October 30, 2014

Should Christians Celebrate Jewish Feasts?

The New Testament doesn't prescribe the celebration of the Jewish Feasts for the Church. The statement in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 actually intends to say that since the Passover is over and we are the Unleavened Bread (1Cor.5:7), we must celebrate sincerity and truth in our daily life (a leaven-free life).

With regard to the Old, the Book of Hebrews states that it was ready to disappear before the New (Heb.8:13). In his epistle to the Colossians, Paul mentions that Christians do not need to observe the feasts and festivals since their purpose is over (Col.2:16,17). The feasts were only shadows of the reality, that is Christ, to come. One doesn't need to go back again and again to the sign posts after having followed them, crossed them, and reached the destination. One doesn't keep gazing at a picture the whole day when the real person is close by.

Now, while some may choose to celebrate the feasts (which is not prohibited), one must not teach that the feasts need to be celebrated (as if it was mandatory), for that violates the Spirit of freedom, the New Man, and the Perfection of the New Covenant. We can look back to the feasts as having typical significance for Christ. However, observing them or not observing them doesn't make any difference to one's position in Christ. The Law can neither control us, nor curse us, nor condemn us.

See Also
Feasts of Israel
Feasts: Typical Significance
Three Purposes of Feasts
The Lord of the Sabbath

Educating Your Church for Biblical Literacy


Forthcoming in ChristianTrends Magazine

ONE must be careful before making any blanket statement about the state of teaching ministry in the church;for certainly there are churches that emphasize on teaching and there are churches that emphasize other things such as evangelism, worship, holiness, or social service. So, let me take a more general approach and leave it to the reader to consider if the necessary emphasis on teaching exists in his context or not; and, if not, what he or she can do to bring it to the front.

The Ministry of the Word in Historical Retrospective

For the Apostles, the ministry of the Word had no substitute. When the early church fell into a controversy related to food-serving, the Apostles drew a very clear line of definition around their calling. They were marked off by God not to serve tables but to the ministry of the Word (Acts 6:2); not that they were not willing to serve tables when needed (John 13:14), but because they were not supposed to let go off the priority of the ministry of the Word for anything else in the Body of Christ. One of the most important reasons for this was that doctrine and discipleship belonged together. The Great Commission was about discipleship and teaching (Matt.28:18-20). So, it is not a surprise that ability to teach was an important qualification for someone aspiring to be a leader in the church (1Tim.3:2; Tit.1:9).

As history progressed, or digressed, the Word began to lose its prominence in the church and gradually was secluded to new structures called the monasteries. Also, undue importance was being given to non-revelatory influences such as Aristotelianism in the line of Scholasticism. Martin Luther (1483-1546) didn’t favor such emphases and wished for the purity of theological education. During the Reformation, training of the clergy became an important issue as Protestant clergymen were required to be experts in the languages, especially the biblical ones, and possess tools and keen abilities for interpretation of texts, for reasoning, and for countering the opposition of the Catholics. Consequently, a Protestant clergyman was considered to be the most educated person in the village during those times. The Catholics saw the threat and responded with the Council of Trent establishing the innovation of theological seminaries dedicated solely to theological training (See George Marsden, The Soul of the American University).

But, soon the spirit of liberty and protest fell prostrate before the skeptic influences of modernism and liberalism. The Enlightenment did infuse a hope of utopia, but it was a very humanist one, so much that the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) predicted that this utopia could only be obtained through the murder of God and freedom from the Christian doctrine of moral absolutes. In his Parable of the Madman, he pronounced that God was dead and was being buried in the churches. It was not a matter of surprise that churches in Europe began to get empty.

But, that was not the story everywhere. In England and in America, revivalism was breaking out with stronger emphasis on faith and scripture. Men like John Wesley (1703-1791), Charles Finney (1792-1875), and Evan Roberts (1878-1951) spearheaded movements emphasizing deep experiences with God. The Missionary Era also began with William Carey (1761-1834) sailing towards India and setting up a base from where began a prolific movement of Bible translation into the vernacular languages. Missionaries gave themselves to inventing scripts for languages that had no script so that the locals could read God’s Word in their own languages. Also, a few seminaries were set up for the training of church workers. But, not even these were immune to the attraction of the secular powers (universities) that had already begun to renounce theology as the queen of the sciences and had turned to scientism instead. Some began to jokingly talk about seminaries as cemeteries.

