom from God for Outreach

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2019/01/31/wisdom-from-god-for-outreach/

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