The Trinity

    Tuesday, August 4, 2015, 6:26 AM [General]

    ***The Trinity

    Man has an earthly, fleshly body, a spiritual body, and a mind which does his thinking independently and interconnected with his fleshly and spiritual bodies.  Scientists do not all (some do) recognize the spirit of man as a separate entity.  Yet most scientists recognize that the mind can work with the fleshly body, against the fleshly body, or independently of the fleshly body.  So many agree that there are three distinct parts to the human being, each being representative of the human individually, and all being one person.

    In the Hebrew, any one god of any of the many nations was referred to as elowah (singular for god).  Any time more than one god of any nation or nations was referred to, the term was elohiym (plural for god, gods).  The Hebrews recognized ONE GOD, but they referred to Him as Elohiym (Plural/God), but as Elohiym (Gods).  Literally, they were saying, "There is ONE GODS (as it were- singular-plural)."

    In the beginning God created …  In Hebrew, “Bereshiyt bara Elohiym …”  Verbs in Hebrew are very specific, and how specific they are stresses their importance.  The verb translated ‘created’ is ‘bara’.  This word is very specifically masculine and very specifically singular.  So the verb ‘bara’ (for created) indicates that there must be a singular, not plural, subject.  The subject is Elohyim, definitely a plural God.  So ONE GOD, our Creator is a plural (more than one) of ONE.

    In the beginning was the Word; the Word was with God; the Word was God; and the Word became flesh and dwelt among men (from John 1).  Jesus, the Word who was in the beginning both with God and was God, is also referred to as the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world (in the beginning).  So from the foundation of the world, God knew the world would become in need of a propitiation for sin and prepared a part of Himself, His own Son who was in the beginning both with God and was God, to become flesh and dwell among men so that those who believed on His name could become the children of God.

    The Word was Jesus; Jesus was the Word in the beginning both with God and was God.  Even when Jesus was twelve years old in the temple, He knew who His Father was, and knew He must be about His Father's business.  When Jesus was baptized by John, we find three representations of God, all separate and all together at one time: the Father's voice from Heaven, the Spirit descending in the form of a dove, and the Word become flesh in the form of Jesus.  Jesus said, "I and My Father are ONE."  This is the Word who is both with God and is God.  Jesus is God; and Jesus prayed always to the Father.  Why would He pray to Himself?

    When Stephen was stoned, the Holy Spirit was known to be working both with and among Christians while Stephen saw the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.  The ‘Son of man’ phrase was used in prophecy to refer to the coming Messiah and Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of Man.  Paul refers to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit individually, and yet recognizes the three to be equal and one.  Hebrews 1:1-3 tells us that God in these last days has spoken to us by His Son, who sat down on the right hand of Majesty.  Hebrews 10:12 says, "… this Man (Jesus) … sat down on the right hand of God."  See also Hebrews 8:1 and 12:2.  If all Christians can be thought of as "one in the Spirit" and "one body", why is it so difficult to see Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons who are ONE GODS?

    C. S. Lewis, a former atheist who became a famous theologian in the Church of England, found a rather apt way of expressing the concept of the Trinity for non-theologians.  He admits that God's ways are above man's, and incomprehensible to man without the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, he recognizes that this explanation is very simplistic and not a purely accurate description.  A triangle has three sides.  If we can think of one side as the Father, another as the Son, and the third as the Holy Spirit, then perhaps we can see that the three sides of the triangle make up one triangle, so do the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit make up ONE GODS (plural but one).  This, of course, is not perfectly accurate because one side of a triangle by itself is not called a triangle, but one side of the Trinity by Himself is God.  Another way C. S. Lewis suggested to think of it is in three dimensions.  A book, table, or lamp has three dimensions: depth, height, and width.  So Father, Son, and Holy Spirit represent God as three dimensions in one place.  Of course man cannot see in this life how many dimensions there may be in God's complete world.

    Consider this: Suppose I had just finished a large dinner, except dessert.  I think I ate too much and my stomach feels tight.  Then the host presents a large, beautiful, luscious slice of German Chocolate cake.  My eyes (part of my fleshly, earthly body) sees the cake and sends a signal to my brain (another part of my fleshly body).  My brain analyses the cake but in our thinking processes, does it not appear that something goes beyond the physicality of this life?  Our brain can consider logically, but at the same time we can dream, hope, wish, think illogically and call illogic humor.  Our physical bodies can process physical realities, but we have a mind which makes decisions about this physical reality.  My mind tells me that this cake looks really good, but I am full, if I eat this, I will likely become uncomfortably stuffed, and I really don’t need the extra calories, but at the same time, if I decline, I may offend the host.  At this point I can divide myself into two distinct parts: a physical me and a mental me, yet I am one me.

    Then something else is involved.  I see the cake, and it looks so good, and I want it so bad.  Call it that ‘zest’ for life (or the ‘lust’ of life), or some people refer to zest as spirit.  Whatever it’s called, it still seems to be another part of me.  I may try to rationalize that one piece of cake won’t be that bad.  So I could enjoy it and worry about suffering the discomfort a little later.  I’ve been uncomfortable before, and though it’s not fun, I can still endure it.  After all, who could pass up enjoying that luscious piece of cake?

    So back to the physical part of myself.  Do my hands rush to pick up the fork and tantalize my taste buds?  Does my physical self bow to the part of me that wants to go for the ‘zest’, or ‘gusto’?  Or does my physical self listen to the analytical part that says I would be uncomfortable taking in far too many calories?  But my physical self makes no decision but simply bows to the winner of the two distinct parts of me inside of me.

