This Blog Has Moved January 28, 2007Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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The James Rattazzi Blog is now at http://blog.jamesrattazzi.com
The feed URL is: http://blog.jamesrattazzi.com/?feed=rss2
Monday morning January 29, 2007 will be the first new post there.
This site will be kept up for archival and reference purposes.
There will be no new posts published here.
See you at the new site.
News About This Blog January 27, 2007Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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The James Rattazzi Blog is moving! So starting Monday this blog will be found at http://blog.jamesrattazzi.com I would like to thank all those who regularly read this blog. We have outgrown this space here but also I am consolidating all my websites and domains on one server to make things easier for me and give me more flexibility. Plus I will be adding a new website http://bussare.com which will be a custom search engine to aid in the study of truth, spirituality and religion. This search engine, created with the help of our friends at Google, will focus on sites that are the most helpful with this study. Everyone feel free to suggest sources of information that should be included in this search engine. This is a very exciting project.
If you go to http://blog.jamesrattazzi.com now you will see a copy of what you see here, with all my old blogs up to this point there also. I will leave this site up but after Monday all new posts will be going to the new site. So update your browsers with both the new site URL and the new RSS feed URL. The new websites will offer more opportunities for participation and make it easier for others to collaborate. My hope is to build a forum that can be a better service to the community of believers. Please feel free to post your comments and participate at the new website.
The Art Of Deception January 25, 2007Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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The world is full of religious teachings and spiritual ideas. Some at first blush seem ridiculous, some seem to have a tinge of truth to them. It is often difficult to sort through the myriad of ideas and find the truth. One reason for this is that departures from the truth are most difficult to detect when they appear to have some sort of connection with something true. There are teachings that present themselves as Bible based but are really ideas from men masquerading as the word of God. Many are deceived by this sort of thing.
Let me give you an example to illustrate what I’m saying, original sin. The term “original sin” does not appear in the Bible. According to Christian tradition, “original sin” is the general condition of sinfulness (lack of holiness) into which human beings are born. In other words people are born guilty of sin. Some quote Psalm 51:5 to support this idea, but if you look at the surrounding verses it is easy to see that is not the meaning of the passage. Some quote from the apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans chapter five which says in verse twelve:
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned
The “one man” Paul is referring to here is Adam. Adam and Eve were the first humans to sin and so if we follow that example we will die but if we follow Jesus we will live is the contrast Paul is getting at here. But look at that verse closely, original sin says that all die because Adam sinned but Paul says all die “because all sinned“. Just a little different, but there is a world of false teaching contained in that difference. If you find yourself not agreeing with me here at this point, I encourage you to read Ezekiel chapter eighteen. The whole chapter is about this misconception, about the guilt of sin somehow being passed on through the generations of man. Ezekiel said: “the soul who sins is the one who will die“. The “sins of the fathers” idea is all about how the suffering from sin is passed on from generation to generations, not the guilt. Once again, just a little different, but there is a world of false teaching contained in that difference. There are many other examples of this sort of error, of people (who should know better) failing to faithfully follow what the Scripture actually says. These people will argue their body of inferences and pass that off as the word of God. There are many other examples of this sort of thing, I’m sure you could name a bunch.
But here is something that happens, if you find yourself disagreeing with the false teaching (or false conclusions based on the false teaching) you will be accused of opposing God. This is because the people who have been taken in by this error naturally do not separate their false belief from the word of God. This has happened to me on more than one occasion. This is why we have to be so careful not to let our own conclusions and inferences become mixed up in our minds with what the Bible specifically says. This needs to be an ongoing process because this is such an easy trap to fall into. If we fall into this trap we elevate our own thinking to be equal with the word of God. We also find ourselves calling evil someone who is actually following the word of God just because they disagree with us, just because they clash with our inferences that are just a bit off. This has happened may times through the years, remember Galileo? And this still goes on today. This is the art of deception.
