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Archive for March, 2015

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. Galatians 5:1-4

As followers of Christ, we have been set free. From what have we been set free? Is it circumcision? I personally think circumcision is a place-holder in this verse. It could be anything we use to try to earn our right standing with God.

It Is By Grace

It is by grace we are accepted, and when we try to do anything….keep the law or do good works, we are putting trust in our work and not the work of Christ.

It we do not trust in the grace of God, the only thing we have left is to keep the Law, and we have to keep the whole Law. Obviously, we cannot do that, because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

So why is this verse saying we have fallen from grace? What have we done to do so? It is by trying to keep the Law, trying to live by the Old Covenant and rejecting the grace Jesus provided.

The Old and the New

In today’s church it seems, at least for me, that the mingling of the Old and New Covenant is taught. We are told we are saved by grace, but we mature in the faith and live pleasing to God by keeping the Law. This just should not be. The above verse tells us that this is the way we fall from grace.

free from lawWe are free from the Law, we are free from the punishment for our old sin nature (still consequences sometimes, but not punishment), and we are free from trying to measure up by keeping rules and laws.

Jesus has already done all the work that needs to be done. We can now rest in the grace He provided. Good works will follow because of our love for him, not due to an obligation to measure up and earn his forgiveness.

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I have mentioned this in a previous article, and want to again make clear that I am not a teacher. The postings on this site are from a person who certainly has a lot to learn.

My wife and I feel the same on this subject, and as imperfect people who have been made holy and righteous through God’s grace, it is always good to remind ourselves and those who read these articles, that what is written is coming from someone who is on a daily path with our Father, yet constantly learning.

I don’t think any of us come to a point of knowing it all and being completely correct in our knowledge of God. Each of our lives are a daily process, sometimes one step forward and two steps back, but each and every step ordered by our Father.

After my wife and I left the institutional church, I began to see some similar divisions outside the walls as much as inside the walls. We found that even though we were outside the walls of a church, our minds still had many walls up. It was fairly easy to leave the walls of a church, but the walls that had been built up in our minds are much harder to leave.

I have found that each of us have our own views on doctrine and interpretations of the bible. I personally feel this just shows our uniqueness and individuality.

Denominations and Separation

In the organized church there are many denominations and sects. I always saw this as a great division in the body of Christ. Yet outside of church, I have found much of the same. There are universal thinkers, preterist views, anabaptist views, trinitarianism, unitarianism, pre-millennial, post-millennial, there is a hell, there is not a hell….on and on it goes and each think they are right and others have missed the truth.

There is nothing wrong with having different views and interpretations. God has designed us as unique people and He leads and guides us according to that uniqueness. The problem is how we think in our mind according to our interpretations and views.

As I mentioned before, I felt a great separation in the organized church due to so many separate churches, each based on their style of doctrine and interpretation. I grew up in the methodist church and never considered going to a different denomination. I thought I had the best doctrine and interpretation of the bible and figured all the other churches were a little off base. Fortunately, neither I nor my wife think that way anymore.

But I am finding that with all the different views outside of church, we can get into the same thought process.

The big difference, at least the way I see it, is in our minds. It is our attitude and the way we think that either separates us or opens up the path to fellowship.

When we think that our way is right, we tend to associate with others who are of the same views. We join together with those of like-doctrine. Just the same as those in church meet each week with others who deem themselves methodists or baptists or lutheran and so on, when we think our way is right and only want to meet with those who feel the same, we again divide the body of Christ.

mine is rightEven when we decide to fellowship with those outside our way of thinking, if we go into it with the thought that we are right and they are wrong, and have the intent to meet with them only to prove our way is right, we still cause division.

We are all Unique

It is time we realize that each of us are unique individuals, created by the Father and guided by the Holy Spirit in that uniqueness. We need to accept that we do not have all the answers, we may be right or we may be wrong. Each of us will change over the years as God leads us along and the Spirit reveals more truth to us.

We should be loving and accepting of everyone we meet, and be open to fellowship with any of our brothers and sisters in Christ, without any thought or intention of proving our way as the only way. There is nothing wrong with discussing our views, and we certainly can learn from others as we listen to them, but we need to keep it at discussing and listening and not trying to prove our point and convert people to our way of thinking.

It is so aggravating to me to see people get so defensive and argue over who is right. Especially on social media where other people can see that divisiveness (tending to cause disagreement or hostility between people) and hard feelings it can cause. My first thought when I read some of these discussions is, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another”. Yet, we sometimes do not seem very loving toward our brothers and sisters.

