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What the Bible Actually Says

This post describes an approach to writing a topic from the Bible that accurately articulates what the Bible actually says (WTBAS).

Motivation

Communication between humans and groups of humans is notoriously difficult.  There is always a chance that when one person tells another something that an error will be introduced.  When you consider that humans have their own desires and inclinations that can motivate incorrect thoughts and actions, it is no wonder that there are errors in communication.

People today mislead others about what the Bible says.  Authors present their own views in place of what the Bible says.  They write out their views and interpretations and suppress the Bible to secondary importance by just using references to it.  You read what they say, not what the Bible says.  An example of this is:

Man says: The New Testament states that there is only one God (Matt. 23:9; Mark 10:18; 12:29; John 5:44; 17:3; Romans 3:30; 1 Cor. 8:4; Gal. 3:20; Eph. 4:6; 1 Tim. 1:17; 2:5; James 2:19; 4:12; Jude 25).  It goes on to make clear statements about the divinity of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit and, therefore, introduces the concept of the Trinity, although it does not actually use the word “Trinity”.

In this example, the author has conveniently left out the following information that conflicts with his view:

Bible says: (the one true God is the Father)

John 17:1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.  3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

Romans 15:5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 8:4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.  5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) 6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

Ephesians 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

The Bible does not support the idea of a three-in-one we don’t know what it is!  The Bible says the one true God is the Father.  There are additional facts in these verses that are also ignored by authors.  For now, just please note that a different mechanism than authors currently use is needed to help ensure that the Bible is correctly presented by them.

I refer to the approach used in this example as the self-centered approach.  In the self-centered approach people focus on themselves and what they think rather than what the Bible actually says.  This is accomplished by suppressing Bible information into just references to what it says.  It is apparent that those using the self-centered approach consider that what they say is more important than what the Bible says.  Using this approach, they relegate the Bible to secondary importance and present their view in the place of the Bible’s.  This allows the generation of false information which misleads those who read the text that is created.

Approach

I suggest an approach that I call What the Bible Actually Says (WTBAS).  I have already used this approach in the example above about how authors present their view and not what the Bible actually says.  The approach is simple.  It uses the Bible itself to establish what the Bible says.  In the above example I used several verses and underlined the relevant words that provide WTBAS on the topic of their being one God – the Father where the author had conveniently ignored what the Bible said about this to establish his view of the Trinity.

The following ruleset defines the procedure for creating a WTBAS topic paper:

  1. Copy and paste scripture(s) to establish a fact from the Bible.
  2. Underline specific words in the scripture(s) to highlight the fact being established.
  3. Precede the underlined scripture(s) by your fact statement that captures the fact.
  4. Ensure the fact statement accurately represents the underlined scriptures.
  5. Provide brief comments to clarify the fact in the underlined scripture(s). Save more lengthy comments for a separate commentary section from the WTBAS section.
  6. Generate fact statements to flesh out a topic using steps 1 to 5.
  7. Create a topic header for the underlying list of fact statements.
  8. Ensure topic header accurately represents the underlying list of fact statements.
  9. Create a hierarchy of topics by creating topic headers for underlying lists of topics using steps 7 and 8.

Following this rule set produces a hierarchy of WTBAS topics like:

  • Topic Header
    • Topic Header
      • Fact Statement/Sentence (i.e., Fact Header)
        • Underlined scripture

This ruleset, or an approximation, is used in the WTBAS topic posts on this website.  Using this rule set you can create your own WTBAS topic papers and use these to compare against what others are telling you so that you may determine the truth of the Bible for yourself.

Once the topic paper has been created, it can then be summarized to facilitate using WTBAS about the topic.  The summary can be used for comparison to what is taught be others.  But care needs to be exercised so that the summary is WTBAS and can be related back to the scriptures from which it came.

The process is:

  1. Copy the topic hierarchy to a new location.
  2. Remove all scriptures and comments.
  3. Condense each fact header and its fact statements into a paragraph.
  4. Leave other topic headers as they are, but adjust the header highlighting as appropriate.

See the topic summaries on this website for examples of the result.

