© 2023 by Bible to Life Ministry

Chapter One

The Journey Begins

There is a great responsibility that comes with sharing what a believer values as truth with other people; a responsibility requiring believers to remain accurate and true to what they personally believe and value as truth.  In my experience, the key to impacting the lives of people in a positive way is to always share what you value as truth, in love, while allowing Holy Spirit to say, “This is the way, walk in it”. In doing so you’d provide an opportunity to reshape the thought patterns or thought process of individuals, in an effort to help renew their mind by creating an environment conducive for others to hear, receive and understand.

 

You have heard it said, “Knowledge is power”.  The truth is, “Knowledge is empowering” but it’s what you do with knowledge that will make a difference in your life and the lives of others. People will normally do what they believe.

For years I have said;

 

“Knowledge without understanding, denies believers the power to become Christians.”

This statement is not implying that you haven’t been born again, if in fact you’ve believed in your heart and confessed with your mouth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and was raised from the dead. Rather, the statement implies that knowledge only affords a believer an opportunity to gain understanding by putting what they’ve learned into practice.

 

Scripture records in Acts 11:26, “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” We find when reading this passage of scripture in its entirety; Barnabas and Saul, disciples of “The Way” disciples of Jesus, were recognized as Christians or being “Christ-like”, because of what they were doing in respect to what they knew. There was a visible difference made in the community by the influence of the disciples. Barnabas and Saul taught and demonstrated the message of the good news of the gospel of the kingdom; the message of Christ the King, influencing many who had already believed in Jesus Christ and influencing many to believe.

 

Simply put, to have knowledge of truth is not enough to live life successfully in Christ. On the other hand, having knowledge of truth will bring believers to a crossroads in their theological[1] understanding of who God is and what He has already done.  Making the decision to accept what is true and then applying it to our lives will enable a believer to walk in an experiential understanding of who God is in them and all He desires to accomplish through them; based on what He has already done.

 

Academia[2] is necessary in an effort to, “Study to show ourselves approved to God, as workman needing not to be ashamed but rightly dividing the word of truth.”[3] With that said, it is insufficient to strive to become “word-based” or to simply obtain knowledge of God’s word. Believers must also be “Spirit-led” or “Spirit-directed”, always remaining sensitive to the ebb and flow of God’s spirit, stepping out in faith without doubting, putting into practice what they have already learned and believe to be true.

"Do you know what you believe, or do you simply believe what others know?"

I was challenged by the Lord many years back with the above question; a challenge that captivated and catapulted me into a life- long journey, desiring for myself to know truth. I now had to begin the painstaking process of taking a good hard look at what I believed and asking myself why I believe it.

 

It was as if the lights were turned on in a dark room for the very first time. I began to question everything I’d been taught; not for the purposes of discrediting those who taught me; but to identify what I knew and why I believed it to be true, and to prove whether my beliefs were actually biblical truths according to scripture or not.

 

As I began to systematically evaluate my “theology”—study of God and my “doctrine”—a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a Church, political party, or other group; I began to find inconsistencies in what I was reading in the scriptures, when compared to what I had already been taught by others.

 

It is worth mentioning that while I was in the process of relearning what I thought I already knew, I was introduced to a method of interpreting the Bible called, “historical and contextual.” The theological term is, “hermeneutics”—the art or science of interpretation.

 

At this point in my life, not only was I reevaluating all I thought I knew as a believer, I was also introduced to a new way of reading and interpreting the Bible; which proved to be extremely beneficial in my studies. Another term I was introduced to, in relation to the method or manner of studying God’s word was, “biblical theology.”

Excerpt by Jonathan Welton[4] “Understanding The Whole Bible”

 

[Students of biblical theology simply read the Bible step-by-step, endeavoring to understand the text from the writer’s perspective and the original reader’s perspective. By doing so, they often come to very different conclusions then those who use the systematic approach.]

Understanding the concept behind “biblical theology” helped reprogram my understanding of how to study the Bible. Truth be told, I really didn’t have a method of studying in the past. So when I learned to allow “scripture to interpret scripture”, to allow “scripture to breathe”, progressively revealing (starting in Genesis) the Father’s pursuing love for all of humanity and His global plan which included His Son, His family, His kingdom and the out- pouring of His Holy Spirit; my spiritual life changed forever as the cannon of scriptures (for the first time) began to really make sense.

