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Archive for the ‘The Gospel’ Category

I’m sure, in these troubling end-times we find ourselves in , that the Lord is graciously working in those who have a love for His truth,  to bring us into true scriptural unity . I believe this because we are living in a time like no other, with the world, not to mention the ‘church’ at large, in the grip of widespread lies, confusion and deceit via the Media.  The Lord knows we have great need of Him.

Therefore, as true Christians, I think we are duty-bound to find out the truth of any matter when we read or hear preaching on something that seems not quite right or is a new ‘interpretation’ of scripture. They may be right – BUT – they may be wrong! Our love for truth must be strong so that we can obey God’s word and be set free from our doubts, uncertainty and downright deception.

Many give up on it because they think it’s an impossible task to all agree on Bible doctrine or may even, like Pilate, say  ‘what is truth?’ But, if, as I believe, it is God working in us to open our eyes, then we simply have to desire and love the truth for Him to answer our prayers on this. In fact – this is precisely what has happened to me recently.

The Apostles were the custodians of the truth of the Gospel and Church life and we must follow their teachings 1 Thess 2:13.  And I am becoming more and more aware that for any scripture verses we may find difficult, it is even more important to read the context they are set in and to also understand why the writers wrote what they did. Much was written to correct errors and as follow-up to other epistles, so we do need to let scripture interpret scripture. And also – is this teaching bringing us into bondage or setting us free?

Two passages I had long puzzled over are Hebrews 10:24,25  and  1Cor 14:26-36  verses that I’d always thought weren’t being interpreted correctly because the spirit of those interpretations seemed t0 me to contradict the Gospel of grace.  So I recently supplicated the Lord to lead me into the truth on these matters, and left it at that.

Then, purely by chance I came across an insightful comment left on Facebook by a Christian believer, Alan Heron, on the Hebrew verses in question. It was by far the most logical scriptural reasoning I’ve heard and makes a lot of sense to me.

To very loosely quote him : ” many Jewish believers were avoiding contact and keeping their  distance from other believers to try to avoid persecution from the Jewish Sanhedrin”. See Galations 2:11-13  ” Paul was speaking against such a practise NOT commanding them to to meet every Sabbath or every sunday at a certain location. To use this scripture [Heb] for the idea that you cannot be a follower of Christ without having other believers with you is not backed up by Paul’s experience”

I would also say that it was assumed – in the churches that I was ever involved with at least – that if you didn’t go to church you were in danger of ‘back-sliding’ big time ! This is like saying the ‘church’ keeps you , not Christ.  Indeed , at the last AoG church I went to [ which I wrote a Post on here at the time], to my dismay, suddenly the heavy hand of Church Membership came down,  bringing condemnation to those, like myself, who through life’s circumstances [and creeping old age!] didn’t attend regularly. Your spirituality and walk with the Lord was a matter of outward appearance ….   Of course they used the Hebrew verses as the final word – which I had no answer to – it was there in scripture;  I knew it was being misapplied but had no insights into ‘how?’

The extremes of this is demonstrated in the kingdom – type  churches, community churches and purpose-driven etc, where you are required to sign Covenants and the like !  See Galations 2:4

Regarding the role of women in the church , this has been a subject that I’ve found particularly taxing over the years.  Let me say, here and now, I do not have nor have I ever had a desire to teach, preach or otherwise be up-front in Church or any other situations. I say this because some may think I write what I do because I have a secret or ulterior motive to be a somebody ….   the Lord knows my heart is for His truth alone.

No  – because the Lord so graciously answered my prayer about Heb.10 , I felt encouraged to ask Him for the truth of this matter also  [ 1 Cor 14:26-36] and again I left it at that.

So – the first thing that crossed my path was a video by Jacob Prasch on this very subject. Much as I like his preaching in general, whenever I’ve heard him preach on women he [like many others ] seems to have to  juggle the scriptures somewhat to arrive at conclusions that match reality. The reality is that women are used in the mission fields to ‘teach’ men , and also in various ‘ministries’ within their churches. But that’s ok if they have what Jacob Prasch calls male covering – that is male ‘permission’ to do it.

