Local Church Membership Q&A – 2

Church on a hill 

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

The first point Mark brings to the table is……..

 

 


1) To be Obedient to the Scriptures

Matthew 16:13

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

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

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

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Mat 18:15 – 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

Act 5:12 -14

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

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

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

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


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

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

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Calvinism and Little Children

John_Greenleaf_Whittier
John Greenleaf Whittier

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

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

The Minister’s Daughter
Author: John Greenleaf Whittier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1880.

Local Church Membership Q&A -1

Church on a hill

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

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

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


Cody

Thanks for the document.

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

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

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

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

He then states three components of a true church

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

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

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

 1 John 4:20

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

Where in this verse is there any mention of church membership? If importing foreign concepts into general passage11 is allowed, then I could use this verse to justify any activity I want another believer to perform. I am not sure that is very responsible.

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


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

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

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Conditional Security – Sealed – New Testament Teaching

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Sealing of the Spirit.  What does that mean?

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

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

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

New  Testament References

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

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

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

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

Σφραγίζω sphragizō – (Verb form of the greek word)

Matt 27:66

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

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

John 3:33

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

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

John 6:27

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

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

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

Rom 15:28

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

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

2Cor 1:22

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

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

2Cor 11:10

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

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

Eph 1:13

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

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

Eph 4:30

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

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

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

Rev 7:3

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

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

Rev 7:4 – 8

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

No comment

Rev 10:4

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

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

Rev 20:3

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

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

Rev 22:10

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

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

Σφραγίς sphragís

(Noun form of the greek word)

Rom 4:11

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

Circumcision is a mark on the body signifying Abrahams faith.

1Co 9:2

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

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

2Ti 2:19

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

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

Rev 5:1 – 2

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

No comment

Rev 5:5

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

No comment

Rev 5:9

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

No comment

Rev 6:1

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

No comment

Rev 6:3

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

No comment

Rev 6:5

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

No comment

Rev 6:7

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

No comment

Rev 6:9

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

No comment

Rev 6:12

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

No comment

Rev 7:2

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

No comment

Rev 8:1

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

No comment

Rev 9:4

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

Κατασφραγίζω katasphragizō

Rev 5:1

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

No comment

Additional resources below are provided for your convenience.

Strong’s

σφραγίζω

sphragizō

sfrag-id’-zo

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

Thayer

σφραγίζω

sphragizō

Thayer Definition:

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

1a) for security: from Satan

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

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

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

1c2) angels are said to be sealed by God

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

1d1) to confirm authenticate, place beyond doubt

1d1a) of a written document

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

Part of Speech: verb

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

Citing in TDNT: 7:939, 1127

The Complete Word Study Dictionary

σφραγίζω

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strong’s

κατασφραγίζω

katasphragizō

kat-as-frag-id’-zo

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

Thayer

κατασφραγίζω

katasphragizō

Thayer Definition:

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

Part of Speech: verb

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

Citing in TDNT: 7:939, 1127

The Complete Word Study Dictionary

κατασφραγίζω

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

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

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

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Conditional Security – Sealed – Old Testament Basis

Conditional Security - if-150x150 - Red with SplashSealing of the Spirit.

What does that mean?

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

When I was a youngin’ (that is a Christian youngin’), and found out about Strong’s concordance, I well near flipped with the possibilities.  Computers were not available to me at the time, and the hard cover Strong’s I had given to me was a treasure trove of data!

Jewish SealThis first part of the study, we will review all the Old Testament verses that include the hebrew word translated as “sealed”  חָתַםchatham (khaw-tham’)

For this study in sealing, using old Testament occurrences will help me establish the apostles/first century believers understanding of the concept.  Therefore the first portion of the study will look at all of the Old Testament verses that include the concept of sealing, found in the Hebrew word defined above.

Old  Testament References

Lev 15:3

And this shall be his uncleanness in his issue: whether his flesh run with his issue, or his flesh be stopped from his issue, it ishis uncleanness.

No comment

Deu 32:34

Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures?

This is the Song of Moses and up till this verse, Moses is writing about the faithfulness of God and the chastisement required upon His people. At verse 34, Moses declares Gods compassion on His people, in that “this” that is laid up in store is the need for the chastisement the people of God need to experience. This judgment that is sealed up among God’s treasures is described many times in the Pentateuch, and many believe it refers to the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. If so, this sealing was not permanent. But it was secure!

1Ki 21:8

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles thatwere in his city, dwelling with Naboth.