Example

The following is a look at WTBAS example about the topic of man being in the image of God:

God created man in his own image

So [a & b] God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Gen 1:27)

Man’s body was created from the earth

And the Lord [a] God formed man of the dust of the ground, and [b] breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Gen 2:7)

Man’s spirit came from God

Then shall [a] the dust return to the earth as it was: and [b] the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. (Eccl 12:7)

Adam is the image of God as Seth is in the image of Adam

And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth: (Gen 5:3)

Even after the Fall, man is in the image of God

For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. (1Cor 11:7)

Notice the markers a and b.  The markers point out what the word image is referencing.  The markers show that man’s image in God includes both his body and spirit (see both a & b markers).  They also point out that man’s spirit was not created, but, rather, came from God and will return to Him at death (see marker b).

The headers (in bold) summarize the Bible teaching.  The Bible teaching is underlined in the respective scriptures.  Commentary can be provided to point out relationships between elements of scripture.  The result is that the reader can verify every step along the way whether or not it is WTBAS.

Happiness

The following provides a few definitions of ‘happiness’.

Happiness

Happiness is an inner quality; a state of mind; it is peace of mind.  If your mind is at peace, you are happy.  If your mind is at peace, but you have nothing else, you can be happy.  If you have everything the world can give – pleasure, possessions, power – but lack peace of mind, you can never be happy.

Normal Happiness

Normal happiness is the belief that happiness exists outside of ourselves; it is a matter of the ego-self looking to the world to determine happiness.

Normal happiness is something than comes and goes.  As we work to achieve it, we can increase it to a degree, but much of what gives us peace of mind is out of our control.  So, normal happiness can come and go.

True Happiness

True happiness is the belief that happiness exists within ourselves; it is a matter of the ego-self looking to one’s true-self to determine happiness.

True happiness is happiness that continues in you over time.  It is independent of the things that are currently happening in your life.  True happiness rest in our spirituality and must be developed over time.  To obtain true happiness requires effort to change the way we are in the world.  The following articulates some of these changes:

Being limited by our beliefs TO living beyond our beliefs
Holding onto the past TO letting go of the past
Living an unfulfilling life TO living a meaningful and fulfilling life
Improving and accepting ourselves
Looking for and giving love
Sharing happiness
Simplifying our life

Notes

Dr. Mark Atkinson  has an interesting view of happiness that seems to correlate with the Bible.  See his website for information.

References

References

Self

The following provides a few definitions of ‘self’.

Physical-Self

Our physical-self is our physical body including our brain, heart, and senses; everything that physically makes us who we are on this earth.

Ego-Self

Our ego-self is our physical-self with the inclusion of our awareness of our environment.  This awareness is what we perceive through our physical senses as modified by the model of the world that our brain has built by using that same information.

When we are born, we are aware only of the information provided by our senses.  As we grow our brain integrates the information it receives into a data store that provides a model of our environment.  Our brain never has access to our environment directly; only through our senses.  Once it has built a model of its perceived environment, it interprets new information received with-respect-to this model.

Our brain, using the model it has built, reacts to the environment.  This means that we react to each new experience in a way that depends not only on the current experience, but also on our past experiences.  Our awareness of our environment depends on the information provided by our senses and how our brain interprets them given the model it has built.

This has profound effect on who we are, as we all have different internal models of the world.  How any given one of us will respond in any given situation depends not only on our physical-self, but also our ego-self that we have become because of the experiences we have had in life.  This difference can be seen in the same individual by considering them when they were a child versus when they have grown into an adult.

Some people refer to the ego-self as the real-self.  They say that the real-self is who we are.  It is how we think, how we feel, look, and act.  The real-self can be seen by others, but because we have no way of truly knowing how others view us, the real-self is our self-image (how we think people see us).  This is consistent with the above definition of ego-self.

True-Self

The true-self is an idealized version of who we are.  Different people have different ideas about what this could mean.  A couple of ideas are described in the following:

True-Self Is Who We Want to Be: It is an idealized image that we develop over time, based on what we learn and experience.  This could include things like what our parents taught us, what we admire in others, what society fosters, or what we happen to think is in our best interest.

