Hello Freedom Fellowship family. A few weeks ago, I was having a conversation with someone from church and they brought up the Catholic Bible and the extra books that are included in it (aka the Apocrypha). I decided that this was such a great question and something I wanted to write about on our church blog.
The books of the Bible are referred to as Canon. These are the books that are seen as inspired by God and are His Word. However, there are some other books that have been up for debate for centuries. Why is it that these books are not included in our Protestant Bible and what do Hebrew scholars think of these additional Apocryphal books?
Let’s start by looking into the history and Canon of the Old Testament. There is little debate among Hebrew scholars as to which books belong in the Old Testament Canon. Hebrew scholars and Jews held the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books in admiration, but never saw them as sacred texts, inspired by God. The main reason why Jewish scholars do not hold these books as part of the Old Testament Canon is because the majority of them were written during the intertestamental period, the 400-year gap between the closing of the Old Testament and the start of the revelations of the New Testament. This 400 years between the Old and New Testament is also known as the silent years.
Josephus the historian remarked, ‘the succession of the prophets’ had been interrupted."
It was from this understanding by the Jews of this period that the books penned at this time were great historical documents, but they were not inspired words from God.
Another reason that the Protestant Bible does not have the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books is that the majority of them contradict the core message and teachings from the Biblical Canon. For example, Sirach 3:30-31 says, “Giving to the poor can make up for sin, just as water can put out a blazing fire. Anyone who responds to others with acts of kindness is thinking of the future, because he will find help if he ever falls on hard times” (Good News Translation). This verse completely contradicts the fundamental message of not only the New Testament, but also the Old. In Leviticus 17:11 we read, “The life of every living thing is in the blood, and that is why the Lord has commanded that all blood be poured out on the altar to take away the people's sins. Blood, which is life, takes away sins” (Good News Translation). It is blood that takes away sin, not giving to the poor or being nice to people. Yes, Christians are called to help the poor, widows, and orphans. We do these things not as ways to earn salvation, but as fruit that shows that we are indeed saved and changed!
Content was not the only reason that some books were left out of the Bible; there were also quality issues. The Apocryphal books were not recognized by the early church as inspired books because they could not fulfill certain criteria, such as prevalence. When churches would receive letters from the Apostles or those close to the Apostles, they would instantly read the letter and then go about rewriting it so that they could circulate it all over the Roman empire and later the world. The Apocryphal books could not prove circulation like that of the Gospels and other letters included in the New Testament, due to much smaller numbers of surviving manuscripts. In fact, it wasn’t until the mid 1500’s at the Council of Trent that the church finally starting considering putting these Apocryphal books into the Bible. Protestants also did not want to include these books into their Bible (canon) because they also did not demonstrate the same quality as the accepted 66 books of the Bible. There is a massive difference between reading books that are inspired by God and books that try to look inspired. The quality of writing and finesse simply aren’t there with the Apocryphal books.
Some of the Apocryphal books are still great books to help with understanding history, and some of the books share Jewish folklore. 1, 2, and 3 Maccabees write about the tumultuous times between the Old and New Testament. They talk about how the Jews were persecuted and killed under the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who stormed Jerusalem and desecrated the temple of God by slaughtering a pig and erecting a statue of Zeus in the Holy of Holies.
In conclusion, it is so important for us as Christians to understand that some respectable books were rejected from our Protestant Bibles because they were not seen as inspired Word of God. We should be ready to give a response as instructed in 1 Peter 3:15 for why these books shouldn’t be held to the standard of inspired, but rather as history books of times past. I do recommend that every Christian go and read through these Apocryphal books so that you can know first-hand the teachings and heresies that are addressed in them.
I waited and waited and waited some more, patiently, knowing God would come through for me. Then, at last, he bent down and listened to my cry. He stooped down to lift me out of danger from the desolate pit I was in, out of the muddy mess I had fallen into. Now he’s lifted me up into a firm, secure place and steadied me while I walk along his ascending path.
I was reading my Bible this morning and this section jumped out at me. I love to make reading my Bible first thing in the morning a top priority. I love starting my day off in God’s word and hearing from Him. Today, this verse came across and it really struck me.