Again, it is not proper to make a blanket statement about the global Church. The early part of the 20th century already witnessed the Pentecostal outpouring and revivals in Azusa Street. Movements began to separate from the mainline denominations and newer training centers, though little ones, began to emerge with strong emphasis on faith, grace, and scripture. Indigenous movements also sprung up with rigorous emphasis on Bible study in the church. It is not right to say that the church was devoid of teaching material. The turn of the 21st century witnessed a surge of teaching ministries all over the world that produced incredible amount of media and literature on understanding scriptures. What might not have been met by resources at the local church level was being met by ministries serving globally. It also became the age of radio and television. One key instrument encouraged at the local church level was the institution of the Sunday School. Of course, the temptation could be for parents to forego to the church their responsibility of spiritually nurturing their children; but, the Sunday School (wherever it could be possible) did serve in the area of teaching.

Modern Church Education

In modern times, we are flooded with teaching material all around. There is an abundance of magazines, journals, books, television programs, CDs, VCDs, and an almost infinite resource of information on the internet that inundates the globe. Of course, there is one drawback that a larger amount of the material is in the English language. However, one cannot deny the fact that there are people from almost every major linguistic group who can access these materials and pass it on to others in their group through various means of communication. Another drawback could be the abundance of heresies also prevailing. This is where the two-edged training of church leaders as well as training of congregations to follow the Berean model of evaluating teaching must come into place (Acts 17:11). In some countries (especially the non-secular or extreme-secular ones), training of leaders is not very feasible. However, training of congregations is not impossible. In fact, in modern times there is a great need for emphasis upon the education of the lay with theological tools necessary for the interpretation and application of scripture. In response, there are also a number of faithful attempts by reputed theological institutions offering courses by distance (or modular) mode to meet this growing need. Again, it is not a thing unseen that trained leaders also sometimes fall to the trap of cheap degrees offered by fake institutions and lead their church members into the same error. The lure for the easy doctorate and the dilution of education principles is a huge problem. The lure is severe when prominent leaders fall into the snare. At the couple of colleges where I serve, we make it a serious priority to sift the chaff from the grain, to standardize education, and to set up a model for others to follow.

There is certainly no substitute for a theologically educated church. A church that boasts of highly educated laity but cannot boast of a theologically educated laity makes a very poor show of performance. To be useful to the world and be highly in demand of the world is one thing; the more significant thing is to be useful in the hands of the Master. A church that is biblically illiterate is an example of poor church government. Modern secular governments emphasize on the right to education of all citizens and make provisions for the same. How much more shouldn’t the church emphasize on the right to education of all Christians and also make provision for the same? We must not forget Christ’s injunction that loving Him implies feeding His sheep (John 21:17).

