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Archive for the ‘Word of God’ Category

by Jim Gordon

For those of us who grew up in the church, most understand the difference between the Old and New Testament. Yet we seem to be confused over the new testament and the new covenant.

Many of us believe the new covenant began with the book of Matthew. The fact of the matter is, there is a big difference between the New Testament of the Bible and the New Covenant.

The Old Testament talks a lot about life before Jesus came to live on earth. It contains the Old Covenant Law God made with the Jewish people. This Old Covenant continues beyond the Old Testament of the Bible and into the New Testament.

What many people are not taught is that the New Testament is not entirely the New Covenant. Jesus taught for thirty-three years under the Old Covenant Law. His sermon on the mount and the beatitudes showed the impossibility of completely keeping the old covenant law, and it showed the authority Jesus had over the law.

When Jesus died, the old covenant was fulfilled and came to an end. When Jesus arose, a new covenant began which restored fellowship between God and the human race. This new covenant was no longer based on laws and rules, but it was freely given to us through grace.

The problem now that the new covenant is in effect is that many of us want to continue to live by the old covenant law and mix it with new covenant grace. The fact is we no longer live by the old covenant law. We no longer have to worry about the 10 commandments or the 603 other laws that were given to the Jewish people. Does that mean we can now live as we please and do whatever we want? Well, we can but it is not in our best interest to do so.

We now live by love through the grace of God. When we truly love God, there are no rules or laws that we need to keep to make things better. We love God, therefore we want to do what pleases God. It is a life of freedom, not to do anything we want but freedom to love and have fellowship with God apart from any rules and regulations on how to do so.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

John 1:1 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14 — 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.

These verses clearly state that Jesus is the true, living, inerrant Word of God. It is not a book, but a living part of God.

Not to sound sacrilegious, but sometimes we followers of Christ 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 they worship Christ. Yet it is Christ who is the true Word of God. He is the living and powerful Word and His Spirit 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. So often, we seem to do the very same thing.

The words written in the Bible are stories of men and women from only a certain recorded period of time. They wrote according to what they saw, what they believed, how they related to God and sometimes what they wished God would do. I also believe that many stories written were parables used to show a spiritual truth.

Over time the various translations certainly lost the original meaning due to custom change, word meaning change and even translators missing the mark on what was actually written.

This certainly does not mean we do not need to read the Bible, but we do need to keep it in its proper place. Apart from the guidance and enlightenment of the Spirit, the words of the Bible are nothing more than words in a book.

Rather than think of the trinity as the Father, Son and Holy Bible, we need to remember the Bible does not even record that it is the word of God. It certainly is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, but it is not perfect or inerrant in itself. The most important part the Bible plays is that it does lead us to the inerrant, living Word of God who is Jesus.

Jesus is who we are to look to for everything. He is the Word. He is our all in all and his Spirit lives within us as our teacher and guide.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

The truth is we can’t prove God somehow controlled the views of the writers to be correct about God. Some may define God’s inspiration only as motivating writers to share their experiences with God, but God didn’t necessarily control or approved all written about God. Anyway, one is either convinced God controlled the words of the Bible to accurately portray God, or the Bible is uncontrolled writings which encourages openly contemplating what a loving God is really like.

Even if you believe God inspired every word of the Bible, it is complicated.

We don’t possess the original manuscripts but only what was copied from the original. Did God’s inspiration control that process? The many translations/versions of the Bible we have today suggest copying is not an exact process. Even if we had the original autographs, interpretation is still required. Scholars who believe in the authority of Scriptures disagree what the Bible says about critical issues such as homosexuality, gender roles, divorce, Hell, etc. Interpretations are not infallible, but many don’t begin a discussion with “I may be wrong?”

What may be the main reason many believe the Bible is inspired? 