Even though we are outside the walls of organized religion, I have to say there are many who are still part of the traditional church system who love God and have very open minds to accepting others and realizing their way is not the only true way.

It is obvious that after leaving the walls of traditional church and living free from organized religion, the walls in our minds are still a thing to be dealt with and torn down.

Time of Change

Our walk is a daily process. It is a constantly changing, learning process where our interpretations and views change over time as the Spirit sheds light on more truth. We need to keep in mind that we do not have it all figured out and we are not the only ones who are right. We may be right for the place on the path we are currently, but as we move forward, we may begin to see things differently.

The way my wife and I see it, the best thing is to keep an open mind, listen for the guidance of the Spirit constantly, love those you come in contact with each day and enjoy fellowship with anyone the Father places in your life, whether it is a short period of time or a lifetime.

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Have you noticed how we Christians want to legislate morality?

We have our pet doctrines and think that if we could get the right people into office, or the right laws passed, the world would be a better place.

We think if we can get the democrats out and the republicans in, or the other way around, things will improve. If we can just get Roe v Wade overturned, get the 10 commandments posted on the courthouse wall, put prayer back in school, or keep ‘In God We Trust’ on our money, things will be better.

morality

The trouble with this way of thinking is, it does not work and it is not right. We cannot legislate “Christian” values or what we consider to be morally right.

There is no political party that is going to make everything OK. It is so aggravating at times to listen to people condemn one political party or the other, when neither party is going to have the answer that makes everything better. If one political party was replaced by another political party, the only thing that would change would be the people who are complaining.

We get so caught up on what ‘man’ can supposedly do, when no human is going to come up with the answer to solve all our problems. Only by trusting God and allowing Him to work in each of us, will anything change in our world.

Nothing will change until we come to realize that Christ is within us, and it is by his power that we live and love others. We are not of this world, but of the Kingdom of God.

kingdom of god

The Kingdom of God is where we as followers of Christ actually live….now. It is not something in the future, after we die. The Kingdom of God is within us, and it is for the here and now. I think we miss a lot of the complete Gospel message when we only focus on the salvation part of it and forget the Kingdom of God aspect.

We need to forget the allegiance we seem to think we need to political parties and seek first His Kingdom.

We should be praying for our leaders, no matter which party they belong too. Although we pray for them and respect their position, we should not be placing our hope in any political party. Political parties are made up of human beings who are imperfect, and truthfully, most often only looking out for their political agenda and financial well-being.

Seek first the Kingdom of God. Realize the Spirit of God lives within us and we are actually living in the Kingdom right now. Listen for the voice and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and love others no matter who they are or what they think. We are not going to change people by voting in politicians and making new laws. Only by loving people, accepting them as they are, and showing them the love of God by our actions, will we make any real impact on our world.

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When we talk about the Word of God, we usually think of the Bible.

If someone says the Bible is just a book, we get all offended and ready to voice our opinion that the Bible is the Word of God.

Not to sound sacrilegious, but sometimes we can actually make too much of the Bible. People will hold it up and say it is the word of God and worship it more than we worship Christ. Christ is the true Word of God as mentioned in John 1:1. He is the living and powerful Word and His Spirit lives within us.

The Word

Many times we Christians focus so much on The Bible that we forget we have the living Word of God inside of us. The Holy Spirit, who is God in spirit form, just as Jesus was God in human form, lives within us.

In John 5:39 and 40, Jesus told the religious leaders “you study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life”. The religious leaders of the day spent so much time studying the scriptures that they missed the Living Word standing right in front of them.

There is certainly nothing wrong with reading the Bible, as it is God inspired. Through it we can learn from the past, we see the story of redemption throughout, we come to know the love God has for us and how he purchased our salvation through Christ. We learn what pleases God and we come to know that it is only by Grace that we are in right standing with God.

The Bible teaches us the Law and how we humans are completely unable to live a life pleasing to God through the law. The law was our tutor to bring us to realize that we need God’s grace through Christ.

The Bible teaches us of the freedom we now have in Christ and that only by His grace can we live a life pleasing to Him. There is nothing that we can do on our own to earn or deserve what He has done for us.

We need to focus on Jesus. He is the true and living Word of God. It is when we focus on Christ and listen for the leading of the Holy Spirit within us that the written words will come alive with power and meaning.

I like this statement by Mick Mooney, “Above all, trust the Spirit of God in you to guide you. It helps to remember that the Bible is a testimony of the life and finished work of Jesus, not the guide for your life; your Guide abides within you. Certainly the Bible has an important place in our faith walk, but it should never replace the work of the Holy Spirit in you. Christ in us is our hope. Christ in us is how we learn, and how we are led by God”.

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