True-Self Is Our Spiritual Self: We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience –Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.  Consider that we have a body and a spirit.  Our spirit interacts with our environment through our ego-self.  Our spirit can be considered our “true-self”.

In either case above, the true-Self is an idealized version of our ego-self.  I prefer the spiritual version since the “who we want to be” approach seems flawed because we have a flawed ego-self postulating this, which seems would lead to a flawed “who we want to be”; a conundrum.  Whereas the spiritual version is at least compatible with the plan of salvation as expressed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  You must decide this for yourself; there are likely also other ideas to consider.

The bottom line takeaway is expressed at the beginning of this section independent of what the underlying mechanism is for implementing it.

Quotes

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” – Teilhard de Chardin

“The primary purpose of life is to wake up to the presence of our spiritual being and allow it to flow into our doings.” – Eckhart Tolle

References

Communicating with God

Introduction

This is a complex world and there are consequences to what we do.  We need to be diligent to do those things that will cause good to ourselves and those around us and avoid those things that will cause unnecessary strife, contention, and division.  Sometimes we need to do exactly that which will cause problems to bring things to where they need to be.  What should we do in any given situation?

The Bible says:

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

We need some mechanism to help us make decisions.  This post provides insight on communicating with God to gain knowledge and guidance on what we should do.

Talking to God

Tips are:

  • Place: Helps with focus when there is a specific place to pray.
  • Time: Helps with focus when there is a specific time to pray.
  • List: Recording items to pray about keeps praying focused.
  • Guide: Make a list of things to pray about like: leadership, ministry opportunity, etc.
  • Specifics: Use lists for prayers and avoid general prayers.
  • Notepad: Record thoughts that come to you during prayer.
  • Journal: Keep a record of prayer items and how they were addressed.
  • Aloud: Helps with thinking through prayer items.

Listening to God

When a new thought comes into your mind take the following actions and consider the questions to determine if it is from God.

Actions:

  • Holy Spirit: Ensure the feeling in your heart confirms the thought. (Hebrews 8:10-11)
  • Scriptures: The thought should harmonize with the scriptures. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • Godly Counsel: Gain insight and confirmation from trusted counselors. (Proverbs 11:14; Matthew 18:16)
  • Circumstance/Timing: Is there a circumstance or is the timing such that it enables acting on the thought?

Questions:

  • Does it persuade you to do good?
  • Does it promote feelings of love?
  • Does it enlighten your mind?
  • Does it build you or someone else up?
  • Does it bring peace?
  • Does it inspire you to be better than you are?

Receiving a Calling

One of the things that can be received by listening to God is a calling.  A calling is an invitation from God for you to carry out a mission for Him in this world.  The Bible lists some potential callings:

Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

This is received the same as any other thought placed in our mind by God.  It may be a longer receiving process given the impact and importance of a calling to one’s life.

Basic Story Structure Is Innate

The following is my experience entering the realm of story writing.

Context

When I started out to be a writer, I was intimidated and overwhelmed by having to worry about so many things (e.g., premise, theme, beats, hooks, acts, arc, etc.) to even start to consider story ideas.  For a while I could not even get started at writing anything; no ideas, no nothing.  I thought that perhaps I might be a failure at writing just because I could not even get started with an idea.

Then, while I was updating my web site blog one day, I ran across blog posts that I had written in story format.  I wrote these on my own before I had even started studying about story development.  Obviously, I did not know anything about story structure when I wrote the posts and yet they conformed to the basic elements of plot structure.

I was amazed at this happenstance and started thinking about why I had done what I did and if I could use this simplified approach in writing actual stories to get started at writing something (anything!).  I am writing this to share what I learned from analyzing what I had done.

Experience

What called my attention to what I had done in my blog post was the use of three parts to what I had written.  I had unconsciously use three-act structure to partition what I was writing.  It was just natural to what I had undertaken to write.  I had used headers of “Context”, “Experience”, and “Assessment” which I could clearly see corresponded to “Act 1: Setup”, “Act 2: Endeavor”, and “Act 3: Resolution”.  I suppose that other header titles could be used as well as the ones that I used.  The important thing is that a three-act structure had been used.