    With one part of me being physical, and two distinct parts of me being inside of me, is it not clear that there appears to be three individual me’s that make up the one me?  I have not the capacity to analyze God and I certainly cannot say that this explains the Trinity.  But does it not make it easier to consider the concept.

    Bear in mind, not one of the three parts of me are perfect.  To say that the three of me makes a unified person does not say that it makes me complete or without faults.  My physical body could be struggling with any number of disabilities that would make it less than perfect.  My analytical reasoning is certainly marred by my own perspectives as affected by my own experiences, not to mention the balance of chemistry in my brain.  And my ‘zest’, ‘gusto’, or ‘spirit’, even though I may be saved, is not yet perfect and pulled by so many influences in this world.  Yet with a perfect Father, a perfect Savior (Son), and a perfect Holy Spirit, the One Gods (elohiym) works as One in perfect harmony and unity.

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    Bible Study- Part 9/5

    Monday, August 3, 2015, 6:28 AM [General]

    Bible Study- Part 9/5- Essay Study on Philippians 2:12

    Changing the laws to reflect a gentler, kinder administration may affect the outward appearance, but not so likely the heart.  Personally I think Satan would only put up a nominal resistance to such tactics of the church, and that only for a show to make the church believe it is engaged in the struggle of fighting the good fight.  Satan does not care what sort of window dressings the church wears while enacting laws to put up an outward appearance.  Satan knows the church is free from the law (as Paul so eloquently expressed it).  Satan knows the law (that is the law written on tablets of stone or government documents) works primarily on the carnal mind and the outward appearance.

    Right wing politics may be opening people's eyes, but Satan can remain somewhat smug as long as the "church" is fighting so hard against "sinners".  What would really upset Satan would be to see the church go forth and start pouring out love on the people it is presently fighting so hard to repress.  Pure love for the most wicked sinner has the power to write the law on the heart, and lessens the metaphorical powers of the law on tablets of stone which history itself has shown to be of no real power, and the Bible truthfully records that no man can find redemption therein.

    The Jews were chosen to demonstrate God’s will to mankind.  The law was given through Moses on tablets of stone.  Jesus said that He did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it.  Paul taught that no man (except Jesus) could measure up to, fully live by, or expect to be saved by the law written on stone.  Paul explained that statement by teaching that what the law on stone could not accomplish, Jesus (not destroying but fulfilling) can accomplish by writing the law on people’s hearts.  That gives more understanding to Paul’s position that we are free from the law.  It appears to me that the right wing moral majority wants to revisit the law on stone concept by saying what we need is to write the law in the constitution.

    It appears that they wish to go back again to an old way that did not work when the prime function of the church is not to bow people to the law, but to bring people to Jesus who will put the law in their hearts.  That is why we are to love sinners with Jesus’ love rather than judge them by the law.  (Love me, I’m not too proud to admit that I’m still a sinner.  I need His love every day.)  Whether the law is in the constitution or not, His law is still His law, and we will not bring anyone into subjection to His law or change people’s lives or the human condition by trying to write it again.  The church’s main function is not to hit people with God’s law, but to LOVE them into an awareness of their need for Him and His law.

    Romans 5:8 tells us that God's love for us was so great that while we were still living in wickedness, He sent His Only Begotten Son Who died for us.  Jesus told us to love our enemies.  John reminded us that if God so loved us we ought also to love one another.  Satan has no reason to be concerned that the church is throwing stones at the unredeemed.  It only drives them farther from realizing God's love.  What would really drive Satan to fury would be to see the church fall on its knees and pray for that Pentecostal Power and fall madly in love with the homosexuals, abortion doctors, and others whom the church is presently fighting against so furiously.  Christians (in Congress as well as in churches) are not to wage angry battles against wrong-doers.  They are to show them the better way of love.  They are to pray for them, and plead the cause so that they may direct them to an understanding of God's love, and God's better way.

    Faith leads to boldness, not rashness.  Faith leads to love for, not battles with, wicked people.  The warfare is to be in spiritual realms, not against flesh and blood.  (Ephesians 6)  Where is faith?  So often I feel like the man at the foot of the mountain who said, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."  I might wish I were good enough (not presumptuous self-righteousness, but truly good enough) to pray, "Lord, I thank You I am not like that sinner."  But, alas, my prayer remains, "Lord, have mercy on me a sinner."  (Mark 9:24; Luke 18:10-14)

    Coming boldly unto the throne does not mean we lose sight of our present lowly (though lifted up) estate.  We cannot boast when we enter the awesomeness of the Throne Room, the presence of the Throne itself, and certainly not the Presence occupying the Throne.  Sin still has its consequences, and until we can breathe with never a fear of falling to temptation, we must continue (paraphrasing) "to carry out the good works that were given to us when our hearts were made aware of love in the salvation experience with a strong sense of the proper respect (fear and trembling) of the awesomeness of the consequences that may result from serious short-comings."

    Right is always right.  Wrong is always wrong.  God is always right.  Some people try to do and be right, but sometimes people do not even know right from wrong.  We may think we do, but too often our feelings and emotions from different life experiences get in the way and darken our perspectives.  Too many "human" experiences and thought processes influenced by "worldly" wisdom have made it difficult for us to see clearly.  As Paul said, we now see through a shaded lens (1st Corinthians 13).  As John said in his first letter, it does not yet appear what we shall be …”

    Feelings and emotions are different for different people and affect people in different ways.  All too often the selfishness of worldly reasoning (What I want is what I think I need) causes people to rationalize.  Feelings do not make wrong become right, nor right become wrong.  The system of situational ethics is a part of worldly wisdom's way of rationalizing.

    Though I have already used these passages, they are well worth mentioning again.  Our Savior well understands the human condition and situation.  He brought it up to His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane just prior to His arrest when He said, "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41)  When all of His disciples deserted Him, and Peter denied Him, their spirits were indeed willing, but their physical bodies caved in to the weakness of their flesh.

