Thursday, 12 April 2018

Surrendered Warriors 4: It's a Naturally Supernatural Walk

Surrendered Warriors: It’s a Supernaturally Natural Walk

Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
4  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake..

God wants your path to be a good one, a righteous one. That doe not always meant that the way ahead will be easy and trouble free. What matters is how you conduct yourself in the midst of the the world in which you live.

The decision making process in the journey of life for the Surrendered Warrior is one that is supernaturally natural. 
The aim of the believer’s life is to be submitted to the will of the Father, to implement His plan, to see their lives as impactful and making a difference. This means prayer and seeking God’s will become a supernatural part of life. This is not to become burdensome. 

It is not that literally every decision, what to eat, what to wear that day, or what bus to take to work, needs to be prayed over. I don’t mean to trivialise the importance of seeking the Lord nor to say that God is not interested in the minutia of daily life, He is the constant companion, however the Lord has created us with an ability to think and use our intellect. 

Around the big five questions of relationships, work, stewardship, church, and suffering, prayer and His guidance are essential. The need to make ethical decisions in a godly manner needs God’s help. 
There is a reason why His Word, the Bible, is written so that our subjective morality becomes subject to His divine principles. 

For the decision making process of the Surrendered Warrior to be qualitatively different to other belief systems, they must be made within the framework of the Bible. It is not enough to follow a rule-based (deontological) system or a outcome based (consequentialist) paradigm. The Bible becomes the handbook. 
It may seem impossible, and it will be so, if the Surrendered Warrior forgets three things: 
  • that through Jesus’ death and resurrection God has granted us repentance (Acts 5:31)
  • God has given us a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17) and placed the Holy Spirit within in us to empower us to live lives which are pleasing to him (Romans 8:9-11). 
It is possible for to both to ‘put off’ ungodly thoughts and actions and to ‘put on’ godly attitudes and behaviours:
Ephesians 4:22-24: You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

I hear so many people say, “Well God understands, He made me this way!” But that’s a half truth. God does understand, but He didn't make you the way you are, sin did! He saves us and then remakes us. We are all being transformed from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18).

In our decisions, in our daily lives, is where most will centre their search for the will of God without much consideration for the other aspects to of life. 

Ethical decision making can be through about in the following way. Let these be an acid test for the decisions you are faced with: 

Sharing the Mind of Christ
To share the mind of Christ, we first need to have a Christian worldview. We need to think about the world in the way that Jesus does and in the way the Bible teaches; in terms of creation, fall, redemption and future hope.

We also have to have our mids transformed to understand to have the mind of Christ, His will for our lives.

Romans 12: 1-2: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

If the mind of the Surrendered Warrior is renewed then we will be able to define what God’s will is: His good, pleasing and perfect will.

Does this mean that God has three grades of will? Three levels to His will? No. There is one will being described in three ways!
  • Good - Christianity has a moral code and it is goodness. Not good as we see it for that is subjective. It is good as God sees it! His will is good.
  • Pleasing (acceptable) - pleasing is not about what is pleasing to us, but about what is pleasing to God. God cheers when we uphold His cause in the world, not ours. Pleasing means the ‘good’ is defined by Father’s will.
  • Perfect - has a meaning of being complete. His will is sovereign. There will always be things we don’t fully understand. His will is also revealed to us through the Word of God, and it is the revealed will we focus on. In either case God’s will is perfect!
Holding the Commands of Christ
Holding the commands of Christ means being guided by His word in the way we make ethical decisions. Jesus said that if we love Him we will obey his commands (John 14:15, 15:14). 

What starts in the Old Testament as the Old Covenant, the Ten Commandments and the 613 laws of the Pentateuch is, of course, a shadow prophetically pointing to the person of Christ, who will be the only one who is able to fulfil them (Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 10:1).

In the New Testament, specifically in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), we see Christ going beyond the mere external legalities of Old Testament law to the very spirit of love that underlies it. 

He says that the most important commands in the law are to love God with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength and to love one’s neighbour as oneself. (Matthew 22:37-40; Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18).

Jesus also gave His disciples a new commandment, to love one another as He had loved them (John 13:34,35).

But we are told that all Scripture is inspired (literally breathed) by God and profitable for teaching, correction, reproof and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16,17). So, we need to work hard at deducing biblical ethical principles to apply to today’s ethical dilemmas.

Showing the Character of Christ
One can only act virtuously, in a Christian sense, by being born again, and then transformed by the Holy Spirit so that one develops the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22,23).
It is one thing to know the right thing to do. It is something else altogether to have the character to do it. 

Standing firm in making correct ethical decisions requires great wisdom, patience, perseverance and courage.

Carrying the Cross of Christ
Carrying Christ’s cross means two things in a world hostile to Christian faith and values. It means, first of all, that we are prepared to fulfil the ‘Law of Christ’.

The Law of Christ is an interesting concept. It is mentioned twice in the New Testament. 

The first mention comes in 1 Corinthians 9:21:
To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.

Then, in Galatians 6:2, we have the command: Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.

This lines up with Christ’s words to his disciples at the Last Supper: 
John 13:34,35: 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

If you like, it is the very opposite of the Darwinist ethic of the weak being sacrificed for the strong. It is instead the strong making sacrifices for, or laying down their lives for, the weak.

This is the guiding ethic for everything we see in the New Testament. 

We are called to emulate Christ in making sacrifices, or laying down our lives, for the weak (Romans 5:8).

Additionally, part of carrying the cross in a society hostile to Christian faith and values is that we are prepared to speak and act in godly ways, even when it is tremendously costly to do so; in other words, even when it leads to great opposition. This is part of the cross.

It’s About Him, Not You!
The reason for the importance of making godly decisions is because it is about Him, not about you!

