Stupid Idiots – Ignorant Christians

Stupid Idiots

I went to hear a brother speak a while back that advocated that Christians should be “stupid idiots”.  (His words, not mine!)

To give this brother the benefit of the doubt, and to find out what the intent of the message was, I set off on a wee bit of study into Acts 4:13, his text for the day.

After my preliminary study, I decided to contact this brother, share with him what I found in my study, discuss his message and ask for any clarification.  What follows is the beginning of the correspondence I had with this brother.

Act 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.


Secondly – ignorant (Strong’s 2399)

Vines states – “Ignorant (ἰδιῶται) Originally, one in a private station, as opposed to one in office or in public affairs. Therefore one without professional knowledge, a layman; thence, generally, ignorant, ill-informed; sometimes plebeian, common. In the absence of certainty it is as well to retain the meaning given by the A. V., perhaps with a slight emphasis on the want of professional knowledge. Compare 1Cor. 14:16, 1Cor. 14:23, 1Cor. 14:24; 2Cor. 11:6.”

Robertson states – “And ignorant (kai idiōtai). Old word, only here in the N.T. and 1Cor. 14:24; 2Cor. 11:6. It does not mean “ignorant,” but a layman, a man not in office (a private person), a common soldier and not an officer, a man not skilled in the schools, very much like agrammatos. It is from idios (one’s own) and our “idiosyncracy” is one with an excess of such a trait, while “idiot” (this very word) is one who has nothing but his idiosyncracy. Peter and John were men of ability and of courage, but they did not belong to the set of the rabbis.”

Clarke states – “ignorant, ιδιωται, persons in private life, brought up in its occupations alone. It does not mean ignorance in the common acceptation of the term; and our translation is very improper. In no sense of the word could any of the apostles be called ignorant men; for though their spiritual knowledge came all from heaven, yet in all other matters they seem to have been men of good, sound, strong, common sense.”

What think ye?

Should Christians seek the label of “stupid idiots”?


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Local Church Membership Q&A – 13

Church on a hill

Previous posts in this series were based on a pamphlet provided to me in my search for direction regarding local church membership.  A brother named Cody sought to help me and I wish him well.

When I replied with the previous responses, I did not hear from him for a period of time.  Of course, I feared I may have come off a bit strong, and in the interest of maintaining communication, reached out to him again.


As I have been thinking on this topic, I have considered 9 questions.

Time for Questions

One question will be offered for comment in the following posts Consider and respond, or again, if you want to discuss just let me know.

Does Local Church Membership allow for a “country club” environment?

Remember the Biblical image of the church is one of family, not of an exclusive/elite club!

Formal church membership smacks of club-ship (Is that a word?)


Our next post will address another question concerning the teaching of local church membership.  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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Stupid Idiots – Unlearned Christians

Stupid IdiotsI went to hear a brother speak a while back that advocated that Christians should be “stupid idiots”.  (His words, not mine!)

To give this brother the benefit of the doubt, and to find out what the intent of the message was, I set off on a wee bit of study into Acts 4:13, his text for the day.

After my preliminary study, I decided to contact this brother, share with him what I found in my study, discuss his message and ask for any clarification.  What follows is the beginning of the correspondence I had with this brother.


Pastor Y

If it isn’t to much, I would like to ask for some clarification. I hope I do not come off as critical or judgmental, but I am concerned about truth and aim to be gracious in my concerns (John 1:18).

During the message today, you were exhorting us to be “stupid idiots”. Surely I am misunderstanding your intent when you say that, and I think others may have also. (At least my daughter was confused.)

I took a look at the verse(s) in Acts that you were referring to and found the following (Forgive the KJV, but I have spent too much time in it to give it up!!)

Act 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

First off – unlearned (Strongs 62)

Vines states – “Unlearned (ἀγράμματοι) Or, very literally, unlettered. With special reference to Rabbinic culture, the absence of which was conspicuous in Peter’s address.”

Robertson states – “They were unlearned (agrammatoi eisin). Present indicative retained in indirect discourse. Unlettered men without technical training in the professional rabbinical schools of Hillel or Shammai. Jesus himself was so regarded (John 7:15, “not having learned letters”). ”

Clarke states – “Αγραμματοι, Persons without literature, not brought up in nor given to literary pursuits.”

ISBE states – “Unlearned un-lûr´ned: Acts 4:13 for ἀγράμματος, agrámmatos, literally “illiterate.” But nothing more than “lacking technical rabbinical instruction” seems to be meant…”

I am not sure if “stupid” and “lacking training” are synonymous. I have known many men and women, both believers and unbelievers, that are lacking in training but I would never consider stupid. (And some who have much training but….)

What think ye?

Should Christians seek the label of “stupid idiots”?