At first, I thought this was the extent of the correlation of what I had done with actual story structure.  However, when I tried to duplicate what I had done with another topic, it became clear that something else was needed as well.  I finally realized that the blog posts that I had written were about me and were written in the third person.

So, I tried again to duplicate what I had done in my blog posts, but this time I wrote using myself as the “protagonist” with third person pronouns.  It was like magic.  I was easily able to write another “story” using this approach of three-acts and a “protagonist”.

Using just “I” as the protagonist seemed a little restrictive, so I considered how this might be expanded to other protagonists.  The first thing that occurred to me is that I could just change the first-person pronouns to third-person pronouns and write a “story” about someone else.  From this it then became clear that any protagonist name could be used in place of the pronouns.  This opens the door to being able to write many “stories” about various protagonists based on this simplified approach.

With a little more reflection, brainstorming and writing, it also became apparent that this approach could be expanded gradually by the introduction of other plotting elements.  Over time in doing this, the result is the ability to write standardly plotted stories.

Assessment

This seemed to me a wonderful discovery that needed to be shared with others.  This story that I have just presented to you is an example of the simplified approach to story writing that I discovered.  The post that inspired this story is My Testimony (see the “Supernatural Experiences” section).  I hope that you find this approach useful to your entrance into story writing.

My Testimony

The following describes religious and supernatural experiences that I have had.

Religious Experience

Background

Catholic Church (4 years): My church experience began at age eight when two Catholic nuns came to my house one Sunday and took my brother and me to church.  I started attending Sunday school and sacrament meetings every Sunday.  I left the Church and became agnostic when I could make my own decision about it, which occurred when I was confirmed a member of the church at age twelve.

Protestant Churches (1 year): I spent a year during my mid-twenties investigating Protestant churches.  I read the Bible from cover-to-cover, went to a number of Protestant churches, and had groups visit my home to discuss their beliefs.  My assessment of these churches was that they taught inconsistently with-respect-to the Bible and were not otherwise of significant value to me or to my family.  Therefore, I did not join a church and counted the experience as a loss of my time.

LDS Church (couple of weeks): When I was in my late twenties, two missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints came by my house to visit and share a message.  At the conclusion of their lessons, which lasted a couple of weeks or so, the missionaries challenged my wife and me to be baptized into the Church.  We agreed to become members of the Church and were baptized.

Evidence

My intellectual evidence is an acknowledgement of the harmony of the doctrine of the LDS Church with the Bible.  “The Progression of Man” post contains information from the Bible about man’s progression through the plan of salvation.  The only religious organization of which I am aware that faithfully teaches this Bible doctrine is the LDS Church.

There are those who focus on making an acknowledgement that Jesus is the Christ and then think that they are saved.  In other words, they say that salvation occurs at a point in time.  However, the Bible places the focus on salvation as being a process whereby the individual grows spiritually and becomes just like Jesus Christ through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.  The following is an attempt to capture these differing ideas:

Salvation is not about finding Jesus Christ.
Salvation is about becoming like Jesus Christ.

My spiritual evidence comes from the witness of the Holy Spirit.  The more significant experiences I have had include a radiation of love emanating from an LDS member’s home that pierced through my body, a vision in a temple of the Church, and a visitation while shopping in a grocery store.  I provide these more significant experiences in the following section titled, “Supernatural Experiences”.  These experiences certainly enter into my thought process about whether the Holy Spirit has interacted with me, but I consider these experiences, as wonderful as they were, to be unnecessary to my spiritual testimony.

My spiritual evidence is based on the feelings that I experience in association with Church members and/or of doing the work of the Lord.  It comes from experiences obtained through various callings that I have had and of the witness that I receive when a member speaks at Sacrament meeting that what is being said is true.  I feel at times as though the Spirit ravishes me with feelings of love.  I am thankful for this interaction with the Spirit and desire it very much.

Testimony

Given my intellectual and spiritual experience, I am inclined to believe that The Church of Jesus Christ is the true Church of Jesus Christ and that Jesus Christ is at its head.

