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Confused?

There are many voices clamoring for our attention and it can be very confusing. There is a wide range of denominations in the Christian community who express ourselves differently and that also can sometimes be confusing.
Similarly there are numerious version of the bible.

We can legitimately ask such questions as, “Which one is best? Which version is true? Why bother reading a bible anyhow”? We shall look at myths and fables, assumptions and prejudices and make a critical analysis of what is often dubbed the word of God. It is easy to get lost in a sea of half truths and “Chinese whispers” (I shall explain more about them later) and finish up confused and disillusioned.

Therefore, if you will permit me to share a few moments of your precious time, I would like to share a few points with you about how God has spoken to us and perhaps how we can actually understand it and its application in everyday life.

Much of what I will share has been said before, but in a different way perhaps. I am only doing what God does to us and that is teaching by repetition. As far as the bible goes, this is where we can easily become confused and it need not be so.

I shall endeavor to show you something that may sound critical in places, but for a purpose. I am laying a foundation for the good stuff!

We shall try to answer such questions in this presentation.

Start at the beginning

I am not sure I enjoyed going to school, but I know I was a good student...always near the top of the class. My maths was a problem, but English was good. (well....better than maths)

I remember learning spelling from the start when we had to recite the letters and say the words like C.A.T. Cat. D.O.G. Dog and say them over and over and over and over and over and over... We were taught how to count in the same way, repeating the times tables over and over and over, day in and day out. 1 plus 1 equals 2. 2 plus 2 equals 4 and so on. I think that the teacher played music and we repeated the words in time with the music and the beating of her ruler on the desk until we got it in our minds. It worked!

God teaches us like that, often repeating Himself when He wants us to learn something important.

Let me start by sharing part of my childhood.

My father was a prominent leader in the Anglican Church and I was “christened”, “confirmed” and took communion, attended Synod, was a member of the Parochial council, became the priest’s protégé and followed the church teachings and ordinances. During services, portions of scripture were read according to the time of the year and I recall the priest saying after such a reading, “This is the word of the Lord” to which we responded by saying, “Thanks be unto God”. The only problem for me was that I never understood a word and I found little relevance in the church and so I left. Nevertheless, I still believed that there was a God—but never knew Him!

After I left home and started my own family, a door to door salesman arrived, selling King James bibles and I bought one, believing that I should have one in my house. Some of my family upbringing remained. The seed had been sown, so never give up on anyone. This bible was a very large family bible with a pretty cream colored leather cover and came inside a lovely satin lined presentation case. I endorsed the first pages with family information and proudly set it on the mantle piece in my home, but I rarely read it, because I could not understand it.

On odd occasions, I actually blew the dust off it and opened it, because it was, after all, a holy book that I thought I should read, but all those old words inside were confusing with thee, thou, thine and other religious sounding words that made it more difficult especially when starting at page one where everyone usually starts reading a book. When I came to the genealogy sections I lost it.  My bible also said that it had self-pronouncing text! Huh! What did that mean?

Many of the words also had little dots and dashes above or below certain letters and they made it more confusing. We don’t use those little dots and dashes with the letters! What is going on here? Confused? This little exercise might help you.

The Chinese whisper

Think of the Chinese whisper I mentioned earlier. This is an exercise with a group of people in which the first person passes on a private message to the second, who in turn passes it on to the next person until the message is shared with the last person in the group. Often times, the message has been altered and amended so much during the transferral process that it may not even be the same as the original. It is no longer truthfully depicted.

It stands to reason therefore that if it is not truth, what then is it? I can only think of one thing. It is a lie.

