Friday, January 18, 2013

Peter defines the word of God; He was following Jesus and the other apostles

1Pe 1:23-25  since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;(Jesus)  (24)  for "All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls,  (25)  but the word of the Lord remains forever." And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

I have devoted a lot of key strokes to the indisputable fact that first Jesus, and then his first century followers redefined the phrase word of God to mean, either, Jesus the living word or the gospel (the good news of Jesus.) I have shown that Paul defined the word of truth as the gospel (Eph 1:13)… and likewise, so did James (James 1:18), and here we have Peter as yet another witness of the first century Christ follower who has redefined the word from Torah to gospel.

I recently did a word study on this and would like to include it here for you. I confess that it is more words than the usual blog post because it is quite exhaustive.

Jesus defines the word of God as the gospel:

Jesus defines the phrase “word of God” as the gospel in the parable of the sower.

(Mat 13:18-19)  "Hear then the parable of the sower:  (19)  When anyone hears the *word of the kingdom* and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.” So then, in this account from the gospel of Matthew, Jesus equates the seed with the word of the kingdom or the gospel of the kingdom. Now look at the same parable in Luke’s gospel. (Luke 8:11-12)  Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.  (12)  The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Here Jesus defines the seed as the word of God. So then, in one place he calls the seed the word or gospel of the kingdom and in another place he calls it the word of God. One can conclude from this that Jesus defined the word of God as the gospel of the kingdom.

This becomes especially important when you look at the way that all of his first century followers who wrote the New Testament defined the phrase *word of God.* It was always gospel or Jesus the living gospel. In the New Testament writings, when you see the phrases *word of God*… *word of truth*… or just the word *word.* It always means *the gospel* or Jesus the living gospel and conversely, it never means scripture. You can easily test this out. Do a concordance search of the phrase *word of God* and then substitute the phrase with either scripture or gospel. You will soon see that it only makes sense when the word gospel is substituted.

Here is an exhaustive list with the substitution made and commentary that follows to justify the meaning.

(Luk 5:1)  On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret,… to hear the gospel makes sense… to hear the scripture does not. They went to the synagogues to hear the scripture read

(Luk 8:11)  Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God… In this passage as shown above the seed is the gospel of the kingdom.

(Luk 8:21)  But he answered them, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it." Hear the gospel and do it, not hear the scripture and do it

(Luk 11:28)  But he said, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"… hear the gospel and keep (believe) it.

(Act 4:31)  And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness… The continued to speak the gospel with boldness.

(Act 6:2)  And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables… preaching the gospel not the scripture.

(Act 6:7)  And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith… the gospel continued to increase

(Act 8:14)  Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John… Samaria received the gospel they already had the scripture.

(Act 11:1)  Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God… received the gospel not the scripture

(Act 12:24)  But the word of God increased and multiplied… the gospel increased and multiplied, the scripture was already very wide spread.

(Act 13:5)  When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them… they proclaimed the gospel not the scripture.

(Act 13:7)  He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God… sought to hear the gospel

(Act 13:46)  And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles… gospel be spoken first to you… first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles.

(Act 17:13)  But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds… the gospel was proclaimed

(Act 18:11)  And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them… teaching the gospel, not the scripture

(Rom 9:6)  But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel… not as though the gospel had failed

(1Co 14:36)  Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached?... the gospel came?

(Eph 6:17)  and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,… which is the gospel

(Col 1:25)  of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known… make the gospel fully known

(1Th 2:13)  And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers… received the gospel which you heard from us

(1Ti 4:5)  for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer… by the gospel and prayer

(2Ti 2:9)  for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!... the gospel is not bound.

(Tit 2:5)  to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled… that the gospel may not be reviled

(Heb 4:12)  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart… for Jesus is living and active… see verses 13-15 for context and proof.

(Heb 6:5)  and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,… tasted the goodness of the gospel

(Heb 11:3)  By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible… created by Jesus

(Heb 13:7)  Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith… spoke to you the gospel

(1Pe 1:23)  since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;

(2Pe 3:5)  For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God,… Jesus

(1Jn 2:14)  I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one… Jesus abides in you

(Rev 1:2)  who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw… bore witness to the gospel

(Rev 1:9)  I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus… on account of the gospel

(Rev 6:9)  When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne… slain for the gospel

(Rev 19:13)  He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God… Jesus

(Rev 20:4)  Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years… testimony of Jesus and the gospel

Word of truth

Both Paul and James actually define what they mean by the phrase word of truth.

