Category Archives: spirituality

The route to heaven – by Jesus and no other.

 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse.’ (Galatians 1v8-9)

Okay, our deep dive into the Book of Galatians this week brings us to a rather uncomfortable scripture in which the Apostle Paul states that those who preach a gospel not in accordance with  God inadvertently place themselves outside of God’s inclusion. It’s a tough message  but then it should be considering what is at stake for those who lead others astray for the truth of Christ Crucified, the hope of glory.

The foundations of the Church are based on the truth that the Word of God – Jesus Christ – part of the Trinity who with the Holy Spirit  hovered over the waters (as named in Genesis1)  as God Almighty brought order from chaos. While God motioned and the Spirit hovered and the word was spoken to bring into being that which did not exist  before that, we encounter the plan and purpose of God for the creation and redemption of the entire universe.

Of course, it is thousands of years later before all this comes into being – Jesus has to be prophesied as the coming Messiah, then at age 33 year sacrificed on the cross. It seems like an absolute disaster but Jesus resurrects from the dead to show that he (and only he) is the One destined to save the people of the world, not from physical death but spiritual death and alienation from God.

Only problem is that not everyone is content in accepting that God’s salvation for humanity comes at the price of  Christ being crucified. Instead, people dismiss Jesus’ words and teaching  preferring to forge their own route to salvation in which Christ’s sacrifice is set aside or diluted into human works and sacrifice rather than endeavours to elevate Jesus, be open to and filled with God’s Holy Spirit and then follow after him.

All of which explains Paul’s annoyance at those who would divert people away from the gift of God in Christ Jesus  who sacrifices Himself in order that the slate will be wiped clean and the Holy Spirit enable to enter into every person who is open to the infilling of the Holy Spirit through their belief in Christ’s death and resurrection then claiming it as their own.

While it may seem like an argument between those who believe in Jesus death and those who don’t, the significance is in God and His intervention in the world. That is why those people who teach otherwise and delight in persuading others to reject Christ were treated so harshly to the point where it seemed as if they were alienated in a way in which they seemed outside of God and His blessing. A very sombre scripture.

 


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How to remain switched on to God.

‘I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.’ (Galatians 1v6-7)

Restarting our deep dive into the Book of Galatians, this week we consider Paul’s question to the church in Galatia in which he challenges them on how their allegiance to Christ has been so easily undone.

Between the lines what we learn is that the commitment of these new believers was genuine and heart-felt but not secure in terms of the sacrifice required of them. Hence why when  others arrived purporting a different gospel message to the one that had been spoken by Jesus and the Holy Spirit, some decided to change course and opt for a gospel message that did not require huge sacrifices to be made.

Paul describes these competing ideas as contrary to the example set by Christ who remained faithful and true to the end whatever circumstance or temptation might arise to lead them astray. No wonder, Paul describes this conciliatory idea in terms of being no gospel at all as it is marked both by confusion and a perversion of the truth of Jesus living within them.

What the newbie christians from Galatia were about to learn is that temptation will visit us in many disguises that – when  tempted to believe and  follow – will inevitably leads us into confusion and  poor decision making. It wasn’t a case that Christ and the Holy Spirit had left them, quite the opposite in fact. Til next week…


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God’s Purpose and Plan

‘Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1v3-4)

‘Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age

Continuing our deep dive into the Book of Galatians, Paul reminds the churches  hearing his letter that they are no longer to consider themselves under the judgement of God. Instead, they should see themselves as different to the world in their perspective and outlook – why? Because they should no longer be feeling guilty about their failures but  rather elated and grateful at experiencing God’s peace and grace.

How do we know this is what God wants?

Because God in the person of Jesus Christ  gives Himself  for our sins to rescue us from the present age – which also presumably means to inherit the age that will come after it – aka Heaven.

No wonder Paul finishes  the verse the way he does observing that all of this happens not because humanity wills it but rather it is filled with Divine purpose and intention  – in short, it happens because it is done according to the will of our God and Father, 5to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen’ (Galatians 1v5)

 

 


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What we can learn from Paul’s meeting with Jesus.

Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—  and all the brothers and sisters with me,

To the churches in Galatia.’  (Galatians 1v1-2)

Okay, today we starts a new series investigating what the Book of Galatians can teach us about how God’s Holy Spirit works in the lives of individuals. In particular the life of Paul who is not your typical convert to Christianity as he initially comes to destroy it.

Those who know the story of Saul’s conversion from henchman seeking out Christians to  Apostle of the faith for Jesus will know his conversion was anything but ordinary.  That is why he opens in v1 with the words:

Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.’

Initially, Saul – as he was known then – was sent by the Jewish authorities to round up those who had converted to christianity with orders to put them into prison with the possibility of death (as with the stoning of Stephen where Saul held their cloak). However, it was months later, as Saul approached Damascus to arrest more followers of the (Christian) Way, that a Light – bright as the sun – causes him to fall to the ground and the accompanying voice questioned Him. “Saul! Saul! why do you persecute me?’