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Salaried Pastors? A discussion with a Pastor 1

Quite awhile ago I sent out an email to a number of prominent pastors (8 or 9) within the area I live in.  One out of the nine responded in an effort to minister.  The following  conversation is with that one pastor who sought to help.  I appreciate his willingness to enter into a discussion with me.

This is the initial email I sent out!  The next post will supply my response and appreciation to this pastor.  I am gonna call him Pastor X cause I think it’s cool.


Brother

I am a Christian, having been saved at the age of 21 from a life of drug abuse and alcoholism.  I have sought to walk with the Lord ever since.  If I could take a few minutes of your time, I would appreciate it.

Salary 2

My question is this.  Does the Word of God explicitly instruct any congregation to commit to a pastor a salaried position?

I have been a believer for more than half my life and have been involved (heavily) in Baptist church’s, but have been challenged lately in my studies to find clear direction for this issue.  I would appreciate your assistance with this and await your reply.

Carl


The following text came from one pastor in a local church.


Carl,

Thanks for sending us your email.  The Word of God is clear that salaried positions within the church are entirely permissible.

OLD TESTAMENT BASIS

In the Old Testament, the Levites (those who worked in the temple) received support in the form of food, money, and even lodging.  See, for example, Numbers 18:20-21 and Hebrews 7:5.

Numbers 18:20-21

20 And the LORD said to Aaron, “You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the people of Israel.

21 “To the Levites I have given every tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service that they do, their service in the tent of meeting,

Hebrews 7:5

5 And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham.

THE RIGHT OF SUPPORT

salary 3In 1 Corinthians 9:3-15, Paul argued extensively that those who work hard to sow spiritual seed should be able to reap material blessing as well.  However, Paul did not use that right (notice he calls it a “right”), but rather preached free of charge so that no one could accuse him of preaching the gospel for material gain, like so many false teachers did.

3 This is my defense to those who would examine me.

4 Do we not have the right to eat and drink?

5 Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?

6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living?

7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?

8 Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same?

9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned?

10 Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop.

11 If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?

12 If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.

13 Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings?

14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

15 But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting.

DOUBLE HONOR

salary 1First Timothy 5:17-19 states that the elders who direct the affairs of the church, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching, are worthy of “double honor.”  And why is this? Because the worker is worthy of his wages, and Paul uses the Old Testament image of the ox not being muzzled when he treaded out the grain.

5:17-19

17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.

18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.

Clearly, the Bible teaches that it is permissible (and even wise) for a local church to pay those who work hard at shepherding the flock, preaching, and teaching.  In some contexts (like Paul’s), it may be wise for a pastor not to accept a salary.  Bi-vocational work may advance the Gospel further in some instances.  Paying salaries to pastors allows them to concentrate all of their mental and physical energies on doing the work of shepherding, preaching, and teaching, thus allowing them to do these tasks most effectively.

I hope this helped.

Blessings,

Pastor X


Our next post will include my response and appreciation for this pastors desire to help me understand.  Hope you can visit and comment.

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Conditional Security – 2 Timothy 2:11-14 – Part 4

Conditional Security - if-150x150 - Red with Splash

A brother recently commented on an earlier post regarding this very passage, and I thought it would be wise to look into it.  It is one of the passages that made me consider conditional security many many years ago.

It bugged me then, being an avowed OSAS (once saved always saved) believer, but as is the case, when you see something you don’t like (or won’t try to understand) denial is bliss!

This passage, specifically verses 11 – 13 are full of if’s.  Jam packed.  Let’s consider the meaning of “if”

In English “if” can be defined as a word…

  • used to talk about the result or effect of something that may happen or be true
  • used to say that a particular thing can or will happen only after something else happens or becomes true
  • used for introducing a situation or condition that must exist before something else happens

The English “if” is now understood. (snicker snicker)

The wrinkle in this is that the Greek used in the New Testament has four conditional “if’s”.

As if “if” wasn’t conditional enough, eh?

Conditional Sentences

 

Granted, all four of the conditional clauses in this passage below are of the First Class “Simple Condition” and could easily be translated as a fulfilled condition.

So for example, the first clause could read “If, as is the case we have died with him…”

So before we dig in, lets take a few moments to simply read the text under consideration.

2 Timothy 2:11-14

11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him;

12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us;

13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful– for he cannot deny himself.

14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.

As you can see, as an avowed OSAS follower, these verses were difficult to find comfort in.  Verse 12 was simply to be glossed over.

Let’s consider each of the conditional clauses in the following posts and and try to figger out what Paul is getting at.  Lets look at our final clause in this post.

 

Faithless2 Timothy 2:13

If we are faithless, he remains faithful– for he cannot deny himself.

