The conclusions I derive from Bible study worry me, as they do not correspond well with the conclusion drawn by my fellow Christian. Normally, when a number of people study the same subject independently, the majority derives roughly about the same conclusion. So why are my findings so different when I study the same scriptures as they do?
The beliefs I develop trouble me for one reason, why is the outcome so radically different from other people? My beliefs and are beginning to convince me that there is something wrong with my thinking process but changing the way I do things wonít change how I think. I am beginning to believe the outcome is so different because listen to God intently. I have studied the same passages several times and took several approaches to see what develops. This may be somewhat time consuming, but I spend more time with God and become fully convinced when I find additional information to support my final conclusions. But then, why am I comparing myself to other people?
Every teacher should know one principle, you can not force people to believe what you believe because its true for you. Shaping the minds of other people is an art that belongs to God. A teacherís job is to present the word of God with factual information related to the subject and let your studentís sort information and allow them to come to a conclusion of their own. That is where I stand, I present the facts and allow you to believe whatever you want.
I have become a stickler for using the same words that are found in Godís word because it keeps everyone on the same page with God. As a teacher, it is my job to bring Godís message and the use of biblical words increases my credibility when you can follow along and see where I am coming from. It creates a meeting of the mind, where everyone has the same understanding of what God has expressed. But letís not stop there, as an ambassador of Christ itís my job to take the exact message given to me by Christ and take to the person he loves. Itís not my Job to add to his message or take from it and in the same respect I am not allowed to add my opinion. As a layman, I want to worship God in truth when relating the gospel and not spread false information about my friend Jesus Christ.
For example, within the church community the tribulation period is a common term used frequently whenever the subject of the Second Coming is discussed. I have heard that term used as far back as I can remember, but God never mentioned the term ďtribulation periodĒ and for that reason it is impossible to define the term correctly as well as teach about a time period God said nothing about. I must consider that if I should teach on the subject I would be adding to Godís message or teaching traditional information that nullifies the word of God. In addition if I am to take Godís word to heart I have been relieved of the responsibility to teach on that subject.
Whatís more ironic is the people who believe in the tribulation period are just as quick to say if God said it, I believe it. If anything it makes you wonder whatís wrong when God didnít use the term Ė tribulation Period or an equivalent term Ė than who did say it? For this reason I am concerned that Satan has deceived the Christian community. And those who say if God said it, I believe it are some the most avid believers of doctrines that never passed through Godís mouth. All this goes to say that we need to be careful what we hear.
The spiritual war Christians are involved in do not use weapons used by human beings to wage war, but are weapons of truth used in the spiritual realms to quench the lies of Satan. We should understand that Satan is a deceiver, the father of lies and is not least respectful towards God. Satanís ultimate goal is to destroy faith of every Christian in God. The reason being, it is impossible to please God without faith, a confidence and trust in him and his word. By faith we live by the words spoken by God Ė understanding that not every word we hear in Christian fellowship comes from God.
Therefore, just as we clean and keep in readiness a uniform weapon issued by the Army to fight in earthly warfare, Christians need to ensure that the weapons use in spiritual warfare issued by God are clean and ready for use also. In other words, in the spiritual war, Satan uses his skills of deception to spread rumors, distort the truth, create doubt, corrupt the world and confuse his enemies. In this war waged by Satan his focus is not on God, but on his saints and he is making every effort to contaminate our minds towards God.
Letís remember that God is the spirit of truth and Satan is the deceiver and a liar. As Christians we should not be unaware of Satanís schemes or his strategy, but be ready to submit ourselves to God as the only way we can defend our life. In other words it is impossible to defend our lives in our own strength, so we mist rely on God to fight our spiritual battles. In the same way, Satan can pollute our minds with a number of false impressions that looks like truth that we need to compare those impressions with the word for accuracy.