(Eph 1:13)  “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,”

(Jas 1:18)  Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures… brought us forth by the gospel and Jesus

A question to ponder:

Here is my question; if Jesus, and his followers re-defined the word of truth and the word of God to be the gospel, and Jesus the living gospel… why… do all evangelical pastors and theologians insist on calling the scripture the word of God? Does this alone not show that they are walking in error?

Note: **I acknowledge that Psalm 119 defines the word of God and word of truth as the Torah. I acknowledge that Jesus referred to Torah as the word of God in Matt 15:6, Mark 7:13 and John 10:35. It really just speaks about two times because the Matt and Mark passages are both referring to the same instance. In each of these instances he was speaking to unbelieving Jews who thought that the Torah was the Word of God and he was being critical of how this belief had affected their theology.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Contending for the faith; What should that mean to modern day reformers?

Jude 1:3  Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

What was the specific occasion that the epistle of Jude was written too? When you read the context is was most likely to overcome Epicurean Gnostics. What essentially did the Epicurean Gnostics believe? To put it simply, they believed that the flesh was not permanent and that what one did in the flesh did not really matter. They believed in a direct divide between flesh and spirit and thus only were concerned with what the spirit believed. It was this particular heresy that Jude, and the author of second Peter addressed.  

In fact, these are the ones that Peter likely made the following statement about… (2Pe 3:15-16)  And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,  (16)  as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. Unfortunately, current evangelicals along with Messianic Jews have simply relegated these scriptures to those they accuse of antinomianism. This is overly simple and patently false.

There is no connection between those who believe that the penalty of the Law has been abolished to promote deep, abiding love for God, and these Epicurean Gnostics that taught that there was no reason to control the flesh. Paul taught that the grace and mercy of God would lead to a real love for God that would in turn lead to genuine repentance and transformation. He never excused the flesh and neither does anyone who teaches, and believes that the penalty of the Law has been abolished.

The fact is that the antinomian accusers, and the Messianic Jews distort Matthew 5:17-21. They deny that jots and tittles have in fact been removed from the Law, and that all has been fulfilled. (see this blog post)… So then, what application can the statement contending for the faith have in today’s Christianity?

The answer is that we should contend for the gospel in its pristine purity. What is the gospel in its pristine purity you ask? It is the fact that God has reconciled humanity… God was in Christ reconciling the world… not imputing sin and rather, imputes righteousness for believing in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. We should vigorously contend against all who view and read the scripture in a legal, constitutional way. Jesus taught a solely redemptive hermeneutic and redefined the word of God to mean the gospel, or Jesus the living gospel. We should vigorously contend and demand that… *the faith* once delivered to the saints is the above defined gospel of God’s grace… that it is grace and grace alone that will produce true love for God and that ultimately, the love for God will produce transformative obedience.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Redemptive decrees; why they must have precedence in the scripture

What are redemptive decrees? Why are they important, and why must they have precedence over other messages of scripture? These are just some of the questions that must be asked to and answered by evangelical Christianity today. If we do not eliminate the legal constitutional reading of scripture, and replace it with a redemptive reading there will always be a schizophrenic message to the gospel, and legalism will always have precedence over grace.

The first question is what are the redemptive decrees? The answer is that they are declarative statements in the scripture that… if they are not true as they stand alone, then are not true at all, and further then, the person who wrote or spoke the decree is actually misleading the hearers or readers. The decrees cannot be modified by other statements, especially by statements made by other authors on other occasions. Here is an example of a redemptive decree:

(Rom 10:9-13 ESV)  “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  (10)  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.  (11)  For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame."  (12)  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. (13) For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."”

This is the kind of statement that must be true or it is not. Salvation must come from confessing with your mouth and believing in your heart. That is the sole criteria for being saved. Paul says that it is the word of faith, or the gospel that they proclaim. This simply put is a concise statement of the gospel… the gospel is that if you confess and believe you will be saved.

There are many such decrees found in the various passages of the scripture. Some are in the Old Testament and some are in the New Testament. However, in order for people to be able to rest in Jesus, that is, achieve the Sabbath Rest described in Hebrews chapter four, the redemptive decrees must have precedence over all other messages in scripture. This is why Jesus taught a strictly redemptive hermeneutic (John 5:39-40 & Luke 24:27-43-45.)

