Do we actually realize what the bible is and who it is written to? Acts 2:38 “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Just as Jesus was talking to the people he talks to us. Just as Peter preached this message to the people, this was not just for the people of that time but for all time. Just as the letters Paul wrote to the church he writes to us. This is not an out of touch irrelevant book that needs to be made relevant so we can reach the masses; this is the word of God.
This is not a book it is the word of God. It just happens to look like a book. John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John 14:25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.” Without the Holy Spirit we are not reminded of what Jesus said nor will understand it.
Since we are so far from the truth, we need to go back in time and start over. We do not continue building something new on a broken-down foundation. We need a new relationship with Jesus so that once again His Spirit will give us truth. Over time his instructions have been ignored and many have veered off the path. Some are heading in the wrong direction (cut off) some have stopped travelling, while others are travelling along side the highway but not on it thinking that all is well. Galatians 5:7 “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.” This has been happening since Paul spoke these words. The instructions from God’s word have not been passed down from one generation to the next. Yes I know what you are thinking; don’t we all have the bible? Yes the canon of the bible was well on its way by 200 AD. Sadly most do not listen to Jesus as the head nor do they have the Spirit to do so. They listen to the words about Jesus from others who have replaced Jesus. Sure at first glance all seems okay but it is not. This is how it has always been done, beliefs passed down from one generation to the next. For example you start your journey being born into it or you began to follow later. From the beginning you are indoctrinated into a set of beliefs, rules and regulations doctrines and theology. Colossians 2:22 “These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” These teachings only have the appearance of wisdom as everything is laid out and you take hold of it as if it is highway of holiness. So lets say you grow up in the church. It will be a particular denomination or as we are seeing today non-denominational churches. That is really not true as there will be a belief system or a theological system one way or the other. When we read the bible most read it with a certain persuasion instead of listening to the Holy Spirit. Verses are ignored, passages deleted, doctrinal thoughts inserted here and there and many commands simply deemed as irrelevant.
We’ve talked about this many times. You may have a dispensational persuasion, or Reformed, Armenian or Calvinist, Catholic or Orthodox but this is not how it was meant to be. Paul said in Romans 15:18 “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— 19 by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ." Remember Mark 16:20 “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” But some ignorant person along the way decided they knew better. Without the spirit the bible is just a book to be dissected systematically or cut and paste. What happens is the bible is then used to verify the system and no longer is what drives us. Our reasoning and education, traditions and doctrines, our feelings and experiences drive the church instead of the bible in the understanding of the Holy Spirit.
With the Holy Spirit guiding you, the bible is no longer a book but the voice of God. I was commanded by God’s word. You are examined and then you change. Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is alive 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.” You then gain wisdom and knowledge. Have you ever wondered how these so-called gurus and scholars can be so far off track and yet be so influential? Just look at a picture of mans ideas about the book of revelation. It is absolutely chaotic. The bible was written by man yes but as 2 Peter 1:19 “We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” You can also apply that to the order of scripture and how it was put together. Paul said, 1 Thessalonians 1:5 “because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction.” Without that power and conviction we just have a book. 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Like most churches today the church has become a business and has developed their ways of running the organization. Thus we have ended up with 2 Timothy 3:5 “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” But Paul said 1 Thessalonians 1:5 “because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction.”
I think you get the picture. Without the Holy Spirit we have a book that is dissected and argued about. Out of the book then comes confusion and chaos, disunity, delusion, desolation and destruction and in many cases pure foolishness. The book leads to many schisms, reformations divisions ending up with denominations with many doctrines; each saying something totally different yet they say they believe in the way, the truth and the life. Obviously that is not the church Jesus is the head of. It is supposed to be a coming together as one. With the Holy Spirit the book changes but this is what we are missing therefore we are missing power also. Luke 24:6 tells us “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” So you see why they waited. John 2:22 “After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.” John 5:24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” John 8:51 “Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.” John 6:63 “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.” John 6:68 “Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 14:24 “Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” John 15:3 “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” John 15:7 “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 17:13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.”
It is plain to see that the bible is the word of God and not a book. When the bible is treated as a book, unbelief isn’t far behind. I absolutely hated dissecting the bible in seminary as if it was a book. I asked one of the profs if the bible was written inspired then would it not be read inspired. His answer was if you were stupid before you became a Christian you are stupid after you become a Christian. I hope he was somewhat joking but I would lean to the side of not joking. Without the Spirit you then do not have truth nor do you have the ability to see truth. You then end up with man-made ideas which makes room for doctrines of demons which are rampant in the church today. John 4:24 “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” The amazing part is that the word of God transcends all understanding. Since there is little fearing of the Lord we have all but lost knowledge yet most think they are knowledgeable. 1 Timothy 1:7 “They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” James 3:1 “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” 1 Timothy 6:20 “Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge,” 2 Timothy 3:7 “always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.” 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.” 2 Peter 2:7 “These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.” As we read in Jude earlier, Jude 18 “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.” This is what we have today. But this is not how it is supposed to be. 1 John 4:6 “We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.” We are calling for revival so that our minds will be opened to the scriptures and that we will be changed into different people. Then we will be clothed with power and go to the ends of the earth. So it is easy to see where all the division and disunity comes from. We are not told to join together but to have nothing to do with them. The only way that could happen is for a powerful move of the Holy Spirit.
