CHRISTIAN WAY OF LIFE Applying Gods Word More Fully (February 2013)

Receiving a Testimony of Light and Truth
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If only, through these readings, we could learn to trust him more for our own lives! Do you have a favourite cup to have your morning tea in I do! My dad always reloads the dishwasher the right way before switching it on - which is fortunate, because on one occasion my mum had carefully packed her iPad into the plate-stacking area!

We don't always think of these ordinary actions and items as great opportunities to pray, but in her fortnight of 'Praying the ordinary', Jill takes us through some ways of connecting with God in the most humdrum parts of our lives. As we head together towards the 'mountain' experience of the Christmas season, we pray every blessing on you as you celebrate and think anew on the miracle of 'Immanuel', God with us. Sara blogs at www. With her husband, Adrian, she performs as a speaker and entertainer, and she has written three books for BRF. Bridget and Adrian have four children.

Tracy, who is deaf herself, has a golden labrador hearing dog called Goldie, and shares a home in Kent with Marilyn and her guide dog Saffie.

The Everyday Life Bible: The Power of God's Word for Everyday Living

She is part of Gas Street Church, where she engages in prayer ministry and prison ministry. She co-edits Day by Day with God. As well as engaging with local church ministry, she travels to East Timor regularly to teach English and the Bible. She juggles all the fun and ministry opportunities of being a school chaplain's wife, looking after her three sports mad sons, being involved in their schools and clubs, coaching netball and working part time as an employment lawyer. Anne is passionate about God's word and Spirit, and seeing Jesus transform lives and release people's potential.

She is married to Gavin and has two children, Amelie and Daniel. She has been a regular contributor to Woman Alive and welcomes every opportunity to delve into scripture. She lives in Canterbury with her husband. She has trained, and now works, as a spiritual director. Paul Young. The novel is based around a man's suffering after his child is abducted and killed. The story, however, does not dwell on the painful details of the tragedy, but explores what happens when 'Mack' has a letter from God inviting him to come and spend a weekend away with him.

Mack, a white American man, reluctantly agrees and is shocked to find God represented by a motherly black woman 'Papa' - Father God , a shimmering, Asian woman 'Sarayu' - the Holy Spirit and a smiling man of Middle Eastern appearance Jesus. The majority of the story is based around the Trinity's joyful relationship and the emotional healing Mack is given through their understanding and love. However, it offers an intriguing, fresh perspective.

It draws us into the idea of the love relationship between the persons of our Trinitarian God - and the relationship we might have too. The suffering of the child's father and the healing, kind, gentle presence of the heavenly 'Father' had moved him beyond words. It reminded me that we all have different responses at different times to our God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Sometimes our relationship feels easy and joyful, and sometimes it feels distant and merely dutiful. At other times, we can be moved to tears, overwhelmed by the constant love of our Father the comforter and counsellor, the one who knows us better than anyone else in the whole world and who promises to be with us always and calls us to come home to him.

As you spend time each day, think about your own response to God, and allow yourself to become more aware of his constant, loving presence with you. They have two young grandchildren and Chris remains busy leading creative writing courses and holidays. She has been a regular contributor to Woman Alive.

Michele edits her church magazine, runs a small Bed and Breakfast and blogs at tearsamidthealiencorn. Family experience of eating disorders led to the charity tastelifeuk, which trains people to run a university accredited community course offering both those with eating disorders, and their supporters, hope and tools for recovery www. She also works for the CPAS leadership team. She has also written non-fiction Insight into Forgiveness with Ron Kallmier. Single, she lives in rural north Essex, and attends an Elim church where she is involved in evangelism and leads a house group.

Some believed the Crucifixion brought salvation to humankind, others insisted it didn't, and still others believed Jesus wasn't crucified. Indeed, for hundreds of years after the death of Jesus, groups adopted radically conflicting writings about the details of his life and the meaning of his ministry, and murdered those who disagreed. For many centuries, Christianity was first a battle of books and then a battle of blood. The reason, in large part, was that there were no universally accepted manuscripts that set out what it meant to be a Christian, so most sects had their own gospels.

