1 Peter 5:8, “Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
Luke 12:19, “‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”‘
Luke 10:37, Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Luke 4:6-7, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”
Matthew 21:22, “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Mark 11:24).
John 14:13-14, “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”
Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 20:4, “May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, And fulfill all your purpose.”
*”According to the March 2007 edition of Time, the Bible “has done more to shape literature, history, entertainment, and culture than any book ever written. Its influence on world history is unparalleled, and shows no signs of abating.” With estimated total sales of over 5 billion copies, it is widely considered to be the most influential and “best-selling book of all time.” As of the 2000s, it sells approximately 100 million copies annually.”
To a devoted follower and disciple of Christ Jesus, the Bible is the foundation, the very road map of his/her Spiritual journey or lifestyle. As a true disciple grows and matures in the Word that has been printed within its pages, that person experiences not just a change in their own life, but a depth and perspective of that very Word that is constantly changing to meet wherever they are and at whatever stage they are in their Christian development! Anyone who has experienced the Bible over a period of time, has been witness to the fact that you can read a certain passage and as time goes by and you apply the Word in its various precepts to a particular area of your life, you can go back to that same initial passage and see something that is even deeper and possibly even more specific to your situation than you were able to see in the very first reading.
It has been said and it is true, backed up by the Scriptures themselves that the Bible is a Living Word. Yes, it is and has been written by various men with various personalities and styles, and yet, the Authorship of the Holy Spirit behind those pens is evident when you look at the Whole of what has become known as the “approved canon” of the Bible.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” – John 1:1-5.
The Bible is the written incarnation of the Character, Nature and Attributes of God and His Son, Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ is the incarnate (uncorrupted flesh) image of the Character, Nature and Attributes of God, the Father. God, the Father has inspired the following through the Holy Spirit and spoken by Jesus Himself:
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” – John 4:23-24.
But Jesus went further on to also state when speaking to His disciple Philip:
“Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.” – John 14:9-11.
So many followers believe that the Bible was written so that mankind can see the need and avenue of Salvation through the voluntary Sacrifice of Jesus Christ in the Name of His Father. Like so many do or even assume, this is only a PART of God’s plan or mission for the written Living Word. The same thing is true for the Word made Flesh, Christ Jesus! Salvation and Redemption are just a PART of His mission, a necessary part for sure, but still JUST a part. In actuality a MEANS to an END!
Now please, bear with me, be patient and hear me out. I am not espousing some new doctrine or a new theology, but only one that many times is overlooked within the WHOLE counsel of the Bible!
First, let’s talk about one (just one or else we will never finish) aspect of the Character, Nature and Attributes of God. We can all agree right from the start that “God IS Love!” 1 John 4:7-8, 16, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”
You can find countless Scriptures that define God’s Character as love, loving kindness, mercy, compassion depending on the version of the Bible you use. They ALL use the same language in the original to describe God Almighty as a Loving God in Character and Nature!
Now, back to the beginning with the understanding of a God Who IS Love. Before the creation of mankind as the Bible relates to us, what was there? There was a God of Love and the Heavenly Hosts of Angels. Those beings He created with a specific purpose and plan. But where could a loving God, with unlimited and abounding love direct that Love?
“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” – Genesis 1:26-27.
God created mankind and gave him dominion, or authority over the earth and its creatures and creation. Man’s food was NOT that which he had dominion over, but the fruit of the earth. Man was created in the image or likeness of God. It wasn’t a matter of LOOKING like God, but being formed with the same Character, Nature and Attributes of God. Man was given the ability to love, to create, to use authority for the good of the rest of creation. He was given from that point on the eternalness that was associated with God. Though God has no beginning, He also has no end and God passed that attribute on to His creation, mankind. Mankind was given the ability to learn and acquire knowledge as evidenced in God giving the command to name the animals, etc. Though God’s Character, Nature and Attributes are ALL encompassing as characterized by His Omniscience, Omnipotence, Omnipresence, Eternalness and Immutability (unchanging Character).
Man was gifted with a portion of each of these characteristics. God the Father is a Spirit. God breathed His spirit into mankind to make him a living being. The Word was with God in the beginning as we stated already. The plan for mankind was already known to the Mind of God, the Word would become flesh, incarnate. God had given mankind the ability to choose. Why you might ask? Simply put, love without the ability to choose is not Love, not Godly love anyway! The Angels were created with purpose. They had assignments and abilities to accomplish God’s will all over the spiritual and supernatural; and that was before mankind as we know it was created. God wanted a people with the ability to choose in which He could love, but also who had the ability to return that love to his Creator. Mankind, created in the image and likeness of God the Father had that ability with those characteristics, nature and attributes that the Father had bestowed on them.
God Almighty, as Creator and Heavenly Father, desired a RELATIONSHIP with a creation that could return His unconditional love back to Himself. God created us, for relationship. Adam and Eve were the first He created so that He COULD walk with them and commune on an intimate basis with. But again, God in His wisdom, KNEW that true, unconditional love had to be able to choose between loving God or loving themselves more. God knew what mankind would choose in the very beginning. It was no surprise to Him and that is why The Living Word was ready to fulfill the need that was demanded for man to be able to be redeemed.
This leads to the rhetorical question; why would mankind HAVE to be redeemed? To bring back to fruition the Plan of God. Man has a choice, AND now, thanks to the willing Sacrifice of Jesus who made the PAYMENT for mankind’s sin, man has the ability to choose; walk in the way he wants too, with his own plans and schemes or accept the Savior’s Gift and allow Him to show us the true Character, Nature and Attributes of the Father through an intimate relationship with Him powered by the Holy Spirit Who was promised to dwell within each of us if we accept the Gift of a renewed spiritual awareness!! The choice is and always has been man’s!