It first starts off talking about how I have waited, and waited, and waited some more. David is stressing how long he’s waited and emphasizing how this was not a fast or even easy process, but through all the waiting and uncertainty he waited patiently. Wow, that word "patiently" really challenges me. I know that God has told me certain things or promised others, and I have to admit I don’t always wait patiently or with a good attitude.
What have you been waiting for? Have you, like David, been waiting, and waiting, and waiting? Have you lost sight of Jehovah Uzzi (The Lord my Strength) in your waiting? Or, like David, have you waited patiently knowing that God is good and that no matter how He decides to act you know He is still your Strength?
Today as we wait for God let's make a covenant with Him and let’s wait patiently. We won’t allow our minds, hearts, and souls to become consumed with doubts and worry. We will stand on the promises that God is all that He says He I and that as we wait for Him to move and act, we know that He will secure us on solid ground and that He will always be our focus.
Waiting can be so hard, but we want to commit ourselves to waiting for Your timing, Your timing for healings, for anointings to be fulfilled, for Your promise You’ve made to us to come true. We want to wait patiently in You knowing that You are our Strength and our loving Father. Help our minds and souls to wait on You well. We will wait patiently for You.
Good morning, fellow saints. I come to you this morning to humbly confess that I am a child of God that shares in God's Glory. I am not building myself up to be more than God has made me, but I am showing you a glimpse of who YOU ARE in Christ!
Revelation 4:10-11 says, "The twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 'Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.'”
This is an incredible proclamation of God's glory, but I want you to take a look at the 24 elders. I don't believe that these elders are mentioned elsewhere in the Bible so we only have this verse to tell us about them. They are talked about as if they are commonly understood: the 24 elders. There are exactly 24 and all are in the throne room. I don't know what they did to become elders, but the competition must have been fierce, because there are only 24. We know they accomplished something because they have all earned crowns, and those crowns give them something of value to cast down before the throne. These elders knew that they were not worthy to be in God's presence and whatever incredible thing they did to earn their crowns was nothing before the creator God of the universe.
Jumping to Genesis 25:27-34, "When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the field, but Jacob was a peaceful man, living in tents. 28 Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. 29 When Jacob had cooked stew, Esau came in from the field and he was famished; 30 and Esau said to Jacob, 'Please let me have a swallow of that red stuff there, for I am famished.' Therefore his name was called Edom. 31 But Jacob said, 'First sell me your birthright.' 32 Esau said, 'Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?' 33 And Jacob said, 'First swear to me'; so he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew; and he ate and drank, and rose and went on his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright."
Esau was the firstborn son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham. He held the proper birthright in his family making him the proper heir to all the promises of God to Abraham. He should have been the Father of God's nation, but that position of honor passed to his younger brother Jacob, later renamed Israel. He gave that honor away. Because he didn't see himself within God's story, he didn't stay in God's story, and gave that glory away for a bowl of soup.
Now, back to us. We are God's image-bearers; representing His Son, Jesus Christ, to a lost world without hope. When God revealed Himself to us and we received Him by faith, God exalted us up to His presence and brought us into His glory. This is not something we can brag about, but it is also something that we need to see and recognize. When you see yourself through God's heart and eyes, you continue your journey to become who He has called you to be in this world.
This is what John was talking about in 1 John 3:1-3, "See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure."
As God reveals to us how He sees us, we become what He sees.
Now you may be thinking that may be true for the super-spiritual among us like Pastor Tim or other honored leaders in the faith. But that is why I am coming to you with this message as a layman with no more claims on God's grace than any of you. For me to think anything less of myself, or of you, would be to despise my birthright like Esau did. False humility rejects the truth that you share God's glory, and false humility is another form of pride that says, "I am beyond God's reach."
I am going to lead us in a prayer of acknowledgement of God's work in and through us and a request that He allow us to see ourselves as He sees us, so that we can become the people He has called us to be.
"Holy God, and our Father, Thank You that You have revealed Yourself to me and my family. Thank You for allowing me to join Your family by faith in the completed work of Christ on the cross and through the power of His resurrection. Please continue to reveal Yourself to me, so that I can see me as You see me, and that Your life could fill and overflow my life to a world in desperate need of all that You have offered. Please remind me of the glory that You have endowed upon me and free me from the false humility that comes with unbelief. Allow me to encourage my spiritual family with these truths and to receive back that encouragement from the lips of your saints. Truly you are a Good God and Father. Amen!"
