Category Archives: What Is?

The Nature of the Human Soul

There are a lot of teachings and opinions regarding what a soul is, what it does, is the human soul mortal or immortal and where it goes at death.

The Bible is not perfectly clear as to the nature of the human soul. But from studying the way the word soul is used in Scripture, we can come to some conclusions. Simply stated, the human soul is the part of a person that is not physical. It is the part of every human being that lasts eternally after the body experiences death. Genesis 35:18 describes the death of Rachel, Jacob’s wife, saying she named her son “as her soul was departing.” From this we know that the soul is different from the body and that it continues to live after physical death.

The human soul is central to the personhood of a human being. As George MacDonald said, “You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” In other words, personhood is not based on having a body. A soul is what is required. Repeatedly in the Bible, people are referred to as “souls” (Exodus 31:14; Proverbs 11:30), especially in contexts that focus on the value of human life and personhood or on the concept of a “whole being” (Psalm 16:9-10; Ezekiel 18:4; Acts 2:41; Revelation 18:13).

The human soul is distinct from the heart (Deuteronomy 26:16; 30:6) and the spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 4:12) and the mind (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). The human soul is created by God (Jeremiah 38:16). It can be strong or unsteady (2 Peter 2:14); it can be lost or saved (James 1:21; Ezekiel 18:4). We know that the human soul needs atonement (Leviticus 17:11) and is the part of us that is purified and protected by the truth and the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:22). Jesus is the great Shepherd of souls (1 Peter 2:25).

Matthew 11:29 tells us that we can turn to Jesus Christ to find rest for our souls. Psalm 16:9-10 is a Messianic psalm that allows us to see that Jesus also had a soul. David wrote, “Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.” This cannot be speaking of David (as Paul points out in Acts 13:35-37) because David’s body did see corruption and decay when he died. But Jesus Christ’s body never saw corruption (He was resurrected), and His soul was not abandoned to Sheol. Jesus, as the Son of Man, has a soul.

There is often confusion about the human spirit vs. the human soul. In places, Scripture seems to use the terms interchangeably, but there might be a subtle difference. Otherwise, how could the Word of God penetrate “even to dividing soul and spirit” (Hebrews 4:12)? When the Bible talks about man’s spirit, it is usually speaking of an inner force which animates a person in one direction or another. It is repeatedly shown as a mover, a dynamic force (e.g., Numbers 14:24).

It has been said that there are only two things that last: the Word of God (Mark 13:31) and the souls of men. This is because, like God’s Word, the soul is an imperishable thing. That thought should be both sobering and awe-inspiring. Every person you meet is an eternal soul. Every human being who has ever lived is a soul, and all of those souls are still in existence somewhere.

The question is, where? The souls that reject God’s love are condemned to pay for their own sin, eternally, in hell (Romans 6:23). But the souls who acknowledge their own sinfulness and accept God’s gracious gift of forgiveness will live forever beside still waters with their Shepherd, wanting for nothing (Psalm 23:2).

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Dispensational Premillennialism and Historic Premillennialism

Dispensational Premillennialism and Historic Premillennialism are two very different systems of eschatology. Here are just a few examples of the many differences between the two:

• Historic premillennialism taught that the church was in the fore-vision of Old Testament prophecy, while dispensationalism teaches that the church is hardly, if at all, mentioned by the Old Testament prophets.
• Historic premillennialism taught that the present age of grace was designed by God and predicted in the Old Testament. Dispensationalism holds that the present age was unforeseen in the Old Testament and thus is a “great parenthesis” introduced because the Jews rejected the kingdom.
• Historic premillennialism taught that one may divide time in any way desirable so long as one allows for a millennium after the second advent. Dispensationalism maintains that the only allowable way to divide time is into seven dispensations. The present age is the sixth such dispensation; the last one will be the millennial age after the second coming. It is from this division of time that dispensationalism gets its name.

As a result, the premillennial theory of the end times is advanced in several different ways. Frankly, it is not an easy task to generalize regarding this system of doctrine. So, for the purposes of this article we will focus mainly on that branch of millennialism that is known as historic premillennialism. However, in looking at historic premillennialism, it’s helpful to understand that this term is one of many that pertain to the study of eschatology, i.e., the study of the end of history from a Christian perspective. The Bible references many prophecies about the future with the New Testament speaking extensively about the return of Jesus to this earth. The 24th chapter of Matthew, much of the book of Revelation, and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 are the more salient references to the second advent of Jesus.

There are a host of various interpretations regarding the second coming, both symbolic and literal. A literal interpretation of the Bible shows that four important events are predicted: the Millennium, the Tribulation, the Armageddon, and the Rapture. Nevertheless, biblical passages predicting the future are ambiguous with the events themselves being open to many interpretations. As a result, there is no clear indication of either their timing or sequence. For example, some Christians believe that “millennium” does not mean a time interval of exactly 1,000 years. Rather, it refers to a long period of time. Then others interpret these events as descriptions of real happenings in our future, while still others interpret them symbolically and/or as events that have already occurred.

