Indwelling of the Holy Spirit – Here is a discouraging fact pulled from a recent article in Leaders and Pastors – :
Based on interviews with 601 Senior Pastors nationwide, representing a random cross-section of Protestant churches, Barna reports that only half of the country’s Protestant pastors – 51% – have a biblical worldview. Defining such a worldview as believing that absolute moral truth exists, that it is based upon the Bible, and having a biblical view on six core beliefs (the accuracy of biblical teaching, the sinless nature of Jesus, the literal existence of Satan, the omnipotence and omniscience of God, salvation by grace alone, and the personal responsibility to evangelize) . . . . Barna Research
The discouraging point is that almost half of our protestant pulpits are occupied by men (and women) who are not Christian. They “preach for pay,” not for the glory of God. It is no different in Catholic and Orthodox churches. The Apostle Paul warned,
“Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: (Php 1:15-16 KJV).
Non-Christians can relate to historic events written about in God’s Word. However, because they have not come to Christ and are not Christians, they CANNOT understand the Scriptures. Only God-fearing men and women can grasp the wonders of God’s Holy Word. We learn in the New Testament that true understanding only comes through the Holy Spirit who seals us for redemption and takes up residence within each believer – teaching and filling them. That is why we are told in Ehp 4:30 not to grieve the Holy Spirit. We are to listen to our conscience which is pricked by the Spirit of God.
“In whom ye also [trusted], after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Eph 1:13 KJV).
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor 2:12-14 KJV).
This is why ungodly professors and theologians do not and cannot understand the Bible. This is why we see on the History Channel, PBS, and other media, distorted versions of Biblical events. Without God, they have no understanding.
Prayer! – The “Good News” is that along with a personal, intimate relationship comes the gift of answered prayer. Asking God to open the Scriptures to us is essential, and He will.
“Now we know that God heareth not sinners (non-Christian): but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.” (Joh 9:31 KJV).
A caveat: Our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, always hears prayers of contrition from those seeking after Him. He gladly accepts them into His fold. But, and this is a big but, before God will open our eyes and answer our prayers we must first have entered into that personal relationship with our Creator. Salvation comes by grace and that through faith,
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God” (Eph 2:8 KJV).
CONTEXT – Failure to consider context has led to the proliferation of Christian sects. According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, 2021, there are around 34,000 different Christian groups in the world and 1,200 different Christian denominations in the United States. Some have classify Christianity into 8 meta-groups, namely Roman Catholicism (the largest), Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy and Assyrian Churches, Protestantism, Restorationism, Anglican Communicants, Pentecostal, and others.
We have often heard it said, “Context – Context – Context.” An elderly Messianic rabbi stated it concisely and clearly. He stood up before his congregation shaking a well-used tattered old Bible high over his head and yelled out, “Context! This is the context!” The Bible is a unified story from the very first word to the very last. To understand any passage we must first understand the context in which it was written.
We should always take into account the preceding and following verses of any passage and read through the whole chapter. Keep in mind that often the chapter breaks can be inappropriate, one chapter flowing right into the next. Ask yourself, who is talking to whom about what and why are they having the conversation? When did this happen? Who is listening? This will often snap the text into sharp focus. Consider the physical elements: trees, hills, mountains, seas, etc. They each have a meaning and purpose – the roaring sea – the withering fig tree.
God asks us not to just read His word, but to,
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15 KJV).
Rightly dividing the word – is CONTEXT – is the text written to Jews or Gentiles? Israel or the Church? Was the text written to you and me or to others?
We have heard it said, “All Scripture is for us but not all Scripture is to us.” There is plenty to glean from that old adage. After all,
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works (2 Tim 3:16-17 KJV).
“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Rom 15:4 KJV).
Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Cor 10:11 KJV).
Another consideration of CONTEXT: The Old Testament flows right into the four Gospels and the early Acts of the Apostles, which are (an ignored fact) part and parcel of the Old Testament. The Gospels are the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and are totally blind to the Church age and teachings of the Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul of Tarsus. Daniel’s prophecies and his 70 weeks do not in any way see this “Age of Grace.” Had Israel acknowledged Jesus as their prophesied Messiah and King after His Crucifixion and resurrection, He would have returned and Daniel’s 70th week would have immediately commenced. Our Holy God so loved the world that in His omniscience, knowing beforehand Israel would fail to accept Christ, He had an alternate plan conceived from before the foundation of the world to free men from their sin and provide a means apart from Moses for our redemption. Many who study the Bible do not realize that there is a difference between prophecy (Israel) and mystery (the Church). How Great our God!
And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, (Eph 6:19 KJV)
“Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, 26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 16:25-27 NASB).
Who hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (2Ti 1:9 KJV).
Exploring Scripture~beause it matters-it really does!