    Paul discussed the concept well in Romans 7.  Here he explains the two laws at work in the flesh and mind of the Christian.  People must constantly guard their renewing and transforming minds against the subtleties of worldly wisdom. (Romans 12:1-2; 1st Peter 1:13)

    Remember— Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.


    I reiterate:

    Work out your salvation…

    We are to carry out the good works that were given to us when our hearts were made aware of love in the salvation experience …

    … with fear and trembling.

    … with a strong sense of the proper respect the awesomeness of the consequences that may result from serious short-comings.

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    Bible Study- Part 9/4

    Sunday, August 2, 2015, 5:42 PM [General]

    Bible Study- Part 9/4- Essay Study on Philippians 2:12

    (I would recommend reading Parts 9/1, 2, and 3 to catch up to our present point in this essay form of Bible study.  Please remember that the topic is on the ‘working out of salvation’ and ‘the fear and trembling’ in Philippians 2:12.)

    Consider the old maxim, "To thine own self be true."  If a person cannot be true to his own self, how could anyone ever expect him to be true to anyone else.  Yet, if we have God's law of love in our hearts, then we must certainly be true to our own heart or we would be indeed the most miserable people.  Paul was painfully aware of the intensity of the struggle and the misery of failure.  Read Romans 7 and allow me to paraphrase a few verses.  "I know to do right, but I find myself failing in my efforts.  I know to avoid wrongful ways, yet I seem to drift into that which I know is wrong from time to time.  Oh, what a miserable wretch I am."  We all fail to be perfectly true to ourselves and that law of love which is in us as Christians.

    Yet there will be those who think of me as a heretic to speak of living in fear when the Bible speaks so much of boldness and casting out fearfulness.  The apparent dichotomy exists not in the spirit but in the flesh.  Jesus brought this out when He told His disciples that the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak.  Paul spoke more on this concept in Romans 7 when he discussed the law of the spirit and the law of the flesh.  Paul wrote further in his letters that it was the objective of the spirit to mortify the deeds of the flesh.  A careful study of Paul's letters shows that it is in the weakness of our flesh that the power of God manifests itself through our spirit (1st Corinthians 1: 27; 2: 3; 4: 10; 2nd Corinthians 12: 9-10).  The last two verses here are the most notable, but notice in 1st Corinthians 2: 3 cited that Paul mentions that ‘fear and trembling’ we are speaking of here.  It is the heart of our spirit on which is written the law of love, and it is this love which we are to seek to cultivate and control our fleshly bodies.

    Ephesians 3:11-12- … Christ Jesus our Lord: in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him.

    Hebrews 4:16; 10:19-Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.  Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus …

    1st John 4:18-There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear …

    To believe is faith, is confidence, is boldness.  Weakness of boldness indicates weakness of confidence, indicates weakness of faith, indicates weakness of belief.  Weakness does not have to mean total absence of boldness or faith, but less than total presence or fullness of faith.  A person may have a certain amount of strength; that does not necessarily mean he has enough strength for the task at hand.  A person may have faith in our Savior, but that does not necessarily mean he has the faith of a grain of mustard seed (Matthew 21:21).  If I did not want to climb the mountain, I do not think my faith is strong enough to move it.  Some people think the parable about the grain of mustard seed and moving mountains is metaphorical, but I cannot see that it should be any less real than Jesus walking on the water or raising the dead.

    "There is no ‘fear’ in love …"  I ‘fear’ that far too often my love is far from the level it should be.  "… perfect love casteth out fear …"  I know all too well that my love is far from perfect yet.  I could think we need the love of the early Christians at Pentecost, but even that thought is a little scary to me.  Jesus told us that if we exemplified His love we could expect this world to hate us as it hated Him.  This world is ruled by Satan and seeks to push out anything that might lead people to their Creator.  After Pentecost Christians went out boldly in a genuine, communal love.  In short order they were summarily stoned, crucified, or fed to lions.

    The fact that this is not so widespread today is not because of the power of Christian love.  Satan is not running and hiding from the church.  The early church had a zealous fervor, and Satan fought the church in the lions' dens and on the crosses.  The church today does not have the same zealous fervor; therefore, Satan is attacking with more subtlety.

    The church has become complacent so that Satan can campaign in more subtle ways.  The religious right is beginning to see the effects of Satan's work and are retaliating.  I can neither speak good nor bad of the present movement at this time.  They are stirring up a certain zealous fervor.  Still something does not seem quite right.  Someone told me we have to pick the ‘lesser of two evils’.  I think that is not right- we should never pick the evil even if it “appears to be lesser”.  Evil is evil, and lesser or greater does not apply to ‘good’ and ‘evil’.  If it is a ‘lesser’ evil, it’s still evil.

    Jesus, John the Baptist, and Paul spoke boldly to religious and political leaders telling them what was wrong and what was right.  But none of them, or that I can see in the early Church, sought to enter the political arena to try to suggest management principles to the powers that be.  Though they spoke boldly the message of right and wrong, and God's love and redemption, they offered little or no resistance to governmental authority.  They prayed, preached, sang, and lovingly pleaded for the softening of men's hearts to the Gospel message of Christ.

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    Bible Study- Part 9/3

    Sunday, August 2, 2015, 5:23 AM [General]

    Bible Study- Part 9/3- Essay Study on Philippians 2:12

    God set aside the Jews as His chosen people and expected them to live by certain standards.  God warned the Jews in Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28 and 29, and in many other places of the consequences of not living up to His standards.  They were told that failure to comply with His standards would lead to calamity.  This was not intended to be too harsh; it was an act of love intended to guide them back to a better life.  Calamity was designed to demonstrate the seriousness of living according to God's intended purpose.  However, consistent and/or continued non-conformance would result in more calamities to try to bring people to a realization of their errors.  These ‘calamities’ as I termed them would become successively harsher and more severe until compliance was realized.

