The truth of Scripture can never be reduced to a few theological abstractions. Jesus said, "The words that I speak to you they are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). Spirit and life can never be examined under our theological microscopes. They totally defy all such attempts. Not only so but they are dangerous and abortive. Dangerous, because of the possibility--as happened frequently in the past--that such documents become tools to interpret Scripture instead of Scripture being used to interpret the documents. Additionally, the Bible speaks to every generation, culture, and circumstance, with truths relevant to each particular age. While Scripture remains unchanging, a specific illumination may appear--or disappear--according to need. As the Holy Spirit's inspired volume, the Bible is to be revered, loved, believed, and protected. In that understanding, I share my limited understanding of the New Testament's presentation. Is this conclusive? No. I am open to learn. CC: 1. THE BIBLE: "Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." II Peter 1:20,21. The Old and New Testaments are Covenants (not mere books); the first, sanctified by Moses "sprinkling the blood of bulls and goats" and the second sanctified by the Messiah sprinkling His own blood. Hebrews 9:11-23;12:24. As such, each Covenant is inalterable, cannot be added to or taken from, and of which no part has lost the Divine Seal. Revelation 22:19. We therefore do not believe that I Corinthians 12 and 14, or similar passages, lost their validity with the death of the Apostles or upon the canon of Scripture being completed. As modern Christians, we believe it is our duty to preach all New Testament Scripture with commitment equal to that of first century Christians. Regarding the unity of the two Covenants, we understand the Old Testament to be the New Testament concealed; the New Testament to be the Old Testament revealed. Holy Scripture is the Divinely inspired Word of God and our only rule of faith and practice. II Timothy 3:16. 2. THE BEING AND NATURE OF GOD: God is One, maintaining His unity while sovereignly manifesting Himself in three personages, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. II Corinthians 13:14; John 1:1-14. Genesis 1:26. 18:1,2.The Father is the origin and initial cause of all that is. Jesus Christ, eternally pre-existent with the Father, became flesh, was born of a virgin into the earth, is the only sin-bearer for mankind, was crucified, resurrected, ascended, forever satisfied the demands of the Law, and will return again in Glory for the reclamation of the saints. "For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." II Corinthians 5:20,21. The Holy Spirit was, is, and forever remains, God with us on the earth as the Divine Presence in creation, salvation, inspiration, continuation, and consummation. 3. RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD: Jesus Christ is man's complete and sufficient approach to God. He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me. John 14:6. "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12. To receive eternal life, one must be redeemed in Christ, cleansed of sin in His blood, born-again by the Holy Spirit, and presented guilt-free to the Father. 4. THE NECESSITY OF THE NEW BIRTH: This new-birth experience is achieved "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior." Titus 3:5-6. God "saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." II Timothy 1:9. "For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:8-10. 5. THE FREE GIFT OF SALVATION: The gift of salvation is received as Jesus explained: "He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them he gave power to become the sons of God, even to those who believe on his name: Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." John 1:11-13. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He who believes on him is not condemned: but he who believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." John 3:16-18. "The gospel of Christ ... is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." Romans 1:16 6. HOW DOES ONE KNOW HE IS SAVED? The evidence of a born-again life is one's true belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. This is proved by his "denying ungodliness and worldly lusts" and the desire to live "soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world." Titus 2:12. "We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren." I John 3:14. Being in the "state of grace" is personal to each individual. We cannot claim salvation because of relationship to people, churches, denominations, organizations, or family ancestry. Jesus said, "By their fruit you shall know them." Matthew 7:20. 7. BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT: Jesus provided the Holy Spirit's baptism and miraculous gifts to equip believers for power-endued ministry and victorious living. As the new birth brings us into eternal life, preparing us for Heaven, so the baptism in the Spirit equips our present life with miraculous words of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healings, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues, interpreting tongues, and more. I Corinthians 12:4-11. Since the New Testament is Covenant and guaranteed, this wonderful gift remains available to the Body of Christ until Jesus' return. I Corinthians 1:7. None of the spiritual gifts have been withdrawn. The "Baptism in the Holy Spirit" is also called "The promise of the Father" and/or the "filling of the Spirit". Luke 24:49. Acts 1:4-8. I Corinthians 12:12-14. 