Most of us read our Bibles through thick glasses of church traditions, social conditioning, prejudices, and various other things which cloud our vision. There is more hatred and prejudice in our hearts than we usually care to acknowledge. this was the problem the Pharisees had when confronted with the object of the Scriptures they had been studying all their lives. When he came, they didn't recognize Who He was because of their traditions and cold hearts.
Would you like to test what is in your mind and heart today? You know that eventually all that is hidden will come to light. (1 Cor. 4:5) When Jesus told them, "What then is this that is written: 'The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone?' Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.'"
An invitation is given to you today to fall on the Rock. It is much better to be broken to pieces, than to be crushed to powder. The first choice invites our participation, the second comes unannounced, at a time when we least expect it.
1 Peter 4:6:11 speaks of the "trial of your faith being more precious that gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire." The Scriptures often speak of fire in a spiritual manner rather than natural. Testing one's faith may produce much more heat than we often care to experience. but if we call on our Father, He will see us through the test.
"The God whom in your prayers you call Father does not arrive at his verdict on any man by favoritism; he judges each man by his actions. You are exiles of eternity, and you must therefore spend your time on this earth in reverent living, for you know well what it cost to liberate you from the slavery of that life of futility which you inherited from your fathers. The price did not consist of things which are doomed to decay, of silver or gold. The price was the precious life-blood of Christ, who was, as it were, the sacrificial lamb with no flaw or blemish. He was destined for this task before the creation of the world, and for your sakes he came for all men to see as time comes to its end. It was for the sake of you he came, for you who through him believe God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory. so then, your faith and your hope look to God. (1 Peter 1:17-21, William Barclay translation)
The Holy Spirit invites you today to test your faith and works to see what it is made of. There is an interesting rock used in Biblical days to test the quality of precious metals called a touchstone. It is quite unfortunate that most translations following the King James tradition have hidden the Biblical references to this stone from us. The King James Bible Concordances have also hidden its meaning. Using the Strong's or Young's Concordances, when looking up the English word "torment," we discover that the noun for one of these Greeks words is basanoj "basanos," Strong's number 931. Strong's number 928 "torture," and 929 "torment" are derivatives of this noun, "basanos," which Strong's Concordance says is a "touchstone." Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 5th Edition, tells us that a touchstone is "1. A black siliceous stone allied to flint;-used to test the purity of gold and silver by the streak left on the stone when rubbed by the metal. 2. Any test or criterion by which to try a thing's quality."
Will you strike your Christian life on this Rock and allow the results to be declared to you by your heavenly Father? Will you allow it to reveal to you areas of impurity such as a false image of God, prejudice, hate, unforgiveness, bitterness, following tradition instead of Scripture and the Holy Spirit, etc.
All these things and more will be dealt with one way or another. It is better to fall on the Rock yourself than to have the Rock fall on you in judgment.
Another ingredient used to test the quality of gold is nitric acid. The dictionary in Microsoft's Desktop program says of acid test "a decisive or critical test, as of worth or quality (from the testing of gold in nitric acid. As we begin to add these concepts to our minds, perhaps we can begin to see New Testament images in a purer way than we have been taught in the past. Perhaps we will begin to understand then, why the early teachers of Christianity called the "lake of fire" a place of "purifying fire," or "divine fire."
In the book of Revelation in the twentieth Chapter verse ten we see the devil, the beast, and the false prophet cast into a lake of fire and brimstone where they will be "tormented day and night 'forever and ever.'" Those of us who dig deep enough will discover why the early believers did not see the lake of fire as a place of "eternal torment." They knew that the wording in this passages referred to a place of divine testing and not a place of "eternal torment." The Greek word for "sulfur" is qeiou "theeion" which is akin to "theos," which means god. Sulfur (brimstone) was used to purify temples in ancient days. It was also used for healing purposes. The fact that this passage of Scripture speaks of "day and night" proves that "aionas ton aionon" in this passage should not have been translated "forever and ever." Divine fire will test the works of men and angels.
