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Tag Archives: Word of God

5 Ways to become more familiar with the Bible

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5. Get a modern paraphrase like the Message or the NLT and read out loud a whole letter of Paul’s.  That is how they were written and that is how the original audience encountered them for the first time.

4.  Find a verse that you love, write it down and learn it by repetition… speak it over and over again.  That is essentially meditating on the Word.

3.  Take a well known verse and read the whole chapter paying attention to the structure, logic, and context of the chapter.  It may surprise you.

2.  Open the Bible at random and read 5 pages.  I know it’s not a good way to build a systematic theology, and it’s not a good way to hear God, but it’s a great way to encounter a passage you may never have deliberately turned to.

1.  Find a passage in the gospels.  Use a cross reference to find the same account in other gospels and read how the other gospel writer’s approach the same passage.  The Bible is fully divine and fully human and this is a great way to explore the Word.

Excerpt from Rivers and Wells (Pastor Benjamin’s book on the anointing)

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This passage is an excerpt from Pastor Benjamin’s book RIvers and Wells.  The book can be purchased here.

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On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given,because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7.37-39, NKJV)

Incidentally, I much prefer the King James rendering of the phrase as “rivers of living waters.” Some modern translations use the phrase “streams of living waters”. I prefer the imagery of rivers of water flowing out of me, rather than streams. It just seems more powerful. The Greek gives the idea of water with a current – water that is flowing to a destination. Incidentally the King James translates a few phrases a bit better than the more modern versions. In Ephesians 6 the King James Version tells us to take up the shield of faith because of the fiery darts of the enemy. The New International Version tells us the enemy has flaming missiles. I do not know about you, but I would rather be facing fiery darts than flaming missiles!

So, by comparing these passages we can see that in John 4 Jesus is talking about the new birth and says that at the new birth a well of gushing water is placed inside you. In John 7, Jesus is not referring to the new birth but rather the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and he says the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not like a well inside you, but like rivers that flow out of you. These rivers flowing out of you are your ministry to others: laying hands on the sick, casting out demons, speaking the Word to people. This ministry is not just for the full-time ministers but should be part and parcel of the life of every Christian. Jesus said that whoever believed in Him would do the works He did (John 14.12). I know a lot of people talk about the end of that verse (“greater works”) and many theological people have argued about what greater works means. I simply do not care what greater works means. I do not. I am staying on the first part of the verse: I will do the works Jesus did. When I am doing them fully, then I will find out what the greater works are.

It makes me laugh when I hear theologians discuss and argue about what the greater works are when they have never even done the works Jesus did in the first place. You, Christian, should be doing the works of Jesus. That is the power of God that has been placed inside you: rivers of living water. Not just one river, but many rivers. So you can flow in the power of God and minister life and healing to those around you. Mark 16 tells us that those who believe will lay hands on the sick and the sick will recover. It does not mention apostles and prophets and pastors! It says those who believe. The highest calling and anointing for any Christian is the anointing and calling to be a believer. There are many people who would call themselves (and it is them calling themselves, because God certainly has not done it) apostles and prophets, and yet they have never even once functioned in the anointing of the believer. They have never laid their hands on the sick and seen them recover! It is time the body of Christ stopped arguing over titles and pre-eminence, got over our jealousy of one another and started doing the works that Jesus did.

Every Christian should be casting out demons, healing the sick, ministering life and love to the world and doing good. This is the most important issue when it comes to the anointing, not the prophetic and apostolic anointings. These are real, and Christians need to know how to relate to these anointings, but there is far too much emphasis on them within the charismatic move today. Let us focus on the main issues: every Christian should be ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit and have rivers of life flowing out of them changing their worlds. The church is so far removed from this. There are so many Christians who do not know that the power of God is inside them, that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives inside them, that they can do the works of Jesus, that they can place their hands on a sick person and the person will be healed. And yet, the church is arguing about who is a prophet and who is this, and who is that. Who cares?

The fact is most of the world needs a church that is filled with faith and glory. God’s desire is for the whole church to be doing the works of Jesus and extending the kingdom and rescuing people from hell. We have made church a spectator sport, like a theatre show. You pay your money and you put your backside on a chair so the pastor can boast how many backsides are on chairs, but you are not expected to do the works of Jesus.

