What is The Bible For?

NOTE: This testimony was sent to me by this person’s mother. The young man is 23 years old, and is growing in the Lord, which is making his mom and dad ecstatic. Rejoice with them (Rom. 12:15).
 
Austin Chapman’s Notes
What is the Bible for?
10-22-08     2:48a.m.
 
What is our Bible for? It is for instruction and guidance, yes?  If this is true, then the next question is how does it instruct?  How does it guide?  It’s methods are many, but it’s foundation is not.
 
I used to believe that the crux of Christianity was to love, to love unconditionally.  All of the teachings I found surrounded around love and I was under the assumption that’s what it all boiled down to.  Love God, love others and love oursleves in the ways that Christ teaches us.  However, I recently have changed this thinking.  I still believe that love is important and a very large part in what Christians are and should be.  Although, I do think that the larger purpose that Christ came for was to explain who he is; who God is.
 
We needed God to be explained to us because since the beginning of time, God has been giving us the chance to be like him or to be like the world.  He has tried to get us to be like him as much as he can while still giving us free choice.  He made us in his image and we blew it in the garden of Eden.  The next think he did was give us the ten commandments.
 
There are laws in the world because without them we have anarchy.  Without government or law, who does one answer to?  There is no authority higher than yourself if there is no law.  It is in this light that God gave Moses the ten commandments so that we would have laws, order.  These laws may seem obvious at times, a nuisance at others, but all in all, I believe that most, even non-Christians can agree that these laws build the framework of a good person and good society.  But the commandments aren’t right based on practicality, they are right because they are God.  God’s goal was not to create good people.  His goal was to create God people.  He wants us to be like him in everything.  He has beckoned us to be so close to Him that others can feel him through us.  That’s what those laws are for.  They are to guide our spirituality, so that we don’t have spiritual anarchy inside of us.  They are to make us more like God.
 
However, once again, we didn’t listen.  So, he gave us his son, Jesus.  He told us once, we were dumb.  He wrote it down for us, so we wouldn’t forget, we were dumb.  Finally, he came to earth himself to show us what to live like.  Christ came, according to John 18, to testify to the truth.  This truth was God, it was to reveal God’s nature and his personality and his thoughts and wisdom and love to us.
 
So, as my view of the path of Christianity has changed, I have realized that what the real essence of being a Christian is found within the Word itself: Christ, Christian means little messiah or little christ.  That is what we are to be.  We have been called to be living, breathing, incarnations of God himself.  This was God’s goal from the very beginning.  He created us in his image.  He created us to be God people.  He created us to be little christs.  So, what is the Bible for?  It is our handbook on how to transform ourselves into Christ’s image.
 
Father, please help me to be you,  Show me and reveal to me more and more who and what you are, so that I can take on your nature and imitate you.  You are such a powerful and mighty God.  I thank you for being patient with me and with all humans as we have struggled from the very beginning to get it right.  I want to get rid of the sinful desires inside of me.  Please make your will my will, your good, pleasing, and perfect will.  I trust you with everything and in everything let your will be done. Amen.
Advertisements

Blogged Bible Study–Nothing (John 15)

Jn 15:5
 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.       KJV

Nothing.

I can’t do a thing apart from Him.

I know the context of the verse is talking about bearing fruit. Of course, it is true that I cannot bear any kind of quality fruit if I am not in the Vine.

But, the reality that the Lord is driving home for me is that I am not capable of anything apart from Him.

Nothing.

What is excluded from “nothing?”

Nothing.

Anything I do is included in that. Everything I do is included in that. Nothing is excluded from that.

Without Him I am useless.

Aside from the fruit-bearing and the normal spiritual stuff we relate to the concept, I am being turned to look at the realities of my existence on this plane at this time.

I can’t even brush my teeth without Him.

The Lord is to be in and a part of absolutely everything that I do.

The following may be somewhat crass, but it is still a good illustration of the point:

My wife came into the room all excited one day, because she had been able to have a bowel movement. No, there had not been any problems before. Yes, she was doing well at the time. But, it occurred to her while in the midst of the business that the Lord had made her body, and He had made it to function well. For that she was giving Him the glory.

That made me realize how often I take things for granted about this life.

It is for certain that if we were to have a difficulty with that particular function of the body, we would get all excited and praise the Lord when it was restored to its proper health.

Then, why not give thanks when it is working properly–before it goes awry?!?

He is my all and in all.

Apart from Jesus, I can do nothing.

Apart from Jesus, I am nothing.

 

Note: there are others who are writing on themes contained within the 15th chapter of John’s gospel. Check it out and be blessed.

It’s Not Mine

Eph 2:8
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:    KJV

This verse stood out to me this morning in a way like never before.

The Lord is showing us through the language here that the whole thing–grace, salvation, faith–the whole kit and kaboodle is of Him.

I can’t even brag about or claim any part in the faith that I have, because it is not something that I have. It is something that I have been given.

I have been given the faith to believe. I have been given the grace to receive. I have been given the salvation from sin, from dead works, from going my own way in my own strength.

It is all of Him.

I bow myself before the Father.

Constantly Consistent

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Heb 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.    NKJV

This is an anchor for our soul in the midst of the turmoil of our current situation.

The world changes. Economies collapse. Families fall apart. Wars ignite. Churches split. Jobs are lost. Lives are taken. Sickness occurs. Death happens. Doubts assault our mind. Faith is tenuous. God is constant.

I was reading an excellent blog about legalism and it reminded me of how easy it is to forget the simple truth of Heb. 13:8–Jesus changes not.

Notice that it is a statement that is seemingly unconnected from its context. The words seem to be stuck out there for us to grasp in their entirety without concern for anything else.

