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Author Topic: Christ's Ways  (Read 3031 times)

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Olde Tymer

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Christ's Ways
« on: January 17, 2019, 10:25:52 pm »
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There's been times during my 20+ years of internet forum activity when I've encountered people wanting to know what they're supposed to do now that they decided to become a Christian.

A mega Baptist church that I attended back in the decade of the 1970's had a discipleship program that incorporated an outreach booklet called "The Four Spiritual Laws", authored in 1952 by Campus Crusade for Christ founder Dr. Bill Bright.

Those guidelines are helpful as far as they go, but they're pretty elementary and in my opinion inadequate for taking Christ's believing followers to infinity and beyond, so to speak.

Some years ago, just for the fun of it, I set out compiling a home-spun catalogue of Christ's instructions from the new Testament that apply to all his followers regardless of denominational affiliation. In time I realized that his instructions, accompanied by a little commentary, would make a pretty good devotional.

I chose to start in the book of Acts because that's pretty much where Christ's apostles began telling his believing followers what to do in accord with the Lord's instructions as per Matt 28:19-20.

Should someone prefer a better quality devotional than mine; there's a very popular one available online and in print called "Our Daily Bread" that's been around for a long time. It's not only instructional; but also quite entertaining, and it's available in children's versions too.

Buen Camino
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Olde Tymer

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Re: Christ's Ways
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2019, 10:28:32 pm »
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Acts 15:20a . . Abstain from food tainted by idols,

Here's the text of a common Christian prayer.

"Bless us, Oh Lord, and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty through Christ, Our Lord. Amen."

That prayer credits the providence of God for the nourishment on the table. Well; in the old Roman world, they sometimes credited the providence of a pagan deity for their nourishment. According to 1Cor 10:25-31; this is one of those don't ask situations; we'll get to that.

Acts 15:20b . . Abstain from promiscuity

Promiscuity typically refers to things like adultery, incest, shacking up, one night stands, sleeping around, etc.

Acts 15:20c . . Abstain from the meat of strangled animals.

Strangulation is a slow, inhumane way to die. If you know that the meat you're being served came from an animal that was choked to death, consider it food fit only for barbarians. We want nothing to do with animal abuse.

Acts 15:20d . . Abstain from blood

In other words: Christ's followers are forbidden to use blood as a nourishing beverage.

There are cultures that poke holes in cows' necks in order to drink blood straight out of the living animal utilizing its own blood pressure like a tap to fill their cups; a rather ghastly thirst that might be okay for Edward Cullen's family but certainly not for us.
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« Last Edit: January 17, 2019, 10:32:39 pm by Olde Tymer »

Olde Tymer

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Re: Christ's Ways
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2019, 04:49:23 pm »
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Rom 6:11 . . Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

"dead to sin" in this case doesn't mean Christ's sheep can't, won't, and/or don't sin (cf. 1John 1:8-10). It means that sin can no longer give God cause to slam them with the sum of all fears.

Rom 5:12-21 explains, in so many words; that Christ's believing followers are accounted as having gone to the cross with him similar to accounting them as having tasted the forbidden fruit with Adam. This principle is at the very core of Christianity's plan of salvation so it's important to get it.

In a nutshell: When Jesus went to the cross; he died for the sins of the world from first to last. That being the case, then when his believing followers went to the cross with him, they died for their sins from first to last. As a result: when the books are opened as per Rev 20:11-15, there will be nothing on record with which to charge them.


FYI: Rom 6:11 is an order, and Christ's believing followers are expected to obey it.
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Olde Tymer

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Re: Christ's Ways
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2019, 12:56:38 pm »
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Rom 6:12-13 . . Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness.

If I'm understanding John 5:24-25 correctly; Jesus spoke of a non-physical resurrection that his believing followers undergo in this life-- now --before they pass on.

It's a pretty good resurrection too because it doesn't rejuvenate ordinary life, rather; it's a step up to eternal life-- a superior kind of life that brings with it not only immortality, but also a change from human nature to divine nature. (2Pet 1:4)

Anyway, the point is: Christ's non-physically resurrected followers really should make an effort to walk as insiders who live in heaven rather than outsiders on their way to the other place. Political theorists like Niccolò Machiavelli would not recommend Christ's way of life of course because in this world, situation ethics are better; viz: the end justifies the means so long as the end, no matter how obtained, benefits the so-called greater good.