His name's sake: God’s will for your life is not just for your comfort or happiness, those are by-products, the goal is His name's sake - He is honoured, glorified and worshipped by you and those around you!
It’s about the reputation of God, the reputation of His universal Church. When one person behaves badly in the church it reflects upon the whole church!

Now we know we all mess up from time to time. I’m not talking about those mistakes that are unintentional. Its the intentional things we do - in the name of Christ - that are not aligned to His will that brings so much damage.

I overheard a conversion. Two men were chatting about a third part they both knew. It transpires that they both felt that they had been ripped off in separate business deals by this other unnamed man. Thats life right? It happens. But then the conversation turned tot he other guys professed Christianity. Not only did this chap profess Christianity He apparently was on of those who used it in business: “You can trust me I’m a Christian!” Both these guys said they’d never do business with a born again Christian again.

It affects the whole Chruch when we make decisions that we know are not glorifying to the name of Jesus that we know are unethical. 

Getting Practical
In your daily lives you may well say: “Keith, you don’t get it? We work in a ethically immoral worked not in the Christian bubble of church. We are asked to do things that can’t be avoided or we could lose our jobs!”

Some may be in very tricky situations. The cross of Christ only becomes real when we actually pick it up!

When I had a 'proper job' I became aware that the was a scam being operated by the transport manager - booking trucks in for work that they did not need and splitting the money with the garage. I reported it. I got no where because I guess my manager was part of it. They made my life really hard after this. After a time the Lord gave me a better job in a recruitment company. I thought no more of it until the transport manager contacted me to help find him a new job. He’d been dismissed! Well I did my job. But when it come to getting the reference I was referred to the MD of the company, a man I’d only met once. He told me that they could give a reference and that the scam I’d reported had turned out to be true and to a greater extent than I knew about. He then personally apologised to me and offered me a job. He needed people of integrity in the company! I politely refused.

Was this whole experience painful? Yes. I had a family to provide for. 
Did I feel like some kind of spiritual giant on a quest for the King? Nope. I felt abused! 
Did God provide a new way for me? Yes. A righteous path! 

Principle: if someone asks you to lie for them they will also lie to you and about you!

We are about to engage upon a new chapter in our lives where corruption is part of the culture. When We have explained to people that we will be signing a no bribery policy as we represent Elim, people have asked how do we intend to the get permissions to build homes for children without bribing the local officials. I outlined my strategy for this and received applause. Why? Because as Christians we are to model a different way. A way that continually sacrifices for those less fortunate that us.

Wrapping this Up:
Theres the old bracelet that used to say WWJD? What Would Jesus Do? After a while the fad left and we don’t where them much now. They were a useful reminder that we are supposed to be living representatives of Jesus to those around us.

A quick read of the gospels will show you how Jesus behaved in His decision making:
He upheld the cause of God’s justice of the poor, outcasts and widows.
He loved the unlovable
He shunned the religious
He fed the hungry
He ministered to the sick
He lived as a servant of others
He lifted others up
He gave everything of Himself.

We would do well to do the same!

I'm grateful to Peter Saunders, CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship, for some of the framework for this talk.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Surrendered Warriors 3: He Restores My Soul

{These are notes based on my new book, please only use with permission. Thanks}

Today we continue with our mini series on Psalm 23. 

1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell[a] in the house of the Lord
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (NKJV)

What is the Soul?
The soul is not the mind. It is not the body. It is not the human spirit. It is the glue that holds those other three things together. It is the life of the person.

In the Hebrew Bible the term “soul” is nephesh, appearing 756 times. 

The word can refer to “life” (Genesis 1:30), or simply the “person” (Deuteronomy 10:22).

The word soul can refer to both the intangible and material aspects of humanity. Unlike human beings having a spirit, human beings are souls. 

In its most basic sense, the word soul means “life”; however, beyond this essential meaning, the Bible speaks of the soul in many contexts. One of these is in relation to humanity’s eagerness to sin (Luke 12:26). 

Human beings have a sinful nature, and our souls are tainted with sin. The soul, as the life essence of the body, is removed at the time of physical death (Genesis 35:18; Jeremiah 15:2). The soul is the centre of many spiritual and emotional experiences: 
Psalm 43:5: Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.

The word soul can refer to the whole person, whether alive on earth or in the afterlife.

The soul and the spirit are connected, but separable Hebrews 4:12:  For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 

The soul is the essence of humanity’s being; it is who we are. The spirit is the immaterial part of humanity that connects with God.

We are not mere hunks of moulded “dust” (Genesis 2:7); there is an inner essence, the soul (Matthew 10:28) that has been made in the very image of God himself (Genesis 1:26-27).

So we know that the soul is different to the spirit. Greek thought would have been that we are three - spirit, mind, body. Biblical thought is that we are four parts, spirit, mind, body held together in the life of the soul.

The Soul is Delicate 
Here is a startling truth. It is not in God’s original plan for you to experience the pain of brokenness. He does not desire for your heart to be broken. He does not want you to experience the pain of rejection. He does not want you to suffer the trauma of loss, or grief, or poverty, or health issues, nor any many of other things. 

But we all do.

What went wrong? Sin. Before sin entered the world God looked across the whole of creation and declared that it was good (Genesis 1:31). Before sin entered the world no one would die. No one would need to experience any of the griefs and the losses we know today.

But we do.

The point is that we were not originally designed to experience pain and loss in the way we do today. 

Our family is expanding slowly. We have three sons, three daughter-in-laws and one grandson. As such as we are we do not want them to experience pain, loss, sickness or any other difficulty. Why? Because we want the best for them. We know that during the course of their lifetime they will experience some pain though.

Our basic design, put there by God is to protect our loved ones. 

Our basic design as beings created in the image of God is to know Him but we were never designed to experience deep pain in our lives.

But we do. 