You know you are destined for more than a bottom on a seat. You were designed by God for dominion, for destiny, to rule and reign over fear and over sickness. To change lives and demonstrate the kingdom of God. You know that rivers of living water will flow out of you.

Say this out loud: No more am I merely a bottom on a seat. I am a child of God. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is in me. The greater One lives in me. I have an anointing from the Holy One. In me is a well of water, out of me flow rivers of living water.

You need to keep saying this out loud until you start getting excited about this. You need to be so confident of this that when you walk out your house and see someone sick you offer to lay your hands on them. You offer to minister life to them. When you see someone sad, you are going to cast the devil out of them. You are going to do the works that Jesus did. You are going to believe the Word of God.

Where Does Faith Begin?

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Dr. Kenneth E. Hagin once said, “Faith begins where the will of God is known.” You must know the Word of God in order to believe what the Word says. The Word of God contains the power within itself to cause what it says to come to pass. If you believe God’s Word, and use it as God intended for you to use it, then the Word will begin to work in your life. You must act on the Word. Faith is an act! The best way to act on the Word is to speak it!

Wonderful News Healing Crusade

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Wonderful News Healing Crusade!

Melvin Banks has seen the deaf hear, the lame and crippled walk and lives completely changed by the power of God for over 40 years of ministry.

He is known throughout the world as an evangelist who preaches the Word of God with honestly, simplicity and integrity.

And now – for three days only – he will be in Dagenham with Tree of Life Church.  This is a sign of divine favour on our church and we are believing for awesome signs and wonders and salvations for these days.

Saturday 21st August 7pm
Sunday 22nd August 9.30am

Both these services are in Dagenham Park Leisure Centre.  For directions click here.  All services are free of charge, and all are welcome.  To reserve seats please contact us.

In addition, on Thursday 9th September at 7pm, Melvin Banks is joining us in Harmony House for a Special Free Buffet.  Again, all are welcome – but it would be preferable to call and let us know if you are coming for the purposes of preparing appropriate amounts of food!

Romans 2.6

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Romans 2.6
Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

This is possibly one of the most ignored truths and yet is one of the most important teachings in the whole of the Bible, and I would never say such a thing lightly.

The NIV says ‘God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”‘. There is no escaping what this verse is saying: you and I are going to be rewarded based on our actions.

Now at first this seems incongruent with the rest of the New Testament. Anyone who knows anything about the Bible knows that you cannot be saved according to your actions: salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. The entire Reformation of the church revolved around this key issue: you CANNOT be saved by works, you can only be saved by believing in the sacrificial and redemptive death and resurrection of the Lord Christ Jesus. And I believe that, and the Bible teaches that: salvation is by grace alone. And most churches that have come from the Reformation: evangelical and Protestant churches will teach and believe this wonderful Biblical truth.

In addition, if you read Galatians 3, you will find that we are baptised in the Holy Spirit by grace alone. You cannot deserve the filling of the Holy Spirit, but you can believe for it. Galatians goes on to say that you cannot deserve miracles, but you can believe for them and work miracles by faith.

It seems that the entire Christian life is grace, but then in Romans 2 we find this short little verse that says “God will reward us for what we have done” (CEV). Is this verse wrong? Clearly not! But how do we fit it into the idea that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone?

The answer is remarkably simple. You enter heaven only by the grace of God – you are not good enough to enter heaven because you have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3.23). However, on the cross Jesus Christ became sin for you so that you could become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5.21).

Only by believing in Jesus can you be born again – made righteous – and enter heaven (John 3.16, Romans 5.1). The Bible says that as far as the east is from the west, that is how far God has removed our sins from us (Psalm 103.2).

However – and this is a wonderful truth that has been much neglected – when we enter heaven God will render to us according to what we have done. There are rewards in heaven, and those of us who work hard on earth will be given greater rewards than those on earth.

I want to make this clear: getting into heaven – only by the free grace of God and because of what Jesus did. Mark 16.16 says if you believe you are saved and if you believe not you are damned. Nothing to do with actions at all. Rewards in heaven – based on what you have done on this earth.

