Saturday, November 28, 2009

# 291: What Is Meant By the Word “World”?

In this post, I will bring out the truth concerning New Testament (NT) verses that are not very popular, and thus are not often—if ever—preached on. The reason is because not many understand or desire to hear about this intricate and seemingly troublesome part of Christianity. Many may be infuriated and hate this blog (and me) even more. That is okay—I am not out to win a popularity contest—but I want to tell the whole truth to as many people as possible.

The word “world” is mentioned in a derogative manner over 40 times in the NT. The word “world” does not mean the physical earth itself, but the ordinary and ungodly people who live in this world. The physical world without people inhabiting it is, in reality, a nice place (with the exception of a few natural disasters like earthquakes, etc.).

Following are some activities that are associated with the word “world” when it is mentioned in the NT. This list does not include many of our necessary obligations and daily chores such as jobs, must-do things around the home, morning care of self, and many other menial duties. It does include all sorts of entertainment/amusements that have nothing to do with the gospel message: watching/playing sports; attempting to keep up with the Joneses; after accepting Christ as Lord (Boss), still hanging out with the same old friends who say they are Christians but don’t adhere to Biblical principles; watching programs on television/DVDs that entice viewers to be participants in trash; watching educational and documentaries that have nothing to do with Christ (an exception could be watching the national news to know what is going on in the world, to avoid being called ignoramuses).

Another type of entertainment/amusement that has nothing to do with the gospel message is celebrating all the worldly, manmade holidays that ordinary people celebrate, such as the commercialized glorification of Santa Claus with hardly a mention of Jesus Christ, where most eat until it is coming out of their ears and go in debt over their heads buying presents (actually, no one knows what day or month Christ was crucified, or even the exact year); the commercialized glorification of “Easter Bunny Day”—it is a disgrace to eat so much when half of the world is starving and a large amount of money is spent on new clothing; “Turkey Day,” again when overeating is the norm, and we give thanks for many things we don’t really deserve, especially when many worldwide are without the bare necessities; New Year’s Day, when more liquor is consumed than at any other time of the year, drinking until they are pie-eyed. Their mantra is “Let’s live it up while we have a chance” and they drive home half-drunk. There are a dozen other manmade holidays that are celebrated, and these holidays have nothing to do with Jesus Christ; thus, they are a part of the world society.

Someone might ask, "Why can't Christians engage in these so-called forbidden activities, etc., which we have enjoyed all our lives?" The answer is short and not so sweet: When we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord (boss) and Savior, we became his property (e.g. we now belong to Him). 1st Corinthians 6:20. "You are not your own; you were bought at a price." Our time is now His time; His desires are our desires. How dare any Christian spend Christ's time on aforementioned ungodly activities, when we should be using it for constructive activities that further His cause?

Getting back to holidays. At this time, I personally don’t celebrate holidays; I don’t need them. Of course, when I was young and had small kids (and didn’t know better), I did celebrate many holidays, and that was the norm. I believe that most people are not aware that the main reason for holidays is the general public’s lack of satisfaction in their lives (they need a break from their work and the monotony/boredom of their lives). And I can understand; I was there once, until Christ took over my life.

When Jesus Christ is living in one’s life, things change. The overwhelming, unpretentious joy that is ever-present makes every day a holiday. This joy has to be experienced to be known.

When the word “world” is mentioned in the NT, it doesn’t mean only criminals or the overtly sinful; it means those who live by the social standards of the present time, and not by the standards of the NT. These social, friendly people might have high standards of ethics, prominent positions in the community or state, be well respected, and even belong to a church. But with these people, when Christ is not in their foreground, they are living by the standards set by man.

Once people become Christians, they are (supposedly) to be no part of this world.

The main activity that people of the world do is totally normal: taking care of “number one.” When they become Christians, that “survival of the fittest” mentality must change. At that time, the new motive for life must be to love others in need and to love God through obedience and faith in Jesus Christ.

