Sunday 28 April 2019

The Bible ‘The Word of God/God’s Word’

The Bible is the Word of God, it is God’s Word, it is God in Word and it is Spirit

Source: Online Prayer Journal
I recently preached on the Word of God being God’s Word; John 1:1 ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’. God is His Word. Below is a look at the Authority of the Bible, the Trustworthiness of the Bible, the Internal and the External evidence that the Bible is the Word of God, then finally a Conclusion.

Authority of the Bible - McQuilkin (2009) says that, ‘Since God is the Author, the Bible is authoritative. It is absolute in its authority for human thought and behaviour. As the scripture has said is a recurring theme throughout the New Testament. In fact, the New Testament contains more than two hundred direct quotations of the Old Testament. New Testament writers, following the example of Jesus Christ, built their theology on the Old Testament. For Christ and the apostles, to quote the Bible was to settle an issue’. To call the Bible ‘God’s Word’ is in itself a way of expressing that God Himself speaks His words directly to us. This concept is Biblical. In Genesis 1:11 and Psalm 33:6 it appears as God’s Created Word, in Proverbs 8 as the personalized Wisdom of God, and in Isaiah 55:11 as the vehicle of God’s activity. In John 1:1-14; 1 John 1:1; Revelation 19:13 we see it used by Jesus Himself.

The Old Testament was viewed by the Lord Jesus and His apostles as a supernatural, Christ-centred book, with a single message; ‘redemption’. Jesus believed the Old Testament to be authoritative and quoted from each of its main sections, the law (Matthew 4:4); the poetic books (Mark 12:10) and the prophets (Mark 7:6). Following Christ’s example, the New Testament authors also quoted from each of its sections and almost every book of the Old Testament. Jesus stated in Luke 24:46, John 5:39 and John 5:45 that Old Testament scriptures were to reveal Him, and it is therefore not surprising that He denounced those who did not believe them or by appealing to human traditions robbed them of their divine authority. Packer (1958) says; ‘Jesus Christ, so far from rejecting this principle of biblical authority, accepted and built on it, endorsing it with the greatest emphasis and the full weight of His authority. And the authority to which He laid claim was absolute and unqualified. He appealed to no human authority, but put His teaching forward as divine in origin, and therefore eternally valid in its own right’.  Nee (1974) adds; ‘the Lord Jesus once said ‘the words that I have spoken to you are spirit’ (John 6:36). And hence the words of the Bible are not words only, nor are they mere letter, they are also spirit’.

Source: Source: tim thurman's blog
This is to say that the Bible is a living Word given by God Himself, and because God is Spirit, the Bible can only be understood or interpreted by those who have the Spirit of God in them, or as Nee (1974) puts it, ‘a regenerated person’ or ‘the regenerated spirit’. We must remember that God created us in His image and He communicates with us (Genesis 1:28). In the Lord Jesus Christ God became man (John 1:1 and John 1:14); God the Spirit indwells Christians and brings them into a personal relationship with Him (Romans 8:9-17). These factors confirm a degree of correspondence between God and humanity. In John 10:35 Jesus describes the Bible as ‘the Word of God’ and ‘the Scriptures’ thus indicating that the truths within it have their origin from God and not man. He also makes quite clear that the Bible has complete supreme and divine authority when He says…’and scripture cannot be broken’.

Trustworthy - According to McQuilkin (2009) ‘Christ and the apostles presented a revelation of God and His will that went far beyond what was revealed in the Old Testament. But there is not the slightest hint of error, even when the New Covenant is explained as setting aside the temporary, Old Covenant. Since the Bible is the Word of God, it is considered absolutely trustworthy in its overall message and in each part of the revelation’. Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:16; ‘All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness’. The fact that God is the source of the Bible makes it trustworthy in all its parts which form a harmonious unity.

Internal Evidences - One of the first evidences that the Bible is God’s word is in its unity. The Bible is comprised of sixty-six books, written in three different languages (the Old Testament was written in Hebrew and Aramaic, and the New Testament in Koine Greek), and on three different continents. It was written by more than forty authors who came from many walks of life over a period of approximately 1500 years, and yet the Bible is one single unified book without contradiction from beginning to end. This unity is unique and sets it apart from all other books. Another Internal evidence indicating that the Bible is truly God’s Word is the hundreds of detailed prophesies relating to the future of certain cities, mankind and individual nations including Israel. There are three hundred prophesies concerning Christ Jesus in the Old Testament including His birth place, His lineage and how He would die and the fact that He would rise again. There is no other or logical way to explain the fulfilled prophesies in the Bible other than by divine origin.