Well; to my knowledge, Machiavellian thinking doesn't fly in heaven so it's best for those "brought from death to life" to avoid it.
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Olde Tymer

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Re: Christ's Ways
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2019, 08:03:27 pm »
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Rom 12:1 . . Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

The Greek word for "sacrifice" technically refers to a victim; but it's not always applied that way. For example speaking well of God, doing good, and sharing are legitimate sacrifices. (Heb 13:15-16)

The sacrifice required by Rom 12:1 is a living sacrifice rather than deceased so Christ's followers don't have to martyr themselves in order to fulfill it; but their bodies do have to be holy in order to be accepted; which means avoiding things that defile their bodies like indecency, promiscuity, adultery, and LGBT stuff.

The Bible calls those avoidances "reasonable". In other words: Is it asking too much of Christ's followers to keep themselves pure?
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« Last Edit: May 05, 2019, 10:51:12 am by Olde Tymer »

Olde Tymer

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Re: Christ's Ways
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2019, 07:03:27 pm »
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Rom 12:2 . . And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Christianity, when taken seriously, can't help but radically change the way, the what, and the how we think about things in this life and in the next.

Personal Bible reading is a good place to begin with Rom 12:2; however, the will of God isn't meant to be self-taught; it's meant to be instructed by teachers empowered by God for that specific purpose. (Rom 12:4-8, 1Cor 12:1-30)

"Are all teachers?" (1Cor 12:29)

No, not all are teachers; which of course precludes self-teaching. Only some are teachers and the rest of Christ's believing followers are supposed to be students.

"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith" (Eph 4:11-13)

According to that passage, the goal of gifted teaching is unity. Well, when Christians come together with differing perspectives-- debating and engaging in perpetual bull sessions that never get to the bottom of anything --we're in danger of becoming divided and taking sides as intolerant bigots instead of unified. Like it's said: Too many cooks spoil the soup.

Sermons and Sunday school classes are Christianity's traditional sources of teaching. But there's radio programs too, e.g. Thru The Bible with Dr. J.Vernon McGee. These days with radio, television, and the internet; gifted teaching is wide-spread and readily available.

In centuries gone past, it was necessary to go where the teachers were in order to hear them speak. Nowadays, they come to speak right where we are by means of electronic gadgetry.
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Olde Tymer

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Re: Christ's Ways
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2019, 08:28:27 pm »
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Rom 12:3 . . I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

"soberly" is from the Greek word sophroneo (so-fron-eh'-o) which means to be of sound mind, i.e. sane, sensible.

A popular saying going around is this: "You can be anything". No, you can't be anything, and it's unreasonable to think otherwise. Know your limits and stay within them; don't be setting impossible goals for yourself; especially in matters of faith and practice.

"Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.

. . . If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully." (Rom 12:4-8)

Some church managers have a really bad habit of recruiting people to teach Sunday school who don't have a gift for it in accordance with Rom 12:3-8, 1Cor 12:1-30, and Eph 4:7-12. Well; if teaching is not your spiritual specialty; then the sensible thing to do is turn them down. Stay within your limits like Rom 12:3 says, and don't let those managers pressure you into submission by making you feel guilty for refusing. Nobody gains points with Christ by going off-reservation.
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Olde Tymer

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Re: Christ's Ways
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2019, 09:32:39 pm »
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Rom 12:6 . . If God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you.

The koiné Greek word for "prophesy" in that verse is from propheteia (prof ay-ti'-ah) which encompasses predictions. Predicting was common in the early church; for example Agabus at Acts 11:27-28 and Acts 21:10-11.

Hunches don't count as God speaking through you. You have to really know it. Don't ask me how to really know it because I don't have the gift; nor do I want it. There was quite a bit more acceptance of paranormal activity back in Paul's day; but in our day, prophecy mongers are written off as kooks.