    All people may call upon the Lord for deliverance.  The Bible teaches that those who come to know the Lord will become new creatures with enlivened spirits and God's law will be written on their hearts.  Paul could teach that such people were free from the law, because when God puts His law in a person's heart, then that person would have a natural propensity to strive to do that which is right within the law.  Yet Paul teaches that Satan fights a fierce battle to drive God's children away from the good works set aside for them, and to lure them into the wicked works which are contrary to God's intended purpose.  Paul consistently warns Christians not to fall back into the old ways from which they were delivered.

    Now the Jews were given their law written on tablets of stone, but the law for Christians is written on the heart.  People can be free from the letter of the law when the law is a very real part of their being, written as it were, on the very fabric of their lives.  But Paul warns Christians that Satan is fighting to distort the understanding of God's law of love.  This is the struggle the Christian must fight when Paul says to "Fight the good fight."  Paul warns Christians not to conform to this world or fall back into their old ways of life before they became the children of God.

    Now when the words of the Bible were framed, whether in Hebrew, Greek, King James English, or later versions reflecting changes in various languages, it has been generally understood that when a child did not please his father, he would likely have cause to have some dread of the consequences.  Now it is revealed that we are the children of God.  So much the more should we please such a mighty and glorious Father.  But Satan has a mighty army of demons patrolling the earth seeking to lure away those who are striving to please God.  When they fail to lure someone away from God's purpose, they look for some way to cause havoc for the child of God.  If a demon cannot reach a Christian directly, he may use another person to affect that Christian.

    God is a mighty defender and protector for His children, but we are expected to fight the good fight of faith (Paul to Timothy), and sometimes we fall.  We must get back up and get into the battle.  It is not always easy, but the Lord is ever ready to help us.  Free from the law does not mean there are no consequences for not living up to God's standards.  If His children do not please the Heavenly Father, then He will gently lead them.  If His children consistently fail to follow His law of love in their hearts, then He will become less gentle and more forceful in His guidance.

    1st Corinthians 5 speaks of a man who had strayed so far from God's purpose that Paul told the church to separate themselves from him that the Lord may deliver his fleshly body to Satan for destruction so that his soul might be saved.  It is indeed a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God.  Carefully note that he did not say he would lose his salvation.  His ‘body’ may be delivered to Satan that his ‘soul’ might be saved.  In extreme cases the Lord may allow such extreme scourging.  The ultimate intended result was the salvation of his soul.

    1st Corinthians 5:5- To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved...

    Only the Lord could know if the person had truly believed and had been accepted as one of His children.  But the Father is more powerful than Satan, and never loses His child to Satan.  Once the Father has given the gift, He never takes it back.  Romans 6:23 says the free gift is eternal life.  John 3:16 says the believer has everlasting life.  If a person has that which is eternal (or everlasting) and then he loses it, then it would not have truly been everlasting.

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    Bible Study- Part 9/2

    Saturday, August 1, 2015, 7:38 PM [General]

    Bible Study- Part 9/2- Essay Study on Philippians 2:12

    (Remember- we are talking about Bible Study by applying it to an essay study on Philippians 2: 12.  The topic is on fear and trembling.  We said that salvation is ‘worked out’, but that is different from ‘worked for’.  We do not work to obtain salvation, but work it out in our lives.  Fear and trembling is to be discussed later, but for now, we are still looking at this ‘work out your salvation’.

    So therefore, except for that work of God, which is to believe on Him whom He has sent, our salvation is not at all dependent on works.  But from salvation comes a life of good works that come from love.  Any works which come from debts or obligations are not works to be credited to our profit, for they are payment on a debt, not a surplus for our profit.  Anyone who is saved has no right to boast of his works which followed his salvation, because he is only fulfilling a debt that we will truly never be able to pay out.  This is a debt we owe the One Who loved us so much that He suffered and died, while we were yet sinners, to pay the debt our sins had earned.

    Also any works performed for show or boast are empty works because they are not performed for love but for a show.  And works performed begrudgingly, out of malice, or otherwise without love are empty because they are without love.

    We have noted that salvation leads to good works.  God's law is love.  In love we are to serve one another.  Once we have received the free gift of salvation, then out of a heart of love, we are to work out our saved life.  If any individual works for any denomination in teaching a class, visitation, or service in any capacity, that individual should decide whether such works come naturally from a heart of love for others, or does he feel an obligatory compulsion to work because it is expected.  This is not to preclude the fact that love itself has its own compulsion.  One must weigh for himself if his compulsion is from a sense of duty or love.  The Lord searches the heart's motives.

    Having discussed "… work out your own salvation …," let us now consider "… with fear and trembling."

    It has been correctly asserted from many pulpits that the fear of the Lord refers to a proper respect for the Lord.  Many today seem to have a simplistic understanding of the meaning of the term respect.  I support the concept that the Lord has a sense of humor, but that sense of humor does not apply to sin, human suffering, or any matter involving eternal consequences.  The Lord's sense of humor does not allow for levity in handling His Word or His Worship in a flippant manner.  He is love and love does not allow for a sense of humor that treats Him or any human being with a lack of concern for feelings or conscience.

    The Bible has much to say about the anger of the Lord and the Lord's wrath.  Though the fear of the Lord involves a proper respect, it is certainly incorrect to drop the "fearsomeness" from the meaning.  If we try to dilute the meaning of fear too much, then we would be left searching for a way to dilute the meaning of trembling.

