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When Are You Free?

If you ask most anyone if they want to be “free” they might say, “Sure, who wouldn’t?”

If you ask them what it means to be free, they would most likely say something to the effect of being unrestrained in being able to do what they want to do.

That idea runs into difficulty when filtered through the Bible, which in turn raises some interesting questions regarding the presuppositions and predispositions of that view.

There are a number of key verses/passages in the Bible that address what it means to be free, and how it is attained.

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Lessons From the Life of Moses

Everything I know about hermeneutics I have learned from being in a bible study with like-minded men using as a tool Walt Henrichsen and Gayle Jackson’s book: Studying, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible (the “SIAB”). Our group started 27 years ago with six men and next month we will begin a one and half year study of Romans with hopefully a couple dozen men. In the SIAB there is a process for doing Biographical studies (Ch. 6 SIAB). We studied Abraham, Moses and David using the SIAB methodology. This article is merely a summary of my notes for Steps 4-7 on the life Moses.

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Peace, Power and Purpose

John 20:19-22: “So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

(Observation) Jesus appears, bearing the scars of His crucifixion, in the midst of His disciples as they hide behind closed doors. Jesus says “peace be with you” twice, sends them “as the Father has sent Me” and breathing on them, says “receive the Holy Spirit.”

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Babylon and Pride

Man has been seeking his own glory ever since he rebelled in the Garden. The Old Testament characterizes Babylon as a uniquely egregious manifestation of man’s pride, a nation that rose to worldly glory and ended in utter destruction and desolation. According to the book of Revelation a new version of Babylon will manifest in the end times, and it will again end in absolute destruction.

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What a year we have all been through! COVID, riots, the election, conspiracy theories on the right and left, racial animosity, defunding the police, wildfires and hurricanes—tension is high and trust is low. It all feels a bit unreal, which caused me to ponder what the Bible teaches about reality.

What is real and how can I know? Is God real, does the Bible give a true depiction of reality? These important questions can only be answered, affirmatively or negatively, by faith. If God is real and the Bible is true, then we become privy to knowledge that we could not otherwise possess. Not least among these truths is that God is a moral Spirit and the universe He created is both spiritual and moral. Further, the spiritual and moral have primacy over the merely physical and natural.

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Whose Job is the Ministry / Owning our Priesthood

The Apostle Peter tells us followers of Jesus Christ in I Peter 2:9 that we “are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation…so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

Join with us in reading and considering the teaching in the attached Ministry in the Marketplace book “Who’s Job is the Ministry?” where these and other pertinent questions we as men of God should understand and be ready to answer.

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Presumption & Surrender

Recently, God has impressed upon me the issue of presumption. I define presumption as those expectations (however illegitimate) I have placed upon God; how He should act, how He should treat me, how He should treat others, how He should treat those who persecute/harm me, how He meets my needs, etc.

Over time, it has become clear to me that presumption is a soul crushing, silent, cancer of character which must be continually identified and purposefully removed to avoid harm to me and others around me. Apart from the filter of the Bible, one may not even realize how much presumption they have in their life. In many ways it is like the sin of covetousness; you don’t even recognize it as sin until the Bible defines it for you. Then you need to ask God to show you this sin in your life and repent. Admittedly a painful process, but powerfully healing.

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The ‘Feel-bad’ Religion

It is essential that all who would hope for forgiveness realize they stand as the Tax Collector, an object of wrath. Tears cannot soften the heart of God; seven times Jesus informs his disciples that the unrighteous will bewail their fate (eg. Matthew 8:12). Mercy is only possible by the intercession of Christ.

Thus, the time for grief is now – but this is not misery for its own sake. Paul does not rejoice that the Corinthians are indulgently maudlin, rather that they have been ‘grieved into repentance’. Grief, an emotion, leads to repentance (μετάνοια metanoia, change of mind), a volition.

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I ask myself in today’s world with all the differing opinions and thoughts, how do we do this? This is a huge problem if we think this means we need everyone to think and act exactly like us. Paul says to imitate him as he imitates Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1) and that he and the other apostles have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). The only way we can agree, cherish the same views and be harmonious is by imitating Paul as he imitates Christ. The same mind we seek is Christ’s, rather than convincing others to agree with our thoughts and opinions.

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Remember, Watch, Hope

As Christians, we are called to live and minister in a fallen world while not becoming a part of it. That anyone succeeds at this is a miracle. The world around us is so “real,” our needs so strong, and the promise for which we labor so ill-defined, that to walk the narrow path that leads to salvation is impossible. Thankfully we are reminded that what is impossible with men is possible with God. To succeed in this journey, He gives us three imperatives: Remember. Watch. Hope.

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