Party Time at the Visitation

 PARTY TIME AT THE VISITATION When will God visit his people?

Many times I have stood in a church while the congregation sings of the return of the Lord and the party we will all have.  A song I experienced in church recently used the term “the visitation of the Lord” in the context of a party.

Got me to thinking!

Note that this blog post is primarily a list of Scripture verses.  To those who want to get to the intent of the post, do a search (Ctrl f) for “multitude of verses”.

Otherwise, Consider the Bible and the message it has for us concerning God visiting His people!

Exodus 32:30-35

The next day Moses said to the people, “You have sinned a great sin. And now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.”
So Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold.
But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.”
But the LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book.
But now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you; behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.”
Then the LORD sent a plague on the people, because they made the calf, the one that Aaron made.

The preceding passage occurs just after the golden calf had been destroyed, and Aaron tried to explain how the calf came to be.

Exodus 32:24

So I said to them, ‘Let any who have gold take it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”

I would find that to be hilarious if it wasn’t so true to the human nature.  We so often want to either blame someone else of simply deflect responsibility.  Aaron cast the gold in the fire, but the calf simply came out.  But this isn’t about Aaron!

I was listening to this passage the other day when verse 34 literally jumped into my ears – remember I was listening to the Word so I couldn’t say the words jumped off the page – but forgive my wandering….

 PARTY TIME AT THE VISITATION

Anyway I wondered to myself – when might this visitation be?  Could it be the end of the world?

The Lord states that He will judge His people – those who sinned will be blotted out of His book.  Then the Lord commands Moses to lead the children of Israel into the land. He informs Moses that the angel of the Lord will lead them into the land.

Then He adds, Nevertheless…..

What?  I thought judgement was declared in verse 33.  Is the Lord simply reiterating the same truth?  Or is He declaring a specific day of visitation upon the Israelite’s?

I think the latter, for the following reasons.

A quick review of the term “visit” in the Old Testament reveals some very interesting information.  Take a quick look – I have emboldened portions of the verses that describe God doing the visiting.  (For the sake of brevity, I have not included numerous Old Testament passages that include the concept of visiting, but are defined as times of punishment.)

A Multitude of Verses

Genesis 50:24

And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”

Genesis 50:25

Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.”

Exodus 13:19

Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph[fn] had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.”

Exodus 32:34

But now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you; behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.”

Isaiah 23:17

At the end of seventy years, the LORD will visit Tyre, and she will return to her wages and will prostitute herself with all the kingdoms of the world on the face of the earth.

 

Jeremiah 15:15
O LORD, you know:
remember me and visit me,
and take vengeance for me on my persecutors.
In your forbearance take me not away;
know that for your sake I bear reproach.

Jeremiah 27:22

They shall be carried to Babylon and remain there until the day when I visit them, declares the LORD. Then I will bring them back and restore them to this place.”

Jeremiah 29:10

“For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.

Jeremiah 32:5

And he shall take Zedekiah to Babylon, and there he shall remain until I visit him, declares the LORD. Though you fight against the Chaldeans, you shall not succeed’?”

 PARTY TIME AT THE VISITATION

As you can see, there is a multitude of verses that link God with visiting his people, usually in judgement, although a few verses do describe visiting with salvation.

This is the background of the New Testament message, and if Jesus speaks of visiting, or a time of visiting, or a day of visiting, the people of Israel most assuredly connected with this thought.

   Party time at the visitation

Therefore consider the Old Testament background when you read the following passage.

Luke 19:44

“…and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

I ask again, When was this visitation Moses speaks of in Exodus 32:34?  I have a hard time thinking that the party atmosphere is appropriate!

Thanks again for coming to visit.  I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.


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Local Church Membership Q&A – 4

Church on a hill

A fellow believer asked for clarification within these posts, and the following red text has been added to this and following posts to hopefully give clarification.

Let’s continue considering Cody’s effort to convince me of the necessity of local church membership, with the assistance of Mark Dever from 9 Mark’s ministries.

Cody’s document supplied several verses included below, claiming they taught Local Church Membership in 6 categories.

In this post, I examine the claim that Local Church Membership, as understood in our modern world is required in order To Guard Ourselves and Others against False Teaching.


3) To Guard Ourselves and Others against False Teaching

1 Timothy 4:1 – 4

1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 
2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 
3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
 
4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,

By using this passage under the point of false teaching to justify church membership, Mr Devers seems to be declaring a number of things.

1.) His church has all the truth.

    • Are you willing to actually stand by that statement?

1 Corinthians 14:36

… Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached?

2.) Other churches may be dangerous.

  • Granted, some churches are dangerous. Some churches are less dangerous than others.  As a matter of fact, Paul mentioned that some churches are detrimental to Christian growth.

1 Corinthians 11:17

17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse.

3.) The Spirit of God and the Bible is not enough for the believer who wants to obey.