Confused, Saul asks ‘Who are you Lord’ and the Light replied, ‘I am Jesus whom you persecute.’ (Saul did not realise that persecuting the followers of Christ was tantamount to persecuting Jesus Christ.’ Blinded by the Light he is led into Damascus and later converts to Christianity as a man (Ananias) prays for him and he receives his sight – not just physically but spiritually, Saul’s eyes are open as to God’s plan to place his Holy Spirit in every person who will receive his Holy Spirit and so his mission as Paul – a convert – begins as he sent not from men (in Jerusalem) or a man but by God Himself as revealed in the person of Christ! An exciting mission of taking the gospel to the world at great cost to himself and for the glory of God.


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Drawing the threads to a close….

‘On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more,” declares the LordAlmighty. “I will remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land.’ (Zechariah 13v2)

As a recap, the tern ‘Spirit’ refers to God’s Holy Spirit. In other contexts, the term ‘spirit’ refers to the spirit that resides within humans but it can also be used to describe emotional experiences such as when a person’s spirit sinks – in much the same way that sadness comes upon the person.

However, the  term ‘spirit’ in the verse above is referenced as being from God nor humans but rather the  outworking of those forces and people acting in opposition towards God.  In short, the collective forms of darkness as found in its forms of division, impurity, disobedience, antagonism etc.

And so we reach the end of a three year exploration of the term ‘spirit/Spirit’ as it appears in the Old and New Testaments in the Bible. I hope you have found it helpful…


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God’s Promise to pour out His Holy Spirit

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.”(Zechariah 12v10)
The pronouncement that God will pour a spirit of grace and supplication on the people is a bitter sweet moment. Sweet in as much that it heralds the coming of Christ who will  facilitate each believer being filled by God’s Holy Spirit. Bitter in that  this coming of the Spirit can only happen after Christ is crucified having taken on himself every sin that will occur in  the world. As he is pierced and dies, so sin dies with him. As he rises and returns to heaven, so will Christ facilitate the Holy Spirit being poured out on those who believe as their spirit being is joined with God’s God’s Holy Spirit.
 

 

 


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Human Nature and the Release of God’s Holy Spirit

‘A prophecy: The word of the Lord concerning Israel. The Lord, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the human spirit within a person.’ (Zechariah 12v1)
Okay, we are on the home straight in regard to our three year investigation into the term ‘spirit’ as it’s used in the Old and New Testament.
In regard to the rudiments of how the human spirit is formed within the person, I think Watchman Nee makes some interesting observations in his book the ‘Release of the Spirit.’ In this, he details how the soul in humans is the dwelling place between that which is human (aka flesh’) and that which is ‘spiritual’ from God – hence the conflict that arises between the desires of our human desires that may often rail against the ‘spiritual’ purposes of God. Or put another way, the human desire to do what we want, over and above the will of God who will not force us to comply but who (in love) hopes we will.
The answer? A change of heart to cede to God’s plan and desire over our own self-serving behaviour – this – and only this – act of obedience is the way to facilitate the release of God’s Holy Spirit within our lives in a way that advances the kingdom of God.

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Hard as flint or pierced by the Holy Spirit?

‘They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry.’ (Zechariah 7v12)
Okay, after a computer glitch on my websites which made it impossible to send out posts to people, we will in the next few weeks complete our study of understanding the term ‘spirit’ as it occurs in the Old and New Testaments in the Bible.
As you remember- but then maybe not – there are three distinctions made in regard to how the term ‘Spirit’ is understood and used in the Bible.
1. Spirit – God’s Holy Spirit  – part of Godhead, hovering over creation and (since Pentecost) living within believers to assist and enable them in their life as they people about God.
2. Spirit – before  the birth of Christ – God’s Spirit is understood to rest on a person (though not enter within them) to guide and direct them in a specific task they have been singles out to do for God.
3. spirit – note the lack of a capital letter – which relates to the human experience  and emotions in which a person describes how their ‘spirit was crushed.’ In other words, not from God but themselves as they detail the high or low they are experiencing as a result of actions happening to them.
In Zechariah 7v12 we see immediately that Zechariah is referencing the distinction between the early prophets who were responsive to God’s Holy Spirit and the state of those  who refused to listen and rejected Him (God).
All of which means we need to be always mindful as to whether we are being obedient to God or doing are own thing. God bless you (and me) as we attempt to walk in that path.
Til next time.

 


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Back up and running!

Hi all,
Hope you and yours are keeping well and safe? Sorry to be off-line for so long but I ran into problems before Christmas when all of my websites became un-operational due to the same Word Press issue. The posts you receive come from blogs on www.primarygift.co.uk. Anyway, just to say the website is operational if you (or anyone you know) needs to download my free spiritual gift test (paper copy). Hope to have blogs up and running soon! Blessings
Bob

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Avoiding the misrepresentation of God

‘Then he called to me, “Look, those going toward the north country have given my Spirit rest in the land of the north. “‘(Zechariah 6v8).

The bare reading of the translated verse above is confusing as it seems to suggest that God’s Spirit found rest with the people of the North. However, the NLT version puts it in context:Then the LORD summoned me and said, “Look, those who went north have vented the anger of my Spirit there in the land of the north.”  

The same verse but how different the two interpretations.  All of which affirms our responsibility to seek out an accurate translation of a verse over an inaccurate one. This means seeking out other translations when a verse or passage does not make sense. To not do so may result in us becoming like the simplistic religious believers that philosopher  Voltaire observed as believing things that are not of God and in the process committing atrocious acts against others while believing we are providing a service to the Divine.


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