We experience pain that goes beyond what medicine can heal. It’s pain that affects the soul.

Factory recall: Barbie has a Honda Jazz and she loves that little car. Recently I got a letter from Honda. It explained that in rare cases the driver’s airbag would go off with too much force in an accident and this could be dangerous. They’d identified the problem and so, although in no immediate danger, asked me to take the car into Honda. As it was due it’s annual service and MOT when I booked it in for this work I told them about the recall. They replaced the airbag. To be honest, I do not see the difference. The airbag is hidden. 

Here’s the thing: God issues a factory recall notice on the hidden part of you, the soul. He calls you in to have it renewed, refreshed, made new again, despite all the pain, all the anguish and all the hurt, He says He can fix that. On the outside others may not know the difference, just like my airbag, until something goes wrong! Then people see a healed and whole soul in operation. 

A damaged and sick soul infects the mind, the body and someone’s spirit. It is the glue that holds everything together. It is the life of the individual. 

The Bible tells us to take care of the elements of our beings.
Mind: renew it - Romans 12:2: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Body: take care of it - 1 Timothy 4:8: For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
Spirit: give it to God, born again - John 3: 6-8: Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

There is only one treatment for the soul: the Shepherd who created it. 

So what has God done about it? He has an incredible healing capacity. He can heal the mind, the body, the spirit and the soul.

Restores My Soul
But what is the meaning of the verb “restores” (used about 1,060 times in the Old Testament)? 

In my reading I discovered that many treatments and poles opinions around refreshing the soul centre around taking time out, resting, relaxing, even meditating. All these are good but they are not things that reach the soul. 

While the word can signify “to refresh,” that’s not what is bing communicated in Psalm 23.

Does God refresh the soul? Yes.
Psalm 19:7:  The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.

To refresh the soul is to immerse it in Scripture. This is maintenance too. To keep the soul free from the cares of the world.

The word “restore” in Hebrew in Psalm 23 indicates two things: a bringing back home and a movement back to the point of departure. In other words God turns our life around and resets us to where we should be.

In computing you can use restore points. This is basically when your PC stops working properly  (which it will) you can go back to a point in time when it was working properly and use that. Often the corrupt data that has stopped it working properly will be lost. In simple terms, that what God does. He removes the thing that has affected the soul and restores it to new.

The fact that the Lord has made provision for the soul to be restored there is the awareness of the damage that sin can do to the soul.

King David, who wrote this Psalm, sometimes walked away from God. He backslid on occasions, and when he did, his soul was plunged into distress (cf. Psalm 32; 51). 

The Apostle Paul put it like this:
2 Corinthians 4:16: Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

Wrapping this up:
We have to depend on God’s promises to heal our wounded souls. Together we are gong to say some declarations together and then we are going to go into a personal prayer time.


When I’m in emotional pain,
He restores my soul!
When life is too much for me,
He restores my soul!
When I have sinned,
He restores my soul!
When I am backslidden, 
He restores my soul!
When I need refreshing, 
He restores my soul!
When work pressures are too much to bare, 
He restores my soul!
When my mind won’t rest, 
He restores my soul!
When my body is failing, 
He restores my soul!
When life is dark, 
He restores my soul!
He restores my soul! 
He restores my soul!

Prayer time

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Surrendered Warriors 2: With God It’s Personal

This material is part of a new book I am working on. Please ask permission before sharing or reposting.

Surrendered Warriors 2: With God It's Personal.
We continue today with our mini-series on Psalm 23.  
Psalm 23:1-6: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. [2] He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, [3] he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. [4] Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. [5] You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. [6] Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Last time we looked at the phrase, “The Lord...’” today we shall look at an aspect of “My Shepherd...”

The Shepherd is the picture of the provider. He looks after the sheep. You may now accuse me of a contradiction. I said last time that an issue with Christians today is that we are consumers of grace not channels of peace; that we are focussed on our blessing, our desires and goals. I stand by that, for until the Surrendered Warrior understands God's plans, they will always default to themselves being on centre stage. God does supply all your needs according to His riches in glory; all your needs, not all your wants! (Philippians 4:19). 

Your Shepherd cares for you. He cares so much He does not always give you your wants, but your needs, yes. As the Shepherd of your soul it’s a personal relationship that He seeks with you. 

A Shepherd in Biblical times is not distant, not unfamiliar, nor aloof. He lived with the sheep, slept in the gap of the sheep fold to protect against predators, fed the sheep and cared for them. This all sounds lovely and comforting until you factor in one major thing often ignored in such reflections: sheep are basically stupid! They wander off, they lose sight of the herd, they think the grass is better in the next field, they are helpless without the love and care of the Shepherd.

As the Lord is your Shepherd you can expect Him to know the following about Him: His voice and His care. I only have time (and not even enough this morning to do it justice) to look at one aspect of this. So I’ve decided to look at the Shepherd’s Voice. I make an assumption that many of us here today know His care and His love. However, one repeating question from Christians is, “Hope do I know when God is speaking to me?”

The Shepherd’s Voice.
Every believer and disciple of Jesus Christ should be able to discern His voice. There should be an inherent inner witness that it is Jesus speaking, not a deception and a demonic spirit, but Jesus. Yet this seems to be one of the biggest stumbling blocks in the Christian’s life: how do you know that Jesus is actually speaking to you? 

Jesus reminds us that His sheep (you and I) will know His voice, will respond to His voice and follow Him (John10:27). It seems so simple. It is simple. 