By this, I do not want to imply that the fellowship of believers is unnecessary. This is critical for Christian growth, but the idea that a believer who is serious about living the Christian life needs to obtain a membership in a church to avoid dangerous teaching does not bear out in history.

Many orthodox church bodies have veered from the right path, and taken the entire group of members with them.  If only each believer realized their own responsibility to pursue truth, instead of relying on some membership for protection, the Body may be healthier.

2 Timothy 3:1-9

1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 
2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 
3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 
4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 
5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 
6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 
7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 
8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 
9 But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.

Many of the comments above could relate to this passage also, but it is interesting that 3:8 mentions those who “oppose the truth”.

The truth is the issue.  Does the Word of God prescribe church membership?

Jude 1:3

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

I think I am seeing a pattern in the passages being used to justify church membership.

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It seems that some of the passages are defining requirements that the faithful believer is to perform, and the requirement of church membership is defined as the way to perform these duties.

This seems to tear the intent out of the injunctions, since many who read these passages might consider the means of performing these duties as merely “joining” a church.  I have always considered Jude’s theme to be contending for the truth, and by implication, to not be depending on traditions or oral commandments.

Jude 1:17 – 23

17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 
19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 
21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 
22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 
23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Although Jude is talking of mockers, the concept of “separating themselves” is a concern in my mind.

When I was a young believer, and had dutifully joined a church, I made the mistake of hanging out with believers that weren’t a part of our “club”.

It seems that my joining that particular church implied that I was to be separate from other believers.  It didn’t quite sound right, but what was I to know – I was young and just learning what the Scriptures had to say.


I will continue posting my response to each of the 6 reasons in following days. I do hope you will join me in my discussion with Cody, and supply comment or correction from the Word for our mutual edification.
If you read something in this discussion that concerns you, please take the time to send me your comments or reply within the post. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Church Things – “Gimme More Money” Training

Dollar-SignIf you give me money, I will train you to fleece your flock better!!!

I received an email recently from some christian organization, and to be honest with you, (as if I  have been lying to you up till now!!), I well nigh wanted to call these people and yell at them. 

But then I thought I might get talked into giving them some money, so I changed my mind!

First thing that got me was the artful manipulation of word-speak these hucksters use to entice christian leadership to join their organization (There’s that word again – organization!)

Secondly, after they have prettied up their message with high faluting terms, the topic itself is offensive. 

To see professional Christians (should there be any such thing as a professional christian?), offer to train other professional Christians to lure cash out of “high capacity givers” seems at best deceitful and at worst simply an act of exercising avarice. 

As a non-professional christian, I can assume any church I might attend is being led by a professional christian who is trained in pulling funds, offerings, tithes, love gifts, cash, money…. out of my pocket so they may pay

  • their own salaries

  • the salaries of their staff

  • church mortgage(s)

  • church overhead

  • entertainment needs

  • technical supplies

  • office supplies

  • utility bills

  • insurance premiums

  • Sabbatical leave

  • furthering education

  • holidays

  • expansion dreams

  • maintenance requirements

  • …………….

Brothers and Sisters – take back the freedom that you have been granted in your faith, and determine to be giving people to those the Lord describes in the NEW TESTAMENT.  (A cursory reading of the New Testament will easily convince you that the influences we find ourselves under in the current “church” is completely out of whack with the will of God.)

Buildings and staff do not further the gospel.   Buildings and staff simply feed the wants of US, and in the doing, cripple us as Christians.

As a matter of fact, the size and affluence that some church buildings try to exude, along with the exorbitant funds required to staff these temples of pride are a major stumbling block to many of the lost today, and dare I say to an increasing amount of believers.

I have chatted about how I feel about the current  church organization found in the USA in other blog posts.  This latest one was simply fueled by a single errant email that somehow crossed my path.

By the way, check out the subscription fees required to join this elite organization – dang that word “organization” comes up alot! 

Almost $1,200.00 a year to join, unless you go with the annual membership, which is soooo reasonable at just under $1,000.00 per year! 

And remember, the church that buys this package for their staff will need to ask their flock for more money to pay for this training! 

But don’t worry – that will be easy, after this training has been absorbed.


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Dying to Self

dying-to-selfI found this passage on Dying to Self recently and was very challenged by its message.

DYING TO SELF

When you are forgotten, or neglected, or purposely set at naught, and you don’t sting and hurt with the insult or the oversight, but your heart is happy, being counted worthy to suffer for Christ.
THAT IS DYING TO SELF

When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart, or even defend yourself, but take in all in patient, loving silence.
THAT IS DYING TO SELF

When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, any impunctuality, or any annoyance; when you stand face-to-face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensibility-and endure it as Jesus endured.
THAT IS DYING TO SELF

When you are content with any food, any offering, any climate, any society, any raiment, any interruption by the will of God.
THAT IS DYING TO SELF

When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation, or to record your own good works, or itch after commendations, when you can truly love to be unknown.
THAT IS DYING TO SELF

When you can see your brother prosper and have his needs met and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy, nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and in desperate circumstances.
THAT IS DYING TO SELF

When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart.
THAT IS DYING TO SELF

Are you dead yet?