This leaves the passages open to many conflicting beliefs about the end times. A lot of intra-denominational and inter-denominational strife has resulted from disagreements about end-times prophecy. For example, the Roman Catholic Church and most mainline and liberal denominations do not expect that a Rapture will occur in the way anticipated by many fundamentalist and other evangelical faith groups.

All this, then, brings us to historic premillennialism. Historic premillennialism was held by a large majority of Christians during the first three centuries of the Christian era. It draws its name from the fact that many of the early Church fathers such as Ireneaus, Papias, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Hippolytus, and others taught that there would be a visible kingdom of God upon the earth after the return of Christ. It taught that the Antichrist first appears on earth and the seven-year Tribulation begins. Next comes the Rapture when Jesus and His Church return to earth to rule for a Millennium. The faithful then will spend eternity in the New Jerusalem, a gigantic cubical structure, some 1,380 miles in height, width and depth, which will have descended to Earth.

The New Jerusalem is also known as the Celestial City, the City of God, the Heavenly Jerusalem, the Holy City, the Shining City on a Hill, the Tabernacle of God, Zion, and so on. It is then that the forces of evil will have been conquered. The faithful will live during this thousand-year period of peace in Jerusalem, while occupying spiritual bodies. After this period, all people are judged.

When Christianity became the official religion of Rome in the fourth century, many things began to change, including acceptance of historic premillennialism. Amillennialism soon became the prevailing doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church.

One of the most influential historic premillennialist works is that of George Eldon Ladd, who was an evangelical New Testament scholar and professor of New Testament exegesis and theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. Ladd was recognized for his enormous appreciation of the redemptive-historic significance of the first coming of the Christ. It was through his work that historic premillennialism gained scholarly respect and popularity among evangelical and Reformed theologians. Other well-known historic premillennialists include ministers and scholars such as Walter Martin; John Warwick Montgomery; J. Barton Payne; Henry Alford, a noted Greek scholar; and Theodor Zahn, a German New Testament scholar.

Various Protestant denominations and other church organizations promote one of many systems of prophecy concerning the end times, of which historic premillennialism is one. Additionally, as we’ve seen, there is the dispensational premillennialism. All of the theories that have been proposed about the timing of the Rapture appear to contradict some passages in the Bible. Current beliefs include the pre-tribulation Rapture, the post-tribulation Rapture, the mid-tribulation Rapture, the pre-wrath Rapture, and a partial Rapture. Generally, all of the premillennialist beliefs mentioned teach that the Tribulation is followed by 1,000 years of peace when all live under the authority of Christ. Afterwards, in a brief, final battle, Satan is permanently conquered.

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The Divine Command Theory (DCT)

God commands certain actions as good and therefore to be done and forbids certain other actions as evil and therefore not to be done.

The Divine Command Theory (DCT) essentially teaches that a thing (i.e., action, behavior, choice, etc.) is good because God commands it to be done or evil because God forbids it from being done. Thus, to say that it is good to love our neighbors is semantically equivalent to saying God commands us to love our neighbors. Similarly, it is evil to commit murder because God forbids murder.

Now, right away someone can object to Divine Command Theory on the grounds that good and evil become arbitrary to the whim of God. If good and evil are solely based on the whim of God, then morality is merely a will to power or “might makes right.” Since God is mightier than any of us, morality boils down to “His way or the highway.”

The alternative to Divine Command Theory is the assertion that the basis for morality lies outside of God, rather than at the mercy of His whim. This is the approach that Plato takes in his dialogue Euthyphro. The so-called Euthyphro Dilemma can be stated thus: “Is an action morally good because God commands it [DCT], or does God command it because it is morally good?” One might be tempted to abandon Divine Command Theory and instead ground morality in something external to God.

However, saying that God commands something because it is morally good threatens the sovereignty and independence of God. If an external principle, in this case the objective ground of morality, is outside of God, then God is obligated to adhere to this standard, and thus He is not sovereign. Furthermore, God’s morality depends on His adherence to this external standard; hence, His independence is threatened.

Thus, we are caught on the horns of a dilemma. Neither alternative is palatable to the Christian worldview. God is certainly not arbitrary in His moral actions, nor is God subject to some external standard of morality that governs His decisions. In the former case, we can say that God is not good, and in the latter we can say that God is not God. It’s quite understandable, at this point, why some reject Christianity and adopt moral relativism as their “standard,” except for the fact that the Bible presents us with a different picture of morality and demonstrates the Euthyphro Dilemma is a false dilemma.