One sect of Christianity—the Gnostics—believed that the disciple Thomas was not only Jesus's twin brother but also the founder of churches across Asia. Christianity was in chaos in its early days, with some sects declaring the others heretics. And then, in the early s, Emperor Constantine of Rome declared he had become follower of Jesus, ended his empire's persecution of Christians and set out to reconcile the disputes among the sects.

Constantine was a brutal sociopath who murdered his eldest son, decapitated his brother-in-law and killed his wife by boiling her alive, and that was after he proclaimed that he had converted from worshipping the sun god to being a Christian. Yet he also changed the course of Christian history, ultimately influencing which books made it into the New Testament. By that point, the primary disputes centered on whether Jesus was God—the followers of a priest named Arius said no, that God created Jesus.

But the Bishop of Alexander said yes, that Jesus had existed throughout all eternity. The dispute raged on in the streets of Constantinople, with everyone—shopkeepers, bakers and tradesmen—arguing about which view was right.

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Constantine, in a reflection of his shallow understanding of theology, was annoyed that what he considered a minor dispute was causing such turmoil, and feared that it weaken him politically. So he decided to force an agreement on the question. Constantine convened a meeting in the lakeside town of Nicaea.

Invitations were sent around the world to bishops and leaders of various sects, although not all of them. The group included the educated and the illiterate, zealots and hermits. Constantine arrived wearing jewels and gold on his scarlet robe and pearls on his crown, eager to discuss the true essence of a poor carpenter who had died years before.

Things that are today accepted without much thought were adopted or reinforced at Nicaea. For example, the Old Testament was clear in declaring that God rested on the seventh day, making it the Sabbath. The seventh day of the week is Saturday, the day of Jewish worship and rest.

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Jesus himself invoked the holiness of the Jewish Sabbath. The word Sunday does not appear in the Bible, either as the Sabbath or anything else. But four years before Nicaea, Constantine declared Sunday as a day of rest in honor of the sun god. At Nicaea, rules were adopted regarding the proper positions for prayer on Sundays—standing, not kneeling; nothing was said of the Jewish Sabbath or Saturday.

Many theologians and Christian historians believe that it was at this moment, to satisfy Constantine and his commitment to his empire's many sun worshippers, that the Holy Sabbath was moved by one day, contradicting the clear words of what ultimately became the Bible.

And while the Bible mentioned nothing about the day of Jesus's birth, the birth of the sun god was celebrated on December 25 in Rome; Christian historians of the 12th century wrote that it was the pagan holiday that led to the designation of that date for Christmas. The majority of the time at Nicaea was spent debating whether Jesus was a man who was the son of God, as Arius proclaimed, or God himself, as the church hierarchy maintained. The followers of Arius marshaled evidence from the letters of Paul and other Christian writings.

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In the Gospel of Mark, speaking of the Second Coming, Jesus said, "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Paul's writings are consistent in his reference to God as one being and Jesus as his son.

Same with the Gospel of Matthew, where Peter tells Jesus that he is the "Son of the living God" and Jesus responds that "Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. But Constantine sided with those who believed Jesus was both God and man, so a statement of belief, called the Nicene Creed, was composed to proclaim that. Those who refused to sign the statement were banished.

Others were slaughtered. After they had returned home and were far from Rome, some who signed the document later sent letters to Constantine saying they had only done so out of fear for their lives. About 50 years later, in A. The Nicene Creed was rewritten, and those who refused to sign the statement were banished, and another wholesale slaughter began, this time of those who rejected the Trinity, a concept that is nowhere in the original Greek manuscripts and is often contradicted by it.

