Category Archives: Scripture

The Qualification Test for Ministry

A young man desired to become a pastor.

At 5:00 a.m. on a dark and snowy morning, the young candidate arrived for his examination appointment. He was brought to an empty office where he waited silently until 8:00 a.m. for the interview.

The examiner, a retired presbyter, began his questioning, “Can you spell?”

“Yes, sir,” the mystified candidate replied.

“Oh, good. Spell bible.”

“Bible: b-i-b-l-e.”

“That’s just fine. Now, do you know anything about numbers?”

“Yes, sir, a little.”

“Please add two plus two.”

“Four,” replied the candidate.

“Thank you,” said the examiner. “I believe you have passed. I will speak with the presbytery board tomorrow.”

At the board meeting, the examiner summarized his interview. “He has excellent qualifications for the pastorate. First, I tested him on self-denial, making him arrive at my home at five o’clock in the morning. He left a warm bed on a snowy morning without any complaint. Second, I tested him on promptness. He arrived on time. Third, I examined him on patience. I made him wait three hours to see me. Fourth, I tested him on temper. He failed to show any anger or aggravation. Fifth, I tried his humility by asking him questions that a seven-year-old child could answer, and he showed no indignation. So you see, I believe the candidate meets the requirements. He will make the kind of pastor that we need in the ministry.”

Adapted from "Illustrations for Biblical Preaching" by Michael P. Green, p. 354, Baker Book House, 1984.

How to Grow Your Church

Jesus’ instructed His followers to go into the world and make disciples. (Matthew 28:19-20)If you are growing your church through attractiveness, allurement, drawing power, effective marketing, top-ten business models or appeals to emotional gratification, then you aren’t growing your church in the way that Jesus would grow His Church.

How to Pronounce God’s Name Properly

I recently saw this post,

“Jesus is not the name of the Messiah, you have to call upon the Messiah by his true name…You have to believe in Yah’s Salvation Yahshuah…Jesus is a vain name that means nothing, as you have seen from the previous question, The name Jesus was not in existence when the 1611 KJV translation came about…In ancient times what did they call the Messiah, remember they were Hebrews and they Spoke the Hebrew Language, they didn’t speak English because English wasn’t invented yet…”

I must accept the assumption that the writer himself is also condemned because he chooses to write “Yahshuah” using English letters instead of Hebrew… since English was not used by Jesus, Peter or Paul.

The fallacy in the argument is that “Jesus” means nothing. The word does mean something, something very significant. The word means a Person, the most significant Person in the world. Jesus means Y’Shuah. Jesus means God the Savior.

If the writer is correct, then even he is not worthy of salvation.

Actually, none of us is worthy of salvation. We are not saved by our own goodness. We are not saved by our ability to speak Hebrew.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Eph 2:8–10)

“For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

“For who has known the mind of the LORD?
Or who has become His counselor?”
“Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?”  (Ro 11:32–35)

Islam Is Not a Cult

A cult1 is a group that departs from the basic beliefs of Christianity yet claims to be Christian. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are a fine example of a cult. They claim to honor the God of the Bible and to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, yet they have re-written the Bible to fit their own teachings, that is, the teachings of Charles Taze Russell, including Russell’s idea that Jesus was not God. Yet, in spite of all these fundamental changes, Jehovah’s Witnesses think they are Christians. They are not.

Islam is a major world religion, not a group claiming to be Christian. Therefore, Islam is not a cult… in the Christian sense of the word.

islamprayer

Sacred Books

Christianity and Islam own very different sets of scriptures.

Christianity is based upon the Holy Bible, especially the 27 books of the New Testament. The New Testament books were completed between 40 A.D. and 96 A.D. The authors were inspired by God to create a written record of His revelation. Those original manuscripts have been copied and circulated and translated into other languages with great accuracy.

Islam is based upon the Koran, a collection of revelations given by Allah to his archangel then given to Mohammed. Allah passed on his revelations in oral form. After his death, Islamic leaders sorted through the oral verses and chose which ones would be included in written form in the Koran.

