Saturday, July 26, 2008

What Does The Bible Say?

*A lot of this post is just me thinking out loud. If I learn later that I am wrong in anything I say, I will make it right. I am simply asking some questions and trying to figure some things out. If anyone has any thoughts or insight on these things, please comment.

Someone asked me the other day, "So how do you know which ministers are saying the right things?" I am not the one to say who is right or who is wrong, but I know that the Bible is the Word of God and that is what we must base our lives on. We should never just believe something because it comes from behind a pulpit. We have to take our Bibles and find out what God is really saying to us.

I went on to have a long conversation with this person and I shared with him what my family has been doing. We have taken our Bibles and we have begun to read them as if we are reading them for the first time. I think a lot of times people have added to what the Bible says, when what God expects us to do is take His Word for what it says. Let me give you an example of what I am talking about.....

"Jesus said to them, "If you can't understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables? The sower plants seed by taking God's Word to others. The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy, but since they don't have deep roots, they don't last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God's Word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God's word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God's Word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred fold." (Mark 4:13-20)

Many times people have taken these verses and used them in reference to having "good ground" for sowing money into. After reading this passage again recently, I don't see where these verses have anything to do with money. If you take these verses at face value and don't add anything to them, these are verses about sowing the Word of God into your heart. When Jesus talked about producing a hundred fold He was talking about the seed of the Word that fell on the good soil of a person's heart. I just don't think Jesus was referring to money here at all. Has anyone else ever noticed this?

A lot of people have been talking about the anointing lately, so it has caused me to do some thinking. I went to the concordance to look up the word "anointing" and there was only one scripture reference in the New Testament. (There are references to the word anoint, anointed, and anointing with oil, but only one for the anointing.) This one verse is I John 2:27 and it says, "The anointing which you have received of him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it has taught you, you shall abide in him." Other translations don't even use the word anointing - some translations say, "As you have received the Holy Spirit...." That tells me that we all have the same anointing. We received it when we were saved. I just don't see where some anointings are higher than others. If I am thinking correctly, we all have the same Holy Spirit living in us and I don't think He comes in different degrees - one person is not higher than another in the eyes of God. Does anyone know of any scriptures that say something different?

I have heard ministers say that they have to "protect the anointing." What are they protecting it from? Isn't the anointing for the people? We see in the Bible that Jesus was always out among the people and it did not bother Him when people bumped into Him. In fact, people were healed when they came in contact with Him. Is the anointing so fragile as to be shaken when people have needs. I think the anointing they talk about, and the Holy Spirit are one in the same. John 14:26 says that He is a Comforter, Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Stand-by. I have drawn the conclusion that the anointing would be all these things to the people. Would He withdraw Himself from the very people who need Him? I'm wondering if sometimes people feel like God may be unapproachable because some of the men they look up to are unapproachable. Here are some verses that tell us how it is supposed to be....

"I have a special concern for you church leaders. I know what it's like to be a leader, in on Christ's sufferings as well as the coming glory. Here's my concern: that you care for God's flock with all the diligence of a shepherd. Not because you have to, but because you want to please God. Not calculating what you can get out of it, but acting spontaneously. Not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way. When God, who is the best shepherd of all, comes out in the open with his rule, he'll see that you've done it right and commend you lavishly. Any you who are younger must follow your leaders. But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for God has had it with the proud, but takes delight in just plain people. So be content with who you are, and don't put on airs." (I Peter 5:1-6)

Another thing I have heard so much about over the years is tithing. In some churches it seems that the tithe and money is all you hear about. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying anything negative about tithing or giving. Actually I love to give. It makes me happy when I help someone in need or when I give to a good cause. I also think it is good and right to support the church you attend with your finances, and I do. What I don't understand is why some churches feel that they have to pound it into people by teaching on tithing week after week. I think sometimes people feel like they are being forced into giving instead of being appreciated for what they do give. And since when did teaching on the tithe become more important than teaching on Jesus?

My husband grew up tithing in the Baptist church. It has always just been a way of life for him because he made the decision to tithe early on. Many people grew up the same way. I know of churches that say, "We are not going to pass buckets, if you want to give, there are buckets in the back as you leave. You just do whatever is on your heart to do." I love that! They believe that people can follow their heart and they don't have to try to force anyone to give. Sometimes money is never mentioned in a service at the church I am attending, but every time I put my offering in the bucket, it's full! People have a heart to give, but I think they can get to the point where they lose their joy and cheerfulness about giving when they feel like they are being fussed at or pressured into it. And I feel that it is wrong when people are told that God is not going to do anything for them if they don't put something in the bucket. Listen to these verses....

"You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully. And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving - the needs of the believers will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God." (2 Corinthians 9:7-8 & 11-12)

I believe that most every Christian has the heart to give. It's just in our nature because of who our Father is. I am not looking for a way out of giving or tithing, I am looking for the places to give where I can help the most people.

