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http://jamaljivanjee.com/2012/01/know-when-to-capitalize-the-letter-w-a-2012-new-year-resolution/

Know When To Capitalize the letter ‘W’ – A 2012 New Year Resolution

January 3, 2012 in Church life and Christian living, Institutional Religion

PLEASE NOTE  this a re-post from the above linked site.

As we begin the New Year of 2012, I would like to keep this year’s resolution in the same line of thought as last year’s resolution. Last year’s resolution was quite profound, and had to do with our correct usage of a very important term.

For this year’s resolution, I’d like to draw our attention to another word. The word that I’d like to talk about here is also a commonly misunderstood word within the evangelical world. This word is used incorrectly the vast majority of time, and each time this word is used in this incorrect way, it keeps perpetuating a devastating and distracting lie.

Let me caution you, however. If you don’t carefully read this article trying to understand what is being communicated here, you will be tempted to jump to conclusions and mischaracterize what I am saying entirely out of fear. You will even be tempted to demonize my motivations. Please don’t do that. Read this article very carefully and prayerfully. There is a point that needs to be made in this article and, in my humble opinion, it is a noble one of great importance.

So, what commonly misused word am I talking about?

I am talking about the word ‘Word‘!

There is no more commonly misunderstood word in all of the scriptures than the word ‘Word’. Like the word ‘church‘, the word ‘Word’ has been under assault because of the reality these terms were meant to communicate. Since language is the medium we communicate with, our enemy has cleverly deceived us away from the truth (Christ) by subtly changing the meaning of certain key terms that were meant to communicate and reveal Him.

In the same way that today’s understanding of the term ‘Church‘ has come to mean something quite different than what was intended, the term ‘Word‘ has come to mean something quite different than what was intended as well. The re-definition of the term ‘Word’ is so widespread that most of us use it and have no idea that we are using it in a way that is perpetuating a great unbiblical lie that keeps inoculating us from the truth. This brings me to a point that I would like to make:

The scriptures clearly reveal to us that the ‘Word’ of God is none other than Jesus Christ, who is a living active person! Although there is much more that I could say about this, let me point to a couple of scriptures that clearly identify Jesus Christ as the living active Word of God.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1,14)

This is a very profound declaration about what & who the Word of God actually is. The Word is God! This ‘Word’ also became flesh and dwelt among us in the person of Jesus Christ. Christ is the living Word of God! Consider this description of Christ as well:

He (Christ) is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. (Rev. 19:13)

He is the center of everything and all things are being summed up in Him. The Word of God (Christ) is the very fullness of God expressed.

Now that we have established this reality of what & who the ‘Word’ of God is, I need to tell you something. There is a conspiracy underway to confuse and distract you from truly seeing and knowing this ‘Word’. The enemy is clever and he knows just how to redirect people away from the true ‘Word’ of God. I am firmly convinced that Satan’s most effective tool is religion. A careful study of the history of Christendom will show us this.

Without getting too much into the history of this, toward the end of the first century, the church began to lose her focus on Christ. It was for this reason that John wrote his gospel; to call the church back to a knowledge and revelation of Him. Within a couple hundred years, however, the church began to drift into institutionalism. The supernatural revelation of Jesus Christ that the apostles had laid down in the first century had been replaced by relics and external sacramental representations.

Relics and external representations of Christ are not Him, however. In an attempt to correct this, the Protestant reformers eventually arose to call the church back to its New Testament roots. Unfortunately, the majority of them failed. They simply made cosmetic changes to a system that was built on a false foundation. Instead of replacing the relics with a New Testament revelation of Jesus Christ, they simply substituted one set of relics with another one.

I know this is where I may lose many of you, but please bear with me. Jesus Christ (Word of God) is not a statue, He is not a literal piece of bread, and He is NOT a book (bible)!

Jesus Christ is a living breathing PERSON! I am not saying anything new, I am simply just stating what the scriptures already teach about the Word of God (Christ). Like I mentioned earlier, however, if we don’t have a supernatural revelation of the person of Christ, we will attempt to replace Christ with external religious actions or items, including the scriptures. This very thing happened in Jesus’ day as well.

The scriptures were written for one specific purpose, to reveal the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus said this Himself. He explicitly stated that all the scriptures were written about Him. Nevertheless, the majority of the educated theologians in Jesus’ day were completely blind to the very point of the scriptures which was Him! Jesus pointed this distinction out to the religious leaders when He made this statement to them:

You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. (John 5:39-40)

Wow, what a statement! They were diligently studying the scriptures thinking that was the point, when it was not. The point of a cookbook is not to simply read it. Your hunger will never be satisfied by simply reading a cookbook. The point of a cook book is to lead you to a meal! Jesus Christ is the meal. He is the heavenly bread of life that we live by.