It is suggested if the Bible isn’t inspired, “then you can’t know God for sure.” This implies interpretations are infallible which of course they aren’t. We aren’t totally clueless! Universal moral outrage hints of a Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. Who doesn’t know a good God hates beheading people because they don’t share your beliefs unless a supposed infallible Book supposedly speaks for God? We just know we ought to treat others like we want to be treated.

Uncertainty doesn’t mean anything goes. The Bible even suggests perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). We don’t always know what perfect love entails but at least we always know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly or am I loving others like our Creator loves. Clearly, Bible or no Bible, not everything goes especially if it contradicts your moral sense of a loving God.

Not questioning the Bible can lead to violence’s in God’s name.

When you regard the Bible as the revealed Word of God, this can lead to not questioning actions contributed to God. Does God really approved all actions contributed to God in the Bible? Not questioning if writers always portrayed God accurately has led to justifying killing infidels in the name of God. God’s supposed warlike attitudes in the Old Testament have been used to justify wars throughout history. Imagine if terrorists admitted that God possibly didn’t approve of actions they interpret as denying freedom of beliefs!

Many reject God for the wrong reasons because of claims made about God. 

An inspired Bible has led to claims about God that don’t make moral sense to many. Supposed “inspired interpretations” has led to putting men in leadership positions over women which has encouraged historical dominance on the man’s part. People condemn gays, despite their moral intuitions, because God supposedly rejects same gender loving relationships according to a Book. When God is portrayed as less than perfectly loving, understandably this can lead to atheism or rejecting God. A fallible Book may actually lead to knowing God better.

Didn’t Jesus though say the Bible was inspired?

Does John 5:45-46 claim that Jesus said believing in Jesus is believing what Moses wrote? This doesn’t confirm that Moses or any OT writer always wrote perfectly about God. Jesus seemed to correct OT laws that didn’t fully or correctly convey God’s ways (Mt 5). Some scholars suggest Jesus was simply expanding or interpreting correctly OT laws. The OT and the Bible is valuable because it gets us talking about what a loving God is really like. Regardless, we must use common moral sense because ancient literature requires interpretation.

Aren’t we better off with a fallible than infallible Bible?

A universal, inborn desire to treat others like we want to be treated is one way a Creator could communicate what is good versus evil. Choose the claim or interpretation about God that doesn’t contradict your intuitive sense of a loving God. Moral intuitions are fallible but at least they should join the party of fallible interpretations. We will disagree but civil discussions are possible. We don’t always know what perfect love is, but it is better to challenge God than not question God and be wrong. A different view of God, than claimed by many Bible folks, may be the help our world needs in loving others like we want to be loved.

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

The Word of God is important to us today, just as the Word of God has always been important. The question is what actually is the Word of God?

Growing up in church, I was always taught that the bible was the perfect, inerrant word of God. People would tell me if the bible was not perfect, then how could we believe anything about God? To me, that seems to put a lot of emphasis and importance on the bible rather than on God. Remember, it is not the Father, Son and Holy Bible.

Just because a book written by many men over many, many years is not inerrant does not mean God does not exist or cannot be trusted. God is much bigger and more powerful than to be controlled by a book.

The bible was written by men who were inspired but not controlled by God. It was writings of their views, opinions and experiences learning about God, and trying to relate to and follow God. They were not over powered and used as God’s hands to write the words of the bible.

The bible, even according to the bible itself, is not the word of God. We are told in John 1:1 that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. It later says that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The bible is not the word of God but it leads us to the Word of God (Jesus/God) and to our own experiences with God.

The bible is certainly worth reading, especially since it does say in 2 Timothy that all scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness. Inspired and directly written are two different things. I may be inspired by someone to write an article or a book, but what I write will be from my experiences, opinion and knowledge.

The bible comes to life when the Spirit illuminates what God has for us. Apart from the leading of the Holy Spirit, the bible is only man’s views and experiences with God. It is the Spirit that lives within us that teaches and brings to life the words that were written. It is the Spirit that leads us to a life with God that has purpose and meaning. And it is the Spirit that gives us strength to show the love of God to other people as we live our lives daily for him.