The only problem is that many people who become Christians are not taught, in a practical manner, that all-important virtue of love by their church leaders. And to complicate things, they may not be familiar with the NT, which teaches love for God and neighbors, and de-emphasizes one’s care for self until it is at least equal with the love one has for their neighbors. That love for neighbor, by all means, is the most difficult part of living the Christian life.

Of all the many commands in the NT, loving your neighbor as yourself is the second most important commandment. If one disagrees with that commandment, it is better to forget Christianity and live like an unbelieving pagan (“Hurray for me, and boo for you”). That principle of self-love is what makes the people of world ungodly. That self-love is the main reason the people of the world were labeled “sinful” by Jesus Christ.

But remember one thing: The most unnatural virtue in existence (when it comes to actually putting it into practice) is to love one’s neighbor in need as if she/he were the one in need. It is an easy thing to just say, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But to put it into practice is seemingly the almost impossible part.

Here is a verse that needs some holy explaining: John 12:25. “The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” The only way this verse can be implemented is to devalue one’s life until its value is the same as or lower than one’s needy neighbor. That may seem like an impossible task, but it really is not. Here is how it is done: When a person is actually experiencing God’s love for him/herself, that love makes a person feel VERY SPECIAL. Since she/he is so special in God’s sight, actually lowering one’s self-esteem is not a big deal. Paul teaches in Philippians 2:3 to “. . . consider others better than yourself.” We cannot ignore these extremely important commands (and others like it) and still call ourselves Christians.

There is one commandment which is even more difficult to obey, and even more unnatural. Luke 6:27. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Easily said, but when the occasion actually comes to love our enemies, that is a different story. This command must be obeyed. If we start to pick and choose which commands to obey, we join the crowd of worldly people who laugh at such absurd commands.

The only—ONLY—way we can be obedient to these hard-edged verses is to actually be empowered by the Holy Spirit. And then we might still grit our teeth.

Disobedience to many hard-edged commands has had the biggest impact on the downslide of Christianity in general. Actually, many church-going “Christians” don’t want to be reminded of those types of verses. That is one of the main reasons this blog is so unpopular to mainstream “Christians.” They just don’t want to live or hear about that type of nonsensical Christianity.

Disobedience to many of these types of verses is what makes the difference between God’s people and the people of the world. But of course, those who disobey these love commandments may still go to church on Sunday and really believe they are Christians headed for heaven. That is one of the main reasons Christianity has gone/is going in a downhill slide. And who is to blame? Mostly the clergy for not emphasizing the importance of obedience to ALL of the NT verses, regardless of how unnatural they may seem. Genuine Christianity is not natural; it is supernatural religion, empowered by the Holy Spirit of God.

Even though a genuine Christian and a fake one may look and talk alike, all one has to do is to examine their lives and activities; they are as different as a worldly demon and a heavenly angel. And yet many religions teach tolerance of all religions. Sure! These people of the world are in essence saying, “Let the demons and angels live and let live.”

The big shame is that worldly people are not aware of the satanic situation they are in. The most troubling part of it is this: Come hell or high water, you or I may not be able convince them of their pending, though deadly, situation. The world and its people pass away, but those who do the will of God will live forever. 1st John 2:17 (paraphrased). It is my personal duty to make sure everyone knows the complete will of God before boasting of his or her Christianity.

It is hard to believe that churchgoers may never learn through their church the WHOLE will of God as dictated in the NT. I have said this a dozen times in other posts, and will say it again: The main, if not the only, reason is because the whole will of God (including the tough verses that are not natural to our human nature) is not very pleasant. If churches did preach disagreeable verses and enforced them, their church buildings would be nearly empty in no time. What preacher wants to work elsewhere when he/she has it made where he/she is?