External Evidences - One of the external evidences that the Bible is God’s Word is the integrity of its human authors. Men who were willing to die for what they believed testifies that they were honest and firmly believed that God had spoken to them. These were men from all walks of life used by God to speak and record His words. The original manuscript written by the prophet is known as the autograph. The autograph is inspired by God from the first generation. It is then copied to additional manuscripts over time as the originals wear out this is known as manuscript transmission. Over time the manuscripts from accepted prophets were collected and today this is known to us as the Bible. The Bible is written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The word ‘Inspire’ is derived from the Latin word ’inspirare’ meaning ’to breathe upon or into something’. God chose to reveal Himself through people so He could communicate to a much larger audience. The term ’revelation’ simply means that God communicated to mankind what He is like and how we can have a relationship with Him. Milne (2014) puts it like this; ‘Revelation means unveiling something hidden, so that it may be known for what it is’. From the time of the Exodus when God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, He told them that He was going to communicate with them through prophets, men who would speak to God and then represent Him to the people. This was in response to the request from Israel who were in fear when God spoke to them directly from Mount Sinai, they pleaded with Moses to speak with God, and then to speak for God to them, for fear they might die if God spoke to them directly. God was pleased with their request (Exodus 20:18-21).

Additional external evidence that the Bible is God’s Word is the historical events it records. Their accuracy and truthfulness are like any other historical document, subject to verification. Archaeological and other writings have proven time and time again the accuracy of the historical events of the Bible. This evidence makes it the best documented book of the ancient world. The fact that it accurately and truthfully records historical verifiable events is a great benefit when dealing with religious subjects and helps substantiate its claim to be the Word of God. It could be argued that the most important of all the ‘external’ evidences is the Lord Jesus Christ’s repeated reference to the Old Testament being the Word of God (Matthew 5:18 and Mark 12:36).

Conclusion - When we look at some of the facts concerning the bible it is hard to come to any other conclusion other than the Bible truly is God’s Word. Firstly, the Bible was written over a period of approximately 1500 years by more than 40 authors under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament was written by 29 different authors over a 1000 year period, between 1450 BC and 425 BC and included Kings, Priests, Shepherds and Prime Ministers, and was written in two languages; Hebrew and Aramaic. The New Testament was written by 10 to 11 different authors over a 45 year period, between 45 AD and 90 AD and included a rabbi, fishermen, a physician, a tax collector and others, and was written in Koine Greek. Taking all this into account, the Bible stands as a single unified book without contradiction.

We must also consider the many detailed prophesies of the Old Testament, fulfilled in the New Testament, such as the Birth, Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the historical events it records have proven to be accurate, trustworthy and true and verified by archaeological and other writings. And the fact that Jesus Christ Himself gives repeated testimony to the Old Testament as the Word of God and the Scriptures and makes the profound statement in John 10:35 when He says…’and the Scripture cannot be broken’.

So, The Bible is the Word of God, it is God’s Word, it is God in Word and it is Spirit. John 1:1 The Word is God.

Is the Bible trustworthy and true? Absolutely 100%.

I hope this has given you food for thought and may the Lord bless His Word to you.

Author: Pastor Kevin Hunt 

May God bless and enrich your life

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McQuilkin, R (2009) ‘Understanding and Applying the Bible: Revised and Expanded’, Moody Publishers, ASIN: B0037714VM

Milne, B (2014) ‘Know the Truth’, Third edition, IVP Publishers, ISBN-10:178359103X

Nee, W (1974) ‘Ye Search the Scriptures’, Christian Fellowship Publishers, ISBN-10: 0935008470

Packer, J.I (1958) ‘Fundamentalism and the Word of God’, William B Eerdmans Publishing Co, ISBN-10: 0802811477

Sunday 21 April 2019

Breaking down the walls

If people think that a church is ‘full of holy and righteous people’ then if they attended, I’m sure they would be mightily disappointed!

Source: Facebook
Unintentionally, somebody may say something in general conversation that will really challenge us. I’ve found over the years that God can use people in this way in order to get our attention where He wants to show us or teach us something. My wife recently came back from walking our dog and explained that during the walk she had bumped into a couple who live just down the road from us. She explained that after the usual pleasantries the conversation had ended with her extending an invitation for the couple to visit the Fellowship that we attend each Sunday. What really caught my attention was the response she received from the lady. Her response to the invitation went something along the lines of (I cannot remember it word for word), ‘we could never go there, it is full of holy people’. This has stuck with me ever since and it really made me think about how people who do not know Jesus, actually see the Church.

We see a lot of publicity about how the amount of people attending Church is continually declining (on average) and there does seem to be a lot of empty seats/pews in many churches to back this up. Of course, the life of a Christian is not defined by attendance at a church service, but declining numbers are not surprising if the response that my wife received is typical of what people really think of the church. If people think that a church is ‘full of holy and righteous people’ then if they attended, I’m sure they would be mightily disappointed, but significantly the decline in church attendance suggests a detachment between those who know Jesus and are saved and those who are not.  So, why is this the case?