I pray that you all have enjoyed doing the weekly ministry time applications. I was so encouraged that a couple of you wrote in and called last week to share about encouraging words people gave you.
Ministry Time week 1 testimony:
Selah had a sweet word for Sandy. Selah saw owls dancing around Sandy and this encouraged and spoke directly to Sandy’s heart and soul. I love this so much.
Ministry Time Week 2 Application:
Ask God to give you an encouraging word or phrase to help get you through this difficult time. Ask Him about what you should be praying and getting ready for in this next season coming quickly.
As it was snowing this week I kept hearing God telling me that this snow on Easter is representing purity, hope, and redemption for the nations. He also kept telling me to pray over May 30th. He said that May 30th is a huge day and that something pivotal and renewing is coming on that day. Please join me in praying over May 30th. God also has been reminding me of our fast earlier this year and I cannot help but think about how much worse this all would’ve been if we as a church hadn’t fasted. God is gearing up to do some amazing things here in Colorado and they will affect the nations.
Also, please continue to write and call me to let me know what God is telling you through this season.
Dani Noe, Sozo & Admin Pastor
Thank you to everyone who submitted a question. There is still time to write in and ask a question. My response took longer than expected because I believe it was important to give a good and complete answer.
Question: I am trying to learn more about the Holy Spirit in general. I know it is given to us to teach, convict, it provides gifts, etc but how do I know if I have it? Some claim you have to speak in tongues when you get the Holy Spirit due to Acts, and according to that, if you never speak in tongues do you never have the Holy Spirit? What if you have gifts of the Spirit but have never received Christ as your savior? Is that possible? Does the Holy Spirit manifest gifts even when we are walking away from the Lord?
Answer: Galatians 5:22-23 (TPT) - "But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues,
patience that endures,
kindness in action,
a life full of virtue,
faith that prevails,
gentleness of heart, and
strength of spirit.
Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless."
The biggest way you can determine if you have the Holy Spirit living in you is by the way you act and react. The gifts of the Spirit and the fruit are very different. The gifts are temporary and given out strategically to build up the body. So some people might be really great at teaching but maybe they don’t have the gift the tongues. Another person might have both teaching and tongues, but they prophesy. All of these are gifts are given at the Holy Spirit’s discretion, however we are encouraged to ask for more gifts and even a deeper understanding than we already have.
The fruit of the Spirit is very different than the gifts in that, unlike the gifts, the fruit is eternal. So even after we die we will continue to have the fruit of Holy Spirit in heaven. Another way of thinking about it is that the Holy Spirit’s very being and personality is seen in the fruit. Holy Spirit is love, He is joy, He is peace, etc. Therefore, if He is living inside of us we will manifest those attributes too. I feel like with everything going on today, it is a great way to see if Holy Spirit is living inside you. Yes, Christians still get anxious and still have fear, but deep down with Holy Spirit living inside of you, you should still feel peace and joy even in the midst of the craziness going on around you.
Let’s talk about this idea of having to speak to tongues to be saved. There is nowhere in the Bible that states that you must speak in tongues to prove you have the Holy Spirit. It was something that some denominations have taken out of context and twisted into something that it was never intended to symbolize or indicate. Tongues is a great gift, but that is all it is--a gift.; some have it and some don’t. It is not an indicator of salvation or being filled with Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 14:22 (The Passion Translation) states,
“So then, tongues are not a sign for believers, but a miracle for unbelievers. Prophecy, on the other hand, is not for unbelievers, but a miracle sign for believers.”
Can you speak in tongues even if you aren’t filled with the Holy Spirit? Yes. Even people who are possessed by Demons can speak in languages that aren’t their known language. The enemy likes to twist the gifts of the Spirit and use them for his own gain and manipulation.
Likewise, the gifts of the Spirit are not just for those who are filled with the Spirit. For example, someone could have a gift of teaching, yet not be saved. Another could be prophetic, but may be using that gift as a psychic. As we see time and time again, God also gives dreams to unbelievers, like Pharaoh in Genesis 41 and even King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2. The Spirit doesn’t just give gifts to those who belong to Him, but He also gifts to unbelievers as well. The gifts are meant to edify and unite the body. God can do this through believers and unbelievers. God used Pharaoh’s and King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams to warn His people and unit them.
