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Living Letters


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In past conversations we have talked about whether quotes of an inspired Bible remain the Word of God no matter how ungracefully or thoughtlessly they are expressed.

We may also have observed together that when the written Scriptures themselves speak of the Word of God they may be referring to,

(1)  A direct quote of God (Gen 1:1-3; 1Sam 9:27)

(2) The life-sustaining provisions that God speaks into our lives (Matt 4:4) (Deut 8:3);

(3)  A word from God that goes from his mouth, according to his intent and wisdom, to bring to pass his good purposes (Isa 55:7-13)

(4) The good news of or about Christ (Col 1:5-6; 3:16)

(5) A direct reference to Christ who is himself the ultimate Word of God (John 1:1-3) and to whom all lesser words give witness (Matt 5:17-18).

But I’m not sure that we have together considered what the Apostle Paul refers to as a letter from Christ, accessible to a specific community and generation (2Cor 3:1-3). According to Paul, this letter was,

(1) Written by the Spirit of God

(2) Not with pen and ink

(3) Not engraved in stone

(4) Not with a threat of death

(5) But in the flesh of human hearts

(6) As an expression of the life changing Spirit of Christ (2Cor 3:4-6)

(7) Regarding a goodness and glory that makes the glory and goodness of the law of Moses look like no light at all (2 Cor 3:7-18).

My guess is that such letters are still being written in our hearts for others to read, and in the hearts of others—for us to read.

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95 Responses to “Living Letters”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    My guess is that you are right Mart, life goes on and the evidence of Jesus’ Spirit is expressed by the lives lived by Christians everywhere. Able to be seen by others in us as we see it in others.

    It is said that the Holy Spirit recognizes Himself, so we are able then to see and experience what the Spirit does because we have Him in our beings.

    We become the witness as evidence of Jesus’ work.

    This is what the Rabbi mentioned a couple topics past misunderstood, that God is able to *inscribe* His Words into our being without there being anything *written* as on paper or stone, but placed there in such a way as it becomes our *nature*.

    Our nature becomes our letter of recommendation and our nature has become the nature of Jesus…Jesus shines through.


  2. foreverblessed says:

    Indeed, what a very good thought to ponder: of course, God wants me to be a letter from Jesus to the world! Studying Jesus in the Gospels, and asking the God to help me form the same attitude as that of Jesus:
    Do good to those who hurt you, bless those that hate you.
    Be a light, be the salt! Yesterday in church a lady told that she had had a feast of non-christians, drinking and laughing, and she felt so lonely, and had a longing for the next Sunday morning. And that is how I have felt all the while when I was going to school, longing for being with fellow christians in the weekend. Now I pray God: Let me be soooo near to You, so close tho the Heart of Jesus, that where ever I am, His light will shine! Let me be full of joy and peace, when I am out in the world, Let me shine Your Light,
    And as Mart wrote, be the Letter of Jesus to the world!Pray that God will help us, and bless you all too, to be like that!

  3. Bill says:

    Good Morning Mart and Friends,

    An interesting topic: “Living letters.”

    A couple of thoughts:

    1. The context of the passage from 2 Corinthians 3:1-6 indicates a few things:

    * Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

    Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. *

    (2 Corinthians 3:1-6 ESV)

    A. A pen-and-ink letter of recommendation was not needed because these people WERE letters of recommendation “to be known and read by all.”

    B. Such a letter was not “…of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.”

    So what type of “letter” were these people that they were able to show people from whom they came, whom they represented?

    I believe this goes back to what Jesus told us was his calling card – love:

    * “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” *

    (John 13:34-35 ESV)

    People recognized that these “living letters” were from God chiefly because of love, as part of these observable traits:

    * But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. *

    (Galatians 5:22-24 ESV)

    “Living letters” are known by their fruit. And their fruit is clearly defined in Galatians 5:22-24.

    This is precisely why the world today does not recognize true men and women of God – because we (a) lack love, above all, and (b) do not embody and exemplify the fruits of the spirit.

    For that reason, the world does not grant us admission, does not allow us entry, into their lives.

    Those are my thoughts. Take them for what they’re worth.

    Have a great day!



  4. poohpity says:

    There is such a vast difference in those who feel they are living a morally righteous life and those who live by the Spirit. Those who live what they see as a morally righteous life are so quick to look at the failures and shortcomings of others even to go as far as giving undo or unwarranted flattery to gain the approval of man. They seem to hang heavy on the law that brings death and also seem quick to want others to commend them for what they do, not for who they are in Christ Jesus.

    I so enjoy more than anything reading the letters of the lives whose hearts that are submissive to the Spirit. One can see the change that has happened because of the work of the Lord in their lives they are a sweet aroma of grace being embraced and shared. It is so obvious where their focus is, not on trying to impress others but watching them wholeheartedly seeking after the One who loved them so much. They usually do not put the time into wanting others to live up to their expectations but understand that we all are living at this time under grace.

  5. armando1961 says:

    I agree in essence with what Mart has written about the five (5) examples in which the Bible is the Word of God and the seven (7) characteristics of what the Apostle Paul refers to as a “letter from Christ” except that I’m rather skeptical –despite the scriptural references– about any claims about “a direct quote of God” and “a word from God that goes from his mouth” made or written by any human being. I would feel more comfortable with a more precise term such as “a direct quote attributed in the Bible to God” or some such qualifying modification. I can readily accept and believe that the Scriptures are divinely inspired, that is, inspired by God to humans, but I feel uncomfortable about using such direct and dogmatic phrases as “a direct quote of God” or “a word from God that goes from his mouth” because I believe that God “speaks” to men and women through subtler means, through inspiration, which is not audible to the physical senses. I believe that humans who claimed to have “spoken” with God were using metaphor, symbolism and allegory, rather than referring to actually “hearing” God’s audible voice. God is pure spirit and therefore has no need of a physical “mouth” or any other bodily part. Which is not to say that God cannot or could not choose to be audibly heard, just that I’m skeptical of any such claims, which have been historically used and abused by countless charlatans and false prophets to justify the most terrible deeds.

  6. quietgrace says:

    I have had an experience 2 times where I suddenly could not remember where to find chapter and verse of a specific scripture I wanted to talk about. The first time it really scared me, but was assured it wasn’t my mind forgetting. So what them? The devil taking it away like the good seed that fell on rocky ground? I struggled with this for years until I lately realized that no matter what happens, its not the scripture/verse that sustained my relationship with Christ, it is the living Christ Himself that sustains me. As one who loves reading and words I now believe that God took those things away from me to show me that it is Him, and nothing else, not even the scriptures, that keeps me in the faith.

    Paul was really on to something when he wrote those words in his letters to the Corinthians. And I am so glad we have those words of scripture to encourage, rebuke, and show us how much God has loved us from the very beginning.

    If it is the Living Letter that is truly written on our hearts then others will see and respond either favorably or unfavorably. But respond they must.

  7. poohpity says:

    armando, so is the scripture inaccurate when it says, “God said/spoke”? What part does one pick or chose to believe? You are so right that many claim to hear from God to justify their own agenda but is it not up to us to be so aware of God’s voice that when someone speaks we will know whose voice it is no matter how it is presented?

  8. armando1961 says:

    Now quietgrace’s latest posting is true to my heart, I couldn’t agree more. Our relationship with God, as believers, is a living relationship –after all, we worship a Living God– and it transcends everything else, even the Scriptures. The Bible is a roadmap, if you will, but the “driving” to get to our intended destination (God, hopefully) is something we must do on our own, every day.

