The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Category Archives: Bible Help by Topic

Judaism, Christianity & Biblical Commands: Sorting Out the Confusion

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The modern Christian Bible is filled with commandments, instructions, and guidelines—many of which are not applicable to Christians.  So before you pin up a copy of the Ten Commandments or start stressing over some rule that you find God laying down in Scriptures, you need to understand some basic facts about Bible commands.  So let’s get into it. Read more of this post

Understanding the Virgin Birth: Context & Mechanics

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The angel answered and said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)

Whenever our Gods do something miraculous—like causing a virgin woman to become pregnant—humans can be counted on to become so obsessed with trying to understand the mechanics of the miracle that they miss the important lessons.  To avoid getting sidetracked by miracles in your own life, here’s a good rule to go by:

When God does something miraculous, focus on the why, not the how, and ask Him to help you learn everything He wants to teach you from the experience.

If you abide by this rule, you’ll steer clear of all kinds of silliness—such as dickering about exactly how Mary became pregnant.  Read more of this post

Understanding Yahweh: Stay On the Ancient Paths

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This is what Yahweh says: Stand by the roadways and look. Ask about the ancient paths: Which is the way to what is good? Then take it and find rest for yourselves. But they protested, “We won’t!” (Jer. 6:16)

Yet My people have forgotten Me. They burn incense to false idols that make them stumble in their ways on the ancient roads and walk on new paths, not the highway. (Jer. 18:15)

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What We Teach About the NT Epistles

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If you go to any Christian church (in any Christian denomination), you’ll be taught many things about what the NT writers say.  Much of that teaching will be wrong.  The Church grossly misrepresents what the Bible says, and she doesn’t even come close to teaching you how to properly apply its contents.

When we write articles that are focused on a particular passage of Scripture, our goal is to help you understand what the original author meant.  Some portions of Scripture include a lot of direct messages or quotations from God–especially in the OT prophetic books, the Torah, and the NT Gospels.  But God is not doing any of the talking in the NT epistles.  The NT epistles and the Psalms were written by humans, and many of those humans were not listening to God in their personal lives, thus their teaching is lousy. Read more of this post

Titus 2: Cult Rules

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This is a continuation of Titus 1: The Cult of Paul.

Before we get into the text of Titus 2, we need to ask some fundamental questions—questions that will help us better assess the principles Paul is teaching in this letter.  Our first question is this: whose choices are we responsible for in life?  As Christian teachers, are we responsible for the choices you are making in your own walk with God?  Are you responsible for the choices we’re making?  Should we be trying to control you?  Should you be trying to control us?  The answer to all of these questions is no. And yet in Titus what we find is Paul expressing an intense desire to control how people behave, how they think, and what kind of impression they’re making on others.  In the second chapter of this epistle, Paul is going to bombard Titus with instructions for how Titus should teach various groups of people to behave.  And while there is certainly value in encouraging people to act maturely, Paul’s motivations are all wrong.  He’s going to say that the reason he wants everyone to act a certain way and think a certain way is so no outside observers will have grounds for slandering the followers of Paul.  Paul wants his people to look good to others.  He wants his followers to work hard to make his teaching seem attractive.  But is that really what we’re supposed to be focusing on in life?  Are we supposed to get up in the morning and say, “How can I make Jesus look good to people today?” or “How can I give Christianity a good name?” Can’t Jesus take care of His own reputation?  Of course He can.  We’re not supposed to be going through life trying to promote a religion.  We’re supposed to be living to please God. Read more of this post

Titus 1: The Cult of Paul

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The tiny epistle of Titus is divided into three short little chapters.  It’s author is the apostle Paul, which means you should expect to find lies about how God operates and the promotion of wrong priorities.  The epistle of Titus meets these expectations, and proves to be yet another rotten fruit in the orchard of New Testament epistles.

So if Paul is such a lousy spiritual teacher, why bother to study his writings?  Because the man’s epistles provide excellent material for you to practice discernment.  If you really have a firm grip on truth, you should be able to recognize a lie when you see one.  But catching all of the lies Paul tosses out requires some understanding of context.  Without understanding Paul’s basic beliefs, it’s easy to project your own meanings onto the things he says—especially if you start isolating individual statements.  Today many Christians do this with Paul, and as a result they don’t realize how much guff he’s really slinging.  Read more of this post

Discernment Charts – NT Epistles: God Won’t Talk to Doubters

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Spiritual discernment is about being able to tell the difference between truth and lies.  It is God who teaches you how to get better at discernment, and a key part of this process is learning to think critically about the things you’re being taught.  Critical thinking is a form of questioning–and once you start asking the right questions, it’s amazing how much guff you find in the Bible.

The purpose of our Discernment Charts – New Testament Epistles series is to help you sharpen your discernment skills by showing you how to flesh out many beliefs and attitudes that a single point of teaching promotes.  These charts focus on statements that were made by apostles in the early Church.  Are the New Testament authors teaching you well or are they leading you astray?  Ask God for His opinion on these matters.  (Click the image to enlarge it.)

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Jesus in Context Charts: Be Perfect

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To correctly apply the things Jesus says in the Gospel books, you must interpret His words within their original cultural context.  The theological climate of New Testament Israel was drastically different from Old Testament Israel.  While spiritual rebellion abounded in both cases, there were many concepts being pushed by Jewish preachers in the New Testament which were not being taught during the Old Testament.  As a result, the Jews living in New Testament Israel needed different lessons than the Jews living in the Old Testament.

It’s vital to realize that most of the things Jesus says in the Gospel books–including His parables–are directed at Jews.  He is speaking to a very specific audience within the context of their cultural values, beliefs, and concerns.  Since you’re not a Jew living in New Testament Israel, you should be very cautious about taking Jesus too literally.  The purpose of our Jesus in Context charts is to help you understand the original purposes behind some of the famous statements Jesus made–statements which are often misunderstood by Christians today.  (Click the image to enlarge it.) Read more of this post

Discernment Charts – NT Epistles: If We Don’t Love Humans, We’re Worthless

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Spiritual discernment is about being able to tell the difference between truth and lies.  It is God who teaches you how to get better at discernment, and a key part of this process is learning to think critically about the things you’re being taught.  Critical thinking is a form of questioning–and once you start asking the right questions, it’s amazing how much guff you find in the Bible.

The purpose of our Discernment Charts – New Testament Epistles series is to help you sharpen your discernment skills by showing you how to flesh out many beliefs and attitudes that a single point of teaching promotes.  These charts focus on statements that were made by apostles in the early Church.  Are the New Testament authors teaching you well or are they leading you astray?  Ask God for His opinion on these matters.  (Click the image to enlarge it.)

Read more of this post

Discernment Charts – NT Epistles: It’s a Great Privilege to Entertain Angels

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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

Spiritual discernment is about being able to tell the difference between truth and lies.  It is God who teaches you how to get better at discernment, and a key part of this process is learning to think critically about the things you’re being taught.  Critical thinking is a form of questioning–and once you start asking the right questions, it’s amazing how much guff you find in the Bible.

The purpose of our Discernment Charts – New Testament Epistles series is to help you sharpen your discernment skills by showing you how to flesh out many beliefs and attitudes that a single point of teaching promotes.  These charts focus on statements that were made by apostles in the early Church.  Are the New Testament authors teaching you well or are they leading you astray?  Ask God for His opinion on these matters.  (Click the image to enlarge it.)

Read more of this post