As a young man I lived for a time in Cumbria, in the north of England, a rural county. A local farmer, also called Keith and a devout Christian, invited me one evening to go and feed the sheep with him. We loaded up the Land Rover with bags of composite feed and set off. He explained the sheep loved grass but to make sure their diet was balanced a supplementary feed needed to be given. We drove up through the hills and entered an empty field, drove to the middle, unloaded the feed, cut the bags open and waited. I pointed out to my farmer friend that we were missing something: sheep. He gave a wry smile and then let out a billowing holler. At that the sheep came bounding through the gaps created for them in the dry stone walls from adjoining fields, leaping and running towards us. Within a minute or less we were surrounded by sheep. Shoving and pushing us and each other to get to the feed. We retreated before they knocked us over. Keith looked at the sight chuckling and simply said, “My sheep now my voice.” If I had called them they would not have come dancing along. They came for their shepherd.

Hearing Jesus speak to you today should be that simple. You may be going about your business in the farmer’s field, safe in the boundaries laid out for you, until you hear His voice to come and dine, to be near Him. Running with joy and anticipation you head towards the sound of His voice, clambering over anything that gets in you way. 

So how does the Shepherd call out to you today? How does He speak? All believers can hear the voice of God, but it seems some have trouble trusting what they are hearing is actually God. We should expect to hear the Shepherd call to us and speak to us. Let’s unpack some of these together.

He Speaks Through the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit has been poured out on all believers. 

He acts firstly as a seal. Every believer has something of His presence in their lives, the Spirit of adoption, declaring God as Father and you as His child (Romans 8:15-17).

He acts as your source of power. He gives you the strength not just to face life, but to change lives through your witness, through being sent out into the world as witnesses (Acts 1:8)

He acts then as a Counsellor. He speaks into your heart. He illuminates the Bible to you. He gives you gifts to use and to discern what is happening around you. He guides you. He teaches you (John 14:6; 1 Corinthians 14: 1-5; 1 John 2:27).

This all sounds lovely. Several things cloud for us what the Spirit may be saying to us. 
Our opinions. 
Our Sin. 
Our Emotions.

Our opinions of what is right and wrong, just and true, can affect how we actually hear God speak to us.
Our sin, those hidden things, those acts of self-justification that tell us it’s okay to continue the way we are because for us there is some kind of spiritual exemption.
Our emotions, our desires for things that may not be the best of us or where we have invested so much of our time and energy that to leave it would be too difficult.

Fortunately, God in His wisdom has given us many confirming ways we can turn to to ensure the thoughts and desires in our hearts are actually from God Himself.

He Speaks Through His Love Letter
His love letter to you is the Bible, the Holy Scriptures. Theses are inspired by the Holy Spirit. We are told in its pages that:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The whole Bible is wholly good for you. It is God-breathed. It is alive, active, sharper than a surgeon’s scalpel, more decisive than a laser beam, more comforting than a warm fire on a cold winter’s night, more instructive than a maker’s manual, more informative than an encyclopaedia, more precious than diamonds, more perfect than any other literature. Its pages contain more wisdom than the world can fathom, more truth than the world can handle, more light than the sun can generate, more hope than a politician can promise and is more insightful than any therapist. It is unique (Hebrews 4:12; Zechariah 1:13; Proverbs 4).

All of this is wrapped up in a leather binding, presented to you with the treasures of heaven within its pages, for you to know God’s heart for you. Within its pages God has revealed Himself, compressing everything you will ever need to know into its pages to make godly, wholesome life choices. 

Elim holds a high view of the Bible. We do not believe that it is fable, humanly-inspired, or simply a good read. Our foundational truth statement reads: We believe the Bible, as originally given, to be without error, the fully inspired and infallible Word of God and the supreme and final authority in all matters of faith and conduct.

There is a reason why God had His Scripture written down: when left to our own devices we will come up with all manner of things in the name of God. 

Great damage can be done when the undiluted Word of God is ignored and what is put forward is put forward is a Christian sounding message that has wandered from the truth. 

Everything must be tested against the Bible’s teaching. 

There are some ways to look at things that God may be saying to you:
Is it Biblical? That might seem obvious but to ask if it is biblical is a great place to begin. For instance, when considering courting, or marrying someone, the Bible is clear on the boundaries for this relationship. They should hold the same faith, be of good character, faithful and spiritual. Anything less is to marry and become one flesh with someone who may be very nice as a person but they are Father God’s second best for you.

Is it extra biblical? This means that it may not not be actually recorded in Scripture. There are obviously things where the Bible lays out biblical boundaries but the actual outworking is not as detailed as you'd like. So, to continue with the analogy of finding a spouse, the Bible won’t tell you if they are to have blue or brown eyes, blond or dark hair, be tall or short, fat or thin. Those things are heard wired into your own preferences. The good news is that God doesn't call you to marry someone who you think is ugly! Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. What is paramount though is that, no matter how attractive they are, if they fail the biblical test they are out of bounds.

Is it contra-biblical? Simply put if the action or behaviour is clearly described as a sin in the pages of the inspired Word of God, avoid it. If in doubt, leave it out.

He Speaks Through Personal Prophecy and Other Verbal Gifts
Over the years I have witnessed people running after the prophetic utterances of another to try and hear something special from Father God. Whilst there is some benefit in prophecy (and I too have received and given prophecies) they have a secondary function in the Body of Christ. Eventually they will pass away, but God’s word will last forever (I Corinthians 13:8).