  9. armando1961 says:

    Poohpity, I’m not saying the Scriptures are inaccurate –God forbid– when it is written that “God said/spoke” only that God communicates through inspiration and the Bible is the inspired rather than –in my opinion– the literal Word of God and there is a difference. The essential messages contained in the Bible definitely come from God, but I don’t subscribe to the view –as some do– that those who wrote down the texts contained in the Bible were mere scribes, somehow taking dictation, word for word, from the Almighty. In my opinion too many people take too literal a view of the Bible, as if it had fallen from Heaven in complete form, bound and all, on the hands of angels, and it is not that. Too many people seem to forget/overlook that the Bible was written by scores of people over several hundred years; that there are various “Bibles” in slightly different forms (and hundreds of languages) circulating; that the Bible as we know it took its present form after various religious committees (both Jewish and Christian) determined after careful consideration and much debate –again, over several hundred years– that certain texts “belonged” in the Bible while others did not; that the Bible was not originally written in English but translated into English and that human language has definite limitations; and that the Bible contains many different types of writings, some of which are poetical (Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Songs), some of which are historical (Books of Kings, Chronicles), some of which are didactic (the Epistles, Acts of the Apostles), some of which are symbolic-allegorical-metaphoric (Revelation, take your pick as to others) and some which defy simple categorization (I put the Gospels in this category). All texts come from God and are about God, but not all are the same type of text. As to “belief” in the Bible I choose to say I “believe” in the Bible in the sense that I believe it is the inspired Word of God, “speaking” to humanity in the sense of communicating the essential messages pertaining to God’s omnipotence, majesty and love and to the availability of forgiveness and salvation, but I personally take each text in its proper context. Do I “believe” in the psalms and proverbs? I believe they were written in the ancient past by divinely inspired individuals communicating many valuable insights inspired by God; whether they were written by David or Solomon or someone else is immaterial. I believe Paul’s epistles were written a few years or decades after the crucifixion of Jesus to early Christian communities by a divinely inspired individual or individuals communicating divinely inspired insights into Christian revelation, divine mercy and the proper ways that Christian communities ought to behave. I do not believe, however, that everything written in the Bible as having factually happened necessarily happened in fact or as it has come written down to us, nor do I need to so believe in order to believe in God and Jesus and in the essential messages of the Bible about God’s omnipotence, glory and mercy and about the salvation that is open to all through God’s grace. It is much more complicated than that and far too many people calling themselves “believers” are far too simplistic that way and seem to “believe” that “believing” implies some sort of simplistic, blind faith. There is faith and there is unintelligent, unquestioning, simplistic faith. I happen to choose the former.

  10. Walter and Deborah says:

    I would like to add II Timothy 3:16

  11. remarutho says:

    Good Day BTA —

    Was talking with a friend who recently returned from a large denominational church conference. We expressed mutual concern about a future in which the virtue of righteousness is exchanged for unrighteousness in the public forum. What was considered righteous is now called unrighteous, and visa versa. We agreed we fear for the future effectiveness of any church that does not make the distinction accurately.

    We rely on the Word of God for growing in us true discernment of spiritual things. Otherwise, the cultural pendulum swings back and forth — and the people of God graze farther and farther from the truth and meaning of God’s presence with us through Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit vacates the premises where sin is lifted up as good, and good behavior is labeled sin.

    We are letters written to the world from God, in whom we dwell. Seems to me this is what Jeremiah spoke of as “God’s law written on our hearts,” and what Ezekiel taught about “removing a heart of stone and giving us a heart of flesh.” As a Jesus-follower spends time with the Savior, (s)he sounds like him, behaves like him and even smells like Jesus!

    It is actually pretty simple: a Jesus-follower who has splashed around in the utter grace of the Lord passes on a lot of grace — knowing there is an unlimited supply where that came from. This can only put the world right, opening up the treasure-trove of heaven here and now.


  12. SFDBWV says:

    Just popped in to see what’s going on and am lifted up by the brightness of the conversation.

    Quietgrace I agree with you very much and will have more to say tomorrow morning when I have time to write.

    Armando1961 I will reread your comments again in the morning as well, I am very glad to see you here and hope to hear more.

    Maru, as always I love your comments and share your concerns.

    Walter and Deborah, hello to you both and am excited to hear more from you as well.

    Bill, a good subject always brings you in and you always brighten the blog with your thoughts.

    Foreverblessed, your comments are always a blessing.

    Pooh I hope you have found a cool place to be out there in Phoenix as the Weather Channel has you guys on the grill.


  13. poohpity says:

    Since faith is a gift from God then I do not see how it can be based on facts or intellect, that is not faith at all. There are many folks who are very intelligent but have simple faith.

    armando, you stated you believe the scripture are accurate but stated that when it says, “God said/spoke” that is not accurate to you but it should say “God communicates through inspiration”. Confusing isn’t it? Gen 1:3 NIV And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” We would have to believe the Bible to be in error according to what you are saying as it would then read, God communicated through inspiration that there would be light. How are we to believe something if we can’t believe it is truth, not what it doesn’t say but what it does say? I am not trying to change your opinion but the reasoning you present seems confusing to me.

  14. poohpity says:

    Yes, Steve it is very hot here as always but it is a dry heat, lol. No bare feet which is my favorite so shoes are blister prevention. :-)

  15. armando1961 says:

    Poohpity, all I’m saying –and this is my opinion, but it is shared, mind you, by many learned theologians of high caliber– is that the Bible is true in essence, in the essential truths that it communicates, that is to say, that God exists, that God created all there is, that God is majestic, omnipotent, loving, merciful, etc., but that a lot of what the Bible states as truth is true metaphorically or allegorically rather than literally. Did God actually say “let there be light”? Does God have a mouth and a literal voice? Does God even need a mouth and a literal voice? I don’t think so, only if you picture God as human or having human form, like the Olympian gods and goddesses that the ancient Greeks and Romans believed in. That is not the God I choose to believe in. God is so majestic and all-powerful that the entire creation –or light, if you wish to start there– could have come to be without God actually saying so, but merely thinking so, wishing so, willing so. Is the Genesis account true? Yes, in its essence, that is, in that God is the Creator of all there is, but not necessarily, in my view, in the particulars, that God actually “said” something or other. In that sense, I believe the Genesis account is poetry, metaphor, allegory, rather than literally true. Are the seven days of the Creation account in Genesis seven literal 24-hour earthly days? I don’t think so, again, I believe it is poetry, a poetic way of conveying the wonder, beauty and majesty of Creation. It is only confusing if you subscribe to the view that the Bible is literally true in every last detail, rather than in its essence. Some folks actually do believe that and I respect their opinion but I certainly do not share it. Some things can only be known through faith but I believe that most of the time faith and intellect are not in conflict or in opposition to each other. I believe through faith because something rings true or finds an echo in my heart without my actually seeing it with my own physical eyes but in order to read, hear and comprehend what constitutes the basis for my faith I have to use my God-given intellect. And I certainly do not take leave of my senses when I pick up the Bible or enter a church for worship services.

  16. belleu says:

    I love the imagery of Christians being a letter of Christ to the world. I was trying to think of a person who was a letter to me of God. C.S.Lewis comes to mind. And being an author, he did use letters to explain God to me in a way no one else did.

    I now listen to Discover the Word radio program which Mart is a part of. These people are letters to me from God also. I pray we may all be beautiful letters from God to each other and the world.

  17. hera says:

    If i may comment a bit, reading armando’s comment, by chance i have been wondering about the 7days creation that ends on sunday. How was that counted/numbered especially the sunday part since i think the calendar – gregorian? – was not in use yet. Pardon, this is just idle curiosity, sorry, nothing to do with living letters…. :-)

  18. SFDBWV says:

    Quietgrace there are many of us all who are positive about a verse of Scripture until we go looking for it and can’t find it. It is one of the *jobs* of the Holy Spirit to bring Scripture (Word of God) to mind and we are surprised sometimes that what we have come to understand isn’t *exactly* as it is written.

    Does that mean we were wrong or is it just because that is how we come to understand the subject it addresses?

    What always occurs when that happens is a longer and deeper look at Scripture; a journey if you will that, I feel, was meant for our enlightenment.

    And yes sometimes to keep us humbled.

    Armando you have already, I am sure, found that when taking such bold steps away from the normal acceptance of how the Bible is perceived that you find the confrontational voice of “I’m right-you’re wrong” a great deal of the time.

    Please believe me when I say that I don’t wish to get drawn into an argument or even a dialog that looks like one. I am curious as to how you come to the conclusions you have concerning the specifics and details of Scripture.

    Is it from drawing your own conclusions intellectually, or is it from a church doctrine or perhaps an epiphany from God?

    There are a great many times in Scripture that it states God spoke, not only from the burning bush, but face to face with Moses as well as the voice heard by all at the baptism of Jesus.

    The prophets all claimed to *hear* the voice of God and though they themselves were special people, still they heard a voice as it is written.

    Little Samuel heard Him and Eli instructed Samuel to answer Him.

    The entire Book of Revelation is a written account of what John was *told* to write down.

    I would rather have the innocent faith and understanding of a little child than all the combined intellect of “learned theologians of high caliber”.

    It was “learned theologians of high caliber” that had Jesus of Nazareth crucified.

    Do you Armando believe in the *literal* death and resurrection of Jesus or do you believe it just a story to further the essence of God in a collection of poetry?

    Armando you have stated that it is ok for me to have my opinion, so here it is.

    You present a great many problems with the continuity of Scripture with what you have stated as your belief. In order to further your belief throughout the whole of the Bible you would need to re-clarify everything in order to make it fit your view.