In these last days, the Spirit would bring us to the cross.


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Local Church Membership Q&A – 3

Church on a hill

A fellow believer asked for clarification within these posts, and the following red text has been added to this and following posts to hopefully give clarification

Let’s continue considering Cody’s effort to convince me of the necessity of local church membership, with the assistance of Mark Dever from 9 Mark’s ministries.

Cody’s document supplied several verses included below, claiming they taught Local Church Membership in 6 categories.

In this post, I examine the claim that Local Church Membership, as understood in our modern world is required in order  Grow in Grace.


2) To Grow in Grace

 Hebrews 6:1 – 3

1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 
2 and of instruction about washings,the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 
3 And this we will do if God permits.

I am confused.

Where is church membership defined in this verse? 

Please do not get the idea that I am against being involved with a community of believers.  I relish it, love it and enjoy the opportunity to discuss the Lord Jesus with friends at work, in my home, anywhere I can.  (I would love to visit with you at your convenience and chat of the Lord’s work in our lives.  Let me know if this is possible.)  But I am still not sure where the formal membership concept is introduced to me in this passage of scripture.  This passage is a stern rebuke to the submit-to-authority-728x500believers who were being tempted to go back to a dead religion. (I can identify with these dear folk!)  But the Word says we are to go on to perfection.  Is church membership, in the formal definition within our church culture, a necessary component of attaining perfection before our Savior?  If so, where does this passage teach this?

Ephesians 4:11-16

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
 
14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 
15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 
16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Becoming a member of a local church is the topic Mr Devers is addressing. But Paul is discussing the unity of the saints in this passage.  If I were to “join” your church, would you then tell me that I would not be able to join any other local body of believers in the same way?

Is that fostering an attitude of unity amongst the brethren?


I will continue posting my response to each of the 6 reasons in following days. I do hope you will join me in my discussion with Cody, and supply comment or correction from the Word for our mutual edification.
If you read something in this discussion that concerns you, please take the time to send me your comments or reply within the post.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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Oh, The Deep Love of Jesus

A simply beautiful hymn performed beautifully.  Rejoice in the love of Jesus.  Follow the link below to be blessed.

Thank you  Antidote! ‘Oh, the Deep Love of Jesus’ — Lee Duigon  for posting such a beautiful piece of music


 

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God & Clouds

Clouds 2

Clouds

Clouds are complex.  The range of impact on our lives goes from supplying some shade from the noon day sun, and the ever desired gentle rain, to wreaking havoc by delivering hurricane type destruction.

I think it is so also in the Scriptures.  Why is this a topic today?

During services one morning, we sang the following song, and it got me to thinking.

The song goes like this…

These are the days of Elijah
Declaring the word of the Lord, yeah
And these are the days of Your servant Moses
Righteousness being restored
These are the days of great trials
Of famine and darkness and sword
Still we are the voice in the desert crying
Prepare ye the way of the Lord!
Say, behold He comes, riding on the clouds…..

My  question is … when Jesus says He is “coming on the clouds”, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Coming on the CloudsClouds 3

What is the context in the New Testament to this phrase “coming on the clouds”?

Is there some Old Testament background that might give us some understanding?

A passage that comes to mind when associating clouds with God is Isaiah 19:1

Isaiah 19:1

An oracle concerning Egypt.
Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud
and comes to Egypt;
and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence,
and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them.

An additional passage that associates clouds with judgement on Israel.

Lamentations 2:1

How the Lord in his anger
has set the daughter of Zion under a cloud!
He has cast down from heaven to earth
the splendor of Israel;
he has not remembered his footstool
in the day of his anger.

A number of times in the minor prophets,  clouds are associated with judgement on Israel.

Joel 2:2

a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains
a great and powerful people;
their like has never been before,
nor will be again after them
through the years of all generations.

Nahum 1:3

The LORD is slow to anger and great in power,
and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty.
His way is in whirlwind and storm,
and the clouds are the dust of his feet.

Zepheniah 1:15

A day of wrath is that day,
a day of distress and anguish,
a day of ruin and devastation,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness,

The reason I am writing is due to this seeming conflict.

When Jesus said He would be  “coming with the clouds” should we rejoice or shudder.

What was Jesus referring to when He made that statement.  Many believers think He was referring to Daniel 7:13.

But golly gee willikers, this could not be describing His glorious return to earth as many in the modern church think.  The verse speaks of the Son of Man coming TO the Ancient of Days!

Daniel 7:13

“I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.

Of course His return is a Day that a true believer waits on, but is it ever described as Him “coming on the clouds”?