8. THE GOSPEL: As a "witness to all nations," the gospel should be presented with the original message and power Jesus gave at the beginning. He expected the gospel to remain unchanged when He said to the first disciples, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them (all nations) to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20. Jesus was emphatic. His instruction, "teach them all things," referring specifically to the church at the "end of the age" is unmistakably clear. He expected the 21st century church is to be taught precisely what He taught the first century church. As a Ministry, we therefore deny the cessation theory that parts of the New Testament lost their validity or that the Holy Spirit's miraculous gifts and power have been withdrawn. The power is absent because the masses of Christianity have replaced faith in Bible truth with doctrines of denial. Jesus established one church for all time; there is no such thing as an "apostolic" and "post-apostolic" gospel with different teachings, different powers, and different expectations. As Jesus is "the same yesterday, today, and forever," so His gospel is as unchanging as Himself. Hebrews 13:8. "One Lord, one faith, one baptism." Ephesians 4:5. 9. "SIGNS AND WONDERS" CONFIRM THE WORD: The Apostle Paul equated his "fully preaching the gospel of Christ" by the attestation of "mighty signs and wonders". Romans 15:19. That is, no "signs and wonders", no full presentation of the gospel. The gospel itself is miraculous and should be verified miraculously. Not until contemporary times did the church's unbelief force it to abandon faith in the Holy Spirit's visible manifestations. That deception has caused some believers to credit genuine works of God to the devil. That is both blasphemous and dangerous. As a Ministry, we not only believe in the Spirit's present-day miracles but we experience them. While this includes healings, deliverances, revelations, etc., the New Testament provides no list of such "signs and wonders". It merely confirms that amazing things took place and that the Holy Spirit expects to continue them until the coming of Jesus 10. THE CHURCH AND THE KINGDOM: Jesus "loved the church and gave Himself for it". Ephesians 5:25. While He spoke the word "church" only three times in the Gospels, Matthew 16:18, 18:17, He spoke of the Kingdom more than 130 times. Jesus established the church, nourished and protected it, all the while focusing His major attention on the Heavenly Kingdom. When churches reverse this order, placing themselves first, disaster results. Such congregations fail their true mission and lose Kingdom power. By being in submission to the Kingdom, from which they draw all authority and strength, Matthew 16:19, local churches become capable instructors in Scripture, providers of strong spiritual families, instruments for baptism, holy communion, and the operation for spiritual gifts. As part of the Body of Christ, the visible congregation is God’s tool for involving believers in world-evangelism and directing new converts to the all-important Kingdom. Whenever possible, every believer should be identified with a local Bible-believing church. 11. DELIVERANCE MINISTRY: Thirty percent of Jesus' recorded New Testament ministry was spent in direct conflict with unclean spirits. He declared that the proof of His Kingdom's presence was the casting out of demons, Matthew 12:28, and commanded the disciples to continue doing so. Mark 16:17. We therefore believe in--and exercise--the ministry of deliverance from unclean spirits. 12. THE RESURRECTION: There will be a resurrection and final judgement of the dead. Those redeemed in Christ will be saved, others will be lost. Jesus said, "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment but the righteous into life eternal." Matthew 25:46. The duration of one is as great as the other. Chas HOW SIGNIFICANT IS THE SCRIPTURE? 2 Timothy 3:16-4:6. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” Pentecost exploded onto the ancient world with such suddenness and power that it forever altered the work of scribes and the production of books. The overwhelming demand for the written account of Jesus had no precedent in world history. As a result, the New Testament numerically eclipsed all the combined works of Plato, Aristotle, Herodotus, Euripides, Homer, and other ancient writers. Here is a fact you should know: There are no original manuscripts of any of the following ancient writers, scholars today accept them without hesitation. 1. Plato: Greek philosopher. His writings are found in a mere seven manuscripts, the oldest copy was written twelve hundred years after his death. 2. Aristotle: Greek philosopher, a student of Plato, tutor of Alexander the Great. Only five copies of any one work of Aristotle exist, and none of these were written less than fourteen hundred years after his death. 3. Herodotus: Greek historian. Only eight manuscripts survive; these were copied thirteen hundred years after the original. 