    What recorded words of Jesus state that all the writings of the OT were not literal?

    I think Armando you are on dangerous ground and need to go back to the beginning.

    So here I am after saying that I didn’t want to go into an “I’m right your wrong dialog, sliding into one; sorry Armando, my concern is for your wellbeing as well as others that *listen* in on this blog.


  19. SFDBWV says:

    Hera the calendar given in the Bible is based on the Lunar (moon) cycles. 7 days are still 7 days, just as described in Genesis as the rising and setting of the sun representing one day.


  20. Bill says:

    Good Morning All!

    Steve, thank you for your kind comment yesterday. I appreciate it.

    Regarding Armando’s comments, and your rebuttal of them, I think the jury is out on the literalness of the creation days.

    I’ve read scholarly reviews/insights/commentaries/books regarding the Genesis account of creation and there seems to be disagreement regarding the duration of the “days.” The word used could mean span of time, not a literal 24-hour period as we measure it.

    Of course, none of us were there. So we’ll never know. And that’s an important point to keep in mind. We’ll never know.

    Frankly, I don’t think it matters. That’s the conclusion I came to decades ago. I used to swear by a literal six days. But then, one day, I realized this: Who really cares if the world was created in a literal six 24-hour days, or if the “days” were each an epoch of time? Does that change anything else in the Bible, or our faith?

    No. Not an iota of it. Because we’re still believing in the Bible and what it says. We’re just allowing for differences of opinion and scholarly/scientific research regarding the word “days.”

    Same holds true for the Book of Revelation. Is it all meant to be taken literally, even if John was *told* to write it down? Who knows? We weren’t there.

    Is Armando on dangerous ground for not believing every word of the Bible literally?

    Not even remotely.

    There may be other reasons why Armando may be on dangerous ground. But merely suggesting/believing that parts of the Bible are more mystical or spiritual (figurative, rather than literal) is not grounds to conclude he’s on dangerous ground.

    If Armando is a believer in Jesus, then his opinion regarding how he reads/understands the Bible isn’t relevant.

    We are never called to worship the Bible. We are called to worship God and to do what Jesus commanded us to do.

    The Bible is a guidebook that tells the story of Jesus and his love. If we mistake the Bible for Jesus then I believe we make an error that leads to all sorts of confrontations – not to mention driving people away from the Christian faith.

    I have read/studied the Bible for 30 years. And I still don’t know what it means, or how I should read it. Some of it is obscure and confusing, even contradictory. Some is outdated and makes no sense (when was the last time you stoned an adulterer or put do death a witch or homosexual?).

    At the end of the day, I don’t think how we read/understand the Bible matters. What does matter is what we do with the knowledge/insight/wisdom we’ve gleaned from it. Do we spend our time arguing the finer points? Or do we feed Jesus’ sheep?

    Just my two cents. Take it for what it’s worth.

    Love to All,


  21. poohpity says:

    armando, I was not trying to prove I am wrong and you are right. All I was saying is that on one hand you say the the Bible is accurate and then on the other hand you are saying it is not. That was where the confusion comes from is the mixed message.

    Where did you get the information you do have about God? Have you ever read the Bible or just what theologians or other people say about it? Have you ever experienced God for yourself not depending on what someone else says? There is no need to publicly answer any of these questions.

  22. remarutho says:

    Good Morning All —

    Mart, one of your points under the definitions of Word of God reads:

    “(2) The life-sustaining provisions that God speaks into our lives (Matt 4:4) (Deut 8:3)”

    Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:35) It seems to me there is a continuum of thinking (not believing, just thinking) on the matter of the Bread of Heaven. Why would God, who does not consume material food to live (being eternal in character), speak so often about eating — and especially eating bread?

    On the continuum of thinking from literal to figurative, as I see it, the two extremes are in danger of wandering away from Jesus, that is believing in Jesus. We cannot eat a piece of bread that Jesus himself blessed. It has long since become dust and merged with the cosmos. Jesus commanded, “Take, eat, this is my body.” (Matt 26:26) How could we do it? We cannot obey.

    On the other hand, God the Father commanded the Prophet Ezekiel, some centuries earlier, to “eat the scroll” on which was written, we may presume, the Word of God. (Ezekiel 3:1, 2) God immediately sent his prophet, filled with the Word of God, to God’s people. A person could consume every page of a Bible and still not be able to speak one word of prophecy from God. Was his eating a physical act or a great visionary illumination?

    The Subject in these two cases, I believe, is the Spirit of God — the Holy Spirit. We do not resemble God in physical appearance, nor in intellectual activity. The only resemblance we have to God is in our spirit. Yet, God is a different order of Being. How do we relate to the Almighty?

    We seem to have these human capacities:

    Personal Experience (love, memory, imagination)
    Organized Religion (community, worship, one another)
    Human Reason (intellectual capacity, ability to plan)

    at work within us. All these must rest upon and be informed by the

    Word of God,

    the compiled written materials and the immediate divine inspiration. If Scripture does not inform the three capacities (in my opinion) then we are merely hurtling through empty space at an alarming rate of speed with no real purpose except self-referenced delusion.


  23. remarutho says:

    The Pac NW USA is reverting to true kind – high fog, low clouds, ten degrees cooler today — showers and possible afternoon t-storms forecast. All our 80F weather the past days has caused the land to breathe in the ocean. God is good. West coast folks have blood that boils at 72F! :o)

  24. SFDBWV says:

    Oh dear I am just not going to have the time I want to devote to our conversation today, but will throw out a few thoughts before I get overrun here with *things*.

    Yes Bill you are right in the end, one’s salvation doesn’t depend at all on how well we do or don’t understand Scripture, only in Jesus’ sacrifice.

    However the danger that I mention is in confusing what the Bible say’s so as to make it say what you want to, not only believe, but what you think others should as well.

    The danger is leading yourself and others astray and unless you just believe that all the warnings from Peter and Paul for doing that doesn’t matter, then leading people astray is of no consequence to you.

    If I am to believe that the author of Scripture is God via of the Holy Spirit then to decide that I am only going to believe what is written as long as it agrees with how I feel it should be written, I may be treading on thin ice as to the warnings given by John for God in Revelation 22:18, 19 as well as the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit warned of by Jesus Himself in Matthew 12:31.

    This is serious stuff and I see it as such. To doubt in your heart that in the beginning God said… is to doubt in your heart all the rest of the collection of Books that comprise the Bible.

    It isn’t “Bible worship” it is believing what God said and as for the story of God and mankind the only true writings about God can be found only there in the Bible.

    If we just rely on God exposing His desires and nature to our own intellect or spiritual experiences apart from the Bible states…we are on dangerous ground.

    Dangerous ground leads to disasters and failures of every kind.

    I would be guilty of not loving Armando or any other if I didn’t warn them when I see them in danger of any kind.

    A parable is a lesson about a literal possibility

    See everyone tomorrow morning.


  25. street says:

    The Subject in these two cases, I believe, is the Spirit of God — the Holy Spirit. We do not resemble God in physical appearance, nor in intellectual activity. The only resemblance we have to God is in our spirit. Yet, God is a different order of Being. How do we relate to the Almighty?

    I think you are right in that God is different in that He is eternal and we are created, but I have to differ with you on the fact God did take on flesh and blood, like us.
    i think it is permanent too. might be wrong on that one, but i don’t think so.

    One of the things that comes to mind over the discussion over interpreting the Bible is the number of voices that are available to us. remember it was a different voice in the garden that sent everything on a collision coarse with death. the other voice’s goal is to plant seed to cause us to doubt the Fathers love for us. the other voice accomplishes it’s will in us by manipulation of truth. Grace and Peace from God guard your hearts.

  26. poohpity says:

    It is possible for anyone to march to a different drummer but those who follow Jesus know His voice and it comes in many different ways but it is still His voice saying nothing different in purpose than it always has no matter where in time it comes. His people have learned to recognize His voice because they have spent time with Him. There are however many voices that come to deceive but that seems to be only possible with those that are not familiar with the voice of their Shepherd. Those other voices come to destroy, lead astray, tempt, accuse, confuse, distort and twist but those who know their God will listen for His voice. John 10 describes the importance of knowing the voice of the Good Shepherd.

    No one can do that for someone else. Each person must decide for themselves to familiarize or get to know the One they say they follow so they can be aware of the many who say they come in His name but have a different agenda to lead others away. Thank God that those who are His, He will never let them go and will even come searching for them. There will always be those who are writing their own letters or those who are living letters of their Good Shepherd.

