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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

By Mike Edwards 

It can be confusing or turn others away from God by the way we talk about the Cross. A death doesn’t magically heal the pain we have caused God or others. The most healing we can hope for is when there is confession and forgiveness. A partner can never undo their betrayal, but taking responsibility and not blaming others can be a start toward healing. Many growing up in church may not have a problem with the idea of a child being sacrificed to appease God – neither did the OT gods – but an outsider using common moral sense has to wonder why a God who truly loves requires this. Does the Bible really teach God requires blood before forgiving?

Requiring a debt be paid isn’t really forgiveness.

If you owe a monetary debt and you are required to pay it off, how is that forgiveness of a debt? God can’t both forgive a debt and require repayment. Demanding the blood of an innocent party doesn’t legally resolve another person’s guilt.  My going to jail for a friend’s wrongdoing doesn’t somehow clear my friend of their crime. Guilt is not somehow magically removed by someone else’s confession of a sin they didn’t commit.

We may need to rewrite John 3:16 if Penal Substitution is true.

“For God was so filled with wrath against the world, that he sent his only begotten son to take the beating that we all deserved. That if anyone would want to escape eternal suffering, and would raise their hand and repeat this prayer after me, they would escape this horrible wrath. For the son was not sent into the world to change our minds about God, but to change God’s mind about us. So now that Jesus has taken the punishment for us, God can now finally love us, and forgive us.”  https://www.patheos.com/blogs/keithgiles/2018/11/for-god-so-hated-the-world/

Jesus and the Bible sometimes contradict the necessity of blood to forgive our sins.

Jesus forgave the paralyzed man before His death (Mt. 9: 6-9). Jesus sure seemed to accept supposedly evil people in society before His blood was spilt on the Cross. Why does the Bible talk so much about the Cross defeating evil, rather than the Cross defeated evil so God could forgive us (Gal. 1:4, I Jn. 3:8, etc.)? Jesus seemed on a mission to help us battle ongoing evil, not to pay for a once-for-all crime.

If blood was necessary for God to forgive, why did even OT writers over time begin to write that God doesn’t like animal sacrifices but contrite hearts (Ps. 51:16-17, i.e. Jer. 7:22, Amos 5:21, Micah 6:6). In the OT sacrifices were for unknown sins while known sins were punished not forgiven. Even in the NT God is said to not desire or be pleased with sacrifice and offerings though offered in accordance with the law (Heb. 10:8). These passages contradict passages that supposedly teach God required Jesus’ death to forgive us.

But, don’t Bible verses also say Jesus died for our sins?

Many passages insinuate that Jesus died for us because of our sins (I Pe. 3:18, Rom. 5:8, I John 3:16, etc.). They don’t say Jesus died for God’s sake. Jesus could have died because of our sins rather than for our sins. Jesus’ death actually proves violence doesn’t solve differences. Jesus’ message was acceptance and forgiveness lead to healing. If the Bible was crystal clear the purpose of Jesus’ death, why do so many theories exist as to why Jesus died?

Why did Jesus die? 

It is okay to speculate why Jesus was willing to die on the Cross. Biblical scholars haven’t figured it out. Jesus jumping off the Cross or overpowering His enemies was expected or hoped for but we would have learned nothing. We may still be talking about Jesus’ message of radical love as the best path for reconciliation, because He was willing to die rather than power over others. Jesus’ desire to inspire unselfish living empowered by our Creator is what really changes the world.  Jesus’ death rather than His power has inspired billions to live unselfishly.

Jesus’ death can enable us to not feel overwhelmed by guilt and truly loved by God. Terrorists blow others up for a message they feel strongly about. Jesus only blew Himself up for a message He believed very strongly in. Soldiers often sacrifice their lives because they are convinced certain freedom are that important. Jesus died in hopes we may understand true freedom is found by understanding what God is really like.

God forgives if we seek God’s forgiveness – no strings attached!

God is dying to forgive you of wrong doing in hopes to inspire you to change for your interests and the interests of others. God’s love and mercy, not God’s need for punishment, is our necessary nourishment in being the person we desire to be. That doesn’t get you a free out- of-jail card for a serious crime. That doesn’t mean when forgiving a friend that has betrayed you, that you have to pretend the relationship is back to the way it was. It takes two to tango. Unfortunately, most of us don’t seek forgiveness from humans or feel a perfect Creator accepts us and could simply forgive us for sins we have a hard time forgiving ourselves for.

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by Jim Gordon

Here we are into a new year already. This is the time many of us have a sense of excitement for new beginnings. We make resolutions to do better at various things in life, whether it is exercise, our spiritual life, eating or treating people better.

Resolutions

My wife and I have stopped making resolutions since we usually, like many, forget about them within the month.

On the other hand, we would like to continue on our walk outside the walls of religion and the many religious rules it puts upon us.

We are going to continue making new friends and get to know people who we were told to stay away from when we were in the organization. We were supposed to associate with people who believed in God and people who mostly believed like the denomination we were part of at the time.

We feel that Jesus came to show us that God loves people. Jesus associated with all kinds of people from all walks of life. They were not all godly people or people the religious leaders of the day would even dream of being seen spending time.

