Book Look – Finding Church – The Garden

Finding ChurchI found a book called “Finding Church” by Wayne Jacobsen, and am on my second reading.  During my reading yesterday I came across a story he recounts of his grand daughters coming over to visit, and spending time in his wife’s garden.

During the visit, grandpa corrected one of the little girls on how to correctly rake some mulch.  Another time, a little girl was instructed to ask gramma if she could pick a flower.

As the visit comes to a close, and the grandkids are on thier way home, gramma turns to grandpa and say’s….

cottage-garden-path“Why do you make rules in my garden?  There’s nothing my grandkids can do in that garden that I can’t fix in ten minutes after they’ve gone.  I don’t care how many flowers they pick; that’s why I grow them.

The only thing I want is for them to enjoy being in  my garden.

Obviously this discourse applies directly to the message Wayne is trying to communicate.  God’s garden, the church, is intended to be an environment of joy and freedom, not rules and restrictions.

So lets consider this.  How often have I taken my children to church and the majority (if not all) of my instruction to them was restrictive.

  • Don’t run there.
  • Don’t laugh.
  • Don’t interrupt the teacher.
  • Don’t talk to your friend in class.
  • Don’t express doubts.
  • Don’t be late for class.
  • Don’t express dissatisfaction with the status quo.
  • Don’t ignore required church appearances – You know what I mean
    • implied dress codes.
    • church speak.
    • social acquaintances.
  • Don’t ask questions.
  • Don’t ask hard questions.
  • Don’t challenge accepted teaching.
    • (Ok that last one was for me!)
  • Don’t………..
  • Don’t………………….
  • Don’t………………………….

How often have you entered “the sanctuary” and felt the need to have extra respect for a building, a room, a temple made by hands.

Acts 7:48

Yet the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands….

Next time you enter a church “building”, consider where you are.  It is just a building with rules required by men.

Break free of this thinking.

WARNING WARNING WARNING

When Stephen broke free and declared that the Most High does not live in houses built by human hands, he paid a price….)


If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know.  If any are hungry for church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out.

Others may be able to help you.  Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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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.

Book Look – Finding Church – Introduction

Finding ChurchI found a book called “Finding Church” by Wayne Jacobsen, and am on my second reading.

Like previous “Book Looks” that I have posted, I am not going to review the book so much as pull statements and concepts out to discuss with the reader.

As many who read this blog know, I struggle with the current modern gathering of believers.

I confess I am looking for less structure, less church office authority,  but greater real life believer influence.  Less uniformity to the preferences of men and women within church positions, but greater unity to the intent of the New Testament message.

Is this possible?  It is my hope.

If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know.  If any are hungry for church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out.

Others may be able to help you.

Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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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.

Taxes & Churches – Avoid Offence – 3

taxes-150x150Where did the right for churches to avoid paying taxes come from? I mean, did this right to avoid paying taxes come out of Bible teaching?

Is this “right” that churches exercise grounded in the Bible?

Consider the first topic of discussion.


1. Christians are to avoid offence

Consider the following passage.

1 Peter 2:13-17

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme,
 
or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.
 

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

 

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Peter told the believers to submit to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake.  Of course we live in a nation that allows protest, but I wonder if believers are to protest as much as we do. 

 TAXES & CHURCHES

It is interesting that Peter uses the term “cloak of maliciousness” in reference to the freedoms we possess as Christians.  This cloak refers to a covering, and I think Peter is fearful that believers will use their declared freedoms, as a covering of actual malicious (evil) motivations and deeds.

I also understand that at the time of this discussion with my friend, the proposal was not an ordinance of man yet, so as far as I can tell, the church had every right to speak to God about this possible injustice.  But once this amendment passed, the church should, with well-doing, put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.  (Not be foolish men, who needed to be put to silence).

In each of these passages, the Bible seems to be telling us to take the loss for the sake of others.  Do not offend, humbly pay your taxes and do good.

What think ye?  Is there something I am missing? 