One of Satanís ploys is to make promises for God to deceive the saints and it makes you wonder why God did not make them. That does not make God responsible to honor promises he did not make and it will be disappointing to the sincere Christian who believes the promises he thought God made. What a bummer, I just donít see God honoring promises he did not make or commit to do. Another tactic of Satan turns Godís word into erroneous doctrines and traditional teachings, some are believed and others are not. This tactic divides and conquers the minds of Christians and at the same time divides the church so that they fight among themselves instead of the true enemy Ė evil. There is only one way to resolve the issue and that is to know what God has expressed in his word. In this respect the church is failing to obtain a unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, due to the number of versions of each doctrine.
God demands that his children worship him in spirit and truth. Truth is a quality of Godís morals that have not changed - not in the past - not in the present time - nor in the future. Godís morals are an absolute code of conduct found to be true for every situation in all relationships. In the same way truth does not change for any reason, for the truth represents what is known to happen on a regular basis.
In the same way your deeds represent something you have done that cannot be denied. For this reason, the best foundation for every Christian is to build their life upon is truth. Jesus said,
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17
To summarize Matthew 7:24-26 Jesus said the wise man who hears Godís word and put into practice is like a wise man that built his house on the rock.
on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Matthew 16:18
Every Christian knows that Godís word is the basic foundation of truth not because God said so but because we have experienced the reality of his word. How we as Christianís find, develop and establish the truth is an absolute essential to establish a solid and reliable faith in God. Our beliefs enable us to please God and affect our ability to worship God in spirit and in truth. The person who lacks truth guarantees his failure but the prudent person weighs the truth of the matter to see the outcome and possible consequences before putting any plans into action.
As Christians we must interpret the bible by considering the facts of what has been said or done within its pages. One of the most fascinating studies associated with interpreting the bible has been to understand the nature of truth. What is the truth and how do you determine the truth, but more importantly how to habitually look for truth when you study the bible.
The wise Christian will ask does God have a method to correctly determine the truth and can I determine the truth in the same manner? Surprisingly there is a relation with rewarding each man according to his deeds?
"I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve." Jeremiah 17:10
Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. Romans 2:2
God "will give to each person according to what he has done." To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. Romans 2:6-8
In some ways God is redundant and repeats certain principles repeatedly but it creates a consistency with the truth he wants to establish. Doesnít this correlate with the discipline of parents who consistently repeat the same demand over and over to gain the desired behavior they expect from their children? Repeating the same demand several times creates a known consequence or a pleasing reward with proper discipline. God repeats his principles repeatedly to get a desired behavior from his children and while his discipline makes you uncomfortable he gets the behavior he wants. At the same time I have learned to respect him for the discipline.
How did God instruct men to derive true and just judgments? Lets consider the courts of law that consider the behavior of men accused of breaking the establish law of the land. Evidence for and against the accused is brought into the court and weighed by an attentive jury. The preponderance of evidence is the determining factor for the verdict derived. This same truth is related in Godís word.
One witness is not enough to convict a man accused of any crime or offense he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. Deuteronomy 19:15
This same principle is related in the trial of Jesus Christ before the Sanhedrin. The biblical transcript of the trial records this about certain testimonies.
Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree. Mark 14:56Öand Yet even then their testimony did not agree. Mark 14:59
The members of the Sanhedrin were zealous for the law, which drug out the trial for the lack of agreement. Finally the High Priest asked.
"Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?" Mark 14:61
and Christ gave them the truth.
"I am," said Jesus. "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." Mark 14:62
His answer sent the members of the Sanhedrin into an uproar of disbelief. Listen to what the High Priest said.
The high priest tore his clothes. "Why do we need any more witnesses?" he asked. "You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?" They all condemned him as worthy of death. Mark 14:63-64
The importance of two or more witnesses was needed to establish an agreement of fact leading to the truth of the matter. Paul was also accused of wrongdoing and he said concerning this issue.
This will be my third visit to you. "Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses." 2 Corinthians 13:1
Within the church community I have heard the belief spoken by senior members of the clergy that the truth can be said once and still be true. This belief doesnít agree with the word of God. in addition, the dictionary defines truth as Truth is a statement proven to be or accepted as true, at the same time the dictionary defines true as consistent with fact or reality. Therefore whatever is true has to conform to fact.