Steps To Emphasize Upon Church Education

While a number of possible methods can be employed, a few are suggested below:
    1.        The 2 Timothy 2:2 Model: In 2Timothy 2:2, Paul instructs Timothy to pass on what he has learnt from Paul to faithful men who would be able to pass it on to others. This a four generational model of impartational learning: (a) Paul to (b) Timothy to (c) Faithful Men to (d) Others. Church elders must become mentors of young people in their congregation (Tit.2:2-8). In fact, there is nothing more illustrious than faith that is passed from one generation to the other (2Tim.1:5).
    2.        Doctrine and Good Works: In his pastoral epistles, Paul again and again emphasizes on the connection between sound doctrine and good works. In fact, the absence of good works is equal to a denial of faith and blasphemy of doctrine (1Tim.6:1; Tit.1:16; 1Tim.5:8). One must not forget that the one act of the Good Samaritan had more lessons to teach about the principle of love than a hundred hours of teaching delivered in the temple by the priest who passed by the injured man that day.
    3.        Connecting with Seminary: There is nothing more helpful in this regard than connecting one’s church with a seminary for mutual benefit. A church can support theological education in a seminary as well as benefit from the services of the seminary. Some possible areas of connection could be hosting students for practical ministry in the church, sponsoring candidates, sponsoring seminary development, promoting theological learning at the church by encouraging lay to take up courses at the seminary, forwarding theological disputes to seminary panels for solutions (Acts 15:2), attending seminars at the seminary, etc.
    4.        Promoting Good Christian Literature and Media: Though it may not be helpful for every church to have a book stall or a library (but, if it’s possible, it is highly recommended), subscription to certain teaching magazines can be promoted in the church. Also, it will be highly good to encourage gift subscriptions and the passing on of read materials to others. Again, the Berean model is highly recommended here for evaluation of soundness in biblical teaching.
    5.        Regular Bible Study Hours: Usually, these in-week hours cannot be attended by everyone in the church, which should not be lamentable seeing that variety of jobs cannot always agree on a common time. However, it is strongly advisable to maintain a weekly Bible Study Class in the church or in a house (life, cell) group gathering of believers in an area. It is recommended that each Bible Study include the study of biblical doctrines, biblical characters, life principles, and times of meditation and discussion. No godless chatter or disputes must be allowed in such classes (1Tim.1:3,4; 6:3-5; 20; Tit.2:1; Eph.5:3,4,19,20).
    6.        Homilies: The pastor must not just focus on the emotional needs of the congregation; he must also focus on the spiritual and the intellectual needs of them. A sermon charged with emotion will evoke applause, laughter, and tears; but, these responses will die away like a flame devoid of fuel. However, a wholesome sermon (message) will be intellectually understandable (1Cor.14:19), spiritually empowered (Acts 1:8; 1Cor.2:4), and practically compelling (Acts 2:37).
    7.        Children’s and Youth Clubs: A host of literature and media programs are available, particularly designed for the young ones. Modern missiologists have understood the importance of kids who fall in the 4-14 Age Window. The advertisers target them, the secular forces target them; but, the church often remains indifferent. We will lose them if we don’t reach out to them. It is important that churches have faith-empowering programs and ministry opportunities for the young ones. The areas of monthly involvement could be as varied as Christian arts, worship, graphic designing, community development, social outreach and charity, construction programs, drama, prayer events, and a whole array of possible involvement areas.

Of course, the list above is minimal. But, it is hoped that it will provide enough impetus for any church to grow organically “into Him who is the head-- Christ-- from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Eph. 4:15-16).

October 28, 2014

The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus - Video Teaching


NOTES

Rom 6-8 talkng about a root human problem that psychology alone cannot solve. The solution is the Law of the Spirit of Lifw

Rom. 7: One explanation: It is the state of the unredeemed.
Another (Keswick Theology): It is the state of the Carnal Christian.

++++The Mind Loves the Law
- I know that the Law is spiritual (Rom.7:14)
- I agree that the Law is good (Rom.7:16)
- I delight in the Law (Rom.7:22)

- No mind that loves the anti-law; it may hate that the Law is preventing it from doing certain things; but, it doesn't prefer something against the Law. For instance, no sane mind would like the following commands:
1. Thou shalt tell lie
2. Thou shalt murder
3. Thou shalt commit adultery
4. Thou shalt covet
Because it knows that such laws are self-destructive.
Immanuel Kant: Starry heavens above, and the moral law within.
Rom. 2:14,15

But, a debased mind tries to create a system that would in someway justify sin.
Rom.1: Bad Myths (Plato - Censor). Cultural customs, human invention, can be anti-Christian
- Justify adultery, justify murder...
, infant marriages...(Doctrines of men)
Rom.1: God gave them up.
Homosexuality... justified.. Laws that make it legal.

-But when mind is challenged rationally, it is stunned by its foolishness like a man who is living in a dark room on whom suddenly shines a bright light.
E.G. Nathan to David (Sin with Bathsheba),
The man who went to a brothel and found his own wife.

