THOUGHTS & COMMENTS
Along with such magazines and books we have TV and radio programs which concentrate on just such a subject.
And if you feel like you want to be religious while you study on ways in which to improve yourself you have Tao Te Ching and est and Christian Science to help you along in that direction.
Then for those of you who like to feel your way through your efforts to find a new and better you, you have Yoga and Tai Chi among others.
They miss the point, and obviously have not read the Bible, except perhaps snippets that please their dignity.
The Bible is not a book on how to lead a good life. In fact the Bible is not a book on how to live at all. Oh, it gives instructions alright, but not to the world. The Bible has just one thing to say to the World - get with God or go to hell.
But this is not what people read.
The Old Testament is about our origin as man, what God expects of His people, and how He instructs and guides His people (who at that time were only the Jews). It is also about how He chastises and disciplines His people.
Then, added to this and sprinkled throughout the Book are prophesies pointing toward what God is ultimately going to do with His creation.
The New Testament also has prophesies, and along with these prophesies are explanations of the Old Testament and how they pointed toward the New Testament.
And throughout the Bible we learn that the intent of the Bible is to explain what God is going to do with us, and how.
The Bible tells us to live a life that is totally unlivable. It tells us things we do not want to hear, like turning the other cheek and that we are but dust and worms. The Bible also speaks of mystical and unbelievable things such as miracles and spirits and demons and the devil. The Bible provides us with enchanting stories that compete with the Greek legends such as David and Goliath, Sampson, Noah and the flood, and Adam and Eve.
This is the Bible the World reads. A book of legends and fantasies and better living.
But, in fact, the Bible is much more than an interesting and informative book. The Bible is about God, and the Holy Spirit, and Jesus, and how those who not only believe in these three, but who have received these Three in the form of the Holy Spirit will live because of them.
Those to whom the Bible is intended should read it and feel reassured and joyful. While those who the Bible is not intended for, that is to say the unrepentant, should be horrified when they read it.
But they aren't. They either ignore the Bible, or they read it like it is a book of Better Living.
"Oh yeah? Who is 'da guy? Jacks 'da Ripper? Charles Manson? Oh, I know, it's 'dat Dalmer guy!"
"Naw, 'dey is small 'tatoes next to this guy. He's a preacher man!"
Is this something new? Hardly. Preachers in other countries who we call Missionaries have had to battle such laws for 2,000 years.
Then from the beginning of Christianity we have had reports from the Apostles such as:
1Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. 2And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also (Acts 12:)
54When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 55But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. 57Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 58And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: (Acts7:)
27And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him, 28Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place. 29(For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.) 30And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut. 31And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul.
22And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live. 23And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air, 24The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; (Acts 21: & 22:)
These were the Apostles and early preachers. And though they were certainly considered as terrible sinners worthy of death, as were Martyrs throughout the next twenty centuries, there was yet another who was considered far worse a criminal than any of these;
and they crucified him. 26And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 27And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. 28And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors. 29And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, (Mark 15:)
37Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. 38Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. 39But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews? 40Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber. (John 18:)
6Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired. 7And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection. 8And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them. 9But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? 10For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. 11But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. 12And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? 13And they cried out again, Crucify him. 14Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him. (Mark 15:)
But that was all in the past. Surely such a thing can't happen again, not in a civilized nation such as ours.
3And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. 4These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. 5And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. 6These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. 7And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. 8And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. 9And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. 10And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. 11And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. 12And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. 13And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. (Rev 11:)
If it is not preaching that is these great offender's crime, than what is?
It's telling people that which they don't want to hear.
Mission work, as with many endeavors has its rewards, and it has its drawbacks. In this section I will attempt to explore a few of the why's and the wherefore's of Missionaries.
That's the picture - but is it necessarily the reality?
I'm sure with some it is the reality, but not necessarily all.
There were Missionaries who followed after Paul who's sole intent was to subvert his converts away from Christ and the Truth, such as the Judaizers and the Gentile idol makers.
And there were Missionaries who would enter a church Paul founded and, not try to lead the sheep away, but to lead them astray. These were the Gnostics and the Hedonists, and many others that Jesus also referred to in the second chapter of Revelation.
And there were those who, as Paul expressed it, went from door to door enticing "silly women" with old wive's tales and false doctrine.
And there were those who were just after the money.
Even well-intended Missionaries were to be blamed. There were those who taught that which they were unlearned and had to be instructed. How many do the same today with no interest in learning Truth?
And there were others who were dividing the church, breaking it up into denominations. This certainly is a problem today, but often more maliciously than those here referred to in Paul's day.
Native Americans were made slaves and servants to the Missionaries. And though the reason for the Mission was often wrong, there were good things that came from them. For instance, the Indians were taught to read, and they were "civilized," which can be counted as either good or bad depending on your point of view.
