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Beyond The Four Spiritual Laws

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.

FYI: 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
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 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.
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.
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.
Rom 12:1 . . Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Sacrifices are basically things dedicated to God; i.e. set aside for God's purposes and/or utilized in such a way as to make God feel special instead of disgusted and/or disappointed.

A "living" sacrifice is sort of like a gift that keeps on giving in comparison to a gift that's only useful for a moment.

I would say that Rom 12:1 is a flashback to Rom 6:12-13 where it's stated: 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.

Well; our bodies consist of more than just what's below the neck; they also consist of the flabby stuff inside our boney little skulls too.

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.
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.

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.
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. Foretelling the future 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.
Adz -- doesn't Scripture warn people NOT to mess around with paranormal activity?!

Agabus was a prophet who came down from Jerusalem to Antioch predicted ,through the Holy Spirit, that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. As a result - the disciples , each according to his ability , decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea.

Acts 21 -- Again Agabus - he said that "The Holy Spirit says, In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles." Paul was being warned of potential problems he would face by going to Jerusalem. The people were very concerned for his safety. But Paul went -- prepared for what might be happening.

That what prophets Did.

Terminology -- foretelling the future compared to forth-telling? Like soothsayers -- people who earn their living by reading tea leaves or looking into the 'ball' / whatever it's called. The crystal ball? We're not supposed to do that because we'd be too tempted to try to change the 'bad' stuff' avoid it and only want the Good stuff happening. And it's communicating with the 'spirit' world and that's dangerous -- it's the demonic world.

Well -- in these days -- well -- Back a few decades there was Jean Dixon?!. And those who try to predict when the Church will be taken out. Those dates have come and gone. Nothing happens. Scripture tells us that no one but God Himself knows when that will take place. After a while , some people begin to laugh at the people who try to predict and tend to laugh at God's Word , too. People tend to think that the 'end of the world' will take place.

And then, there's the Potential problem with False prophets. If a prophet predicts something that does Not happen, he /she is in Big trouble. They can be stoned?!
I'm not really an advocate of the "four" spiritual laws. I think we should do our best to obey everything we are asked to do.
Eph 6:1-4; for example.

As far as prophecy goes. The Bible says some people have this gift.

1 Cor 12:7; But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
1 Cor 12:8; For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit;
1 Cor 12:9; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,
1 Cor 12:10; and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.
1 Cor 12:11; But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

1 Cor 12:28; And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.
1 Cor 12:29; All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they?
1 Cor 12:30; All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?

1 Cor 14:1; Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
1 Cor 14:3; But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.
1 Cor 14:5; Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.

1 Cor 14:22; So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe.
1 Cor 14:24; But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all;

1 Cor 14:37; If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord's commandment.

1 Cor 14:39; Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues.

There was also a woman prophet mentioned.
Luke 2:36; And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,


My Bible capitalizes this verses because it is a quote from the old testament. ( Joel 2:28-29; )
And then, there's the Potential problem with False prophets. If a prophet predicts something that does Not happen, he /she is in Big trouble. They can be stoned?!
The Bible also warns of false teachers, false Christs, false doctrines, etc... so what should we do?
Just not have any of these things? No more teaching, it might be false. No more doctrines, it might be false.
No more Christ, He might be false.

I know of know verse that says the gift of prophecy (or any of the others) has ended.
B-A-C --- yes, there Is a spiritual gift of prophesy.

A false teaching would be teaching Other than Jesus Christ , the Son of God. And His crucifixion, burial and bodily resurrection.

That works are involved in salvation.

We Need to read our Bible / God's Word -- Know what it says. The Holy Spirit guiding us.

John 14:6 Jesus Christ is telling us "I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by Me."
A church setting is where teachers, preachers are teaching Bible -- doctrine. Not just 'anyone' should Be a teacher -- leader in a congregation. A spiritually more mature man should be teaching the younger men and the same with women.