Read the bible, ask the Spirit to speak to you while doing so, but do not elevate the bible to a position it does not even ask for. The Word of God is alive, powerful and inerrant, but the Word of God we are talking about is Jesus, by his Spirit, living in you.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

We can’t claim the Bible is a one-stop information source about God. We can’t prove God inspired all of the Bible thus approved everything written about God. Maybe God didn’t inspire every word due to God’s uncontrolling nature. Maybe God wants us to read the Bible to contemplate what a loving God may be really like. Maybe God speaks to us through our moral intuitions which is what the Bible describes as guidance by the Holy Spirit – unless you are hearing an audible voice.

I will list only a few beliefs that make no moral sense to me. For a full railing see here.

  • God can’t be a hellish sadist. Such pain serves no lasting purpose anyway. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. The only reason to believe Hell really exist is because of some book, but I doubt the traditional understanding of Hell exist in the Bible. See here.
  • God can’t be a religion excluder. A loving God wouldn’t only let Christians into heaven when the majority of people born into this world died without knowledge of Jesus the Christ. One’s religion, or rebellion against a certain religion, is often based on the family born into whether it is Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. Is God a God of chance?
  • God can’t be a homophobe. A loving God couldn’t possibly condemn gays when they can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can? If you are a straight man, don’t you naturally have to fight not looking at naked women than men? Ask gays their battle! Who chooses to be gay when one has to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility?
  • God can’t be a sexist. God wouldn’t put men in leadership position over women which has enabled dominance on the man’s part leading to atrocities women face at the hands of men. Like many views about God, the Bible can also be interpreted to endorse roles according to gifts not gender. Men and women have God in trying to out serve one another. Shouldn’t the most qualified or gifted, whether male or female, be appointed CEO, preacher, or priest?
  • God can’t be a moral hypocrite humanly-speaking. If God exists, God surely loves in ways God’s creations sense they ought to love others. I don’t know any reasonable God or non-God person that doesn’t respect the golden rule in relationships. God also!
  • God can’t be a “hidden agenda” friend. It has to be wrong to engage in friendships for the purpose of manipulating them to your beliefs. Friends aren’t evangelistic projects. Jesus’ agenda was to simply love people in the moment. Jesus wanted others to know God loves them and seeks to help them be who they want to be deep down if desiring such help.
  • God can’t be an angry egomaniac. God doesn’t want to be feared as if that leads to a genuine relationship. If God was so worried about their ego, God would not have given us freedom to contradict their wishes. God surely only wants what we deep down desire – loving others like we want to be loved.

I’m done!

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

Despite contradictions and moral challenges in the Bible, many hold on to an inspired Bible for fear the Bible will be discarded for “whatever goes” in understanding God.  But it seems obvious, even without a Bible, a Creator surely loves in ways God’s creations sense they ought to love others (aka common moral sense). I don’t know any reasonable human being who doesn’t respect the universal compulsion to treat others like we want to be treated. The Bible can be viewed as God’s love story beginning with Israel and culminating with the life of Jesus that we don’t possess in any other document. God didn’t necessarily inspire or approve of everything written about God. Reading the Bible encourages questioning and contemplating what a loving God is really like.

The Bible’s infallibility is a non-starter.

