What You Won't Find In A Christian Bookstore

First of all, let’s get something straight… Very simply put, doctrine is just a fancy word for “teaching” or “instruction”. Does this website contain “doctrine”? The answer is yes, admittedly. The desire of this website’s author is that the doctrine presented herein aligns itself with the teachings and example of Jesus Christ.

Now, that having been said, there is another (more popular) understanding of the term “doctrine” which is a bit more organizationally-centered and that is the idea of doctrine in the sense of what a particular religious group holds up as principle, tradition or “accepted” practice and biblical ideology. Generally this is a more formal and officialized understanding of the word. Either way, doctrine is what it is, good or bad, liberating or legalistic, biblical or unbiblical, godly or humanistic – and I think it is absolutely fair that people inquire as to what I believe and hold to as doctrine. Unfortunately, under this more formal understanding of “doctrine”, churches (i.e. gatherings of believers in Christ) have also split and Christians have divided, because one dominant authority presses their “official doctrinal position” on the rest as “absolute truth” and dissenters of even minor aspects of the established opinion concerning various biblical topics are not accepted and sometimes regarded as disconnected from the body; outcasts, rebels, backsliders, deceived, lost, misguided, immature, heretical, etc.

My point in highlighting this reality is not to suggest there is no absolute truth (for certainly I believe there is absolute truth), but only that often what these so-called “authorities” push as their “doctrine” is not always truth at all, but more likely their religious dogma. It is these “authorities” that may come to a site like this and ask, “What is your doctrine… so that we may evaluate whether your are acceptable or not.” For their sake, I offer this page… Not because I seek their approval, but in hopes that I may encourage some of them who ask with sincere motives. I share this also because I honestly desire that the doctrine presented through this site stands in accord with the teaching and example of Jesus Christ, whom I love and seek to follow with all my heart! I do not think myself infallible and my heart is to remain humble and teachable as I walk in the grace God provides.

Some would like me to provide a formal doctrinal statement, but this may be misleading in some respects. Whilst I believe wholeheartedly in the life, death, burial and resurrection from the dead of Jesus the Christ by whose life and atoning sacrifice for sin we are saved (this is the basic Gospel message) and while I do believe 100% that the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, gives testimony of and the knowledge leading to faith in Jesus Christ and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that we will be fully equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:15-17), I do not wish to prejudice any others who may have yet to arrive at individual conclusions concerning specific matters of biblical teaching. The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is constantly growing as each individual yields to the lordship of the Spirit of Christ, so there will be differences of belief among true believers. We must not make those differences barriers to further spiritual learning and growth. Granted sometimes, in our zealousness for the truth, this endeavor is sometimes overlooked – but the heart intent remains steadfast in this position. The truth is that no matter how much we each think we know, the best any of us can boast in is that, in this life, we only have part of the big picture. As Scripture declares:

    1 Corinthians 13:9 – Our knowledge is incomplete and our ability to speak what God has revealed is incomplete.

    1 Corinthians 13:12-13 – We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

    1 Corinthians 8:2 – The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.

This is also why Christ has designed us to function as a BODY (1 Corinthians 12 – very important passage)! The liver is not able to accomplish the tasks required by the heart, but both are essential to life and harmonius function. This is why we must not despise our brothers and sisters, but remain humble so that we might encourage one another in the truth. I am aware of the many websites out there that all proclaim to have the truth (Ironically this very site has “truth” in the domain name). While there are some truly excellent resource sites out there (see my links page for a few), unfortunately, a number of these kinds of sites operate under an arrogant mindset, thinking only they have revelation and anyone who opposes their understanding of Scripture is a heretic. For the record, I do believe there are heretics out there, but more often than not (when it comes to simply members of “the Family” expressing viewpoints) these kinds of differences are mostly due to immaturity, ignorance and sometimes a lack of humility and love, showing all the more how much we need each other. Some wrongly suggest that these kinds of examples of extremely arrogant “truth-sellers” are precisely why we need organized religion; to keep the “lone rangers” in check. But this also is an unbiblical reponse. The answer to a continuity of truth is submission to the Spirit of God, humility, study of the Scriptures and RECOGNITION OF THE BODY OF CHRIST!!! Note I did not say “a church group” or “a program” or “a doctrine” or “a covering” or any such thing. I said THE BODY! This is one of the main reasons this website shares articles from a variety of members in the body of Christ, many of which do hold viewpoints that are not precisely the same as my own.