Let’s remember that the conditional clause could be translated as If, as is the case we are faithless, he remains faithful

This portion of the passage, for both the OSAS follower and those of the other persuasion, may be used to justify thier position in the following way

An OSAS follower might argue…

If you are truly saved years back, but have slipped on slid away somewhat, God remains faithful.  He cannot deny Himself and will keep the promise of takiing you home based on your initial faith.

Those other believers might argue…

This phrase is a description of the faithfulness of the Master to His own nature.  If the servant abandons the Master, the Master will not change His nature to allow a denier to be in fellowship with Him.

No matter the perspective you take in looking at this final clause, it is comforting to know that He remains faithful, or true to His own nature.

Our faithlessness cannot affect His faithfulness.  He is God and we are not.  He is true to His own nature in the present, has been true to His own nature prior to creation, and will continue to be true to His own nature after the consummation of all things.

God is FaithfulHe is faithful.

How ’bout us?

Let us be faithful to the Only One who deserves our trust.


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Stupid Idiots – Introduction

Stupid IdiotsMany times I have heard that Christians are idiots, dumber than a bag of hammers, fools, brain dead… You get my point, right?

Well I went to hear a brother speak a while back that advocated that Christians should be “stupid idiots”.  (His words, not mine!)

During the message, I expected one of two things to happen

  • I would understand his underlying premise and it would finally click, that is, that I would understand the bigger message.
  • The brother would at some point, use the message to rebuke us for our intellectual weakness.

I was wrong on both points, but I clung on to the first point until after the service.  I got home and began to discuss the message with my family, and we were all confused.  It seems we all got the message that Christians should be stupid idiots.

This man is a professional communicator leading one of the larger churches in the area.  The idea that he was misunderstood by my wife, my two daughters and myself was too much for me to swallow!  How could this be?

To give this brother the benefit of the doubt, and to find out what the intent of the message was, I set off on a wee bit of study into Acts 4:13, his text for the day.

After my preliminary study, I decided to contact this brother, share with him what I found in my study, discuss his message and ask for any clarification.  What follows in my next post is the beginning of the correspondence I sent this brother.

What think ye?  Before we go on to our next post, let me know what you think.

Should Christians seek the label of “stupid idiots”?


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Conditional Security – 2 Timothy 2:11-14 – Part 3

Conditional Security - if-150x150 - Red with Splash

A brother recently commented on an earlier post regarding this very passage, and I thought it would be wise to look into it.  It is one of the passages that made me consider conditional security many many years ago.

It bugged me then, being an avowed OSAS (once saved always saved) believer, but as is the case, when you see something you don’t like (or won’t try to understand) denial is bliss!

This passage, specifically verses 11 – 13 are full of if’s.  Jam packed.  Let’s consider the meaning of “if”

In English “if” can be defined as a word…

  • used to talk about the result or effect of something that may happen or be true
  • used to say that a particular thing can or will happen only after something else happens or becomes true
  • used for introducing a situation or condition that must exist before something else happens

The English “if” is now understood. (snicker snicker)

The wrinkle in this is that the Greek used in the New Testament has four conditional “if’s”.

As if “if” wasn’t conditional enough, eh?

Conditional Sentences

 

Granted, all four of the conditional clauses in this passage below are of the First Class “Simple Condition” and could easily be translated as a fulfilled condition.

So for example, the first clause could read “If, as is the case we have died with him…”

So before we dig in, lets take a few moments to simply read the text under consideration.

2 Timothy 2:11-14

11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him;

12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us;

13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful– for he cannot deny himself.

14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.

As you can see, as an avowed OSAS follower, these verses were difficult to find comfort in.  Verse 12 was simply to be glossed over.

Let’s consider each of the conditional clauses in the following posts and and try to figger out what Paul is getting at.  Lets look at our third clause in this post.

 

deny word on concrette wall2 Timothy 2:12 b

If we deny him, he also will deny us.

Let’s remember that the conditional clause could be translated, If, as is the case we deny him, he also will deny us.

Wow Paul – are you saying that some believers have, in reality denied Him?  How can that be?  You need to read John 10:28, Paul.

John 10:28- 29

28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

John perfectly describes that believers are eternally secure, and that God will not allow anyone one to snatch them out of Jesus’ or the Father’s hand.

But this isn’t about someone snatching me, as if a believer is being kidnapped from the kingdom!  It is about free-will, about the freedom to love God more than “these” (as Jesus once asked a disciple), it is about being willing to stay with the Master due of love instead of being required to stay with Him due to some initial faith contract.

Back to 2 Timothy 2:12.  If, as is the case we deny him.

Since Paul is stating a fact of reality, who is “we”?  It cannot be representing all believers – that makes no sense.  Obviously, at least in my mind, Paul is referring to those who were in the fellowship, and yet have departed from the faith.

Some have turned away!  This seems to me to be on Paul’s’ mind as he writes this letter to the young Timothy.