However, only the fruit is given to those who believe. Only someone who is filled with the Spirit can have true peace and true love. It is only when we are filled with Holy Spirit that we will start to manifest the actual character and attributes of the one who lives inside of us. So, what I feel like we should really try to see when observing people, is not how prophetic or what a great and amazing teachers they are, but whether they are showing the fruit of the Spirit. It is when we see the fruit that we can truly know if someone is saved. Some people might walk away from the Lord, but if they truly were saved, they should still have some of that Holy Spirit fruit.
Dani Noe, Sozo & Admin Pastor
Happy Beginning of the Week, church family!
I have been praying about what do concerning Ministry Time during these weeks at home. God has given me several ideas and applications that can help us grow closer to Him and each other through this time of being quarantined at home. Each week I will send out a verse and a kind of practical applications to go along with it. I pray that each week you will pray over the application and have fun over what God tells you to do with it. I then encourage you to text me and tell me what happened and how it encouraged you this week, I will then write out a couple testimonies at the end of the week to help encourage and remind us of the amazing things God is doing during this time.
Ministry Time Week 1:
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (The Passion Translation)
“Because of this, encourage the hearts of your fellow believers and support one another, just as you have already been doing.”
Ministry Time Activation:
Pray about a person in our church and ask God to give you a word, blessing, declaration, or prayer. Take 30 minutes to call them this week. Give that person your word and encourage them. I do enjoy texting but I felt like God told me this week we need to reach out and call one another to encourage each other and give the word that He is going to place in each of our hearts.
Please text me back after you have given the person God’s word and I will post a few of these testimonies on the church’s blog. I look forward to hearing about the amazing words God is about to pour out.
NOTE: If you need Pastor Dani's phone number, please text 720-663-0764 to request it.
Dani Noe, Sozo & Admin Pastor
Greetings sweet church family, I am praying each of you are doing well. How are you spending your time during this time of quarantine?
This isn’t really going to be a blog at all, because I would like to get some of your input. I wanted to ask you all a question.
What if I open this blog to answer your questions?
You can write in and ask any type of biblical, theological, or historical question. I will try to get to a couple questions each week. If there has ever been a question you have had about God or about theology but have never gotten a clear answer, I want to help you draw closer to God through this time. I want to help equip and inform you of theological truths.
Dani Noe, Sozo & Admin Pastor
Fear. Today has been one of the most challenging and fearful days for me. Yesterday afternoon, I decided to call my boys in from in school for the following day. Their Spring Break starts next week and with the business and all the constant go I thought we should start off with a restful day of being together… let’s just say that did not happen.
I woke up today with this thought to get to the grocery store. Of course, of all weeks and or days to be out of produce and canned goods it had to be today. So at 7:30am I dragged my boys to the store and we spent two hours getting what we needed and waiting in line. We then got home to realize that our heater had decided to stop working and our house was now a balmy 63° and later got to 62°. After putting the groceries away, my boys’ school emailed me to tell me that I had to find a way to pick up all of their coursework because the week after spring break they are going to hold a virtual class for all of the students. I was able to call an HVAC man to come and get our heater working again. However, now the issue was to figure out how to get to school before it closes and make sure I’m home for the HVAC guy (yep my brilliant and fun plan to keep my boys at home has exploded in my face….)
This has been my day thus far, however at one point as I was making lunch and with the heaviness of the day and the atmosphere I broke. Yep I broke down at my island in front of my boys and sobbed. I have lived through some very heavy and hard situations, but something has taken over our country and people. There is a spiritual heaviness right now that is weighing on us. As I was crying, God quietly whispered to me, “Pray!” I looked up from crying and told my boys I was feeling overwhelmed and with this huge fear-based atmosphere, I was going to shift my mind and decide not to partner with it. So we prayed. We prayed over my feelings, over school, and over this huge fear that has gripped this country. Then God gave me a brilliant idea--
Before I share with you the idea God gave me I want to first share Psalm 21:1, 11-13 (The Passion Translation) “Lord, because of your strength the king is strong. Look how he rejoices in you! We will watch them fail, for these are ones who plan their evil schemes against the Lord. They will turn and run at the sight of your judgment-arrowaimed straight at their hearts. Rise up and put your might on display! By your strength we will sing and praise your glorious power!” Let’s praise God right now for victory over this fear, over this “pandemic”, and over this mindset. Let’s praise God for revival coming and for His might and power. Let’s praise God for this triumph even before its here, because we live under a sprit of peace and hope. Peace of mind that God will take care of this and hope because when He does, it’s going to be amazing.