It makes me wonder if what we call the bible has actually been “doctored up” after being passed down through the generations, as various translators and whole denominations passed down their “Chinese whisper” versions. Sadly it has happened. I possess a huge electronic library of scripture that contains at least 40 versions of scripture in one application alone and draw from these resources in my studies. I compare versions side-by-side and compare them all with original texts in the Hebrew and Greek and it can get confusing. Little wonder the average layman finds problems, especially if the version used is “not accurate” as many modern versions are. If you look at the background of some modern day translations, you would be shocked to see who was involved. The list of contributers to some very well used translations are not even Christians! A few have had input by new-age teachers, Freemasons and intellectuals who admit to being atheists. What you are reading might have been vastly altered as a result.

Do not believe for a moment that just because it says holy bible on the cover that it is 100% divinely inspired, or that when someone quotes a verse they are genuine! Anyone can read a bible. The devil can read. He heard God speak and he misquoted scripture to Eve in the garden. He tried the same tactics with Jesus when he Tempted the Lord. He can and does keep using the same principles with us, so we really do need to know the truth. He does not care if you read a bible, provided that you do not  believe it and do what God says.

God has clearly instructed us to not just read His word, but to insert it into the very core of our being. We see passages like Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God in Deuteronomy 8:3.

Jesus quoted this when he was being tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:4 and Luke 4:4) and this was on a three-fold front. The devil appealed to the human aspect of Jesus’ life in exactly the same way we are tempted (see 1 John 2:12-17, especially verse 16) so being tempted is not a sin. It becomes one if we succumb.

The reason we need to get God’s word into us is to help us succeed in life. God told Joshua to meditate on His word in Joshua 1:8 so that he would have good success and prosper in all that he did. We think of success as in terms of a career, money, possessions, romance and so on, but they are all in the natural realm that is subject to decay.  A luxury motor car can rust just like a stock standard car. A filet mignon steak can taste as good and be just as nutritious as a cheaper cut but cost more. Junk food might look good, but it is not healthy. Jesus spoke on those lines in the Sermon on the mount in Matthew 6. We see things differently to God and this is why we need to know about it all. This is done by seeing what He says on any given matter and we can do this on two ways, one of which is by the aid of the Holy Spirit and by the application of God’s word. The issue is therefore what “version” do we use? Which one is true?

Another major problem we may face with modern technology is the advent of things like Youtube. Whilst it is good to conduct our research, many people spend hours poring over things that may be a mixture of truth and half truth, or even straight out imagination.

People push their own agendas there and whilst some good information may be obtained the outcome is that it takes up time; it leads to information overload and it can sidetrack us totally off the source of information that God has for us and that is His word.
It can consume hours about the identity of the antichrist.
People said Hitler, or the Pope, then someone else, even Obama and then politics flavor the discussion.

John said around the end of the first century that many antichrists (plural) were already here (See 1 John 4:1-6 and take note of verse 6)! They debate conspiracy theories, aliens, “lizard people”, various viewpoints on end time events and although there might be some very interesting topics to be found, are excellent in getting our attention!

I am convinced it is to get us to take our eyes off God and steer our attention to anything else.

Confusion is a prevalent outcome.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14:10 that there are many voices (phōnē) out there in the world(kosmos) without signification (aphōnos). The last one means unmeaning and dumb, but note these few...fear, fearful and  fearfulness. Many such posts lead to the latter.

I quickly found as a newborn Christian at age 26, that for some reason, many others seemed to gravitate towards me for counsel and advice and ministry. It sort of scared me, because I realized that I was playing with people’s lives and did not want to mess them up. I asked the Lord for help. He answered this way-
The Sovereign LORD has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will. The Sovereign LORD has spoken to me, and I have listened. I have not rebelled or turned away. Isaiah 50:4-5

There are many other references, but the Lord gives us His word and the counsel of the Holy Spirit to teach us and I follow that  as my first point of reference and it works! After my face-to-face encounter with Jesus that was like Paul’s encounter, I knew that He had called me into ministry but I knew less than nothing. My pastor was a real Godly man and he helped me as much as he could and I soon realized that I could tell someone something that they acted on and if it were wrong and they could suffer, I knew that I could be accountable to God for it. I asked God for help—help to discern; to see through smokescreens and pretenses, to be able to answer questions accurately and to please give me chapter and verse in scripture. I was not smart enough to know any different and admitted it and asked God to help me understand things truthfully.