2 Timothy 1:15

15 You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.

2 Timothy 2:17-18

17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,

18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.

2 Timothy 3:8

8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith.

Interesting that the three examples of those who had turned away from the faith, who had denied Him, were team tagging for heresy.

2 Timothy 3:5

5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

Finally, Paul gives Timothy (and us) some guidance on how to relate with those who deny the faith. Within the context of 2 Timothy, Paul describes people who are full of denial (is that possible?).

These folk have the appearance of godliness, having the skin of faith, but no heart/mind/soul of faith.

Paul says to avoid such people, turn away from them!

Wow – kinda overly harsh there Paul!  Are we not to win them back, try to understand thier point of view, enter into discussions to convince them of thier errors?

Brothers & sisters – faith is to be nurtured not nuked!  These deniers will poison your well of faith, drag you down and destroy your faith.  Stay away!  There are many in the institutional church that are of this ilk!

As an aside, Paul is not telling believers to avoid those outside of the church.  Those who are outside of the church are to be entered into with irenic debate and honest open discussion.

Not so with deniers, those who were in faith and have rejected and denied – it is our responsibility to “avoid such people”.

Our final post on this short passage will consider “If we are faithless, he remains faithful– for he cannot deny himself”  I hope to see you there.

As always, if you have any comments , or wish to correct something I am missing, I look forward to the interaction.

Until then, be blessed and practice good discernment regarding those to avoid.  Don’t fall into the trap of applying this restriction to those that it is not to be applied to!  That just be a cop out.

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Jeremiah 7 – The Temple of the Lord 4

Temple_JerusalemIn our last post we considered Jeremiah’s message of the temple being the Jewish nations Place of Safety and Permanence instead of the Lord.  Temple worship had become a replacement for proper living.

In this post we want to look Jeremiahs message to the people, describing the temple as their place of absolution.

Lets read the passage one more time.

Jeremiah 7:1-15

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:

2 “Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the LORD.

3 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place.

4 Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’

5 “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another,

6 if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm,

7 then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.

8 “Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail.

9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known,

10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’–only to go on doing all these abominations?

11 Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the LORD.

12 Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it because of the evil of my people Israel.

13 And now, because you have done all these things, declares the LORD, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer,

14 therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, and in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh.

15 And I will cast you out of my sight, as I cast out all your kinsmen, all the offspring of Ephraim.

Consider

Temple_Jerusalem 2

These worshipers were heading into the temple! Why complain about these folks? At least they were worshiping the true God, right?  Jeremiah says to amend your ways. Worship without right living is hypocrisy and worthy of judgement. (And judgement was on its way!)  The Temple of the Lord had become a stumbling block to the nation of Israel.

The second stumbling block for the Olkd Testament believers were that they viewed the temple as their:

Place of Absolution

Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’–only to go on doing all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes?

Those of Jeremiah’s day were not only seeing the temple as a place of permanence and safety, but also of forgiveness and absolution.  Would I be going to far to think the temple was considered a refuge from judgment and responsibility before God.

Note that the temple is referred to as a “den of thieves”.  A den of thieves is what thieves return to after they perform their evil deeds, in order to hide from justice,  and be encouraged by other thieves to continue in  their merciless acts and faithless lifestyles.

Jeremiah was defining these worshipers as thieves who were returning to their hide-out!  That is crazy!!!

The temple had become a place of refuge for those who had performed “criminal” acts!

Who says the Bible is not relevant for today?  The Word is relevant for today if we are willing to seek the truth.   When we seek relevance through following the culture of our day, devote ourselves to some famous (or not so famous) Bible teacher/preacher or by appealing to false “safety nets” that are gimmicks, it seems to me that we “trust lying words”.

Don’t get me wrong – there are some Bible teacher/preachers that are good, but I fear most are simply using the sacred ministry as a worldly career.  Fully reject those that are using the ministry to have a career, and with the few that may be left, we should constantly remind ourselves that those teacher/preachers are servants of God (1 Corinthians 4:1) and not our masters in the faith. (2 Corinthians 1:24)

Trusting in religious trappings or messages other than in God is the big message I get from Jeremiah!  How many times have you chatted with a believer and you reference your denomination’s position, what your pastor/priest thinks, or the opinion of some famous Christian personality?

How often have you heard a believer tell you that the nation of Israel is Gods Chosen people today?  What happened to the Church as the people of God?  How can God have two chosen people?

Trusting in a future fulfillment of old covenant promises after the Jewish nation rejected the old covenant responsibilities (over and over again), I fear is is simply foolishness!  It seems to me that the old covenant promises were conditional, and having rejected those promises by crucifying the Messiah, the promises of God were taken away from the nation of Israel, and given to a nation/people that would bring forth the fruits (Matthew 21:43).