Jezebel sealed the letters with the seal of the King. 1 Kings 21:11 tells us that he seal was broken in order to read the letter and condemn Naboth to death.

Neh 9:38

And because of all this we make a sure covenant, and write it; and our princes, Levites, and priests, seal unto it.

No comment

Neh 10:1

Now those that sealed were, Nehemiah, the Tirshatha, the son of Hachaliah, and Zidkijah,

No comment

Est 3:12

Then were the king’s scribes called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded unto the king’s lieutenants, and to the governors that were over every province, and to the rulers of every people of every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king’s ring.

Similar idea as 1 Kings 21:8. The seal was broken in order to read the pronouncement. As a matter of fact, it needed to be broken in order to effect its purpose.

Est 8:8

Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s ring: for the writing which is written in the king’s name, and sealed with the king’s ring, may no man reverse.

Similar to above

Est 8:10

And he wrote in the king Ahasuerus’ name, and sealed it with the king’s ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries:

Similar to above

Job 9:7

Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars.

A poetic expression of darkness – when the heavens are completely dark, it is as if God sealed all the stars up in a bag. But thankfully the sealing is not eternal.

Job 14:17

My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity.

Similar concept as above.

Job 24:16

In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime: they know not the light.

No comment

Job 33:16

Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,

No comment

Job 37:7

He sealeth up the hand of every man; that all men may know his work.

No comment

Son 4:12

A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.

No comment

Isa 8:16

Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.

Isaiah speaks of the prophecy as being complete and that it should be stored away, sealed up among his disciples.

Isa 29:11

And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed:

The prophecies were sealed until the One who is worthy to break open the seals revealed the truth of the prophecies.

Jer 32:10

And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed him the money in the balances.

No comment

Jer 32:11

So I took the evidence of the purchase, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open:

Jer 32:14

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Take these evidences, this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days.

Jer 32:44

Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe evidences, and seal them, and take witnesses in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the mountains, and in the cities of the valley, and in the cities of the south: for I will cause their captivity to return, saith the LORD.

Some background to these verses

Just before the destruction of Jerusalem, in the days of Jeremiah, God told Jeremiah to buy some land and to take the sealed purchase papers and the accompanying letter (open evidence) and to bury it in the ground. Verse 44 tells us that the day will come, when the captivity is accomplished, that men will again purchase property in the land of Israel. This occurred some 70 years later after the return of the Israelites.

Does this verse teach the unbreakableness of a seal or imply something else?

Eze 28:12

Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.

Ezekiel is speaking of the King of Tyre and of his opinion of himself. He was full of himself! Ezekiel is a master of sarcasm!

Dan 9:24

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

A very difficult verse in many respects but the concept of sealing occurs twice, once with the idea of “completion” or “finishing”. A tremendous prophecy of the Lord Jesus Christ and His work of finishing of sins and completing/fulfilling prophecy

Dan 12:4

But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

Dan 12:9

And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.

In verse 8, Daniel asked when the prophecy would be fulfilled. God told him to seal the prophecy, since it would not be revealed until the time of the end. The prophecy would be sealed until revealed! (Hey – I’m a poet and didn’t know it!)

In order to compare similar concepts of sealing, I used the Septuagint, (the greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, which Jesus and His disciples used during their lifetime). For example, when the translators came to Daniel 12:9 and saw châtham, they used the greek word sphragizo.  

Therefore I am going to continue in our next post in the study of “sealing” with the greek work sphragizo.

The following verses use ether the verb or noun of the simple word, and one strengthened verb (prefix of kata)   חָתַםchatham (khaw-tham’) Strong’s 1. to close up 2. especially to seal [a primitive root] KJV: make an end, mark, seal (up), stop.   Brown Driver Biggs 1) to seal, seal up, affix a seal 1a) (Qal) 1a1) to seal, affix one’s seal 1a2) to seal up, fasten up by sealing 1b) (Niphal) to seal 1c) (Piel) to lock up 1d) (Hiphil) to be stopped Part of Speech: verb   The Complete Word Study Dictionary

A verb meaning to set a seal on, to seal up. It indicates the act of affixing an impression to serve as a seal on something, then sealing it up as well. It could be done to any clay object: a letter (1Ki_21:8); a bill of sale, such as the one used by Jeremiah (Jer_32:10-11, Jer_32:14, Jer_32:44); a house could be sealed up (Job_24:16); something could be sealed up or stopped up (Lev_15:3). It is used often figuratively: Daniel’s vision of seventy weeks when fulfilled will seal up the prophetic vision (Dan_9:24); Israel’s testimony or law is “sealed” among his followers for future reference (Isa_8:16). It is used in Son_4:12 to describe the bride of the bridegroom as a spring sealed up with promise of delights in marriage. It indicates sealing something so it can be opened only by the one who has the key that will open the seal (Isa_29:11).