If Daniel 7:13 is describing the ascension, Jesus use of it clearly signaled to the Jewish leadership His claim to Messiahship, and the ability to come in judgement upon sinful nations.  The phrase “coming in the clouds” is found fours times in the New Testament, as seen below.

Matthew 24:30

Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Matthew 26:64

Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Mark 13:26

And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.

Mark 14:62

And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

All of these verses have the context of judgement.

Paul refers to clouds once in his epistles and is referring to being joined with the dead in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.

It’s funny – I hadn’t noticed this before, but this verse doesn’t link the Lord with the clouds necessarily.  The clouds are the place for the “living” saints to join the “dead” saints, and then meeting the Lord in the air (not the clouds?)

1 Thessalonians 4:17

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

I wonder – Does the prophet Amos have something to say to us?

Amos 5:18

Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD!
Why would you have the day of the LORD?
It is darkness, and not light,

Let us always remember who the Lord is.  Let us not presume upon the kindness and mercy of God, and forget the utter awesomeness of the triune God in His return for His people.


I do hope you will supply comment or correction from the Word for our mutual edification.

If you read something in this discussion that concerns you, please take the time to send me your comments or reply within the post. I look forward to hearing from you.

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C.S. Lewis on Church Attendance

CSLewis 2I was surfing the internet a few nights back and as it got later in the evening, I tripped over a quote attributed to C.S. Lewis, which was supposedly found in his autobiography.

His opinion on church attendance is revolutionary, rebellious (?) and reassuring (to me at least, since it seems to echo with my sentiments.)

It goes as follows….

The idea of churchmanship was to be wholly unattractive. I was not in the least anticlerical, but I was deeply antiecclesiastical.

…But though I liked clergymen as I liked bears, I had as little wish to be in the Church as in the zoo.

It was, to begin with, a kind of collective; a wearisome “get-together” affair. I couldn’t yet see how a concern of that sort should have anything to do with one’s spiritual life. To me, religion ought to have been a matter of good men praying alone and meeting by twos and threes to talk of spiritual matters.

And then the fussy, time-wasting botheration of it all! The bells, the crowds, the umbrellas, the notices, the bustle, the perpetual arranging and organizing. Hymns were (and are) extremely disagreeable to me. Of all musical instruments I liked (and like) the organ least. I have, too, a sort of spiritual gaucherie which makes me unapt to participate in any rite.

This is an amazing quote!

What think ye?


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Local Church Membership Q&A – 2

Church on a hill A fellow believer asked for clarification within these posts, and the following red text has been added to this and following posts to hopefully give clarification

Let’s continue considering Cody’s effort to convince me of the necessity of local church membership, with the assistance of Mark Dever from 9 Mark’s ministries.

Cody’s document supplied several verses included below, claiming they taught Local Church Membership in 6 categories.

In this post, I examine the claim that Local Church Membership, as understood in our modern world is required in order To be Obedient to the Scriptures.


1) To be Obedient to the Scriptures

Matthew 16:13

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

Although this is the beginning point for every person in their obedience to the Lord Jesus, I do not see any connection to church membership in this passage. Please correct me if I am missing something.

This is an important point for the believers life. The authority of the Scriptures in the believers life is to be final, yet we know as believers we struggle with other authorities such as tradition, logic, emotion, fear and such. I applaud Mr Devers reference to obedience to the Scriptures, but find his application in this point to be misguided. 

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Mat 18:15 – 20

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 
16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 
17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 
18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 
19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
 
20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

In this passage, Jesus refers to discipline to be administered to an erring brother, for the sake of “gaining your brother”. Jesus guides us to keep the offense local (between brothers) until refusal to “hear” the rebuke forces the offended party to tell the church.

What I find amazing is that the pastor or elders are not referred to here in this passage. The entire church is told of the offense.  Now, if a man who has signed his name on a church roll is in sin and it comes to the knowledge of the church, could not that man simply choose to move to another church, or possibly just give up on church.

The point is that church membership, in the form which is commonly thought of within our Christian culture, has had very little effect in performing its stated goals.

On the other hand, if (and when) I have been a part of a group (dare I say a family) of believers that love and trust one another, this type of treatment is very effective.

Therefore, I do not see the use of this passage, in relation to being obedient to the scriptures, to be as effective as supposed.  As a matter of fact, this passage could be used to define the local body as being as small as “two or three” gathered in His name.  Obviously local church membership would be a redundant concept for such a small local group!

Act 5:12 -14

12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 
13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 
14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,

What a great passage showing the authority the apostles exercised during the early church. Signs and wonders by the apostles were being wrought among the people (just believers or all people?)  Believers were added to the church.

Where is the justification for church membership in this verse?  Could it be in the verb “join” in verse 13?  I suppose this is possible, but the natural reading would not make me think of local church membership, but association with the believers through exercising faith in the Son of God.