I really am searching for answers and trying to see things from God's viewpoint. Sometimes I feel like I am starting over. I know I learned some good things at my former church, but I am trying to figure out what to take with me and what to leave behind. I know this is a process that will take time. I just want to get back to the Bible and stay on the right track. If I see it on the pages of the Bible I will believe it fully. I think people can get overloaded with rules and trying to meet a certain standard that is placed on them by people, and not by God. I want to keep it simple and live out my life doing the things that really matter to God.


Anonymous said...

You have helped answer a few of my own questions today and put a few things in perspective. I love they way you search this out and it's like your questions are my questions exactly. It has been very hard trying to figure out what we were taught that was right and what we need to lay aside. I am going to do a little studying myself on these subjects and see what the Lord shows me and I hope if you get anything else you will share because this was a really really good post. Thank you.

Set Free said...

To anonymous,
Thank you for the comment. If you find things in your studying, please share them with me as well. I know we can learn from each other.

Anonymous said...

I am seeing what you are seeing in those scriptures: We ALL are given the anointing to fulfill our purpose for the kingdom. We ALL have a purpose and noone's is more important than another. Every part working together is what brings Him glory!

Also, the on the subject of tithing--YOU ARE RIGHT ON! God wants our HEART in our giving. Pressure to give does not prepare your heart to give.

I now attend Church of Highlands where it is ALWAYS said,"Just do what is on your heart". They spend a total of maybe 5 minutes to tell people that they are going to pass the buckets and pray. Then they begin a worship song so that everyone can worship as we give! It is a glorious time!

I remember the first time we visited: the Pastor said, "Please let the bucket pass you if you are visiting...this part of the service is for people who call Highland's home." I could tell how sincere He was even from the first visit. Since then tithing has been different. We've given tithes and offerings for years, but we did it to be obedient to the Word of God. Nothing is wrong with that, but it's so much better giving with PEOPLE in mind. Jesus could have died on the cross because He knew that was what was required of Him, but He didn't just give out of obligation. He gave with PEOPLE in mind. He knew lives were in the balance. What better example of heartfelt giving? I believe that it pleases God when we know that we are giving to an upright ministry, so we can worship Him with our tithes and offerings and give from our hearts!

Thankfully, I never wonder anymore if the money is being used appropriately or not. If I have a question, I can just ask. It is great KNOWING that it is being used to further the Kingdom of God!

Jimmy Weldon said...

Nice to see you are still studying Set Free. I will recommend a good book on Biblical interpretation for you. Get a copy of a book entitled "How to Read The Bible For All It Is Worth" by Dr. Gordon Fee & Dr. Douglas Stuart. Dr. Fee is Professor of New Testament Exegesis at Regents College and Dr. Stuart is Professor of Old Testament at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary.

This is a good book for an introduction to exegeting scripture. It is not to technical and easy to read for a layman.

Another good book would be "Knowing Scripture" by Dr. R. C. Sproul.


D said...

Wow, what a great post and comments! You're on the right track. The things you're discovering from scripture are absolutely true. Now that you're reading it without the filter of some person's opinion, the HOLY SPIRIT is showing you the truth. It's kind of like scales falling off your eyes, isn't it? I love that the Holy Spirit is our teacher. God is so faithful to lead us along. We've had to do the same thing. I've even had to scratch out some notes in the margins of my Bible that I'd written during sermons. The Holy Spirit showed me how much of it was just twisted and used out of context. God bless you as you continue on this journey. He's leading you! Keep on following and keep on posting.

S said...

I have been reading your blog from the beginning and this has to be your best post yet! Thank you for all that you are doing and for sharing these thoughts and questions with us. Keep up the great work!

M. said...

What a different perspective I have now. I recently watched a video sermon from my former pastor. He mentioned that he was going to treat the listeners "like dirt" I realize he was just trying to be funny but the connotation had a different meaning to me. Anyway, the sermon was about people being "God's garden". And everyone should strive to look fruitful and prosperous and grow big because that's the kind of garden that brings honor to the gardener. His point being if a garden looks dried up and puny people look down on it. Now after some time away from said teaching, I have a different perspective. A lot of times while concentrating on "big vegetables" (image) the smaller fruit gets ignored or culled. In fact, a lot of the plants nutrition gets drawn off to the one giant fruit at the expense of the whole vine! Contrast that image of a gardener with the Bible's message of a shepherd. The shepherd is in charge of a hundred sheep, but will leave the 99 to go searching for the lost one. Every sheep is important, not just the fat, healthy looking champion sheep, but the lonely, small, lost sheep also. After years of being bombarded with a message of self and image, how refreshing to hear the good news that I am loved 'Just as I am" and that Jesus cares for me and protects me as a shepherd!

Anonymous said...

Set Free, You are doing a marvelous job of getting people to study things out for themselves! Not only is your post incredible, but the comments share wisdom as well! Sounds like we are ALL getting the answers we have wanted so desperately!

Anonymous said...

Great post! I see both you and I are finding out that there were very few things tought at our former church that were scripturally correct with the right motive behind them. How awesome to realize that we can rightly divide the word of truth for ourselves and we do not need a "special man appointed by God" to do that for us.

C. said...

I really like the way you expressed your thoughts here. Keep writing!