  27. poohpity says:

    street, Amen! Must have posted at the same time.

  28. quietgrace says:

    Good morning all!

    What an interesting read you all are today! Love it!
    I am going to dive right in to the discussion regarding bible interp. as that has been my obsession for the past 10 years or so. When I came out of college with my degree in Bible although I started out as a fundamental I ended and continue to be Post Modern/Progressive. My personality is naturally curious and I gain so much from reading how others read scripture and their perceptions of God.

    That said, however, the Voice that I hear has never changed, and as I have been led through all my intellectual pursuits have gained more freedom to love and trust God in ways I never dreamed possible.

    I have been told by a couple pastors that you don’t need a college education to study the Bible, and that seems to be the thing amongst SOME fundamentals and they are quite content with who they are and how they preach/teach. I’m NOT criticizing them in any way, shape or form.

    But the grace of charity allows us all to believe, worship and study scripture however we choose and to come to our own conclusions, by the grace of God.
    And now abides faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

    Hoping all are well today!
    Blessings, Grace

  29. remarutho says:

    Mart, in your 5th point defining the Word of God, you quote Matthew 5:

    (Jesus said)

    “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (v 17)

    Sometimes, I wonder how closely we associate God-in-the-flesh with the cutting of the Covenant. The God of creation was born into a frail, material existence and the entire universe pivoted on the star over the stable.

    There was no other plan, it seems to me, whereby there would be flesh in which such a Covenant could be cut. We are not abandoned to the struggle to obey — the Way is literally laid out before us. Herds of cattle were cut down, numerous prophets were cut down. At last, the Son of God was cut down — all for love of darkness and hatred of the truth. This is the blood of cleansing, at last.

    The Word is “yes and amen!” (2 Corinthians 1:19, 20, 21, 22) In my view, this correlates with number 4 under the heading of a letter written to the world in/on Jesus-followers:

    “(4) Not with a threat of death”

    We can neither add to nor take from the message of the Good News, not being in charge of what another does with the pure goodness of the Word. It is a positive force for good. We are simply called to be Christ-bearers.


  30. street says:

    We can neither add to nor take from the message of the Good News, not being in charge of what another does with the pure goodness of the Word. It is a positive force for good. We are simply called to be Christ-bearers.

    I have trouble with this. Is it like saying, “I can not tell a Lie?”

    We are simply called to be Christ-bearers. Matthew 11:29,30. I think the burden is light and easy when motivated by love and the strength he provides.

  31. armando1961 says:

    Good day and blessings to all! Just to clarify, first, I am not trying to be confrontational or argumentative with anyone, just to add my two cents’ worth; secondly, I truly appreciate, enjoy and respect all postings from all participants, as it is truly a wonderful experience to share this space with many believers of different perceptions and points of view; thirdly, I am a sincere, honest, born-again Christian and I believe in a literal death and resurrection of Jesus although I wouldn’t even dare to hazard a guess as to the exact definition or nature of the resurrection process or what kind of body exactly Jesus had after the resurrection, but clearly something wonderful and mysterious took place); fourthly, much of what I write comes from my own intellectual curiosity as I am a very analytical person but I did take two years of various theology courses with professors from several Christian denominations (also non-Christians, for comparative theology courses) at Boston College in 1979-83; and finally, I have also personally experienced the powerful presence of God in my daily life not once but many times and not occasionally but frequently, much too clearly not to believe in God’s powerful presence and interaction with people’s lives. That being said, I also very much admire and identify with the very intellectual kind of Christian thought represented by C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton, among others. I think it totally misses the point to be an Einstein and live by reason alone –that’s what many atheists do or claim to do, at any rate– but neither do I think that you should completely shun intellectual curiosity and a healthy analysis, even concerning the most basic tenets of Christian doctrine, to call yourself a believer. I don’t mean to offend anyone but sometimes what passes for Christian belief amounts to a sort of intellectual castration based on the assumption that faith and reason are always totally incompatible and I just don’t agree with that. I believe salvation is attained through faith, but reason has a place in God’s plan (after all, we were given the capacity to reason, otherwise we would have remained brutes). I wholeheartedly agree that “learned theologians of high caliber” are not as important as being in God’s grace and trying to live a Christian life and that such “theologians” made up the religious establishment that persecuted, tried and executed Jesus; however, I would argue that even among said theologians there were those who were receptive to Jesus’ teachings, such as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, so neither is being a “theologian” a disqualifying circumstance in itself. In any case, many thanks and blessings to all, especially Bill, Steve, Grace, Street and Poohpity.

  32. street says:

    My guess is that such letters are still being written in our hearts for others to read, and in the hearts of others—for us to read.

    Matthew 12: 33,34

  33. street says:

    Oh! I forgot let your hearts be filled with God.

  34. poohpity says:

    Do our letters read as one presenting what has happened in our lives due to the presence of an all knowing, ever-present, all powerful God who took the time for a person as menial as me to offer something so amazing that all that I am can not even begin to grasp the totality of it all? Do those letters relay that we embrace the undeserved forgiveness and mercy we have received or do they read like a legal document addressing only the mind forgetting what our hearts felt like the first time we learned about grace?

    Are they a paper we turned in to prove an argument or research a topic or are they love letters that shows our devotion and gratefulness to One so very deserving that will never bring harm to us in any way? Or could they be a letter throwing scripture around with no point or meaning that fails in anyway to show how much our God really cares about us or how much those Words contained in the Bible bring meaning, guidance and purpose to our lives? Do those letters share who we are or do we hide behind them because we feel no one will accept us if they find out what we are like?

  35. belleu says:

    While I know there have been some transcribing mistakes in the Bible, I think that if we carefully study along with commentaries written by Biblical scholars, we can find the truth from God and those he inspired.

    I do believe in a literal 7 days to creation because the Bible says, “And there was evening and there was morning, one day.” I don’t see how it could be any clearer. As for science disagreeing with the Bible on this – I don’t think it does. The Trinity came here and moved upon the face of the waters, which shows there was already something here. God separated the waters from the land. The rocks and land were there, under the water for billions of years, most likely. The universe is billions of years old. Just because it says “He made the stars also,” it doesn’t mean he made them all on creation week. I think we have misinterpreted the Bible.

    Hera- The seventh day is Saturday and has been since creation. Christian leaders changed the worship day to Sunday in order to distance themselves from the Jews and to placate the pagans who liked to worship on Sunday. This can be found online – it is an historical fact. The Jews have kept track of the seventh day calender through the centuries. The Saturday they still worship on is the same Saturday as today. It says in the commandments it was given by God for us to remember Creation. There is no verse in the Bible that has changed that commandment or any other commandment. We are not saved by keeping the commandments, but as Christians we would not want to lie, murder, commit adultery or steal. Jesus didn’t destroy the commandments – he fulfilled them as he said.

  36. quietgrace says:

    ‘My guess is that such letters are still being written in our hearts for others to read, and in the hearts of others—for us to read.’

    Mart all one has to do is read this blog and know that what you say is true. Not only are we living letters but this is a living blog and what a blessing to have the freedom to say and share what we are learning as God gives more and more light to each and every one of us. We have much to be thankful for in these dark, last-days.

  37. SFDBWV says:

    Armando I too appreciate intellectual believers and so why I enjoy the commentary of Dr. Chuck Missler of Koinonia House as well as the work of The Institute for Creation Research. I recommend them both to anyone wanting to enjoy a deeper study of Scripture.

    Off on a tangent, we had 1.70 inches of rain here yesterday in about 45 minutes. Needless to say we had an evening of excitement dealing with overflowing storm drains and flooded basements. We were ok here in our house, but there were others who needed help. Nothing real bad just aggravating.

    Grace I agree, one only need to spend a little time here and we can read another just like a bold faced letter, but we are also likely to want to edit our own letters so as to look better.

    Do you think maybe that is one of the things Jesus does for us, edit out all the bad stuff so that when the book of life is opened we are found acceptable?

    Just having a little levity with the topic.


  38. remarutho says:

    Good Morning BTA Friends —

    Amen, Brother! I’m for a little “levity in the lump,” Steve! The indwelling Word is such good news! why would we insist on being anything but joy-filled letters? (jolly-filled, perhaps?) :o)

    Joy and Peace to all here!

