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You know, what I was looking for, I had all along. I got it when I first met Jesus. Then I was in Oz for a while, on a journey, ever learning bunches of stuff. Then I finally saw that what I was looking for I had all along. I’ve come home to just Jesus.

I see Him clearer now, through the eyes of grace. I was on the yellow brick road for thirty-eight years. Some of it was scary, but most of it was very beautiful. I didn’t know until recently that I had the power to just see Him.

I had it all along. It’s called faith. It’s called love. It’s called knowing.

There’s no place like home!

 

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Sure, study the Greek and Hebrew words, especially little ones like “in” and “for” and “if” – you will be surprised what you find.

Read the parables as parables of the kingdom, not merely life lessons. The parable of Lazarus and the rich man is a parable of the kingdom, not a picture of hell. Read Jesus’ words as warnings to the hypocrites, not about a literal hell – he was insulting them, and that’s all.

Realize that Jesus was teaching about the kingdom to Jewish listeners. Always consider the context of any Bible passage. Pulling one verse out that seems to support something will almost always backfire.

Jesus was the exact representation of God on earth. He shows us the true nature and character of God. He did not break the bruised. He never told anyone that they were sick to learn a lesson. His only words of condemnation were for the hypocrites. Think about it.

Understand that the epistles were not the whole of the apostles’ teachings so much as they were addressing problems that arose later – especially Paul’s letters. They were written to a mixed church of Jewish and Gentile believers. When Paul left a city after weeks and months of teaching the gospel, the Judaizers crept in, trying to subvert his gospel and turn them back to law keeping. He called one a thorn in his flesh.

And don’t read the book of Revelation like it is a crystal ball. It is not. It is a book of symbols written to the people of the early church who were under persecution, and who understood it. Basing doctrine on Revelation is a recipe for disaster.

Finally, remember that the Old Testament pointed to Christ. Genesis, prophecy, and Moses…all foreshadowed of the one to come, Jesus. We need only to heed what was spoken on the mount of transfiguration. Listen to the Son. And see the whole through the finished work of the cross. That is where you will find what Jesus really did. You will find grace and truth and faith only in the finished work. It is over. He did it all.

The book is not the word. Jesus is the Word. The book contains some words from God, and tells of His acts, through various godly men. But the book does not contain God, whom the heavens themselves cannot contain. Don’t elevate the book above the one to whom it points, the living Word. To know Him is the goal. We were created to know Him, not doctrine about Him.

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!

Is the saying, that we should love the sinner but hate their sin, scriptural?

Do you know who said it? It was Mahatma Gandhi. Does that make it wrong? Not really, unless you think it was God who said it. Gandhi also said he loved our Christ but not our Christians. Hard to argue with that!

In my Christian life, which covers about 36 years, I have seen divorce viewed as the “unforgiveable sin”, then homosexuality, with abortion thrown in for good measure. Of course, the “unforgiveable” sin is none of these.

How did Jesus deal with “sinners”?

Luke 18:9-14: (Easy To Read Version)9 There were some people that thought that they were very good. These people acted like they were better than other people. Jesus used this story to teach them: 10 “One time there was a Pharisee and a tax collector. One day they both went to the temple to pray. 11 The Pharisee stood alone, away from the tax collector. When the Pharisee prayed, he said, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not as bad as other people. I am not like men that steal, cheat, or do the sin of adultery. I thank you that I am better than this tax collector. 12 {I am good;} I fast twice a week, and I give one-tenth of everything I earn!’

13 “The tax collector stood alone too. But when he prayed, he would not even look up to heaven. The tax collector felt very humble before God. He said, ‘O God, have mercy on me. I am a *sinner!’ 14 I tell you, when this man finished his prayer and went home, he was right with God. But the Pharisee, who felt that he was better than other people, was not right with God. Every person that makes himself important will be made humble. But the person that makes himself humble will be made important.” *(the word translated “sinner” can also mean tax collector.)

Well, seems like Jesus was a bit harder on the Pharisee than on the tax collector. He said the tax collector was justified. Maybe it’s not the actions, but the attitude of repentance that justifies….do you think?