  • II Sam 24: 1 says God incited David to sin; I Chr 21:1 blames it on Satan
  • II Sam 24:24 has David paying fifty pieces of silver for Orman’s threshing floor; I Chr 21:25 says six hundred was paid
  • 2 Kgs 24:6 says Jehoiakim had a son; Jer 36:30 says Jehoiakim had no son to reign after him
  • Matthew 27:9-10 says Jeremiah mention thirty pieces of silver; it was Zechariah (Zech 11: 12)
  • Jesus said the rooster would crow once after Peter’s three denials (Mt 26.34, Lk 22:34, John 13:38), Mark says the rooster crowed twice (Mk 14:30)

The list of contradictions may be trivial but are sizable (Gregory Boyd, Inspired Imperfection, Chapter 1). It seems obvious God didn’t at least control the writers from being wrong in their factual information. Moral challenges are not so trivial. Did God really inspire acts or language of genocide? I Samuel 15:3 claims God told Israel: “Now go, attack the Amalekites… put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” Hundreds of passages in the Old Testament advocate violence in God’s name. Did God really approve of laws that burned alive sexual offenders (Lev 20:14 21:9)?

One can only guess not prove every word in the Bible is inspired.    

Biblical writers rarely claimed audible God-speak. “God said” recorded hundreds of times in the Bible may be a figure of speech expressing inner impressions about God – right or wrong. Writers/editors of the Bible didn’t lie but were honest in their understandings of God. Exodus 20: 1-17 starts by saying “all these words” when the 10 commandments were given to Moses from God. The 10 commandments are repeated again in Deuteronomy 5:6-18 but with some slight word variation. Shouldn’t both passages be the same verbatim? Anyway, the Bible is suggested to be inspired or God-breathe because the biblical writers claim so. Such logic is circular.   

An inspired view of the Bible can be dangerous.

It would seem if God inspired an action attributed to God, that God approves such actions. Not questioning if writers always portrayed God accurately has led to justifying killing infidels in the name of God. God’s supposed warlike attitudes in the Old Testament have been used to justify wars throughout history. Imagine if terrorists admitted that God possibly didn’t approve of actions they interpret as denying freedom of beliefs! An inspired Bible has led to assuming God put men in leadership positions over women which has encouraged historical dominance on the man’s part. People condemn gays, despite their moral intuitions, because God supposedly rejects same gender loving relationships according to a Book. A fallible Book may actually lead to knowing God better.

An inspired Bible leads down the slippery slope of inspired interpretations.

It is common to hear one argue “The Bible says” without one adding “according to my understanding.” The Bible can be used to defend opposite views regarding gays, women’s roles, the traditional understanding of Hell, etc. Literature requires interpretation! Some scholars hold on to inspiration views by claiming God accommodates less than perfect views written about God because humans can’t handle the truth. So, we still have to interpret which passages reveal the real God. We can avoid the slippery slope toward supposed inspired interpretations by acknowledging the Bible may be fallible.    

Questioning what is inspired by God can explain animal sacrifice.   

Many ancient near eastern groups or nations before Israel had a sacrificial system like the Israelites. An uncontrolling God isn’t coercive but influential. It is doubtful God ever approved or desired to accommodate animal cruelty. This may explain why later OT writers wrote that God preferred contrite hearts over animal sacrifices (Ps 51:16-17, Jer 7:22, Micah 6:6). This understanding also leads to different interpretations of the Cross and views of God for many – did Jesus die to appease God’s wrath and need for sacrifice or did Jesus better convey God’s radical love and ways by submitting to wrongdoing? Using power to overcome often doesn’t accomplished the greater good.

What about the Bible claiming to be God-breathe though?

2 Tim 3:16-17 is the only time Scriptures used the Greek word “theopneustos” which literally means God-breathe: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

  • Keep in mind this could only refer to OT writings for the final NT canon didn’t exist and in fact many NT books had not even been written
  • God-breathe can also be interpreted literally as God-spirited. This could mean God uses writings (the Greek word for Scripture is “graphis” or writings) to touch our hearts without necessarily declaring such writings are infallible or perfect views of God. It is possible biblical writers perceived God wrongly but God still used that for correcting in righteousness.
  • God could even teach you something in this writing (post) 😊

Didn’t Jesus claim or imply the Old Testament was inspired by God?