Also, the local church, at this time in the history of the church, would have been in one location (all …. in Solomons porch) within the City of Jerusalem, and therefore would fall under the definition of a church within a city, and not that of the local church as we think of today.


I will continue posting my response to each of the 6 reasons in following days. I do hope you will join me in my discussion with Cody, and supply comment or correction from the Word for our mutual edification.

If you read something in this discussion that concerns you, please take the time to send me your comments or reply within the post. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Calvinism and Little Children

John_Greenleaf_Whittier
John Greenleaf Whittier

I am generally not a reader of poetry, but this is an excellent piece describing the inconsistencies of Calvinism.

The reading of the poem may take a few moments, but the message is very worthwhile.

The Minister’s Daughter
Author: John Greenleaf Whittier

In the minister’s morning sermon
He had told of the primal fall,
And how thenceforth the wrath of God
Rested on each and all.

And how of His will and pleasure,
All souls, save a chosen few,
Were doomed to the quenchless burning,
And held in the way thereto.

Yet never by faith’s unreason
A saintlier soul was tried,
And never the harsh old lesson
A tenderer heart belied.

And, after the painful service
On that pleasant Sabbath day,
He walked with his little daughter
Through the apple-bloom of May.

Sweet in the fresh green meadows
Sparrow and blackbird sung;
Above him their tinted petals
The blossoming orchards hung.

Around on the wonderful glory
The minister looked and smiled;
“How good is the Lord who gives us
These gifts from His hand, my child.

“Behold in the bloom of apples
And the violets in the sward
A hint of the old, lost beauty
Of the Garden of the Lord!”

Then up spake the little maiden,
Treading on snow and pink
“O father! these pretty blossoms
Are very wicked, I think.

“Had there been no Garden of Eden
There never had been a fall;
And if never a tree had blossomed
God would have loved us all.”

“Hush, child!” the father answered,
“By His decree man fell;
His ways are in clouds and darkness,
But He doeth all things well.

“And whether by His ordaining
To us cometh good or ill,
Joy or pain, or light or shadow,
We must fear and love Him still.”

“Oh, I fear Him!” said the daughter,
“And I try to love Him, too;
But I wish He was good and gentle,
Kind and loving as you.”

The minister groaned in spirit
As the tremulous lips of pain
And wide, wet eyes uplifted
Questioned his own in vain.

Bowing his head he pondered
The words of the little one;
Had he erred in his life-long teaching?
Had he wrong to his Master done?

To what grim and dreadful idol
Had he lent the holiest name?
Did his own heart, loving and human,
The God of his worship shame?

And lo! from the bloom and greenness,
From the tender skies above,
And the face of his little daughter,
He read a lesson of love.

No more as the cloudy terror
Of Sinai’s mount of law,
But as Christ in the Syrian lilies
The vision of God he saw.

And, as when, in the clefts of Horeb,
Of old was His presence known,
The dread Ineffable Glory
Was Infinite Goodness alone.

Thereafter his hearers noted
In his prayers a tenderer strain,
And never the gospel of hatred
Burned on his lips again.

And the scoffing tongue was prayerful,
And the blinded eyes found sight,
And hearts, as flint aforetime,
Grew soft in his warmth and light.

1880.

Paul & James – What a Massive Contradiction!

How in the world does a fella deal with the following obvious contradiction in the New Testament?

ContradictionRomans 3:28

28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

James 2:24

24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

Extreme Solution

Some may take the stance that James is not worthy to be taken seriously, not even to be considered part of the canon.  I believe Martin Luther, the great reformer, called the book of James “a right strawy epistle”

One of Martin Luther’s quotes …

In a word St. John’s Gospel and his first epistle, St. Paul’s epistles, especially Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians, and St. Peter’s first epistle are the books that show you Christ and teach you all that is necessary and salvatory for you to know, even if you were never to see or hear any other book or doctrine. Therefore St. James’s epistle is really a right strawy epistle, compared to these others, for it has nothing of the nature of the gospel about it.

I assume the remark was Luther’s attempt to rid the canon of the epistle, and it may hearken back to Paul’s use of straw in the first letter to the Corinthians, where Paul noted that worthless works are “straw…”.

I have always leaned on the thinking that if God the Father sent His Son to die on a cross for the sins of the world, He would have a vested interest in maintaining the message He wants the world to hear.  So far it looks like the epistle of James has weathered 2 millennium of attacks and stands strong.

Another factoid that supports James epistle as worthy of acceptance is the echoing of Jesus teaching within the book.  Check out this table comparing Book of James with statements of Jesus.  Sixty seven verses in the book of James (total of 88 verses) contain allusions to or expound statements of the Lord.  That is 3 out of every 4 verses!

So, if the book of James is to be considered acceptable canon material, how do Christians resolve the apparent contradiction between James and Paul?

I would suggest context plays a role.  Let me explain.