To this day, congregants in Christian churches at Sunday services worldwide recite the Nicene Creed, which serves as affirmation of their belief in the Trinity. It is doubtful many of them know the words they utter are not from the Bible, and were the cause of so much bloodshed. Some modern Christians attempt to use the Gospel of John to justify the Trinity—even though it doesn't explicitly mention it—but they are relying on bad translations of the Greek and sentences inserted by scribes.

To understand how what we call the Bible was made, you must see how the beliefs that became part of Christian orthodoxy were pushed into it by the Holy Roman Empire. By the fifth century, the political and theological councils voted on which of the many Gospels in circulation were to make up the New Testament.

God's Word in Two Words

With the power of Rome behind them, the practitioners of this proclaimed orthodoxy wiped out other sects and tried to destroy every copy of their Gospels and other writings. And recall that they were already working from a fundamentally flawed document. Errors and revisions by copyists had been written in by the fifth century, and several books of the New Testament, including some attributed to Paul, are now considered forgeries perpetrated by famous figures in Christianity to bolster their theological arguments.

It is small wonder, then, that there are so many contradictions in the New Testament. Some of those contradictions are trivial, but some create huge problems for evangelicals insisting they are living by the word of God. To illustrate how even seemingly trivial contradictions can have profound consequences, let's recount the story of Christmas. Jesus was born in a house in Bethlehem. His father, Joseph, had been planning to divorce Mary until he dreamed that she'd conceived a child through the Holy Spirit. No wise men showed up for the birth, and no brilliant star shone overhead.

Joseph and his family then fled to Egypt, where they remained for years. Later, they returned to Israel, hoping to live in Judea, but that proved problematic, so they settled in a small town called Nazareth. Not the version you are familiar with? No angel appearing to Mary? Not born in a manger? No one saying there was no room at the inn? No gold, frankincense or myrrh? Fleeing to Egypt? First living in Nazareth when Jesus was a child, not before he was born? You may not recognize this version, but it is a story of Jesus's birth found in the Gospels.

Two Gospels—Matthew and Luke—tell the story of when Jesus was born, but in quite different ways. Contradictions abound. In creating the familiar Christmas tale, Christians took a little bit of one story, mixed it with a little bit of the other and ignored all of the contradictions in the two.

The version recounted above does the same; it uses parts of those stories from the two Gospels that are usually ignored. So there are two blended versions and two Gospel versions. Take your pick. There are also deep, logical flaws here that should be apparent to anyone giving the Bible a close read. Many Christians read the Old Testament as having several prophecies that the Messiah will be a descendant of David, a towering biblical figure who was the second ruler of the Kingdom of Israel. And both Matthew and Luke offer that proof—both trace Jesus's lineage to his father Joseph and from there back to David.

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Except…Joseph wasn't Jesus's father. Jesus is the son of God, remember? Moreover, the genealogies recounted in the two Gospels are different, each identifying different men as Joseph's father and grandfather. Mary, the mother of Jesus, can be the only parent with a bloodline to David, but neither Gospel makes any mention of that. The stories in the four Gospels of Jesus's death and resurrection differ as well.

When brought before Pontius Pilate in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus speaks only two words and is never declared innocent. In the Gospel of John, Jesus engages in extended conversations with Pilate, who repeatedly proclaims this Jewish prisoner to be innocent and deserving of release. The Book of John was the last to be written and came at a time when gentiles in Rome were gaining dramatically more influence over Christianity; that explains why the Romans are largely absolved from responsibility for Jesus's death and blame instead is pointed toward the Jews. That has been one of the key bases for centuries of anti-Semitism.

And who went to anoint Jesus in his tomb? In Matthew, it was Mary and another woman named Mary, and an angel met them there. In John, it was Mary alone; no one met her. As told in Matthew, the disciples go to Galilee after the Crucifixion and see Jesus ascend to heaven; in Acts, written by Luke, the disciples stay in Jerusalem and see Jesus ascend from there. Some of the contradictions are conflicts between what evangelicals consider absolute and what Jesus actually said.

