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The Real Thing

The Real Thing
Words of Faith 2-16-17
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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John 16
"All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. [2] They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. [3] They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. [4] I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you.

Jesus continued to warn the disciples of a time that would come when they would face harsh persecution and even death for their faith in Him. He did not want them to go astray in such times, either to give up or give in to hate.
The first Believers in Jesus were all Jewish. But as the church grew and reached out to the Gentile world such Believers were pushed out of synagogue life. Some of the first persecutions are recorded in the Gospel of John. The man born blind who was healed by Jesus was expelled from the synagogue because of his defense of Jesus (9:22, 34). The raising of Lazarus so disturbed certain Jewish leaders that they tried to kill both Jesus and Lazarus (12:10).
The book of Acts records the growing rift between synagogue and church. Persecution unto death occurred in the case of Stephen (Acts 7:59), James (Acts 12:2), and others (Acts 9:1-4).
Jesus predicted that a time was coming when anyone who killed a disciple of Christ would think he was offering a service to God. Religion has a strange way of twisting things. Saul of Tarsus presided over the stoning of Stephen and surely thought that he was rendering a service to God. Only later did the powerful conviction of the Lord come upon him in a personal way to reveal the truth.
Religious leaders in Judaism would persecute Christian believers into the late first century but then the tide turned the other way. Jews were persecuted and killed "in the name of Christ" from the second century to the twentieth. Today the world faces ferocious religious conflict in which people seek to kill other people as a service to their god.
How do such things happen? Jesus said, "They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me."
When religion replaces relationship a very dangerous environment is created. Paul called it a "form of godliness that denies its power" (2 Tim. 3:5). He said that there will be those who are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge (Romans 10:2). Religion without relationship, even if it has right words and trappings, has no genuine power or authority. Instead, it is used to manipulate people toward a political end.
The truth is that nowhere in Judaism or in the Christian faith is there a teaching that it serves God to kill. Even the historic accounts of the conquest of Canaan cannot be construed as such a teaching. Yet at various times we see "religion" replace relationship and in each case the thoughts of people become twisted to think that their god wants them to hurt others.
The truth is that when there is a genuine relationship with God the Father or Jesus our minds are transformed. We become concerned for another sort of Kingdom rather than an institution.
What is our prayer for this day? Let us pray for the real thing! Pray for people to know God in a personal way rather than in a religious way. Let us pray for the people in churches to truly know the Lord Jesus and be guided by His Spirit, rather than having a form of godliness. Let us pray for the Lord to reveal Himself in our world.

O God, give us peace. First in our own lives and homes and then in the world around us. Give us wisdom to know how to respond to a world where there is religious hate, so that we will not go astray. Lord, keep us in a close relationship with You. In Jesus' name.

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2002, 2017
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.