In closing, the world as described in this post is one of the biggest detriments to the whole of Christianity. And the clergy are the main culprits. Look at it this way: When any intricate part of a document (NT) is left out, or when an important part of any machine is left out, it just won’t work as designed. I pray that God will bless all who read this post and give it wholehearted credence.

Let me leave you with this reminder: 1st John 2:15. “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Friday, November 20, 2009

# 290: Experience God’s Nature

Being loved is the most precious ingredient in the universe. We were created to love and be loved. Love is an invisible ingredient that will, at all times, display an action and possibly (hopefully) a response. Of course, the quality of love is important. Much of the physical love we see around us is tainted with self-centeredness: needing to be loved in return. And that is natural. But to love without desiring anything in return is precious (greatly desired) and scarce. This type of love has nothing to do with romance; it is selfless.

What gives this selfless love value is for someone to actually experience the love one is receiving. A person may know she/he is loved—that part is all well and good—but if it does not produce a delightful emotion and a reciprocating action, that love has lost most of its intended purpose.

Even though all peoples desire this type of selfless love, it may be the scarcest of all spiritual ingredients. Why is this? The reason, most likely, is because it cannot be made up. It has to be a genuine, intricate part of the one who is doing the loving.

The above paragraphs are describing love between humans. There is a divine love that is also available: a love for God, an active love for the needy, and of course God’s superior love for human individuals.

God loves all peoples, but has a special kin-type love for those who are His children through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. As His children, we know that God loves us. However, if we are not reciprocating God’s love (by not obeying His commands), there will be little to no beneficial effect in how we experience His love for us. In short, experiencing God’s love is a result of obedience. That is the way love works (e.g. “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”).

In the case where a Christian knows that God loves him/her, it’s all well and good; most likely, though, if that love does not produce some emotion-like reciprocating love, there will be no need or incentive for obedience. And remember, obedience ties the knot in God’s plan of Salvation that cannot be broken. No obedience, no Salvation. End of the subject.

We can learn more of how God’s love works by examining human love. When a male and female’s love first starts before marriage, they can actually feel their love. They are experiencing the love they have for each other, and everything is peaches and cream.

As time goes by, that first love they had for each other isn’t as noticeable as it was when their love first started. They may still love each other, but they are not experiencing love like before. And this can lead to marital problems. For love to be what it was meant to be, it must at all times be experienced. To put it another way, real love is more than just being/living together.

Now the question is asked, “Do we just believe that God loves us and leave it at that, or are we actually experiencing (through feelings and emotions) God’s love for us?” It is sad to say that not many are experiencing God’s miraculous love for them. And the lack of that experience has a devastating effect on how our Christian lives are lived. After all, experiencing God’s love is what makes the difference between those who only call themselves Christians and the active, obedient, genuine Christians.

How can we know for certainty, without a shadow of a doubt, that we are really being loved by God and not just making up this experience? There is a sure way: when we are living a holy life that stems from obedience and not just faith, coupled with active love for God and our needy neighbors. If we are not practicing the above-mentioned four virtues, we are only fooling ourselves.

One of the wondrous attributes about God is His love for every one of His children as if he/she were the only one He loves. He does this through His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is another one of God’s marvelous miracles. Though the Holy Spirit is one, He is a separate entity residing in each Christian, and He caters to each holy desire of the individual He was assigned to. Along with that, He teaches, guides and counsels all of God’s children in the way of holiness and love, according to the NT. John 16:13. “But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into ALL truth.” John 14:26. “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things . . .”

One of the most stunning verses in the whole Bible is a New Testament (NT) verse that is often overlooked: Acts 1:8. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses . . . to the ends of the earth.” That Godly power turns us into a spiritual, superhuman race. Then and only then can we live in a manner that is fitting of children of God.

Here is the only thing: everyone who claims to possess the Spirit of God/Christ may not be a recipient. The only reason they may believe as they do is because of a verse in the book of Romans written by the apostle Paul. Romans 8:9. “And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” Some marginal Christians must believe that receiving the Spirit is an automatic occurrence at conversion. I don’t think so. The NT is not explicit as to when or to whom it is given, but one thing is for sure: It is given to those who are obedient.