  39. hera says:

    Thank you for the respond to Steve and Belleu.
    I looked up there are many kinds of calendars – lunar, solar, chinese, Muslim etc inlc. Gregorian, that’s why i wonder about it. I found this note: the question of whether the 7days of creation were literal days or symbolic of stages of development is actually irrelevant to the undeniable reality that Creation happened.
    Living among many beliefs means exposures to various, made me think about it, not saying that all ppl exposed to such will “think” about it, just like not all people exposed to Hinduism will be a Hindu but some do like Julia Robert….
    Was it Pooh?, who said that Faith is a gift from God, indeed, as also written in Gal 1:15 But when God, who set me apart -from birth – …. i think it means it was decided from my very beginning what/who will i be/come eventually…just like the how, when or age/year, to the minute detail of my end :-)
    May God always be with you.

  40. street says:

    I don’t mean to offend anyone but sometimes what passes for Christian belief amounts to a sort of intellectual castration based on the assumption that faith and reason are always totally incompatible and I just don’t agree with that. I believe salvation is attained through faith, but reason has a place in God’s plan (after all, we were given the capacity to reason, otherwise we would have remained brutes).

    If you look at scientific inquiry you will see it works from the five senses for the purpose observed outcome. some time when we see this cause and effect we think we can predict outcome of similar events, but so times the outcome will be different.

    When Abraham got up early the next day to take his only son on a trip, that would result in his death….

    When David walk into the valley with 5 small stones to face one of the worlds greatest soldier….

    When Jesus humble prayed for the Fathers will in the olive press of Gesemity….

  41. street says:

    ops was not ready to post

  42. street says:

    it was not until the New Testament that God answered some of these questions as to why they transpired they way they did in the hearts of people. It’s base was faith in God not reason. Abraham believed God could raise Isaac from the dead because he thought God was good on His promise of a son even though his body was dead to having children at 100. I guess after writing this there is some reason in actions, but without faith in God and His promises it is illogical. Faith is to move us outside ourselves and into the presents of God.

  43. poohpity says:

    Yesterday at my doctor’s office came a man wearing a turban and as he set beside me I asked what significance his turban and long hair underneath was in his Sikhism. We began a conversation about listening to others respectfully and with a sincere heart. Further into our conversation he told me all I had been saying his son who is Sikh going to Brophy a Catholic high school on the debate team presented the same topic called “Splitting Hairs”. I was talking about people concentrating so much on the things that divide we are not willing to really listen to others if we feel our views are different and that some folks tend to demonize them rather than respect differing views. We found together many similarities in our beliefs and had a very good conversation. James 3:17 NIV

    After 9/11/01 a person here in Mesa drove up on a man working in his garden in the front yard and shot him because he was wearing turban. Did not even know him but killed him anyway.

  44. poohpity says:

    hera, it was actually Paul who said that faith was a gift of God in his letter to the Ephesians. (Eph 2:8-9 NIV)

    If we use our intellect or reasoning about things from God who would get credit for that? I would say a person who lacks faith. It seems like just another means to feel superior or oppressive to others.

  45. hera says:

    Thank you for the info, pooh.

  46. quietgrace says:

    Good evening! I had to take a 6 hour road trip today and while listening to a Christian radio station there was a program about science, creation, and the Bible. Very interesting! What caught my ear though was the comment that Christian intellectuals serve an important purpose in reaching non-Christian intellectuals as they understand the same language, if you will. Makes sense to me! Though there are people a lot smarter than I God has used me also in unexpected ways to talk about the faith with non-believing intellectuals and has given me the right words to say when I needed them which invited the other person to think about my position.

    Regarding faith and reason, the verse that came to mind is Isaiah 1:18 where God invites discussion. I so like that about Him as He is ready to hear all of our arguments with patience. Yet gives us the truth regarding consequences of rejecting Him. I love listening to Ravi Zacharias talk about the faith-he is one of my favorite apologists, along with Timothy Keller.

    Steve and Maru love the levity! Thinking about what you said I thought of how we tend to ‘recycle’ stuff, the bad or stupid stuff others say while God just laughs and drops the words into his ‘ocean of forgetfulness’.
    How He grows us and knits us all together is amazing!
    Hope things are dried out for you both. Here in MN many are struggling under the most rainfall ever recorded, with swollen rivers and streams causing havoc. I live on a hill so am good. Pray for the farmers though that are losing so many crops and it is getting too late to replant. They are hurting, and so will we all down the line.
    Blessings (uh, not showers of blessings) just blessings! Grace

  47. belleu says:

    Since Jesus himself was a letter from God then we can look to him to see how to reflect God’s love. He spoke differently to each person. To some people he said, “You brood of vipers..,” Matthew 12:34. To others, like the woman at the well, he reasoned with gently.

    Some people need to hear words of conviction and judgement. Some people need to hear of God’s love and forgiveness. Some will be moved by the story of your conversion. Some may want to talk about why there is sin and suffering in the world. We can quickly send a prayer up as people are asking questions and God will give us the right words.

    When I was 19, my grandmother gave me a book about creation and the fall of man. This interested me greatly and I moved on to other books. When I heard the story of Jesus dying on the cross for me, that was when I gave my life to Him. But there was all this preparation beforehand. Even purely intellectual study of the Bible can bring people to God.

  48. quietgrace says:

    Pooh, what an amazing conversation you must have had today! Good work for the kingdom! Blessings, Grace

  49. bubbles says:

    Has anyone heard from Cherielyn recently?

  50. SFDBWV says:

    No Bubbles not for a while.


  51. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends –

    It seems that Moses had a close, intimate friendship with God when he stood in the presence of the Lord on the mountain and at the tent of meeting. Paul writes to the congregation in Corinth, that the great patriarch put a veil over his face to hide the glory of God which shone from him.

    In Jesus, the resurrected and glorified Redeemer, isn’t Paul saying that those who believe in him are given an even closer relationship than the great patriarch had with the Almighty? In your post under #7 in the characteristics of the letter from Christ, the passage you cite, Mart, ends with:

    “But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor 3:16, 17, 18)

    It appears to me that the indwelling Holy Spirit, sent from the Father and the Son, is writing a letter to the world through the lives of Jesus-followers, even in the 21st century. Can it be that the transformation of one who clings to Jesus sends out a message of Christ’s holiness and glory like an unveiled beacon?


  52. poohpity says:

    Which came first the chicken or the egg? For us we know it was the chicken which is the Old Covenant and that OC is what brought forth the egg of the New Covenant. The OC brought condemnation and showed us it was impossible to please God through it because it was beyond our abilities to adhere to all it required. The sad part is many still expect themselves and others to live it out. Everyone goes away disappointed no closer to God or to each other.

    The egg however represents the New life or New Covenant which not only brings us closer to God but empowers us to change through the Life giving indwelling of the Spirit. That Spirit could not live in us without the sacrifice of Jesus. If our eyes, hearts and minds are so focused on the wondrous work of Jesus it is life changing nothing we can brag about it just happens.

    When someone works so hard at something they become weary and tired. Have you ever tried to talk to someone after a long hard day at work normally they are short tempered, impatient and drained of energy but we no longer have to strive like that for God’s attention. He made a way to live in vital union with Him so that we could concentrate on sharing what we have received. He wrote a letter to our hearts now we can pass it around.

  53. quietgrace says:

    Galatians 2:20 really explains how we ARE that letter. I need to be reminded of this from time to time lest I focus too much on the flesh.

  54. saled says:

    The picture of the lonely mailbox strikes me. It’s a picture of me at 23, waiting for a letter from God. And my husband came along, he was my letter, and I believed because he believed. That was almost 35 years ago, but I haven’t finished reading the letter yet. He has always had a fierce desire for God, but in recent years his concept of God has differed from the God he first learned about in the fundamental branch of Christianity that he was blessed to be born into. And I have found out what a sheep I truly am, and my concept of God has changed along with his. I still love the Bible; I just don’t think it is the only place to find God. I loved Bill’s comment a few topics ago about the finger that points to the moon is not the moon.

    Throughout the last few months, Mart has often written about the airliner that disappeared. It is such a picture
    of the big question about where our loved ones are after they die. Do we know for sure that they are in heaven with God? We hope, and that is the good news for me, that there is hope. A letter from God, I would have hoped for a short simple one, but it’s not. It’s long and complicated.

  55. SFDBWV says:

    I am a little reluctant to write this morning as though I do have some time, I see that the subject has stalled and I am not sure whether Mart is writing a new one even as I write this.

    Not knowing causes not only a reluctance to say anything, but stifles ones willingness to say anything at all.

    Much of our questions revolve around trying to figure out what God wants form us or expects of us.

    Unless we are privileged to have God talking directly to us, as He did with Moses, we are left to too much conjecture.

    Even though the Bible has been described as a love letter from God, we all read different things *into* It.