Let’s look a little bit at the Greek to get a deeper understanding of this verse. The Greek word for render here is apodidōmi which means to give what is due or to give exact compensation. I love that – God is just and fair. In heaven what you receive as your reward will be totally fair to your life. There will no injustice in heaven. That is beautiful and one of the things that makes heaven heavenly in my mind. Where the KJV says “every man”, the Greek means every individual. You are not going to rewarded for what I have done or not rewarded because I held you back. This is a personal, individual reward for your work from heaven.

So what are we rewarded for? Is it our good lifes, our judging others, our church attendance? Well, the verse says that we are rendered according to our deeds. The word deeds is the Greek word ergon which means either employment or productivity.

Employment is about doing the right job. If you are employed to clean the floor by a company, it does not matter how clean you get the windows, you cannot say that your employment was successful. It would take too much time to discuss how to find out God’s will for your life, but I tell you the truth: you need to find out what God has called you to do and do it – otherwise you will get to heaven with no reward! This is also very freeing – if God has called you to clean the floor then you will given a full reward if the floor is clean, and you do not have to worry about the windows – remember, this reward is personal to your employment. Do you know your employment contract with the Lord? What has He called – indeed crafted – you to do?

Productivity is about what you create and generate. Although part of this reward is personal and due to your calling and destiny, all Christians are supposed to be fruitful Christians. You should be reproducing what you are. If you are Spirit filled and a tongue talker, who have you led into the baptism in the Holy Spirit ever? If you are a teacher of God’s Word who have you fed into so much that now they can teach? And most importantly of all – if you are a born again Christian redeemed by the grace of the Lord Jesus, how many people have you led into that grace and into the new birth?

Your punishment is not going to happen – your sins and you are separate and that will not change. If you are born again, no hell for you. However, you now have the rest of your life to build a reward in heaven. Find out what you are called to do, find out how to be more fruitful. Your eternal destiny depends on it.

Romans 1.18

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For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

This is a very serious verse and one that needs considerable contemplation by all Christians. Let’s first of all define the phrase “wrath of God”. The Greek word is orge (pronounced or-gay) and it can mean violent emotions or it can mean punishment.

Most commentaries I read seem to lean towards defining orge in this verse as violent emotions. This goes back to the Calvinist idea that God is angry with the world. I even read one commentary that said that God hates sinners – that if you sin, God hates you until you repent.

I believe whole heartedly that this idea of “sinners in the hand of an angry God” is a false one. We are not sinners in the hands of an angry God, and we were never sinners in the hands of an angry God! We were sinners, but God was not angry. Now, as Christians, we are not sinners any more: we are righteous saints in the hands of a loving Father.

The preacher of “sinners in the hands of an angry God” first transcribed sermon was about how God will not save anyone who comes to Him in sincere faith, as God can do what He likes and God will only save who He wants to save! People in his church were so depressed by his preaching that some of them committed suicide, including his own uncle. He then said that it was God that made them kill themselves! If I thought that unless I was specially chosen by God there was no way I could be redeemed from sin, no matter how much I wanted to be, I think I would be suicidal too! It is utterly Biblically incorrect to say that we are sinners in the hands of an angry God, yet many Christians use this era of Christianity as their benchmark of living Christianity and ignore the book of Acts!

Let’s look at this topic of the wrath of God across the wider Biblical teaching of God and then let’s look at this within the context of Romans 1 and unpick what this verse means. I believe it means that the legal punishment of God is revealed, not God’s emotional anger.

Firstly, let me say that the Bible is clear that God is pure and righteous and holy. Godliness is about being pure and acting right and living holy. I am not for sin – sin is a killer: sin will keep you enslaved and take you places where death can attack and destroy you. However, the sin problem has been dealt with. Sin will never affect your relationship and intimacy with God.

You see when God created Adam and Eve and when they first sinned, God did not punish them. Pain in childbirth, having to work and sweat to make the world produce, difficulty in relationships, being dead spiritually and eventually dying physically were not placed on Adam and Eve by God – they were just the natural consequences of kicking God out of your life and your planet. God gave Adam and Eve planet Earth and they booted God out of it – no wonder the planet is in a mess! No wonder marriages are in a mess – they booted God out of marriage! No wonder child-rearing and producing a living are such hard work – they booted God out of these things!