 

The concept of biblical theology as noted above in Jonathan Welton’s excerpt found in “Understanding The Whole Bible”, offered me the ability to view the Bible as a living, breathing text, recording a covenantal journey of God’s pursuing love for all humanity throughout the ages of time; by reading and drawing out of scripture based on the context it was written and the audience it was written to.

 

It is because of this manner of interpretation, “historical and contextual”[5] and this view of biblical studies, “biblical theology” that I had the opportunity to recognize and embrace progressive truth, relevant for today. God will never give you a task to fulfill that He has not already empowered you to accomplish through faith without doubting. So when the Lord asked me if I knew what I believed or simply believed what others know, He wasn’t setting me on a course or journey of truth without first revealing to me the necessary tools required to accomplish the task or objective at hand.

 

“Can you imagine?”

 

My entire spiritual life was literally turned upside down, but that was a good thing. Never before had I been so excited to read and study God’s word. Prior to my new-found understanding on how to study the Bible, I would constantly take scriptures out of context in an effort to support what I believed to be true. It didn’t matter where the scripture was or how it was used in the body of text to support a main thought or theme; if it aligned with my thought process, then I would use it.

 

I’m sure you know what I am talking about; have you ever opened the word of God and whatever scripture your finger landed on, that was God’s word for you that day?

 

“Or am I the only one who has done this?”

 

The problem with that method of study or practical application of scripture is the lack of consideration based on how that verse fits into the overarching theme of the book or letter written in a time period far removed from your own. It is possible that the random verse you placed your finger on holds absolutely no relevance to New Testament[6] believers now living in a new and better covenant with better promises.

 

“When reading scripture, context is everything.”

 

As well, I had pushed most of the promises of God into the future, which was actually fulfilled through Christ’s atonement. I allowed my ignorance of God’s word, through an inability to study and interpret the scriptures, to cause my perception of God’s global vision, mission and mandate to be viewed through a lens of postponement.

 

“Guess what?”

 

I was not alone, I found out most believers were doing the exact same things as me, and pastors were no exception. So what were the initial results of my evaluation pertaining to what I actually believed through my own studies, versus what I simply believed because others had taught me?

 

The results were shocking, I realized I was a product of my spiritual environment; believing basically everything I had been taught by others and not because I studied it out for myself. And even more shocking than that, as I began to study the word for myself; I discovered that what I had been taught (to a large extent), denied the new covenant truths of God’s word.

 

What I was taught, I believed, such as:

 

Total Depravity—Imputed Sin—Absolute Sovereignty of God—Penal Substitution—If it’s God’s will to heal—etc., and a whole lot more.

 

I am thankful that God cared enough to challenge me. His intervention into my life has literally changed my life forever. But His intervention would not have been enough, if not for my decision to do something about it. Just because I was faced with the opportunity to reevaluate and change, didn’t mean that change was imminent. I had to do my own due diligence by studying to show myself approved unto God. Not only did I have to see the need to change, but I had to desire change, while at the same time, taking incremental steps forward.

I am so glad I did and I trust you are prepared to consider the possibility of “necessary change”, in an effort to remain relevant in this world, through continually gaining a greater revelation of Jesus Christ.

 

Progressive Present Day Truth

There is a term that has become more widely recognized and received within the modern day church. A term which carries the power to systematically disassemble and dismantle denominational structures built to create walls of doctrinal divide within the body of Christ. It’s very thought process challenges what believers have known to be true, while simultaneously invoking optimism in the hearts of God’s people. The term is, “Progressive, Present Day Truth.”[7]

 

Jesus Christ is absolute truth; He is “perfect theology” or “theology perfected”; the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature.[8] A believer’s understanding of truth however, is progressive. Meaning believers should continually grow in the knowledge of truth, the knowledge of Jesus Christ, therefore gaining a greater understanding of who they are in Christ and the fullness of who Christ is, now living within every believer the very moment they believed.

 

By the very definition, “progressive” means—happening or developing gradually or in stages. So it stands to reason that the more believers know of the Father, through His Son, by the power of His Holy Spirit; the more believers will comprehend the fullness of who He really is, and therefore start to comprehend the fullness of who they really are, as sons and daughters of God, in Christ. “As He is, so are we in this world” 1 John 4:17. 