NOTE: One of my dad's favorite ways to annoy mom was to ask her how she didn't know if maybe God was speaking through him. Well, dad didn't know; that's what counts. He didn't "have faith that God is speaking through you" so mom could justifiably ignore him, like she always did anyway.
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« Last Edit: January 27, 2019, 09:39:29 pm by Olde Tymer »

Olde Tymer

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Re: Christ's Ways
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2019, 07:56:35 pm »
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Rom 12:7a . . If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well.

"serving well" implies serving conscientiously and whole-heartedly rather than half-baked, grudging, and/or hit and miss.

One of my brothers has been a construction foreman for decades and one of his perpetual complaints is that he never knows from one day to the next whether some of the men he hires on jobs will show up. In other words: they aren't reliable-- he can't count on them.

What I'm saying is: if you're thinking about becoming helpful in some way, don't do it unless you're willing to commit to the long haul because people need to know that they can depend on you to stay the course.
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Olde Tymer

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Re: Christ's Ways
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2019, 07:05:40 pm »
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Rom 12:7b . . If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching.

I had a Sunday school teacher once who worked as a maintenance man in a public swimming facility. One Saturday he had to work very late repairing some equipment at the pool and had no time to prepare his lesson plan for Sunday morning so he just threw something together. It stunk; and my wife and I got nothing out of it.

In contrast, I once knew a pastor who took all week long to prepare his Sunday morning sermons rather than put it off till Saturday night. Now there was a guy who knew what it means to do a good job of teaching; viz: a conscientious job.


NOTE: Internet forums have given many of Christ's obscure followers a convenient venue for sharing their time-won knowledge and experience with a worldwide audience. For the world's sake, I highly recommend making an effort to compose legible posts; neatly arranged, sensible, and tidy.

Shouting with king-size bold letters, scribbly italics, lack of adequate paragraphing, twitter spelling, unnecessary emogies, horrible grammar, and a confusing mixture of fonts, sizes, and colors, makes for tiresome clutter and annoying forum graffiti that leave a bad impression.

I rather suspect that some people regard forums as a canvas for painting their comments instead of composing them. Well; that might be okay for outsiders, they can be as messy as they want because it doesn't matter. But for those of us who honestly believe ourselves to be representing God's son; it's unacceptable.

"Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." (Phil 1:27)
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Olde Tymer

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Re: Christ's Ways
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2019, 08:34:46 pm »
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Rom 12:8a . . If your gift is to encourage others, then do so.

You know who really benefits from encouragement in a big way? Little kids. Thoughtless grown-ups can break a growing child's fragile spirit by criticizing them all the time and never once giving them an "atta boy" or a single vote of confidence.

A fitting word spoken at just the right moment can really beef up somebody's resolve to meet life head on. If you're good at that sort of thing, then watch for opportunities among your fellow Christians to do so. It has to be honest though because flattery is all the same as treachery.

"Whoever flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his feet." (Prov 29:5)
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Olde Tymer

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Re: Christ's Ways
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2019, 05:06:09 pm »
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Rom 12:8b . . If you have money, share it generously.

Generously is quite the opposite of sparingly.

Jesus once compared a widow's contributions to those of the wealthy. The small amount she gave counted more than the larger amounts contributed by the wealthy because her donation pretty much cleaned her out; while the wealthy's contributions scarcely made a dent in their prosperity. (Mark 12:41-44)

I don't think Rom 12:8b is commanding Christ's followers to ruin themselves, rather, to avoid being miserly.

“Christmas is a poor excuse every 25th of December to pick a man's pockets.”


Scrooge
From: A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens


Ol' Scrooge is known the world over as the king of tightwads. He's an extreme example, to be sure; most people aren't that grasping, but I think quite a few are maybe a bit too frugal.
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Olde Tymer

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Re: Christ's Ways
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2019, 10:07:52 pm »
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Rom 12:8c . . If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously.

A natural aptitude for church management doesn't count. It has to be God-given; that is: a legitimate Spirit-endowed ability. (cf. Rom 12:3-8, 1Cor 12:4-11, 1Cor 12:27-30)

There are far too many people sitting on church boards merely because they're a success in business. Well; if your church is a commercial enterprise; then maybe you should think about finding another one.
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