You need to hear from God but He seems silent. He seems to have forgotten you. The Bible may have been silent. Someone brings you a prophetic word. It brings hope, light in the darkness, and the promise that things will get better. Wonderful! Now what? 
When receiving a prophecy the Surrendered Warrior will look at the timing of what is being said. They view their lives as a book, written by God and complete before Him. They may currently be living in chapter three of their life story, but God may be reading to them from chapter fifteen. There may be a lot of life to live to get to the place of fulfilment. 
The Surrendered Warrior also knows that there will always be a condition within prophecy, even if its not stated. For instance, if a prophecy says, “If you will do this, I will do that,” it is clear what the condition is. Do “this” and “that” will come to pass. Sometimes though the condition is not clear. It may be that the prophecy says, “I want you to go and be a missionary in China.” This might thrill your heart but you don’t speak Mandarin. Is there a condition in this prophecy? Well the easiest one to spot is the language condition. Take some lessons. 
There will always be a condition, spoken or unspoken. The Lord does not just expect us to accept a prophecy and then sit and wait for its fulfilment. Some things are taken by action, sometimes forceful, intentional action that then leads the Surrendered Warrior on an adventure and journey that was not anticipated or dreamed of but will bring joy to the heart.
More than this though, there is always a gap. The gap between where you are currently and where God wants you to journey to. That might be a moral gap, a skills gap, a geographical gap, or an obedience gap. 
Weigh It
The Surrendered Warrior will weigh and test what is being said. Testing what has been said is not the same as testing God. It is making sure that what has been said was indeed said by Him, not on His behalf by well meaning friends or those in ministry. 

Care needs to be taken when hearing a word from God that the Surrendered Warrior does not run off on a tangent, but relies wholly on God. 

Remember this prior to testing and weighing a prophecy. It is a partial revelation of a limited aspect of the mind of God. Scripture is a total revelation of the essential aspects of the mind of God for all humanity. 

Prophecy is seen by some as equal to Scripture, but it is not. This ambiguity is caused by the rhema (spoken word) and logos (written word) both being referred to as the Word of God. It would be helpful if prophecy were called just that, a word of prophecy.
Scripture urges that prophecy be weighed and tested, but does not state how (1 Corinthians 14:29 & 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21). So how does the earnest Surrendered Warrior make sure that the prophecy they have received is actually from God and not the result of an overly cheesy pizza that the one sharing it has just eaten? 

Here are some tips for making sure it’s weighed and obeyed in the right sense. 
Firstly, does it agree with Scripture? This can be seen in a few ways. Does it agree with the overall tenets of the Bible? This is the flavour test, does it taste right given the overall message of God’s word? 

Next does it contradict specific Scriptures? For instance, if a prophecy is given that says it’s okay to steal, you’d know that this is not from God for it breaks a commandment (Exodus 20:5). This is the ingredients test; it might taste good at first bite but is it wholesome for you spiritually? These affirm the authority of Scripture. 

The attitude of those bringing the prophecy is also important as a test. Any other motivation than love will distort the prophecy. This should not be confused with the personality of the one prophesying, the issue is not how it is done but in whom is the person resting when it is done?

Within this test the Surrendered Warrior should also consider the best intentions of the one bringing the verbal gift. If someone knows you well be careful that their love doesn’t result in them adding to what God wanted to say. 

The credibility of the one bringing the prophecy is also important. Those who have been nurtured in their gifts and calling in the local church by nature have more credibility than those who are interlopers. It does not mean that a stranger cannot have something from God to say, but the person known to have a track record of being humble, guided by the Lord and able to receive correction will naturally get more of a listening ear than someone who hops from church to church searching for a platform. 

It’s important to weigh the prophecy, not the person, for God can speak through a donkey (Number 22:21-29), but there are enough prophetically gifted non-donkeys around to avoid the pain of listening to the unstable (excuse the pun). 

Finally, does it accomplish the stated purpose of prophecy in Scripture: to strengthen, encourage and build up? This is the fruit test. Did it leave you feeling rejected, unloved, spurned by God and the church community, or did it bring wholeness, health, help and confirmation into what you were praying and seeking the Lord about? 

It’s Not All Candy Floss 
Although prophecy should bring strengthening, encouragement and comfort, does not mean that it will be painless. Too often we have a warped idea of what strengthening, encouragement and comfort actually look and feel like.

This does not mean prophecies should be harsh, in the Old Testament genre of declaring Ichabod over everything that moves! There are times though that a parent has to lovingly correct and bring correction to a child. That correction can be brought gently (Galatians 6:1). The child finds great comfort and security in knowing that their parent loves them enough to point out their error and point them in the right direction (although this might take time for the offspring to fully appreciate). It’s the same with us. The strengthening, encouragement and comfort, of a prophecy is not always within its content but is always its by-product. 

He Speaks Through Creation
The Bible makes this clear too. 

I have found that sensates - those who particularly are stimulated and perceive by their senses - tend to be enamoured but what they see and experience in creation. Creation speaks in the following ways to everyone:

Creation declares that God is real and you're not here by accident.(Psalm 19:1; Zechariah 12:1). To marvel at creation is one thing. To wonder how it comes into being is another, reminding all enquiring minds that the why of Creation is to point to the majesty of the living God.

Creation declares that Jesus is real (Romans 8:20-22).The world around you and the universe beyond you is frustrated. In fact it is in bondage. Bondage of sin and decay. In Christ Jesus it finds its hope, just as you have, that it will be liberated. 

Paul describes this as it being “brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” A mistake so often make in the Western Church is that salvation is purely an individual experience, Jesus forgives you of your sins and that is the end of the matter. 

The truth of the gospel is that Jesus came to establish a Kingdom that would be displayed through the Church but also that would redeem Creation.

Creation declares that Jesus is coming back (Romans 8:22). Paul uses the example of creation to remind the Roman believers that the decay they see in their natural bodies is a sign of the yearning for the return of Jesus. We know that God is going to miraculously restore the health of this world. John in the book of Revelation describes this as a new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1). 

Whilst creation is literally groaning, it still points to the Creative mind behind its existence (Romans 8:22).

Creation Declares the praise of God. Have you ever found yourself so caught up in the wonder of creation that praise and worship bubble up from within you? If so you're not alone! 
The very creation that you're a part of is designed to respond in the praise of Father a God: 
“Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights above. Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts. Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created. He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away.” (Psalm 148:1-6). 