    Is it that the Bible is insufficient to answer all our questions or that the answers we find aren’t the ones we want to hear?

    My study guides tells a different story of Paul’s comments regarding 2 Corinthians 3:1-3 in that Paul is alluding to certain preachers who pride themselves on their written credentials and ask Paul where is his credentials; Paul points to their very existence as his *letter* of recommendation. Then goes on to say that his qualifications come from God and such *letters* are written on the heart not in stone.

    There is nothing new about God *writing* His desires or instructions or His message on our hearts as this was recently discussed by us concerning Deuteronomy 6:6.

    Which is one reason I understand that people of all nations and religions have for the most part agreed on the basics of right and wrong behavior as well as a *desire* to look beyond this life for a purpose and reason to explain it all.

    If we believe it, all of the specifics are written down in the Bible.

    Now what kind of *letter* or message are *we*? Do we point to Jesus of Nazareth as the *only* way to God? Or do we choose not to believe what is written as being said by Jesus Himself in favor of what we feel more comfortable with?

    One of the disappointments I encounter is reading a newspaper story headline that captures my attention only to find that the story has no substance.

    Are we a banner or headline only without a story? What kind of witness does our story give in honoring and glorifying Jesus and so God?


  56. cbrown says:

    Good morning. Have been reading the comments and have been blessed by them all especially Bill’s earlier post.

  57. poohpity says:

    Our Daily Bread for today resonates with this topic. Do we by our lives show the wonderful awesomeness of what knowing Jesus is like and how He has changed us or do we present something that looks and acts like sour milk that pushes folks away from ever getting to know Him?

  58. poohpity says:

    Brothers and sisters in the Lord I plead with you not to follow people who would take you away from knowing the Lord by saying that the scriptures are of no use. People have used the Bible to do all kinds of harmful things to others throughout the centuries by leading others to doubt what is written but it can only be done if one is ignorant of what it truly says. God has preserved His Words written from papyrus to paper, from individual scrolls to what we now have bound together to form our present day Bible. ADE priests tried to keep it out of the hands of common people so that they could elevate themselves as the go to’s rather than God and even in today’s times they have positioned themselves the same way.

    It is the very means we have to identify wolves in sheep’s clothing. People have used it to abuse, dominate and oppress which is far from it’s intended purpose, to read from the testimonies of those who came before us and their relationship with God. They experienced and have shared what happened throughout history which since people are the same as they always have been we see commonalities to bring us all together.

    Just as it is a means to bring about good it can be used for evil as well by those who wish to elevate themselves. I would imagine that when we first came to believe in what Jesus did for us He put it on the hearts of those who follow Him the desire to know all we can about Him. Searching, seeking and knocking is a life time journey since our God is so big we will never know all there is to know or understand all there is to understand but we have a glimpse not only from the Bible but from creation it’s self.

    People try and distract, deter and twist from it’s truths but once God teaches you something no one can take it away. The Spirit of discernment is within each of us and we can use our minds and hearts to beware of who we follow or listen to by guarding what we allow to fill our thinking. Trust is such a valuable commodity and it has to be earned, so do not let someone take you down a wrong road that will cause harm to that wonderful heart and mind that is within each person, it needs to be guarded and it can only be guarded by faith and knowing truth.

  59. quietgrace says:

    Pooh you said, Brothers and sisters in the Lord I plead with you not to follow people who would take you away from knowing the Lord by saying that the scriptures are of no use.

    I have not myself heard anyone here say the scriptures are of no use, are you just speaking in generalities, or?

  60. poohpity says:

    grace, do you know anyone who would like you to follow what they say or do you want others to follow what you say? I also would disagree that there have been people here that would lead others to not read the scriptures for a variety of reasons.

  61. quietgrace says:

    No, I do not hear others saying ‘follow’ what I say, but, ‘please hear what I have to say because I am also a child of God and am a part of this community’. I only want people to follow Jesus, not me.

  62. quietgrace says:

    2 Corinthians 3:17,18.NASB

  63. bubbles says:

    Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” Not Buddha or anyone else. Just through Jesus. He’s sitting on the right hand of the Father making intercession for us. He is our high priest. No one else. Him alone.

  64. SFDBWV says:

    Watching a (somewhat) local TV news station yesterday evening they were reporting on a ham radio gathering of operators in some sort of day of connecting.

    In today’s instant communication availabilities I had thought the amateur radio operators had went the way of the dinosaur but was glad to see it not only still popular, but still a necessary tool in the event of disasters.

    Watching these people interacting with other people of like interest reminded me of our little community here, except we have no immediate way of communicating with each other.

    I did so appreciate it when Bruce’s wife let us know of his passing, letting us know was important to him and pleasing him was important to his wife.

    There have been so many others that have just became silent over the years it makes me wonder as to their condition.

    The comfort of fellowship is important to human beings and it would seem to God as well as from the very beginning God spoke of being not alone when the whole of creation came to be.

    Grace your scripture offering is an example of why tyranny always wants to silence the Bible as it offers freedom and oppressors are afraid of It.

    Cloudy and 59 degrees in the mountains of West Virginia this morning.


  65. bullwinkle says:

    Steve, just to let you know, I am alive and well and living in NE Colorado. I don’t often feel as if I have a great deal to add to the conversation so I often sit on the sidelines, but enjoy very much beginning my mornings reading the thoughts of the “group”.

    Living our faith is so very important and have to agree that knowing what the bible says is fundamental. Growing in knowledge but then not using that to lord it over others can become tricky.

    I appreciate what Bill had to say last week:
    At the end of the day, I don’t think how we read/understand the Bible matters. What does matter is what we do with the knowledge/insight/wisdom we’ve gleaned from it. Do we spend our time arguing the finer points? Or do we feed Jesus’ sheep?

    Frankly, I have missed Gary and what he brought to the table. I see no harm in being reminded that others watch how we conduct ourselves, yes loving others is important, but Satan is very good at capitalizing on hypocritical behavior. Matt 3:1,2,3

  66. Bill says:

    Good Morning Everyone,

    I agree with quietgrace. I don’t recall reading any comments here that tell people to ignore the scriptures. What I read are comments telling people that worshiping the scriptures – making the printed word God – is unhealthy, not to mention unbiblical. If Jesus is correct when he says “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35 ESV), that means what Jesus considers his words are not to be found in the Bible, in the printed word. Bibles are made of paper. They are earth-bound books. They will most certainly “pass away” when heaven and earth pass away.

    So Jesus is flat-out telling us that there is an aspect to his words that is not bound – not to be found – where we think they are found, the Bible.

    What is that aspect?

    Who knows?

    But I think it’s the living out of what we’ve gleaned from the Bible. It’s the exhibition of love and the visible manifestations of the fruits of the spirit. Those are the qualities Jesus tells us set us apart from those who do not follow him.

    @Bullwinkle, did something happen to Gary? Is he still around, but busy? Or did he post awhile back that something befell him or a member of his family?

    @Steve, it is always a pleasure to read your posts. West Virginia. I’ll have to remember that. I’d love to see those mountains. (Didn’t John Denver sing about West Virginia in one of his songs?)

    @Bubbles, did anyone in Mart’s BTA blog say there’s another way to God? If the Bible is true, then Jesus’ statement is true.

    @Pooh, if memory serves, there has always been equal amounts of abuse at the hands of Christians who strictly adhere to the Bible, as well as from those who depart from the Bible. When abuse occurs (ultra conservative/fundamentalist or ultra liberal/”progressive”) the Bible is just a tool. And its words are weapons – twisted liberally, or followed to the letter conservatively.

    There’s a spirit behind each kind of action – liberal or conservative…a “loose” interpretation of the Bible or a “literal” interpretation of the Bible. Both have the power to cause untold abuse and damage if used the wrong way.

    For example, I know a ministry leader who spends a great deal of time railing against a particular Christian college that, he says, abuses people spiritually. Not because of a loose, liberal interpretation of the Bible; rather, because of an ultra-conservative, literal interpretation of the Bible – a heavy-handed use of the Bible to control people.

    So there has to be a wisdom over and above the scriptures, something that we glean from reading them, something that transcends them – in part, given to us by the spirit of God – that enables us to see beyond the letter of the law and to embrace the spirit. Remember: If Jesus had stood by the letter of the law, the woman caught in adultery would have been stoned that day. So “violating” the letter is sometimes “obeying” the letter. It’s a paradox.

    What I bring to the table here is the latter approach. The older I get (I’m 54), the more I read, the more I talk to people, the more I try to live by the wisdom of the Bible, the less rigid, fundamentalist, and literal I become. The more filled with love I am, the less literal I become. There’s a spirit at work in those words that is not just those words.

