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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.


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 there a balance between the word and the spirit? We hear this idea a lot, just like we also hear about a balance of law and grace. I passionately reject any balance or mix of law and grace. Does this hold true with the word and the spirit? Not a few good spirit-filled men and women of God have written that we should make achieving such a balance a top priority in our Christian walk.

Is too much spirit possible? Should it be equated with emotionalism? Should the word be equated with deadness?

Is this even the right question?

Perhaps the word and the spirit are the same thing, for they come from the same God.

My experience is that those who are truly baptized in and filled with the Holy Spirit are also constantly in the scriptures. The Holy Spirit makes them alive. Jesus leaps out of every page. Notice that I said the scriptures, not the word.

The Bible does not refer to itself as the word. Neither should we.

The Word is Jesus, and exists eternally, from the beginning, with the Father.

A further note: paganism emphasizes balance. Good and evil, yin and yang, body and spirit. I think there is a caution in that. Is balance something we should seek? Do the scriptures anywhere say to balance the written word and the spirit? I can’t find any. The only juxtaposition is in Ephesians:

Ephesians 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

This is not balance, but instead this passage says they are the same.

Here’s an insight from Bill Johnson of Bethel Church: ‎”Balance” was never meant to describe that place between joy and depression, between zeal and apathy. It is a useful term only when it describes equal measures of right things, like passion for the Word and the Spirit, passion for character and power. (emphasis added) From Paul Ellis, reviewing Bill Johnson’s book, When Heaven Invades Earth:

Few of us will doubt that the Holy Spirit can do great things, even through us. So why doesn’t He? According to Johnson, the main cause of the problem is found between our ears. We emphasize understanding over belief, reason over faith. This is fatal.

Often we are more convinced of our unworthiness than we are of His worth, or our inability instead of His ability. “The mind makes a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.”

God will never contradict His Word, but God is bigger than His Word. If we try and chart our way based on our own understanding of the scriptures, we will find ourselves living under law. That’s what happens when you prioritize boundaries over relationship.

Jesus never said, “My sheep will know my book.” Under grace we don’t get a road map, but a tour guide – the Holy Spirit. I love the way Bill Johnson said it at the  Manifest Presence conference:

“It’s difficult to expect the same fruit of the early church when we value a book they didn’t have more than the Holy Spirit they did have. It’s not Father, Son and the Holy Bible. No, this is the word of God, but you’ve got to understand… it is the Spirit of God that makes it living.”

God is more eager to invade this world than we are to receive the invasion. We sit and think when we could be praying and acting. We warn each other about the sin of presumption, while God warns us of the sin of unbelief.

We strive for balance and control and end up with the order of the graveyard. All this happens because we submit the things of God to the mind of man, instead of the other way around.

What comes to mind is the passage in the book of Revelation:  Rev 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

We are not to be mixed in our belief, as in mixing law and grace. Neither are we to leave our first love – which is the grace and truth that came by Jesus.

He is the Word, not the scripture. The scriptures tell of Him, but they do not contain all He is. He gives us the Holy Spirit without measure, and it abides. Can we balance scripture and spirit? Not really. And we certainly cannot balance Jesus and the Spirit. They are one.

What do we have then? Is the goal to balance the Word and the Spirit, as many say? No. They are intertwined. We dance with them.

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