Iíve often used the illustration to explain the nature of truth as when your son or daughter arrives home way past the time they had gotten out of School. Where were you, you ask and to this they reply ďat Tomís house.Ē Little did they know that in your frustration to find your child, you had called Tomís father and Tomís father hadnít seen your son all day.
The facts you heard did not agree with your sonís story and you wanted to get the story straight. To be prudent you called the second time and spoke to Tomís mom. Wouldnít you know it when you asked Tomís mom, she said your child was so hungry that he ate everything put before them.
The illustration demands an answer for two questions. Why did you continue to ask where your child was when you had facts to the contrary? And why did apologize to your child when Tomís mom corroborated his story?
There are other illustrations for discovering the truth, for example. The people across the street know how to advise but do not live according to their own advice. In addition there are people who know everything under the sun but their lives are in shambles. We know the real truth when we observe and compare inconsistent practices of other people including the inconsistencies in what they say. Its what a person does that tells the truth about their lives. When we consider how we judge our neighbors, we should also know that God is observing the way we live. These illustrations may give the reason how God can justly reward everyone according to his or her deeds.
The principle of discerning truth can be used to interpret the scriptures. We have the belief that every word in the Bible is Godís word and his word is the truth. However there are doctrines built around an idea that is not expressed anywhere else in the Bible. For example we have the idea that you have to ask for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. When the bible says that must publicly declare Jesus is Lord to be saved.
That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9
The bible also says
and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:3
Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38
Life is an adventure in how we learn the truth. It is no secret that society has gone to great length to place people on trial to determine the guilt or innocence for a crime they have been accused of doing. Trials have the objective of connecting the accused to the crime with the related evidence. To properly interpret scriptures you must consider the consistency and agreement of principles throughout the bible. And the majority of principles are found in a number of different doctrines perhaps in different words. For example.
It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them. Psalms 44:3
"This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 4:6
Yet I will show love to the house of Judah; and I will save them - not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but by the Lord their God." Hosea 1:7
David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 1 Samuel 17:45
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." Mark 10:27
It brings out the point that there are some sins you canít overcome, some jobs you cannot do, some temptations you canít resist and overcoming the deception of Satan is harder than you think. It is an attitude change that with God you can do all things, with God you can overcome the world and with God you are more than a conqueror.
The problem is that we get so involved with what we are doing that we forget that God is in us to help. Even when God is reachable we tend to handle things in our own power and forget to lean on your best friend for help. God says.
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Psalms 37:4-7
God also said, Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake Christís teaching. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. My words of instructions to you to attain wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight, for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, for doing what is right and just and fair, for giving prudence knowledge and discretion to the simple. Listen to my words, my son and think about what I have said. I want you to know that you live by every word of truth that comes from my mouth. Meditate on my words day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything I commanded. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
While I have combined and paraphrased a number of scriptures, these words relate the idea of a concerned father who wants the best for his children. We also know that God does not think to well of foolish people and doesnít want his children to be found among the foolish. What God wants is for you to exercise your mind making an effort to find the truth and exercise good judgment to live by the truth.
God wants his children to develop discipline and prudent lifestyle. We know that the prudent man considers what he is going to do long before does them. He takes time to think about what he is ess. When he takes time to think the matter over he learns why things are done in certain way and becomes aware of the consequences if he doesnít.
Finally, God does not want a surrogate relationship with you, which would be a relationship through another person. He requires an effort on your part to have a personal relationship with him. As parents we discipline our children according to what they should have done. Then command them to think about the instructions you gave them. We are commanded by God to think on his instructions, but do we really take time to consider his instructions? God said to meditate on his word day and night, for its in meditation that you learn the answer of why. Why things are done in a certain way and what happens when you donít.
Truth is always in plain sight and we become accustomed to its presence that we do not pay attention to it. What becomes normal in life makes it difficult to determine what is true and what is not true. To those who say that is not the way the world really works it means that there eyes are focused on the evil that transpires everyday. They often see themselves victims of life and some are resigned that they will go to hell, but most hope that God finds them worthy enough to favor them. Some never find the truth, some find the truth through a friend, and others find the truth through going to church. Ultimately Ė the truth affects the entire fabric of your life, but how you handle the truth once you found it is in your hands.