In the same way that the religious leaders in Jesus’ day focused intellectually on the scriptures and missed Him, the majority of the reformers also fell into this trap. Unfortunately, it continues to this very day. There is nothing new under the sun. Like in Jesus’ day, we still have a plethora of well educated bible scholars who focus on the scriptures while they remain blind to the very Person the scriptures reveal. Most teachings and sermons that I hear simply contain principles for better living or a list of duties and rules (law) that we should be ‘obedient’ to. That is a gross misuse of scripture.

The scriptures have one purpose…to reveal the Word of God (Christ). Christ is the solution to all of our problems, and He is the source of life. We are only transformed by beholding Him. (2 Cor. 3:18)

So, do you have a proper understanding of the ‘Word’ of God? That’s a great question. The terminology that we use almost always reveals deeply held beliefs. I have a question that I would like to ask you:

When you refer to the ‘Word’ of God with a capital ‘W’, are you talking about the person of Jesus Christ, or are you talking about the bible?

If I had a dime for every time I have heard a person refer to the bible as the ‘Word’ of God, I’d be rich! I find it fascinating that many capitalize the letter ‘W’ when using the term ‘Word’ to refer to the scriptures. It is revealing of a much deeper problem. We should only capitalize the first letter of a person’s name. When we are referring to God, we capitalize the first letter as well.

It is profoundly unscriptural to deify and make an idol out of the scriptures by referring to themselves in a way that the scriptures do NOT refer to themselves! The scriptures refer to Christ as the ‘Word’ with a capital ‘W’. The scripture is also clear that the ‘Word’ of God is NOT a book!

If that is the case, why do so many people speak about the ‘Word’ of God as if the ‘Word’ is a book?

If the ‘Word’ of God were simply a book, then how were the first century churches able to ‘preach’ the Word & proclaim the ‘Word’ of God to one another as they were instructed to do since they were mostly illiterate and did not have access to the scriptures? In addition to being illiterate, Most of the Gentile churches had no access to the Old Testament scriptures, and the New Testament had yet to be completed.

Could it be that their sole ability to ‘preach the Word’ was due to the fact that they had an internal ‘Word’ dwelling within them? Are you aware that much of the third world is still illiterate and does not have access to the scriptures, yet many of them operate in a much more biblical fashion than the majority of religious institutions in the West who have the scriptures? I have seen it with my own eyes!

The Reason I’m Addressing This Problem

The reason I am drawing attention to this monumental problem in the evangelical world is because I want to promote a high and accurate view of the scriptures by illuminating the aim of the scriptures.

The scriptures themselves do not advocate the ‘bible worship’ that goes on in much of the evangelical world. If we truly have a high view of the scriptures, we will honor and focus on the aim of the scriptures. The aim of the scriptures is to illuminate and reveal the person of Jesus Christ as the true ‘Word’ of God.

Someone recently asked me if I believe the bible is the ‘Word’ of God. I answered him this way:

“I believe what scripture says about itself. Scripture says that all scripture is God-breathed and are the words of God that reveal the ‘Word of God’ (Christ)”.

This is more than an exercise in semantics. Many who use the term ‘Word’ of God to refer to a book and not the person of Jesus Christ are still affected by institutional religious thinking that is blind to a New Testament vision of Christ. In light of this, I’d like to challenge you to a very profound New Year resolution for 2012:

2012 New Year Resolution

This year, when referring to the phrase ‘Word of God’, only capitalize the letter ‘W’ if and when you are referring to the person of Jesus Christ. If you are speaking of the scriptures, make the ‘w’ lowercase and add the letter ‘s’ at the end:)

The scriptures are the words of God, but there is only one ‘Word’ of God…Jesus Christ!

As you read the scriptures, may the Lord continue to give you a greater revelation of Him who is the ‘Word’ of God this New Year!

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Reciprocal Grace.

Reciprocal Grace

By on February 2nd, 2011

And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise. (Luke 6:31)

The Golden Rule is something that as children many are required to memorize.  It is basic sandbox etiquette that mothers have tried to instill in their children for centuries.   Many people can tell you what the Golden Rule is but they are hard pressed to be able to tell you where to find it in the Bible.  This verse in the Gospel of Luke and also one located at Matthew 7:12 is what we know to be the Golden Rule.  So what does it have to do with grace, since the very word isn’t even used in either verse?