Does John 5:45-46 claim that Jesus said believing in Jesus is believing what Moses wrote? No doubt Jesus revered and referred frequently to OT writings. This doesn’t confirm that Moses or any OT writer always wrote perfectly about God. Moses said to take an oath (Deut 6:13); Jesus said to take no oaths (Mt. 5:37). Jesus seemed to correct OT laws that didn’t fully or correctly convey God’s ways (Mt 5). Some scholars suggest Jesus was simply expanding or interpreting correctly OT laws. Regardless, we must use common moral sense because ancient literature requires interpretation. Finally, Jesus’ words can’t be the end all. Some interpret Jesus to justify violence in certain circumstances while others suggest Jesus argued for no violence.  

Which understanding of God should we lean toward?  

Choose the interpretation about God that doesn’t contradict your intuitive sense of a loving God. Many recognize as bigotry if we chose business leaders based on gender than gifts. Putting men in spiritual leadership positions over women can be conducive for abuse and other atrocities women face at the hands of men. It doesn’t make moral sense why God would condemn gays when they can no more chose who they love than straight can. Ask them! Which interpretation? We don’t always know what perfect love is, but it is better to question than be wrong.

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by Jim Gordon

Did Jesus teach from the Old Covenant? Was not the birth of Christ the beginning of the New Covenant? When does the Old Covenant end and the New Covenant begin? We tend to forget that the Old Covenant does not end with Malachi and the New Covenant does not start with Matthew.

Even though Jesus came to fulfill the old agreement through grace, the first thirty-three years that Jesus walked the earth He lived under the Old Covenant. He was required to follow all its rules and regulations. He even taught from those rules, yet those rules are no longer intended for us. ‘But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons’. Galatians 4:4,5

The New Covenant began when Jesus was crucified. When He said ‘It is finished’ He was talking about the Law, the Old Covenant. Upon His resurrection the New Covenant began and we are no longer required to try and live under the Law and the way of the Old Covenant. It is finished!

The old agreement was made with the Jewish people because they desired to have a set of rules to show God they could please him by their obedience. It turned out to be a way God used to show them they were unable to live a perfect life on our own. Jesus came to show us the true love of the Father and to restore our fellowship with him. Jesus came and fulfilled the old agreement and upon his resurrection made a new agreement of grace. ‘Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill’. Matthew 5:17

Now that the Law has been fulfilled in Christ, we are no longer required to try to live by the ten commandments and the rules and regulations of the Old Covenant. So often we seem to forget that because of grace we now live by faith in Christ. We are no longer slaves to sin, we are no longer just a poor sinner saved by grace although we were sinners and we are saved by grace. We are now the righteousness of God through Christ. God no longer calls us slaves but He calls us Sons. We are seated in heavenly places in Christ. This is not to say that we should go out and do whatever we want, right or wrong. We do have freedom in Christ to do what we choose, but there are consequences if we choose things that God has warned us to stay away from.

Today we choose to live a life pleasing to God because of love, not due to obligation by a set of rules. Godly love is the fulfillment of the Law. We love God, we love others and we have been made righteous through Christ. He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within us and we are now the temple of God. It is the Spirit who guides us, teaches us and gives us strength. We do not love or please God out of obligation. We do not love him because we are trying to fulfill a set of rules and Old Testament laws that we could not live up to anyway. We do what is pleasing to God because we choose to do so because of our love for Him.

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by Jim Gordon

— John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
— John 1:14  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 5:39-40  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 Word is not just written words in a book. The Word mentioned here is Jesus, the Living Word.

So many of us focus on which version of the bible is the true word of God. These verses state that the true Word is alive and living within us. The true Word is not a book at all.

If we were never again able to read from the bible or hear it read to us, we still have the Living Word of God within us to teach us and guide us.

It is good to read our bibles no matter what translation we prefer because the written word is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. Yet the bible is not God and is not part of the trinity of God. It is not Father, Son and Holy Bible.

We need to remember that the bible was written by humans who were inspired to tell how they related to God, how they understood God, how they interacted with God and what they thought God was saying to them.  The true Word of God is Jesus who lives within each of us through the Holy Spirit.

