christianity

The Renewing of the Mind

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Biblical Foundation

“And Be renewed in the spirit of your mind” Ephesians 4:23

“And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” Colossians 3:10

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” Romans 12: 2

“…but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” 2 Corinthians 4:16

 

The Christ follower is currently partaking of a renewing process. This process is continual from the time since we accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In order to understand this process, there are two key words that must be understood. The first word is “the renewing”, and the second word is “the mind”.

Let’s define the first, “the renewing”:

To renew: According to Webster’s Dictionary, to renew is, (1) to make new again, to make young, fresh, or strong again: to bring back into good condition (2) to give new spiritual strength to (3) to cause to exist again; reestablish; revive

The term, renew, gives the indication of something that at one time was new, but has lost its original first condition. It is the making new again of what is old, worn, or exhausted. It is to bring back to an original or unimpaired condition.

In the Greek, the term renewing in Romans 12:2, is anakainosis, which means a renewing or a renovation which makes a person different than in the past. It is to renew qualitatively.

Let’s now look at the second word, “the mind”:

The mind: Again, according to Webster’s Dictionary, the mind is, (1) memory; recollection or remembrance, (2) what one thinks; opinion (3) that which thinks, perceives, feels, wills; a) the seat or subject of consciousness, b) the thinking or perceiving part of consciousness, intellect, or intelligence c) attention; notice d) all of an individual’s conscious unit: psyche (4) the intellect in its normal state; reason

The mind is the central identifier of a person’s life. It is the main hub, from which our thoughts and the decision process takes place. According to the Bible, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). A man’s thoughts are a sum total of his life.

Now the renewing of the mind is the process by which the person is transformed. In other words, we are called to think differently than we did prior to serving the Lord. I would like to pause for a second to touch on a word which correlates with “the mind”, and that is “the heart”. Romans 10:10 says, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness”. The word “heart” here, in the Greek, is kardia, which the Scriptures attribute to it: thoughts, reasonings, understanding, will, judgment, designs, affections, love, hatred, fear, joy, sorrow, and anger. Therefore, the heart is used as a metonymy (a figure of speech in which the name of one thing is used in place of that of another) for the mind in general; the understanding; the will; the memory; the intention, affection, or desire; and the conscience.

In summary, your life should be reflecting continual change. It does not matter how much change, since this is a process that you must submit to individually, but certainly you should be reflecting some level of change since you accepted Christ into your life. This is our process of transformation, according to the Apostle Paul. To be transformed is “to change into another form”, in the Greek, metaorphoo.

We must continue to push forward to see that continual change by submitting our lives in obedience to what God is doing in us. We must defeat the old person in us which battles to take control of areas in our lives which we have already submitted. We must transform our thinking to live a life of faith of not only of the God we serve, but also a faith in the God we serve. That is to say a faith in all that He has established in His Word with regards to the life we should be living and the promises He has established for us.

As we read the Word of God, our minds enter into that place where change happens. Our thoughts begin to align themselves with the Scriptures in order to cause in us a Biblical reaction to circumstances. Our minds are transformed and old thoughts and habits are replaced by new thoughts and principles.

Only by renewing our minds can we put off the old man in us and his way of thinking, and put on the new man who continually grows into having the mind of Christ.

You Will Receive What You Believe

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In order to receive all that God has for you, it is necessary to position yourself under the Biblical principles established by God. You must understand the conditions which releases the blessing of God and your ability to receive those blessings.

The Lord Jesus Christ provided an insight into what qualifies you to be able to receive from the God. Although this topic can be easily misinterpreted to establish an umbrella by which all things desired are measured, it is not the intention. It only opens up a truth established in Scripture with regards to your ability to receive from God, that which you have been waiting on, or asking for.