A common misconception is that church is a building, it is not. Buildings can be wonderful places to worship and fellowship and excellent for keeping warm and dry however, it is the body of Christ that is the church. In the Bible, church is always a reference to people, not a place. The church is a body of believers that live out the Gospel by their words and actions. The church is at its best when people inside the building take Jesus’s message outside the building and serve those they meet. The bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:16 that we are the temple that allows God to dwell in us, notice that it does not refer to a physical building; ‘Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?’ For me, Sunday Service is about coming to God with thanks and reverence through praise and worship for the blessings He continually bestows on me. It is an opportunity to say thank you to Jesus and to come into His Presence with fellow believers. It is an opportunity to fellowship and interact with people at different stages of their journey and to provide and receive love, comfort and support when needed. I love Sunday Service but the reality is that it lasts for two to three hours each week. There are 168 hours in a week which means we spend approximately 3% of each week in Sunday service. Therefore, the vast majority of the time available to a Christian is outside the walls of building, which is exactly where it is needed and exactly where it should be.

Many Christian Fellowships seem to be pre-occupied with obtaining or constructing new buildings or adding extensions to create more space. But why? What about the current buildings that are being used for Church services and meetings? If there are so many half full or nearly empty buildings around then why are we creating even more? It does not make any sense. If it is God’s will for a fellowship to grow and the leadership team are confident that through prayer and petition that it is God’s Will for them to have a new building or create more space then let God’s will be done. However, I often wonder what God is thinking when He sees so many struggling fellowships and empty buildings, particularly as we do not need a building to be a church and given that we only spend such a small percentage of our time using a building for church activities anyway.

As you have read through my thoughts you may be thinking that there will be an amazing solution waiting for you at the end of the article. Sadly, this is something I cannot offer, suffice to say that the way in which we allow the Holy Spirit to use us is the only way for others to see Jesus for themselves and to be able to become part of the Body of Christ. This could well happen during a Sunday Service however, we really need to look for ways to break down the walls and to be church more and more, outside of buildings. If God has planted a fellowship in a certain location then He has a specific reason for doing it! I’m sure that purpose is not just for the fellowship to isolate itself away, inside a building for a few hours each week (while the lost pass by), to have a wonderful service and to repeat the same process every week. We need to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our communities and through the Power of the Holy Spirit, to bring Jesus to the people. This then might start to change attitudes and misconceptions and make people realize that Christians are just as prone to sin as they are, but the crucial difference is that we are purified and saved by the Grace of God’s love for us through accepting Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. May we be used a vessels to sound the trumpets and to stir people’s hearts so that the barriers and walls in their lives will fall, quicker that the walls of Jericho; Joshua 6:20 ‘When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city’

May people see church for what is really is, not bricks and mortar, but a body of believers who demonstrate and share the love of Jesus wherever they are. May the walls of church buildings all around the world come tumbling down so that the body of the church can be built up to help bring Jesus to those who are lost.

Be blessed.

Author: Anonymous

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday 14 April 2019

Power in the Blood

During communion we should take time to remember Jesus’s broken body, the suffering and sacrifice that He endured for us and the purity and Power of His shed blood.

Source: Tell the Lord Thank You
When speaking to Moses in Leviticus 17:11 God emphasizes the significance of blood in the sacrificial system; ‘For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life’. A ‘sacrifice’ can be described as ‘an act of giving up something of value for the sake of something else' and ‘atonement’ is ‘the action of making amends for a wrong or injury’. Based upon these definitions it is possible to interpret Leviticus 17:11 as; God said, ‘I have given you a creature’s life (which is in its blood, to make amends for you) to account for the offense you have committed against Me’. In other words, if you are covered by the blood sacrifice you are set free from the consequences of sin. In Old Testament times this is how sin was dealt with or atoned for, by the sacrifice and shedding of the blood of an animal. This is often referred to as the ‘old covenant’, but Praise God we no longer need to follow this covenant because there is a new covenant in Jesus! The blood of Jesus was poured out as a sacrifice for the sins of people and this one-time sacrifice became the completion of the law and introduced a new covenant for those who would believe in His Name; Hebrews 9:15 ‘For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant’.

Source: Heartlight
It is an amazing thought that the blood of Jesus atones for my sins and for your sins as a pure complete sacrifice, once and for all. I would recommend that you read Hebrews 9:11-28 a number of times to try to grasp the significance of the Power of Christ’s Blood when God sacrificed His one and only Son for our sins. Through the Blood of Jesus we are reconciled back to God; 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation’. None of us deserve such a gift and none of us are worthy enough, or ever will be, to receive such a gift. It is only by the Grace of God that we are given the precious blood of Jesus, this is how much God loves us; 1 Peter 1:18-19 ‘For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect’ and Ephesians 2:8 ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God’.