We can read the words on the pages of the bible and learn about grace and the love of God, but it is the Living Word within us by the Holy Spirit that brings to life and power the words we read. Jesus, who is the living, inerrant Word of God has final authority over any written words which we call the bible.

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by Jim Gordon

In the bible we read that God is love. That sounds so nice, especially when the meaning according to the dictionary is strong affection for another; affection and tenderness; affection based on admiration; profoundly tender.

Yet we read in the old testament about a God that sounds so different from this description. We read of a God of destruction, vengeance, punishment and hatred. One that kills people whether it be men, women or children. A God that kills animals and destroys property. What kind of love is that?

The new testament tells us more about a God of love. Jesus came to this earth to show us what God may really be like.  The examples Jesus showed were love, forgiveness, acceptance, affection, tenderness and compassion.

My personal opinion is that God is like the God Jesus portrayed. I think the old testament was more about the views of human beings, what they thought, how they perceived God and how they used God to promote their desires and hatred of their enemies. Again, this is just my view but it makes more sense to me knowing that the bible states that God is love.

People will argue that God’s ways are higher than ours and we cannot always know and understand what the purpose of God is in different situations. They will also argue that the bible is perfect and inerrant and we cannot question what is written therein. Yet I do not believe the perfect godly trinity is Father, Son and Holy Bible. I believe the bible was inspired yet written by men. Men also translated and interpreted it. I feel that over the years of man having a hand in doing these things that many things got changed, misinterpreted and mistranslated. I think God got a bad rap due to the involvement of man in the process.

Even the bible itself does not say it is inerrant. The bible makes clear who the perfect, living Word of God actually is, and it is not a book. We read in John 1:1, John 1:14 and John 5:39 that the Word of God is Jesus.

I say all this not to try and disprove the bible. I say this to show that God is love. God is not out to punish and destroy his creation just because of things they do. He sometimes will correct us, just as a parent does their children. This is also done in a loving manner. As a loving parent, we want the best for our kids and sometimes it involves a disciplinary action for their own good. But disciplining in love is completely different from beating, injuring, being hateful and killing to make a point.

It frustrates me when I read articles about various christian leaders making comments about how God is punishing someone or some area with earthquakes, fires, sickness and death because of something they consider to be sinful. To me, that is the god of the old testament. One that men use to validate their own thoughts and desires.

The best way to find out what God is like is to read the gospels written about the life of Jesus. He represented what God is really like. He loved people. He did not force his views on others. He accepted people, healed people, fed people and offered them a better way of living. A way of love. It did not depend on who the person was, what they looked like, what their color or nationality was, who they loved or what political party they followed. Jesus loved them all and treated them with respect and kindness. How much better our world would be if we, who claim to be children of God (1), treated all people with the same love, kindness and respect. Rather than demanding judgment, exclusion and killing; or demanding our views and opinions be forced on others or our political views be enforced on all. I say look out for the best interests of others, and do so in a loving and kind way. Live your life as you feel the Spirit is leading you, but do not force others to see things the same way. Remember Jesus told us to love God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There should be no mistake here, God is love and we are to show that love to everyone.

(1) Link to article by Damon Brewster

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by Jim Gordon

After having a discussion with some friends on the topic of the Spirit within and hearing his voice, I thought it appropriate to repost an article from a couple years ago on the subject.

Growing up in the organized church, we were told that the Holy Spirit came to reside within us once we accepted Christ. We were also told that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we have no need that any man should teach us. Yet when it came to really emphasizing what that meant and how to hear the Spirit, the church seemed to have dropped the ball in that area.

We do not seem to hear a lot of teaching on what it means for the Spirit to live within us. We are not told how to listen for the Spirit and what are we actually supposed to be listening for. Jesus said that his sheep hear his voice, yet most of us were taught that his voice is really the words written in the bible or spoken by the pastor.