The ministry that is shared from this website does indeed involve doctrine (and it should never be presumed that I think doctrine is not important – it is very important – and there are foundational doctrines, i.e. the doctrine of Christ, that Scripture is absolutely and unanimously clear on that all believers in Christ should be united upon), however, I encourage every believer in Christ to draw close to the Lord and find fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Many of us were taught from a young age that the way we draw close to Him is by religious performance; i.e. praying, studying the Bible, going to church, doing good works, giving money, etc. But these things, while there may be nothing wrong with them (in and of themselves), are not magic formulas to bring us closer to His heart. In other words, prayer (for example) is not merely some ritual that we can employ to invoke His response or manipulate Him to some kind of presupposed action. Perhaps you’ve seen the bumper sticker that says, “FAITH – IT WORKS” as if faith is some unintimate force that gets you what you want or need. That is the lie the televangelists preach – that “faith” is a formula or force that you can actuate to get what you want. They reduce Christianity to a system of principles, formulas, rituals and performances to pull strings and “get results” as if God is their invisible puppet, whose only purpose of existence is to give them what they want (so long as they incant the right words and do the right deeds). But faith is no such thing and prayer is not some formula that works some result just by repeating the action for 10 or 15 minutes a day (and maybe shouting a little, walking around, or saying “in the name of Jesus” 40 times)! In fact, if that’s your attitude towards how you appropriate relationship with God, you won’t have one! Prayer is simply our intimate communion with our Heavenly Father (as one friend talking to another) and faith is not a “force”, it is relationship and it works only through love.

Likewise, even zealousness in studying the Bible, which often proves most beneficial (to educate, enlighten, expose and correct error, as well as stir up remembrance of the things God has already placed deep in the heart by His Spirit), can even become a subtle distraction from obedience to Christ sometimes! How can I dare say such a thing? I’m sure some who read this will instantly presume I am devaluing the Scriptures and trying to remove the foundation of truth. I assure you, I am not devaluing Scripture or removing the foundation of truth. Nor am I trying to set anyone up to receive “another testament of Jesus Christ” or any such foolishness. I believe the Bible 100% and have no intention to dissuade anyone with an attempt to somehow minimalize its value and essential contribution to help people grow in the knowledge of God and His ways. Before casting those stones (and wrongly assuming I am rejecting the importance of Scripture), think about this: How many cults do you know of that also use the Bible as their exclusive “handbook” and which also claim it to be the Word of God? MANY! Yet, obviously, these do not walk in obedience to Christ! Even the great reformer, Martin Luther, who professed to stand on Scripture alone, deviated from it while thinking he was following it completely (and thus transferred all manner of religious practices, originally born in Rome, that have continued to be a part of church tradition today regardless of the fact that they are nowhere represented by Scripture). The issue I am referring to is not concerning whether or not the Scriptures are inspired by God or profitable for Christian growth (because they are and I wholly and completely believe they are inspired by God), but I am referring to how a Christian may emphasize Scripture so greatly that he even neglects his relationship with Christ… The mere action of memorizing or studying Scripture (and learning all ABOUT God), will not automatically bring you closer to God.

I wholly believe that as we walk in intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, the Scriptures absolutely help keep us aligned in the way of truth and I always encourage everyone to study the Scriptures and search them out for yourself, rather than just listening to human wisdom. If it helps, there are a couple of methods I use when examining Scripture to find a doctrinal conclusion on something (thanks to Giovanni Chinnici for this eloquent explanation):

    1. The most important single principle in determining the true meaning of any doctrine of our faith is that we start with the clear statements of the Scriptures that specifically apply to it and use those to interpret the parable a, allegories, and obscure passage This allows Scripture to interpret Scripture. The Dominionists frequently reverse this order, seeking to interpret the clear passages, using obscure passages, parables, and allegories.