Read the book of Hebrews to understand the urgency of the writer to convince the Hebrew people to leave behind the Old Covenant and grasp unto Jesus as the only hope.  The nation of Israel had very few days left and the end was upon them.  The Hebrew people would be dispersed and the theocracy would never be reestablished.

Do not seek something that isn’t promised!

Let us not trust in lying words!



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Conditional Security – 2 Timothy 2:11-14 – Part 2

Conditional Security - if-150x150 - Red with SplashA brother recently commented on an earlier post regarding this very passage, and I thought it would be wise to look into it.  It is one of the passages that made me consider conditional security many many years ago.

It bugged me then, being an avowed OSAS (once saved always saved) believer, but as is the case, when you see something you don’t like (or won’t try to understand) denial is bliss!

This passage, specifically verses 11 – 13 are full of if’s.  Jam packed.  Let’s consider the meaning of “if”

In English “if” can be defined as a word…

  • used to talk about the result or effect of something that may happen or be true
  • used to say that a particular thing can or will happen only after something else happens or becomes true
  • used for introducing a situation or condition that must exist before something else happens

The English “if” is now understood. (snicker snicker)

The wrinkle in this is that the Greek used in the New Testament has four conditional “if’s”.

As if “if” wasn’t conditional enough, eh?

Conditional Sentences

 

Granted, all four of the conditional clauses in this passage below are of the First Class “Simple Condition” and could easily be translated as a fulfilled condition.

So for example, the first clause could read “If, as is the case we have died with him…”

So before we dig in, lets take a few moments to simply read the text under consideration.

2 Timothy 2:11-14

11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him;

12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us;

13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful– for he cannot deny himself.

14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.

As you can see, as an avowed OSAS follower, these verses were difficult to find comfort in.  Verse 12 was simply to be glossed over.

Let’s consider each of the conditional clauses in the following posts and and try to figger out what Paul is getting at.  Lets look at the second clause in this post.

 

endure2 Timothy 2:12 a

If we endure, we will also reign with him

Let’s remember that the conditional clause could be translated, “If, as is the case we endure, we will also reign with him”

Again, Paul is stating a case of reality.  These believers have endured, and Paul is encouraging them to continue.  This verse, if considered alone, would be a great proof text for the perseverance of the saint teaching.  I tend to see an Old Testament occurrence filling out this phrase.

Do you remember when David was being hunted by King Saul?  He had a rag tag group of followers that wandered the countryside with him, believing that David was their hope, thier leader, thier rightful king.  Is it not so with us?  We are certainly a rag tag group of followers, following a King who has been anointed as King, but rejected and persecuted by the current power structure.  And yet, as we endure like those following David, we shall reign with our Master.

But is there a present reality also included in this promise?  A cursory search for instruction on this comes up without any clear direction.

Nevertheless, let us not seek for authority other than the authority to serve and love one another.  This is the path to walk, the life to live.

I hope to see y’all in our next post where we shall consider “If we deny him, he also will deny us.”  

 


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Local Church Membership Q&A – 12

Church on a hill

Previous posts in this series were based on a pamphlet provided to me in my search for direction regarding local church membership.  A brother named Cody sought to help me and I wish him well.

When I replied with the previous responses, I did not hear from him for a period of time.  Of course, I feared I may have come off a bit strong, and in the interest of maintaining communication, reached out to him again.


As I have been thinking on this topic, I have considered 9 questions.

Time for Questions

One question will be offered for comment in the following posts Consider and respond, or again, if you want to discuss just let me know.

Does Local Church Membership minimize the importance of joining the worldwide Church, ie the Body of Christ?

Sometimes I will be able to speak with someone concerning the invitation to follow Jesus. How many times have I heard folks say they belong to a church.  (And we all know what they mean, since the local church membership concept is so prevalent in this society!)  Much confusion is propagated by the emphasis of the local church membership concept over and above the call to follow Jesus.


Our next post will address another question concerning the teaching of local church membership.  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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Conditional Security – 2 Timothy 2:11-14 – Part 1

Conditional Security - if-150x150 - Red with Splash

A brother recently commented on an earlier post regarding this very passage, and I thought it would be wise to look into it.  It is one of the passages that made me consider conditional security many many years ago.

It bugged me then, being an avowed OSAS (once saved always saved) believer, but as is the case, when you see something you don’t like (or won’t try to understand) denial is bliss!

This passage, specifically verses 11 – 13 are full of if’s.  Jam packed.  Let’s consider the meaning of “if”

In English “if” can be defined as a word…

  • used to talk about the result or effect of something that may happen or be true
  • used to say that a particular thing can or will happen only after something else happens or becomes true
  • used for introducing a situation or condition that must exist before something else happens

The English “if” is now understood. (snicker snicker)

The wrinkle in this is that the Greek used in the New Testament has four conditional “if’s”.

