Sunday, December 29, 2013

God' point of view

From God’s point of view

           Peter said to the Lord Jesus “heaven forbid, this will never happen to you” Matthew 16.22NLT
The Lord responded “.... you are seeing things merely from a human point of view and not from God’s”.
       The difference is much the same as in a previous article written on the difference between spiritual and natural. We spent most of our life connecting with what is human. At school we learn about the physical world around us, the human society we live in, the method of human existence, and from this knowledge we asses and make decisions in life.
      So much of the life and teaching of the Lord Jesus was distinct from that human wisdom. The context of the verses quoted above, is in connection with the future of Jesus – would he develop his ministry of healing and teaching to become the greatest leader Israel had ever known? Peter thought so or at least hoped so. That is normal human reasoning although Jesus identifies it as springing from satan.
     
God’s point of view on the future of the Lord Jesus was different- the life of a servant who finally became the Saviour by dying as the rejected Messiah. By this He as the great Shepherd would gather to Himself a people for Himself from all nations. God’s point of view is humility before exaltation, suffering before glory.
       And so it did happen.
       Soon the lowly man called Jesus will be revealed as the King of kings and Lord of lords. Then He will gather together the millions of His redeemed ones.

So often we like Peter are short sighted  -  living for personal comfort and promotion. God grant all my readers, eyes to see the invisible, to live in the hope of eternal realities, to assess life from God’s point of view.


Perhaps some reader does not know the Lord. Seek Him today and according to His promise, you will find Him. Don’t be among the many who choose to be controlled by human perspectives or bad experiences. God is great, God is good and through the once crucified, now risen Lord Jesus He wants to share Himself with you.

johnmckee@internode.on.net

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Question submitted - Which books belong in the Bible?

Question – Which books belong in the Bible ?

        Most of us are happy with 66 books, however others add more. The Roman Catholic Bible often includes the Apocrypha. Some people put value on the Gospel of Thomas and Judas. The Mormon church include the book of Mormon.
Several books are available on this subject and I am researching the book ‘The Cannon’ by F.F. Bruce. A recent reading of the Apocrypha gave me the sense that it has interesting history after Malachi’s day and  included some wise words,  but did not have the ring of inspiration.

           A serious accusation is made by the Muslims and others, that the Roman Catholic church has so corrupted the Christian Bible that it is no longer trustworthy. This can be answered in several ways.
1                                Modern archaeology and research has located more than 5000 pieces of the Greek copies of the New Testament . Many of these were written before the Roman Catholic church became an institution. The amazing thing is that these copies from various places have such a close harmony to each other. Scholars who do much work in this area maintain that our Bible is at least 98% accurate to the original.
2                              I obtained a New Testament recently that was translated, not from Greek, but from an ancient Aramaic text .  This text was preserved by the eastern Orthodox church, not being subject to Roman Catholic interference. However, it is so similar to our normal Bible!
3                                The Roman church did try to suppress the Bible, maintaining it in Latin  only, and when it was translated, tried to burn it. This would hardly have happened if it was changed to suit their teachings.

Back to the books of the Cannon. The Old Testament was largely assembled by  Jewish Rabbis before the Lord Jesus came. ( possibly by scholars exile in Babylon). The order of the books may differ, but most groups accept the Old Testament as we have it.

Collection and recognition of the New Testament books is different. The Lord Jesus did not write like Moses did, but rather commissioned His apostles to convey the “truth” revealed by the Holy Spirit (John 16). The early Christians valued these writings/letters by the apostles and their associates, and collected and circulated them. Hebrews ,having no apparent author was slow to be recognized, but its content gave it a place among those inspired by the Holy Spirit. After some decades, several councils, consensus was reached at the council in Carthage AD397 for the 66 books which we now use.
                The writings of the early Fathers, along with the Alexandrian Gospels (Thomas, Judas) came much later and were rejected as lacking the accuracy and inspiration of the early documents.

In conclusion for now ( as I do more research), I attest that one of the greatest confirmations of our Bible is the internal unveiling of God to mankind. For those willing to read it with openheartedness, God speaks firstly through Moses and the prophets and lastly though His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. The Bible is quite enough  -  the challenge is for us to believe it and obey it !!

Seek the Lord today in His word and you will surely find Him.