    2. The second most important principle is to consistently interpret by the literal, grammatical, historical method. This means the following:

    a. Each word should be interpreted in the light of its normal ordinary usage that was accepted in the times in which it was written.

    b. Each sentence should be interpreted according to the rules of grammar and syntax normally accepted when the document was written.

    c. Each passage should also be interpreted in the light of its historical and cultural environment.

By all means, feel free to examine anything you read on this website and if you feel something is seriously out of harmony with the Scriptures, contact me and share your concern. This is something I take very seriously. When our flesh gets in the way of our “revelation”, the Scripture aids the Holy Spirit in exposing our error and reminds us of the truth. I am in complete abide with this truth! But I am also in complete abide with the truth that Scripture presents when it says that JESUS HIMSELF is our FOUNDATION. The LIVING Christ in us is our gage of truth! He is the SURE ROCK on which we stand. He writes HIS laws on our hearts! This is the new and living way represented in the doctrine of Christ. Jesus did not say that the Scriptures were to be our “foundation”, but rather said that those who hear HIS WORDS and OBEY THEM are those who build upon the ROCK (Luke chapter 6).

    1 Corinthians 3:11 – For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

    Ephesians 2:20 – You, too, are built upon the foundation laid by the apostles and prophets, the cornerstone being Christ Jesus himself.

    Matthew 16:18b – …on this Rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

    1 Peter 2:6-8 – For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,” and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message–which is also what they were destined for.

    John 5:38-40 – and you do not have His message in your hearts, because you do not believe Me-the One He sent to you. You search the Scriptures because you believe they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to Me! Yet you refuse to come to Me so that I can give you this eternal life.

Isn’t it amazing the bold emphasis made concerning Christ and His Message in the New Testament? Can you imagine how radical and offensive this would have come across to the religious leaders of Jesus day? They knew the Scriptures, searched them daily, memorized them and spoke them to the people (their whole “foundation” had become wrapped up in the laws of Scripture), yet Christ condemned them for their ignorance in failing to understand that those Scriptures were not the sole foundation BUT THEY POINTED TO THE SOLE FOUNDATION!!! (1 Corinthians 3:11) Many today will have a problem with this statement and that’s fine… This is a detail they will need to work out in their own lives and in their own relationship with God.

Anyone who places the Scriptures higher that Christ have not understood those very same Scriptures which magnify Him. I hope this is making sense. For those of you still not grasping my discussion here, let me just reiterate for your benefit that, yes, I do believe the New Testament writings are rightly considered “Scripture” (and there is New Testament evidence as well that illustrates the believers of that time regarded the letters of the apostles as “Scripture”). Again, my point is not to challenge the authenticity or validity of Scripture, but to emphasize that Christ Jesus is the WORD of God and the Author and Finisher of our Faith! He is the sole foundation; the Rock that we are built upon. There seems to be a great emphasis in much of the organized church on “the Word of God” but it mostly centers on the written Word (not to mention how various the interpretation of those Scriptures are) rather than Christ in us who Himself is the Living Word. Jesus said in John 8:31-32, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Jesus was not saying, “if you study the Scriptures then you will be my disciples.” He said “MY WORD.” In other words, He was referring to the doctrine He was actively preaching to them! Keep in mind, there were no New Testament Bibles at this time. This was a radical statement indeed. Of course today we indeed have a New Testament Bible that contains the written words of Jesus. I would not be so bold as to call the written words of Jesus “the letter” as though it were now akin to the Old Covenant Law – so please don’t misunderstand my meaning here. But if we fail to aknowledge His living presence in us and that His words then remain true today that HE IS THE WORD then it would be error to esteem the written words of all Scripture as being “the Word of God,” for Jesus and the apostles consistently laid emphasis upon the Word OF CHRIST. The Old Testament Law was a letter of external commandments that held no power to change a man’s heart! And there are other books in the Bible that refer to historical example and teaching. But Christ IN us by His Spirit CAN DO what “the letter” never could accomplish, nor was it designed to accomplish. Again, I boldly confess to you my belief that the Bible is 100% inspired by God, is full of example and instruction for the benefit of our learning and contains the Word of God (i.e. the Message of Christ, which is perfect and true and equally for today), but CHRIST is the Word (i.e. the Living Word that takes up residence in our hearts and leads us, not by a letter of legalistic governance, but by the direction of the Holy Spirit)! If you were to lose your Bible and were imprisoned for the rest of your life, never permitted to read another page of Scripture, you could still know Him. His WORD could still abide in you because He is the Word and His Message is alive!

    Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

This is precisely why I believe so many church leaders subconsciously refuse to emphasize too greatly the fact that ALL OF GOD’S CHILDREN ARE PRIESTS UNTO HIM. Theologically this truth is acknowledged, but practically it is not often recognized. Too many still feel the need to appoint, follow and order themselves as mediators between God and man. Theyalso implement all manner of religious organization, rules, doctrinal emphasis, church guidelines, programs, etc. – all of which distract the church attender from a pure focus on the One who earnestly desires to be the only Lord of their life (including the very source of their joy, love and motivation). I really think that one of the major ways this misrepresentation of the truth ends up being emphasized in practice is when the foundation WHO IS ONLY CHRIST is replaced by the Scriptures alone. The result is very similar to the problem Jesus had with the religious Pharisees when He told them, “You search the Scriptures because you believe they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to Me! Yet you refuse to come to Me so that I can give you life!”

I have been encouraged by some of the perspectives I have heard taught by other brothers in Christ such as my recent friend Darin Hufford and the book I read by Peter Whyte (called Come Out Of Her My People), both of which boldly ascerted in their messages that the Bible is “not the Word”; JESUS IS THE WORD!!! The Scriptures point to Him as Jesus Himself taught. Many heresy hunters will certainly have a hayday with the phrase, “the Bible is not the Word”, but that’s only because they do not read in context and it is their traditional religious-thinking that influences how they hear. I understand completely! God’s wisdom stumbles human logic all the time.

For the record, I repeat, I do NOT mean that the Scriptures are not FULLY inspired by God. THEY ARE! In fact I wholly believe that EVERY SINGLE WORD OF SCRIPTURE is there by God’s own design and 100% profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness! I believe in Scripture study and the value of Bible memorization! Too few Christians know the Bibles they hold yet claim to believe in and I know this is also why so many fall into grevious error and are swept away by false leaders. ABSOLUTELY I BELIEVE THE SCRIPTURES 100%!!!!

Now, here is my point of clarification: The Bible (a.k.a. the Scriptures) indeed contains the words of Jesus (and in this respect may rightly be regarded as “the Word of God”), but it also contains the words of carnal men and even the devil. It also records the practices of wicked and immoral people – even of God-fearing people who fell into error. There are entire passages that quote the errant wisdom of religious thinkers (like Job’s friends, who ended up being severely rebuked by God). Obviously those “words” and “events” are not “the Word of God” (i.e. God’s instruction for us to follow) yet they were written by inspiration of God for our learning, instruction, correction and to help us know what is good and walk in it and to flee what is not good.

I am not playing semantics or belittling Scripture, but I agree with the emphasis that God’s Word is truly that which Christ taught us to follow and continues to teach us to follow since His Spirit lives in us. Yes, we often tend to call the Bible the “Word of God” (myself included) as most of us were raised to talk that way and, if we are not careful, we may end up elevating the Book above the One whom those Scriptures point us to and instruct us to follow; JESUS CHRIST. That very Book tells us that “the Word” is CHRIST and it is also HIS MESSAGE – i.e. the doctrine He preached. So, our relationship is not with “the Bible” but with God Himself through Christ Jesus for Jesus is the living Word! Unless the truth contained in those Scriptures become ALIVE in you, you have failed to comprehend the very purpose of those Scriptures!

    John 1:14 – So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father.

Just as prayer is not a magic formula, neither is attending some religious meeting, or giving a tenth of your income, or participating in some evangelistic outreach endeavor… OR READING THE BIBLE EVERY DAY if you are not actively engaged in relationship with Christ and seeking to obey His teaching! Just doing religious things does not make you spiritual (and yes, again, even reading the Bible can become a religious thing). This is the heart of what I am talking about when I say that the Bible is not the “Word of God”; I simply mean that knowing text on a page does not equal obedience to the life of His Spirit dwelling in you! JESUS IS THE WORD OF GOD!!! The Scriptures testify of Him. I cannot emphasize this BIBLICAL teaching enough! If you continue to fill your head with the Scriptures ABOUT Him (and that’s good) but you do not COME TO HIM, BELIEVE HIM, FOLLOW HIM, AND DISCOVER HOW TO LIVE OUT A RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM then you do not have His Word abiding in you!