Seeing God January 23, 2007Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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Spirituality is all about our thinking on eternity. It is all about God and how he has chosen to reveal himself to us. If our minds are focused on the earthly point of view, on the human point of view we will fail to see God. This takes some focus and effort. It is easy to be deceived because the world we live in presents us with so much false information that the truth is often obscured. The world presents us with a variety of thoughts and examples that are not in agreement with God. Seeing God is difficult under these conditions. How has God chosen to reveal himself to us? How can we see God? Jesus Christ said this to his disciples:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Jesus is talking here to a small group of people, he is having a conversation with people who have decided to follow him. He is talking to people who have listened to his words and are following his instructions. The way to see God is to focus on Jesus. This is how God has chosen to reveal himself to us. For us today it takes some work to focus on Jesus because over the years the world has distorted the image of Jesus. All these various things that have been added in over the years have tainted the pure and perfect words that Jesus spoke to his disciples. Fortunately God has, through the Holy Spirit, preserved his word for us in the Bible. The Bible tells us about Jesus. Jesus tells us seeing him is seeing God. Jesus also brought in this element of purity, he said:
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God .
Our hearts have been tainted by the distortions of this world. We need to strive for purity in our hearts to see God. Once again, focusing on the truth about Jesus, what he actually did and said is the key to attaining this purity. Seeing God is all about seeing Jesus Christ. The Bible contains the words of Jesus, by believing his words and following his instructions we can see God.
Spirituality And Thinking January 21, 2007Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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Thinking is a key element of spirituality. What do you think about God? What do you think about eternity? Reasoning and sense are fundamental to an understanding of the truth. Some believe that it does not make sense. This is in part due to the fact that often the picture drawn by religious folk is inconsistent and nonsensical. This is often a result of the tension caused by beliefs based on traditions of human origin rather than the truth from God. The truth makes sense. It may be hard to believe sometimes but it makes sense. The book of the prophet Isaiah contains an invitation and follows with some thinking from God:
“Come now, let us reason together ,”
says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the best from the land;
but if you resist and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword.”
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
The invitation is: “Come now, let us reason together“. The thinking that follows spells out clearly what God expects, “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land“. Much of the Bible is about how most of the time, most of the people are not “willing and obedient”. The spiritual challenge for each of us contained in this invitation from God is to get in tune with his thinking. First to see how we are not in tune, then to see how God has provided a method for getting our thinking in tune with him.
I hear a lot of talk on the subject of spirituality that does not make any sense. The truth should make sense. Often I hear some loved one express a line of thinking and I respond with a differing line of thought expecting to engage in a back and forth volley of ideas aimed at achieving some agreement on where the truth lies. But my volley is often met with silence. The issue is left there and this difference of thinking becomes a dividing line separating us. This is a spiritual condition. This makes me so sad. We should always be striving to come together on the truth. Each of these points where our thinkings diverge should be seen as opportunities rather than further proof of the distance between us.
Some think it best not to make the effort and so the divisions remain. Some find it easier to view me as the source of the division since I was the one to point it out. The reality is we think differently on these spiritual issues. We all should make the effort to agree on the truth. We should all strive for our thinking to be in agreement with God. Then we will be in agreement with each other. We should each be a positive example of the connection between Spirituality and thinking.
More On Choices January 19, 2007Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
We are all completely free to do whatever we want (wether we realize it or not). We shape our lives by the choices we make. In the beginning God chose to create the heavens and the earth. God’s work was very good. Choices then made by others that conflicted with God’s choices began to move creation away from goodness. This was the basic thrust of my previous post. Fortunately though, God did not leave it at that. God provides a clear cut path back to him for us to follow. We each are presented with the choice to follow that path back to goodness or remain on the path away from God. This choice is personified in Jesus Christ. One more element I want to bring in here is eternal life. God has made this extraordinary promise to those that choose to believe it. Our choice to believe this promise is demonstrated to all by following his instructions. These instructions are not difficult to understand but through the years have become a bit muddled in popular thought by those who choose to turn away from God.