Is Missionarying for the wrong intent a new thing? Not really. Hundreds of years earlier the Jews tried hard to break up the Churches Paul set up amongst the Gentiles, even though these Jews did not believe the Gentiles could be saved. Why did they do this? To protect their now dead (without the Temple) religion.
Modern Christianity is not immune to such unrighteous Missionaries. Five hundred years ago people using the name of Martin Luther broke away from the Catholic church and formed their own set of rules and their own Missions and sent out their own Missionaries. Did the Catholic church just set back and verbally condemn these now unsaved wayward souls? Of course not. They tried every way they could to not only kill them, but to torture them as well. Was this effort put forth for the saving of the "sinner?" Certainly not, it was for the sake of preserving the Catholic Empire, just as did the Roman and the British Empires when a nation wished to break away. And as did the USA when its Empire was threatened with Independence (Civil War).
Even today, the Protestant church is still protesting itself in the battle... I mean Mission fields. Are the churches sending out Missionaries in effort to save the souls of the "Heathen?" Hardly. All too often the intent is, not to spread Christianity, but to spread Denominationalism. As soon as one Denomination gets a foothold in a new area, other Denominations will follow suit and set their Missionaries up right next door to that one which is already established.
It reminds me of the MacDonald, Burger King, Dairy Queen war.
I hope so. And let's assume they do. And there is no reason to assume otherwise since there is no way we can know the heart of the individual Missionary, any more than we can know the heart of each and every Pastor or Elder.
As in the past there have been wrongly motivated Missionaries, so there are today. There are still the "Judaizers" who's intent is to spread their own Doctrine rather than being concerned for the Word or the Lost.
And there are the "warriors" who take to the Mission fields in effort to "count coop," in other words, add "scalps" to their victory belt, not caring at all for the people they are supposedly serving.
Then there are those that are doing what is expected of them. Perhaps their parents or some important person in their family or church, or the school they attended has placed such an expectation on them. This could be equated to a person becoming a doctor because their parents said they should, even though that doctor can't stand the sight of blood.
And there are those who wish to have the Prestige that comes from being a Missionary. Here it is possible to have this prestige coming from two separate directions. There is the attention they get from the folks back home, and there is the looking up to by those they serve in the field.
Along with, or at least akin to prestige, is Power. There are some who like the feeling of power that comes from being a Missionary, just as one gets from being a Pastor or a cop, or a politician. A Missionary can accuse, and condemn, and if it is a Catholic Missionary, even forgive sins.
Then there are more selfish and deviant reasons one might become a Missionary. Paul referred to these as ministering for the sake of "Filthy Lucre." But money is not the only sinful pursuit a Missionary might pursue. One extreme of this the Catholic church is trying to stay alive because of.
Then there are those who are looking for a career, or an adventure, that is, a religious form of the Peace Corp.
And there are those who believe that by going to the Mission field they will somehow earn points with God at the time of Judgment.
I would say first and foremost a Missionary must love those he or she is ministering to. The Missionary must be able to completely set themself and their own desires aside for the sake of those they serve. We look upon Missionaries as Ambassadors or some such lost in a distant country. And that may in fact be the case with some. But even those in the darkest of Africa are in actuality Pastors more than they are Missionaries: a Pastor without the immediate aid and support of others of similar interests and background, and often serving the capacity of nurse and bottle-washer at the same time.
Missionaries have the responsibility of a Pastor many times over. It is not a job for the weak of heart or the uncommitted.
Missionaries must also have a love for the Word of God. And along with a love for the Word, and understanding of the Word. After all, they are to be Surgeons in the field of Christianity, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.
Along with training in, and a love for the Word, a Missionary should have a gift, and the leading of the Holy Spirit, without which there is little to no purpose to being a Missionary in the first place. And if one has such a leading, then all other necessary ingredients will be provided.
And finally, a person should have a calling to be a Missionary. Of course being led by the Spirit, and having a calling are essentially the same thing. However, one can have a calling for the Ministry but because of other influences misinterpret their calling.
In Church we are instructed how to Praise God and worship Him from our hearts and not our minds.
Have I described your church?
In church we are taught that we are very valuable and that God wants nothing more than to have each and every one of us in His company.
In church we are told that if we pray, God is there ever-ready and anxious to grant us our every wish, to make us comfortable and give us joy and pleasure to our heart's content.
In church we are told that we will walk Golden Streets and sit forever on a cloud strumming our harps while the rest of the world burns forever in a pit of fire.
Just as it was with the Apostles.
Just as it was with Jesus.
The church sits upon the World system as one and the same. Just as the Catholic church did. Just as the Church of England did. The church rides high and mighty, racking in the bucks while the poor it is supposed to support grows poorer.
God painted us a picture of the church, and to see it all you have to do is read the eighteenth chapter of Revelation where a vivid portait is made of a church that has prostituted itself with the World and fed itself from its delicacies.
