Biserica din Om

Biblical exegesis

 

It is more blessed to give than to receive

 

Gabriel Baicu

11. 03.  2013

    

What kind of God do we have? It is one who believes that "giving" is more satisfying thanreceiving.” (Acts 20: 35) From this we can draw many conclusions. Firstly, the image that God is an absolute master, requiring blind obedience from us, proves, once again, to be a false one. God does not expect us to give him anything, but he wants to give us its treasures of wisdom and knowledge. God needs people who know how to accept and appreciate what they get. The heavenly Father is not a selfish Person who expects us to give him glory, praise and other forms of recognition that they produce complacency. I think that most people think that this is what God needs because they personally need this and so they would do if they were powerful. For a large majority of believers God is a kind of extension of their own personality, a projection of what they imagine God to be. This phenomenon happens because they do not read the Bible carefully.

 God is characterized by infinite generosity. Heavenly Father can not but love because He is love, that nature is spiritual love. (1 John 4: 8) God is not punishment, He is not authority, He is not a sadistic Person, torturing people in hell, He is not an absolute ruler who governs without restrictions, a ruler who exercises power in a harsh, cruel manner, He is not an oppressive, harsh, arbitrary person, He is love. The N.T tells us that God is love and that is His essence. Unifying in love is God’s purpose and the struggle is between ignorance and the knowledge of the love of God. God is pleased when He can give, when He can see us satisfied and happy. God does not want to turn us into frightened and terrorized creatures, inhibited by the fear of not making errors. Desire not to mistake it animates all those who sincerely whish to improve, to be as good as possible at what they do and in what they are. For Christians “to be” is more important than “to make.” Everything that we don’t do from our spiritually reborn nature doesn’t start from the right source. If you help others just for the desire to be rewarded by God for good works, that is primarily a form of trade. Give something to get something in return.

 What is the right motivation for "giving?" Proper motivation is the sincere desire to help others in a disinterested manner. Of course, we continue to think of God, not as to the One who rewards our works, but to Him who is our model. In general, human motives are not pure. Somewhere behind our consciences, we continue to think that God will reward us for our deeds. The real reward, however, are not material possessions or earthly happy destinies, but personal satisfaction and happiness, when we offer with generosity, when we "give." The spiritual aspiration of every faithful Christian is to become like God, to reach the stature of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4: 13) This means that we might receive the same moral nature as His, that we become the space for the manifestation of His love. It is not absurd because the Son is like the Father and we aspire to be like the Son, and consequently like the Heavenly Father.

 In the selfish world, in which we live, each one is thinking primarily of himself or her and of course his or her family and the Christian spiritual aspiration seem to be a great utopia. In reality, it seems that there is not such a thing. However, there are few individuals who are exceptions to the rule. They love sincerely and help those around them, without expecting anything in return. These people experience Jesus' principle, which says that greater satisfaction is when you give than when you receive. We are imperfect in our love, yet we understand when we say that Jesus can find more spiritual satisfaction in "giving" than "receiving." Such a fact can not be accepted unless through our personal experience. Therefore God is not a Person who requires a blind obedience; our obedience is based on trust attached to our faith. God does not ask us anything other than what we are willing to give, out of love. God wants to win our love and in no way wants us to obey through fear.

 One which is the subject of fear becomes a slave without personality, a shadow of his master. An human existence which should meet the needs of a Lord almighty who sees everything and read our thoughts, but have not love, but only annihilating power and authority, seems more like hell than heaven. Often, religious institutions presents the image of a God who demands total obedience to us, unconditionally, who wants to turn us into robots, in some praising automatons, squeezing all personality and all human dignity out of us, subjecting us to the threat of eternal punishment, the punishment in hell torments, prepared for us. Such a God can love? Personally, I would respond negatively. I honestly believe that the Christian God is not such a Person and I think this because He finds more pleasure in "giving" than in "receiving."

 The corporatist Churches presents God as our Lord and they present themselves as His representatives which must be obeyed with the same rigor. In fact, God’s representatives are not the religious institutions in their entirety, but only individuals who really practice He’s love and find grater satisfaction in “giving,” than in “receiving.” A God who asks us to give up our personality, that in turn give us eternal life, is not the true Heavenly Father, but his image forged by religious institutions. Man cherishes certain values, including freedom, considering it even more important than his or her life. Even the eternal life cannot be the supreme value for man. Supreme value is freedom and the supreme freedom can be found only in love.