Faith Only

Paul is laying out the method of salvation for all lost men to establish a relationship with God the Father, through God the Son.  It is widely accepted that faith in Christ and repentance of sins are the two components of salvation.  I think Paul is using faith, being understood by his audience, who heard the message of repentance and faith from others. Although the passage refers to faith only, many other passages include the concept of repentance, which Paul plainly taught in other contexts

Acts 17:30

30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,

Acts 26:20

20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.

2 Corinthians 7:10

10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

2 Timothy 2:25

25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,

This faith in Romans 3:28 is the noun form of “belief, faith etc.”  It is not the verb in the text.  The action word in the passage is “justified” and the action is performed by God in response to the faith of the sinner.  God justifies the sinner when the sinner exercises faith in the Messiah’s sacrifice and resurrection.

Consider the Old Testament passage the apostle refers to.  Paul mentions Abraham’s faith in the next chapter (5 verses away) and uses Abraham to support his teaching of faith only to be justified.

Rom 4:1-5

What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?
For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.
And to the one who does not work but believes in[fn] him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness

abraham-isaac

Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.  Paul is referring to Genesis 15:1-6

Genesis 15:1 – 6

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”
But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”

And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member

And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.”

And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

In the Roman’s 4 passage, Abram’s faith was in the promise God gave to him of his future offspring.  It was Abrams belief in the promise of a son, in the bare Word of God.

Faith & Works

James. on the other hand is not referring to the Genesis 15 promise, but in Abraham’s continuing, fulfilling, outworking of that faith in the sacrificing of the very son God promised to Abraham.  James is referring to Abraham offering up his own son in verse 21.

James 2:21

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?

James says Abraham was justified by works, by some action he took. 
WHAT?

James 2:22 – 23

You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;

and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.

Note that James uses the Genesis 15 passage (the promise of a son) in his teaching, but that the faith initiated in Genesis 15 (the promise of a son) was completed in Genesis 22, where Abraham proved his faith in the promise of God even if the son was to be put to death. 

His actions proved his faith in the promise.  (To God? or to men?)

James is telling us that true faith does not remain only faith.  To begin the Christian life, faith in the Son of God and His sacrifice is required.

To maintain the Christian walk, works will be evident.  If no works, James says there is no faith.

James 2:26

For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. 

Summary

I’m thinking Paul is speaking of justification of the sinner in God’s presence, and that James is speaking of justification of the saint in men’s presence.  (James keeps saying – You see….)

There is no contradiction.

When each of us exercise faith in the risen One, challenges will come.  That initial faith, if real, will erupt in obedience to the One who supplied you life.  Not in any vain effort to add to your faith, or to improve your judicial standing before God.  It will be in response to the love and grace of the One you believed in.

How can we not obey, once we have tasted and seen that He is good.


If you read something in this discussion that concerns you, please take the time to send me your comments or reply within the post. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Local Church Membership Q&A -1

Church on a hill

A fellow believer asked for clarification within these posts, and the following red text has been added to this and following posts to hopefully give clarification.

A while back, when I was considering the biblical defense for local church membership, I happened upon a brother named Cody.  He was a young believer, at least younger than I, and was passionate for the truth of the gospel.  I enjoyed his company very much.

Eventually, he asked me about church membership and where I attended, but was surprised when I told him I was not sure of the biblical basis for local church membership.  He expressed concern for my thinking and I offered him the opportunity to defend his position biblically, and thus help me in my beliefs.

Cody sent me a pamphlet from “9Marks” ministry, detailing  the biblical teaching supporting local church membership.  What follows is our discussion.


Cody

Thanks for the document.

As I mentioned in the previous email, I would appreciate your feedback on the comments below.  Although this reply may seem lengthy, it is primarily the passages referred to by Mr Devers in the document you sent me.  I find it very helpful to consider the texts when a teacher is trying to guide me in a life decision.

As a believer,  I am sure you will agree that the Word is the final authority for the believer’s life.  As I  considered some of Mr. Dever’s arguments, (and yours by extension,  I suppose) I have found some questions about the local church membership concept being argued for.  The logic seems airtight, and yet a Biblical justification seems to be without much support.  I do hope you will agree with me that logic is not the basis of our faith, but the Word of God and the Person of the Son of God.  Of course, if you see any weakness or blind spots in my considerations, I would gladly hear them and consider your counsel from the Word of God.

COMPONENTS OF A CHURCH

As I considered the pamphlet, Mark Dever stated, “The collection of people committed to Christ in a local area constitute a church”

I think this is a generally good definition of a church within a city, as defined in the New Testament (to the Church of Colossae, the Church of Thessalonica….)

He then states three components of a true church

  • The right preaching of the Word
  • The right administration of the ordinances
  • The right administration of church discipline (He refers to Matt 18 in this item)

Where does Mr Devers find these three components for the true church defined in the Word?  Although I have no serious argument with these points, Mr Devers seems to lack justification for them.  Could there be other components of a true church?  In two of the three components he does not even refer to passages for argument.  The third is a general reference.