The Holy Spirit will not/cannot be inactive. If people receive the Spirit and then do little or nothing to further the cause of Christ, the Spirit—not willingly, but out of necessity—will leave those people. Is there such a thing as an inactive Christian? I would say no, but the NT does not have a definitive answer.

I will say this: In my life, if I am not praying, meditating, or thinking on spiritual matters, the Spirit that resides in me is mute. He cannot teach, guide or counsel us when our minds are on earthly things, even though many of those worldly chores cannot be neglected. In reality, the Spirit is given to us as the main thrust in our lives. One of the biggest enemies the Spirit has is our doubt in whether He can do what good and holy things we request.

The way we experience God’s love, power, and nature is through the Holy Spirit’s constant communication with our Heavenly Father. The Spirit does what He hears and makes it known to us. Therefore, we will be in constant touch with God Almighty through His Spirit. But that communication cannot continue while our minds are not on Godly matters. 1st Thessalonians 5:17. “Pray continually.” That is the main reason we must avoid as many worldly activities as possible. That is one of the main reasons God commands us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. When we love God to that degree, there won’t be much more time for other things. If that is our goal, we will, out of necessity and in obedience to the most demanding commandment, make every effort to keep our minds on things that glorify Jesus Christ.

That may seem like a high price to pay. But remember that if you and I have the Spirit of Christ, we are superhuman gods on earth. Don’t forget that this all has to do with continuing the work that Christ started 2,000 years ago, and continually experiencing the life of God and Christ.

We all were born as products of a physical world. That means that since birth, our minds have been on matters related to physical things. (And that is only natural.) But when we receive the Holy Spirit of God, things must change. In order for the Spirit to communicate with us, we must purposely put our minds on Godly/spiritual matters. He cannot and will not force His messages on us while our minds are engaged in physical thoughts, since He communicates with us through our thought process. At the same time, we must be certain that the messages we receive are in accordance with the NT. The reason I say that is because there is also a counterfeit spirit (the evil spirit) that pretends he is giving us godly information. Therefore, at all times, we must discern where the message is coming from. If not, we may be experiencing a false love, only to thwart the work of God.

Never forget this: Satan can enter our thought process when our minds are not on Godly matters. Of course, those thoughts will seem normal because they are concerning every day things. But he still wins, because he is keeping our minds off of heavenly things.

That means that if one is not intimately familiar with the NT and yet believes in getting messages from the Spirit, it is easy for that person to be tricked. There are several denominations that believe their members are in communication with God’s Spirit, but the teachings they receive are in conflict with the Word of God. The best way the devil can mimic the Holy Spirit is when people have their minds on worldly goodies. Therefore, we must be absolutely certain that there are no holes in our belief system, and we do that by intimately knowing our Bible and being obedient to it.

A few individual thoughts:

My goal/Holy grail is to know and experience all that God, through His Spirit, is able to reveal to imperfect humans, so that I can live it and relay it to other needy people.

The more we are loved and respected in this world, the less we need/desire the love God has waiting for us. Likewise, the more pain, sadness and hatred we experience on earth, the more we will be inclined to desire and seek a better place: heaven. Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Our natural desire for worldly comfort is one of the most formidable enemies of God, and one of the best allies of the god of this world (Satan). The less comfort, contentment and security we have in this ungodly world, the better chance we have of experiencing spiritual rest. Matthew 11:29. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.”

Wealthy people who think of themselves as prosperous became that way through some sort of greed. They cannot experience the power, motives and nature of Jesus Christ. This theme on the evil power of greed is made clear throughout the NT.

In conclusion, the most obvious reason we don’t see much of God’s power to perform mighty supernatural healings and miracles in today’s world is because we are not experiencing His nature and love.