Use the contact form below to share your thoughts.


 

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Taxes & Churches – Avoid Offence – 2

taxes-150x150Where did the right for churches to avoid paying taxes come from? I mean, did this right to avoid paying taxes come out of Bible teaching?

Is this “right” that churches exercise grounded in the Bible?

Consider the first topic of discussion.


1. Christians are to avoid offence

Consider the following passage.

Romans 13:7

Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

 TAXES & CHURCHES

In Romans 13:7 Paul told believers to pay their taxes, and since churches were in private homes, it seems obvious that if there was a property tax in those days, Paul was telling them to pay it.  If the ruling city officials request assistance from the general population to improve the living conditions of the community, does it not seem to be a sacrifice that would be well pleasing, in order to be a blessing on the community?

Fighting this proposal in the public arena was a no win situation for the church in my opinion.  The early church spoke to God about seeming injustices (see Acts 4:23, 12:5, etc.) and not to the general population.  (I guess the early church didn’t understand the power of public relations to turn the heart of a king/mayor!)

What think ye?  Is there something I am missing? 

Use the contact form below to share your thoughts.


 

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Taxes & Churches – Avoid Offence – 1

taxes-150x150Where did the right for churches to avoid paying taxes come from? I mean, did this right to avoid paying taxes come out of Bible teaching?

Is this “right” that churches exercise grounded in the Bible?

Consider the first topic of discussion.


1. Christians are to avoid offence

Consider the following passages.

Matthew 17:24-27

When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?”
 
He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?”
 
And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free.
 
However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”

When Peter was asked about the temple tax, Jesus sent him fishing and paid the taxes with a coin from the fishes mouth.  It is interesting that the Lords motive for paying the taxes is to avoid offending.

The background is the temple tax that the Jewish religious aristocracy required for the maintenance of the temple.  But note that Jesus likens this temple taxation to the more common taxation of the overlords within the land, that is, the Romans, who are referred to as the “kings of the earth”.  Interesting comparison!

So who are the “strangers” in this text?  Who did the Romans tax?

It is common knowledge that one of the responsibilities of conquered lands within the Roman empire was to bear the tax burden for the kingdom of Rome.  When Jesus refers to the children is this passage, He is referring to those who were free-born children within the Roman nation, that is, those born to Roman citizens.  Therefore the strangers are those who are the conquered.  So the comparison that Jesus makes is to liken the temple tax responsibility to the strangers (the Jewish religious aristocracy?) and to state that those who follow Jesus were the true children.

If I am following the Lord’s logic, this means that true children of the kingdom are free of this responsibility – that is, to pay any (temple) tax.

But not free from the responsibility to love.  We are not to offend our neighbor and in standing up for our rights (in not having to pay some tax), I am afraid we offend.  (Golly, after I finally considered this topic, it offends me!).

 TAXES & CHURCHES

Remember the atheist friend that was doing the surveys about the future taxation.  He certainly saw an apparent contradiction between the churches words and works.  And he certainly was able to use this experience to shore up his belief that the church was simply a business.

What think ye?  Is there something I am missing? 

Use the contact form below to share your thoughts.


 

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Taxes & Churches – Introduction

taxes-150x150

The city I live in was trying to find support for an amendment to the city charter.  This amendment would charge a fee/tax (based on the size of the property’s impermeable surface, ie parking/roofing) to property owners to fund an account for the improvement of roads and drainage in the city.

I knew a fellow (an atheist friend) that was actually out among the population seeking to drum up support for this amendment.  He would chat with me about the reactions he would receive and the general feelings of the city population. 

Two groups stood out in fighting against this proposition. 

I suppose you could guess the first group to oppose this amendment – malls, with their profit driven focus and huge parking lots – this would definitely impact thier bottom line causing greater overhead and therefore smaller profit margins.  Business you know

The other group? – Churches.  

And this is where I began to struggle.  Consider the reason for taxes. 

Is it not to share the burden of services for the general public?