For example, evangelicals are always talking about family values. But to Jesus, family was an impediment to reaching God. In the Gospel of Matthew, he states, "And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. Then there is what many fundamentalist Christians hold to be the most important of all elements of the Bible: the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the world.

What modern evangelicals want to believe cannot be reconciled with the Bible. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus says of the Apocalypse, "This generation shall not pass, till all these things be done"—in other words, the people alive in his time would see the end of the world. Paul in 1 Corinthians is even clearer; he states, "The time is short. Some evangelicals counter these clear words by quoting 2 Peter as saying that, for God, one day is like 1, years.

Two problems: That does nothing to counter what either Jesus or Paul said. And even in ancient times, many Christian leaders proclaimed 2 Peter to be a forgery, an opinion almost universally shared by biblical scholars today. None of this is meant to demean the Bible, but all of it is fact. Christians angered by these facts should be angry with the Bible, not the messenger. The next time someone tells you the biblical story of Creation is true, ask that person, "Which one?

Few of the Christian faithful seem to know the Bible contains multiple creation stories. The first appears on Page 1, Genesis 1, so that is the version most people tend to embrace. However, it isn't hard to find the second version: It's Genesis 2, which usually starts on the same page.

Genesis 1 begins with the words "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth"; Genesis 2 starts with "This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. Careful readers have long known that the two stories contradict each other.

Genesis 1 begins with expanses of water that God separates, creating the earth between them. Genesis 2 describes a world without enough water, which is then introduced. Vegetation exists before the sun and the stars in Genesis 1; it's the other way around in Genesis 2.

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In Genesis 1, man is created after plants and animals; in Genesis 2, plants and animals come after man. This is nothing unusual for the Old Testament. In fact, even though many evangelical Christians insist that Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament including Deuteronomy, which talks about Moses having died and been buried , biblical scholars have concluded that two Jewish sects wrote many of the books. Each prepared its version of Old Testament, and the two were joined together without any attempt to reconcile the many contradictions.

These duplications are known as "doublets. The doublets make reading the Old Testament the literary equivalent of a hall of mirrors. Take the Genesis story of Noah and the flood. In Genesis 6, God tells Noah to build an ark and load it with animals, and "Noah did everything just as God commanded him. But the directions changed the second time, with Noah told to bring seven of every kind of clean animal and two of every kind of unclean animal. It gets stranger. In Genesis , Noah and his family board the ark, and the flood begins.

Then, in the very next verse, Genesis , Noah and his family board the ark again, and the flood begins a second time. The water flooded the earth for 40 days Genesis , or days Genesis But Noah and his family stayed on the ark for a year Genesis Even well-known stories have contradictory versions. As every child knows, David killed Goliath; it's right there in 1 Samuel The answer to this is the very reason that Jesus came to earth in the first place—to bring us to God 1 Pet God sent his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life, and die on the cross taking on himself the punishment for the sin of all those who will turn from their sin and trust in him.

Three days later He rose from the grave, conquering death itself. God commands us to turn away from our sin and trust in Christ alone for our forgiveness and salvation. If we do this we are saved and born again into a new and eternal life with God our Creator.

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Since the Bible itself, and the gospel message found in it, is the very power of God Rom , the best way to come to know the truth of God is to read the Bible and pray that God would give us eyes to see the wonder of His Word Ps The internal testimony of the Holy Spirit illuminates the believer so that he knows that the Scriptures are the Word of God. The biblical basis for this clarity is derived from two sources. First, the words of Scripture are self-attesting because they claim to be from God 2 Tim ; 2 Pet This ministry of the Spirit is actuated through the reading and proclamation of Scripture Rom , That does not mean that all who hear or read believe Rom , but it does mean that those who believe do so because of the convicting and illuminating work of the Holy Spirit.

John Calvin. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, , John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue, eds. IL: Crossway, , John Piper. Michael J. A common practice of science is appealing to the best conclusion.