It all comes down to choice. Do you choose to believe God and follow his instructions? Do you choose to put the necessary effort into learning what the truth is so you can know exactly what those instructions are? There is a part for each of us to play in all this. What has brought about all the death, pain and destruction in this world is disagreement with God. Each of us needs to make a firm and carefully considered choice. What do we stand for? Do we stand for agreement with God? Do we stand for goodness and eternal life or do we stand for disagreement with God which is death and suffering? What do we want for us and our children? Many will say at this point that the choice is not so clear. It is not clear because of the state of affairs in this world. These voices that have chosen to disagree with God are too often given the spotlight. This is an important issue. Each of us, each day must put some effort into learning the truth. If we just go with the flow of this world we will be deceived by the variety of choices presented to us and pick one that does not agree with God.
God has chosen to place his instruction for us in the Bible. This is the book that tells us all about God’s plan from the beginning, focusing on the crowning work of Jesus to bring that plan to fulfillment. Jesus puts this plan into reach for each of us. If you do not know what I mean by that you should choose to investigate this truth. Look into the Bible and decide for yourself what this is all about. Only then can you make an informed decision. Only then can your choice be informed by the truth. Only then can you be confident that you have not been deceived and led astray by the “wisdom” of this world. It does not take much. Start with a little time each day, read the Bible, ask questions, understand. Then integrate this instruction in your daily life.
The choice is ours. God has set before us life and death. He wants us to choose life. He has chosen life, eternal life to be in his son Jesus Christ. What will our choice be?
God Chooses January 17, 2007Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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I wanted to write a post on choices but I decided instead to post this essay I wrote back in 2003 titled: “God Chooses”. I hope you find it helpful.
One of the major themes of The Bible and possibly the most important theme is that God Chooses. In Genesis chapter one the very first chapter of The Bible God is identified to us as the one who created everything. Chapters one and two talk about creation and
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
God chooses one tree from the Garden of Eden, aptly named the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and instructs the first man and woman, Adam and Eve not to eat from it. In chapter three Adam and Eve are presented with an alternative to Gods choice. They choose to follow the alternative point of view, eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and this decision completely transforms their relationship to God and creation.
Genesis chapter four God makes another choice, he chooses Abel’s offering over the offering of Cain. This makes Cain very angry, so God says to Cain …
Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.
Cain chooses to disregard Gods advice, murders his brother and this decision completely transforms his relationship to God and creation. Do you see a pattern beginning to emerge here? In the beginning man and God have a close relationship. Adam and Eve make a choice that conflicts with Gods choice. This step away from God damages their relationship to God and the world he created. Cain makes a choice that conflicts with Gods choice. This step away from God further damages his relationship to God and the world God created. We can begin to develop a working definition for good and evil. Gods work is good, a step away from Gods way is a step toward evil. Thoughts and actions in conflict with Gods way are sin. Let’s continue in the book of Genesis and see if these inferences hold up.
Genesis chapter six, the population of the earth is increasing and
The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.
So God decides to wipe out mankind with a flood but chooses to spare Noah because
…Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.
Noah follows Gods instructions, builds an Ark so he and his immediate family are saved from the flood. Two points are worth noticing here, Noah believed what God told him and followed his instructions therefore things went well for him and his family. Only a few people were saved, the rest perished in the flood. Most of the people were taking the path away from God.
Now we come to Abraham. What makes Abraham so special? God chose Abraham, gives him an instruction and makes a promise to him.
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
What makes him so special is that Abraham…
believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
This is not to say that Abraham suddenly became a perfect man. With God’s promise and Abraham’s faith in that promise he begins a journey both literally and spiritually, he is now on a path toward God. The Bible tells us he did lots of stupid things along the way. But the journey increased his understanding and strengthened his faith to the point many years later when God asks him to sacrifice his son, his only son with his wife Sarah; he does not withhold from God this precious thing that he loves. He proves his faith; God provides a sacrifice and prevents Abraham from harming the boy.