The fact is that today; within evangelical Christianity, people already give greater importance to some scriptures over others, and they ignore others all together. For example, the admonition that women are to keep silent in the church (1Corinthians 14:34) is not followed or accepted as being pertinent today. Likewise no one is selling their daughter as a concubine (Exodus 21:7-11.) How do they choose which to follow and which not to follow? All too often it is based on cultural preference and what is culturally accepted instead of understanding that the redemptive decrees have precedence over all other messages, and that all other admonitions are occasional and must be understood within their cultural, historical and literal context and specifically what they would have meant to their intended audience.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The back porch prayer; the genesis of the paradigm shift

I think it is time that I relate my story… specifically, the way that I arrived at this paradigm shift. This blog post may be a little longer than usual but I will try to confine the number of words and paragraphs in the interest of brevity. I was raised in fundamental Christianity beginning in the 1950’s. I spent much of my life in church. In those days I was there two times on Sunday, once on Wednesday and every other Friday. In addition there were special church outings and programs. I made a public confession of Jesus as my Savior in 1957 at the age of 11 but had faith in Jesus at a much younger age. I memorized scripture and heard thousands of sermons and Sunday School lessons.

At the age of 19 I began my education in the public university, and little by little I left my faith. There was so much that my religious upbringing taught me that just didn’t square with common sense and scientific fact. I left Christianity but I never left my faith in a benevolent God. I never left my quest for the purpose of existence. I always had a sense that we were here for a greater purpose. In leaving Christianity I left all of the legalistic trappings, and even ventured from time to time into moral laxity… well, actually quite often :). Over time I made questionable choices that resulted in painful experiences. It was in my mid-forties that I became depressed and continually anxious. This triggered a moment of truth. I remember going out on my back porch in Hayward California and looking up to the sky with a prayer in mind.

I prayed, “God I know that you are up there and that you are in charge. I also realize that I am not in charge really. Everybody and their aunt Suzy claims to know you and to know the truth about you and to know truth. They all disagree. They all have books that they claim are inspired and yet there is little or no agreement. Here is what I am saying, I want to serve you and know you so could you please teach me the truth?” That was the extent of the prayer. I had no expectations on what the answer would be but I was confident that an answer would come.

The next day I was driving to San Francisco on business. As I got on 880 I began to preach myself a sermon. A verse that I had memorized as a child came into my mind and I spoke it… the verse was 2Cor 5:17 “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things have passed away and behold all things have become new.” I had memorized it from the King James Version in the fifties. As soon as I finished the words of the verse the sun got much brighter and a most amazing peace flooded my being. The anxiety was gone. None of the problems that had been the cause of the anxiety were gone. They were still there but now I had a peace that surpassed all understanding. I can honestly say that the peace has never left me since that day.

I immediately thought that I had received the answer and ran out to buy me a bible. I began to read it and as I would find passages that caused condemnation in my mind, a sweet soft voice would whisper ever so tenderly… read it all Joe. I would always have the sense that the meaning of this was that I did not yet see the big picture and was not interpreting it correctly. So, I continued to be obedient to the voice and I continued to read and read.

One morning shortly after the back porch prayer I was listening to Inez Andrews sing about the handwriting on the wall. As I sat there I opened the scripture. The place where it opened was Daniel Chapter nine. The first part of the passage that caught my eye at the top of the page was this… (Dan 9:21-23)  “yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering.  (22)  And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, "O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand.  (23)  At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision:” I knew that this was a special message to me. I did not then understand the total significance… that came much later. I was filled with the Holy Spirit and I focused on the words to Daniel, “you are greatly beloved.” I had the sense that Father was saying this directly to me. I knew that I was greatly beloved. It was only years later that with reflection I realized that this had been the answer to the back porch prayer. From the time I prayed a decree had gone forth to teach me truth.

Whether or not one believes in the possibility of current revelation, almost all believe in illumination from the Holy Spirit. I believe that this is what I received as an answer to my prayer. It was illumination of the scripture. Over the course of time, some twenty plus years now in all, I believe with all my being, that The Lord has answered my back porch prayer. The answer is the paradigm shift that is found in the many posts on this blog and hopefully will soon be put into a book.

The two overriding messages of the scripture

While this blog is dedicated to my paradigm shift it is also about the way in which evangelical Christianity is off the mark in doctrine and...