The Holy Spirit quickly stepped in and started to do the things Jesus said in John 14 through to 16 about being a teacher, guiding and leading us into the truth. This is a principle that anyone can follow. It is much more important than we realize and I cannot understand why we are taking Him out of our churches the way we are.

The church was “born” so to speak, by an act of the Holy Spirit and subsequent acts experienced in the early church.
He has not changed and God’s word has not changed, yet we take Him out of the equation.

I am convinced that if we do not avail ourselves of such input into our lives, we are cheating ourselves and exposing ourselves to all kinds of counterfeits.
I am convinced that everything we believe and do has to relate in some way at some time to what God has actually said in His word.

Myths and Fables?

This brings us full circle to our opening comments on the “Chinese whisper”.

I often share the Christmas story I first heard as a young child of the three wise men who presented their gifts to a newborn baby in a crib in a stable in Bethlehem.
The crib was surrounded by farmyard animals, shepherds stood outside the barn door peering in and angels were singing their songs as these wise men arrived. It’s nice, but the bible does not say anything like that. It does not say that there were three men! All it says is that there wise men from the east. To be sure, they had three different kinds of gifts, but there may in fact have been a much larger contingent of men and Jesus might not have been in Bethlehem at all and could have been 2 years of age when they came to Herod.

If we examine the in depth, Jesus might not have been born in December at all. It is more likely to have been in September around the time of Rosh Hashanah. We easily forget that Jesus fulfilled prophecy and in the types and shadows embodied in the Tabernacle and the Feasts of Israel. Constantine is one person who started the twisting of truth and he hated Jews.

A pastor and his wife once came to our home for dinner and when I shared this, the lady retorted, “Who cares. Does it matter if there were 3 or 300? As long as we love everyone, that is what is important.” That is new-age teaching.

The pastor said something equally as dumb. They never saw that it is not truth and did not care. What else have they not seen and they are supposed to be leaders? I am shocked at how little they know, yet they are leading people.

If it is not the truth, then what is it and they are the blind leading the blind and it is happening everywhere. It has to be a lie, so they are teaching lies, even if only in part. Sadly, this is a growing trend in churches.

Either it is the whole counsel of God that we preach or it is not. We must preach and teach all of the bible, not a small portion of it as is common. Our preaching must be balanced. People go into excess over the prosperity doctrine, but others go full swing in the opposite direction and have a poverty mentality. There is a suffering for Jesus doctrine and a dogmatic by His stripes we are healed and never get sick approach. We have traditional orthodox churches and far-out Pentecostal churches. There are mega-churches and home churches. There is overboard excessive use or misuse of the Gifts of the Spirit or none at all. A pentecostal pastor, who is now the president of a large denomination in Australia once told me, “Robert, I have never heard someone prophesy with such phenomenal accuracy as you and I have never seen anyone flow in words of knowledge like you, but please do not do that in  my church (emphasizing the word My)!

We need the real thing and we need it more than we realize, but the Holy Spirit is not welcomed there.

The major issue with Christianity is such division. It is not only about the many versions of the bible. We have so many “versions” and differences it is confusing to outsiders. The people who are lost and destined for hell, see us as divided, or as different independent groups.

They see Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Seven-day Adventists, Amish, Baptists and numerous others, including the Anglican Church whose head is the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Roman Catholic Church with a Papal rule. Mary is venerated in the Catholic Church as mother of God and queen of Heaven, honored in dogmas and devotions, whereas others do not. Even here, there are vast differences. I visited a monastery where a particular order of monks lived and watched a religious procession when a statue called the Black Madonna was paraded and installed in a special sanctuary and openly worshiped. Other Catholics I knew rejected it and refused to attend. They too were divided amongst themselves. We hold Mary in high esteem of course, but do not venerate and worship her.