Eternal life is desirable, but not lived in any conditions, but eternal life that has personal meaning for each human individual. A God that doesn’t loves us, even if He gives us eternal life, means nothing if we become only some perfect tools, some subjects without the right to express our thoughts and feelings. However we can be sure that God, unlike religious institutions, loves us, because He prefers "giving," but "receiving" and He is ready to sacrifice everything, including His life, for those He loves. (John 3, 16)

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Content of messages

Model of the first Christian communities (12. 03. 2013)  The distinction between institutional and non institutional Christianity, consists in the fact that, in the early Christian Church, the spiritual element was more present than the institutional one. It was a time when the institution was not there, it only started to be formed gradually. The Christians were persecuted and their communities were based on the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit, rather than on the exegesis of the written texts of the canonic Bible. There was a risk being Christian. I refer to the risk of martyrdom. During the apostles’ era, only people truly called by God came to God. ... (read more!) Knowledge puffs up, while love builds up (12. 03. 2013)  Although the existence of a single Church of God is a fact well demonstrated in the Bible, we can not accept the principle of the uniqueness of the Church of God if we don’t accept the validity of the water baptism of the young children. Why? This is because, otherwise, we have to ask all Christians to be baptized at maturity, and where, most likely, that this does not happen, many Orthodox Christians and not only would remain on the outside. If our own salvation through faith is a gift from God, what right have anyone to judge whether a person is saved or not, regardless of the age when the water baptism took place, as long as that person has personal faith in God? ... (read more!) Faith without love is dead (12. 03. 2013)  Jesus died for us on the cross. What does this mean? He sacrificed Himself voluntarily for us and for our benefit. What for? This is the big question: What we gain from His sacrifice? We gain a justification, a grace, not depending on us, but which becomes effective for us when we believe in this grace. From this point of view, grace is universal in that it applies to all those who believe in God. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life." (John 3, 16 NRSV) In other words, we have access by faith to God, free and guaranteed full access. This access does not mean automatically that all they have it is using it correctly. The gift of God is dependent on our faith, but we have to receive correctly what we are given ... (read more!) It is more blessed to give than to receive (12. 03. 2013)  What kind of God do we have? It is one who believes that "giving" is more satisfying than “receiving.” (Acts 20: 35) From this we can draw many conclusions. Firstly, the image that God is an absolute master, requiring blind obedience from us, proves, once again, to be a false one. God does not expect us to give him anything, but he wants to give us its treasures of wisdom and knowledge. God needs people who know how to accept and appreciate what they get. The heavenly Father is not a selfish Person who expects us to give him glory, praise and other forms of recognition that they produce complacency. ... (read more!) Turning to Christ (12. 03. 2013)  I advocate a return to Christ, not only to the Bible, not just to the first Christian communities, the so-called apostolic Church. Why? I found that it takes a continuation of the Reformation, a New Reformation even, in order to deepen what others, in the past have started. Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and others reacted correctly to the development of Christianity in its almost one and a half millennia of history. The problem is not how far they went with their Reformation, but from where they started it. In the mean-time almost another half millennia passed away and many things have changed in the way that humanity perceives the possibility of the existence of God and the right approach to Him, but most importantly in the interpretation of the biblical texts ... (read more!) Born from above or sinners (12. 03. 2013)  No man on earth can stop sinning as long as it is still motivated by his human nature. Why? This is because every man is a sinner in God's sight precisely because of his human nature. Sin dwells in us, in our genes, in our most profound structure. I don’t refer here to facts considered criminal or offensive by the society, which are also sins in God’s eyes, because all this can be prevented by education. There are many citizens all over the world, who never performed any crimes or offences, in their entire life. Nevertheless, this time I want to speak about the interior movements of any human being and to the visible sins. Hard to be seen from the outside, some sins, such as: malice, hypocrisy, envy, greed, indifference, selfishness etc. ... (read more!) Looking for the true Church of God (07. 10. 