As if “if” wasn’t conditional enough, eh?

Conditional Sentences

 

Granted, all four of the conditional clauses in this passage below are of the First Class “Simple Condition” and could easily be translated as a fulfilled condition.

So for example, the first clause could read “If, as is the case we have died with him…”

So before we dig in, lets take a few moments to simply read the text under consideration.

2 Timothy 2:11-14

11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him;

12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us;

13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful– for he cannot deny himself.

14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.

As you can see, as an avowed OSAS follower, these verses were difficult to find comfort in.  Verse 12 was simply to be glossed over.

Let’s consider each of the conditional clauses in the following posts and and try to figger out what Paul is getting at.  Lets look at our first clause in this post.

2 Timothy 2:11

If we have died with him, we will also live with him.

Let’s remember that the conditional clause could be translated as “If, as is the case we have died with him”.   Paul is stating a case of reality, that these folk receiving the letter, along with Timothy, actually have died with Christ.  Upon trusting in the death of Christ and his vicarious death for our sins, Paul teaches in various New Testament passages,  that believers also died.

You see, this is taught in many passages, of which the following is representative.

Romans 6:3-5

3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

2 Timothy 2:11 seems straightforward, but as I dwell on this phrase, I’m reminded that I have considered our death in the Messiah to be an academic truth.  Something that I “believe” but not understand how to practice in my daily life.  I have not considered it to be a truth that is “practical”. 

I am not so sure about this way of thinking!  

Galations 2:20

20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Paul seems to tie my death with Christ to a practical outworking in this life, this life I now live in the flesh. 

Theoretical-Practical TheologyWow – Romans 6 always seemed so theoretical, so academic as I studied it years back.   I just never caught the practical application of the truth.  And I’m not sure I have a specific application right now. 

Paul goes on to say that “If we have died with him, we will also live with him” 

So if my understanding of Paul is correct, and that this verse is in the present condition, do I have the correct understanding that the living with Him refers to gaining heaven and living with Him after my death?

I just can’t limit this verse to eternity. The Messiah’s death and resurrection are for us to experience today.  As believers, we have the privilege of living with Him now. He has supplied the life and the power, and the desire.

Will we enter and enjoy the goodness of the Lord?

The answer is for each of us to decide as we walk this walk of faith.

Please join me in our next post to consider “If we endure, we will also reign with him”

Hope to see you there.


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Jeremiah 7 – The Temple of the Lord 3

Temple_Jerusalem

In our last post, we considered Jeremiah’s demands upon the Jewish nation and the three weightier matters of the law that never changes, that God expects from His people.

Temple worship as a replacement for proper living is considered sin, and Jeremiah simply does not mince words in this passage.

In this post we want to look at the idol that the Jewish nation had erected in place of God, the lying words that they trusted in.

How could Jeremiah make such blatant claims as he does in this passage without riling up the very people who assumed they were the most righteous, those who attended “The Temple of the Lord”.

How is it that The Temple of the Lord”, referred to in Jeremiah 7, is applicable to the modern-day Christian?

Lets read the passage one more time.

Jeremiah 7:1-15

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:

2 “Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the LORD.

3 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place.

4 Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’

5 “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another,

6 if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm,

7 then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.

8 “Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail.

9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known,

10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’–only to go on doing all these abominations?

11 Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the LORD.

12 Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it because of the evil of my people Israel.

13 And now, because you have done all these things, declares the LORD, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer,

14 therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, and in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh.

15 And I will cast you out of my sight, as I cast out all your kinsmen, all the offspring of Ephraim.

Consider

These worshipers were heading into the temple! Why complain about these folks? At least they were worshiping the true God, right?

Jeremiah says to amend your ways. Worship without right living is hypocrisy and worthy of judgement. (And judgement was on its way!)

Temple_Jerusalem 2

The Temple of the Lord had become a stumbling block to the nation of Israel.

DON’T TRUST LYING WORDS

What were the “lying words” the worshipers trusted? “The house of the Lord, the house of the Lord, the house of the Lord.”

The worshipers were trusting in lying words which were diverting their trust from the living God to the temple.

They viewed the temple as:

A Place of Safety and Permanence

Consider Jeremiahs core message again

….if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.

A conditional promise. Do you see it? If if if if … then.

The Jewish nation had obligations to the covenant they entered into with the Lord at Mt Sinai. Jeremiah was calling the nation to its roots, its past, its obligations and responsibilities. He was not adding tasks or changing the contract. The people had walked away from the agreement, and the prophet was faithfully exhibiting the mercy and long-suffering of the Lord with His people. But the long suffering patience of the Lord was coming to a close and His prophet was warning His people, even as the Babylonians were on the way.