John McKee

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Question submitted - Spiritual verses natural

Spiritual/Natural – discerning the difference

        The natural world is measurable, observable and generally relates to our five senses. To see, to hear, to taste, to touch, to smell. By these we respond with speaking, moving, eating, working etc.
The natural is generally governed by the laws of nature. Most of our feelings are related to these stimuli. Much of our behaviour is directed by our DNA.
        Spiritual by contrast is outside of nature,  feelings and the five senses. The spiritual may at times channel through the natural, but is essentially distinct. Let me illustrate – Angels are Spirit beings. They are intelligent and interact with God and others yet being unseen and unheard. On occasions they may operate in the visible world (Genesis 18:2).  They of course like us are finite, yet they operate outside of the laws of Nature.
Our spirit is more than feelings, more than imagination. Our spirit is that intelligent part of our being able to interact with God by His Spirit. I desire to distinguish between ‘gut feeling’ and spiritual enlightenment. God gives enlightenment and it is our choice as to how we respond to it. We can overcome the natural, by obeying the spiritual.
        The human brain is capable to pulling together much information to give a direction, impulse, feelings. The influence of the Spirit of God with our spirit goes beyond that. Several illustrations from the Bible may be the best way to explain.
   
      Acts 27 – Paul is facing the likelihood of shipwreck, execution by the soldiers or drowning at sea. Natural instinct is panic or despair. But a spirit being  (the angel of the Lord)  stood by him and gave him intelligence from God – a promise of life, a promise of converts. Paul overcame the natural, by the spiritual and God fulfilled His promise.
            
       A little closer to home. In Romans 7, a man finds himself struggling under the diversions of a fallen nature – inclined to do wrong things. It seems to be made worse, because the communication from God, a spiritual message, seems to make the despair worse.  The law is spiritual!
Paul explains the distinction between ‘knowing’ what is the right thing to do (Spiritual) and following through when one is naturally  inclined to wrong. The victory is in chapter 8 when we understand the truth (not the feeling), the truth of what God has done by Christ Jesus. We understand that through Christ’s death, we are not condemned (even though we have sinned). This will affect our feelings, may even bring tears of hope, relief and joy to our eyes. But my point is that the spiritual part is God’s communicating to our spirits the intelligence of God’s attitude, God’s actions toward us.
The chapter goes on to explain how God has done this and then by the communication of the Spirit, joins us to God, so that we connect with the invisible God as “ Abba Father”. To the natural man this is all non sense!
Life then has a different motive, different meaning, different point of reference -- a Spiritual connection with a Spiritual being.

                    The Lord Jesus taught the priority of the spiritual in another way. He said ‘blessed are the poor’, meaning the natural inclination to  attain status, to be richer, is not the spiritual way. He said “blessed are the meek”, meaning the idea of prominence, powers, prestige, are not God’s thinking.  He said blessed are they that mourn. This morose direction is not popular, but God connects with those who see beyond the visible and are concerned for the eternal.
He seems to go too far and say “blessed are you when you are mocked and persecuted”. Are we not to make this a better world where everyone is happy forever after?  Well, what does He mean? His very presence on earth was the greatest of all “Spiritual” revelations. God the invisible (Spirit) was revealed in flesh (unspoiled humanity). The reaction to Him (faith or unbelief) was the fundamental choice of receiving the Spirit’s revelation or not. To reject Him, is to sin (the unpardonable sin) against the Holy Spirit. To receive Him, the ongoing enlightenment of the Holy Spirit establishes a connection of relationship that abides for eternity. So to be mocked for HIS sake is connecting with the spiritual one.

                   Real life, eternal life, is to know God in Christ (John 17). To understand this is important before trying to sort out spiritual gifts, spiritual communications etc.

Thus far we see the Invisible God (a spirit being) making contact with visible mankind.  The teachings of the Lord Jesus and the apostles are full of encouragement for us to see the spiritual, eternal realities. The Lord Jesus said so much about heaven.
Peter and Paul preached about our spiritual condition before God and the real possibility of being forgiven by an unseen God. Peter wrote about us being ‘partakers of the Divine nature’ – This is spiritual reality stuff. John exhorted us to live in Love - not natural love, but God’s ‘agape’ love.
Then an observant reader of the New Testament will notice the exhortation to let these spiritual truths influence our natural life. Not two compartments, natural and spiritual, but rather bringing the whole life into the obedience of Christ – Sowing to the Spirit - Galatians 6.
Much could be said about how this applies today. First I suggest be wary of strange voices, with fleshly directions.  A true prophet, a teacher, a healer, a word of wisdom etc, must operate to glory Christ, to be true to the Holy Spirit.

                  A Spiritual person (one in touch with God) will evidence the fruit of the Spirit.  A spiritual work or mission will focus on making Christ known in a verbal or practical way. A spiritual outlook will be like Moses who lived life in the light of the invisible, in the values of the Eternal and Hebrews 11 records the effect on his choices.
             Praying in the Spirit is addressing the unseen Father through the exalted Lord Jesus Christ, praying in accord with God’s will, that He the living One might act in the spirit world and the natural world over which He has ultimate control.  Let us then, worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4).