We have heard it said that if it is not in the bible it is not of God. We are told God only speaks through the written word, yet there are so many interpretations, various doctrines and so many verses that were written to a specific person or group of persons. These writings were often for a specific time period that no longer relates directly to us except as an example to learn about the nature of God.

I feel so much has been lost over the years from when the original writings were done. So many of the translations have changed the original meanings because of changes in times, word meanings, traditions and such. Without the Spirit bringing to life the words we read, and through confirmation through his voice within we are really left to our personal views and opinions and what others have told us the written word means.

The bible is not God and it is not a god. The bible was inspired by an infallible God yet written by very fallible men, men who were inspired yet wrote with their personal views and ways of writing. The bible is about people trying to find, follow and fellowship with God and teaches us ways to do that. The written word leads us to the Living Word, who is Jesus.

The bible tells us that the Spirit now lives within us. Yet so often, even though we say it we do not act like we really believe it. Time and time again the bible mentions we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, we have the mind of Christ, the Spirit and the Kingdom are within you. And time and time again we seem to go right on thinking God is far away from us and all we can do is read from his word or have some pastor tell us what God is saying.

There are many people who say they speak for God but are nowhere close to being a godly example. It is easy to say God told me this or that, or say God told me to tell you something yet the person saying such things is only going on their personal feelings and interpretations. Anyone can say God told them this or that and expect us to do what they say, but we need to listen to the Spirit for ourselves and listen for the confirmation from within as to what is of God and what is not.

I believe if God says the Spirit lives within us and we can hear his voice, then it is something not to be taken lightly. As followers of Christ we can rely on the Spirit within us to teach us and guide us into his truth. We have to be listening and open to God to know his voice, but we can hear it and know it is from God. To say that we can only hear from God through the written word is to miss a more intimate fellowship with God.

Is the bible to be ignored? Are we to stop reading the written word and only follow what we feel is the voice of the Spirit? No, both the written word and the Living Word that lives within us are important. The written word is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. Yet without the Living Word bringing those words to life, it is just a book about humans trying to find God. We need to be listening for the quiet voice of the Spirit of Christ who actually lives within us for truth and guidance. Sometimes he will speak directly in our spirits, sometimes he will speak through his written word and sometimes through others.

Also remember that God is alive and his Spirit is within us. Do not think that He can only speak through one particular means. Yet do not jump at every voice you hear, make sure it is the voice of His Spirit. Although the bible says we have the mind of Christ we also have the mind of Jim, or Mike or Betty. We are still human and need to be sure we are hearing from the Spirit of Christ and not our natural spirit. Still, Jesus said His sheep hear his voice, which to me says we can hear and know it is from God.

We also know that the Spirit can speak to one person one way and another person in a different way. Just because the Spirit is speaking to me does not mean he is telling you the same thing. Just because I hear the Spirit say something to me does not mean it is something that has to be announced to everyone. It may be that he is speaking to me for something I need to do or learn and it is not meant for others to hear.

My friend Michael Clark wrote about this topic and said in his article: “Jesus is the Word of God! He speaks to those who are His sheep. They know His voice and will not follow the voices of strangers (read John Ch. 10). Yet, so many Christians have said to me, “How can I know when Jesus is speaking to me?” To many of them the answer is, “Unplug! You are listening to and reading too many teachers. Break this habit of heaping to yourself teachers who tickle your ears. Get alone with God for a few months until you start hearing His whispered voice. Talk with Him and let Him be your friend above all friends.”

Just as we think of the church as a building with an organized program, it is so much more than that. The Church is a community of people daily following the Spirit and living in the kingdom of God during our life now. We also think of the word of God as a book, yet the true and living Word of God is so much more than that. Jesus is the Living Word of God and we can hear the voice of the Spirit which is within us. We can hear his voice through the written word, but keep in mind that God speaks in more ways than one.

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