    John 5:38 – “You do not have His Word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.”

The Lord is interested in your heart towards HIM and His pleasure is to respond to your sincere faith – not “faith – the force” that the preachers on TV talk about, but faith that is comprised of your sincere hope in Him and your heart’s desire to KNOW Him intimately. In other words, we are talking about LOVE! How many of were raised to believe (or fear rather) that one day, when we stand before our Maker, the sole thing He will be concerned about is “how faithfully we have served Him”? But what did Jesus preach? Did He not say that there would be many who stood before Him in that day, pointing out how faithfully they had served Him – and yet, what will be His response? Will He be impressed with our deeds (with how much Scripture we know, can quote, and expound for others)? Or is God interested in something far greater than the works we offer Him? What is the will of the Father?

    Matthew 7:21-23 – “Not everyone who keeps saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will get into the kingdom of heaven, but only the person who keeps doing the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name, drove out demons in your name, and performed many miracles in your name, didn’t we?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you evildoers!'”

Obviously, by Jesus’ own admission, the Father’s will is that we KNOW Him. Consider how intense these statements are that Jesus brings about the mindset of serving God in hopes of His approval. God considers every deed done in the name of religious service under the mindset that such is the what causes Him to approve of us – is actually the work of an evildoer!!! Think of that! God counts it as EVIL WORKS!!! His will is that we KNOW HIM – not merely that we serve Him. HE ALREADY APPROVES OF US!!!

    Acts 17:24-27 – He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands CANNOT SERVE HIS NEEDS-for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need there is. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand which should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. His purpose in all of this was that the nations should SEEK AFTER GOD and perhaps feel their way toward him AND FIND HIM-though he is not far from any one of us.

Some Christians may get upset with me because they think I am belittling doctrinal importance. That is not what I am doing! In fact, the very thing I am conveying to you now is right doctrine straight from God’s mouth and revealed in the Scriptures. I am simply suggesting to you that doctrinal emphasis means NOTHING if you are not in relationship with your Father. If your passion isn’t to know Him and draw close to Him, why would you bother trying to study the Bible? When Christians feel they are not close to God and so they employ all manner of works to try and rekindle the fire, they are already showing that they do not know Him and this is a hard thing to really come to grips with. Many Christians have spent their lives in church, only to realize one day that they still don’t know Him. Many have spent their lives “doing stuff” to try and please Him or stir up some kind of emotion that make them feel close to Him. Admitting their deadness, they hold “revivals” to try and jump start their faith. But as long as they continue along this mindset that rejects the Gospel (yes, that is really what is going on), they will never experience real relationship with Him. They will only live out their days continually trying to measure up and do enough things to deceive themselves into believing they are righteous and that they are worthy of entrance into His heaven. They will seek His favor through works and try to invoke His blessings and power through rituals, formulas and performance. In truth, this is little more than witchcraft. How sad. How frightful that so many well-intentioned people (and I am talking about religious people – you know – the good folks who even attend church, give their money, and pray every day) may not come to know Him and will not enter His rest. They must understand the work of Christ on that cross. They must believe it! They must accept the Gospel. We love Him why? Because He first loved us! Everything about our walk with Him is centered on this one thing; LOVE! That is the truth! That is the “truth for free.” Ironically, that truth really isn’t free; it came at a great price – one that religious acts cannot pay for, but one that HE ALREADY DID PAY FOR WITH HIS LIFE!