Let’s review the Scripture verses which establish the foundation of this article:

“All all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”

Matthew 21:22

“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”

Mark 9:23

“Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

Mark 11:24

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”

John 14:12-14

The primary word in what is established above is “believe”. Your ability to believe is measured by your faith in God and what He has said in His Word about receiving. It does not matter what your circumstances are, or how impossible it may seem, “believing” qualifies you to receive from God that which you are asking for. This may seem overly simplistic since must would say that they do believe in God. However, we are talking here about believing what God has to say about the matter. This believe must surpass all things, including the circumstances surrounding your need.

If you have a need, God says in His Word that “He will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). You must believe what God said, not what your circumstances are saying. When you believe Philippians 4:19, you put into action Matthew 21:22, “All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, BELIEVING, ye shall receive.” The reverse to your believe is doubt. Take a look at what Jesus said in Mark 11:23, “…and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says”. By replacing doubt with believe you position yourself to receive.

Let’s take a look at Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”. I want you to notice a few things in this verse:

  1. God said that you cannot please Him without faith (it is impossible).
  2. God said that if you come to Him, you must believe that He is.
  3. The term “and that He is” is a continuation of the believe statement. In other words, God said that you must believe that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

How you receive is connected to how you believe. How you believe is connected to the things that are possible in your life. One area of believe is that you will receive what you believe. This in turn is connected to your expectations. If you are expecting a negative report, then you will receive a negative report. If you are expecting defeat in your circumstances, then defeat will come. If you are expecting not to receive from God, then your ability to receive from Him is hindered and you will continue to receive what you are believing.

Turn your ability to receive from God by removing doubt and believing what God has to say about your circumstances, and you will see the impossible become possible in your life.

 

Your Faith And The Victorious Life

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FaithThere is no denying that the world is currently in turmoil. Societies are living in challenging times. The news agencies have seem to run out of good things to report. All is doom and gloom. Answers continue to evade the world. Fear and hopelessness continue to guide the decisions of the people, only to disappoint and bring more desperate times. So, what does the victorious life looks like?

Jesus said in Mark 11:22, “Have faith in God”. Many may look at this and say, “yes, I believe that there is a God”. However, it is not enough to just believe that there is a God, you must believe God. What does it mean to believe God? It means that you trust and accept what He has said. It means that you accept His report above every other, regardless of what your situation may look like. It means that you operate and live your life in accordance with the way which He has established, and your decisions align with the principles established in His Word.

When we believe God, our lives change. We are no longer controlled by our circumstances, but control our circumstances by connecting them with what God has to say about them. Through our faith we believe that everything is subjected to the authority of the Word of God. Nothing is impossible to the believer. Mark 9:23 establishes this principle, “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth”. What did Jesus mean by this. He meant that the world of the impossibilities is subjected to the principle of believing. This indicates that your life is directly connected to your areas of unbelief. In these areas of unbelief exists your failings and disappointments. Your challenges are a direct result of your inability to believe.

Fear is the opposite of faith. It debilitates your ability to believe. Fear is manifested by the presence of lack of faith. It is brought out by focusing on the unknown factors of whatever situation you may be going through. It is anchored in the “What ifs” of life. It places limits on your ability to believe in the power of God.  However, we are called to believe God, as mentioned above. This means to believe in what God said in His Word. So, in Matthew 19:26, Jesus said, “With God all things are possible”. The key here is to connect yourself with God. To believe what He said, and overcome your fear by connecting your faith to a Word spoken by God Himself.

We begin by speaking what God has spoken with regards to our lives. If we want to live a victorious life, then we must begin by declaring that we are victorious, regardless of the circumstances that may surround us. Jesus said in Matthew 15:18, “Those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart; and they defile the man”. What does it mean to defile? It means to pollute, corrupt, dirty, contaminate. It means to make inferior by adding undesirable elements. So what we say has the ability to defile who we are, and the life that we live. Notice that what comes out of the mouth is based on what has been deposited in the heart. Jesus establishes this principle in Matthew 12:34, “for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.” Our thoughts are connected to our heart. What we allow this world to deposit in us will eventually transform us to its model. It does this by engraving in our hearts the words that come out of our mouth. Those words will create our reality. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” When we live our lives based on the words of God, then we live the type of life that God intended us to live. The victorious life is the blessed life. Jesus said in Luke 11:28, “Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” You keep the word of God in your heart. Then the words that come out of your mouth will align themselves with the word of God that is deposited in your heart, and this will create your new reality which is a victorious life.