God wasn’t punishing them, they were just dealing with the natural consequences of their actions. If you live a promiscuous lifestyle and catch a sexually transmitted disease, God didn’t put that on you – it is simply the natural consequence of you actions. If you eat 5000+ calories a day, and you have a heart attack – God didn’t do it. If you drink and drive and crash your car, God didn’t do it. If you sin and end up in hell because you never accepted the redemptive work of Christ at Calvary, God didn’t send you to hell – it is simply the consequence of your actions.

God found Adam and Eve and clothed them with the skin of an animal. God brought death into an animal, so that Adam and Eve could live. That is not the actions of someone who is “violently emotional and angry”. You don’t make a sacrifice for someone you hate.

Now, God continually showed love and affection to the human race. Cain murdered his brother and God marked him. The mark of Cain wasn’t judgment it was mercy: it said that you couldn’t punish Cain. It was protection. You don’t protect a murderer if you are violently emotional and angry.

However, people took the love and mercy of God and the goodness of God for granted. The world became more and more wicked, and people such as Lamech said essentially if Cain could murder and God still loved him, I will go and murder who I like. The goodness of God leads to repentance (Romans 2.4) but not if we take it for granted.

So God had to develop a system of laws. He had to wipe out everyone in a flood. But God did it as a discipline and a punishment for sin – not out of a temper. He is our Father – if a father disciplines and punishes a son, that is fine. If my son was rude or stole something, I would punish them in some appropriate way. But, if I did it out of violent anger (which I have on occasion lost my temper at my children and had to repent of it) then you would say that this was bad parenting. How much more is God a good Father?

He flooded the world because He was the judge of the world, not because He violently hated mankind. Someone in a violent emotional state would not have led Noah to build an ark and waited 100 years to discipline humanity, spending that time calling them to repent with a powerfully anointed preacher. Violently angry people do not wait 100 years pleading with people to change!

He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because He had to stop their wickedness spreading. Violently angry people don’t wait until people escape before destroying a city – God did.

You see this idea of God being violently angry and needing to be placated is actually a pagan idea, not a Christian one. The truth is that sin does need a punishment, a death, but God is the one providing the lamb that takes away the sin of the world, not the one looking for it. We are the ones looking for it, and we found it at Calvary – the love of God in a human, giving up His life for us. That is the nature of God.

God must punish sin. The wages of sin is death, and if you die in sin you will go to hell. Sin cannot enter heaven. God’s justice demands that sin is punished. But the love of God triumphs over sin through Calvary. Mercy has triumphed over justice.

This is what this verse is talking about, not a God in heaven looking at people enjoying getting them and blasting them and being violently angry at them. It is a God who knows that sin must be punished and needs to deal with that so that He doesn’t have to punish sin. God doesn’t want anyone going to hell, God doesn’t want anyone sick, anyone suffering, God loves people! Your ungodliness must be punished, your unrighteousness has to be punished! But Jesus was punished so you don’t have to be!

The context of Romans 1.18 is the gospel. The whole reason we need the good news of Jesus is the wrath of God. Not the capricious anger of God, but the punishment of God. God must punish every sin you have ever committed, every impure thought you have ever had. But far from being violently angry with you, God loves you so much that He gave up His only Son to die your death, to bear your iniquity, to take the punishment for your sin – so you could have eternal life, so you could be righteous and pure and so you could have a relationship with God! Selah!

You deserved hell, Jesus went there so you don’t have to. You deserved death, but you are going to live forever if you accept by faith that Jesus took your place. This is the good news. The wrath of God is what makes the good news good news. If there is no wrath of God, then the gospel is meaningless. If sin did not warrant death, then the gospel is useless.

But let that realization of a clear punishment for sin lead you to say that God is an angry God – He is a God who only has thoughts to prosper you not to harm you. Angry people cannot think like that. God is angry – but not at humans, He is angry at injustice, He is angry at ignorance, He is angry that the devil keeps tripping people up and lying to them and making them think that He hates them. He is angry at anything that stops you and Him enjoying fellowship and friendship. But He is not angry at you.