The classic Christian response to the Euthyphro Dilemma is to ground goodness in God’s nature. This solves the first horn of the dilemma because God isn’t arbitrarily deciding what is good and what is evil on a whim. Rather, it is God’s nature to do good, and God never acts contrary to His nature. This also solves the second horn of the dilemma because the ground of morality is God’s nature and not some external standard to which God must adhere. God’s sovereignty is preserved as well as an objective standard for morality, i.e., God’s nature.

The Scriptures, God’s self-revelation to humanity, illustrates this quite nicely. A sampling of passages that demonstrate that goodness is grounded in God’s nature:

• Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way (Psalm 25:8).
• Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him (Psalm 34:8).
• For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you (Psalm 86:5).
• For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations (Psalm 100:5).
• Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! (Psalm 107:1).

Even with this definition of the Divine Command Theory, there are two objections that can be anticipated. First, what if God’s nature changes such that what is good by God’s nature becomes evil and vice versa? God’s nature is the totality of His all attributes. Therefore, because God is immutable (Malachi 3:6), His goodness is an immutable goodness (James 1:17). Here’s another way to say it: God’s nature never changes-cannot change; therefore, goodness will never change since it is grounded in God’s nature.

Second, what about the times when God commands the Israelites to slaughter their enemies down to the very last man, woman and child? Isn’t this is a violation of God’s very own commandment prohibiting murder? The answer is similar to that of the first objection; namely, God’s nature is the totality of all His attributes. God is good-immutably good-but He is also holy, righteous, and just. God is a God who must punish sin and wickedness. The Canaanites were wicked and rebellious and under the just condemnation of God for their sin. We know that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23); and God, in His sovereignty, decreed the timing and manner of the Canaanites’ death, which was a demonstration of God’s judgment on sin. This, too, is an example of God’s goodness-it is good for God to execute holy judgment on sin.

Therefore, God commands certain actions as good and therefore to be done and forbids certain other actions as evil and therefore not to be done. What is good is not good simply because God commands it. It is good because it is reflective of His divine nature.

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God’s Grace and Redemption is Christian Redemption

God’s Grace and Plan of Redemption is Christian Redemption or Justification is Free, by God’s Grace, through Christ’s Redemption.

Everyone is in need of redemption. Our natural condition was characterized by guilt: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Christ’s redemption has freed us from guilt, being “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 3:24), finding justification.

The benefits of redemption include eternal life (Revelation 5:9-10), forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:7), righteousness (Romans 5:17), freedom from the law’s curse (Galatians 3:13), adoption into God’s family (Galatians 4:5), deliverance from sin’s bondage (Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 1:14-18), peace with God (Colossians 1:18-20), and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). To be redeemed, then, is to be forgiven, holy, justified, free, adopted, and reconciled. See also Psalm 130:7-8; Luke 2:38; and Acts 20:28.

The word redeem means “to buy out.” The term was used specifically in reference to the purchase of a slave’s freedom. The application of this term to Christ’s death on the cross is quite telling. If we are “redeemed,” then our prior condition was one of slavery. God has purchased our freedom, and we are no longer in bondage to sin or to the Old Testament law. This metaphorical use of “redemption” is the teaching of Galatians 3:13 and 4:5.

Related to the Christian concept of redemption is the word ransom. Jesus paid the price for our release from sin and its consequences (Matthew 20:28; 1 Timothy 2:6). His death was in exchange for our life. In fact, Scripture is quite clear that redemption is only possible “through His blood,” that is, by His death (Colossians 1:14).

The streets of heaven will be filled with former captives who, through no merit of their own, find themselves redeemed, forgiven, and free. Slaves to sin have become saints. No wonder we will sing a new song”a song of praise to the Redeemer who was slain (Revelation 5:9). We were slaves to sin, condemned to eternal separation from God. Jesus paid the price to redeem us, resulting in our freedom from slavery to sin and our rescue from the eternal consequences of that sin, to find Salvation.

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Post-Modern Christianity

Post-modern Christianity is just as difficult to lock down in a concise definition as post-modernism itself. What started in the 1950s in architecture as a reaction to modernist thought and style was soon adopted by the art and literary world in the 1970s and 1980s. The Church didn’t really feel this effect until the 1990s. This reaction was a dissolution of “cold, hard fact” in favor of “warm, fuzzy subjectivity.” Think of anything considered post-modern, then stick Christianity into that context and you have a glimpse of what post-modern Christianity is.

Post-modern Christianity falls into line with basic post-modernist thinking. It is about experience over reason, subjectivity over objectivity, spirituality over religion, images over words, outward over inward. Are these things good? Sure. Are these things bad? Sure. It all depends on how far from biblical truth each reaction against modernity takes one’s faith. This, of course, is up to each believer. However, when groups form under such thinking, theology and doctrine tend to lean more towards liberalism.