Your life will never be the same in the moment that you align your words with God’s word. Change what you have been saying and begin to say what God has said, and then you will begin living life to the ultimate. Jesus said in John 6:63, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life”. He continues in John 15:7, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”

So begin today to align yourself with the Word of God. Begin to speak what He said. Take hold of those verses in the Word that speak to whatever situation you may be going through. Believe in God and believe God. Believe that what He said, He will do. And begin to welcome the victory in to every area of your life. It has been reserved for you.

What Is The Role Of The Church In Society?

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I will begin by answering this question in the simplest form. The charge given to us by Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20 is clear: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you..” Mark 16:15 expands on this command: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Luke 24:46-47 summarizes it: “Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

Now, the command is clear as to the mission of the Church. However, are we, as individual members of the Church, carrying out this command in the society in which we live? Are we representing as the Body of Christ (the Church), the example of what it means to be part of this Body? Finally, how is the influence of the Church affecting the society in which we live?

We may differ in the answers to the above questions based upon our own individual experiences. However, it is more than clear that we are living in a time of great peril with a demoralizing affect and the progressive destruction of our communities. This greatly in part caused by the breaking down of family values. You see, everyone is called to be an evangelist to their own families first. As the Church, we are attempting to reach the world, while we loose our own families in the process. Thus we are expecting others to be the message carriers for our own, while we launch out and do the same for others in the Church. Our greatest harvest is to be found within our own families. It is our greatest challenge because our families know us. It is much easier to impact the life of a stranger who can only see what we portray to them in the exterior. However, our families are aware of the intimate details of our lives. They know the failures and struggles that we have, or are experiencing. However, this also creates the greatest opportunity to impact the life of a loved one. If we live a truly born again life, dedicated to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the change would be evident and real. This change can be the appealing factor in drawing our family members to a place of hope, and fulfilling the command of preaching repentance and remission of sins.

So, what is the role of the church in society? For each member of the church to live a life worthy of the call in order to reach their own first, and in turn impact the world around them. Only then can our families be saved, our communities put back together, our nations healed, and our world impacted by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Society begins in the homes of each individual member of the Church. It is interesting that Luke’s summary of the great commission call to preach the gospel to all nations, however, it also commands to begin in Jerusalem first. In other words, the commission begins at home.

Keep in mind that society is a reflection of the homes they proceeded from. Society today has suffered the affects caused by the destruction of family values and moral teachings. It has spread like a disease throughout our communities, influencing and determining the world viewpoints of many, including the future leaders and legislators of our society, the children.

So, let us not just open the doors of our church buildings every Sunday morning, but let us daily open the doors of our hearts to those around us so that they may see the change in us brought about by the love of Jesus Christ being abundant in our lives. This is the role of Church in our society.

 

 

The Source of Our Confidence

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It goes without saying that we are living at a time of great uncertainty around the world. That which used to provide confidence and assurance seems to be dissipating, creating a void in the lives of those that held on to what now can be seen as a false sense of security. With this uncertainty there has also come a time in which anything that in anyway is connected to, or  mentions God has come under attack. It may seem as if this something that nobody saw coming, but the reality of it is that it has been progressing forward at a very rapid rate during this past century. Anytime that Christianity is compromised for the benefit of progress, you are left with an incomplete form of Christianity that is unable to withstand the forces that are in control at this time. Never has their been such a loosening of morality and a direct attack to the foundation of the family similar to what is being carried out today. These have been strategic steps taken during a time when the church has been distracted with its own internal debates and divisions.