Look at Isaiah 54.7-8:

8In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.
9For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.

God compares His never being wroth (angry) with us again like the promise that He will never flood the earth again. They are as important to Him. Every Christian knows that God will never flood the world again like He did. You need to know as well and as deeply in your spirit that God will NEVER be wroth with you. Ever.

Next time you see a rainbow, thank God that He is not and will never be angry with you. The wrath of God was entirely poured out on Jesus, the entire punishment for the sin of the world was laid entirely on Him.

That is good news!

Romans 1.10

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Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.

Paul is requesting that he might have a prosperous journey to visit the Romans. The NLT makes this verse very simple:

One of the things I always pray for is the opportunity, God willing, to come at last to see you.

Paul is praying for the Romans what he is praying for is the chance to see them. We all know Paul’s great hymns of praise (cf. Romans 11.34-36) and Paul’s theological prayers (cf. Ephesians 1.16-23) and they are beautiful. Paul was a deep man.

But just because someone is deep doesn’t mean that they are not a human! Paul is praying for the Romans – not for deep revelation, not for truth and life, for wisdom, for the will of God – no, Paul is praying that he can get a chance to see them and visit them.

It is perfectly acceptable to pray for things that you might think are mundane. Not every prayer has to be for a worldwide revival and power and glory sweeping the earth!

It is ok to ask for a parking space, to ask God that you would bump into an old friend that you miss, that someone in church would give you a lift home. That is great.

Notice as well that Paul did not know the will of God – here he prays that he would journey to them by the will of God (Paul was not asking for the will of God to be that his journey was prosperous, but that God would allow him to go!).

Paul prayed about things that he didn’t know what God wanted. That is fine. It is ok to say “if it by Thy will” when we pray.

Sometimes as faith people we get the revelation that when we are praying for something that the Bible clearly tells us is the will of God, then it is sin and doubt to pray “if it be Thy will”, and then we go overboard and never pray “if it be Thy will” again!

Listen if the will of God is clearly revealed in Scripture or by revelation, DO NOT pray “if it be Thy will”. The Bible says “By His stripes We Are Healed.” Never pray for healing “if it be Thy will” – what an insult to the stripes. Never pray for prosperity or joy “if it be Thy will” – pray the Word.

But some things we don’t know. Paul didn’t know at that stage if God wanted him to go to Rome or not. You might not know if someone is the right person to marry, or if a church is the right church to go to. At times like this there is nothing wrong with asking God “if it be Thy will, I want to go to Rome”, “if it be thy will, I will marry her/ him or not”, “if it be Thy Will, I will join this church”.

Or whatever. Don’t get silly about it, there is no need to pray for which breakfast cereal to eat. Grow up – remember God is our Father. If my children asked me to tell them what cereal to eat, I would be stunned. If I replied to such a ridiculous question it would be to say “Eat the one you fancy, it doesn’t matter”.

If at any point it did matter, I would let my children know. “Adam, the milkman hasn’t come, don’t have cereal because you will use all the milk, have some toast and a croissant.” He is my son – the lines of communication are open, so I don’t expect silly questions.

Some of ask God the most silly questions – I know someone who used to pray what socks to wear in the morning. Now if it bothers you, then He is touched with our infirmities. God is our Father and loves us – and that is fine. If you ask him “look, Father, which tie looks best with this shirt”, He will tell you if it matters to you. He knows what is important to you.

But in general, we should not be asking about trivial things – God expects you to just do them. Even in the street, people ask God should I talk to that person when the Bible says preach to every creature. If you are asking the question, you should be speaking to that person!

But for important things – which church should I go to, should I go here or there, where should I go on holiday – ask Him, and freely say “if it be Thy will”. By saying this you are letting God know that He is GOD! That if He says go to Rome, you will go to Rome. If He says don’t go, then you won’t.

Be that kind of person and you will very soon find out the will of God for your life. If you are prepared to do anything, you will quickly find the something you are called to do.

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