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Christians and the Government

War & ReligionRecently I was discussing with a friend the role of Christians in the armed forces.

This conversation began to make me think of a Christian’s relationship to the government, specifically in the responsibility of a believer in raising a weapon against someone for the sake of a government’s ideology or geography.

Federal AgentLater that night I learned that one of my favorite niece’s husband was in training to become a federal agent. This seemed too coincidental for me to ignore, and since my niece confesses Jesus as her Lord, I thought I would discuss this issue with her.

As I mentioned earlier, her husband was in training to become a federal agent for a government. They are very excited. “Frank” and “Belinda-Lu” (not their real names, dontchaknow!) are in the process of finding out where the government will be stationing this family in the near future.

Exciting times!

These young folk are seeking to follow the Lord Jesus in their daily walk and because of that, I thought I would chat with “Belinda-Lu” about Christians and Government Authority.

A Discussion and a Distinction

What follows is that conversation. (Comments by Belinda-Lu is indented and in italics.)

May I ask you a question about your husbands vocation with the government?

Shoot! Hahaha no pun intended!

First off, congratulations on your husbands graduation!!! It must feel good to complete that step in your lives.

A friend at work has a son joining the US navy and it got me thinking about the armed forces and belief in the Savior. He mentioned that he may specialize in becoming a sharp shooter/ sniper. I asked him about how he feels about killing someone for no other reason than ideology or geographical circumstance. He said he was alright with it, but I am not so sure – he is very young! (I am also not sure of his commitment to the Lord Jesus.)

My question is similar for your husband. I am assuming as a federal agent for your government, your husband may be called upon to fire a weapon upon another person. How has your husband reconciled this possibility with Jesus’ teaching about loving your enemy, turning the other cheek,…

Frank would only fire his weapon if he sincerely believed his life was in danger; and after using every other kind of non-deadly force first to detain a person… Until a court date can be given and our flawed justice system can deal with the matter. Frank’s mission as an RCMP is to “serve and protect” not to “seek and destroy.” He graduates this September.

I understand that authority here on earth is flawed, but everything needs to be done in balance…. Living a life that honors God is attempting each day to do what you believe God is asking you to do, seeking obedience, expecting sacrifice, and desiring to please the Lord.

“Belinda-Lu” – At no time did I intend to infer that your husband was on a “seek and destroy” mission. I hope you will understand that I am not against y’all, and I know that you wish to please the Lord Jesus. (That is why I am asking you this hard question!)

Therefore, lets look at the passage you offered to see if Paul was advocating believers to be active in “carrying out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (v.4)

For many years, I saw Romans 13 as the strongest passage that allowed a believer to be active in government enforcement, but after considering the passage below, (Romans 12:9-21, which provides context to Romans 13), I think Paul was describing (in Roman 13), the God ordained activities of government, but not necessarily endorsing a believers involvement in the government.

Of course I am still learning, and I suppose that is one reason I thought I would ask y’all this question.

Thanks for your patience with me and I do hope all is well. May the Lord Himself bless you and keep you – He is Good.

Romans 12:9 – 13:5

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 13

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,
for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

One thing that is interesting to me is that Paul uses the second person (you) and the third person (he) in this passage. Since this letter was written to believers, it is safe to say that the “you” Paul is referring to are believers. Who is the “he”? Is it the “you”? Can’t be for then he would use the “you”! (BTW who’s on first?)

Following the grammar of the text helps me to show who Paul is referring to. I am going to insert (hopefully clarifying) added words into the text to help us see where Paul is going with his thoughts. Again – if I am incorrect in my understanding of the apostles teaching, let me know. As I said before, I would like to honor God, and to do so, I need to understand His will for my life also!

Romans 13:

Let every person (lost or saved) be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

Therefore whoever (lost or saved) resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist (lost or saved) will incur judgment.

For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you (Christians) have no fear of the one (the governing authority) who is in authority? Then (you Christians) do what is good, and you (Christians) will receive his (the governing authority) approval,

for he (the governing authority) is God’s servant for your (Christians) good. But if you (Christians) do wrong, be afraid, for he (the governing authority) does not bear the sword in vain. For he (the governing authority) is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

5 Therefore one (lost or saved) must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

I find it very instructive that in this passage, Paul actually defines two different groups.