For example, because experience is valued more highly than reason, truth becomes relative. This opens up all kinds of problems, as this lessens the standard that the Bible contains absolute truth, and even disqualifies biblical truth as being absolute in many cases. If the Bible is not our source for absolute truth, and personal experience is allowed to define and interpret what truth actually is, a saving faith in Jesus Christ is rendered meaningless.

There will always be “paradigm shifts” in thinking as long as mankind inhabits this present earth, because mankind constantly seeks to better itself in knowledge and stature. Challenges to our way of thinking are good, as they cause us to grow, to learn, and to understand. This is the principle of Romans 12:2 at work, of our minds being transformed. Yet, we need to be ever mindful of Acts 17:11 and be like the Bereans, weighing every new teaching, every new thought, against Scripture. We don’t let our experiences interpret Scripture for us, but as we change and conform ourselves to Christ, we interpret our experiences according to Scripture. Unfortunately, this is not what is happening in circles espousing post-modern Christianity.

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Different Spiritual Gifts Mentioned in the Bible

There are actually six places in the New Testament where spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit are listed. Romans 12:3-8 mentions seven gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 lists nine gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:25-31 mentions eight gifts, 1 Corinthians 13 & 14 compares three gifts, Ephesians 4:11-13 mentions four gifts (though not all consider these spiritual gifts), and 1 Peter 4:10-11 mentions two gifts (although they may be two categories representing several other gifts). Only one gift appears in all lists (if we assume that “speaks” in 1 Peter 4:11 is a category that includes the gift of prophecy). But most gifts occur in more than one list. Some scholars consider “serving” in Romans 12 the same as “helping others” in 1 Corinthians 12. Also, some consider “leadership” and “administration” in those same two lists to be the same gift. Also, in Ephesians 4 some consider “pastors and teachers” to be two gifts, while others cite reasons it may be better to take them as one gift. With all these variables, there are various counts that are suggested for the actual number of spiritual gifts mentioned in Scripture.

Others, including myself, notice that no two of these six passages completely agree with any of the others in listing spiritual gifts. Since every list leaves off gifts that appear on other lists, none of the lists is comprehensive, listing all the gifts. If this is so, how can we be confident that there might not be other gifts the Spirit could bestow that are not on any of the existing lists? If this is so, then perhaps we cannot come up with a single specific number of spiritual gifts. My efforts to arrange and count the gifts mentioned in the Bible comes to eighteen, but I suspect there are likely others which are not mentioned in Scripture. It may be presumptuous to guess what some of these might be, but I would not be surprised if there might be gifts of such things as apologetics, music, mediation/reconciliation, motivating others. Now most assume there are eleven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Most Bible scholars recognize more than that, although there are reasons not everyone agrees exactly how many there are.

1. Prophecy
2. Serving/Helping Others
3. Teaching
4. Encouraging
5. Giving
6. Leadership/Administration
7. Showing Mercy
8. Message of Wisdom
9. Message of Knowledge
10. Faith
11. Healing
12. Working Miracles
13. Distinguishing Spirits
14. Tongues
15. Interpreting Tongues
16. Apostle
17. Evangelist
18. Pastor/Teacher

In God’s great gift of salvation, we have a number of benefits and responsibilities. Most Christians are quick to point out the personal benefits we receive with our salvation, but we are a little slower to focus on the responsibilities that come with it. When people speak of spiritual gifts, the focus is often on questions like, “Do you know what your spiritual gift is?” or “Have you taken this spiritual gifts survey?” While the knowledge of one’s gifting can be beneficial, we often lose sight of God’s design in these matters. Yes, the particular gifts of the Spirit are benefits to each believer, but they come with great responsibilities. Let’s take a walk through the biblical lists of gifts during this spiritual gifts survey.

There are two Greek words that are primarily used to describe the gifts of the Spirit. Pneumatika refers to their source, the Holy Spirit (pneuma) of God, and charismata refers to the fact that they are granted as an act of God’s grace (charis). Since they are given by grace, we are reminded that they are not based on our worthiness or personal abilities, but on God’s sovereign choice. Since they are given by the Spirit of God, they are a part of the new life granted to us in Christ (and may be drastically different from our perceived capabilities or desires prior to salvation). A brief examination of three key texts (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 1 Peter 4:10-11) will show us God’s design regarding His gifts.

One of the first things that becomes clear in these passages is the diversity of the gifts. When Paul listed the gifts in Romans 12; he identified different gifts than what he wrote in 1 Corinthians 12; and when Peter spoke of them in 1 Peter 4:10-11, he didn’t even bother specifying them. Among the things listed are prophecy, ministry, wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, teaching, exhorting, giving, ruling, showing mercy, speaking in languages, and interpreting languages. Whatever the specific use of each one was, they each fit together as the parts of the body work together to make a functional whole (Romans 12:5).