I know that these male Leaders want to obey what they believe the Bible teaches, but to put these strict restrictions on women seems more akin to the Jewish faith they have left behind and its huge reliance on oral tradition. There is an awful contradiction here and conflicting levels of what one church leader  will allow compared to another. But Christianity has always treated its women with more dignity and very  differently to all other religions.

There are fall-outs too for some of the men who strictly adhere to their interpretation of these verses, and they are not good ones!  For instance,  there have been times when I’ve been in on-line or face to face discussions with male leaders who clearly resent the fact I have vocalised [ in a humble spirit I hope] some disagreement I had with their teaching. They do not take it well and the mere fact that I’m female negates anything I may say because of their belief that I’m trying to ‘teach’ a man!!

Sometimes I think the extreme teachings about women  end up placing an unecessary  burden on some men in their practical every day lives and situations.  eg – I was in a fellowship once that had a lovely young married couple attending. The husband was really upset because he obviously loved his wife but had tried to make her ‘submit’ to him in some matter and she wouldn’t !  He’d had teaching on the subject in some exclusive ‘mens’ group no doubt,  which turned out to be a disaster for him. Surely this wasn’t what the Lord required of him?

Well  – the great thing about the Internet is that one link can, and often does, lead to another that we otherwise would not know about – and so it was I came across http://realchurchlife.wordpress.com   Specifically a Post titled “Let Your women keep silence in the Churches” Really?   filed under Women in Ministry.  As it’s a far better coverage of this than I could give,  I hope you will be inclined to read it.  The Post also gives links to Oxford Bible Church and Christian Egalitarian Marriage , which are equally enlightening.  So again, my thanks  to the Lord for His gracious answers to my prayers.

Please remember these are my musings and opinions – but I hope and pray scripturally aware ones.

I hope to post here again sooner than later …. I’ve been very lax I know!   blessings,   Eileen

 

 

 

 

 

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Yes – I know – it’s that old chestnut, but I’ve been reading Ezekiel, initially to take a look at ‘end times’ prophecies concerning the nations and Israel.

But in Chapter 18  God sets out the principle that everyone is responsible for their own sins and we have a choice to follow His Laws or not. Further v.24 : But when the righteous turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity and does according to all that the wicked man does, shall he live? All his righteousness shall not be mentioned, in his trespasses and in his sin he shall die. v.25: Yet you say the way of the Lord is not equal: hear now O Israel; is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?

Reading this set me to thinking and one thought led to another and I began reflecting on a curious mind set that I find among pre-tribulation Rapture advocates – namely that God has a different gospel for Israel than He does for the Church.

I was taught early in my Christian life that the Church is under Grace but Israel is under the Law; the teaching went something like this : while we are living in the Church age, under grace, Jews may be converted and become Christians, making them part of the Church; but after the Rapture, God begins dealing with Israel under the Law again via the Great Tribulation, so that he who endures to the end of this terrible time will be saved and enter the Millennial Kingdom.

It’s the ‘enduring to the end’ part that seemed to lead to the ‘keeping the Law’ conclusion, so therefore it couldn’t be referring to the Church. The conclusion must be [in their minds] that God has two gospels going on – one for the Church and another  for Israel. One by Grace and the other by Works! But I think it most certainly is speaking of the Church – especially in the light of James’ explanation of faith and works. James 2:20-24. verse 22 is particularly relevant in the context of ‘enduring to the end’ because our faith is made perfect by our works.

A further complication arises , because if we think we don’t have to keep the Law [ the ten Commandments etc] to endure to the end, then it becomes a matter of ‘once saved, always saved’ so that it doesn’t matter how we live our lives – we will be saved in the end….. otherwise it isn’t grace .