Just recently it was reported that a man was arrested outside of a Department of Motor Vehicle building in the United States for opening a Bible and preaching to those that waited on line. This of itself could be irreprehensible if it was not for the actual wording of the violation in referring to the preaching as a protest. The defense on the part of the law makers was that a permit would have been provided for the protest, if one would have been applied for. Now, since when has the preaching of the Gospel been referred to as protest. We are now at a time when Christianity and the evangelizing of the lost has become another form of protest against the general consensus. Yet, Christians continue to live as if we have been stripped of all power. We now maintain a low profile in order to not bring attention to ourselves and avoid the calamity that taking a stand may bring. Now, this is occurring in a country that according to the past census considers itself primarily a Christian country.

You may be asking yourself, what does this has to do with theology? I will answer this, as I do not want anyone to view the TheologyExchange as just another political or social blog. That is not my purpose in creating the TheologyExchange. So, let’s connect the begining of this post with theology.

How has sin impacted our society? To answer this question you must first understand what sin is. Unless you have understanding of sin, then how can you measure how it has changed the direction of our society and its impact on the actual church. Sin, per se, is a theological conception. Only through the acceptance of the existence of a Holy God can sin and its reality be understood. Without sin and its implications then grace would be non-existent, for why then would it be needed. And as we know, without grace how can we have hope. We can better understand sin by categorizing it into two areas: (1) ungodliness, and (2) unrighteousness. The first, ungodliness, deals with our relationship with God. It is directly connected to a place of arrogance and/or self-glorification. The second, unrighteousness, deals with our relationship with each other. Unrighteousness is understood more as an untrue or unjust dealing between man and his neighbor. Now, unrighteousness is a direct result of ungodliness. The rejection of God is then the foundation of sin.

In summarizing what was said at the beginning of this post, we can then understand that the condition of our society has been brought about by a condition of sin. This through the direct rejection of God and His existence. This has lead to an ungodly society. One that represents itself arrogantly as not in need of a God figure. So it feeds its self-glorification by the dismissal of God from all of its dealings. We are then left with the second component of sin which is transferred directly to the society. That is the unrighteousness that prevails throughout people who have been led by the ungodliness of its leaders and representatives. This has created a false sense of security and confidence in those things that feed into the positions of ungodliness and unrighteousness. In other words, the actions of a people whose sinful position dictates and influences the decisions made by that society. The temporary gains only serve to fuel the desires to do away more with those things related to God, as man attempts to stand on his own by turning its back on his own Creator, to the point of proclaiming the non-existence of God.

So now that the temporary gains are beginning to come to an end, man does not turn against God, since He has already been rejected, but turns against his fellow man in a war of the fittest. Confidence is now placed in our abilities to hold on to those temporary gains. Yet we as Christians should not be fooled by the temporary, since we are expectant of the eternal. Our confidence must be in God for only then can godliness and righteousness defeat the sin that is currently showing its true fangs to those who chose the temporary over the eternal by rejecting a relationship with their Creator. The church should stand firm and not entertain the perception that it may have a shared interest with this world. Remember, we are in this world, but not of this world. We cannot regulate our beliefs  in order to please those outside of the church, as if we have somethings in common, for what does light have in common with darkness, but to shine in it and eliminate the other. Let us continually be a beacon that will never be ashamed to stand in defense of our Christian principles, by being faithful to the true source of our confidence, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and the foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lust of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” (Romans 1:21-25)

When Tolerance Becomes A Compromise

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First let me say that the structure of Christianity is one that is based on exclusivity. Exclusivity comes from the idea of shutting out other considerations, or better defined as excluding all but what is specified. The position of exclusivity is one that is radical and leaves no room to be negotiated.