39 The Pharisee that asked Jesus to come to his house saw this. He thought to himself, “If this man (Jesus) were a prophet, he would know that the woman who is touching him is a sinner!”……  47 I tell you that her many sins are forgiven. This is clear, because she showed great love. But the person that feels only a little need to be forgiven will feel only a little love when he is forgiven.” 48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 The people sitting at the table began to think to themselves, “Who does this man (Jesus) think he is? How can he forgive sins?” 50 Jesus said to the woman, “Because you believed, you are saved {from your sins}. Go in peace.”

Jesus did not accuse the woman taken in adultery. He did not judge the woman at the well who had been married a few times and was not married to the man she was living with.

If this is Jesus’ example, who are we to judge a “sinner”? Who are we to say we love someone but hate what they are doing? It all seems to be one and the same to Jesus. It is western, classical, thought that separates who we are and what we do. Jesus saw people as an integrated whole, and treated them as such.

When we say we love the sinner, but hate the sin, we are really judging that person by what he does. It fools no one but the one speaking. That is not love. That is judgment. They don’t mix. Jesus didn’t do it. His harsh words were directed at the hypocritical religious leaders. Mercy triumphs over judgment, love covers a multitude of sins, and where sin abounds, grace much more abounds.

If we don’t get this, we don’t get why Jesus died.

All the emphasis on sin is not productive. It turns away many that need to hear the gospel of grace and freedom, but those who love them and are closed to Jesus because of all the condemnation. And it turns away any number of those you label as sinners. You know, that’s not the way to present Jesus!

The goodness of God leads to repentance.

I personally have stopped debating over things like abortion or homosexuality (but I have only begun to speak out). Jesus didn’t address either one.

Grace alone would compel acceptance without judgment. How do we know sin but by the law? And we are dead to the law.

Will not the God of all the earth do right? Can we stop judging others and just let them be who they are called to be in Christ? If gay Christians, for instance, make you uncomfortable, then just shut the church door. There are churches where the doors are open, without hypocrisy. But don’t patronize people for whom Christ died by saying you love them, and only hate their “sin”.

Don’t tell them you love them, even though they are naughty children. You are telling them they don’t measure up – that they are lacking in some way. It is not true. Besides, we are all naughty children – we shouldn’t throw stones.

We are all accepted in Jesus. None measure up against any standard. In Him we are perfect, but not in any measure we can devise.

Stop trying to free those who are already free.  Such nonsense!

Stop talking grace, and then putting people back under religious rules that you wouldn’t be able to follow yourself, like the Pharisees did.

I understand that this is a hard post to read. I didn’t come to this view overnight. It took a few years of study. To those who vehemently disagree, I say I would have too. I was in that place too,  about 15 years ago. Loving friends and a most loving God have revealed what is hidden to much of the church, and has been for centuries.

But love wins. God has already won it. He will win it for you, too, it you let Him.

Instead of getting disturbed,  go and heal the sick and raise the dead and set the captives free. Show the love of Christ to the world. Let the One who always does right work it out.

Food for thought: ‎”A truth’s initial commotion is directly proportional to how deeply the lie was believed. It wasn’t the world being round that agitated people, but that the world wasn’t flat. When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.” – Dresden James

Light-of-the-World

 

What was judged on the cross? I’ve heard some odd teachings on this, especially about Jesus being lifted up.

John 3:13 And, no one, hath ascended into heaven, save he that, out of heaven, descended, – The Son of Man. 14 And, just as, Moses, lifted up the serpent in the desert, so, must, the Son of Man, be lifted up, – 15 That, whosoever believeth in him, may have life age-abiding. 16 For God, so loved, the world, that, his Only Begotten Son, he gave, – that, whosoever believeth on him, might not perish, but have life age-abiding. 17 For God, sent not, his Son into the world, that he might judge the world, but, that the world might be saved through him. 18 He that believeth on him, is not to be judged: he that believeth not, already, hath been judged, – because he hath not believed on the name of the Only Begotten Son of God. 19 And, this, is the judgment: That, the light, hath come into the world, – and men loved, rather the darkness than the light, for, wicked, were their, works. 20 For, whosoever doth practise corrupt things, hateth the light, and cometh not unto the light, lest his works should be reproved; 21 But, he that doeth the truth, cometh unto the light, that his works may be, made manifest, that, in God, have they been wrought. (The J.B. Rotherham Emphasized Bible)