Children: They know what is just and unjust:
School- If you don't discipline the bad guy but mistreat the good ones, it will create tension and anarchy. If you discipline the guy who did wrong, the others will recognize fairness and justice, there will be order.

++++++
So, the Mind Loves the Law
++++++But the Flesh Serves Sin
"With the Flesh I" WHO? I... my will, intellect, (self-responsibility and freedom involved)
Rom.8:5, 8

How does that happen?
Rom.7:15 - I do not understand!!!!!
But, at least I know two things:
1. It is not me (because my inner man - mind- loves the Law) (Rom.7:20).
2. It is sin that dwells in me

But, it is not like being possessed by some demon or something (in such no will involved)
- What I hate that I do (Rom.7:15)
- The evil that I will not to do, that I practice (Rom.7:19)

PROBLEM: I do not find how to perform the good (Rom.7:18)
PROBLEM: Mind set on the flesh cannot fulfill the law of God.


Rom7:25 says that the mind serves the Law, but the flesh serves sin.
But, the mind that is set on the flesh becomes a captive to sin as well (loses life and power)
Rom.7:23 - Another law brings mind into captivity to the law of sin.

FREEDOM: Rom.8:2

IT IS LIKE:
Eg. A Bird that is flying:
Law of Aerodynamics
Law of Gravity

Flies- When it got life (sensation, power)
Falls- When it is dead

----------------------------

Rom.8:2 : the Law of the Spirit of Life has freed us.. (Not my life, but the Spirit of Life..
1. Eternal Life is not like a candy that a mother gives to her son. (It is not gift in that sense.).
2. Eternal Life is Faith-Received (Not once saved forever saved, but according to the Spirit of Life). Eternal Life is not Apart from Christ. If you don't have Christ, you don't have life.. That's all...

(That is another big debate. One person asked, If we are born-again, how is possible to be unborn? Misunderstanding about the Life of God.) Jesus said that the Fountain of Living Water is the Spirit...
(He who does not have the Spirit doesn't belong to Christ Read. Rom.8:10- Body dead, Spirit is Life)

It means that you lose faith, you stop living according to the Spirit, the moment the flesh is alive, you are dead (Rom.8:13)

Rom. 8:3-4

--------------------------
WHAT MUST I DO?
1. BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE SAVED (HELMET OF SALVATION) Rom.6:11 - Reckon Yourselves Dead to Sin.......... But ALIVE!!!!!! (Analogically, You are married to Christ, not to Sin!)
1Cor.6:19,20- Spirit in Temple Body (If Christ in You, body is dead.. You belong to Him).

2. MORTIFY THE DEEDS OF THE FLESH (Rom.8:13; Col.3:5)
What does it mean????
I can fight an external enemy.. I can kill a snake.. But, how the deeds of the flesh????
Some say "STARVE IT" don't feed it (Rom.13:14)

ANSWER: FAITH: (THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH)

1. FLEEING FAITH
----Actually means... FLEE!!!!! (2Tim.2:22). You can only starve it by running away from it. As strength of temptation is in your being closer to the temptation.
It loses power in distance and death. Married man communicating with other woman more than wife creates problems. Man whose flesh found pleasure in liquor is more in danger in times of tfouble near it.

Jesus taught, "Lead us not into temptation". Does your flesh like to indulge in a little "harmless pleasure"? That "harmless pleasure" is the logic of sin? It is very appealing and the mind becomes sooner blinded by it.

There is a plant in Himalays.. Smell even a few kms away cause death. very fatal.

You say, "How can I flee"
Story of Gehazi... His mind went after.....
Story of Joseph

RUN.. FLEE...

DANGER: Instinct is to run!!!! jump off!!!! If not.. SENSES NOT WORKING (HEB 5)
Danger of Frog in the water that is boiling...

Conscience seared..... You can only flee when your conscience is pure. But, conscience is not enough. FEAR IS NEEDED (what kind of fear.. Fear of falling into sin.. Filial fear... Sin hurts God and your relationship with God).