We see a genuine and close personal relationship forming between God and Abraham based on Abrahams faith in the sometimes preposterous promises God makes to him and Gods faithfulness in doing what he says he will do. We can add another word to our vocabulary now, a word that gets tossed around a lot in religious circles, faith.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
Now this definition may seem like double talk, but think about it. How can you be sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see? The answer is: when you are confident in the honesty and ability of the one who put that hope in your heart. In other words if someone makes a promise to you and you know that person to be honest and you know that person is able to fulfill that promise you can be sure the thing promised will come to pass. One of the purposes of the various stories in The Bible is to make the case for Gods honesty and faithfulness so we can trust in his promises. Faith is trusting in the promises of God and is an absolutely necessary element in the relationship God wants to have with each of us.
The book of Hebrews in chapter 11 lists some of the people we have been talking about as examples of faith.
By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead. By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith Abraham, even though he was past age– and Sarah herself was barren– was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.
Notice what it says in the previous passage:
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
This is the choice God has made, to desire a certain type of relationship with us. So now each of us must choose what it will be for ourselves. God puts it another way here, talking to the nation of Israel:
This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, …
Let’s summarize what we have been talking about. “God Chooses” is the title of this essay. The Bible identifies God as the creator and explains to us the choices God has made and gives us both positive and negative examples of various individual’s responses to God’s choices. These examples also illustrate the vital importance of the response each of these individuals made.
These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.
Today we see a wide variety of spiritual points of view and a wide variety of written works on this topic. Much useful information can be gathered from these various sources. But there is specific information about God’s chosen path for each of us I have not seen contained in these other sources. So while I have gotten some insight and enlightenment from various other places I understand Gods choice to place vital spiritual information in the Bible. Making the Bible an authoritative source and absolutely necessary for understanding Gods instructions for each of us. This is the way God has chosen. He requires us to believe what he has told us and adjust our lives accordingly.
For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile– the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
I have not spoken much about what The Bible says about Jesus Christ or eternal life. I have focused here on the idea that God has chosen a specific path and requires from each of us a choice also. This concept should create more questions than it answers so hopefully this will begin a dialog and further our understanding. So get back to me with your questions and comments.
 Genesis 1:31 all quotations are from the NIV translation
 Genesis 4:6,7
 Genesis 6:5,6
 Genesis 6:9
 Genesis 12:3
 Genesis 15:6
 Hebrews 11:1,2
 Hebrews 11:3-13
 Hebrews 11:6
 Deuteronomy 30:19,20
 1 Corinthians 10:11
 Romans 10:12-17
Test The Spirits January 15, 2007Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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In some of my posts last year we defined spirituality as thinking on eternity. There are various schools of thought on this topic, there are various spirits we could listen to and believe. The apostle John instructed believers on this topic as he wrote:
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
How do we identify a spirit? How can we know it is from God? John goes on to outline a method for determining the source of some teaching or pattern of thought. He tells us to focus our attention on Jesus Christ and the truth from God the apostles were teaching:
This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
So then the question becomes for each of us: What do you think about Jesus Christ? Some are very careful to discover and clearly understand the truth about Jesus. Some, while not actively disputing the importance of Jesus do not put much effort or thought into investigating the truth about Jesus Christ. Some are hostile to the concept (the Spirit) that Jesus is the chosen one of God and must be listened to. These people have decided that one of these other many spirits (that are not from God) is true. The apostle Paul puts it this way:
I do not want you to be ignorant. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord ,” except by the Holy Spirit.
Remember our definition of spirituality. The mind and the spirit are closely connected. A person’s thinking is closely related to his or her spirituality. Don’t be thinking it doesn’t matter what you think. Do not rely on the disorganized chatter of everyday life to define your spirituality. Do not let the commercial media tell you what you think about Jesus. Test the spirits. Be organized and diligent in investigating the truth about these things. The Spirit that is from God is concerned with revealing Jesus to us. The mind of Jesus is the mind of God. The apostle Paul wrote:
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:
“For who has known the mind of the Lord
that he may instruct him?”
But we have the mind of Christ.