    Hebrews 10:30- 31- For we know Him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto Me, I will recompense, saith the Lord.  And again, The Lord shall judge His people.  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God.

    Having given a great deal of thought to how the meaning of "fear of the Lord" became diluted, it occurred to me that the real meaning had been changed in understanding the word "respect."  Many today seem to think that respect means little more than "to hold in high regard."  Respect would be a good assessment of the term fear, I think, if one went back in time to a stricter meaning of the term respect.  Old fashioned discipline with a strong work ethic and sure rewards for slothfulness to me seems to have deeper implications in understanding the term respect than many people today attach to the term.  A father could be loving and caring, and a child could respond with love; but certain standards were expected.  Certain lassitude in those standards could bring a certain respect that involved the fear and trembling that did not diminish the quality of love, but trained the child not to take his father's standards too lightly.

    Hebrews 12:6- For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth [a term here involving a gentle instruction], and scourgeth [herein may lie the fear and trembling] every son whom He receiveth.

    (My paraphrase)- The Lord accepts His children and gives them gentle instruction.  Sometimes, because of human nature and the hardness of man’s heart, gentle instruction is not enough.  In such instances the Lord is not one to spare the rod.

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    Bible Study- Part 9/1

    Saturday, August 1, 2015, 5:46 AM [General]

    Bible Study- Part 9/1- Essay Study on Philippians 2:12

    Theme: Work out Salvation & Fear of the Lord

    Philippians 2:12 (KJV)- … work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

    (TEV)- … Keep on working with fear and trembling to complete your salvation …

    (AB)- … work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ).

    (Phil)- … complete the salvation that God has given you with a proper sense of awe and responsibility.

    (Wuest)- … carry to its ultimate conclusion [likeness to the Lord Jesus] your own salvation with a wholesome, serious caution and trembling.

    Do these words seem difficult to hear and understand?  How do we work out our salvation?  What works are we to do?  What sort of fear and trembling are we to experience.  First, let us consider these works.  Let us see what our Lord Jesus had to say about this.

    John 6:28-29-Then said they unto Him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?  Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, That ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.

    John 13:34-35-A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

    In the John 6 verses, Jesus had fed a multitude of people and the people followed Him because they wanted to be fed.  Jesus told them to work for food that led to eternal life.  They asked what that work was.  Jesus responded that it was to believe in Him.  Paul teaches us that we were created for a life of good works (Ephesians 2:10).  The first of our good works is to believe in Jesus whom God sent.  The next work involves a life of love which results in a multitude of good works.  Love involves caring, sharing, and serving.  If I have food, and see someone hungry, it would be a lie for me to say, "I love you," without offering food.  But in no way, in no place, does the Bible teach that it is our works that save us.  We are able to work good works because we are saved.  It is love that enables good works; and it is God that enables love.

    Romans 3:28-Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

    James 2:17-Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.

    It is not at all our labors that earn or attain unto our salvation.  It is our salvation that stirs within us the love which produces the works.  Our salvation is a free gift to us.  The gift was not entirely free because Christ paid the price on the cross; but it was given to us entirely free.

    John 3:16- … that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    Acts 2:21; 13:39; 15:11; 16:31- And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  …  And by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.  …  But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be saved …  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved …

    Romans 5:8; 6:23; 10:13- But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  …  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  …  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

    Ephesians 2:8-9-For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:  It is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

    The list of verses that explain the simplicity of salvation goes on and on, but these should suffice.  Two of these verses tell us that salvation is a gift, two that it comes by God's grace, a few that it depends on our believing faith, and two that all we have to do is call on Him.  Now understand that anyone who "calls" on Him without "believing" is not really calling but mocking.  You do not call on someone you do not believe in unless it is in mocking.

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    Bible Study- Part 8/3

    Friday, July 31, 2015, 5:03 PM [General]

    Bible Study- Part 8/3:  Cross-Referencing; Versions; & Word Studies

    *C*. God's Search for Man; Man's Search for God

    Ever since man strayed from God, God has sought out fellowship with man.  Genesis 3:9; 4:9.  Luke 19:10.

    It was not God who turned His back on man, but man who turned his back on God.  Genesis 6:5-6; 8:20-21.

    Man's heart is revealed before God.  1st Samuel 16:7.  1st Chronicles 28:9.  Proverbs 13:3; 21:2; 23:7.

    It is up to man to search for God with all his heart.  Numbers 15:39.  Deuteronomy 4:29.  2nd Chronicles 7:14.  Isaiah 55:6.  Jeremiah 29:13.  Lamentations 3:25-26.  Matthew 6:33. Luke 18:10-14.  Hebrews 11:6.

    Men began early to call upon the Name of the Lord and to worship Him.  Man's worship did not always come from the heart.  Genesis 4:26.  Psalm 80:18; 105:1.  Isaiah 12:4; 29:13.  Joel 2:32.  Zephaniah 3:9.  Zechariah 13:9.  John 4:24.  Acts 2:21; 17:24-31.  Romans 10:12-13.

    God allows nothing to come before Him:

    Other gods-Exodus 20:3;

    Graven images-Isaiah 44:8-20; 45:20;

    Riches-Matthew 6:19-25; 1st Timothy 6:10;

    Things of this world-Colossians 3:1-2; James 4:4; 1st John 2:15;

    This worldly life-Matthew 10:38-39; John 15:18; Romans 12:1-2; 1st John 3:13;

    Military might-Psalm 20:7; Isaiah 31:1;

    Choose you this day whom you will serve.  Joshua 24:14-15, 23; Psalm 40:8.