As an aside to this list, and referring to Mr Devers first point, I find it a very interesting study of each place in the New Testament where the Lord or His apostles “preach”. Multiple greek words are translated as preach, (see graphic below) and many are referring to outside of the Church – ie among the Gentiles. 

Many other times, the term translated as “preach” is the greek word “dialegomai” and the concept is of dialogue/discussion with others, not a monologue/sermon to others

SECURITY IN SALVATION

submit-to-authority-728x500

Mr Dever then implys that without church membership, we can not be sure “that we are truly saved”, and supports his statement with 1 John 4:20.  Of course I am assuming that by church membership he is referring to the local church membership concept that is the theme of his document.

 1 John 4:20

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

Where in this verse is there any mention of local church membership?

If importing foreign concepts (that is, local church membership) into a passage is allowed, then I could use this verse to justify any activity I want another believer to perform.  Equating local church membership with loving my brother seems to be a strained connection. I am not sure that is very responsible.

Mr Dever then gives 6 reasons to join a local church.  I would like to discuss the passages he refers to with you, and consider the direction the Word gives.

I will be posting my response to each of the 6 reasons in following days.  I do hope you will join me in my discussion with Cody, and supply comment or correction from the Word for our mutual edification.

If you read something in this discussion that concerns you, please take the time to send me your comments or reply within the post.  I look forward to hearing from you.


Graphic of terms translated as “Preach” in the New Testament

Preach - Greek


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Conditional Security – Sealed – New Testament Teaching

Conditional Security - if-150x150 - Red with Splash

Sealing of the Spirit.  What does that mean?

This type of study (a simple word study) is my favorite type.

As discussed in the previous post, when I was a youngin’  and found out about Strong’s concordance, I well near flipped with the possibilities.  Computers were not available to me at the time, and the hard cover Strong’s I had given to me was a treasure trove of data!

This second part of the study, we will review all the New Testament verses that include the greek word translated as “sealed”

New  Testament References

Roman SealIn the previous post, we reviewed each Old Testament passage describing the concept of sealing.  Now that we will venture into the New Testament to discover how the Lord Himself, and His apostles understood the concept of sealing, I feel it is only correct to compare similar concepts of sealing.

Therefore I used the Septuagint to find the greek word used in the New Old Testament translation of the Hebrew text , (which Jesus and His disciples used during their lifetime).

In this case, when the translators of the Septuagint came to Daniel 12:9 and saw the Hebrew term châtham, they used the greek word sphragizo.  

Therefore I am going to continue with the study of “sealing” with the greek work sphragizo.  The following verses use ether the verb or noun of the simple word, and one strengthened verb (prefix of kata)

Σφραγίζω sphragizō – (Verb form of the greek word)

Matt 27:66

So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

The intention of the seal was to ensure that no one disturbed the body. But we all know the seal was broken!

John 3:33

He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.

Setting a seal is certifying something, or affirming something/someone to be correct or true. The metaphor of sealing is a common one for giving attestation (Robertson’s Word Studies).

John 6:27

Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed .

It is interesting that in the previous verse, men affirm the Messiah’s testimony, and in this verse, the Messiah is affirmed by the Father.

As an aside, the verse could literally be read … for this one the Father sealed, God.

Rom 15:28

When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.

Paul went to Rome with the intent of imposing fruit (delivering cash!) to the believers in Jerusalem.

2Cor 1:22

Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

F.F. Bruce, in his commentary on Ephesians, gives us a good insight into Paul’s usage here when he states, “An owner seals his property with his signet to mark it as his; if at a later time he comes to claim it and his right to it is questioned, his seal is sufficient evidence and puts an end to such questioning. So, the fact that believers are endowed with the Spirit is the token that they belong in a special sense to God…Other seals, literal or figurative (like circumcision, the seal of the covenant with Abraham), were affixed externally; the seal of the New Covenant is imprinted in the believing heart.

2Cor 11:10

As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.

Paul is speaking of the inability of man to keep him from boasting of the churches in Achaia.

Eph 1:13

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Note the past tense of the sealing. Also that the sealing happened after the believing. Very interesting! Can you tell what type of soteriology I tend to?

Eph 4:30

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

The sealing is for the purpose of redemption. Those sealed have the mark of ownership on their lives, and that mark is the Holy Spirit of promise. The mark is easily seen by others, (or at least should be).

What is to be said about the Christian who shows no “mark of holiness” in their life?

Rev 7:3

Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

The angel had to wait until the believers were identified. The “mark” is referred to often in the book of revelation and many times it is referring to believers! See below

Rev 7:4 – 8

And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.

No comment

Rev 10:4

And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

John was instructed to keep from writing the message of the thunders. He was to “keep it” from us.