Ephesians 4:11-13 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

 

Paul an apostle of Christ Jesus reveals in his letter written to Ephesus, not only the need but the importance for believers in the 1st century church to grow and mature daily in truth. Paul expresses the necessity for all believers to gain a greater revelation of who Jesus is and the fullness of Him who now dwells within every believer.

 

Let’s keep in mind that the letter written to Ephesus by Paul which is included in the canon of New Testament scripture, is in fact the inspired word of God. God breathed through His Holy Spirit, upon holy men who were ordained by God to pen the scriptures, to which Apostle Peter records in 2 Peter 1:19 as, “The more sure word of prophecy.”

 

So as we read Paul’s assertion to Ephesus, we must recognize the heart of Father God working through Paul. God desires His entire family made up of sons and daughters in the faith, to progressively grow in the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, forever remaining relevant in the world through progressive, present day truth; though not all truth is progressive or in need of expanding upon; such as the tenants of our faith or the foundations and fundamentals of our Christian faith.

 

Tenants of Christianity

 

  • Jesus Christ is the Son of man, the Son of God and God the Son—John 3:16; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:8.

 

  • Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin—Matt. 1:18-23.

 

  • Jesus lived a life without sin—2 Cor. 5:21.

 

  • Jesus eradicated sin through shedding His blood and death on the cross—1 John 3:8; 1 Peter 2:24.

 

  • Jesus descended into hades and physically rose (resurrected) from the dead—Eph. 4:9; Mark 16:6; 1 Corinthians 15:4.

 

  • Jesus ascended into heaven where He is presently seated at the right hand of the Father on David’s throne—Mark 16:19; John 20:17; Acts 2:33.

 

  • Jesus is our advocate who intercedes on the behalf of His body “The Church”—Heb. 7:25.

 

  • Jesus Christ will physically return to earth on the “Last Day”, to which there will be a resurrection of the living and the dead followed by a throne room judgement—1 Cor. 15:24-26; 1 Thess. 4:13-18.

 

The tenants of our faith are also known as our, “Primary Beliefs.” I am of the conviction that these foundations of our faith listed above, are indisputable truths that cannot be changed or altered. Therefore the preponderance of evidence to prove otherwise rests upon the shoulders of those who would disagree in part, seeking to obtain a different understanding of fundamental orthodox[9] Christianity.

 

Aside from Christianity’s fundamental foundations of faith or primary beliefs—theological or doctrinal positions; believers develop a secondary set of beliefs when studying the Bible. These beliefs are peripheral, meaning they are not required to be believed in order to receive eternal life. Although this is not to say they are not vitally important to the life of a believer; quite the contrary, they are the very beliefs that enable believers to live life successfully in God’s kingdom of love, here on earth.

 

Throughout this book, you will be presented with thought processes that will not challenge orthodox Christianity by way of the tenants of our faith. On the other hand, it is possible many secondary set of beliefs; whether studied out by you or simply taught by others, will be scripturally challenged in some way; some more than others. I would only ask that you allow the material in this book an opportunity to represent itself in light of scripture and then allow Holy Spirit to be the deciding factor as to whether or not, this is the way; walk in it.

 

[1] Theological: relating to the study of the nature of God and religious belief. Oxford Dictionary.

[2] Academia: the environment or community concerned with the pursuit of research, education, and scholarship. Oxford Dictionary.

[3] 2 Tim. 2:15

[4] Understanding The Whole Bible by Dr. Jonathan Welton pg.16

[5] Context: the parts of something written or spoken that immediately precede and follow a word or passage and clarify its meaning. Oxford Dictionary.

Historical: Reading scripture with the intent to understand the authors’ intended meaning and what it would have meant to the original hearers in their period of time.

[6] New Testament: Time period that testifies or gives testimony of the Christ who has already come. Bible to Life Theological and Practical Ministry School Definition.

[7] Progressive Present Day Truth: A continual progression of understanding pertaining to the truths of God’s word, relevant for today; as the result of the universal Church (body of Christ) continually growing up into the knowledge of the fullness of Christ. (Eph. 4:12-13)

[8] Heb. 1:3

[9] Orthodox: authorized or generally accepted theory, doctrine, or practice. Oxford Dictionary.