Supernatural Experiences

I have had many spiritual experiences in connection with the LDS church.  I only relate the most significant here.  These experiences go beyond natural experience; they are supernatural.

Visitation in Supermarket

Context

I was in the Air Force stationed at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois serving as a technical instructor.  My family lived in Champagne-Urbana, which is located south of Rantoul about 20 miles or so.  I was in my mid-twenties at the time and was on my second enlistment.  I was not a member of this church or of any church.

My then wife, Jeanie, and I had decided before going to Illinois that I would leave the Air Force at the end of my enlistment and go to college.  Jeanie had attended three years of college, but had not graduated.  She had been pursuing a degree in occupational therapy.

There was a nursing school in Champagne-Urbana and it made sense to us that in preparation for my leaving the Air Force and for Jeanie’s benefit in completing her education that she attend that school and obtain a nursing degree.

In order to make that possible I worked many jobs.  For a brief period, I was actually working four jobs at the same time.  I worked my full time job as an Air Force Technical Instructor; I had a job as an engineer at a radio station; I worked as an avionics technician at a small airport; and I worked as a gas station attendant.

During this time, I also enrolled in and completed a correspondence course in analytical geometry.  I suppose it may seem that I am exaggerating.  However, somehow all this was possible.

Experience

It was in this context that I had a significant experience.

I went to the grocery store one day.  The store, from what I can remember, was on a par with what grocery stores are today.  It was large and spacious with many isles of food.  Being in the store was a comfortable experience.  As I was walking in an especially spacious area where I had a good view of an isle and additional areas something happen to me.

I felt as though something moved over and through me.  It did not happen all at once.  There was an initial experience.  I did a double take.  What was that I thought?  Then I became completely engulfed.  I felt disconnected from the store, but I was clearly still in the store.  The feeling of disconnection was so strong that I wondered if the others in the store could still see me.  I looked to see if they noticed me, but the few people that I saw were busy about their business.  It was strange to see them – it was as though there was an unseen divide between us.

The experience did not last long, but it did linger awhile.  It was the most wonderful feeling that I have ever had.  I thought that it was as though all of space and time had ordered itself in its most perfect fashion and that I was at the center of it.  I had no time to understand what was happening.  The euphoria that I was feeling was something that I did not want to go away.  …  But, it did.  It left as quickly as it had come.  It seemed to move away as though it were going somewhere.  It was gone and I was back in the store.

Assessment

I still remember this experience and I will always remember.  I have tried to understand why it happened, but there is no understanding it.  It just happened.  I cannot point to anything that I had done to cause it.  I cannot imagine that there was any reason why I deserved it.  This has frustrated me, because I want for another experience like it to happen again, but I don’t know what to do so that it will.

Radiation from Home

Context

I had been away from the Church for a few years.  My work setting had just changed and I was in a new situation that was causing me significant stress.  I felt the need for help and visited with a psychologist to see if he could help, but he turned out to be useless.

My home teachers found me and started coming by the house to see if they could provide assistance.  One evening I felt the need so strong that I asked for their help.  I spent a significant amount of time over the next few weeks with one of my home teachers.  He was very helpful and I started attending Church again.

At Church my elders quorum president spent time with me.  I was glad to be back.  It was where I needed to be.  However, a Protestant friend had all sorts of negative things to say about the Church.  I began to worry that there was something wrong with the Church.  It got to the point that I began experiencing a bit of fear of going to meet with Church members.

Experience

One evening, for reasons that I don’t remember, I needed to visit a member’s house.  It was dark when I arrived, but there were street lights to light the area.  This was in the Saint Louis suburbs area and it was a bit like being in the country.  There were no sidewalks and the houses were on large plots of land and distanced a bit from each other.

I was apprehensive about visiting the member’s home because the words of my friend.  I parked my car on the opposite side of the street from the member’s home and towards one end of its lot.  This made it a bit of a walk to get to the home.

When I left the car and as I started to cross the street, I felt some sort of radiation pierce through my midsection.  It felt like love.  The radiation was a wonderful feeling and appeared to be emanating from the member’s home.  As I moved closer to the home the feeling increased until at the door I felt completely engulfed in love.  It was a wonderful experience, but when the door opened and I started to enter the home the effect left me and things returned to normal.  I don’t remember anything about the visit itself.

