Thursday, October 25, 2012

Talk, talk, talk the Bible way (part 1)

The Bible has much to say about words.  This study is a relatively short consideration of what it says about our speech.  It isn’t exhaustive, per se, but rather comprehensive.

Communication is the Foundation for Relationships

First, I always look to God as the example of what our words should be like, what our speech ought to be like.  I think a theological understanding is foundational.  We know what godly speech is when we know what God is like.  And so, I like to start with a look at God Himself.

For starters, we know from the Scriptures that God is a “speaking” God.  He spoke and it was done.  He spoke creation into existence.  Gen. 1:3 “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”  The foundation of Creation is God speaking.  The foundation of every relationship begins with our speech as well.  I do not believe in the false doctrine promoted by the Charismatics called “word-faith” teaching.  I am not under the illusion that I can confess something and what I confess I will soon possess.  This is a gross misunderstanding of passages such as Mk. 11:22-23.  But when you see that everything in Creation began when God spoke it into existence, it isn’t difficult to see that the foundation of meaningful relationships must essentially start with words or speech.  It is interesting that the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s eternally begotten Son, at the outset of Creation in John 1:1-3 is called the “Word.”  Again, we can reiterate that words or speech is rudimentary to relationships.

Another observation about God is that He is a personal God.  He communicates with His creation.  He is a God of relationships.  He relates to us or He desires to have fellowship with us.  Some think that many of the founders or forefathers of America were deists.  That they held to a view of God that was detached from His creation.  It would seem that God wound up the clock of existence at the start of creation, and then steps aside to simply watch what would happen.  God is totally detached from His creation.  But our many of our founders reveal a better more Biblical sense of understanding of God by referring to Him or His work as “Providence.”  He is not a god who is detached or disinterested in our lives, rather, He is a wise and caring God who works in the background allowing for things to happen in order to demonstrate a sovereign plan.  How do we know that God is a personal God?  Take for example the phrase “the word of the LORD came unto” – If you look this phrase up in the Bible you would see that the word of the Lord came to individuals like Abram, Nathan, David, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Jonah and many others.  This demonstrates that God desires a relationship with people, because He speaks to people.  God doesn’t speak directly and in the same manner to us in this particular dispensation, but we have a more sure word in the Holy Bible.  God’s perfectly preserved book is His method of speaking to us today as Christians.  God still desires a relationship with us and in a more limited sense, He certainly speaks to us.  In fact, if we are interested in a meaningful relationship with God, we must earnestly take heed to His word!    

Relationships are built on words or speech.  The surest way to ruin relationships is by not speaking to someone, or ignoring them or speaking rude or unkind words to them.  But, relationships are established by words, nonetheless.
God is our example.  Categorically speaking God’s characteristics (or attributes) can be divided into two major sections.  Primarily or essentially the attributes that belong strictly to God is called incommunicable attributes.  They are characteristics that are only true about God.  No matter how excellent our glorified bodies will be, we will never attain to the standards of God’s incommunicable attributes.  He doesn’t share these with anybody.  Indeed, this is what makes Him God and God alone.  This would be His eternality, transcendence, immutability, omnipotence, omnipresence, immensity, and omniscience.  No other creature could claim any of these attributes.   

But the secondary characteristics interestingly enough are called “communicable” attributes.  These are the qualities that are true about God that we as His creation have to a smaller degree the capacity to learn and possess by His grace.  That would be love, holiness, mercy, justice, truthfulness, long suffering, patience, compassion, goodness, graciousness, and the list can go on and on.  It is in this secondary division that we can observe God as our example of what godly speech is like.  We can say that godly words or speaking is speaking words which are loving, holy, true, just, right, gracious and so on and so forth.  Knowing God well is reflected in our speech.  The lack of spiritual knowledge of God can also be seen by what and how we say things.  We are to emulate Him. Do you words reflect the God of the Bible?  When people hear you speak, do they hear Christian speech or does your speech betray you?  If you were judged by the words you use, can the listener gather that you are a follower of Christ?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Walk, walk, walk the Bible way

I love the children's ministry song: "Walk the Bible Way."  It is a very short song. Like short Bible verses, the lyrics speaks profoundly about what walking with God looks like.  Here are some Biblical considerations about walking with God.  Enjoy reading God's word and even more so, let's put it into practice!

“And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.”  (Gen. 17:1) – Always be mindful of the presence of God and do right. (Gen. 24:40; 48:15; 1 Kings 9:4; 2 Chr. 6:14; Ps. 116:9)

“And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.” (Ex. 18:20) – God has standards that we must abide by.  His Words are not a list of do’s and don’ts, rather they are a guide through life (either directly or indirectly via principles). (Lev. 18:4; 26:3; Deut. 5:33; 8:6;)

“After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.” (Lev. 18:3) – Sometimes we learn, accept and adapt the wrong and sinful behavior from the culture around us.  We are to examine that in light of His word, and reject it if necessary. (Lev. 20:23; Isa. 8:11; Mic. 4:5, 6:16; Eph. 4:17, 5:8)

“Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.” (Deut. 5:33) – Walking with God means that you don’t pick and choose which of His commands you wish to obey.  (Deut. 10:12; 11:22; Josh. 22:5; 1 Kings 8:58; 2 Chr. 7:17; Neh. 10:29; Jer. 7:23)

“Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.” (Deut.  8:6) – Walking with God means that you are mindful of Him.  Fearing Him is walking with Him.  Some people fear man, and so they do things that please man even at the expense of displeasing God.  You don’t do this when the object of fear is God. (2 Chr. 6:31; Neh. 5:9; Ps. 86:11)

“And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.” (Deut. 8:19) – Walking with God means that you are not going to idolize anything or anyone. (Jer. 7:6,9; Ezk. 20:18; Mic. 4:5)

“And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,” (Deut. 10:12) – Walking with Him means that we love and serve God with all of our being.  This is complete, whole or entire obedience.  There is the balance of affection and action.

“For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him;” (Deut. 11:22) – Walking with God is dependence upon Him and ever staying close by His side, or a cleaving unto Him. (Deut. 13:14)

“Thou hast avouched the LORD this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice:” (Deut. 26:17) – Claiming faith in God is not disjointed from walking with Him.  Popular Christianity is ever so quick to say they believe in God, but deny Him in practice.  I don’t believe God accepts, nor validates lip service. (Deut. 28:19; 2 Chr.34:31; Ps. 26:11; Ezk. 11:20; Eph. 4:1; Col. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:12; 1 John 2:6)

“In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.” (Deut. 30:16) – Walking with God is the place and position whereby God can bless us and we know that we are blessed. (1 Kings 2:3; 8:23; Jer. 7:23)

“That the LORD may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel.” (1 Kings 2:4) – Walking with God is walking in truth.  No double standards, not at home (Ps. 101:2) and not at church.  When you walk with Him it matters not where you are at.  It is so vitally important to walk in truth. (Ps. 116:9; Rom. 13:13; 3 John 1:4)

“Concerning this house which thou art in building, if thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my commandments to walk in them; then will I perform my word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father:” (1 Kings 6:12) – The walking is in the doing. (2 Kings 23:3; Ezk. 20:19; 37:24; 2 John 1:6)

“And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee.” (1 Kings 11:38) – Walking with God guarantees His special presence.  Part of the joy of walking with someone is enjoying their company. (Rev. 3:4)