But, that is not totally true. Look closely at the context.

First, The Lord is my Helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me? (v.6)

Constancy, consistency is a strength that we need. It is something that is sadly lacking in the Body of Christ. Jesus is a constant that we need to make sure is our life.

Secondly, consider the conduct of those to whom we submit ourselves. Is their faith constant and their walk consistent? These are the ones to whom we are to submit.

Thirdly, the writer asks for constancy in doctrine. It is all too fashionable today to just grab hold of most anything that comes along without giving careful consideration to the content of the message. This has been my particular failure in my walk with the Lord, and it cost me dearly. (Thanks in no small way to Emerson)

But, thanks be to God, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

The Reality of Our Circumstances

Lam 3:22-26
22  It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
24 The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.
25 The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.
26 It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.   KJV

In the midst of the current world situation, it is good to look at the reality of circumstances and remember a promise of the Lord such as this one.

What is the reality of our circumstances?

Reality must be defined from which perspective one wishes to consider it. In the natural, my current reality is that our income has been slashed in half. Add to that the word of the Lord to our hearts to move to a more costly part of the country, and nothing makes sense. Not only are we in a more costly region, we are in a high-poverty area of that region.

Jobs are scarce and factories are closing. People are frightened.

As I consider the natural from this light, it would be easy for me to become frightened also.

But, there is one aspect of our reality that sometimes gets overlooked as we reach for the panic button: “we are not consumed.”

Why? Because of the Lord’s mercies; because His compassions fail not.

Not only do His compassions not fail, they are new every morning.

That is a different reality, one that I would do well to make my constant view.

But when I look at my situation, it is easy to forget–ie, be unaware of the fact–that I made it through the night. I’m still here! I am not consumed. The world has not beat me. I’m ready to go again.

What is my portion? Is it a paycheck upon which I cannot depend?

NO!

The LORD is my portion!

He is good to me because I wait for Him. I seek Him; to know Him; to be more like Him.

Are you quietly waiting? Or, are your complaints, whinings, and fears screaming too loudly to hear His voice say: It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.(v. 26)

Yes, it is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.

Blogged Bible Study–Peace & Quiet

Jn 14:27
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.      KJV

Have you ever shouted out, “Just give me some peace and quiet!”? We probably all have at one time or another.

Have you ever noticed how those two words are used together, but are usually taken to mean the same thing?

The statement is usually made in the midst of some sort of chaos.

We all desire peace and quiet.

The two are not the same. You can have one without the other.

It is possible to be quiet, but not at peace.

I had a young girl in my last class who was a selective mute. It took me three months to get her just to nod her head in my direction when she came into my classroom. She was quiet, but she was definitely not at peace.

No smile. No words for anyone. Eyes constantly darting around. Fear written all over her young, 11-year-old face.

In another instance, one of the elders in my church a few years back tried to follow my example of going up into the mountains for three days of fasting and prayer. While there he had a nervous breakdown. He discovered he was not able to be alone with his thoughts. It was quiet for him. Too quiet. He had no peace.

It is also possible to have peace in the midst of the most terrible chaos.

Mt 8:24
And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.   KJV

I’ve been in the North Atlantic in the midst of a vicious storm. Sleep was not possible until one simply passed out from sheer exhaustion.

But, Jesus slept.

Jesus said that He will give us peace, but it will not be in the same manner or type that the world gives. The only peace the world knows is the absence of noise, the absence of chaos, the absence of war.

He gives us the peace that “passes understanding” (Phil. 4:7). It is a peace that goes beyond our understanding. It definitely goes beyond the understanding of the world, or the natural man.

We can (and should) be at peace in the most trying circumstances. We are in an hour that is trying men’s souls. This is nothing compared to what shall be; but it is a time to learn how to maintain peace.

“How can you be so peaceful when the world is falling apart all around you?”

Because I know in whom I have believed.

Yes, the world appears to be falling apart all around us in this hour. But, Jesus said to not let your heart be troubled nor let it be afraid.

Why?

Because we are at peace with the world, with ourselves, and with God, because Jesus has given that to us.

Do you know that peace?

If you do not know what it is to have that kind of peace in this kind of turmoil, I encourage to e-mail me or one of the other writers who are discussing this chapter of John’s gospel.

Love Gives

1 Jn 4:10
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.       KJV

John, the Apostle of Love gives us a good description of love in this verse. It is something that we can apply to our own life as we try to incorporate the aspects of love from 1 Corinthians 13.

There is a major key here, that John also gives us in his gospel:

Jn 3:16
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,…   KJV

Notice–love is not manifest because one first feels loved.

No.

Love is.

Period.

There are no conditions.

God loved us BEFORE we were capable of any kind of real love. All God got from us was animosity, doubt, or negligence. But He loved us. He showed that love to us by giving.

God loved the world (us) when it (we) were totally incapable of demonstrating love in any form. We were totally unworthy of that love. There was nothing that we did or could do to earn that love.

That is the beauty of ‘agape’ love. It just is.

Why do you love me?

Agape responds, “Because.”

There is no reason sufficient that will answer the question of “why?’. Agape is. Love is.

God is love.

We are in God, and we are in that love. And, we are to be that love to a lost and dying world.

Do we wait until someone does something that deserves our love? NO.

Love them now. Don’t wait.

How?

One of the aspects of love (1 Cor. 13) is kindness. So, for today, focus on kindness. Show (give) some kindness.

Make it your ambition to demonstrate a kindness to someone you do not know. Be on the lookout today to be kind to a stranger for no other reason than that you know that God loves them right now, just the way they are.

Then, come back here and tell us your experience.