The Catholic bible is a different version accepted by others and it contains the Apocrypha, that are works of unknown authorship or of doubtful origin. I simply cannot bring myself to read it. There seems to be something wrong and it does not sit right in my spirit, lacking a certain ring of authenticity. If it is not inspired by the Holy Ghost, that is the reason.

It is a set of texts included in the Latin Vulgate and Septuagint but not in the Hebrew Bible, but God is a Hebrew God.

Such apocryphal texts are generally called pseudepigrapha, a term that means false writings. So, what  is true?

Little wonder many people are confused.

Although I have scores of “versions” my preferred version is the King James Version because it allows me to link a word or a passage to the original language. By cross referencing to original texts in different resources, I can determine what a given word really means, not what it is assumed to mean. Take the word love as an example.

Many Christians have heard of the word Agapē. Some may have heard of Eros that relates to the natural or flesh nature. Others have heard of Phileō. All three have different meanings and there are yet other words like Thelō.

The word Selah seen in Psalms is another example as in Psalm 3:8. I thought it meant to pause and think about something but it is a somewhat mysterious word appearing more than 70 times and it is not been translated into English. Many of the Psalms were sung in the Temple by the Levitical choir and they contained musical direction  like lift your voices higher, or to sing or play forte or crescendo. The Hebrew word סלל means to raise up. Another word is sal סל meaning basket, referring to a drum that was beaten at certain interludes. Selah could thus relate to a conductor’s direction to the choir.

Those little things are important. They do matter and getting apparent trivial things wrong can change everything.

The problem is that when translators are not certain of the real meaning of a word, they often inject something that might not be accurate. Note the little squiggles above or below some letters. Everything has specific meaning and omitting them could make that word mean something completely different to what was originally intended.

The original was meticulously reproduced by dedicated people. Scribes hand copied the originals and had to ensure that all those funny shaped dots and squiggles were in the right place at the right time. If a mistake was made, they did not have the ability to back-space and hit the delete button as we do on our word processors—they discarded their work and started over. In Jesus’ day, many of the scribes He had problems with had made their work a religious issue. They fussed over all of those little jots and tittles so much, although they were originally “right” in doing so, they then missed out on seeing the true significance and meaning. The scriptures talked about Him, but they never saw Him in them because they focused in the wrong direction. They had no revelation!
This is a major problem with modern theology. The information may indeed be right, but can lack this personal revelation.

The purpose for reading the bible is that it should reveal Jesus. It should show you God’s mind and will—how He operates; what He likes or dislikes and in the process see where it all comes together in your own life. I am not saying that you should become a religious freak, but showing you a way to really be successful in life. The passage you read at a particular time could tell you to get your act together or give you a commendation, confirming that you are indeed on the right track. This is one of the main functions of a pastor in any church. His preaching should not be merely something nice to hear, or to justify his existence and actions. Paul charged a pastor called Timothy to do it right!

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.  2 Timothy 4:1-2 

Many jettison the clear command to “preach the word” in order to inject feel good fables and myths that appeal to a self-centered crowd.  Sermons that teach a hipper, cooler, more palatable form of inoffensive Christianity are not what Paul taught, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The Miller beer company had a commercial telling people that their product tasted good and was less filling.

Our churches are filling up with preaching like that. It tastes great but is less filling.