God's Word tells us to hold pastors / teachers accountable for what they are teaching. Everyone needs to be reading His Word and sharing what's being learned. The pastor of a small church I've been going to started sharing a passage of Scripture -- he purposely made some comments that were Not true. Finally one of the older women questioned him and he said Finally, someone is willing to Question what I'm saying. He told us -- when ever we hear God's Word being taught / discussed and we don't think something sounds right -- Speak Up. In a polite way. Not in a 'You're Wrong" attitude / tone of voice. But politely ask 'well what about 'this' -- in a teachable attitude. The teacher might Be seriously dead Wrong. If questioning isn't possible during class -- then make sure you ask him after class. Our pastor Does challenge us frequently to find out exactly what we Do understand. We end up having some really Good discussions.

If a Sunday School teacher Does get off track in their teaching -- they need to be approached privately and set straight by the pastor. Same thing can happen with Pastors.

There are some subjects that Are debated -- whether tongues is still practices these days. Some believe that they have ceased. Others say that as long as Bibllical principles are followed -- exactly - then..... but it has Also been said that most of the tongues practiced nowdays is Not Biblical. Things like 'slaying of the spirit' is sometimes included. Some activities are brought on by very emotional people. And some emotional people Will react to their sin or situation lots more than a quieter person.
Instead of complaining / causing discention amongst the brethren, sometimes it's better to leave that congregation and find a group that practices the same way 'you' do.

The Brethren church practices foot washing -- a pastor was preaching on that subject and before hand -- asked a few of the people he knew if they'd be willing to actually come up front and wash the feet of some willing people. After all, we Are told to wash each other's feet. But most Don't. The volunteers said it was a very humbling / somewhat emotional time for them. It hasn't been done since then, that I know of.

I'm thinking just now -- that maybe because the 'cannon is closed' We now have all the Scripture that has been given. That there's no longer the need For prophets.
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.
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 and tidy.

Shouting with king-size bold letters, lack of adequate paragraphing, twitter spelling, unnecessary smilies, 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, 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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Your Sunday School teacher -- was he teaching God's Word? In spite of his non-preparation, were you Trying to something out of it and it just couldn't? Did the teacher seem apologetic afterwards? Did it seem to bother him? Did any one else in the class say anything to him?

When I was in college there was a church close by that lots of the students and faculty went to. One of the profs had a Doctorate in Bible -- the teacher of the class he was in was one of the college students. He shared with some of his students that he had been asked to teach the S. S. class and he declined. He said he needed to be a Student of the Word rather than always the teacher. He opened his heart to what the student was sharing from his study of Scripture. Said he learned and was blessed in his learning.

Every so often I use All - Caps for Emphasis.

You Do realize that 'this' isn't meant to be a world-wide college-level internet class course.

NOTE: I haven't noticed much from your paragraph starting with "Shouting......." -- every so often I use All-Caps for EMPHASIS -- not meaning to SHOUT.

You Do realize that at one time or another - we were ALL outsiders on here. You are coming on as being Very Emphatic // your comment that "it's unacceptable". And, yes, standards for communicating Are important. But, try to relax a little. :smile: :wink:
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)
Adziilii -- Everyone benefits from encouragement. Yes, a Sunday School teacher can be a good encourager for his/ her students. I'm saying that because in this world -- probably even in a church setting -- adults need to be careful about their relationship with kids. So -- encourage fellow adults -- absolutely. Adults with their own kids / grandkids, yes.
Not only is the preacher/teacher to prepare themselves to speak, but those who are to hear the Word must prepare themselves to receive.
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.”
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 with their charity.
doesn't Scripture warn people NOT to mess around with paranormal activity?!
"Paranormal" deals with spiritual activity not subject to the laws of nature. We wrestle not with flesh, and blood, but spiritual wickedness in high places that are not subject to the laws of nature. The weapons of a Christian are not physical but mighty through God.....If a Christian does not deal with these spirits (paranormal activity)they will never have victory in their life.

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