Next time we are invited to the communion table let us pause for a few moments to reflect on the significance of Jesus’s body and blood sacrifice; Luke 22:19-20 ‘And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me’. In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you’. Jesus instructs His Disciples to do this in remembrance of Him and we too are invited to the Lord’s Table to share in communion, also in remembrance of Him . We should however fully understand the significance of communion before partaking and we should prepare ourselves so that we are in a place to take communion. God’s Word warns us about the consequences of taking communion in an unworthy manner; 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 ‘So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves’. When we come to communion the bread and the cup are not holy elements of themselves, but they represent something that is very holy. So it is with great respect and reverence that we come to the communion table, recognizing it is a symbol of what Jesus Christ accomplished for us on the cross. During communion we should take time to remember Jesus’s broken body, the suffering and sacrifice that He endured for us and the purity and Power of His shed blood. Let communion always be a time of remembrance, reconciliation, reflection and rejoicing in what Jesus did for us. Let us never partake in communion out of routine or misguided duty, Jesus deserves far more than that.

We should lift the blood of Jesus to the same place in our hearts that it has in God’s heart and accept the powerful things that Jesus’s blood has purchased for us. The Power of the blood of Jesus has provided everything we need to live a life of victory, including redemption, fellowship, healing, protection and authority over sin. May we walk in the authority provided to us by the blood of Jesus; Hebrews 9:14 ‘How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

May God bless you.

Author: Anonymous

May God bless and enrich your life   

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Sunday 7 April 2019

Blessed are those who wait for the Lord

If you are in a situation today where you have been told that something is impossible, remember that if we have faith as small as a mustard seed and do not doubt then just watch and see what our Awesome God can do.

Source: We Heart It
It doesn’t matter how long we have been a Christian, God always has something new to teach us in His Word. What a blessing it is when we read something in the Bible, we have read hundreds of times before but suddenly it becomes alive. This is exactly what happened to me today. I couldn’t wait to get to a computer to encapsulate just what I felt God was sharing with me, so intimately I could not stop the flow of tears. I was reading 1 Samuel 1 where Hannah’s womb was closed up by God and she was crying out to the Lord and Eli the prophet thought she was drunk. Upon realising this was not the case Eli said; 1 Samuel 1:17 ’Go in peace, and May the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of Him’. Realising that Eli was a Prophet her face was no longer downcast. She had faith to believe.

After conceiving came the really difficult part for Hannah, fulfilling her promise that she would give her son back to the Lord for all the days of his life. Wow, as a mother that seems such a difficult thing to do. How many of us hand our children over to God, but the moment trouble comes we take them back!!? Once that baby was placed in our hands would we be able to fulfill that promise? What an act of selfless love Hannah demonstrated here and because of her faithfulness God blessed her with other children, three sons and two daughters. Actually, it’s not just a case of handing our children over to God and taking them back; what other things have we promised or covenanted to Him and when God has blessed us with our answer to prayer have we reneged on them and pretended that wasn’t part of the agreement? Matthew 5:37 tells us; ‘All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one’, meaning that we should let our yes be yes and our no be no. Therefore, if we have made a promise or covenant to God let us be faithful in carrying it out, but not out of duty, instead as an act of love and worship. God loves a cheerful giver.

Coming back to the scripture I started with, the most touching part to me was Hannah’s prayer; 1 Samuel 2:1 ‘My heart rejoices in the Lord, in the Lord my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance’ and 1 Samuel 2:7-8 ‘The Lord sends poverty and wealth, He humbles and He exalts. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap. He seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honour’. I didn’t want to write the whole prayer but it is so powerful I would urge you to read it in its entirety for yourself, I am sure it will bless you. I realise that perhaps the reason it touched my heart so much is that my daughter was in a similar situation. She was told a few years ago that there was virtually no chance of her conceiving a baby. I told her on that day that nothing is impossible for God and have waited and trusted every day since. As I write this my daughter is now 14 weeks pregnant and we know without a shadow of a doubt that this is a miracle and a gift from God. There is nothing we could have humanly done to change this situation, it is by the Divine Grace and Mercy of God alone. We realise we don’t deserve this blessing, there’s nothing we have done to deserve it but we Thank and Praise Him for His abundant love and mercy to these sinners saved by grace.

Source: PInterest
If you are in a situation today where you have been told that something is impossible, remember that if we have faith as small as a mustard seed and do not doubt then just watch and see what our Awesome God can do; Ephesians 3:20-21 ‘Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen’.

Isaiah 30:8 ‘Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!’

May God bless you abundantly.

Author: Lyn Hunt 

May God bless and enrich your life

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