I believe with all my heart that we are living in the last days, knowing that foolish things have been said and done over the years since Jesus left, promising to return. If He said that He will come back, He will come back. One day He will be here, so why not believe that it will be in our lifetime? The signs are there. Things are coming together. Paul spoke of this-
But know this: Hard times will come in the last days.
For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, demeaning, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people. 2 Timothy 3:1-5

We are seeing this right now—and we are seeing it in the church! I am seeing the latter part about having a form of Godliness whilst denying its power in increasing momentum in most of the church today. It is happening! Paul continued-
For among them are those who worm their way into households and deceive gullible women overwhelmed by sins and led astray by a variety of passions, always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:6-7

The reference to always learning does not only apply to those gullible women. There is an increasing trend in churches to create multiple campuses with educational facilities that churn out graduates who are not equipped at all for ministry. A cursory glance at their curriculums verifies this. Whilst education is good, the issue is what kind of education is being imparted. We must weigh up the principle of the “Chinese whisper” because it is happening. When I started studying for my doctorate, the curriculum that looked good when I started, drifted off so much it was totally lacking in Holy Spirit guidance and it became 110% academic. The more I looked at it, the more God seemed to be gradually taken out of the equation—and this was a supposed Christian organization. Like many, the curriculm is actually influenced if not set by the goverment and students usually apply for government financial support in order to study. Little wonder many of them are becoming clones of each other, emphasizing more on intellectual or academic qualifications rather than preparing the students spiritually.
Don’t believe me and for that matter, do not believe anyone, just because they call themselves Christian. Visit their web sites and check them out for yourself. Check their curriculum and see their position on government assistance.

One evening, the Lord visited me in my home and chastised me, telling me to stop. He questioned my motives for the studies and rebuked me for not asking Him first and told me to get rid of my certificates. The last one that I tried to hold on to was “Pulpit Dynamics” and as I reluctantly took it out of its frame and was about to throw it in the bin, He told me, “Burn the thing”.  In that exercise, He revealed how He really wants us to be taught and instructed and it is by revelation knowledge that the Holy Spirit gives us as we read the word of God. He later gave me permission to resume studies—but not with that group. I started to see how important those little things like the “3 wise men” are. If it is not truth, it is a lie and the devil is the author of lies!

Paul continued, talking of resistance to the truth. It is prevalent and it is serious. 
Just as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so these also resist the truth. They are men who are corrupt in mind and worthless in regard to the faith. But they will not make further progress, for their foolishness will be clear to all, as was the foolishness of Jannes and Jambres. 2 Timothy 3:8-9

Those two men were magicians in Pharaoh’s court. They apposed truth. They tried to replicate the miracles with their enchantments. The word enchantments may mean kindle, burn or flame, or consume by fire and is indicative of God’s judgment. God makes it perfectly clear that every man’s work will be tested by fire. In 1 corinthians 3, Paul revealed that there are spiritual babies and mature Christians in the church. Babies remain babies when not fed properly! If the pastor of a church keeps feeding people milk, they will never grow and he will be held accountable by God. Truth does matter!

Later in that chapter, Paul talks about how we should all be able to work together to ensure that the church grows (but we do not do that) and how we should all be careful in how we should all conduct ourselves properly because we, the Body of Christ, not necessarily a church by today’s standards, should all fit together (but we don’t) to produce the harvest God wants. He then said how God will test everything we do and if it does not measure up—it will burn!

His advise to Timothy continued-
But you have followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, and endurance, along with the persecutions and sufferings that came to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. What persecutions I endured—and yet the Lord rescued me from them all.  In fact, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
Evil people and impostors will become worse,
deceiving and being deceived.  But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, and you know that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 
so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:10-17

The Bible makes it crystal clear that the job of every pastor is to preach the word of God and to do so without stutter, stammer, apology, or equivocation.  Preachers are not to tickle ears with myths and nice sounding platitudes but step on toes if necessary with truth. I do not want to hear three points, a joke or a poem, but some solid food that will sustain me in life or stir me up enough to act on it. The Scripture reproves and rebukes before it exhorts.  According to 2 Timothy 3:16, the word of God is profitable for teaching (it tells you what is right), for reproof (it tells you what’s not right), for correction (it tells you how to get right) and for training in righteousness (it tells you how to stay right).