Did not the Lord state that it is better to give than receive? 

Are we not to be a blessing to the community we live in? 

Are we not to bear the burden of our brother, doing good to all?

Which brings me to my struggle.  

Where did the right for churches to avoid paying taxes come from?  I mean, did this right to avoid paying taxes come out of Bible teaching?  

Is this “right” that churches exercise grounded in the Bible?  

The next three posts will attempt to consider this question.   Use the contact form below to share your thoughts.


 

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Book Look – House Churches – Protect Them from the Church

Houses that Change the WorldI recently picked up a book called “Houses that Change the World” by Wolfgang Simson, and find it to be challenging.

I am not going to review the book so much as pull statements and concept out to discuss with the reader.

This next quote I want to share with you is hilarious.  You see, during the formative years of the Willow Creek Community Church, a seeker sensitive church, the leadership came up with a seven fold strategy of evangelism

  • Spend quality time with non-christians
  • Protect them from the church
  • Witness to those new friends about Jesus Christ
  • Protect them from the church
  • Lead them to Christ
  • Protect them from the church
  • When they have matured a bit and are ready for a culture shock, introduce them to the church for the first time

My question is – If these new believers are maturing a bit, why interrupt that by introducing them to a club/church that may become a stumbling block.

Somewhere I’m hearing the apostle whisper something out of his letter to the Galations.

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?


If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know.  If any are hungry for church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out.  Others may be able to help you.

Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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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.

Book Look – House Churches – Worshiping our Worship

Houses that Change the World

I recently picked up a book called “Houses that Change the World” by Wolfgang Simson, and find it to be challenging.

I am not going to review the book so much as pull statements and concept out to discuss with the reader.

The first quote I want to share with you caught my eye, and then after some considering left me with no argument and the memory of a story.

“The image of much contemporary Christianity could be summarized as holy people coming regularly to a holy place on a holy day at a holy hour to participate in a holy ritual led by a holy man dressed in holy clothes for a holy fee”

How often have I rounded up the family to bring them to a scheduled church meeting, all the while creating within those I love a disdain for church meetings, erecting walls to discussions that were completely unnecessary.

Kicking Kids out of Church

I remember a time when one of my sons was struggling with a personal issue during a sermon, causing a minor disturbance. At the time, he was about 16 years old.

For the sake of the show and the audience, he was “shut down quickly”, and the matter was swept under the rug. Two deacons actually got involved, and my son was out the door. Life (that is, the relationship between my son and a congregant within the church) was happening at that point. The deacons saw the show/program/sermon as being the priority and the my son as the exception, the disturbance.

I understand the logic of the greater good – that is the audience came to hear a message and should not be interrupted.

But that is my point.

What is the purpose of meeting together as believers?

To hear one man spend time telling you what to believe? How to live?

I much rather see someone walk the walk, and then spend time with him or her. I think that may be what the apostles did.

May I suggest in the church I hope for, when interpersonal relationships conflict, the body of Christ focuses on people, and not a program.

Programs conflict with people.

My son didn’t come back to that church, if I remember correctly. As a matter of fact, the church was fairly consistent in this behavior of prioritizing program over people.

We eventually left the church, finding work in another city.


If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know. If any are hungry for church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out. Others may be able to help you.

Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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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.

Book Look – House Churches – Introduction

Houses that Change the World

I recently picked up a book called “Houses that Change the World” by Wolfgang Simson, and find it to be challenging.

I am not going to review the book so much as pull statements and concepts out to discuss with the reader.

As many who read this blog know, I struggle with the current modern gathering of believers.

I confess I am looking for less structure, less church office authority, but greater real life believer influence. Less uniformity to the preferences of men and women within church positions, but greater unity to the intent of the New Testament message.

Is this possible? It is my hope.

If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know. If any are hungry for church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out.

Others may be able to help you.

Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

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.

Salaried Pastors? A discussion with a Pastor 3

Salary 2Quite 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 third post is simply some wanderings and considerations I have had after my discussion with the Pastor!  Give me some feed back if I’m way out of line.