One of the ways the creation is designed to speak to you is  to lead you to praise God. Some animistic cultures interpret this feeling as God himself and therefore, worship creation. Yet the true purpose of creation is to signpost humanity towards a relationship with our Creator, not the creation.

He Speaks Through Dreams & Visions
The Bible is replete with those having dreams and visions. Abraham’s vision in the night, the prophet Micaiah’s pre-battle vision, and Daniel’s dream vision of the four beasts. Often they mark critical transitions. 
They can also serve as warnings or directives, as in the dreams of Pharaoh and Abimelech or the visions of Amos and Jeremiah (Genesis 17; 1Kings 22; Daniel 7; Ezekiel 1-3; Isaiah 6; Genesis 41; 20:3-7; Amos 7:7-9, 8:1-3;  and Jeremiah 1:11-19, 24).

What is the difference between a dream and a vision? In some ways they seem to be interchangeable, but primarily a dream happens during sleep and vision when awake. They serve the same functions though.

I have found that God does speak to me visually. When something is implanted in my spirit I “see” it rather than feel it. I have also found that He speaks in the half-awake dream-state just between deep sleep and being fully awake before I leave my bed. I think this is because the Lord knows my mind will soon clutter up with the business of the day! Yet sometimes I will wake with a thought or an impression from a half-dream. Not a dream that has recurred all through the night or from a disturbed nights sleep. Rather, a quiet assurance that He has a plan and I can trust Him.

Dreams sometimes happen because of a fear, a worry or the brain working overtime. It is important for the Surrendered Warrior to understand that not every dream is from God. Some dreams might be the result of too much pizza the night before. Where they have value is when an unexpected answer to a problem comes through the haze of confusion. When a sense of peace and well-being is left with you, for you understand God is in control. When you’re left with hope. 

Even though the Bible does speak about those who had dreams and visions, there are still comparatively few of these examples in the Bible when compared to the human populace at the time. Statically it was unlikely that God would speak through this means, which meant when He did special attention needed to be given to what is said. 

The Surrendered Warrior needs to take great care when thinking every dream is from God. They can equally speak of your unspoken, subconscious desires rather than what God has in mind you.

Generally dreams should be weighed in the same way as spoken prophecy: do they edify, comfort and exhort? Do they conform to the Word of God, the Bible. 

I have come to recognise, that even though God speaks to me visually, most of the dreams I have are not from Him. Some are. None of them should be used to build life decisions on in isolation. 

He Speaks Through Friends
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24)
Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice (Proverbs 27:6).

Friends can be really helpful when hearing from the Shepherd. They can also be wrong too. So much can depend upon the quality and integrity of the friend in question.

Your friends will want the best for you. They will often agree with what you’re saying because they want you to be happy, to be blessed, to progress in life. Some friends will just go along with what you're saying. 

Often the mistake that can be made is that the Surrendered Warrior surrounds themselves with people who will agree with them. True friends will challenge. They will probe. They will walk alongside. They will seek to pray with you and for you. 

Godly friends who are seasoned in their faith can be fantastic help. These are the ones we know will tell you the truth about yourself without destroying you. You know whether words are there to help you: the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice (Proverbs 27:6). They are ones who can help you clarify whether Father God is actually speaking to you or not. They can help discern whether you’re hearing from Him. They are there, not to agree with you, but walk through with you to see if this is a God-thing or a too-much-cheese-before-bedtime-thing. 

Value these kind of friendships. They are special and they are rare.

God Speaks Through Circumstances?
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze (Isaiah 43:2).

Circumstances are probably the most unreliable indicator that the Shepherd is trying to get your attention! 

Often circumstances will go against the believer when that person has wandered far from the the Truth of the Gospel; things stop working out the way they used to. In this instance the Shepherd is calling you back to Himself. 

Equally, circumstances may go against you when you’re being obedient to His voice and leading. This might seem oxymoronic when thinking through Psalm 23, where He leads you into green pastures and beside still waters but there is still the acknowledgement of the valley of the shadow of death too. 

Christians tend to have an ‘open door’ mentality when it comes to circumstances. If the door is open, it must be the Master’s will, right? Not so. We can open doors all by ourselves through our own talents. Sometimes the Lord will use circumstances to be sure. Often though, the Surrendered Warrior will find that circumstances stand against the direction that the Lord is calling them to follow. This is why believers live by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Circumstances should be the last area in which the Surrendered Warrior seeks confirmation. The idea that circumstances must be right for obedience to the Lord to follow is an anathema. Some would argue that the Apostle Paul used circumstances as a guide. Look at Acts 16:6-10:
Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.  When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

At a first glance it appears that Paul and his companions tried to enter various territories but were not to allowed to do so. Circumstance at work? A closer reading indicates that they were prevented by the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Jesus, both references to the promised One whom Jesus and the Father sent to guide those who follow Christ (John 14:26).

Rather than Paul aimlessly trying to cross into these jurisdictions and being stopped at the border, Luke, the author of the book of Acts, attributes this to the work of the Spirit. 

Is it more likely that as they were praying about where to go next and received, what old time Pentecostals used to refer to as a ‘check in their spirit’ not to go. A simple acknowledgement that God had not opened that particular door to them. 

In fact, when Paul has a dream about the man in Macedonia pleading for their help, they move freely into that region and see the first of many converts there. 

Think about the great accomplishments of people under God’s guidance throughout the Bible. What do you see?
  • Circumstances were against Abraham and Sarah yet they conceived Isaac.
  • Circumstances were against Joseph yet he rose to be second only to Pharaoh.
  • Circumstances were against Moses yet the Red Sea parted.
  • Circumstances were against Gideon yet he defeated a vast army with only three hundred fighting men.
  • Circumstances were against David but he defeated Goliath.
  • Circumstances were against Mary but she believed and conceived Jesus.
  • Circumstances were against Peter but he still walked on water.
  • Circumstances were against Lazarus but he was still raised from the dead.
  • Circumstances were against Jesus but the tomb could not hold Him!