“. . .for this is characteristic of grace – we should serve in return one who has shown grace to us, and should another time take the initiative in showing it.” Nicomachean Ethics, Book V, Aristotle

Some 300 plus years before Jesus uttered the words recorded in Matthew and Luke, Aristotle had defined the characteristic of grace.  Now this might offend some people because they don’t think that anything that came out of the “pagan” culture could have anything remotely associated with a biblical truth.

I respect your rights to deal with this material in any manner that you desire but I want you to consider this before we proceed: Of the 27 books canonized in the New Testament, eight are written to church congregants that could trace their ancestry back to the time of Aristotle; two books are written to an influential Greek benefactor that also could possibly trace his heritage back to Aristotle; three books are written to overseers of churches located in this same region and describe how drawing on the cultural history will impact the new believer; and one book was written to church congregants that had deposed the Greek empire, integrated its population, and become the ruling empire of the age.  That means that over 50% of the New Testament was addressing the Greeks and not in word form only.  A simple reading of Luke’s account of Paul’s journeys clearly indicates that in many cases it wasn’t the Jews that welcomed the gospel message but the Greeks.  This is why I have proceeded down this path.  I have nothing against the Jews and their culture, they after all gave us the Messiah, it is just in order to understand the importance of grace we have to come at from the Greek culture where its very operation was already ingrained in the societal structure.

Knowing what we do about what Paul preached, what about it was so influential to a pagan culture that it eventually took over the entire region? Simple: Paul spoke about grace that came from Heaven in the form of Jesus.  It wasn’t a Jewish Messiah that these listeners heard about; it was about the reciprocal nature of grace in the exchange that Jesus made for them.  They lived this reciprocal lifestyle in their community, their poets and philosophers had written about this nature of grace for centuries, and now they were hearing how God was interacting with them on the same basis.  Their own gods never conducted themselves in this manner – even the Charites who were known as “The Three Graces” never operated in this fashion!  And now hearing this they experienced the foundational component of grace: Joy.

We have lost this understanding today much to the disadvantage of new believers.  There is much more to this characteristic of grace that we’ll be exploring in the study ahead of us, but I want this to be the point of demarcation where what you’ve thought you knew about grace could possibly be incomplete.

Grace and Peace to You

Mike

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Divine Justice And Grace

What kind of justice does our God dispense in the world? Is He the Cosmic Hanging Judge of the Universe who sits on His divine courtroom bench, gavel in hand, ready to slam it down and scream guilty? Is He nervous with anticipation of passing sentence and executing judgment against the injustice of this world? Not at all.Ironically, the God-as-Judge viewpoint does not present a biblical picture of what divine justice is about at all, but is a legalistic perspective that comes from human culture. Biblically, to “bring justice” does not mean to bring punishment, but to bring healing and reconciliation. Justice means to make things right. Throughout the Prophets justice is associated with caring for others, as something that is not in conflict with mercy, but rather an expression of it. Divine justice is God’s saving action at work for all that are oppressed, as the following verses demonstrate:

Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow (Isaiah 1:17). Note what happens when one does right by seeking justice. The oppressed are encouraged and the helpless are helped.

This is what the LORD says: “`Administer justice every morning; rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed (Jeremiah 21:12). Justice is done when the oppressed is rescued.

This is what the LORD Almighty says: `Administer true justice: show mercy and compassion to one another (Zechariah 7:9). How does one administer true justice? By showing mercy and compassion to everybody involved.

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice( Isaiah 30:18). What is the reason our Lord wants to be gracious to us? Because He is just.

If we want to understand the concept of justice as the writers of the Old Testament did, then we must see it as a “setting things right again.” There is no conflict between God’s justice and His mercy. They both flow from His love.

The justice that Jesus ushers in, the righteousness he brings, have to do with God pouring his love out on us, with God showing his compassion toward us. They have to do with God meeting us in our need and liberating us from sin and oppression. With “setting things right” – that is what biblical justice is about. There is no dichotomy between a “God of justice” in the Old Testament and a “God of mercy” in the New. There is no split in God’s character. God has always been a compassionate God, a God of love. Jesus reveals who God is and who God has always been. Justice is about mercy. Justice comes through mercy and always has.

Our God is just in forgiving your sins and giving you His nature because He has righted the wrong done by Adam. They key issue in the Father’s justice wasn’t somebody being paid back for sin. His justice was in the fact that He gave back what had been lost by Adam’s fall. Justice is God’s grace at work in love.

(This blog is taken from this week’s Sunday Preaching broadcast (the week of 11/14/10) and can be seen at http://www.gracewalk.org on the home page. Credit goes to author Brad Jersak for my understanding of this perspective of justice.)

Posted by at 5:42 AM

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