"All these are cut to the bone," I said. "Let's take a look at the food expenditures."
He didn't take too well to this suggestion. He wanted to let that expenditure lay untouched. I finally persuaded him that if anything was going to be accomplished, we had to look at food.
As it turned out, his grocery outlay was more than all the three other family members combined. And this did not include the amount he spent at restaurants which was almost a daily occurrence
The one thing he needed to look at, he ignored.
How true is this in your life?
Church is no different. We search for a church that will tell us what we want to hear and where we can feel comfortable, to feel good about ourself. When the Pastor starts talking about a particular "problem" you have, you feel uncomfortable and try to avoid that church, or at least those messages.
But like the message a Doctor might have for you, that which you avoid may be exactly what you need to hear.
Be not a "Hearer of the Word only, but a doer of the Word."
Too many churches are falling into the trap of supplying their congregation with that which they want, rather than that which they need. And Doctrine is being created for just such a purpose. Little by little Doctrine is edging from being the hard-hitting fire and brimstone messages we heard in revivals during the first part of the twentieth century that brought thousands to their knees, to a washed-out shadow of the World's Doctrine of self-centeredness that puts thousands to sleep.
Like the frog in the boiling pot, those who are being subverted by such Doctrine are totally unaware of it - including the Pastors and the Theologians. Like my friend (who by the way was Financial Advisor with a Master's Degree) these Bible Experts are tunneling their vision toward that which they have already accepted as "Truth," and so therefore refuse to accept, or even look into the possibility that problems may lie hidden in neglected areas.
But confidence can kill you. For though you may have removed the apparent problem, the true problem may very well still exist and be running rampant in your body where it can kill you
Jesus referred to this as washing the outside of the cup and ignoring the inside, which is more important. And He related it to that which goes into a person in contrast to that which comes out from the heart.
But investigate we must. It is our Eternal Destiny at stake, not just our Mortal Soul as with a Doctors diagnoses.
When the Doctor finds a sign of cancer, you want him to dig in and get every bit of it out of you. You don't want him to do as my friend did, and assume part of the cancer isn't a part of the problem, so avoid it because it might present a discomfort to you if he removes it.
You should expect no less from your Pastor. You should want him to dig into the Word and dredge every bit of Truth from it he can. And you should want him to be straight forward with his findings, make you feel so uncomfortable that it forces you to do something about the problem.
Too often Pastors try to "sugar-coat" their message (those who present "medicine" at all) so as not to make their "patients" feel uncomfortable. But if you should be so fortunate as to have a Pastor who lays it on the line and cares enough about you and your Eternal Destiny to push you to Perfection; than you should make sure you let him know you recognize his efforts and encourage him to continue. All too often the Pastor is like a cop - he only hears what people don't like. He only hears from parishioners when they need something or have problems they want him to solve.
This situation is not new. Those who came to Jesus were either trying to tear Him and His message down, or they wanted Him to heal or to feed them. When Jesus started teaching the real message that would Save them, they turned away, and ultimately denied Him and crucified Him. And not Jesus only, but the Apostles experienced much the same.
Of course you do not agree. You may not agree for the same reason my friend did not agree that he should look into his food budget; or you may not agree because you firmly believe what your Doctrine teaches.
That's fine. That is, that's fine unless you are just unwilling, for whatever reason, to investigate your Doctrine.
But if you truly believe you are correct, and care about your family's, your congregation's and your own soul, then you will want to do everything you can to prove (test) your Doctrine.
I provide you with a lot of "Instruments" (tools) with which to dissect your Doctrine. And I supply you with "reasonable doubt" regarding your Doctrine. If you, like the surgeon digging the cancer out of you, want to make sure you get every particle of error from your Belief, then you must cast all assurance aside and doubt every aspect of your belief. If once you have cut your Doctrine and Belief into every possible segment, and have inserted every molecule of Truth you can find, and having reassembled you find it matches what you had before - then you can feel assured you are believing Truth, and not some Doctrine presented to you by you know not who.
A caution however. Be careful of your assistants, that is your helpers. When reassembling your Doctrine it is too easy to call in the aid of "Experts" with their commentaries and their doctrines. Make sure you have the best and most qualified advise and guidance you can get.
When that surgeon goes into your body after the cancer, he will very likely call in an expert in the field to oversee and advise the operation. And you would surely hope he does. Don't expect any less of yourself.
There is only one "Expert" in the field of Biblical exegesis (interpretation) and that is the Author Himself. If you don't have Him instructing every step of your investigation you will not possibly get it right. God said plainly that He has written His Word in such a way that it can not be understood by the carnal mind. It must be heard (or read) with a Spiritual heart. So make sure when you perform your Spiritual Surgery ("Rightly dividing the Word of Truth") that you are honestly seeking Truth, and willing to accept that which is unacceptable by everyone else, especially the "Experts."
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