I think this belief leads to the farcical acceptance of scandalous sin among ‘evangelical’ Leaders : because we are all under grace and musn’t judge another Christian – especially not a Leader or God’s ‘annointed’ ! But Jesus said “He that has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me” john 14:21  and “If you keep My commandments , you will abide in My love; even as I have kept My father’s commandments and abide in His love” John 15:10

You only have to study Jesus’ parable of the sower to see what happens in real life when the gospel is preached. I do not see a ‘once saved, always saved’ scenario there! From personal experience I know that Christians can and do fall away – I had friends who were definitely saved but who turned away from it all. One even regarded it as her ‘period of madness’ !!

It is dangerous to assume that a Christian living in obvious sin, without repentance, is still saved. Yes – we all fail and are weak in certain areas – but this is the age-old battle of the flesh with the spirit that Paul talks about in Romans: chapters 7 and 8   and we must walk in the spirit, and trust in Christ’s righteousness to keep us from falling. But that is different to deliberately sinning without repentance.

To return to the question of two gospels – or one gospel split into two as some say [ likewise splitting the Rapture of the Church away from the Day of the Lord] – there is a danger of thinking too highly of ourselves, ie the Church, than we ought. A read of Paul’s coverage in Romans chapters 9 ,10,11 of how we should view ourselves and Israel – especially 11:17-27, should be enlightening.

The New Testament is consistent with the Old and if we read Hebrews 11, we see that the faithful saints of old were indeed saved by faith; however – linking with the truth of Ezekiel 18, Hebrews also emphasises works. Jesus didn’t abolish the law – He fulfilled it !  He took the just penalty for sin that we deserve, but we are still expected to live according to His righteous Laws. The Apostle Paul set out the Jewish ritual Laws that we are set free from eg eating meats etc, but the Ten commandments – which Jesus summed up in the first two – loving God and loving one’s neighbour – are still in force for us.

God doesn’t expect us to do the impossible –  He has given the Holy Spirit to indwell, help and guide us. Indeed , if we truly love God, then we are truly willing to follow His ways and love His truth. We are also encouraged to defend the faith , which means speaking out when necessary.

I hope this hasn’t come across as ‘holier than thou’ because  I am only too aware of my own shortcomings and struggles – but we press toward the mark do we not?

As always – these are just my thoughts and I welcome any comments , especially if I’ve made any gaffs – highly likely considering my age ! Fings ain’t wot they used to be ….

Bless you for your indulgent time,   Eileen

 

 

 

 

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In spite of the fact that so many people in our Post Modern age have rejected belief in the Creator God of the Bible and so many others [increasingly so] are turning to false gods – the One true God has not given up on mankind yet – His offer of eternal life hasn’t been withdrawn. It remains valid and in operation while this life remains.

No matter who you are, what your life has been, how old you are, what you have done, whether you follow another religion, are an occultist, are a complete atheist, humanist, or simply consider yourself an ‘ordinary’ person doing the best you can –  and that pretty much covers everyone I think –   God’s offer in Christ the Saviour is open to you.

‘Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; all things are become new. And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ and given to us the ministry of reconciliation, to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them; and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you, in Christ’s stead, be reconciled to God. For He has made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.’

So – the big question is – will you believe it?  Ultimately there’s that little matter of ‘Faith’.  Your choice – believe it and be reconciled or carry on ignoring it?

If you’ve read this far , you could well be thinking it simply boils down to personal preference eg ‘I’m not a religious person so I don’t need to bother myself with all this – God isn’t relevant in my life so this message is meaningless for me personally. What’s right for you isn’t necessarily right for me thank you very much. But I’m happy for you.’

Well – the reason it is urgent and applicable to every single person on the planet is because the Gospel addresses your eternal destiny when your life is over – what then?

My next post will cover the answer to this important question –  I do hope you will join me,

blessings,   Eileen

                                                                                                                                                                  

 

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