The mind of God is revealed to us in Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul expresses the contrast as the spirit of the world versus the Sprit from God. The various spirits from the world express various thoughts on spirituality. The Spirit form God is focused on Jesus Christ. This is how God chose to reveal himself to us. Test the spirits. Are our spirits, our minds in perfect agreement with this truth? Paul also wrote:
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
There is this contrast and they key to understanding what is from God is Jesus Christ. So we each must do our best to understand the truth about Jesus so that we can effectively and accurately test the spirits.
The Beginning Of Wisdom January 13, 2007Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
We might not use the word “wisdom” so much these days but we all want to think we know what’s going on. We all want to think we know what is truly valuable in this world. In other words we all want to have wisdom. Often we seek for wisdom from those we admire. If we respect someone for their wisdom we might attempt to learn form them or imitate them. The best place to find wisdom though would be from one who has had the most experience dealing with the world or even better the one who created the whole thing would be a good source of wisdom. The Bible endorses this line of thinking. We read in the book of Proverbs:
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Most of the book of Proverbs was written by Solomon, King of Israel who asked God for wisdom to rule his people. In Solomon’s writings he often contrasts the wisdom of the world or human based wisdom with the wisdom of God. This is an important distinction to understand. We should be seeking after God’s wisdom rather than mans wisdom. Being in this world, we will naturally be more comfortable with the wisdom of this world, with man’s wisdom. Christ came into this world to be a model for us of God’s wisdom. The apostle Paul explains to believers why he is taking so much time and effort attempting to reveal the wisdom of Jesus, he wrote in the letter to the Colossians:
My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Being in this world, the temptation always is to be primarily influenced by the wisdom and ways of this world. Jesus came to demonstrate for us God’s wisdom but we must focus on Jesus to gain this wisdom. We must read the Bible which tells us of Jesus and of God’s wisdom from the beginning. Remembering that God in his wisdom has promised us eternal life and that there is no substitute for the wisdom of God. So we must first understand that there is a difference between the wisdom of this world (the wisdom of man) and the wisdom of God. Then we must focus on God’s wisdom in order to obtain what his wisdom has promised us. Paul also wrote this to the Colossians:
Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom , with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Handle With Care January 11, 2007Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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The world of religion is full of controversy and division, yet the Bible tells us “God is one“. Jesus Christ lived a life on this earth always in perfect agreement with God the Father. Why then is there so much disagreement among his followers? The answer often comes down to a proper handling of the Scriptures. I have heard so many inconsistent and illogical arguments coming from individuals and organizations who claim to speak with some authority on the subject. There are patterns of thought and traditions that are not in agreement with the Scriptures that have sprung up over the years and have been so integrated with the teaching of Scripture that they have become indistinguishable from the word of God. We all must make every effort to examine our beliefs and teachings to verify that they are indeed in complete agreement with the word of God and not based on a body of inferences and assumptions that are not completely in agreement with Scripture. The word of God is precious. The word of God is vitally important. The word of God should be set apart in our minds as conspicuously marked with the notice: “Handle with care”.
How do we begin to sort this mess out? The answer of course is found in Scripture. Look at Deuteronomy chapter six. Our everyday life needs to be focused on the study and sharing of the Scriptures. Then we can be watch dogs for each other as we discuss God’s word and can help each other keep our thinking focused on the truth. The Bible tells us that man has a natural inclination to go his own way. It takes specific effort and people working together to get in step and remain in step with God. This is a chief purpose of God’s word. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Such an important tool must be handled with care. The Scriptures tell us how we can sort through all the various religious teachings that we become exposed to. As Paul was traveling about preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ he experienced various reactions from his listeners. Some of those reactions were not at all positive, some were good. Notice what the word of God says about the Bereans:
Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
These people understood the value of the Scriptures to help them sort through the things they were being told. They did not just accept that what was being said was the truth without first making sure it agreed with the entire word of God. We should all take a page from their book. We should all, with great care make sure that the instruction we receive is in complete agreement with God’s word. If we treat the Scriptures as though they were marked: “Handle with care” and diligently search for the truth we will no longer be dismayed and confused. We will be encouraged. I’ll close with the words of the apostle Paul:
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.