    Do I want everybody to do what I do? Not at all. Y’all are free to follow the word, the spirit, and your conscience as you see fit. That’s what free will is all about. I cannot tell you how to live your lives. That’s between you and God.

    @Saled, “the lonely mailbox.” That’s priceless.

    @Pooh, your post on June 25, 2014 at 9:50 am was amazing:

    – Yesterday at my doctor’s office came a man wearing a turban and as he set beside me I asked what significance his turban and long hair underneath was in his Sikhism. We began a conversation about listening to others respectfully and with a sincere heart. Further into our conversation he told me all I had been saying his son who is Sikh going to Brophy a Catholic high school on the debate team presented the same topic called “Splitting Hairs”. I was talking about people concentrating so much on the things that divide we are not willing to really listen to others if we feel our views are different and that some folks tend to demonize them rather than respect differing views. We found together many similarities in our beliefs and had a very good conversation. –

    That was one of the most beautiful posts I’ve ever read on BTA. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    I have a Sikh friend, too. He has long hair and a turban. He is from Punjab, India. He is a very nice man, very much interested in God, love, etc. We have great conversations. What strikes me most about him is that he seems to have a closer relationship with whatever it is he calls God than some Christians do with who they call God. There’s a kindness and compassion about him that I do not often find among Christians who adhere to a strict, literal interpretation of the Bible.

    Anyway, it’s time for me to get going. I just wanted to stop by and offer my two cents. Take it for what it’s worth.



  67. poohpity says:

    Satan can capitalize on hypocritical behavior but since that is a problem we all have in some form or another we can rest in the fact that we are given grace. The law condemns the best of us(humbles) yet grace saves the worst of us (restores). Our treasure can be in how good we think we are or in how good Jesus has been to us. Peter told Jesus he was willing to die with Him but then when the rubber meets to the road, Peter even denied knowing Him, hypocrisy at it’s finest. Jesus went to the Cross for Peter and for us. Peter had to understand his internal spiritual poverty before he could grasp the concept of grace to feed Jesus’ sheep.

  68. armando1961 says:

    Good morning to all, I just read Bill’s latest posting and I have to say I couldn’t agree more with he wrote. Couldn’t say it better myself. It’s nice to share such thoughts in a respectful and thoughtful manner and encourage one another that way, nice way to start a Sunday. God bless us all.

  69. poohpity says:

    Isn’t telling someone that the scriptures are inaccurate, flawed, inconsistent essentially saying do not put that much emphasis on knowing them. Explain to me how to know God without them in some form or another whether they are preached or written about. If we do not search for God through them then wouldn’t we lead others to believe they are not that important to read because we don’t. Anyone can put a negative spin on reading the Bible but I would say the positives far out weigh anything else.

  70. poohpity says:

    Bill to you, your words were worth only 2 cents. :-)

  71. Bill says:

    Hi Pooh,

    That’s okay. Sometimes my words really *are* only worth two cents.

    If, in your post of 11:14, you were talking to me, I’m not sure I ever said the scriptures were “inaccurate, flawed, inconsistent, essentially saying do not put much emphasis on knowing them.”

    We can know God in many ways. One of them is to look at nature. Gaze into the heavens on a clear night. Look at how ducks are made. Spend time in the mountains. Examine a snowflake. Or a butterfly. God created all that.

    We can know God by listening to a Beethoven symphony or a Chopin nocturne. We can know God by standing in front of a Rembrandt or a Mondrian or a van Gogh.

    We can know God by watching humanity, seeing babies, loving one another, being aware that the human body is the most complex system ever created.

    God can be known in many ways.


    The Bible is likely the main way because it provides specific instruction about what he’s done and what he asks of us.

    My point is that if we do not lift our eyes from the black-and-white words on the page from time to time to notice what life is really all about then we’re missing a lot about God and his creation.

    If you’d like, I could only charge one cent for this post. :)


  72. poohpity says:

    Bill, can the heavens or creation teach you truth? I don’t know whether truth is an issue for you but it is for me. We can not blame the Bible for not presenting us with truth we can however blame people who have agendas on twisting truth to fit their own motives which lead people away from knowing, learning, building and developing truth in our lives. Having experienced most of what the Bible teaches I know it to be truth, it has never lead me astray where people have.

    No I was not saying you said those things that was a general statement. To me the bible is way more than specific instruction about what he’s done and what he asks of us; it is truth and life. Just as you grow in your relationship with your wife overtime coming to know her better as time goes on that is how the Bible is for me in my relationship with God.

  73. poohpity says:

    Bill, listening to what you write is priceless because you are, so it is more than 1 or 2 cents worth. :-)

  74. armando1961 says:

    Without pretending or intending to add fuel to the fire, I would like to add MY 2 cents’ worth on the topic of Scriptures, if I may. I believe we should place greater emphasis on our thoughts and actions toward each other and on our personal relationship with God than on the Scriptures, otherwise it becomes a form of Scripture-worship or idolatry. The Scriptures are a tool provided by divine inspiration to assist us in living godly lives and in attaining a satisfactory personal relationship with God. While it is dead wrong to completely disregard the Scriptures, I think it is equally wrong –and there is such a thing– to place too much emphasis on the Scriptures. I believe we should pay more attention to the SPIRIT of the Scriptures –the essence, the teachings, the lessons– than the LETTER of the Scriptures, what the underlying message in a particular text is, as opposed to the “who did what, wrote what or said what, when and where” and so forth. If you think about it, that is precisely what Jesus criticized the Pharisees and scribes for, paying more attention to the Law –the Scriptures– than to the people and the need to minister to the people. I don’t want to get in an argument into the whole “biblical inerrancy” thing but I will say that there are various schools of thought and thousands of books and pages written on the subject by many theologians, ministers and religious teachers and the subject is a veritable minefield. If you ask my opinion, I will say that (in my opinion), there are textual inconsistencies which are, however, explainable and minor and which do not affect the essence –the message– of the Scriptures. And at the risk of repeating myself, I will add that human language (be it written or verbal) has definite limitations; that the Bible is not “a” Book but a “collection” of Books; that these Books were written down by possibly hundreds of people over several hundred years; that these were NOT written in English but translated into English; that what we call “the” Bible did not “fall from Heaven” (so to speak) already printed and bound, on the hands of angels, but was actually standardized and agreed upon by various religious committees, both Jewish and Christian, over several hundred years; and that ONLY God is perfect and nothing else –NOTHING– under the heavens is perfect. If that makes the Bible “flawed, inaccurate or inconsistent” in parts of its TEXT –although never in its meaning or message– then so be it, I can accept that and live with that and that does not in the least affect my faith in God and Jesus and the gift of salvation and my staunch belief in the divinely-inspired nature of the Bible. I can see how some folks would have a problem with that, but I do not pretend to either know all the answers or to disrespect those who think or believe otherwise, only to share my opinion with them and try to explain how I arrived at my opinion on the subject.

  75. Bill says:

    Hi Pooh,

    You wrote (June 29, 2014 at 12:09 pm):

    “Bill, can the heavens or creation teach you truth? I don’t know whether truth is an issue for you but it is for me.”

    Yes. The heavens or creation can teach me truth.

    Why? Because nothing is more truthful to the nature and character of God than what he created. To say that the heavens or creation cannot teach me truth is to say something along the lines of, “I do not believe God created what I’m seeing.” To say that denies the existence of God, or questions what the Bible clearly says he created.

    Truth can be found in everything God created – people, the heavens, love, art, beauty, etc.

    How do I know this? The Bible tells me so.


    P.S. Because this is a short post, I’ll only charge half a cent for it.

  76. armando1961 says:

    Once again I’m in total agreement with Bill, I also believe that one can learn truth from direct observation of all creation, in addition to, or aside from, the revealed Word of God in Scripture. That which is created speaks of the existence, power and uniqueness of its Creator. Which is why the ancient Greek philosophers, who had not been exposed to the divine revelation that had been received by the Jewish people through the prophets, were able to surmise and uphold the existence of a Creator God.

  77. poohpity says:

    Does the Bible say that or is that your opinion?

  78. Bill says:

    “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

    “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And God saw that the light was good.”

    The Bible tells me God created the heavens and the earth…and it was good. The Bible also tells me God created man in his image.

    Therefore, when I see the heavens, and I behold mankind, I am seeing (a) the truth of what God said he did and (b) a way for me to know something about God from his creation.

    So it’s both what the Bible says and my opinion.