    *D*. Two final cross-reference word studies

    (a) Peace, Comfort, & Freedom—

    Numbers 6:26.  Psalm 29:11.  Proverbs 17:22.  Isaiah 9:6; 26:3; 40:1-5, 28-31.  Matthew 11:28-30.  John 8:32; 14; 16:20-33.  Romans 5:1; 8:37-39.  Philippians 4:5-7.

    (b) Fellowship in the Light—

    Genesis 1:3-4.  Exodus 13:21.  2nd Samuel 21:17.  1st Kings 11:36.  2nd Kings 8:19.  Job 24:12-13; 28:11; 38:15.  Psalm 27:1; 36:9; 56:13; 119:105, 130.  Proverbs 4:18; 6:23; 13:9.  Ecclesiastes 2:13.  Isaiah 2:5; 9:2; 10:17; 42:6, 16; 49:6; 60:19-20.  Micah 7:8-9.  Matthew 4:16; 5:14-16; 6:22-23.  Luke 1:78-79; 2:29-32.  John 1:1-9; 3:19-21; 8:12; 9:5.  Acts 13:47; 22:6-11.  2nd Corinthians 4:3-6.  Ephesians 5:8.  1st John 1:3-7.  Revelation 21:22-25; 22:5.

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    Bible Study- Part 8/2

    Friday, July 31, 2015, 5:01 AM [General]

    Bible Study- Part 8/2:  Cross-Referencing; Versions; & Word Studies

    *B*. Faith, Hope, and Love

    1st Corinthians 13: 13 (TEV)- Meanwhile these three remain: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love.

    Hebrews 11: 1, 6- Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen … without faith it is impossible to please Him…

    Faith and hope are closely related.  In modern English if someone hopes for something, it usually means much the same as "wishes for" but not necessarily "expects" anything.  From the actual definition and the Hebrew and Greek words there is not only the connotation of wishing and yearning for, but also the expectation that what is hoped for will come to pass.  In early English the word hope also carried to some extent this expectation.  But many times today when people use the word hope, this expectation is not always included with it.  (i.e. I made a wish upon a star- I HOPE it comes true.)

    People today readily see the connection between believing and faith.  If you truly believe something, then you will expect it, though it may not be what you wish for.  Hope, as used in the Bible, means expecting what you yearn for.  A deeper understanding of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ could today be expressed as believing with a yearning expectation of both salvation (deliverance), and the Lord's return.  It also means a firm holding onto (from the Hebrew ‘aman’- as in our ‘amen’ at the end of prayers), or firmly grounded in.

    In the Bible the word love is translated from no less than eleven Hebrew, Arabic, and Greek words.  These various words reflected different shades of meaning such as family affection, brotherly love for friends, social love for mankind related to kindness and common courtesy, and God's perfect love which involves the deepest meanings of love that Christians seek to attain.

    Before we begin a cross reference study on faith, hope, and love from 1st Corinthians 13: 13, let us look at the first chapter of 1st Peter.  From this chapter we can see a number of directions to go in cross referencing besides just our present subject.  You may wish to study some of these on your own at a later time.  All of the following themes are touched on in 1st Peter 1 as well as in the verses following  Read the first chapter of 1st Peter and compare with these verses.

    faith, hope, and love— 1st Corinthians 13:13

    gird up (renew) your minds, do not be conformed, be holy (present yourselves holy)— Romans 12:1, 2

    sufferings and glorified— Romans 8

    destined before the foundation— Ephesians 1:4; 2:10; Revelation 13:8

    born anew— John 3:3; Romans 7:6

    Now read Romans 5:1-10 to see what you can learn about faith, hope, love, and redemption (Christ paying the price for our sins).

    Aside from the following references, you may wish to consult a good concordance and look up believe (-ing), faith, confidence (-dent, -dently), hope, expect (-ing, -ation, -antly), love, charity, and affection.

    Faith: Genesis 15:6. Habakkuk 2:4. Matthew 17:20. John 1:12; 3:15-16,36; 5:24; 6:28-29, 35-37, 40-47; 7:37-39; 11:25-26; 12:36; 14:1-3; 20:29,31.  Acts 10:43; 13:38-39; 15:11; 16:31. Romans 3:24-28; 4:2-5. Galatians 3:6. Ephesians 2:8-9. Hebrews 11:1-3, 6. James 2:23.

    Hope: Psalm 39:7. Lamentations 3:26. Romans 4:16-18; 8:20-25; 12:12; 15:4. 1st John 3:1-3.

    Love: Deuteronomy 6:5. Leviticus 19:18. Ezekiel 33:31. Matthew 7:12; 22:37-40; 25:40. Luke 3:11. John 14:15, 21, 23, 31; 15:9-19. 1st Corinthians 13. 1st John 3:17-18; 4:7-11.

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    Bible Study- Part 8/1

    Thursday, July 30, 2015, 7:00 PM [General]

    Bible Study- Part 8/1:  Cross-Referencing; Versions; & Word Studies

    *A*. The Word of God: The Light and the Son

    We will briefly examine a few verses that may be cross-referenced to each other and compare the King James Version with a few others.  Our subject is the Word of God.  The first verse encourages us to study, and to be accurate ("rightly divide") in our study, so that we may do the good works God has for us to do.  In the King James English the word ‘study’ did not apply only to academia.  A craftsman may be ‘studied’ in his trade even though he may not be able to read.  In this sense studied may mean "adept, diligent, skilled, or accomplished."  The next two verses tell us the origin of the Scriptures and their purposes.  The fourth verse tells us something of the power of God's Word.  We need to keep in mind that the Bible contains both literal and figurative meanings.  To say that the Bible is sharper than any two-edged sword, I know that no one is going to have a Bible handy for cutting bread.  But it is awesome to know that the Word is sharp enough to slice through personality facades into the very heart, mind, and conscience of individuals.  The term "quick" in King James means "enlivening" or "invigorating”.