  1. Christians

  2. Governing authorities.

If believers should be part of the governing authorities, why did Paul create the distinction? This distinction is what bothers me. I just don’t get it. Where in the passage does Paul advocate a believer “carrying out God’s wrath”?

You also mentioned…

  • “that authority here on earth is flawed”

– No argument there, but it isn’t the issue. Why join ourselves with a system/kingdom that is admittedly flawed (as you correctly state!), when we have been invited into a kingdom that has Him as King?

  • “but everything needs to be done in balance”

– Do you really mean that? Should I balance out my life with part God’s will and part my will? I am not sure what you mean by saying that. Please explain.

  • “Living a life that honors God is attempting each day to do what you believe God is asking you to do, seeking obedience, expecting sacrifice, and desiring to please the Lord.”

– I think you meant …Living a life that honors God is doing what God says to do, obeying, sacrificing, pleasing God. (There are too many scriptures to refer to, to show this. We are judged on our works, not our intentions.)

  • “Frank would only fire his weapon if he sincerely believed his life was in danger; and after using every other kind of non-deadly force first to detain a person… “

– I understand the “life in danger” argument, but my concern was whether or not God wants a believer to be in this situation at all.

Remember the words of the Master… “Blessed are the peacemakers” He didn’t say blessed are the peace keepers!

I do hope that y’all will continue to seek Him and His will. Drop a line when you would like to chat.

Love ya.

Be blessed

Uncle Carl

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, (ESV)

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Jesus in Hell? Response to a Brother

brown book page

Brother

Thanks for taking the time to respond to my blog, “Did Jesus go to HELL?”  I had been looking forward to your comments since Monday.  Many of your points were well stated and caused me to look at some of the post again.

I would like to clarify a few items.  I may have said or written something that was not clear and I would like to correct that.  With that said, I have taken your comments (in blue) and inserted my thoughts for your consideration. 

With all due respect.  It is written… you have a copy of scripture. I read some of it to you when we talked. I believe in a plain normal grammatical historical plenary interpretation

  • Plain
    • When you mention plain interpretation of scripture, I assume that you are referring to a literal reading of scripture. In many portions of the Word, I would agree with you.  Some passages give me pause though.
      • When Acts 2 speaks of tongues of fire, would you understand it to be literal fire?
      • I am sure you do not consider the Messiah to be a door, or a sheep, or a light
      • I think the apostles and prophets spoke to their audience in a manner that would communicate clearly to them, in their culture, language, social structure and religion. It is our labor to try to decipher their message from that environment, and not to read the Word as if it has been written for 21st century American believers.  That just seems a bit provincial.
    • Normal
      • I looked up normal for a definition and found
        • conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural
      • I would appreciate a little clarification on what you mean when you say normal. It’s almost as if the other terms in this description is defining your “normal” reading of Scripture
    • Grammatical
      • Definition for grammatical
        • Of or relating to grammar, Conforming to the rules of grammar:
      • I assume you are describing your method of Bible interpretation/understanding as being different than my efforts. I tend to analyze a passage through word studies, the flow of the sentence structure and the context of the sentence/verse/paragraph I am studying.  I think I am on the same page as you on this.
    • Historical
      • I believe the historical context of the passage when spoken/written is critical to understanding the message. As an example, when Jesus spoke of thine eye being evil, I used to think He was referring to a wickedness of some sort.

Matt 6:23

but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

What does it mean “if your eye is bad”?  Could it refer to a murderous intent, wicked thoughts or evil schemes?  I never really understood this verse until I checked the historical background in Deuteronomy 15:9

Deuteronomy 15:9

Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the LORD against you, and you be guilty of sin.

Deuteronomy refers to “…your eye look grudgingly”.  The most common translation of this hebrew word is “evil”.  

When I read Matthew 6:23, I assumed I understood the phrase “if your eye is bad”.  But when I studied the historical background of the phrase, and how it relates to the audience Jesus was immediately addressing, the application for my life becomes so much clearer.  So I would heartily agree that the historical interpretation of any passage is critical

  • Plenary
    • If by plenary, you mean that the canon of Scripture is complete (plenary = full), I would also agree.

If we don’t believe the scripture itself when read, how can we expound upon deeper truth?

I think we need to understand the Scripture (as much as possible) in order to believe it.  I consider belief/faith an action word Gal 5:6 – For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

and not mental consent, and therefore the day to day decisions I make, exercising my faith/belief has to come from an understanding of the message God has provided.