The main job of any preacher is not to be funny, or creative, or ingenious, or popular.  His main job is to be faithful to preach the word and speak the truth in love.  Paul also told Timothy-
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
For the time will come when
they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. 2 Timothy 4:1-5

That word instant is Ephistēmi that has a range of meanings ranging from assault, to come, be present (either for friendly purposes or not) to be at hand and to stand upon. The latter part can be associated with the idea of coming suddenly upon someone and taking them by surprise.

In the light of our message therefore, when someone is saying something that is not true from behind a pulpit, do what  Paul told Timothy do. Stand up suddenly if you need to and tell them that what they were saying was a lie.

Doing something like that in a church sure takes people by surprise and pastors do not like it. Now, do not start jumping up and doing that at any time you like to. Make sure of your facts first—and only do so if the Lord authorizes you to do so and even then, double check it.

I know that everything has to be done decently and in order and in the spirit of love, but sometimes love is hard!

The Lord chastises those whom He loves and He corrects us not to be an ogre or nasty in any way but to preserve us and realign us. There is a developing trend however whereby the grace message is over-emphasized and a wimpy new-age kind of  love, love, love message prevails. God’s love is very real and powerful, but it is also sometimes hard hitting.

Allow me to share a passage from Jeremiah and note the meticulous detail involved. God is very precise.

The words of Yirmeyahu the son of Ḥilqiyahu, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Binyamin, to whom the word of יהוה came in the days of Yoshiyahu son of Amon, sovereign of Yehuḏah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. And it came in the days of Yehoyaqim, son of Yoshiyahu, sovereign of Yehuḏah, until the end of the eleventh year of Tsiḏqiyahu, son of Yoshiyahu, sovereign of Yehuḏah, until the exile of Yerushalayim in the fifth month.
Now the word of יהוה came to me, saying. Jeremiah 1:1-4.

The first thing to see is that Jeremiah did not choose to become a preacher—God called him! The man actually tried to avoid it, making all kinds of feeble excuses. God ignored them of course.

“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born, I separated you for myself.

I have appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.”

 I said, “Oh, Adonai Elohim, I don’t even know how to speak! I’m just a child!” But Adonai said to me, “Don’t say, ‘I’m just a child.’ “For you will go to whomever I send you, and you will speak whatever I order you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you, says Adonai, to rescue you.” Then Adonai put out his hand and touched my mouth, and Adonai said to me, “There! I have put my words in your mouth. Jeremiah 1:5-9

Even today, God does the calling and the appointing and no man can really choose to take up a position because he wants to. He will be a went one and not a sent one and such people are in a precarious position. God clearly said not to make excuses and that the man He appoints has to basically do what he has been told to do. The obedience factor is involved.

He also said that He had put His own words in Jeremiah’s mouth. This basically means that we should not try to “change it” to suit our own ideas, preferences  and denominational persuasions. As I said before, I possess a very large library that includes many bible commentaries. They have been written by learned scholars indeed, but are still after all, man’s impressions and opinions and might not necessarily be accurate by God’s standards. As for those differences, the church is divided over many things like believer’s baptism, so many commentaries will be flavored by the Catholic and Anglican idea of christening, a Baptist viewpoint, the Methodist or a Presbyterian concept.

Confused? You can avoid the confusion by going straight to the source so to speak and ask the one who inspired scripture (the Holy Spirit) to show you the truth. That is how it works. It is that simple, so why not avail ourselves of His help?

Another aspect of a prophet’s ministry, even to this day is something many folk try to avoid and it is the correctional aspect. God told Jeremiah to clear the rubbish, blow the cobwebs off and rattle cages first. Both Jesus and John the Baptist did that.