Now, I hope you can see that what I have been leading up too is the mission statement as it were of the Bible, the Living Word of God. To show us, God the Father, THROUGH Christ Jesus, the Son and EMPOWERED through the Holy Spirit to have an intimate relationship with our Creator, God Almighty, our Heavenly Father! Salvation and Redemption is just the path to that end; it is as it were the beginning of that path, not the destination, but rather the way to that destination.
Okay, I’ve come this far and now you may be asking, what in the world does this all have to do with the context of the Bible??
It truly matters that you understand why our Heavenly Father gave us His written Word. It is how we can get to know HIM intimately and personally, along with prayer, communion and meditation AND listening for Him to speak to us, our hearts and mind. When you delve into that Living Word, when you get to know, even minutely WHO your Heavenly Father is, WHO Christ Jesus is and what role the Holy Spirit plays, when you DO commune with the Father, when you DO listen for His “still small voice,” you will not be mislead by the roar of the world, the lies of the enemy of your soul or the hub-bub of life around you.
The sad truth of the matter is just what the Beloved Apostle John warns us of in his Epistle; “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.” – 1 John 4:1-3.
I just finished an Expository Teaching on these Scriptures so I won’t go into further detail and you can find that here if you haven’t read it yet: 1 John 4:1-3.
One of the easiest ways in which to mislead and deceive the Body of Christ and its members is by twisting the Scriptures to make it say what you want it to say and sadly, we see this in the organized church even today AND many ARE being deceived.
The Word of God can be twisted to say whatever a person with ill motives wish it to say, IF it is taken out of context, which is so easy to do. A person who teaches the Word of God has a very heavy responsibility to make sure that when they use a verse of Scripture to confirm another, that it is within the context of what the Scriptures as a whole are saying. Many say the Scriptures contradict one another from one place to another, but my command to them is instead of lining Scripture up to match your theories, search your heart and make sure you are lining yourself up to the Scriptures. A person who truly studies with an open heart before the Holy Spirit will NOT find contradictions in the Scriptures but in actuality will find truth and enlightenment and illumination!
You will find many teachers who choose to teach in an expository manner; meaning they will take a section of Scripture and “expose” or comment on it verse by verse and line upon line. Thus, it is much easier to teach within the context of the paragraph or even chapter within which it was written. This is also a very important way to study the scriptures. However, there are books such as Ecclesiastes, Psalms and especially Proverbs that have verses of Scripture that stand alone. BUT – and here is the important thing, their meaning will NEVER contradict Scripture elsewhere in the Bible. If it appears that it does, it is your interpretation or translation of the verse that is wrong! This is why the Apostle Paul was so adamant to his disciple, Timothy when he wrote:
“Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” – 2 Timothy 2:14-15.
“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:14-17.
This is why when preachers and teachers teach thematically, they have to have a good grasp of what I like to describe as the WHOLE counsel of God! They have to be familiar with all the Bible and not just the parts they like the most. It is a heavy and grave responsibility for the Bible itself says that we are given a greater judgement for what we teach, especially if it is misleading to believers! James 3:1, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” If you have been “called” into this ministry, than just remember, your reliance upon prayer and the Holy Spirit is vitally essential for you cannot take a calling like this lightly. If you are called, the Holy Spirit WILL equip you but in my many years I have learned, He ALSO imparts to your heart and spirit a motive for wanting to teach. Mine is to encourage and lift up others, to inspire them to find their own gifts from the Holy Spirit and to use those gifts to build up the Body of Christ. There are other responsibilities that go along that aren’t nearly as pleasant, but when your heart motive is out of love for your brothers and sisters, it’s easier to deal with those aspects of teaching that aren’t always as pleasant; again from the Apostle Paul to Timothy refer to the verses above, especially, “All Scripture . . . is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete . . .”
And also, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” – 2 Timothy 4:2-4.
Now, I hope you can see the importance of not just reading the Word of God, but also of studying it. Search if need be, teachers you CAN trust who have a proven track-record of teaching the truth, but I would also admonish you to pray about what you read, listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings within your own heart. Remember this; if the Holy Spirit can speak to me, in my heart and spirit, then He can certainly speak to you as well!
Whenever speaking of the Word of God and anything that involves study I always like to point this Scripture out as a confirmation of our need to be on guard within ourselves:
“Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” – Acts 17:10-11.
The key here is found in verse 11. “They searched the Scriptures daily to make sure for themselves that what Paul and Silas preached was true!” They didn’t go about it with the motive of trying to FIND fault, but rather that they would not be misled. They truly took to heart what Paul later wrote in Philippians 2:12-13, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
May we also take to heart what the Apostle Paul wrote to those Philippians and be ever more like the Bereans, taking seriously what we read and what we accept when we hear things. With that in mind, I hope that those of you who read the Scriptures at the very beginning of this article might be scratching your heads right now! I DID indeed pull a fast one by giving you three scenarios that could have been easily misconstrued as something legitimate by putting seemingly innocent Scriptures together to form a thought. These examples show the importance of knowing the context of each and not just piecing together to make something we WANT it to say. Sadly, this as stated earlier, is happening in many churches today and it IS up to us, to be diligent AND responsible for what we accept as truth!
Sorry for the deception, but I hope you see my point! God bless you ALL so abundantly and richly as you take this to heart!