Yes, the Jews of Jeremiah’s day saw the Babylonians coming. It was obvious to all, but the religious Jews refused to acknowledge God’s judgement that was about to fall on their nation and considered the temple (how ironic!) to be their place of protection. How short of a memory we humans have. Obviously they had not learned about using God as a talisman or lucky charm. As a matter of fact, God reminds them of Shiloh later in the passage, and how the Philistines (those dirty dogs!) were able to defeat the Israelites and confiscate the very idol (the Ark of the Covenant) they were trusting in.

Conditional Security - if-150x150 - Red with Splash

As an aside, consider how Jeremiah’s conditional promise with the Old Testament nation of Israel could apply to the New Testament nation of the Church.

If is a big word.

Believers today would do well if we considered our relationship with the Lord in the context of “if” when the Word calls for it.

It was surprising for me to realize the extent of that two letter word in the New Testament – Check it out in my ongoing series “Conditional Security”

Join me on our next blog when we find out the Jewish nation also viewed the temple as a place of absolution.



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Jeremiah 7 – The Temple of the Lord 2

Temple_Jerusalem

In our last post, we considered the distraction of the Temple of the Lord.

Jeremiah 7 arrests me, makes me wonder and consider how The Temple of the Lord” is applicable to the modern day Christian?

What did Jeremiah say? First off, let’s read the passage one more time.

Jeremiah 7:1-15

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:

2 “Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the LORD.

3 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place.

4 Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’

5 “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another,

6 if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm,

7 then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.

8 “Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail.

9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known,

10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’–only to go on doing all these abominations?

11 Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the LORD.

12 Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it because of the evil of my people Israel.

13 And now, because you have done all these things, declares the LORD, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer,

14 therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, and in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh.

15 And I will cast you out of my sight, as I cast out all your kinsmen, all the offspring of Ephraim.

In our previous post, it became obvious that “The Temple of the Lord” supplied an opportunity for deceptive words to be spread about the Jewish nations security.

Jeremiah was calling the nation back to a personal responsibility to the Lord, instead of trusting in simply going to church – I mean going to temple.

Is this call to personal responsibility something new for these Jewish worshipers? Is Jeremiah demanding completely new requirements upon these folk? Were they ignorant of the Lords demands on their lives?

Consider

Leviticus 19 :18

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Lev 19 :34

You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

Deuteronomy 10 :18-19

He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.

19 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

Mic 6:8

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Zechariah 7:8-10

And the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, saying,

9 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another,

10 do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”

This concern carried over into the New Testament, When the Lord Himself summarized the “weightier matters of the law”.

Matt 23:23

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.

Temple_Jerusalem 2

When I read this passage in Jeremiah, I can’t help but think of the Lord Jesus while He was on earth, talking to the religious men of His day. Of course, it is obvious He quoted Jeremiah in Matthew 21:13, where it is written “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Check out Jeremiah 7:11 for the connection!)

What I think is awesome is the connection of the thoughts of Jeremiah and the thoughts of Jesus. Three issues are raised in both of these men’s messages, and I’m a thinking they are as follows.

Judgement

It is obvious where Jesus refers to this thought, so compare it with Jeremiah when he states “thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor”

Mercy

Again, the Lord’s reference to mercy is echoed in Jeremiahs statement “ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place”

Faith

Jesus finishes His classification of the weightier matters of the law by referring to faith. Is this Jeremiah concern, when he mentions “neither walk after other gods to your hurt”?

Consider

  • Both Jeremiah and Jesus were addressing a nation on the brink of catastrophe, and seeking to call the nation back to God.
  • Both Jeremiah and Jesus delivered a message that was generally rejected.
  • Both Jeremiah and Jesus wept over Jerusalem.

I am always surprised how applicable the Old Testaments message is for today’s Christian!

Consider the Temple of the Lord and how you relate to it.

Do you hear Jeremiahs message as a rebuke to your dependence on your physical church.

  • When you drive by the building does your heart swell with pride (Hint – That is a problem!)
  • When you enter the building, do you consider it safe, a physical building that encourages a sense of security. (Hint – Might not be a good thing!)
  • Do you act differently in the building than out of the building (Hint – The alarm bells should be ringing in your head!)

Or do you hear Jeremiahs message as a rebuke to your dependence on your spiritual church?

What? What are you talking about Carl? Hang on – let me explain.

I read in the New Testament where the church (the invisible spiritual church) is the body of Christ, a living organism that is comprised of all believers. If you see the church that way, Jeremiahs message is still so applicable.

When you see a brother or sister, how do you relate to them? Do you see them as a potential safety net in case trouble enters your life?

This “fault” in my faith came crashing in on me a while back.

I remember experiencing a very disappointing, troubling time in my life, and I reached out to a brother and sister for encouragement and counsel. I hoped they could assist in a specific way. They rejected my concerns.