  79. belleu says:

    I remember Jesus said the Pharisees, “…devoured widow’s houses.” Mark 12:40 The Pharisees read the Scriptures but did not do what they said, which was to help the widow and orphan. They chose the parts of the Bible they wanted to act on and left out the part they didn’t like.

    People still do that today. My take on the Bible is that it is a living organism given to us from God. He has protected his book through thousands of years and I believe the words in it are words from him. Taking the spirit of the Bible is also important. If we don’t we can become legalistic.

    Paul says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

  80. poohpity says:

    Bill, I wonder if you are confusing the character of God with His truth, His reality which is far different from ours. Everyone has opinions they are like noses, so are they beneficial to blow without covering? Are you leading others to God or to yourself? This is just me but I would rather point people to God through His Word than to what I have to say about any matter. But that is what makes you, you and me, me. Jesus is the truth and when I understand His truth then I understand the Cross and can read the Bible with His help and guidance which from Genesis through Malachi has pointed us to Him, the Truth full of grace.

    Most seem to not read the Bible because it causes them to look within at the revelation of the truth about themselves compared to God not others and that is a hard truth but done with such mercy.

  81. SFDBWV says:

    Have you ever noticed that once you say something it can’t be taken back, it can’t be erased it’s *out there*.

    Jesus stated that every single word we have ever said, even nonsense words will be so remembered that we will be held accountable for them.

    I only know this because it is written in Matthew 12:36.

    You have to love the next verse (Matthew 12:37) “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”

    A few years ago Mart had us tackle the differences between what Paul said and what Jesus said. Without going back into that subject too deep I just want to say that there is a lot of information to be found there in the Scriptures and though millions of souls have been won to Jesus without knowing any of it, if we are to present Jesus to any unbeliever we need to be prepared to answer some real deep and serious questions from them and the only place I know to find the answers are there in the black and white pages of the written word aka the Bible.

    Jesus quoted the OT and I believe He quoted Deuteronomy more than any other Book.

    If we are to believe that God is the author of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16) then we are wise to absorb every jot and tittle of it so as to prepared for the warfare that comes against our beliefs. (2 Timothy 3:17)

    While there read all of what Paul has to say concerning these last days.

    To this very day mathematicians and other scientists pour over Sir Isaac Newton’s notes looking for more information from this long dead genius, but are frustrated to find most all of his notes are the study of *Scripture*; as it was the study of Scripture that led him to all of his discoveries.

    The study of all the natural world around us will lead us to wonder if there is a creator, but it is found in the Bible that “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork. (Psalms 19:1)

    I agree there are a great many very good poems out there, but none that compare to the Book of Psalms.

    Sorry I didn’t have time nor did I intend to go this long tonight.

    Be blessed

  82. quietgrace says:

    Hello everyone,
    As far as ‘rightly dividing the word of truth’ goes I use the process of critical thinking, which wikipedia defines as: Critical thinking is the study of clear and unclear thinking. It is primarily used in the field of education, and not in psychology (it does not refer to a theory of thinking).[1]

    The National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking (a non-profit organisation based in the U.S.)[2] defines critical thinking as the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skilfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.[3]

    I believe many here do also. And some don’t. But we all know Jesus, who loves us and died for us, no matter how we approach the scriptures.

    God’s richest blessings to all this fine day,

  83. armando1961 says:

    I make a habit of reading Scripture on a daily basis (actually several versions at the same time) and I can attest to the fact that it has done wonders for my life. I never fail to see something new or discover some new angle, but the overriding themes of God’s mercy, infinite love and grace come shining through each and every time, much louder and clearer than any thoughts of condemnation or of falling short of the Christian ideal. It is truly an immeasurable blessing.

  84. bubbles says:

    AND memorizing Scripture is important. The Psalms say that we should hide God’s Word in our heart that we might not sin again God. When I memorize verses, it makes me ruminate over them for a long time and those verses become part of me and they change me. They become even more special.

  85. poohpity says:

    It seems anyone can make reading the Bible a legalistic thing but when it is done out of honest inquiry to know more about God I believe that God is pleased and responds to that. I know from experience when anyone really cares about me they ask questions and really listen to my deepest heart. Paying attention to how my mind works, they want to know me and that shows they really care. On the other hand there are those who accuse, assume, distort and say bad things not ever really knowing me at all. I think that is what happens in regards to the scriptures and one’s journey to know our God. BUT God knows those who truly desire to know Him, if it is only words or a heart’s yearning not just knowledge for knowledge sakes.

  86. quietgrace says:

    BUT God knows those who truly desire to know Him, if it is only words or a heart’s yearning not just knowledge for knowledge sakes.

    I have to disagree with you Pooh. I think that anybody who reads the bible knows it’s about God, and even if they are just trying to gain knowledge, which is not bad at all, and know nothing about God, they will find Him there, whether they choose to acknowledge Him or not. Sometimes it takes us years to get to that point, but the searching and seeking are all God-breathed longings whether we know it or not. God is our creator, and as His creatures we all long at one time or another to find out the purpose for our existence.

    God knows and loves all people, whatever the current status of their heart might be. Ask, seek, knock. It’s a process we all undergo. We need to be kind and wise, as you were with the Sikh gentleman you encountered, and not place judgement on someone that may turn them away from their searching. How do we REALLY know what is in a person’s heart and mind regarding their faith in God. I have on occasion said something I didn’t really mean, (good and bad)as I looked into my heart. I hope others will judge me kindly and I think that is the best we can do with all people. Let grace abound.

  87. armando1961 says:

    I think God is truly revealed to those who seek God whether by reading Scripture or in any other way, so long as it is done sincerely, with humility and a repentant heart, but ESPECIALLY by reading the Bible. Maybe those who are not really seeking God will not find God, at least not initially, but no wrong can come from reading the Bible and I think all those who read the Scriptures will eventually be moved to want to seek God and will thus eventually find God. I may be too much of an optimist but I think the way to salvation is open to all and I like to think that if not all, then at least the vast majority will be saved. God’s love and mercy are truly immense and God’s grace is available to all.

  88. Bill says:

    See? This is my point.

    If we are more concerned about correcting others (especially those who do not hold the same views we do) than we are actually APPLYING what it is we believe, that’s called hypocrisy.

    Christians, by and large, have a problem letting people be themselves, of allowing others to hold an opinion at odds with their own.

    What possible difference could it make to anyone here what my view of the Bible is? Furthermore, have I EVER offered a low opinion of the Bible, God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Christian life, or my faith? If so, I wasn’t aware of it. Yet, if I haven’t, then why do threads get prickly when someone – in this case, me – shares a slightly different opinion?

    In the grand scheme of life, I’m not even a flea on a dog’s behind. I’m merely one voice among dozens here. Do I have the power to derail your faith, cause you to thumb your nose at God, and condemn you to hell for all eternity?

    If you think so, your God is too small, and far too weak, to save you.

    If you don’t think so, then why always with the digs, the challenges, the criticisms?

    How about we get over ourselves, huh? How about we quit thinking we, alone, have the answers – every single answer, every single time, for every single question? Let’s let people explore their faith, express their questions, and believe what they want to believe – as best they know how to believe it given where they are. We seriously need to stop being piranha smelling blood.

    Please? Can we just relax?

    I love you people. Truly. I’m just tired of feeling like someone’s nipping at my butt every time I post something.


  89. poohpity says:

    grace, when did I place judgement on someone or turn them away from searching? Which part do you disagree with? That God knows the heart of those who are truly searching for Him, that seems to be exactly what you are saying but worded differently.

  90. poohpity says:

    Bill, who corrected someone from believing what they believe? Who is without hypocrisy?

  91. quietgrace says:

    Pooh, I’m sorry I guess I can’t explain myself any further in a way you will understand. Lets just agree to disagree, ok? You are right though, we are saying about the same thing but in different ways. Could be my perceptions also getting in the way. I think too much sometimes for my ow good.

    Bill, I know how you feel, I too cringe every time I post something. Hopefully this will end soon.

  92. poohpity says:

    Perceptions play a huge part in any conversation. Taking things personally when they were never meant that way because we can not hear the tone of voice in which they are said but if we think the best of others first and foremost keeps us from “assuming” the worst. I understand very well when someone takes the time to explain.

  93. armando1961 says:

    Just to be on the record, I agree on the essential points with most of what everybody is saying or writing on this topic and nothing I’ve said or written has been meant to offend or contradict anyone. This is a terrific blog and a terrific bunch, God bless all!

  94. hera says:

    Indeed. May God always be here….

  95. shawnkeally says:

    God is love. – smk

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