Mohammed’s revelations started five centuries after the New Testament was completed. He died in 632 A.D. before making a written copy of his revelations but a few of his followers had memorized his recitations. Unfortunately, those followers were also vulnerable to death during battle and by natural causes. An influential Muslim named Umar realized that the original Qu’ran was being lost piece by piece. He insisted that whatever fragments existed should be collected into one book. A man named Zaid bin Thabit collected fragments and memorized recitations into a single collection. He decided what to include and exclude. This book was kept by the caliph Abu Bakr until his death and he was succeeded by Umar. Eventually, Zaid’s book was copied and distributed accompanied by an order to burn all other versions of the Qu’ran including the version by Abdullah bin Masud and another version by Ubayy bin Ka’b. In 1972, the remodeling of an ancient mosque in Yemen turned up a hidden collection of ancient variant manuscripts that had not been destroyed.

Jesus

In 2004, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) advertised,

“Like Christians, Muslims respect and revere Jesus. Islam teaches that Jesus is one of the greatest of God’s prophets and messengers to humankind.”
“Like Christians, every day, over 1.3 billion Muslims strive to live by his teachings of love, peace and forgiveness. Those teachings, which have become universal values, remind us that all of us, Christians, Muslims, Jews, and all other have more in common than we think.”

The “Jesus” revered in the Koran is not the same Jesus of the New Testament. The Koran does borrow from the New Testament. It teaches that Jesus (Isa) was born of a virgin named Mary (Maryam2). It borrows from the Christian doctrine from John 1,  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” and describes Isa as the word of Allah, but the word is not Allah. The Koran even borrows from I Corinthians 15 where Jesus Christ is called Adam because of His antithetical position to the original Adam.

Islam teaches that Isa is merely one of many great prophets. The Islamic Jesus had a book, the Injeel. Muslims believe that this book was the original revelation from God which was altered and adulterated until it became the New Testament.

The Islamic Jesus did not die for anyone’s sins. Islam teaches that God placed the likeness of Isa upon another man who was then crucified through mistaken identity.

The Koran says that Allah has no son… twelve times.

The Koran denies the possibility of the deity of Jesus Christ. Therefore:

Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God.

Mohammed was a false prophet.

The Koran is not from God.

Allah of the Koran is a false god.


 

1Some people confuse the word “cult” and “occult”. The occult is stuff like black magic. It means stuff that is secret, mystical, magical, supernatural. Just to make it blurrier, a cult may practice the occult.

2The Koran gets confused over the person of Mary. It says she is the wife of Imram (Amram, the father of Moses and Aaron). It also calls her the sister of Aaron… and that her special child is a girl, not a boy. There is also a story of three-year-old Mary being fed by angels in the Temple. This story was borrowed from the Protoevangelium (Infancy Gospel) of James, an gnostic book written in the second century. Mohammed may have mistakenly believed this non-biblical storybook contained historical facts.

How to Know Your Sheep

lamb-toy

Proverbs 27:23-27

King James Version

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. And thou shalt have goats’ milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.

The Message

Know your sheep by name; carefully attend to your flocks; (Don’t take them for granted; possessions don’t last forever, you know.) and then, when the crops are in and the harvest is stored in the barns, you can knit sweaters from lambs’ wool, and sell your goats for a profit; there will be plenty of milk and meat to last your family through the winter.

When a good shepherd cares for his flock, the diligence is repaid.

How to Find God

God encourages open investigation:

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13

Jesus Christ provides salvation:

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.
Acts 4:12

Jesus Christ claims to be the exclusive way to God:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 14:6

If life is a wager, it is better to believe than not:

If God does not exist,
one will lose nothing by believing in him,
while if he does exist,
one will lose everything by not believing.
Blaise Pascal

Ockham’s razor points toward the simple explanation of God as the Source of all things:

Plurality should not be posited without necessity…
No plurality should be assumed unless it can be proved by reason, or
by experience, or by some infallible authority.”
Franciscan monk William of Ockham, THEIST, circ 1285-1349

The Bible is God’s Word and revelation of Himself to us:

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:19-21

The True Living God can be known:

And there you will serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, whic  neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the LORD your God and obey His voice.
Deuteronomy 4:28-30

God allows us to choose to follow Him:

“As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.
1 Chronicles 28:9

How Spontaneous Emotionalism Bestows the Gifts of the Spirit

I thank my God that I speak in tongues more than you all. Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. Brothers, do not be children in your thinking; rather be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.
First Corinthians 14:18,19

 Paul did not want people to speak in tongues in the church.