There are varying opinions regarding the number of spiritual gifts, as well as what the gifts are. Romans 12 lists at least seven, and 1 Corinthians 12 lists nine. There is some overlap in these, and there are certainly indications that God has more that He gives His children. What are some of these gifts? First Corinthians says God gives the word of wisdom and knowledge to some. This would seem to identify a particular ability to grasp spiritual truths in the Word of God and apply them to life. Prophecy is the ability to proclaim divine revelation to the church. As it is used in the New Testament, this gift seems more focused on determining God’s will in particular circumstances than on foretelling future events. Discerning of spirits seems to be connected with the gift of prophecy, and refers to checking the authority and validity of the message, in order to prevent false prophecy. Healing and miracles are often referred to as ‘sign gifts,’ since they were part of the validation for the ministry of Jesus and the apostles. God certainly still heals and does miracles, but these gifts to the church have largely ceased with the completion of the Bible and the validation of its message.

One of the most misunderstood gifts is that of language and interpretation. ‘Tongues’ in the KJV is simply a translation of the Greek glossa, which is the normal word for any language. In Acts 2:6-11, the people who were gathered in Jerusalem marveled that, even though the disciples were all untrained Galileans, they heard the ‘wonderful works of God’ in their own languages. Whatever else people might teach, two things here are clear: 1) The people in the crowd heard and understood what was being said about Jesus Christ, and 2) we are told what languages the message was received in at that time. Other gifts mentioned are faith, serving, encouraging, giving, ruling, and showing mercy. These are fairly self-explanatory. Whatever gift we look at, one common denominator is always in place-gifts were given by God Himself and are to be used for His glory in His church.

We can certainly learn of the gifts from these lists, but if we limit the gifts of the Spirit to those few that were enumerated, we miss the point. In all three passages, we are given a specific purpose of the gifts, and that is where we should direct our attention. In Romans 12:8, we are told to use the various gifts according to the character of God and His revealed will “…with simplicity…with diligence…with cheerfulness.” In 1 Corinthians 12:25, we are told that these gifts were given “so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.” In 1 Peter 4:11, the purpose is “that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” The best way for us to understand spiritual gifts is to know how we can care for and serve one another to the glory of God. Whether we do that through teaching, feeding, healing, or any other method, we have a responsibility to God and to one another to offer ourselves as servants (2 Corinthians 4:9). So we also see that no one person is to have all the gifts, they are dispersed within the body of Christ, to make the body of Christ whole.

Here are a few more.

Vocational Gifts.

1. Apostles-Special Messengers Commissioned by Christ (the 12 Apostles of the Lamb) And those sent forth by the Holy Spirit Acts 13.

2. Prophets-The office of a Prophet in the Bible is different to an OT prophet. Agabas was a prophet in the New Testament Context and he demonstrated his office by revealing the future famine coming and that Paul would be bound when he went to Jerusalem. A prophet in the New Testament also receives Revelation but not to change anything in the Bible nor to contradict it.

Act 21:10..And as we stayed more days, a certain prophet from Judea named Agabus came down.
Act 21:11..And coming to us, and taking Paul’s belt, and binding his hands and feet, he said, The Holy Spirit says these things: So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man whose belt this is, and will deliver him into the hands of the nations.
Act 11:27..And in these days prophets from Jerusalem came to Antioch.
Act 11:28..And one of them named Agabus stood up and signified by the Spirit that there should be great famine over the world (which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar).
Other NT prophets mentioned.
Act 15:32 And Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves, exhorted the brothers with many words and confirmed them.

There were prophets and teachers in the Church mentioned in Acts 13.
This ministry is still functioning today and plays a vital part in Church growth and protection from false prophets and teachers.
3.Pastors– Shepherds of God’s flock, leaders, elders. Mostly known and accepted by all denominations.
4. Teachers– distinct from Pastors and deal more with explanation rather than leadership. Pastor’s teach but in a different perspective to the distinct gift of teaching. Pastors teach with a father’s ability and include discipline and organization.
5. Evangelists– Preach the Good news to bring the message of Salvation to the unconverted and often have the miracles signs and wonders mentioned in the Bible following their ministries. Such was the case with Philip the Evangelist and a host of others recorded in Church history and our modern day.

The gifts of Power revealing God’s Omnipotence
1. The Gifts of Healings (miracle healings)

2. The Gift of Faith (drained of unbelief by the Spirit for a particular miracle purpose)

3. The Gift of working of Miracles. The active operation of a miracle like stretching the rod over the red sea.

The Gifts of Revelation Revealing God’s Omniscience
1. The gift of the discerning of spirits (this is where the Holy Spirit gives a person a view into the spirit world to distinguish a devil spirit, an angelic spirit and the ability to know a prophetic utterance is inspired by the human spirit, a demon spirit, Or the Holy Spirit.