What we have found over the last few years is that people are basically the same. We all have our own beliefs, interests and ways of life. Yet behind the labels that are placed on us we are all human beings in need of love, acceptance, fellowship with others and a fulfilled life.

We all go about finding those things in different ways. Just because we see things differently is no reason to separate ourselves from one another. There is no reason we cannot respect one another, accept one another and treat each other as equals.

Many christian people think this view is very wrong and we should only associate with other believers. They feel christians should judge and condemn those who do not believe as they do and stay away from them until they come to Christ. They seem to think that if we accept people as they are we are condoning what the other person is doing.

My wife and I just do not see things that way. Obviously none of us are going to agree or condone everything other people do, yet we can accept others as human beings, treat them with respect and enjoy time talking and learning about their views. We believe we are all loved by God just as we are, and we believe we are to show that same love to others.

BeKindtoOneAnother

Many times we read in the bible how God treats the righteous and unrighteous equally. We read how God loves all people whether they love him or hate him. We are told to love our enemies and do good to those who treat us bad.

In the New Testament we are told to love God and love our neighbor. Of course our neighbor is not just the person who lives next door but any and all that we come in contact with during the day.

So, we are anxious each day to meet another one of God’s creation. Maybe it will be someone that believes like us, maybe it will be someone who is completely opposite from our views. We just pray that no matter who we meet or what they believe, we will be guided by the Holy Spirit to show love and acceptance, and to enjoy our time together.

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It is amazing to me the variety of voices and views there are in the christian world vying for our attention.

Everyone has their own views and interpretations. I think we can learn something from everyone. Whether it is something new, a better way of doing things, a different way of thinking or just realizing we do not agree with what we hear and it bolsters our own faith.

The problem is that everyone has an opinion. That does not mean everyone is right or wrong. God works in each of us in different ways and what may be right for one person is not right for another.

We need to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit each day, listen for his voice and ask that He will lead us into truth. God will speak and lead us through the Spirit, through the bible and through words spoken from fellow believers. The bible says his sheep know his voice so we need to be sure we are hearing from him, yet we can be assured we can know his voice.

Our relationship with the Father is a day by day experience. What we know and understand today may be completely different from what we believed when we were younger. What we believe today will probably change in the future. God leads us into His truth in His timing as we are ready and open to it.

Our goal is to daily seek the guidance of God through the Spirit and seek His truth. To many of us want to put our focus on a man, a popular evangelist or pastor. Obviously, we can learn from listening to others views and opinions but when we focus on people we can get off track and confused very easily.

Everyone has a different opinion. You can listen to one person or group and hear what they think is the truth, then find another person or group who has a completely different take on the same subject. Putting our trust in people and their opinions often leads to fighting and arguing. Many times, when we have been shown something or led in a particular way we expect everyone to see it our way and to believe the same thing.

The only way to get past all the different views and opinions is to focus on Christ. He will teach us and lead us into the truth. That is not to say we are all going to think and feel the same way on everything. God deals with us personally and in different ways and as followers of Jesus there are many different paths we will walk throughout this life.

We need to remember that the Spirit speaks from within us, he speaks to us from the written word and he can speak to us through other people. We need to be sure we are hearing his voice and know he does not always speak the same way and does not always have the same life experiences for everyone.

It is time we become followers of Jesus and stop being followers of men. Nothing wrong with listening and hearing the views of others, but take it as that. It is their view and opinion. Only Jesus is the one to follow and to be our everything.

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Growing up in the organized church, we were taught from a young age that the Holy Spirit came to reside within us once we accepted the grace of Christ.

Many times in the written word of God we are told that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit lives within us and we have no need that any man teach us.

Jesus said that his sheep hear his voice, yet most of us were taught that the voice really means the words written in the bible.

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 many 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 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 of 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 clearly teaches us how to do that. The written word leads us to the Living Word, who is the Christ.

So many times it is mentioned 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 says 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.

Sure, there are many people who say they speak from God and yet 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 our Father. To say that we can only hear from God through the written word is to miss a more intimate fellowship with our Father.

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 that is good for teaching and learning. 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.

Also remember that God is alive and his Spirit is within us. Do not think that He can only speak through one particular means. Just do not jump at every voice you hear, make sure it is the voice of His Spirit. His sheep hear his voice, which to me says we can hear and know it is from our Father.

Obviously this is not to say that you should immediately react to any thought that pops into your head. Although the bible says we have the mind of Christ we also have the mind of Jim, or Sam or Jane. We are still human and need to be sure we are hearing from the Spirit of Christ and not our natural spirit.

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.

We are told the Spirit lives within us and that his sheep hear his voice, so we know we can hear and know the voice of God. So many of us have the thought that God is way up in heaven somewhere and all we can do is read his word or listen to pastors to know what he wants us to do. The truth is his word says that he lives within us through the Spirit and he speaks to us through the Spirit.

My friend Michael Clark wrote about this also 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.” (https://awildernessvoice.wordpress.com/2017/03/21/words-words-words-or-will-we-be-one/)

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 within 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 also, but keep in mind that God speaks in more ways than one.