2. TRUSTING FAITH
----FLY INTO HIS ARMS OF LOVE
What composed the most intense moments of His life and where did He win the greatest battles... On His Knees. IT MEANS PAIN (Heb.5:7; 12:4)

SWEET HOUR OF PRAYER
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

----DRAW NEAR TO THE THRONE OF HIS GRACE (Heb.4:16)
----THROUGH THE SPIRIT: LIFE & POWER TO FLY (Rom.8:13,14). OF COURSE, YOU CAN'T DO IT THROUGH THE SPIRIT UNTIL YOU'RE FIRST LIVING IN THE SPIRIT, PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT, WALKING IN THE SPIRIT.

Praying in tongues.. In the Spirit. The Bible says, speaking in tongue edifies.

3. OBEYING FAITH.
BEAR FRUIT TO GOD (Rom.7:4).. Yield your members to Christ as instruments of righteousness.
Obedience of the Spirit. PRESS FORWARD. FOCUS ON THE FINISHING LINE, NOT ON THE CALLS OF THE WORLD AROUND. DON't LIVE FOR SELF, DON't LIVE FOR THE WORLD, LIVE FOR GOD.

DO YOU WANT TO LIVE OR TO DIE?
IS SIN KILLING YOU DAY BY DAY AND YOU SENSE DEFEAT?

GAL.2:20...
CRUCIFIED BUT ALIVE
LIVING BUT NOT I BUT CHRIST LIVING IN ME
LIVING BY FAITH...

October 27, 2014

The Purpose of the Lamp: To Help See Even If Noticed Never

It's not good if people keep gazing at a lamp rather than use its light to do the work they are supposed to do. A candle is not meant to be seen as much as it is meant to be in a place from which it helps things to be seen. A man of God is not placed on the stand for people to applaud and fawn over him; he is placed there by God in order to give light to the world that they be able to see the truth and live. It doesn't even matter if the world doesn't notice the candle at all, only if its light has helped men and women to walk without stumbling.


October 17, 2014

Let Not the Honor of Man Prevent You From Experiencing the Power of God!

One of the greatest hindrances to faith is the fear of being rejected or of losing honor in the sight of men. Jesus said to the Jews, "How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?" (John 5:44).

Let's take the case of a young man who is being blessed by the simple truths regarding the things of God shared by a man of God who is known well as a man full of faith and of the Spirit. However, one day he meets a worldly wise man who appears to be very noble and has good knowledge of theology and philosophy. When asked of his opinion about the former minister, this theologian remarks that all such teaching is folk theology. If this young man falls prey to the despising attitude of this worldly wise man he has allowed water to fall on the little sparks that were catching fire in his heart.

Why?

Given that quite a many of these simple ministers have erroneous opinions, it is also certainly not the case that quite a many of the worldly wise men do not have erroneous opinions. The more intellectually disposed world is more anti-faith disposed as well. But, the fear of being despised and counted as one of the simpletons or folk-religionists is much enough for many to just keep off from the despised camp.

So, what is the result? The simpletons tell us what they found out in the Word of God and how they put it into practice and saw results. They even quote many stories from their own experiences. On the other hand, the worldly wise men talk difficult, over the head things and continue to despise the simpletons. Looking at the Pharisees, it seems that spirituality and theology are not for the common man. But, what do we learn from Jesus?

He was a simpleton in the eyes of the world. He spoke in parables and His words flowed deep into the hearts of the common people. He touched the sick and healed them. He drove out demons. He preached the Kingdom of God and called men and women to repentance. He raised the dead. He didn't set up a University, but He made disciples and showed them faith, becoming a model to them. The high-minded ones didn't like Him. Some may have found things of practical interest in Him; but, then they found out that if they appreciated Him, they would lose prestige and honor among the big guys; so, they chose to look great (while remaining miserable in their personal lives).

But, the fishermen and the sinners whom these intellectuals thought to be the common ones, became the ones struck every corner of the world with the lightning flashes of the Gospel.

I understand Peter was too simple; but, he walked on water. If you wish to live like Christ lived and live like He wants you to live, look at Him, listen to Him, and don't allow the fruitless high-mindedness of humans stop you from seeing the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.

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