Revelation 20:12 tells us that the dead were judged "according to their works," not whether they "decided to follow Jesus." We know salvation is "by grace, through faith, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Eph. 2:9) We have made a serious mistake heaping dozens of different judgment Scriptures under the "Great White Throne judgment." Throughout the Bible, we find all kinds of judgments occurring throughout all ages. Many of these have been assigned to the final judgment. This has caused serious error. There are judgments of unholy angels, of Satan, of Israel, of cities, of nations, of sin, of death, of the believer, of servants, of sons, of unbelievers, etc., etc. Each takes place at different times, in different places, and with different outcomes. Our mind-set about Biblical judgment has been severely warped. We must disentangle this confusion, but it will take a great deal of study, something many Christians have neglected.
How few Christians realize that Death and Hades (Hell) will be emptied and thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is called in Revelation the "second death." Since "death and hell" are thrown into it, one might say it is the death of death. Our entire teaching about people going a eternal hell clearing contradicts the plain teachings of the Bible that Hell, whatever we might think it is, will ultimately be emptied! There is not a single passage of Scripture which tells us that Hell and the "lake of divine fire" is the same thing.
The very first verse in the Book of Revelation says this book is full of symbols. Its message was sent from God by an angel who "sign-ified it" to His servant John. If one does not understand that the "signs," that is, symbols need to be interpreted, one will never understand this book. The definition of the symbols are contained in the Old Testament. Stars in a hand are not physical stars; frogs out of a prophet's mouth are not physical frogs, candlesticks are not really candlesticks. Do you really think there is a dead lamb laying on a throne in heaven? If one understands these things are "signs," then understand that the Book of Revelation is full of hundreds of "signs." The carnal mind, especially the religious carnal mind will only twist the words in Revelation into a pile of distorted confusion. I will conclude this paragraph by saying that there will be far more "works" which will be cast into the "lake of fire" coming from "orthodox" ministers who speak like a dragon while claiming to represent the slain lamb than many care to acknowledge. Clerical collars and ordination papers are no guarantee that one is hearing the "Spirit of God."
You, who are reading this book right now are you willing to test your faith? Are you willing to strike it against the Rock, the Word of God and allow the Holy Spirit to be poured out on that "gold" to see what quality your gold (faith) is made of? Your Father will judge it "without partiality." He will not take your years of being faithful to your denomination, your financial contributions, your devoted service to the organization into consideration. Your faith will be struck against a slain lamb on a throne. The results may be absolutely shocking to you very painful when our works are compared with the lamb's works, but it must be done. His judgments are mixed with mercy, and when we ask Him to judge us, He also will empower us to conform to His Word, His Will, His Ways. So often people judge us in areas we know we need to improve in, but their comments are not helpful because we seem to be incapable of changing those areas in our lives. But the Holy Spirit will not only reveal those areas we fall short in, He also gives power to change in those very areas.
As you go to the Rock, the Lamb, the Word of God, and the Scriptures listed below, invite the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, Who the Scriptures declare will lead you into all Truth, to reveal to you the fullness of the nature of our Father. Remember, He has many attributes; omnipotence (all-powerful), omnipresence (all-present), omniscience (all-knowing), and justice. These are His characteristics, but His nature is Love, for God is Love!
As you strike your doctrines, church traditions, your very life against the Word these Scriptures allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the Word through the eyes of Love. Then, and only then, will all the Word conform perfectly with all the characteristics of our Father. His Love is the Key. Ask for it! Since we want to see if all the characteristics of God are in harmony with all of the Bible so that we may be able to conform our lives to it, concentrate on the word all. As you study them, keep all the characteristics of our Father in mind.
Before beginning the test, please pray that your Father and mine will allow you to read the Scriptures with His eyes and not through man-made glasses clouded with church traditions, cultural prejudices, or personal emotions. Then, after having prayed for this in sincerity in your own words, slowly read the Scriptures listed in Appendix Three and allow the Spirit of Truth to lead you into all Truth. (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13) I pray that your joy may be made full.
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