My trust was not in the Lord – my trust was in “the believer”.

The Temple of the Lord is a tremendous blessing that believers can live in and with, but we need to trust in the Living God, and not “The Temple of the Lord”!

In our next post we will consider the misplaced trust Jeremiah was preaching about when he preached, “Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit.”

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Local Church Membership Q&A – 11

Church on a hill

Previous posts in this series were based on a pamphlet provided to me in my search for direction regarding local church membership.  A brother named Cody sought to help me and I wish him well.

When I replied with the previous responses, I did not hear from him for a period of time.  Of course, I feared I may have come off a bit strong, and in the interest of maintaining communication, reached out to him again.


As I have been thinking on this topic, I have considered 9 questions.

One question will be offered for comment in the following posts Consider and respond, or again, if you want to discuss just let me know.

Time for Questions

Does Local Church Membership sometimes cause believers to sin against their own conscience in an effort to obey a man?

How many times have I heard a man, or even a group of men, announce from the pulpit a “dream” or a “vision” that they have for the local church they are leading. Many times the call goes out to join this effort.  Sometimes this call for action becomes a litmus test for faithfulness to the Christian life.

Some believers are intimidated into a service that is not their calling. (Obedience is better than sacrifice.)  This is a shameful condition, since this believer may be missing out on God’s specific direction for their life, and possibly effecting the “vision” group improperly.

submit-to-authority-728x500

Some follow their conscience and quietly defer the invitation.  At best, this may create a passive division within the body. At worst, this action may become a test of submissiveness, resulting in the judgment of rebellion,  that ends in an unnecessary discipline or offense.

Cody – remember that Christianity is about following Jesus and serving others. Causing a believer to go against his conscience is a serious issue in Paul’s mind.

Consider …

1 Corinthians 8:12

12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.


Our next post will address another question concerning the teaching of local church membership.  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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Jeremiah 7 – The Temple of the Lord 1

Temple_Jerusalem

The Temple of the Lord

I was in Sunday School a few weeks back and we were studying Jeremiah 7. All during the class, something seemed “off”. It is usually a great class, but this particular time, the focus did not seem to be on the passage.

Why is Jeremiah harping about The Temple of the Lord”, when it is obvious that the Jewish worshipers are attending faithfully?

How is The Temple of the Lord”, referred to in Jeremiah 7, applicable to the modern day Christian?

What did Jeremiah say? First off, let’s read the passage.

Jeremiah 7:1-15

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:

2 “Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the LORD.

3 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place.

4 Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’

5 “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another,

6 if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm,

7 then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.

8 “Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail.

9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known,

10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’–only to go on doing all these abominations?

11 Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the LORD.

12 Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it because of the evil of my people Israel.

13 And now, because you have done all these things, declares the LORD, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer,

14 therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, and in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh.

15 And I will cast you out of my sight, as I cast out all your kinsmen, all the offspring of Ephraim.

What is it that Jeremiah wants from these worshipers?

AMEND YOUR WAYS

  • amend your ways and your deeds
  • if you truly amend your ways and your deeds
  • if you truly execute justice one with another
  • if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place,
  • if you do not go after other gods to your own harm

Only if the nation of Israel amends their ways, will they be able to remain in the land. (see vs 7)

But Carl – The Temple of the Lord – that is the security, the promise, the TEMPLE. How could anything go wrong since the nation of Israel had the blessing and privilege granted to them to have the TEMPLE OF THE LORD.

Verse 8 speaks of deceptive words again, that the nation was trusting in. These words are…

THE TEMPLE OF THE LORD

Wait, the blessing and privilege of having the temple of the Lord in the nation of Israel is becoming a stumbling block to the nation of Israel. At the very least it was a massive distraction. You see, the Lord is not so concerned about edifices, buildings, construction, brick and mortar….

My wife’s favorite verse goes something like this

1 Samuel 16:7

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

Although Samuel was referring to the stature and appearance of David’s first son, the principle applies here. As idolatrous humans, we seek to honor and worship that which we can see, feel and own.

Temple_Jerusalem 2

The Temple fell into that category. And the Temple was to be abandoned, just like the Father abandoned Shiloh. He did it once before. His word is faithful, and looking back upon Jeremiahs time, it is easy for us to see the fulfillment his prophecy. The Babylonians swept in, and the nation was taken away to Babylon for 70 yrs.

Another prophet (and so much more) came on the scene, and recognized the nation of Israel’s spiritual condition. He spoke of abandoning the Temple.

They crucified Him.
The temple was sacked 40 yrs later. Think of it. The mercy of the Crucified One to allow for 40 years to pass, seeking repentance, prior to bringing final judgement on the nation.

I have more to say, but I would like to finish this post simply considering the mercy and kindness of the One who died for me.

He is good.


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