Circumstances being against you are an indicator that a miracle is about to happen! 

Much of where the Shepherd has led my wife and I is on the other side of adverse circumstances, on the other side of fear, on the other side of a maybe or a possibly. Push through!

If you find yourself in a situation where your circumstances are favourable don’t think that you are being disobedient in some way! Enjoy that season. 

Look to His Word, look to the other ways He speaks; for circumstances whether, favourable or unfavourable, still have a habit of lying to you.

He Speaks Through the Preached Word.
I still believe in the power of preaching. There is still a place in life for the Bible to be explained, ruminated upon, discoveries highlighted and God’s love explored. 

Is every sermon brilliant? Probably not. Is every sermon necessary? Absolutely. I coined a phrase a while ago to describe messages that were not high on the spiritual excitement Geiger counter as “broccoli messages:” they may look funny, not taste great, but are necessary for a balanced diet.

So what should a Surrendered Warrior look for in a good sermon or preacher?
Firstly, primarily what is said should point you towards Jesus. Messages on a Sunday should not be primarily about the preacher. If they point to Jesus you know you're being fed, and spoken to, at some level.
Secondly, they should handle the word of God with care and reverence. I don’t not mean that must necessarily use a huge, black, leather bound Bible (although there’s nothing wrong with that), but that they should treat the holy text well. 

It is easy to see if a biblical teacher has done their homework around the meaning of a verse or if they are leaping blindly from one thought to another. 
Thirdly, a good sermon will always bring a challenge into focus. It may not be directly for you every week, nor will the challenge to respond be framed the same way ritualistically each week, but there must be a “so what?” moment. A “so what” simply asks each of the listeners: what does this mean for my life? Look for those when you're listening to the message on a Sunday and God will speak to you.

So how should the Surrendered Warrior approach listening to the Sunday’s message?
Approach the sermon time with an open heart. Sunday mornings are often the busiest times for many people. The kids act up, the car won’t start, the breakfast is ruined, the alarm doesn't go off, and bad weather makes many want to be engulfed deeper under the covers instead of getting out of bed. Worship, the corporate joining together in song and hungering after the Lord’s presence, is then in danger of just being seen as the warm-up act for the preacher. I’ve been there, as a church member and as a preacher at times! 

Be encouraged. God is gracious. Approach the service with openness, even its only with a quick prayer ; “Lord I want to bless you this morning with my worship, expressed through singing, listening to the Word and giving of myself again to you. Speak into my heart even if I’m not immediately aware of it, Amen.”

Allow your imagination to go on a journey. This might seem strange advice, but the concentration span of most people has shortened over the last few decades. The average human’s attention span is… oh look, a bird!

Minds are going to wonder no matter how great a preacher is. So when listening to a sermon there might be a verse read out, a phrase spoken or an illustration used that makes you ponder, taking you on a journey back to your own quiet time, to the prayer you prayed the day before, or to the situation at work and in that moment you hear God speak. 

To date I’ve preached thousands of sermons and spent many more thousands of hours studying the Bible for them. I’ve lost count of the amount of times someone has complimented me on a sermon I have not actually preached. After one Sunday, a faithful church member came up to me and said, “That’s probably the best message I’ve heard on the dangers of alcohol.” I thanked them. Later I reviewed my notes and the podcast. I had never mentioned booze, the dangers of, or abstinence, or drunkenness. Yet, as they listened to the message the Lord took them on a journey and heard Him speak into their life. I was not offended. I was pleased that they had journeyed with God.

Don't expect the sermon to be your primarily source of sustenance. It is the most vital part of the Sunday service, an essential part of the Surrendered Warrior’s diet, but it is not the primarily source of your nourishment. Over the years of  leading churches I’ve have heard every reason why people would say they're leaving the church (I’ve heard many more as to why people would want to join too). However, people moving on from a local church is a reality. Career moves, new homes out of the area, and I cannot get on with brother so and so. There are obviously genuine reasons why someone might move from a local church. 

There are plenty of disingenuous ones too. Amongst these are the classic, “I’m just not being fed here pastor.” Ego’s aside, no preacher thinks they are the best preacher in the world. If they do they probably aren't! 

I will always challenge the I’m-not-being-fed-so-I’m-leaving-excuse. If the preacher is doing their job well they will have spent time pondering, praying and studying the text and illustrations for the Sunday; to call their work inadequate is painful. 

However, even if the preacher is abysmal, doesn't put in the effort, and is dryer than a snake’s belly in the desert, is not a reason to leave a church. Sermons are meant to feed, to challenge, to lift up. 

They are not the primarily source of nourishment though. They are designed to add balance to your spiritual diet. Nourishment comes comes from your own quiet time, daily devotions in the Bible and prayer life (1 Corinthians 14:26).

Imagine if you will the scene: doctor is sitting with their patient who is explaining that they are weak, feverish, unable to go to work, tired and exhausted most of the time. One day a week though, on a Sunday, they perk up. Things seem a little brighter. Life seems a bit better. They have more strength. By Monday things have started to fade and by Wednesday, things have gone back to the way they were. The doctor frowns and asks, “What is so different about Sunday's?” “Oh,”replies the patient, “that's the one day I eat.” Enjoy your Sunday’s message. Enjoy it as a meal in the best restaurant in town, knowing that there has been effort in its preparation especially for you, knowing that you are to share this meal with others in your community. Remember, though, to eat in the week too and God will speak to you.