As we have seen down through history God will let this desolation in the church happen. We are in the end times. The disciples believed it and we believe but as Paul stated, Romans 13:11 “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” Even while Jesus taught there was division. John 10:19 “The Jews who heard these words were again divided.” Jesus warned us about being deceived, false teachers, doctrines of demons etc. Over and over we were warned not to listen to false teachers. Sadly this has been going on since the time Jesus walked the earth. If you look at church history you would be startled. The idea is to repent and start over not continue to move on in another direction. Down through the ages there has been division in the church. Theological debates, schisms and reformations. Each thinking they are God’s choice, the way the truth and the life. We end up with what we have now, pure chaos and no power. During this last year I have come to believe we are not asking God to revive us from this generation but to revive us from 2000 plus years of intellectual ignorance that has brought about this desolation we find ourselves in. Ignorance does not always mean stupid. Some of the most ignorant people on this planet would be classified as geniuses. 2 Timothy 3:15 “how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”1 Corinthians 3:18 “Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise.”18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” Ignorance should lead us to the fear of God and knowledge but in the church it has not led us to repentance but to a continued pursuit of foolishness which is intellectual ignorance.
Listen to what Proverbs has to say about this. Proverbs 1:20 “Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; 21 on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech: 22 “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? 23 Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings. 24 But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, 25 since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, 26 I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you— 27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. 28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, 29 since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord. 30 Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, 31 they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. 32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; 33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” Proverbs 8:34 “Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. 35 For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord. 36 But those who fail to find me harm themselves; all who hate me love death.”
Paul says 1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.” Then we hear Peter talking about Paul. He says 2 Peter 3:16 “He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” Pauls letters continue to be distorted to this day. Yes there have been pockets of renewal but sadly they end up causing even more division because they usually fall back to what they know. They do what Matthew warns not to do. Matthew 9:16 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse.” There is only one true path and we had better be on it. The other path leads to death. Proverbs 16:25 “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. Isaiah tells us about the right path. Isaiah 11:16 “There will be a highway for the remnant of his people that is left from Assyria, as there was for Israel when they came up from Egypt.” Isaiah 35:8 “And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it.” Isaiah 40:3 A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. That way is Jesus, not rules and regulations and arguments about elementary truths. You cannot get on this path unless you truly repent. This means that we turn in humility from our wicked ways. That includes systems of belief doctrines and theology. Hebrews 5:13 “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.” 1 Corinthians 3:2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. Hebrews 5:12 “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” Hebrews 6:1 “Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.” This intellectual ignorance and the lack of the Holy Spirit caused divisions from the schism of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox / Oriental Orthodox to the Protestant Reformation “resulting in Lutheran, Reformed , Presbyterian and Anglican churches and other divisions from each of those.” This continued with divisions between men and their theological difference resulted in the like of, Armenianism, Calvinism and Dispensationalism. Then we had movements such as the holiness movement, charismatic movements evangelical and emerging church movement to name a few. From these we have thousands of differing distinctives and the list continues to grow but what will we do in the end. Sadly most people in the church today think they have been indoctrinated with truth yet fail to see the truth.
The church continues to be broken and continues to divide. Why? because intellectualism is not the answer. It never has been and never will be we must have the Holy Spirit. The intellectual ignorant say we do yet the church sits in desolation and division. Jesus warned us Matthew 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” We read earlier Jude 4 For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” So over the years we have had theologians and scholars in their ignorance leading us down the wrong path, trying to understand something that can only be understood by the Holy Spirit, not through intellectual pursuit. Matthew 22:29 “Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:14 “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” God’s own word has been set aside for mans word about God’s word. This ignorance has led many in the church to ignore the Old Testament as irrelevant and no longer heed its warnings. The word of God is not written to Baptists or Catholics or Brethren or Methodist etc.; the word was written to God’s holy people in such and such a place not to the denomination. So in Strathroy or London or Glencoe or Kerwood, Toronto or wherever we are, God is speaking to us exactly the way did to the church of Colosse or to the Thessalonians. Believe it or not God s word really doesn't need any help. We must believe it, repent and be filled with the spirit, then we will fear God and have understanding and it won’t matter who you are just as long as you have been with Jesus. Acts 4:13 “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” But this is no longer the gospel the church is following. The gospel has changed as it has been added to and subtracted from, something we were warned not to do. Revelation 22:18 “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.” During these 2 millennia of ignorance, we have had theological treatises and doctrinal explanations along with denominational distinctives making sure we are separate from each other and remain that way. Does that really sound like the church of Jesus Christ. The only distinction there should be is between the truth and falseness, wickedness and righteousness, false teachers and the truth, deception etc. Yes there should be a distinction. But we need to sit ourselves down and start listening to the word of God again. Do you know how many people read or listen and don’t hear.
Picture this Sunday we are sitting with the Thessalonians. Do you think you deserve to sit with them? Are you just walking and talking with Jesus or are you grabbing his cloak. So here is some profound theology to live by. Give me that old time religion, It was good for Paul and Silas, It’s good enough for me. No we are not looking to go back to the good ole days, that is what got us here. We must go back to the beginning. So picture yourselves listening to Paul speaking to the Thessalonians. This is what Paul said about them. 1 Thessalonians 1:5 “because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. 1 Thessalonians 1:6 “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 4:8 “Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. 14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone 16 in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.” Then to the Philippians 3:1 “15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained. 17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
He then says to Timothy 2 Timothy 3:10 “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
Last week we talked about being saved and being sure of it. Yes most will say they are but we asked are they really. If there is not the power of the Holy Spirit present then can we really be saved or have we been saved into intellectual ignorance. Philippians 2:12 “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” We are not trying to be better at what we have been taught, we need to be doing what we have been commanded by the word of commanded to do in the power of the Holy Spirit. We ware told this as we get ready to take the land in Joshua 1:7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
This is what the new covenant looks like in the power of the Holy Spirit. Sadly this is foreign to us. Hebrews 8:10 “This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 11 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Reflection and Questions:
1. Thought on the possibility the church is a couple millennia off track?
2. The differences in most church are monumental.
3. As we see on the news most today do not really care about truth.