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Growing up in the church I learned quickly that the Bible was the word of God and that God spoke to us through his word. Everything had go along with the Bible or it was not of God.BibleatJohn1-1

I often wondered how a book written by many different people over many years, and in a time period so different from our own could be inerrant and the only way God communicated.

My personal belief is that the written word of God, which we call the Bible is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, as mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:16.

Yet while reading some of the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5:21 to 44, we listen to Jesus as he speaks to the crowds. Many times he says “you have heard it said” then mentions a verse from the written word. Each time he follows this with “but I say unto you” and follows with his words of advice. To me this says that Jesus, who is the living, inerrant Word of God has final authority over any written word which we call the bible. And remember Jesus spoke these words before the New Testament of our Bible was even written.

We read in John 1:1, in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

JesusWordofGod2Again in John 1:14 we read ‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth’. The written words of the Bible did not become flesh and dwell among us, only Jesus fulfilled that verse.

And in Revelation 19:13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

For me, I believe the Bible is inspired by God, written by men and useful for leading us to the living, inerrant Word of God who is Jesus.

I am certainly not saying we should not read the Bible, but we should not elevate the Bible to a position of authority which matches that of Jesus. We are not to worship the Bible, nor are we to disregard the leading and teaching of the Holy Spirit who lives within us. He will guide us into all truth.

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Many people today think of Jesus as being the founder of Christianity, especially here in the USA. Most people think of Christianity as a religion, one of many different religions in our world. In bible times people started calling those who followed Jesus Christians because they were following the example of Jesus, or acting like Christ. Today it seems Christianity is thought more of as a religion than it is a lifestyle of following Jesus. Jesus did not come to start a religion.

jesusisnotchristian

Jesus does not belong to any particular religion. He loves and accepts people no matter what they believe or where they are from. He came to show the love of the Father to the human race, not to start a new religion for people to obey and follow.

If we mean Christian as being a follower of Jesus or living a life following his example, then there is nothing wrong with using this word to describe our fellowship with Him. If we use Christian as a sense of belonging to a particular church, following a particular doctrine and set of rules, then I would rather not be called by that term.

Jesus is the Son of God, and He loves all people. He does not see Muslims, Jews, Christians or any religion. He loves people. He sees people who need the love and acceptance of God. The only way people are going to come to true fellowship with God is through Christ…not Christianity. Just as Adam sinned and sin entered into the world, Christ came into the world and through his actions grace entered into the world.

It is time we stop looking to the organized world of religion as our way of becoming acceptable and pleasing to God. There is nothing we can do to earn our way to God, it is only by the work and grace of God. We are to look to Christ and allow Him to live through us and let Him love all those we meet each day. Stop demanding that people come to follow your doctrine, your rules, your beliefs and accept people as they are. Show the love of Christ to them and let God work in them the way He sees fit.

We are never going to completely agree with each other on doctrine and religion. Only through Christ and the love He gives will we be able to love and accept others. Let us be known by the true sense of the meaning of Christian, someone who is following the example of Jesus and letting his love touch all people no matter if we agree on things or not.

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I grew up in the traditional church environment and followed the religious teachings and doctrines over the years. I have seen a lot of things that I now question and wonder why things were done that way.

godonthrone

Over the years many of us have come to see God as a big super human person sitting up in heaven somewhere just waiting to punish us for our mistakes. We see him as being impersonal, judgmental and many times as someone to fear.

Yet when we think about the life of Christ and know he was sent from God to show us what the Father is really like we come to see God in a different way. When we read about how Jesus lived and treated people we see him as loving, compassionate, kind and accepting. Jesus came to show us that the Father is the same way.

After Jesus left this life on earth the Father sent the Holy Spirit to live within us. Think about it, God in Spirit form lives within us and among us right now. He is not a super human person way up there somewhere but He is right here within us.

God is not out to get us and punish us every time we mess up. I think God gets a bad reputation from some of the writings in the bible due to men, although they were inspired by God, threw in some of their personal views. Obviously if you were inspired by someone to write a book you would still write it from your perspective. Anything man has a hand in is going to be flawed, but the bible is certainly inspired by God and when combined with the leading of the Holy Spirit will be purposeful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness and guiding us to the living Word of God who is Jesus.

Rather than running around being afraid of God and waiting for the judgment of God to fall, look to Jesus and see that God is love. Whenever punishment is needed it is only for our good and it is done in love. Just as a loving parent sometimes punishes their child it is done in love and for correction that is for the child’s own good. We are not waiting to be destroyed by a God who loves judgment and condemnation. We are living with a God who is love, who created us and who wants the best for us during our time on earth.

godislove

Stop being afraid of the Father and seek fellowship with him. If you hear a pastor telling you that God is out to get you and that you had better shape up or else, get away from there and find brothers and sisters in Christ who will be encouragers and who will help build you up rather than condemn and scare you. Fear of judgment will not lead you into a loving relationship with the Father. Only true love, godly love, will be what draws us into fellowship with Him.

God is love. For those of us who are followers of Jesus we should also be known for our love. As Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-39, And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your 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.’

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