Assessment

My speculation is that I was being told that I should not worry about being with members of the Church.  But I have no real way of knowing why the event occurred for sure.  At any rate, I proceeded with my return to Church activity and ignored the words of my friend.

Vision in Temple

Context

I was a software engineer working at Loral Defense Systems in Akron, Ohio.  My wife, Pat, and I lived in Akron.  I was in my late 40s.

I had many callings in the church at Akron.  My first calling was Sunday School President.  Other callings that came were Ward Clerk, Counselor in the Elder’s Quorum Presidency and Executive Secretary to the Bishopric.  I did all that I could to fulfill my callings, but I remember that I never seemed to be able to keep up my end.  The many blessings that I received always seemed to outweigh any sacrifice that I was making.

Experience

It was in this context that I had another significant experience.  My ward made trips to the Toronto temple.  It was not unusual to experience feelings of joy while there.  But there was one visit that stands out in my mind.  A couple in the ward were being married as proxies for a dead couple and there were a number of ward members in the sealing room.  Everyone was dressed in white and the room was also very light.  At the end of the ceremony, I stationed myself near the door, but out of the way of the members.  I did this so that I could see each member as they left the room.

As I stood by the door, I became overwhelmed by a feeling of joy unlike anything that I have ever experienced before except at the grocery store.  I felt so close to the people in the room that it seemed we were all connected in some way.  The room seemed to increase in brightness.  There appeared to be radiance from the members so that the edges of their persons were softened.  For a brief time the world, at least in the room, became paradise.  It was an experience that I am very thankful for and will never forget.

Assessment

I believe that this was a reward from the Spirit for all the service that I had provided to the members.  I knew each one very well and I loved each one very much.  I had been serving them for some time and at this moment I was experiencing a bond with them via the Spirit that was extraordinary.

This experience has not left me with the frustration of the first experience because I feel that there is a connection between what I had been doing and the experience.  The experience it seems to me was a reward for the service that I had provided to these church members through the opportunities that my callings had provided.  If true, this means that, it is possible that I may yet have another such experience and I desire another such experience very much.

Floating Spirituality

Context

I am accustomed to going to sacrament meetings and feeling the presence of the Spirit and I am accustomed to attending other church meetings such as the ward mission correlation meetings that I participate in and feeling the presence of the Spirit.  Being in association with this church is a wonderful experience and being in the presence of the Spirit has become familiar to me.

Experience

But what I am talking about is different from this.  It is now the case that I will experience periods of such joy that I am brought to the brink of tears.  This occurs outside of the context of this church.  It is becoming commonplace for me to be alone and enter into a period of such wonderful joy that I am taken back by it and wonder why it is happening.  It happens while I am working at my computer or while I am preparing to eat.  It has actually happened at some times that have not seemed entirely appropriate.

Assessment

I can only speculate that it is being caused by a number of activities that I have been involved in now for some time.  I think that it is because of my association with the Church on a regular basis; because of my calling as ward missionary; because of the extensive personal scripture studies that I have been engaging in; and because of my home teacher and my home teaching companion.  In short, I think it comes out my active relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church.

Paying for Preaching?

The idea of a paid ministry in the Church of Jesus Christ has always seemed a potentially problematic situation to me.  There are extreme instances of this sort of thing going very wrong.  One of these is the area of televangelists.  A well-known example of this is Jimmy Swaggart.  But this is not the focus of this post.

What is of interest in this post is the more basic environment of having a paid ministry and pastors leading groups of Christians.  Is this a good idea?  What are the implications?  Is there a better way?  Two areas of Church impacts are addressed. They are the effects of having a paid ministry on member and Church growth.

Effects on Member Growth

The work of ministering to the members of the church and others within the extent of the Church is taken from the membership and consolidated into one or a few who are paid to take on this responsibility.  This removes opportunities that the members might have had to learn how to become like Jesus Christ through ministering to others.  There are potentially other ways that members might get this experience, but this basic opportunity provided within the Church itself is removed from the members.