Rev 20:3

And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

The one who had a seal set upon him, was loosed for a little season.

Rev 22:10

And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.

Consider Daniels message in previous post, where he was told to seal up the prophecy till the time of the end. Here John is told to seal not the prophecy since the time is at hand. Jesus is the seal breaker – He is worthy!

Σφραγίς sphragís

(Noun form of the greek word)

Rom 4:11

And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

Circumcision is a mark on the body signifying Abrahams faith.

1Co 9:2

If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.

The Corinthian church was the mark of Paul’s apostleship. Amazing that they would commit mutiny as they did, questioning the apostles authority.

2Ti 2:19

Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

A mark of identity seen by all in the believer’s life, is one who is departing from iniquity.

Rev 5:1 – 2

And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?

No comment

Rev 5:5

And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

No comment

Rev 5:9

And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

No comment

Rev 6:1

And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.

No comment

Rev 6:3

And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.

No comment

Rev 6:5

And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.

No comment

Rev 6:7

And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.

No comment

Rev 6:9

And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

No comment

Rev 6:12

And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;

No comment

Rev 7:2

And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,

No comment

Rev 8:1

And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

No comment

Rev 9:4

And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.

Κατασφραγίζω katasphragizō

Rev 5:1

And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

No comment

Additional resources below are provided for your convenience.

Strong’s

σφραγίζω

sphragizō

sfrag-id’-zo

From G4973; to stamp (with a signet or private mark) for security or preservation (literally or figuratively); by implication to keep secret, to attest: – (set a, set to) seal up, stop.

Thayer

σφραγίζω

sphragizō

Thayer Definition:

1) to set a seal upon, mark with a seal, to seal

1a) for security: from Satan

1b) since things sealed up are concealed (as the contents of a letter), to hide, keep in silence, keep secret

1c) in order to mark a person or a thing

1c1) to set a mark upon by the impress of a seal or a stamp

1c2) angels are said to be sealed by God

1d) in order to prove, confirm, or attest a thing

1d1) to confirm authenticate, place beyond doubt

1d1a) of a written document

1d1b) to prove one’s testimony to a person that he is what he professes to be

Part of Speech: verb

A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G4973

Citing in TDNT: 7:939, 1127

The Complete Word Study Dictionary

σφραγίζω

sphragízō; fut. sphragísō, from sphragís (G4973), seal. To seal, trans.:

(I) To seal, close up and make fast with a seal signet such as letters or books so that they may not be read (Sept.: 1Ki_21:8; Isa_29:11; Dan_12:4). Hence, figuratively of lips, to keep in silence, not to make known, with the acc. (Rev_10:4; Rev_22:10; Sept.: Dan_8:26). Generally, to seal or set a seal for the sake of security upon a sepulcher, prison, with the acc. (Mat_27:66; Rev_20:3; Sept.: Son_4:12). Figuratively, to secure to someone, make sure, deliver over safely, in the mid. with the acc. and dat. (Rom_15:28 [cf. Deu_32:34; 2Ki_22:4]).

(II) Generally, to set a seal or mark upon a thing as a token of its authenticity or approvedness; used of persons, with the acc. (Rev_7:3); pass. (Rev_7:4-8). More often of decrees or documents, to attest by a seal (Sept.: Est_8:8, Est_8:10; Job_14:17). Hence figuratively, to attest, confirm, establish, with the acc. (Joh_6:27 [cf. Joh_5:36]), followed by hóti (G3754), that (Joh_3:33). So also of Christians whom God attests and confirms by the gift of the Holy Spirit as the earnest, pledge, or seal of their election to salvation. Mid. with the acc. (2Co_1:22); pass. (Eph_1:13; Eph_4:30).

Deriv.: katasphragízō (G2696), to seal closely.

Syn.: kleíō (G2808), to shut, close; asphalízō (G805), to render secure; sugkleíō (G4788), to enclose, shut up.

Ant.: anoígō (G455), to open; dianoígō (G1272), to open up completely; lúō (G3089), to loose.

Strong’s

κατασφραγίζω

katasphragizō

kat-as-frag-id’-zo

From G2596 and G4972; to seal closely: – seal.

Thayer

κατασφραγίζω

katasphragizō

Thayer Definition:

1) to cover with a seal, to close up, close with a seal

Part of Speech: verb

A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G2596 and G4972

Citing in TDNT: 7:939, 1127

The Complete Word Study Dictionary

κατασφραγίζω

katasphragízō; fut. katasphragísō, from katá (G2596), an intens., and sphragízō (G4972), to seal. To seal up. Referring to a book or scroll (Rev_5:1; Sept.: Job_9:7).

Syn.: kleíō (G2808), to shut up; katakleíō (G2623), to shut down, incarcerate; asphalízō (G805), to render secure.

Ant.: anoígō (G455), to open; dianoígō (G1272), to open up thoroughly; apokalúptō (G601), to reveal.

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