Wrapping this up:
So they're are multiple ways that the Lord can speak to the Surrendered Warrior. 
He will have a primary way of speaking to you as His child. He will also have a supplementary way of speaking to you too, which may change every now and then. 
The primary way of confirming He’s speaking is through the Bible. The secondary way that He speaks, which may be through any or all of the other means discussed, will always have to be checked against the Word of God. This supplementary way will be rooted in your personality, in your spiritual make up, in the way you're wired physiologically, how He made you. 

Blog Bonus
Bonus 1: No Real Choices?
In His foreknowledge, His omniscience, God knows who will be saved and who will not. 
Ephesians 1:11 says this: "In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will." 
This led to a realm of religious debate that postulates that there is no such thing as free will, it's an illusion. If there is no such thing as a free will, then surely it really does not matter what decisions in life a person makes? It becomes an irrelevance because God's will is ultimately going to be done. 

I have met Christians who are basically fatalists in this regard. They sit back and do not seek to partner with God in life for, in their logic, God has made up His mind anyway and therefore decisions they make are insignificant and inconsequential. I have a problem with this. Jesus called Christians to be the light in the world, salt in desperate times. Salt was used as a flavouring and a preservative; in fact if salt lost its saltiness it had lost is usefulness. Why would Jesus want Surrendered Warriors to be agents of change if there was no significance in their actions? 

The issue surrounds what is meant by free will. Let's look at some questions together to examine whether free will exists or not:
Is a person being forced from an outside force to make a choice?
Is a person is responsible for his or her choices?
Is a person the active agent in a choice made?
Is a person free to do whatever they desire?
Does a person have the ability to choose contrary to their nature (who they are)?

The first three questions are quite easy to answer. 
No one is forced by an outside force, God, to make any specific choice. 
People are responsible for their own choices; there are consequences, good and bad, for every decision. 
The person is the one making the choice, they are the 'active agent.' 
The fourth question is easily answered too: of course a person cannot do whatever they desire; they cannot leap tall buildings, fly without wings, or swim underwater for more than a few minutes without air. There are physical limits on what someone can do. Furthermore, if they decide to commit a crime, society will hold them responsible and negative consequences will arise. A person may freely act on a desire but society has laws and expectations that would seek to prevent that desire being acted upon; therefore, a person is not free to do whatever they desire. 
Who is The True You?
The last question is where there is some debate amongst Christian scholars. Essentially, it is felt that a person may not act outside of their nature, who they are at their core. Without being too presumptuous, it is the premise that a person cannot make a choice that is contrary to their nature. Until the fourth century it was assumed that people choose to do what they do completely randomly. Augustine of Hippo, the theologian and early Christian writer who shaped much of Western Christianity's thought, proposed something else. He argued if people are good that they will make good choices. Conversely, if they are bad, then they will make bad choices. In each of these decisions they were making a free choice, but not a liberated choice: that is they made choices based on their nature and were confined in that choice by their nature.  

Today it could be argued that people make their choices based on their default programming which is instilled in them by upbringing, their environment, their predisposition, their gender, their circumstances at birth and so on. So, in general, people are free to make decisions, but they're not as free in this process as one might first think. There are different theological trains of thought on how this affects a person's ability to choose; either every decision is predestined or nature can be altered. Paul spoke of the fruit of the sinful nature at work in the unbeliever and the fruit of the Spirit that is at work in the believer; these two things are in conflict.
The New Looks Good on You!
The good news for Christians is that there is a new nature at work within! This the Surrendered Warrior's hope: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" This means the decision making process you have today will be guided by something else, God's Word, and by someone else, the Holy Spirit. He begins to work within you at the moment of salvation to bring about the transformation of your old self. At the point of salvation you are redeemed, brought by the Blood of Jesus. At the same time you were justified. Sin is forgiven. You are proclaimed not guilty in the courts of heaven. After this, for the rest of your life in fact, a process begins. It is called sanctification. This is a transforming process by which Christlikeness becomes displayed in the life of the believer.

Along the way there will be mistakes and victories as you try to define God's will for your life. There'll be temptations that will sideline you too from time to time. It is a process that happens in degrees, it is not an event, not instantaneous, and sometimes not without painful choices to do the right thing. All the way through, the goal is to be me more like Jesus in character. This is the hub of Romans 12:1-2:

This new nature is at war with the old nature you had before you became a Christian. This does not mean that you’ll get it right all the time.

So if this transformation is the work of the Holy Spirit in your life, do you really have the choice, free will, or not? Is He just controlling you along life's way. Remember the first three questions that were asked earlier?
Is a person being forced from an outside force to make a choice?
Is a person is responsible for his or her choices?
Is a person the active agent in a choice made?
It is still in your remit, your control, your realm of choice to decide if you will cooperate with the Holy Spirit in making any decision about life, love, work, generosity, ethics, altruism - it's a daily choice. This is one difference, among many, between a mere follower and a disciple of Jesus. A follower can follow at a distance, a disciple walks closely enough to their Lord to hear His voice. A Surrendered Warrior is primarily a disciple who gets to choose daily their course under the Holy Spirit’s guidance with confirmation the Word of God.

Bonus 2: Compilation of the Bible
By AD397 the Bible as we have it was seen as complete. These books passed some strategic tests. 
Firstly that they were self-athenticating. In other words they were inspired the moment they were written. No Church  council was needed to determine this, their inspiration was inherent within them. People and councils only recognised the the inspired nature. 
Secondly they passed scrutiny. Whilst inspired there was also literature circulating that was not. Therefore, debates and councils happened to discuss what was inspired and what was not. Next were debates over actual canonicity, those that could be described as complete in themselves. This did not weaken the authenticity of genuine books but undermined the books that were spurious. 

Finally, the canon of Scripture was closed with the books in the Bible we have today. No other book after this time would be considered to be entered into Church teaching material. The last time I checked, other ways God speaks to you and I are not subjected to such rigorous testing