The idea that God gave me was this: Many of us are stranded at home or maybe working from home. Whatever your situation looks like right now let’s shake the spiritual realm. God showed me that these next two weeks are going to be slow and different than we are used to, and instead of panicking and operating in the atmosphere of fear that the enemy has placed over us, let’s pray. As you sit at your home computer to log into work, pray! When you have an extra hour, go walk around your neighborhood and pray! Let’s use this extra time that the enemy thinks will distract us, let’s throw it back in in his face, and let’s fight! Whenever you begin to feel fear take its hold and the feelings of anxiety press in, let’s take that as a sign to pray. Freedom Family let’s pray like we have never prayed before, God is about to do something astonishing!
Dani Noe, Sozo & Admin Pastor
I have spent all week praying about what to write for this week’s blog. I kept hearing just to rest, but that today is not the day to write. Over and over, each day, I would sit down to write something and nothing would come but the word rest. However, today as I started getting ready for the day, God sent a huge download on what it is to fully rest in Him.
He told that during the season of Christmas and New Years, each one of us must take time to rest. Maybe that is sneaking away for a minute or two to have a piece of chocolate, or maybe it is watching your favorite show after the guests have left. Whatever He lays on your heart to help you rest and refresh, take the time to do it and rest in Him.
Exodus 33:14 (NIV) “The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” I love that even when the Israelites were wondering in the desert, God was going to give them rest and show them how to rest. This is so true even today. Sometimes I feel like we get so busy and fill our time with so much. Most of the time it is actually good stuff, but we still need to learn and be aware of when we need to rest.
So my challenge to you this week is to ask Holy Spirit to show you how you can rest in this season, then walk that out. Don’t be afraid you might let someone down, and don’t start thinking about all the things you could be doing in this moment—just rest. Allow your mind to stop focusing on the craziness of the season and fixate it on the presence, the glory, the holiness, and the rest of the LORD!
Merry Christmas Freedom Family, we adore each of you so much!
Dani Noe, Sozo & Admin Pastor
“We love Him, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (King James Version)
This week, God has been challenging me to understand the difference between love and lust. In this world the lines between love and lust can at times become so blurred it is hard to distinguish which one is which. The world has twisted the word and understanding of love into something that it is not.
Lust. The Greek words for lust are: “epithymia- desire, longing; epithymeo- to desire long for; hedone- pleasure, enjoyment; orego- to desire; orexis- longing, desire; pathos- passion.” Lust is not always a bad thing, but it should be understood that it is in no means love. Lust is a feeling, a desire, or an impulse. It is that fluttering in your heart. After researching lust I couldn’t help but think that this is how the world defines love. Last week, I was watching a Christmas romance movie and the entire time they kept stressing how it was love at first sight and how they had this amazing chemistry. While these things can be good and healthy, they aren’t love and they are indeed lust and need to be understood and handled as such. Also, lust is only temporary because lust is a feeling and it can go as quickly as it came.
Love. I’m reading a book by Eric Metaxas titled Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God (But Were Afraid to Ask): The Jesus Edition, and one topic is about how love is a choice. You choose to love someone, it’s not a feeling at all. I think what struck me the most from that statement is that you choose to love someone and then you commit to that choice.
The most famous verse on love is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (The Passion Translation) “Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.” Never once in these verses does it talk about love being a feeling, it’s a choice to love and to express that outwardly. Unlike lust where it’s a fleeting emotion, love is a choice. You must choose to love each moment and each day. When choosing love, you must decide in your heart to love and to commit to something regardless of the feelings that surround it. I know—being married and even in some of my friendships—I have had to choose to love that person despite not feeling like it. We must each day choose and commit to love one another despite our emotions. This is why love is the very center of Christianity. Love is the glue that holds community and Christians together. It’s that bond, that commitment, that determination—that despite whatever happens, you are choosing to love, even when it’s challenging.
1 Walter A. Elwell, ed. Evangelical Dictionary and Theology, Second Ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2001), 717
Dani Noe, Sozo & Admin Pastor