When we become passionately engaged in the pursuit of Him (because He Himself has set our hearts on fire), all of these other things will flow out of our SINCERE love for Him – BUT, and please hear me, these “things” (like prayer, studying the Bible, listening to teaching, etc.) – in and of themselves – hold no power to draw you close to Him! I hope you understand by this time that I am not speaking at all against prayer or reading the Bible. I am simply emphasizing focus on the one thing that is essential and that all else is worthless without. I’m talking about the grevious thing people do when they turn intimate aspects of relationship with Jesus into dead, religious rituals. There is no ritual you can ever peform that will make you love Him more or make Him favor you more. You must understand that the reason any of us even have a relationship with our Father in Heaven is because HE ALREADY FAVORED US!!!! He loved us before we were even born. He knew every sin we would commit and every time we would stumble and fail Him and yet He still said, “I love them, I desire them to be close with Me and I will even give my life, forgiving all of their sins, for this to happen… Nothing they will ever be able to do will compensate for this love I will lavish upon them because I choose to. I will receive them to myself and everything I have will be theirs because I will it to be so and all they need to do is receive these gifts from their Father who loves them!” This is God’s heart toward us! Love so great that we should be ashamed to think we can do one thing to earn it or pay it back. Yes, this is a humbling thing to face if we face it honestly! THERE IS NOTHING WE CAN DO! NOTHING! Our performance is not going to impress Him. He already determined, before we were even born, that He approved of us and loved us and would give His own life to save us!!! These are not attributes of a god who will only share himself in relationship with people as long as they do good deeds or say the right words – yet this is the god that most Christians have been raised to worship. I offer this hard hitting reality check that may indeed offend some, though it is not my intent to offend anyone but to excite you about Christ and to come to a full understanding and revelation of the Gospel; Many Christians today reveal that they are not worshiping the God of Scripture (this is often revealed by their mindset that God is appeased and grants favor because of works they perform – In fact, their entire concept of God is often one of “trying to please Him” – This is a false concept of how we approach Him)… They, by their example, are proving to make themselves slaves of their father the Devil! In other words, the very character they attribute to God with their religion is the character of the Devil (the one who desires to have slaves worshiping him) – rather than sons and daughters (Romans 9:26; 2 Corinthians 6:18; Galatians 3:26; 4:5-7; Ephesians 1:4-11; etc.) whom He regards as intimate friends (John 15:15) and even shares His glory with them! (Romans 9:23; Colossians 1:26-27; 3:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; 1 Peter 5:4; etc.) This is why I personally believe that the modern church system is such a farce! How can I dare say such a thing? Because Jesus had the same problem with the religious people of His day. They thought they were righteous because they “followed the rules” and had all the right-sounding words. They performed their religious expectations, they visited the Temple, they offered up sacrifices to God, they even sought to proseltyze others and “evangelize” them into their faith!!! But Jesus looks straight in their faces and boldly says, “you manifest actions that prove who your father really is.” You see, the Law was never intended to make men righteous; it was intended to show their need for Christ and how greatly God loves them.

    John 8:41-45 – (Jesus said) “You persist in repeating the works of your father.” They said, “We’re not bastards. We have a legitimate father: the one and only God.” “If God was your father,” said Jesus, “you would love Me, for I came from God and arrived here. I didn’t come on my own. He sent me. Why can’t you understand one word I say? Here’s why: You can’t handle it. You’re from your father, the Devil, and all you want to do is please him. He was a killer from the very start. He couldn’t stand the truth because there wasn’t a shred of truth in him. When the Liar speaks, he makes it up out of his lying nature and fills the world with lies. I arrive on the scene, tell you the plain truth, and you refuse to have a thing to do with me.”

Meditate on this passage of Scripture and really think about what Jesus was saying to these people who spent their lives “serving God.” This is the lie of modern churchianity – that the reason we are here is simply to serve our Master. This mindset has reduced God to the level of a slavedriver… and really, the devil himself! When Christians come to think our faith in God is about earning His favor and working for Him to get His blessing, provision and approval, they are in deception and they are not serving the one they presume demands such obedience. God’s way is wholly different! Yes we can serve God, but if that service does not flow WHOLLY from love then it is fruitless and void of any value! We must approach our understanding of Him from the perspective that He ALREADY favors us! He ALREADY loves us! He ALREADY has forgiven us! He ALREADY has made provision to bless us, protect us, and provide for us. If our response to Him is not solely and purely because we genuinely love Him and that love has so swelled our heart that we cannot help but be motivated to express that in some fashion – then all we are doing is practicing religion and following the attributes of those who worship their father the Devil! Selah!