Consider 1 Corinthians 9:12

Remember that the topic of this passage is support (not salary) of an apostle, a traveling minister.  These verses, IMHO, do not apply to elders and pastors of local churches, who are able to maintain outside employment to assist the local body if in need.

1 Corinthians 9:12

If others (referring to other apostles – check the context!) share this rightful claim on you, do not we (Paul and his party) even more? Nevertheless, we (Paul and his party) have not made use of this right, but we (Paul and his party) endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.

salary 3Is not Paul stating that using this “right”, (that is, support from a body of believers) actually hinders (places an obstacle in the way) the gospel? This is an apostle (not an elder or pastor) teaching this truth about an apostles right to support, which Paul is refusing to exercise.

How can local pastors refer to this same passage (1 Corinthians 9) to establish this right they believe they have, and yet miss this verse?

One important item that I need to clarify, for I know what some may be thinking.  I am not advocating abandonment of the Christian minister.  Support and salary are two completely different topics, and the New Testament exhorts believers to support those who are ministering among them.

Support for a Christian minister, coming from those blessed from his ministry, is a direct relational blessing.  If believers would remove themselves from unbiblical obligations, they could freely give funds, gifts and blessings to Biblically directed recipients, such as:

  • The poor (including widows, orphans, etc)
  • Travelling missionaries (those in a similar situation as the apostle in 1 Corinthians 9)
  • Christian ministers that trust in God.

An additional verse that some may appeal to, to justify the salaried position within the family of God is Galatians 6:6.

Gal 6:6

6 Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.

Two things to notice

  • The context of this verse is general Christian living, not the requirements of a contractual obligation to a separate group of specialized Christians.  I once asked how this verse justifies the salary of a pastor but does not apply to a Sunday School teacher, or a “lay” Christian teaching in some manner.
  • The good things are just that – good things.  Encouraging words, financial help, a bag of groceries, an invitation to supper, a new car,  etc.

I love the opportunity to assist those I know of that are in need, or that I “sense” may need a “blessing”.  I believe the Lord is able to direct His people to assist His people.  Is that wrong?  Too simplistic?  Too ideal?

salary 1It is becoming obvious to me, that salaried positions for local elders/pastors seems to be foreign to the New Testament.

Help me find justification for the salaried position, so that I can sense that the modern church is still somewhat on track.

Although not scripture, it is interesting to review what an early church document reveals how Christians treated this topic.

Didache 2

Notice what the Didache (Also known as “The Teaching of the Twelve.”) teaches.

Chapter 11. Concerning Teachers, Apostles, and Prophets.

didache

Let every apostle that comes to you be received as the Lord. But he shall not remain except one day; but if there be need, also the next; but if he remain three days, he is a false prophet. And when the apostle goes away, let him take nothing but bread until he lodges; but if he ask money, he is a false prophet.

A little later in chapter 11…

But whoever says in the Spirit, Give me money, or something else, you shall not listen to him; but if he says to you to give for others’ sake who are in need, let no one judge him.

Wow

Story Time

This topic, since I have been considering it for a period of time, was on my mind this morning, when I was visiting with a brother.  He mentioned that the church he belongs to is putting on a Christmas pageant and that they had sold 14,000 tickets, ranging from $8 to $14 each.  I mentioned that, at an average price of $10 per ticket, that church pulled in $140,000, and that this should pay for the minister’s salary.

Oh no no, he says – Our pastor makes $200,000,  plus benefits, vacation and a yearly month-long sabbatical.  Oh and this particular church has a $20,000,000 capital budget for renovations and building projects.

Silver and gold have I none – Peter – 1st century


 

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Salaried Pastors? A discussion with a Pastor 2

Salary 2

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.

Our previous post supplied the initial question and the pastors response. This post will supply my response and appreciation to this pastor. I am still gonna call him Pastor X cause I still think it’s cool.

My response follows.