Today I have placed you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and demolish, to build up and to plant. Jeremiah 1:10

Before a building is erected, the ground has to be cleared, trees removed, any old buildings demolished and the foundations dug before work commences. If Jesus is truly building His Church, such spiritual work is going on. We are neglecting this very important aspect to our peril. Generally speaking we do not like this and try to resist it. Paul alluded to this-
... although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ. And we are ready to punish any disobedience, once your obedience is complete. 2 Corinthians 10:3-6

Most times we think we are fighting the devil, but we are actually dealing with mindsets, traditions of men and prejudices and also fighting God. What we preach and teach therefore must be truth. One day, every pastor will stand before the Lord to give an account of his ministry. Many years ago, the Lord spoke to me when my wife and I were having our fourth watch prayer time (4am), instructing me to go to the bedroom and dress. He took me to hell for a 45-minute visit and it was a horrible place. I saw preachers there!

It shocked me, but later He explained that they were there because they never preached truth and because their church members believed what they preached and acted on it. Matthew 7:21 shocked me. Read it. I looked at Revelation 21:7 that states that the one who overcomes shall inherit everything, not necessarily the people who go to church. It is remotely possible that we can say the sinners’ prayer and call ourselves Christian and not overcome? Is the old saying, “once saved, always saved” really correct? Is it possible to start off on our journey well only to take a wrong direction somewhere because we have believed a lie? The story Pilgrim’s Progress could be more real to life than I once thought.

What startled me more is what the Lord said in Revelation 21:8.

...But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

I saw those preachers in hell and I cannot get it out of my mind. That verse said that they were there because they were liars! Liars? As I said before, either we preach the truth or we do not, so it does matter what we believe, even if it is a trivial thing like that Christmas story we all like. Perhaps we need to completely reappraise all that we are saying and doing and see if it really does measure up to God’s standards of truth, or simply following tradition passed down from generation to generation. When I started to see this, it really challenged me and I had to start looking at myself.

As you can imagine, such teaching is not liked and it is very confrontational, but so was Jesus! He got really radical at times, plaiting a whip and even kicking the money changers tables over in the temple. He was a prophet and prophets can do radical things like that, even today! Prophets are still with us even though many folk do not want to believe that!

Confused?  Probably, after reading this, but if I have challenged you enough to make you want to know the real from the false, then I have done my job.

Noah preached righteousness and did that for 120 years without a single conversion and by today’s standards we would call him a failure. God called him righteous Noah—for declaring the truth. Only he and his immediate family were saved, so the requirements of being declared righteous and successful by God did not depend on the size of his church, how many products he sold, if he had a large song service or had any of the trappings we associate with a “successful” church.

He did what God told him to do and kept telling everyone that the rain was coming. He preached truth, but the truth was rejected. When truth is rejected, people want to get rid of you. They will try to shut you down, or at least just try to ignore you. If you are a prophet, you will not be popular. I will share something on this shortly.

In Acts 4:29, after the lame man had been healed, the religious leaders tried that with Peter and John. They called them into the church office and told them not to preach and teach Jesus. Let us be clear about this. When God really does move, religious people do not like it and will do the same to you. Peter and John told the believers what happened and they prayed for even greater boldness and effectiveness and in verse 31, we see that God responded. The Holy Ghost shook the place up and the believers got even greater boldness...to declare the truth. It is this truth that has to return to the church. Perhaps some Holy Ghost shaking is required.

Well, I have said all that I can say about this for now, so what next? I have been a little over the top perhaps (or should I say again) for a reason. It is to ask you to check everything out and if it does not measure up, either challenge it or discard it.

If you are going to a church that you know is not meeting the Lord’s standards, then get out!

Paul told Timothy in the passage quoted to do that and the reason is simple. Do not permit yourself to be contaminated.

We are at the point in time when God is sorting us out, separating sheep from sheep, not sheep from goats; separating game players and pretenders from the real church; separating self-appointed men pleasers from God pleasers who are called, anointed and ordained by God.

This is because we are running out of time and Jesus is coming back for a perfect church.