2. A Word of Knowledge- the revelation given to a person by the Holy Spirit of facts past and present that are not known to the person except by the Holy Spirit. Peter knew what Ananaias And Saphira had done by this gift. Cornelius was told facts about where Peter was by this gift. Acts 10:5, 6.

The Gifts Of Inspired Utterance Revealing God’s Omnipresence.
1. Diverse tongues- Ability by the Holy Spirit to speak languages never learned

2. Ability to interpret the Message Of a Language never learned by the power of the Spirit.

3. The Gift of Prophecy- an utterance whereby God puts His word in the mouth of the speaker and the speaker becomes literally the mouthpiece of God.
The real gift of prophecy is just that. God transforms the person prophesying in such a way that God Himself is speaking directly through the human instrument. This is clearly what God is able to do and indeed it’s what He does. Mat 10:20..For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. Numbers 22:8

In addition to knowing what the spiritual gifts, I believe it is important to get a perspective on;

1) why the gifts were given,

2) how the spirit uses the gifts to benefit the local church, and

3) what we can learn from personal experience.

I organize the gifts in four ways;

1) Role,

2) Gift,

3) Ministry, and

4) Office. Each gift has a corresponding role, ministry and office. If we want to know what all the gifts are then we need to start with the lists provided in scripture as already referenced, then add to and define all the other roles that Jesus performed when he ministered to people. Jesus commanded us to learn and obey everything he had commanded and carry on the ministry he established through the local church.

As individual Christians we are responsible to fulfill each one of these roles, when the opportunity presents itself, using the natural abilities God has given. We fulfill these roles in order to obey Jesus command to Love One Another. However, this love is first stirred in our hearts by the Holy Spirit and then we are given opportunities to pray, speak and act to express this love to our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.

As we demonstrate our faithfulness in carrying out these roles, the Holy Spirit begins to release the spiritual gifts were we given on the day we were saved. We will be able to identify these gifts by the impact they have on ourselves and those we serve. For ourselves, I believe we will discover that;

1) our service feels effortless,

2) we have an abiding love and concern for the needs of others, and

3) we experience a joy that is deeply satisfying.

For other believers whom we care for;

1) they often feel incredibly blessed,

2) they encounter God’s presence through us,

3) they are filled with the Holy Spirit,

4) their faith grows and

5) they want to please God with their own service.

As we discover our gifts and begin to faithfully use them, the Holy Spirit then increases the occasions for using our gifts and establishes our ministries. If our eyes are open to the opportunities, I believe we will have occasions to use our gifts on a daily basis. This level of ministry has a profound effect in building up the body of Christ to maturity and completeness.

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LORD, GOD, Lord, God, Name used in the Bible. Why they are Used in place of God’s Name.

“God” is the deity. “God” is not a name. “Lord God”.  This is the Creator God referred to also in John 1 as LOGOS, who incarnated to man-Jesus, Yeshua or YHVH ELOHIM and was called “God”

“Lord” is a title, also not a name. Another name that is specific to the person is the Hebrew word “Adon” (singular) Adown, or “Adonim” (plural),  Adonai. This is translated into English as “Lord” in the OT (Ex.34:23), the God of Israel. There was no attempt to duplicate this Hebrew in the NT.

“Elohim” is the ancient Hebrew for “God”, therefore not a name. In the Old Testament, the word “God” is translated from the original Hebrew non-capitalized word “elohim” in Genesis 1 (0430 Strong concordance). This is a “uniplural” word that means “multiplicity of powers”, plurality of powers or majesty, the most supreme of all powers”, otherwise Supreme God, the epitome of all. This uni-plural Hebrew word “elohim” contextually means “above all gods”

“The Almighty” is an attribute. For instance, Isaiah 44:6 reads: ” Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” There are two personages mentioned, 1. the LORD the King of Israel and 2. His redeemer the LORD of hosts. Each/both are the first and the last and are also God.

“El” is short for “Elohim”, also not a name.

“El Shaddai” is Hebrew for “The Almighty”, an attribute. “There is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Messiah Yeshua”

“Creator” is a role.

“Father” is a person.

“Adonai” is Hebrew for “Lord”.

 “YHWH” is God’s Name as revealed to Moses. “I AM THAT I AM” is the English translation for “YHWH”. “I AM” is short for “I AM THAT I AM”. “Yahweh” is how “YHWH” is pronounced in Hebrew. “Jehovah” is a wrong pronunciation of “YHWH”. Ask the Jews. “Yah” is short for “Yahweh”.