    2nd Timothy 2:15- King James Version (KJV)- Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.

    New King James Version (NKJV)- Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

    2nd Timothy 3:16- 17- KJV- All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

    Today's English Version (TEV)- All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living, so that the person who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed.

    2nd Peter 1:20- 21– KJV- Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

    Amplified Bible (AB)- [Yet] first [you must] understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is [a matter] of any personal or private or special interpretation (loosening, solving).  For no prophecy ever originated because some man willed it [to do so— It never came by human impulse], but men spoke from God who were borne along (moved and impelled) by the Holy Spirit.

    Hebrews 4:12– KJV- For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

    New International Version (NIV)- For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

    So the subject of this chapter is the study of the Word of God, and the subject of this short study in cross referencing is the Word of God.  Remember: What God said is God's Word is Light is His Son.

    Genesis 1:3–(KJV)– And God said, "Let there be light:" and there was light.

    (TEV)- Then God commanded, "Let there be light"— and light appeared.

    Psalm 119:105– (KJV)– Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

    (NKJV)- Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

    Isaiah 9:2– (KJV)– The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light …

    (AB)- The people who walked in darkness have seen a great Light …

    John 1:1- 5, 9, 14– (KJV)– In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.  In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.  And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.  That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…

    Phillips' NT (Phill)- At the beginning God expressed himself.  That personal expression, that word, was with God and was God, and he existed with God from the beginning.  All creation took place through him, and none took place without him.  In him appeared life and this life was the light of mankind.  The light still shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out.  That was the true light, which shines upon every man, which was now coming into the world.  So the word of God became a human being and lived among us.

    Hebrews 11:3– (KJV)– Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

    Wuest NT Expanded (Wuest)- By means of faith we perceive that the material universe and the God-appointed ages of time were equipped and fitted by God's word for the purpose for which they were intended, and it follows, therefore, that that which we see did not come into being out  of that which is visible.

    Please read the following verses and consider how they relate to our subject.

    Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; Hebrews 1:10; Revelation 1:8; Isaiah 40:28-31; 42:5-8; 45:18-24; 48:16-17

    God is the beginning and the end.  We are studying God's Word.  We are studying the beginning.  We are waiting for the end.

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    Bible Study- Part 7

    Thursday, July 30, 2015, 5:04 AM [General]

    Bible Study- Part 7:

    Genesis 1:1- 3

    Study your passage verse by verse, sentence by sentence, and/or paragraph by paragraph.  If your Bible has footnotes, these can add much to clarify the text.  With chain references you may not read every reference, but follow through on those references that arouse your curiosity or stimulate your interest.

    The first two verses of the first chapter of Genesis are a sort of introduction.  Some Bible and literary students call such introductions "prologues."  Beginning with verse three and continuing to the end of the chapter is a summary of the six days of creation.

    Genesis 1:1-"In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth."

    Beginnings are always a good place to start.  First things first.  Start at the beginning.  Everything has a beginning— right?  At least almost everything.  The Bible discusses many beginnings.  In the Bible we read about the beginnings of Heaven and earth, mankind, sin, suffering, the faith of Abraham, etc.  Yet there are continually new beginnings.  Every time there is something new, it has a beginning.  Each new season starts at its beginning.  Every New Year's Day is the beginning of another year of opportunities.  Each child who is conceived is the beginning of a new life with the potential to change national directions and world views.

    In our verse, after "beginning," the very next word, "God," is the subject of our sentence.  Since the subject's verb is active and not passive, we see something of God's ability, and not so much Who God is or what qualities He possesses.  Since the verb is "created," we can deduce that whoever God is, He is at least a creator.  Since we see that He created Heaven and earth, we do not have to take actual measurements to realize He is a very powerful creator.  Also, anyone who has studied even the most elemental science chapters can consider the wonders of outer space, the sky, earth, and life itself, and know that our Creator must have vast amounts of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

    "In the beginning God …"  From the time of the first beginnings that we know anything about, God already WAS.  The Hebrew word (elohiym) from which God is translated here is plural.  It is the same word used to refer to false gods.  But when a singular false god is referred to, the singular term is used.  When this term is used for God, the Creator, the term is always in the plural.  Bible students know that the Bible teaches that there is only one true God.  Why the plural form is used is explained by some as a term of respect.  The explanation I prefer is that it is a reference to another Christian term the Trinity which I will discuss elsewhere.

    The next word in our Bibles is ‘created’.  In the Hebrew, the verb comes before the subject, but the word order is not so important to this discussion.  The verb form referring to God is a masculine, singular verb.  Hebrew language is firm on the concept of verb forms matching gender (masculine/feminine) and number (singular/plural).  The form here is definitely masculine and definitely singular.

    One more important consideration here is "… God created Heaven …"  Many people think of Heaven as God's home and the place where Saints go to live when they leave this earth.  In one sense this is true, but before we say, "In the beginning God created His own home …," (which could certainly be a logical assumption) let us take note that in the Hebrew term, heaven has three usages.  The sky containing its birds and clouds in a blue canopy is the first heaven, because from earth it is the first heaven we see.  Beyond this is the second heaven wherein is contained the moon, planets, and stars.  Then there is the third heaven which we cannot see from earth, which is the Heaven of heavens and the place of God's throne.  Knowing this can help us better understand Paul in 2nd Corinthians 12: 2 when he speaks of the ‘third heaven’.

    Genesis 1:2-"And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."