4. Euripides: Greek playwright. Nine manuscripts exist, dated thirteen hundred years after they were first written. One is immediately struck by the scarcity of copies of these authors and the vast time lapse between the originals and today's reproductions. Yet no one questions their authenticity. Contrast the scarcity of works done by these secular writers to the abundance of New Testament copies. Renown scholar and professor, Dr. F.F. Bruce, verified approximately 4,000 ancient Greek New Testaments still in existence. Two complete manuscripts are dated less than three hundred years after the original. Most of the New Testament is preserved in copies written less than two hundred years after Jesus. Some existing books were composed about one hundred years after the originals. Part of one book came within a generation of the first-century. If approximately four thousand ancient New Testament manuscripts survived the ravages of time, we are overwhelmed with this question: How large was the original number of others, now lost, that exploded upon the public in the first centuries? What was the motivation--the power--that excited early believers into mass production of this book? The answer, of course, is that the book itself was composed by the Holy Spirit and contained His miraculous anointing. Those who read it became motivated to copy and preserve it. The Bible's claim to authenticity is totally beyond the reach of all other writers of antiquity. As believers, we stand secure in its reliability. But there is more to tell. Besides Greek copies, there are some 19,000 ancient New Testament transcripts in the Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic languages. This support-base of 24,000 historic New Testament manuscripts gives scholars the opportunity to compare them for accuracy. The result: These books are about 99.5% textually pure. No other ancient writing has such a record. Not only so, but these copies are better preserved than any other document from the past. Also, keep in mind that when the original New Testament documents were written there were numerous people still alive who had heard Jesus for themselves and would have protested loudly had the writing been inaccurate. No such complaint exists. None of Plato or Aristotle’s hearers were present to edit the copies we now accept as valid. Questions: If thousands of New Testament books survived the ravages of time when secular ones did not, how many more must there have originally been written?! What was the motivation behind such an explosion of books? Answer: Pentecost impacted the world of its day with such cataclysmic power that the urgent copying of thousands of New Testaments was undertaken. For example, only 30 years after the death of Jesus, Christians in the city of Rome had become so numerous that when Emperor Nero set fire to the city he blamed them for the destruction. In the frenzy that followed, thousands were crucified and slaughtered. These Roman Christians experienced the Holy Spirit’s same invincible-power that had come upon disciples in the Upper Room. Bibles were desperately needed. 1. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:26-27 2. “No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:20-21 3. Galatians 1:6-9. “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” 4. 2 Cor 3:4-6. And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. NT:2425 GREEK> hikanos (hik-an-os'); from hiko competent (as if coming in season), ample (in amount) or fit (in character): QUESTION TO THE MODERN CHURCH: Dare we edit what "holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit?" SCRIPTURES Jesus said: “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 Jesus said: "Heaven and earth shall pass away but My words will by no means pass away." Matthew 24:35. God the Father said: "My Covenant I will not break nor alter the Word that is gone out of my lips." Psalm 89:34. Jesus said to the Father: "For I have given to them (the disciples) the words which You have given Me, and they have received them ..." John 17:8. Peter said: "But the word of the Lord endures forever. Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you." I Peter 1:25. Paul said: "Be diligent ... rightly diving the word of truth." II Timothy 2:15. Peter said again: "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." II Peter 1:21. Paul said again: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable." II Timothy 3:16. Paul said once more: "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed." Galatians 1:8. David said: "Forever, O Lord, Your Word is settled in Heaven." Psalm 119:89. Moses said: "This is the blood of the Covenant which God has commanded you." Hebrews 9:20. "For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people." 9:19. John the Apostle said: "For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." Revelation 22:18,19. Chas SCRIPTURES Jesus said: “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 Jesus said: "Heaven and earth shall pass away but My words will by no means pass away." Matthew 24:35. God the Father said: "My Covenant I will not break nor alter the Word that is gone out of my lips." Psalm 89:34. Jesus said to the Father: "For I have given to them (the disciples) the words which You have given Me, and they have received them ..." John 17:8. Peter said: "But the word of the Lord endures forever. Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you." I Peter 1:25. Paul said: "Be diligent ... rightly diving the word of truth." II Timothy 2:15. Peter said again: "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." II Peter 1:21. Paul said again: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable." II Timothy 3:16. Paul said once more: "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed." Galatians 1:8. David said: "Forever, O Lord, Your Word is settled in Heaven." Psalm 119:89. Moses said: "This is the blood of the Covenant which God has commanded you." Hebrews 9:20. "For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people." 9:19. John the Apostle said: "For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." Revelation 22:18,19.
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