Pastor X

Thanks for getting back to me on this. Some of these verses seem to be helping with the argument for a salaried position but after looking at their context and setting, it doesn’t seem to be as strong an argument as I thought. I have been a believer for many years now, and have used the very same verses to defend my thinking in this topic, but …

Bound Sheep

OLD TESTAMENT BASIS
As for your reference to the levitical priesthood, we are under a New Covenant where each believer is a priest before God. I fear that I do not see any direct NT link between professional Christians (clergy) and the Levitical priesthood. (Although if you know of any clergy performing the levitical sacrifices to satisfy the old covenant that these provisions were specified under, let me know.)
THE RIGHT OF SUPPORT

salary 3

Your point referring to 1 Corinthians seems to be an argument for an itinerant preacher, and not a stationary pastor. The right of support (support same as a salary?) is valid, but not necessarily for the local pastor/priest associated with one local church body. The apostle Paul did much traveling, where the “pastor” (actually elders) of the churches were stationary and could hold down a “secular” job while ministering to the believers in their group.
As a matter of fact, Paul spoke in Acts that the elders/pastors were to give to the church and not be a burden to the group. They were to help the weak and remember that it is more blessed to give than receive. Notice that the context includes the topic of coveting silver and gold.

Acts 20:33-35

33 I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel.

34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me.

35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

1 Peter 5:1-3 seems to address this same topic. (I think Peter is addressing motivation in these verses.)

Peter is kinda rough – using terms like “shameful gain”.

Calm down Peter – you need to get with the program.

1 Peter 5:1-3

1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:

2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;

3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

DOUBLE HONOR

salary 1

When you referred to 1 Timothy 5:17-18, this is the set of verses that started this concern for me.

1 Timothy 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.”

As I was studying these verses earlier, I found that honor = Strongs greek # 5091. Thayer definitions below.

Strong’s # G5091, τιμάω timaō

Thayer Definition:

1) to estimate, fix the value

1a) for the value of something belonging to one’s self

2) to honour, to have in honour, to revere, venerate

As I look at these definitions, there doesn’t seem to be any specific thought of money being an issue. This of course does not take away from your argument, that Paul could be gently breaching the salary concept. But if he is, then we need to put widows on a salary, since the same word for honor is used in verse 3.

1 Timothy 5:3

3 Honor widows who are truly widows.

And we need to ensure that all slaves are placing their masters on a salary, since this word is also used in verse 1 of chapter 6.

1 Timothy 6:1

1 Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.

Surely, the church of the living Christ is a priesthood of believers. At times, I fear that having paid clergy can work against the church body, creating a group of believers dependent on a paid staff (clergy).

As an aside, I found that Peter used the word cleros (a root for the english word “clergy”?) to define all of God’s people in 1 Peter 5:3. Kinda found that to be ironic!

I heard a believer once say that to find the strength of a church, one needs only to remove the pastor. I realize this is very difficult stuff, and I have feared even bringing this topic up for many months. I am thankful that you responded so quickly and sought to help.

If I am missing something, or you find that I am not understanding a truth, please be assured that I would be very happy to continue this discussion. It is truth that believers need to seek, and not just to blindly follow traditions.

Thanks again for your ministry.

Rom 5:3

Carl


Pastor X has not had the opportunity to reply with any additional exhortations or instruction. I appreciate this mans desire to help me, and I hope the best for him and his ministry.

After receiving the pastors notes, and waiting for a response, my mind started wandering and considering. Some of those wanderings and considerings will be in our next post.

Hope to see you there.


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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.

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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Nation or Church – Jeremiah 31:35-37

 

Why are you such a heretic?heretic

A brother recently asked me what I thought of Jeremiah 31:35-37. You see, I am considered somewhat of a heretic among my fellow believers.

Well, lets consider the passage below.

I have included the full paragraph in order to follow Jeremiahs train of thought. (choo chooooo)

Jer 31:31 – 37

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—

not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord.