    Many scientists say that there is overwhelming geological evidence that the earth is many millions of years old, but many say that the Bible only goes back four to six thousand years.  Science and the Bible often seem at odds.  This is not necessary when you recognize that God is the Master Scientist and man is only trying to learn.  But human understanding is very limited, and men are very obstinate.

    First I want to examine what Biblical scholars call the Thousand Day Year theory.  It is based on 2nd Peter 3:8- "But, Beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."  Now in regard to what is commonly called the six days of creation, there are three general views.  The first view is that they were six literal twenty-four hour days.  The second, they were six- one-thousand year days, each day being a thousand years.  The third view takes the language to be figurative, and says that it was six periods of time not literally specified, and could have been millions of years.

    Regardless which views are available, all scholars agree that the Biblical student's account of creation begins at Genesis 1:1, and the vast majority (if not all) agree that the six days do not begin until Genesis 1:3.  The student can only ponder at this point how much time may have elapsed during Genesis 1:1-2.  This could be geological eons.  Also observe that as we measure days with the rising and setting of the sun and moon, by the Genesis account, the sun and moon were not created until the fourth day, so who can say how long were the first three days?

    Now for science students, I would like to add a few thoughts about radio-carbon dating.  This is a method used by scientists to determine the age of rocks, fossils, and such sorts.  It is based on radio-active decay of carbon.  The decay occurs in 'trillionths' of a second, and continues for 'trillions' of years.  There are several laboratories around that perform this so-called measurement.  There have been several instances where different laboratories have obtained very different results for the same substance.  News people simply say, "They do not agree on the results," or, "The results are inconclusive."  If the results are to be considered accurate, then why do the laboratories differ so much?

    Also, radio-active decay is supposed to occur over 'trillions' of years, according to certain specific rules.  As the decay occurs there are certain measurable changes that occur in the substance being dated.  This procedure has not been in use so much as a thousand years.  Who can be certain that every thousand years, the substance changes enough that a certain adjustment needs to be made in the calculation?  Radio-carbon dating is based on carbon content.  A chunk of pure coal is pure carbon.  A chunk of pure diamond is pure carbon.  Who determines, and how accurate is the measurement, of the pure carbon content of a substance millions, or even thousands of years ago?

    If we believe the Bible to be true, and that God created the universe, then is it likely at all that God does not understand radio-active decay?  Who can say that He did not give radio-active decay a certain nature that scientists do not yet understand?  With the vast amounts of information available in so many fields of study, the wisest of the scientists will tell you that man's knowledge and understanding are limited to a very small extent.  Even for the most intellectual scientist to be puffed up with pride is foolishness, arrogance, and impudence.

    We will look at one more point in this verse before moving on.  "… the Spirit of God moved …"  Many Hebrew words (just as in English) have multiple meanings, depending on usage.  The word here translated "Spirit" (Hebrew- ‘ruach’) can also be translated "wind," or even “breath”.  Some versions translate this as "… a wind from God …"  There are not a great many arguments to favor one translation or the other.  I prefer "Spirit," but it is not an issue to be dogmatic about, though I certainly lean to the understanding of the verb merachphet translated as ‘hovered’ or ‘fluttered’ seem to function in a deliberate manner that the wind does not.

    An interesting note is that in the New Testament, one Greek word, pneuma, may also be translated "spirit" or "wind".  This can add some interesting thoughts in John 3:8, speaking of being born of the "Spirit," Jesus says, "The ‘wind’ bloweth … so is … born of the ‘Spirit’."  The same Hebrew or Greek word in this verse is translated both ‘wind’ and ‘Spirit’.

    Genesis 1:3- "And God said, 'Let there be light': and there was light."

    "… God said …"  What God said, or says, is God's Word.  His Word is His expression of Himself.  Our Bible is His Word and one of His expressions of Himself to us.  His Son is also an expression of Himself to us.  As Jesus told Philip in John 14:9- "… He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father …"  This says that Jesus is God’s expression of Himself to us.  Read John 1: 1-14 for an interesting revelation about God, God's Word, creation, light, salvation, and the incarnation (was made flesh) of Jesus.

    "… Let there be …"  The verb here from the Hebrew means "the state of being" or "existence."  God commanded the light to exist.  If God said, "Let there be …" whatever, whatever became.  If God says, "Let there be …" whatever, whatever becomes.  If God says..., you do not have to sit around and wait to see.  You can depend on it.  Whatever God says is God’s Word.

    In Exodus 3 God called Moses to deliver His people from Egypt.  In the 13th verse Moses asked God who he should tell the people had sent him.  God's answer in the 14th verse: "I AM THAT I AM" and tell the people that "I AM" sent you.  "I AM" here is a form of the Hebrew word "be" in "Let there be …".  God is existence.  God essentially told Moses that existence itself had sent him.  This is the source of our reference to God as ‘the Great I Am.’  This does not necessarily stipulate that ‘I Am’ or ‘Yahweh’ is the name of God.  The general consensus is that it would be more accurately translated as “I Will Be Who I Will Be”.

    The term light is used a great deal in the Scriptures, both literally and figuratively.  Though God here says, "Let there be light," on this first day, and calls the light 'day' and the darkness 'night’, and speaks of an evening and morning, let us not overlook that as yet there are no moon, sun, or other stars.  These celestial bodies come on the fourth day.  Some people use this idea to illustrate that the creation account should not be taken literally.  It is true that the Bible often speaks to people figuratively and in metaphors as in the parables.  At the same time, it is not wise to suppose that just because we do not always understand something, that it must be figurative.  Whether we understand it or not, God says what He means, and means what He says.  Consider Revelation 21:23- "And the city had no need of the sun … for the glory of God did lighten it …."  And don’t forget, Jesus is the Light of the world.

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