2012)  In the context of the existence of so many Christian denominations the question about the true Church of God is entirely justified. Each and every Church presents us with the claim that it is the true Church of God and that its doctrine is the correct one and maintains that all other Christian doctrines are marred by mistakes. It is understandable that the universal spiritual experience of Christianity is mirrored by the cultural traditions of the receivers and that these traditions leave their marks on the particular mode of expression of faith. The forms of expression of Christianity in Brasilia, in Siberia, in Africa or in North Europe are not the same. The way I approach the subject is not so much influenced by this acknowledgement, because I am not concerned primarily by the modes of manifestation, individualised by cultural expressions, of the Christian movement. I am mostly concerned with the doctrinal differences of diverse Christian denominations, inscribed in their doctrines and dogmas and which differentiates them. The acceptance of certain specificities doesn’t affect the unity of Christianity if there is an accord on the principle of the imperfection of human knowledge, concerning the issues of faith. There are two kinds of unity, spiritual unity and institutional unity. ... (read more!) Is the Church One or many? (Part I.) (07. 10. 2012) The unity of the True Church of God is not only a past or future event, it is a present, and actual reality. This is one of the best demonstrate teachings, in the New Testament, but also one of the most neglected. Why is so neglected? Because many see a possible threat to the stability of the religious institutions, and prefer not to speak at all about that. What are then the biblical foundations for the thesis that, in the present time, there is in fact One true Church of God, and many religious institutions? The whole development starts with the text existent in the gospel of John, chapter 17, where we learn that, before being crucified, Jesus prayed to the Father that all Christians to be one. I have to say that there are at least 15 years that I maintain that this is a very important set of teachings, ... (read more!) Is the Church One or many? (Part II.) (03. 11. 2012) The relationships which binds together the born again Christians, from all over the world, and all times, it is not a conventional or organizational one, in the sense of the religious organizations or institutions, it is not even a connection based on the same cultural values. I will try to describe this relationship through an analogy. Let’s say that a very influent, and reach person organizes a party. The reach person knows many people, but the guests themselves don’t know each other, at least not all of them. All the guests will arrive at a certain point to know each other, when the party will be on, but this was possible by the initiative of the influent person, not by the actions or decisions taken by the guests themselves. Something similar happens with the Church of God. We don’t know each other, but Jesus knows every one of us. ... (read more!) Real Christianity and New Reformation (part 1) (11. 11. 2012) This reform involves replacing institutional authority with the principle of Christian love which is the exact opposite of this type of authority, enjoyed by institutional churches. In other words, religious institutions, as such, will not disappear but will be counted in, more and more, as a secondary factor for human salvation. The main factor is very God, direct and personal relationship with Him and He shall occupy the chief place in the life of the believer and not institutional churches. Church is not an intermediary between man and God. The true Church of God is constituted by all the saved and all individuals are firstly saved, than members of the true Church of God, and not the other way around. The path to salvation is Christ, but not only as a mean but also as a purpose. In order to be saved, one has to be like Christ, willing to live and to die for the ‘other.’ The church is not giving us salvation, but Christ, who lives in us, leads us to His only Church and gives us salvation. ... (read more!) Religious intolerance in Christianity (11. 11. 2012) I can not say, with absolute certainty that the best option for water baptism is the child or the adult, but I can safely say that we must respect the beliefs of everyone in this and in all other aspects of spiritual life. Christian faith is based on their beliefs and not "absolute truths." Certainly any Christian believes that Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life, for them, that is a truth with absolute value. But I do mean to relative doctrinal truths that claim to be "absolute truths." Latter does not exist and everyone who says that he or she has such "absolute truths" lies. In the Bible, in Mark 16 to 16, says that he who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the text does not exist in the first manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark and hence in the original manuscripts, after which, receive copies were made. The original text of the Gospel of Mark was lost. As there are no other NT texts to confirm that Jesus said these words, those in Mark 16 to 16 must be put in question. We know we have to go through water baptism, but to be honest, outside our inauthentic text of the Gospel of Mark 16; 16, we have no Biblical basis requiring firmly the principle that water baptism of adults is the norm. ... (read more!)

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