It can be very confusing to understand how the different titles used for God are used in the Bible. Part of the problem is that different Bible translations use the terms somewhat differently. The primary reason for the use of LORD in place of God’s Hebrew name is to follow the tradition of the Israelites in not pronouncing or spelling out God’s name. So, when God’s Hebrew name “YHWH” is used in the Old Testament, English translations usually use “LORD” in all caps or small caps. Also, since ancient Hebrew did not use vowels in its written form, it is not entirely clear how God’s name should be spelled or pronounced. It could be Yahweh, or something else.

As stated above, when “LORD” in all caps or small caps occurs in the Old Testament, it is a replacement for an occurrence of God’s Hebrew name “YHWH,” also known as the Tetragrammaton. This is fairly consistent throughout all the different English translations of the Bible. When “Lord” occurs in the Old Testament, referring to God, it is usually a rendering of “Adonai,” a name/title of God that emphasizes His lordship. LORD/YHWH and Lord/Adonai are by far the two most consistent renderings throughout all the different English Bible translations.

In the Old Testament, when “God” is used, it is usually a rendering of the general Hebrew word for God, “Elohim.” When “LORD GOD” or “Lord GOD” occurs, it is usually a rendering of a dual name for God “Adonai YHWH.” The Hebrew term “YHWH Sabaoth” is usually rendered “Lord of Hosts.” The Hebrew term “YHWH Shaddai” is usually rendered “LORD Almighty.” The Old Testament uses many different names and titles to refer to God, to emphasize certain aspects of His person and attributes. This can result in confusion in translation, but in the original Hebrew, it was done entirely in an effort to glorify and magnify God’s name.

The usage of “Lord” and “God” in the New Testament is much less complicated. Almost universally, “God” is a translation of “theos,” the general Greek word for deity. Also almost universally, “Lord” is a translation of “kurios,” the general Greek word for a master. The key point in all of this is that whether we use His actual Hebrew name, or refer to Him as God, or Lord, or Lord God, we are to always show reverence to Him and His name.

I am constantly amazed and humbled to realize that the Almighty GOD of creation would condescend to incarnation and subject himself to torture and death for a rotten sinner like me!

” For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (Romans 5:6-9)

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My Brother’s Keeper

A Christian first loves himself then he can love his neighbor as himself and of course my brother is my neighbor. So unless I am to keep my neighbors I cannot be expected to keep my brothers. But I do need to love them all as I love myself.

The phrase “my brother’s keeper” occurs in the context of the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4:1-9. After the Lord God had expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden for their disobedience, Cain killed his brother Abel out of jealousy that God had found Abel’s sacrifice acceptable, but He had rejected Cain’s. After the murder, the Lord, knowing full well what had happened, asked Cain where Abel was. Cain’s response was “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

There is a grain of truth in this brazen lie, despite the surly response Cain offers to the God who created him. While no one is the absolute “keeper” of others in that we are not responsible for everyone’s safety when we are not present, every man is his brother’s keeper in that we are not to commit violent acts against them or allow others to do so if we can prevent it. This sort of “keeping” is something God rightfully demands of everyone, on the grounds of both justice and love. But Cain’s reply indicates a total lack of any kind of feeling for another human being not to mention the absence of brotherly love and the overriding presence of the kind of selfishness which kills affection and gives rise to hatred.

So are Christians to be the keepers of other Christians? Yes, in two ways. First we are not to commit acts of violence against one another. This includes violence of the tongue in the form of gossip and “quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder” (1 Corinthians 12:20). Second, we are to exhibit brotherly love toward our brothers and sisters in Christ with a tender heart and a humble mind (1 Peter 3:8). In this way, we “keep” those for whom Christ gave His life.

One of the golden chapters of the Bible is 1 Corinthians 13. In this magnificent portion of the Scriptures, we are reminded that love is even greater than faith and hope. Chapter 13 comes on the heels of Paul’s explanation of how the Body of Christ (the Church) is like the human body and is made up of many members, all of whom are important to the function and well-being of the Body. We are continually encouraged throughout the New Testament to love one another (Hebrews 13:1; Romans 12:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:9). Sometimes love must correct, admonish or reprove (2 Thessalonians 3:13-15; Matthew 18:15). However, correction is always to be done in the spirit of love with the goal of reconciliation.

Paul the apostle wrote to the church at Thessalonica, “And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-15).

So, as Christians, we are to be our brother’s keeper. As Paul wrote, “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify (build up) another” (Romans 14:19).

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Lent

Lent is an observation done by the Catholics, but this is an observation that should be done by every Christian, reason being that a time must be set aside dedicated to God through self denial in pleasures of the flesh. During that time of fasting, our spirit which is an official connector to God’s spirit is brought to life, the gifts bestowed by the Holy Spirit do manifest themselves in us and the fellowship with God is complete. Even our Lord Jesus upon receiving the Holy Spirit had to fast for 40 days and 40 nights in order for him initiate his ministry here on earth with full experience in temptations. Daniel also did fasting and many more in the Bible and our lord said after being asked why his disciples did not fast, they will fast when he leaves them but not when he is around, Fasting is Soul lifting in worshiping God as he requires us to worship him in spirit and truth.