The natural result of this would seem to be less spiritually knowledgeable members about others’ needs and of how to be of assistance with those needs.  Also, the obtaining of the personal growth that would come from these types of experiences is lost.  Church members are to become like Jesus Christ, which implies that every member should be a minister to those around them.  With a paid ministry, this opportunity is reduced or lost.

Effects on Church Growth

A paid ministry means that some of the Church’s money that might be used for missionary outreach work, “Preaching the Gospel,” is diverted to that paid ministry.  This means that the commission of Jesus Christ to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15) is limited by this paid ministry.

A Better Way

It seems obvious that there must be a better way.  The gospel should be preached and ministering done without the expectation of payment to pastors or others.  This is certainly possible and is seemly more in line with what Jesus Christ would want for us in terms of our effective discipleship.

Conclusion

Bible references that support “Paying the Pastor” and the thoughts of a Christian who says that, “There is no Biblical Defense for Paid Pastors/Elders”.  Judge for yourself.

Once Saved, Always Saved?

“Once Saved, Always Saved,” is said to be a biblical doctrine by some (e.g., Got Questions Ministries, All About God, ). This is known as the doctrine of eternal security. Much information about this doctrine can be obtained by using Google with “once saved always saved” as a search term.

The doctrine asserts that, “When people come to know Christ as their Savior, they are brought into a relationship with God that guarantees their salvation as eternally secure” (see Got Questions Ministries).

This doctrine is problematic. The following provides an explanation of why.

Salvation Is a Process

Salvation Is Not about Finding Jesus Christ

Salvation does not occur at a point in time:

Mathew 10:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. (see also Matt 10:22; Mark 13:13)

Revelation 2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star. … Revelation 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Salvation Is about Becoming like Jesus Christ

Salvation is a process that occurs over time:

2 Thessalonians 2:13 … God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

It Is Possible for the Disciple to Fall Away

A disciple must decide to follow Jesus Christ through the sanctification process. It is possible that he may not choose to complete this process:

Hebrews 5:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

Logic Incompatibility

You may know someone who accepted Christ and was, therefore, “Once Saved,” and then later turned away from Christ and His gospel. Does it even make sense to ask if he was ever saved? Or is still saved? This doctrine does not appear sound just on thinking about it logically.  Even if you believe this doctrine you have no assurance because it may happen that you will fall away and be lost!

Conclusion

The “Once Saved, Always Saved” doctrine does not appear to be in harmony with the Bible. It can potentially lead to less of a Christian life than might otherwise be possible.  This seems a doctrine to be avoided.  Also see web pages like, “Know God’s Word” and “Let God Be True!.”

Trinity?

This post provides thoughts about whether it makes sense to embrace/support the Trinity Doctrine (Wikipedia).

It Is Clearly a Doctrine of Men

The Bible does not mention anything specifically about this doctrine.  In particular, nowhere is the term “Trinity” to be found.  This is a word made up by men.  This doctrine was voted into existence at the Council of Nicea.

However, there are groups which defend the Trinity Doctrine such as the Christian Apologetics Alliance.  Also, see the The Gospel Coalition (TGC) webpage titled, “The Doctrine of the Trinity: No Christianity without It”.

Men Do Not Agree on this Doctrine

Consider the following artifacts, which are anti-Trinity doctrine:

You can find a lot of information saying the Trinity is a false doctrine by using Google with “trinity false doctrine” as a search term.  The point here is just that this doctrine is not a well agreed upon statement of belief.  Men do not agree on whether the doctrine is true or not.  Here is a link to a webpage that has both anti and pro Trinitarian articles.

No One Knows What the Doctrine Means

In descriptions of what this doctrine means one finds statements like, “How can [God] be one yet be three persons? This is the unexplainable mystery.”  You can find many references to this sort of thing by using Google with the search term, “what does the trinity doctrine mean”.  The point is that even those who support the doctrine don’t have any idea what it could possibly mean.

Why is there Support for the Trinity Doctrine at All?

It is difficult to understand why the Trinity Doctrine receives support at all, since it is clear that men created it, do not agree on it, and do not understand what it means.  There seems no reason to embrace or support this doctrine.