If Christ went to the grave and that’s it. We are still dead in trespasses and sins.

I do not recall saying that Christ went simply to the grave.  If I did, I spoke wrongly.  What I was considering in the blog post was whether the Messiah went to hell, ie the place of torment.  The few NT passages that seem to speak of the Messiah going to hell are not convincing to me in my study.

What is the point as Paul said in 1 Cor 15? The early church got it right historically as I told you Saturday. I stand with them even though the “Soli Scripta” Scripture alone speaks for itself.

Sola Scriptura is what I am trying to do as I study.  I seek to find how the Scripture interprets itself, and in the blog, I made mention of a few Old Testament passages that may supply hints as to what the apostles were pointing to.

An example was the “lowest parts of the earth” phrase that Paul used in Ephesians.   The OT supplied three possibilities for understanding what Paul meant when he wrote “the lower parts of the earth”

Regarding the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15) I feel you still consider my thoughts to be of denial of the resurrection.  I am not sure where you get that from, but let me assure you that I believe in the bodily resurrection more now than when I first believed.

What is the point of judgment if you are going to be forgiven anyways?

Judgement (krino and its compunds – anakrino, diakrino ) have many shades of meaning, from simply to “discern” all the way to “condemn.”  To judge (krites and its compounds – dikastēs, kritērion) defines the one judging.

You surely will agree that at the believer’s judgement, condemnation is not considered.  Also, we who have been forgiven, will be judged.

New Testament (Greek) for “judge”
G350ἀνακρίνωanakrinōexamine, judge, ask question, search, discern
G1252διακρίνωdiakrinōdoubt, judge, discern, contend, waver, misc
G1348δικαστήςdikastēsjudge
G2919κρίνωkrinōjudge, determine, condemn, go to law, call in question, esteem, misc
G2922κριτήριονkritērionto judge, judgment, judgment seat
G2923κριτήςkritēsjudge, Judge

New Testament (Greek) for “condemn”

G176

ἀκατάγνωστος

akatagnōstos

cannot be condemned

G178

ἀκατάκριτος

akatakritos

uncondemned

G843

αὐτοκατάκριτος

autokatakritos

condemned

G2607

καταγινώσκω

kataginōskō

condemn, blame

G2613

καταδικάζω

katadikazō

condemn

G2631

κατάκριμα

katakrima

condemnation

G2632

κατακρίνω

katakrinō

condemn, damn

G2633

κατάκρισις

katakrisis

condemnation, condemn

G2917

κρίμα

krima

judgment, damnation, condemnation, be condemned, go to law, avenge

G2919

κρίνω

krinō

judge, determine, condemn, go to law, call in question, esteem, misc

G2920

κρίσις

krisis

judgment, damnation, accusation, condemnation

G5272

ὑπόκρισις

hypokrisis

hypocrisy, dissimulation, condemnation

G6048

καταδίκη

katadikē

sentence of condemnation

Judgement has an implication of separation, or even of making a determination between right and wrong.  Katakrino is the term that strictly refers to condemnation, and at that, I am not sure if there is a time element associated with it.  By that I mean, the word itself simply means condemn, not necessarily condemn forever.  The context may supply that information, but I do not see where the word itself carried a time element.

KatakrinoAs a matter of fact, it looks like men do a lot of the condemning (ie the men of Ninevah, the Queen of the South, even ourselves (Rom 2:1, 14:23)).  Other occurrences in the New Testament speak of the Messiah receiving condemnation.  One time the Messiah spoke on condemning, but that He would not condemn the sinner.  He is something else, eh? (John 8:10-11)

The list may be found at the end of this post (if of interest).

(As I am studying this concept of judgment, I have found a much larger body of data in the New Testament than first reviewed.  In the interest of brevity, I will leave the above mini-study as is, know that it is incomplete, and I will return to it.)

So When Jesus said it was better for Judas not to have been born, (Matthew 26:24, Mark 14:21) woe doesn’t have any significance if there is no consequences for betraying the Son of the living God.?

I am going to assume the consequence you are referring to above is Eternal Conscious Torment (ECT)

Matthew 26:24

The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

Mark 14:21

For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

I understand your point, but note that the Messiah said “it would have been better” for Judas to not exist than to be born, not “Judas will burn in hell forever”

“Better” is a comparative term.  If I said “I am better than Joe” this doesn’t mean I am equal to the great apostle Paul.  Better simply compares to conditions, but it does not supply the extent of the difference between the two things being compared.  In other words, Judas destiny was defined as being less than the condition of existing (ie being born). A negative condition.