                   In conclusion to this brief consideration, let me point to the evidence of a spiritual person.

Love (God’s kind of love),
Joy (happiness in God)
Peace (Faith in one Greater than the natural circumstances)
Kindness (going beyond instinct in care)
Goodness (Acting by God’s values)
Faithfulness (Being true to right and responsibilities)
Gentleness (Not driven by impulse or self interest, but considerate of others)
Self Control (the natural, fallen inclination brought under obedience to Christ)
The scriptures say, these are the outcomes of those walking in the Spirit, filled with the Spirit (Galations 5)


May it be so in every life.

John McKee   comments to  johnmckee@internode.on.net

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Why does God not stop the 'fights'

Questions from Children
“Why does God not stop the fights in the world?” – a question repeated many times
     This a good question and not easy to answer. There are two or three ways to answer this.

1    In our world there is the ongoing conflict between good and evil.  The Bible storyline presents evil with its lies, deception, conflict, fights, murders, etc ,    as coming into the world by the evil one, Satan, also known as the Devil, the old serpent, the deceiver.  He is historically presented as the source of ‘fights’ and is described by  the Lord Jesus as a murderer, thief and liar. He sought to bring down the Lord Jesus and was the inspiring intelligence that led Judas to betray Jesus.
    Paul found himself ‘hindered‘ by Satan.  Peter said we should ‘resist the Devil’. So to the end of the world, ‘fights’ will continue as this intelligent deceiver seeks to destroy people and oppose God and His Christ.  Finally he will be cast forever into  the lake of fire, and then peace and righteousness will  prevail.

2    The question is often rephrased as ‘why does God allow evil?’
 Incidents and stories from the Bible, and also from recent history, even our own experiences, remind us of the good lessons that can be learned out of bad experiences. You could read the story of Job, who suffered much evil and ‘fights’, yet at the end he was blessed in every way.  You could think about Jesus -- rejected and tortured by His enemies,  yet out of this came blessing for the whole world.  The ‘fights’ between communism and Christians has produced real Christianity in contrast to the shallow church where little persecution prevails. 
    God has a distinct ability to turn evil things to good, if we will let Him.  (Romans 8:28)

3  If God ‘stopped’ the fights in our world, who would He punish.  What I mean is that most ‘fights’ have wrong on both sides. Often both sides have rebelled against God and His ways.  So should He destroy both as a matter of “justice”.  A school chaplain once said in my hearing “I am glad God does not seem just”   - meaning – if God executed justice , we would all be destroyed for we have all sinned.  “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23)
I would like to make one further observation.  People who spent plenty of time in armchairs, find this a distressing question.  People who suffer hardship often turn to God and find Him very near even when the reasons for hardship are not known. The difference may be the distinction between reasoning and faith. Sometimes God allows bad things to happen, so that people will seek the Lord.


 May the God of all grace give you understanding in all things

More questions to come - others  were answered in previous blogs
John McKee

More children's questions

'Why does God help us a lot?'
       And He does even though we forget to thank Him.   Well all things considered, He does us good, because He loves us.  He is a faithful creator who keeps this finely tuned world spinning. But so much more He does for us like giving us understanding and wisdom.  He provides opportunities for us to seek and know Him.  He puts us into families so that we may not be totally alone.  Jesus said He knows and He cares about us as children belonging to a Father. (Matthew 6)
     Why?     Because He loves. It is His very nature to love, not that we deserve it, but He chooses to love.  Love of course is wiser than to just give what some want. He loves in the wise way, the long term view for the real good of  those who trust Him. The children will remember my illustration - I love chocolate, but God knows too much chocolate is not good for me. So in His wisdom he give me the ability to choose to limit my chocolate intake.

  I think we would do well to stop and count His many blessings  -- many, many, many blessings

John McKee

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Children's questions continued

What does God look like?

God is a spirit  - a little bit like the wind  - can't be seen but is yet so powerful.
- like a voice  -  cannot be seen yet can be heard.
-  like electricity  -  you can't see it yet it does such wonderful things.
-   like the sunshine  - you cannot see it, but you can't see much without it

Well the better answer is :
' God looks like Jesus'   the Lord Jesus did say " whoever has seen me has seen the Father (God)"

Children do seek a visible representation of God and we must avoid making images as the heathen do. Perhaps God was very wise to hide the physical appearance of Jesus, so that He could be the Saviour of the world, not just for one race of people.  It is important to think rather about God's character, His attributes, His actions, His promises.

John mcKee