This is because he preferred that people would understand what was being said in the church. He wanted teaching in church so the hearers would grow and become mature Christians. Speaking in tongues does not help the hearers grow spiritually.

However, Paul spoke in tongues …apparently a lot.

So when and where did Paul speak in tongues a lot? Well, Paul says that praying in tongues is praying in the Spirit. Look at the Scripture, Paul prayed in tongues …a lot.

Let him who speaks in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding.
First Corinthians 14:13-15

Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses, for we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Romans 8:26-27

Pray in the Spirit always with all kinds of prayer and supplication. To that end be alert with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. 19 Pray for me, that the power to speak may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may speak boldly as I ought to speak.
Ephesians 6:18-20

But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith. Pray in the Holy Spirit.
Jude 1:20

Let’s be like Paul and pray in the Spirit …a lot.

Paul asked people to speak in tongues when they did not need to be the center of attention.

Paul did not indicate that speaking in tongues was less important than some of the other gifts. He did say it was less informative than teaching.

Paul wanted believers to participate in church. He wanted them to be prompted by the Holy Spirit to share their spiritual gifts with everyone.  I feel confident that Paul would not have approved of the spontaneous emotionalism that is practiced in some modern churches.

The gifts of the Spirit are not generated by human emotion.

When I was at Zion Bible Institute, I remember one of the leaders of Tuesday chapel services saying, “We did not prepare anything, so that the Spirit can move.”  This was sometimes followed by students spinning in circles, making shrill bird noises or running violently around the perimeter of the chapel. Based upon this principle of the moving of the Holy Spirit being hindered by preparation, some students wrote a little chorus. “Why study when you can pray? Trust Jesus, you’ll get an A…”

The Tuesday chapel meetings provoked me to look deeper into the Scriptures for an understanding of the “moving of the Spirit” and the Pentecostal experience.

Boom!

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Acts 1:8

In this passage, the word for power is dunamis. This is where we get our modern word for dynamite. So the picture of the gifts of the Holy Spirit has been drawn to look like an explosion of a log jam. This is not accurate.

Dunamis is power, strength, might, ability and capability. It is the source of our modern word “dynamic” which indicates a force that results in effective action. The picture in my mind is of someone trudging uphill under the weight of a heavy load. This person will not make it without the strength, capability, force necessary to result in effective action. This is the working of the Holy Spirit that I see in the New Testament. As the burdens of life became unbearable for human strength, the Holy Spirit empowered believers to act effectively.

The power of the Spirit is not for emotional freedom. It is for people to live dynamically within an impossible cultural climate or under normally unbearable factors. The power of the Spirit creates overcomers on Monday through Saturday in homes and workplaces, wherever and whenever He is needed. It seems wasteful to only be filled with the Spirit once a week for an hour while the band is passionately belting out a sentimental song. Okay, that was harsh, but I hope my point is clear anyway.

I don’t need the power of the Holy Spirit so much in church when everyone is happy. I do appreciate that power when I am talking to one of my lost friends or when I am called to visit a terminally ill patient. Boom! Then I feel that supernatural power kick in.

The early Church was not as spontaneous as the modern Church.

Modern Pentecostal churches, in my experience, practice the gifts of the Spirit as spontaneous interruptions of the church meeting. Since the speakers are not prepared, the listeners receive emotion-based, whimsical outbursts that take the place of well-prepared exhortations based upon Scripture.

The pattern of the early Church is seen in the New Testament. Their meetings were not interrupted by emotional outbursts. Paul said to only allow a couple of interruptions in tongues. The Church heard a message of sound teaching. Then they prayed about it. They practiced it. They let the Holy Spirit empower them to live it.

Through the week, as they prayed in the Spirit and meditated on that message of sound teaching, a believer might sense that the Holy Spirit was giving him or her a revelation, a word of wisdom, a prophetic utterance, or an interpretation of tongues. This gift was presented to the church elders who acted as witnesses to confirm whether or not it was indeed from God and should be presented to the Church. They judged it by the word of God. If it was silly, self-exalting, or empty emotionalism, then the gift didn’t make it before the Church.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. If I give all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing.

…Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. If anything is revealed to another that sits by, let the first keep silent. For you may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

Paul to the Church at Corinth

…and when you think about the Holy Spirit working through you, don’t be surprised if you have an emotional response.