Lent is a period of fasting, moderation, and self-denial traditionally observed by Catholics and some Protestant denominations. It begins with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter Sunday. The length of the Lenten fast was established in the 4th century as 46 days (40 days, not counting Sundays). During Lent, participants eat sparingly or give up a particular food or habit. It’s not uncommon for people to give up smoking during Lent, or to swear off watching television or eating candy or telling lies. It’s six weeks of self-discipline.

Lent began as a way for Catholics to remind themselves of the value of repentance. The austerity of the Lenten season was seen as similar to how people in the Old Testament fasted and repented in sackcloth and ashes (Esther 4:1-3; Jeremiah 6:26; Daniel 9:3).

However, over the centuries Lenten observances have developed a much more “sacramental” value. Many Catholics believe that giving something up for Lent is a way to attain God’s blessing. But the Bible teaches that grace cannot be earned; grace is “the gift of righteousness” (Romans 5:17). Also, Jesus taught that fasting should be done discreetly: “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:16-18). Jesus’ command to “wash your face” seems to conflict with the practice of rubbing ashes on one’s face on Ash Wednesday.

Fasting can be a good thing, and God is pleased when we repent of sinful habits. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with setting aside some time to focus on Jesus’ death and resurrection. However, repenting of sin is something we should be doing every day of the year, not just for the 46 days of Lent.

If a Christian wishes to observe Lent, he is free to do so. The key is to focus on repenting of sin and consecrating oneself to God. Lent should not be a time of boasting of one’s sacrifice or trying to earn God’s favor or increasing His love. God’s love for us could not be any greater than it already is.

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Life and Death is in the Power of the Tongue

The Power of the Tongue

Proverbs 18:21 says the tongue “has the power of life and death.” This holds true whether we’re speaking of spiritual, physical, or emotional “life and death.” The tongue is used throughout Scripture in both literal and metaphorical ways, especially in Psalms, Proverbs, and James. The tongue is a “small part of the body” (James 3:5).

First, we should keep in mind that the word tongue is often a reference to the spoken word. This is a special kind of figure of speech called metonymy, in which one word stands in for another, closely related word. A common example of metonymy is seen in this sentence: “The White House issued a statement.” Of course, the White House, as a building, cannot issue statements; however, in this instance, White House refers to the President, who lives there. In the same way, when Proverbs 15:4 states, “A deceitful tongue crushes the spirit,” tongue is a metonymy. Obviously, a literal, fleshly tongue cannot crush the human spirit, but the words the tongue produces can.

Spiritual:
What our tongue produces has eternal implications, for it reveals what is in our heart. Jesus said that “the good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him” (Matthew 12:35). Isaiah places words on par with actions for displaying a sinful heart (Isaiah 59:2-3). “Men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken” (Matthew 12:36). In and of ourselves, we are utterly unable to “tame the tongue” because “it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). A tongue under control is a mark of the Spirit’s power. Apart from accepting Jesus’ atonement on the cross, we will be judged according to our words: “For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:37).

Physical:
In order to take Proverbs 18:21 literally – that the tongue can cause physical life and death – we do not need to tax our imagination. Words create actions, good and bad. A judge or jury, by simply saying a word, can cause a person to be killed or to live. Words often save lives: a doctor advises surgery, a weatherman issues a tornado warning, a counselor gives hope to a suicidal person. Conversely, words can also kill: murders are often initiated because of arguments or verbalized hatred. In the sense of causing action, then, the tongue does indeed have the power of life and death.

Emotional:
Emotions are powerfully affecting, yet they are vulnerable to injury. James describes the tongue as “a fire” (James 3:6) – and who has not been burned by it? Proverbs 15:4 describes a “healing” tongue as “a tree of life.” As much as love is an action, what would romance be without words? Encouragement often comes through spoken words. So does discouragement. “Reckless words pierce like a sword” (Proverbs 12:18). The wound is emotional, and it is deep. What we say can have a profound effect on others.

I cant say it in WordsConclusion:
God made us expressive beings, so we are nearly lost without communication. That is why we have audio recordings and Braille for the blind, sign language for the deaf, and writing for anyone who has something to say from afar. Indeed, speech has enormous implications, especially as a vehicle for sharing the gospel (Romans 10:14). Therefore, we are commanded to control the tongue, to “keep [it] from evil and your lips from speaking lies” (Psalm 34:13). A Christian’s speech should consistently honor the Lord: with the tongue “we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be” (James 3:9-10).

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