Coming back to my point concerning doctrine – what I intend to convey, ever so boldly to you here, is that yes doctrine is beneficial and yes God has given us the Scripture to keep us aligned in the truth so that we do NOT waver between the many differing opinions of men (that is even one of the purposes of encouragement this website envisions); HOWEVER, one cannot simply have his goal as being to center himself on doctrinal truths without first engaging the Father’s heart because of a persuasion of love. We have to come to grips with the reality that we do not serve Him so that He will love us. But we love Him because He has already lavished us with grace and wooed us with His love. That means that God doesn’t want your daily Bible reading or your singing “worship” songs, or your good deeds, or your faithful church attendance, or any such nonsense (in precedence to Him) – if you believe that those things make you close to Him or somehow trigger a response whereby He obligates Himself to become close to you. NO! Things like prayer, Bible study, evangelism, etc. are NOT tools!!! They are attributes of sincere relationship with the Father. All of these things will flow NATURALLY out of the life of someone who is passionately in love with their Lord. Not because He has demanded it of them, but because they are compelled to action by the force of swelling love for their God.

Given a proper motivation of the heart, I believe that, as you study the Bible with an intent to learn of Him, the Lord will teach you and bring confirmation to your own spirit what is true and wholly of Him. He will lead you! I hope that you will never just take a man’s word for it and I hope that you will NEVER do anything just because you think that is the “religious” thing God expects of you. That really is the bottom line I mean to emphasize. Pursue HIM, trust HIM, rely on HIM, believe HIM, obey HIM – but engage this walk of faith because YOU LOVE Him! Man and his religious methods will fail but Jesus love never fails (even when we, in our religious ways, do)!

Perhaps I have already reiterated this point enough, but I will just say in closing that as important as doctrine is, matters of individual appreciation of doctrine are secondary to the submission of the spirit of man to the Spirit of God as it stands in the context of our intimate relationship with the Father. Some may wish to argue about “hermeneutics” (the science of interpretation and explanation; exegesis; esp., that branch of theology which defines the laws whereby the meaning of the Scriptures is to be ascertained. – Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.). Our word “hermeneutics” actually is derived from the Greek word “hermeneuo” (Strong’s #2059), which simply means, “to interpret, to expound, to explain with words” (according to various Greek dictionaries). The word is also used four times in the New Testament and always simply means “by interpretation.” When this word is used in the New Testament Scripture it is always in the case of defining the meaning of name or title (John 1:38, 42; 9:7; Hebrews 7:2). Our modern use of the word, however, is a bit broader and, as previously stated, refers to the “science” of interpretation, or in other words, the method. To my knowledge (based on my own study of hermeneutic principles), there are three major streams of hermeneutic theology, which simply reveals that individuals are likely to arrive at some variation of conclusion because of the various methods which are used to discern the meaning of Biblical text. Following a hermeneutical pattern of theology is a good thing and will often help you stay focused on context and away from doctrinal error, but we must not forget that, ultimately, hermeneutic theology involves principles of study that are principally human-devised – therefore, even the best hermeneutic may miss what the Spirit of God is saying. And consider this: A non-Christian can even decifer context following a pattern or method of interpretation, but only the Lord can breath life into the reading of His Word and cause Scripture to penetrate the heart of a man and work change in his inner parts.

The Scripture itself clearly teaches that it is the Holy Spirit that guides the believer into ALL truth (John 16:13)! That is why it is vital that we emphasize relationship with Jesus and communion with His Holy Spirit. The Lord is able to make the Scripture come alive to us because He Himself IS the Word and He Himself dwells IN us. He is equally able to work with the conscience of a person and direct them into the truth. We must learn to trust the Lord in that process.

Do study the Bible (because you want to, not because you think you have to)! Do seek to let Scripture define Scripture! Do consider the whole context of the passage you are reading! But most importantly, seek the Lord, wait upon Him, meditate on His words and allow His voice to minister truth to you through the inworking power of the Holy Spirit.

God bless you!

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