In Christianity a foundational position is that no other religion or belief structure is true other than what has been centered on the person of Jesus the Christ. Take a look at these statements made by Jesus: “I am the bread which came down from heaven”; “I am the bread of life”; “I am from him, and he hath sent me”; “I am the light of the world”; “I am from above”; “I proceedeth forth and came from God”; “I am the door”; “I give unto them eternal life”; “I and my Father are one”; “I am the resurrection and the life”; “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”. Notice the focus on the “I” found throughout these statements. In just these few statements, Jesus was establishing the exclusivity for eternal life to be found only in the Christian faith. He is the only way to eternal life. All other ways are excluded and this is exclusivity.

Now, tolerance comes from the idea of recognizing and respecting others beliefs and practices without sharing them. There are many religions in the world that have established their own systems of beliefs and practices, and in religious tolerance, we are asked to recognized and respect each one. However, the Christian faith presents an exclusive position. What tolerance can be found between darkness and light, life and death, or salvation and condemnation. The principles of Christianity separate our beliefs and practices to direct contradictions found in all other religious systems. However, it is love and not tolerance that the Christian has been told to reflect. We are told to love our neighbors. This is to be accomplished without compromising our beliefs.

Can Christianity co-exist with other religious beliefs? Of course. We do so everyday. We are instructed to do so in love. However, in Christianity there is not an equality shared with other belief systems. We do not compromise truth. The fact is that there is only one way and all others lead down the path of condemnation. We do not compromise for the sake of unity, but show compassion through love for the masses that have erred in choosing a path that is not centered on Jesus, the Son of God. All roads do not lead to God.

Has Our Light Grown Dim?

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There is no doubt that we live in a world in turmoil. Our society proceeds forward with very little knowledge and understanding of the issues that affect, or will affect, the nations as we see them. It is not my intention to enter into a debate as to why the world has chosen the paths that it has. Neither is it to judge our national leaders and their capabilities.

However, there is a question that does need addressing and that does require some sense of accountability. That question is, ‘Where is the Church today?.’ I do not speak about the 10 different church buildings found on the same street in our towns. Nor do I speak of the numerous choices among denominations to fit everyone’s personality and method of Christian service.

I speak of the Church that was founded by, and who’s cornerstone is, our Lord Jesus Christ. That body of  believers that represents His bride. I speak of that Church that stands on Biblical principles and refuses, at all costs, to compromise its Christian morals and beliefs. That Church that charges forward to present the Kingdom of God, not as one denomination, but as one body. That one that suffers when any part of its body is suffering. The one that stands boldly in the face of opposition and as Peter said to the leaders of his time, “You decide what God would want. Should we obey you or God? We cannot keep quite. We must speak about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20 NCV). Peter continued by answering to the command to be silent by declaring, “We must obey God, not human authority!” (Acts 5:29 NCV).

It is evident that the Church has lost its unity and has been for the most part silenced. Take a look at the statistics alone in the United States. This is a nation that according to a 2007 Pew Research Center Survey, proclaims to be 78.5% Christian (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_United_States). I do not know what definition many may have as to what constitutes a majority, but a minimum 51% should be enough to turn the tides to create change. Why is it then that the Church has been silenced and limited by an obvious minority?

Jesus said that we are the light of the world in Matthew 5:14. He goes on to say in verse 16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” In other words, we have not been called to grow dim and hide in the shadows, but have been called to ‘shine’ in a way that it be seeing by ALL men. When Jesus declares in verse 14, “A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden”, He was not referring to any place of governance but to His Church.

Have we allowed our light to grow dim? Just look around and honestly ask yourself, what impact has the Church made in the world in the last 25 years? In all truth, the last 35 – 40 years have represented a large shift in morality and what is acceptable for the sake of a so-called tolerance. Again, keep in mind that self-proclaim Christians hold a 78.2% majority in the United States alone.

Who’s to blame and who is at fault? Where is that city that should be set on a hill? Where is that new Jerusalem composed of believers from all Christian groups? To be dim is to compromise the light with darkness. Has the Church compromise for the sake of complacency and funding?