Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel
This work is something that for some time I believe I have been "led by the spirit" to take up. In the Quaker way I have taken this concern to my meeting to seek whether or not it was deemed to be right to proceed before going ahead. I am mindful that I do not have all the answers and that I need help and guidance from other Friends of a similar Faith to try as far as possible to ensure that I put the correct understanding of early Friends to you, but in a way that is easily understood. Where I have a personal understanding that cannot be said to be in unity with all of those other Friends then I shall endeavour state it as such. To this end I shall use the terms "we", "our", "us" etc. to describe the understandings that I am putting forward as "those of Friends and Quakers" but I take full responsibility for any errors or misunderstandings that come from any part of this work. All pieces will have been put before a number of Friends prior to being made available to ensure as far as possible a unity of understanding and I will date all work and issues so that any later additions or amendments may be made clear.
Although this work is about the bible, as a Quaker I must point out that for us, Christ within each of us is the primary source of our experiences and Christian understanding. The bible is very important but still remains a secondary source that helps to explain and give meaning to our experiences with the living Christ both in us as individuals and together as a community of his people – his church.
In presenting this work I shall use my own words and terminology which may not always be those that others would have chosen and I will not be too concerned about absolutely correct grammar, punctuation and literary content. My aim is to "speak to you" in a language that you can be comfortable with and to try to help you "feel" behind the printed words of the bible, as I believe those who wrote it wanted. I shall leave any who wish to endlessly talk around mute points to do so among themselves. My interest is in trying to reach those who truly want to listen and experience Christ in their lives here and now. And that is the end point, "what does God want of you?" I ask you to always come back to that phrase, settle and listen for him, for his words to work through you. If you can do this with others of a similar "want and need" all the better as this is a way of "testing" yours, and their leadings in a way which helps to prevent fundamentalism.
God speaks to us in many different ways and we need to become accustomed to those ways – this needs practise and the sooner you start the sooner you begin to learn. Some people have direct unequivocal experiences and some never do in that way, it doesn’t mean that one is better or worse than the other, only that your experiences are real and matter to you, whatever form they take. Many may receive a sense, feelings or suddenly realise that something has become clear that once wasn’t, some have combinations of these types of experiences which change over time – just go with it! Don’t endlessly worry about it, what it leads you to do with your life is the ultimate test.
Finally a few words about our (your) conscience. Most of us will accept that we have a conscience which tells us when we have done right and when we have done wrong without any input from ourselves. We have no control over what it tells us; only how we respond to what it tells us. The more we listen to what it tells us the more aware we become of it and its importance. Some would say that our conscience is a piece of God within us, but our conscience alone can change as we grow older, it develops as we listen and some things in society may be acceptable at one time and a few years later not acceptable. Most of us can think of things that we felt were OK some time back but now are not. If our conscience was God then it could not change, as God would not tell us to do one thing now and another a few years from now, He is always consistent. So Quakers would say that your conscience is another medium through which God can influence you and your understanding.
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