John 12:31 Now, is there, a judging, of this world, – Now, the ruler of this world, shall be cast out; 32 And, I, if I be lifted up out of the earth, will draw, all, unto myself. 33 But, this, he was saying, signifying, by what manner of death, he was about to die. 34 The multitude, therefore, answered him – We, have heard, out of the law, that, the Christ, abideth evermore; How then dost, thou, say, – It behoveth the Son of Man to be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man? 35 Jesus, therefore, said unto them – Yet a little while, the light, is, among you: Walk, while ye have, the light, lest, darkness, on you should lay hold; and, he that walketh in darkness, knoweth not whither he drifteth. 36 While, the light, ye have, believe on the light, that, sons of light, ye may become. These things, spake Jesus, – and, departing, was hid from them. (The J.B. Rotherham Emphasized Bible)

Some are saying that it is judgment Jesus drew, not men (the word “men” is not in the Greek). I’m not so sure this is a good understanding.

[Numbers 21:8 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. 9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. ~The J.B. Rotherham Emphasized Bible]

The serpent is considered to represent eternal life, or even resurrection. They looked because they believed they would not die. We look to Jesus and his finished work. But the lifting up probably refers to his ascension. Some say it is Jesus lifted up on the cross, but we don’t see him there today.

Only if we see God as angry and full of wrath, needing to punish sin, can we see Jesus as drawing all judgment to himself. But this idea does not harmonize with the teaching of the New Testament. In context, the judgment would seem to be on the ruler of this world – which we understand to be Satan and whose works Jesus came to destroy.

John 16:7 But, I, the truth, am telling you – It is profitable for you, that, I, depart; for, if I should not depart, The Advocate, would in nowise come unto you, but, if I go, I will send him unto you. 8 And, having come, He, will reprove the world – Concerning sin, and concerning righteousness, and concerning judgment: 9 Concerning sin, indeed, because they are not believing on me; 10 But, concerning righteousness, because, unto the Father, I go my way, and, no longer, do ye behold me; 11 And, concerning judgment, because, the ruler of this world, hath been judged. (The J.B. Rotherham Emphasized Bible)

No where does the New Testament speak of Jesus being judged, or receiving the wrath of God. The penalty / punishment of death was paid / taken, because Jesus was made to be frail and flawed human flesh, no longer able to live forever. He was without transgression of the law and so was the Lamb, and his death paid the penalty imposed on human beings in Eden. He did it all at once, becoming also the high priest, and so much more!

God did not abandon His son, and was never angry with those He made in His image. At the cross, Satan was judged and mankind was rescued from death. By belief in Christ, man can receive eternal life – Jesus is the true tree of life. But Jesus did not draw judgment to himself as some say. It does not fit.

Come As You Are

He’s not mad at you
And He’s not disappointed
His grace is greater still
Than all of your wrong choices

He is full of mercy
And He is ever kind
Hear His invitation
His arms are open wide

Chorus:
You can come as you are
With all your broken pieces
And all your shameful scars
The pain you hold in your heart
Bring it all to Jesus
You can come as you are

Louder than the voice
That whispers you’re unworthy
Hear the sound of love
That tells a different story

Shattering your darkness
And pushing through the lies
How tenderly He calls you
His arms are open wide

(2009 Word Music LLC, Pocket Full of Rocks Publishing ASCAP)

Don’t listen to the naysayers, who want to put people under condemnation, or the guilt that comes from the law of Moses, or any man made religious rule. These lyrics are truth.

God is not mad at you.

He’s not even disappointed. He knows you, and will walk with you, all the days of your life. He sent His Son Jesus to rescue the humanity that He loves. He did it by all the mystery of His death and resurrection, under the harsh law of the Moses, becoming the second Adam.

In Him, we are blameless and have eternal life, the penalty of death being paid by. We die, but we inherit eternal, resurrection life. In effect, Jesus gave us back to us, and to Himself. And in Jesus, if we have believed in Him, we live and move and have our being. We can know we have eternal life because of what is written and because we have that witness in our hearts that He lives in us.

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