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Thus says the Lord,
Who gives the sun for a light by day,
The ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night,
Who disturbs the sea,
And its waves roar
(The Lord of hosts is His name):

“If those ordinances depart
From before Me, says the Lord,
Then the seed of Israel shall also cease
From being a nation before Me forever.”

Thus says the Lord:
“If heaven above can be measured,
And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath,
I will also cast off all the seed of Israel
For all that they have done, says the Lord.

heresyTo give all y’all some background on this, I am presently attending a great Sunday School Class where the majority of attendees subscribe to a dispensational framework of understanding future events. I have let all know that I have left that teaching, and they have been gracious to allow me to remain in the class.

Occasionally, a question or passage comes up that makes my thinking seem so unbiblical, and this passage definitely argues for a future existence of the physical nation of Israel!

So, how can you think so wrongly Carl, when the passage above is so clear!

NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY

One item of importance to note is that Hebrews 8:8-13 gives us commentary that is pertinent to the subject of Jeremiahs prophecy. I will use the ESV to show the portion in Hebrews that is being quoted from Jeremiah 31:31-34

Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 

not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.

For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

I don’t know of any New Testament passage that supplies such a long quote of an Old Testament passage as in Hebrews 8. It is truly remarkable. The author of Hebrews must have some great message to tell his Hebrew Christian audience to take up so much room in his short letter.

Let’s read the next verse!

In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away

WHAT? Vanish away can’t mean what I think it means!!

Greek AlphabetThe Strongs concordance states “vanish away” = ἀφανισμός aphanismós, af-an-is-mos’; from G853; disappearance, i.e. (figuratively) abrogation:—vanish away.

I do admit that the verse speaks of the covenant vanishing away, and not the nation per se, but on what was the nation of Israel established upon but the old covenant? If the old covenant has vanished away (and it has), upon what is any future nation based upon?

SUN AND MOON CEASING

Lets get back to the original set of verses in Jeremiah. Jeremiah said the physical nation of Israel would continue until the sun and moon ceased to exist. If the author of Hebrews is correct, what is going on?

The prophet was careful in his word choice. Lets consider Jeremiah 31:36 one more time.

“If those ordinances depart from before Me, says the Lord, then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever.”

We have a problem here if “the seed of Israel” is synonymous for the physical lineage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which became the nation of Israel. The ordinances (sun and moon) are still sticking around and the nation of Israel ceased to exist in 70 AD. We got problems!

Lets consider another passage that may shed light on this issue. In John 8, Jesus tried to correct a misunderstanding in His day when he spoke of Abraham’s seed.

John 8:37-42

“I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you.

I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.”

They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.”

Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.

But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this.

You do the deeds of your father.”

Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.”

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 

Jesus was trying to correct a misunderstanding about the true lineage of faith, and that it does NOT depend on physical seed, but on spiritual seed. (Abraham’s children do the works of Abraham.)

As a matter of fact, a little later in the New Testament, Paul labors to show us that the true seed of Abraham is Christ in Galations 3:16

Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. 

So when Jeremiah brings up “the seed of Israel” we do not have the freedom to assume he is referring to a physical lineage. The “seed of Israel” has not ceased to exist as a nation, since true Israelite’s, such as Peter, John, Paul (and thousands more) trusted in the promised seed, the Savior.

The physical nation ceased to exist in AD 70, but I think it was on old wine sack that just couldn’t carry new wine – It just refused to accept the new wine.

But God did not let the nation cease to exist. The physical nation of Israel “vanished away”, but God’s promise did not cease to be fulfilled. Peter uses an Old Testament passage (Exodus 19:5-6) describing the newly born nation of Israel and applies it to the church.

 Exodus 19:5-6

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.

And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

So in answer to my brother, I believe Jeremiahs prophecy is holding true, and that the seed of Israel has not ceased to exist as a nation. The true nation of Israel, in God’s eyes, consists of faithful believers before and after the cross, trusting in His promises.

Consider Lightning from a Candle