Do not let people tell you lies. Check things out for yourself prayerfully; in the Spirit and with your bible and notebook handy. Test all things. Hold fast to the truth. He wants us to take a stand for righteousness like Noah did, regardless of popularity or public opinion and to be willing to face the consequences if need be to get the unadulterated message out to a lost and dying world. Those dying people need the truth, not a more palatable “Lite Christianity”.

For us to be able to meet God’s criteria, we need to know what it is. That’s the bottom line. It is in His word, so we must find out what it is and the only way you and I can do that is to read it for ourselves. I cannot do that for you and vice-versa.

Now the problem you may face is this and once more, I will repeat what I often say and make no apology for that as it is one of the ways God teaches us. Check everything out. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth.

You will probably not have the resources I have and I got most of them because I did some beta testing for the Wordsearch bible company and Logos when they were developing their products.

I had purchased their earlier products way back in the old floppy disk days and as a reward they gave me free resources with regular updates and big discounts on new updates. A few days ago, Wordsearch bible gave me four free books that I have installed but not yet fully read. The only one I glanced through so far talks about the very things I have been talking about in my recent publications and the few that are completed already, ready for transmission. That seems to be a confirmation to me that I am on track. My wife visited web sites that are saying the same things I have been saying.

If you own a modern day translation, I recommend that you change to something more authentic and I suggest a KJV, even if you do not understand it with all its quirks and ye olde English words that are hard to pronounce.
Ask the Holy Spirit to open things up to you. Do not get in a rut and think that you cannot understand it, but open up to the possibilities.
I know that some folk have not had a great education. Some even have dyslexia, but that is no excuse for not letting God do what He wants to do and what He can do. He anointed Bezaleel and Aholiab in Exodus 35:30-35 to build the Tabernacle. The construction required skills and abilities that they never possessed, but He gave them to those men so that they could do the task He wanted done. Even today, we need such abilities to be given to us to get the job done and we find them in the various ministry gifts and gifts of the Spirit that Paul described under inspiration of the Holy Ghost. We cannot take Him out of our churches and expect to succeed.

Those men had to function as manufacturing jewelers to build the items required, but for 430 years Israel knew nothing but how to make mud bricks as slaves. God can and does anoint us today to do things that are beyond our natural abilities, so He can do for you what needs to be done as long as you want it and permit Him to do so. All I ask is that you try.

Prove Him. Put Him to the test.

There are many bible resources available on the Internet, including free downloads. I recommend that you avail yourselves of them. Here are a few links you may try.-

biblica.com

biblegateway.com

wordsearchbible.com

logos.com

faithlife.com

Avoid if possible any that are denominationally oriented. Logos has the standard version, then it has Baptist, Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, Methodist, Wesleyan, Orthodox, Calvinist, Armenian, Charismatic and Pentecostal and SDA versions. No wonder people are confused.

This is why I stated that I try at all times to see what the original languages say. That way, I try to be “neutral” and it has been a real eye-opener to me.

My approach is to listen to the Holy Spirit. I may see an article that jumps out of the page at me and then check out what is said against scripture and in the process ask Him to reveal truth. That is one of His jobs. He can tell me to read a certain passage, go somewhere else, or even drop an idea into my being and it is then up to me to take it further.

Therefore, even in your busy life, try to take time out to read your bible and adopt principles like mine.

You can find one that suits you.

Do not try to read too much at once as I did initially, learning speed reading so that I could read the entire bible in six months. The Lord told me to stop that. I was scanning the bible and not meditating it as God told Joshua to do.

Even if you read one chapter, one paragraph or even one sentence a dozen times, do so and ask the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of truth to reveal things to you and open up the scripture to you...personally.

If you come across a difficult passage, note it in a journal and come back to it from time to time.

Let the Holy Spirit speak to you and please do what He tells you to do.

God is not the author of confusion. He wants you to know truth so trust Him in it.

If you really want to know the truth that makes us free, follow such suggestions and put what you see and hear to the test and see if it measures up. Some of my readers have asked questions relating to this topic and I hope this has helped.

Blessings,
Robert