So, if the Scriptures teaches ECT, Jesus may have been hinting at Judas’ destiny.  (A negative condition!)

If He meant something else, (like living and dying under the guilt of condemning a just man), that is also possible. (Also a negative condition!)

Both of these destinies (I am sure there are additional destinies that may be possible for Judas) for Judas would surely fit the description Jesus provides of  “not existing”

At this point in my studies, to demand ECT is taught in this passage would be considered eisegesis.  The verse does not clearly inform us of Judas destiny, other than being a negative condition.

Or blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?

One verse in the New Testament speaks of blasphemy against the Spirit

Matthew 12:31

Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.

There are multiple ways to understand this passage.  I will address this passage in a future post as a separate topic.

Or the woes of Matthew 23.

Greater condemnation, v.33-how will they escape the condemnation of Hell?

I guess you don’t believe what Jesus said in v.35 either?

No purgatory in Scripture.

No escaping the judgment of God having received the knowledge of the truth( Hebrews 10:26-31).

If you believe otherwise with all due respect I pity you.


I appreciated this brothers challenge to my thinking, and wish him the best.  Since our discussion, he has found something in me that is unacceptable to associate with.  I have reached out to him a number of times, but he is a busy family man and was not available.  I hope that in the near future, I will have the opportunity to find peace in our relationship.

If you have comments or I have missed an imprtant concept, ignored a Bible passage or represented a teaching incorrectly, let me know.  Look down a few inches and you will find a convenient contact form for you to use! 

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Passages containing the greek word “Katakrino”

Matt 12:41The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn G2632 it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
Matt 12:42The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn G2632 it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.
Matt 20:18Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn G2632 him to death,
Matt 27:3Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, G2632 repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
Mark 10:33Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn G2632 him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles:
Mark 14:64Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned G2632 him to be guilty of death.
Mark 16:16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. G2632
Luke 11:31The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn G2632 them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.
Luke 11:32The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn G2632 it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
John 8:10When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath G2632 no man condemned G2632 thee?
John 8:11She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do G2632I condemn G2632 thee: go, and sin no more.
Rom 2:1Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest G2632 thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
Rom 8:3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned G2632 sin in the flesh:
Rom 8:34Who is he that condemneth? G2632 It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Rom 14:23And he that doubteth is damned G2632 if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
1Cor 11:32But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should G2632 not be condemned G2632 with the world.
Heb 11:7By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned G2632 the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
James 5:9Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: G2632 behold, the judge standeth before the door.
2Peter 2:6And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned G2632 them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;

 

Sun Moon & Stars – Matthew 24:29

A brother asked me about Matthew 24, you know, about the sun, moon and stars falling from heaven.

The passage goes like this…

Matthew 24:29

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

meteor showerWell, I told him what I thought and he seemed to consider my answer with some suspicion, almost as if I had my head on backwards. Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate the challenge, if only for my own learning and research. So off we go to the Word to consider passages that use the same terminology. Scripture interprets Scripture and we have to remember that the Master came to earth to fill the three offices of Prophet, Priest and King. As the preeminent Prophet, He was anchored in Old Testament thought and speech, communicating to an audience steeped in the Sacred Writings.

With that said, I have done a quick search for the three words “sun”, “moon”, and “stars” in the Old Testament, hoping to find a clue to base my understanding of the Lord’s message.

The full passages, from the Old Testament prophets, are found in the end notes of this post since they are somewhat lengthy, and I want to get to the meat of the matter.

The verses I found are

  • Isaiah 13:10

  • Ezekiel 32:7

  • Joel 2: 10

  • Joel 3:15

As an aside, as a young Christian, I believed that the New Testament was the “be all and end all” of everything I needed to be concerned about. The Old Testament was important, but we have more important information in the New Testament. I think that is like saying the roof of a house is more important than the walls of a house. How can I say that? Without the Old Testament, the New Testament would be completely hollowed out.

Consider

If all the Old Testament quotations and allusions were obliterated from the New Testament, the books would have no coherent message. Some single verses in Matthew 24, for example, refer to THREE Old Testament passages. Three passages crammed into one verse!!!*

Without the Old Testament, the Jewish nation (if you could argue that a Jewish nation would exist?) would have no history, culture or religious life that the Messiah could communicate within. The Old Testament set the context of the Master’s teaching and prophecies.

So with all that said, lets look at each of these passages.

stars_falling_from_the_skyFirst off, as a younger believer, (hey – I’m still young Jerry!) when I saw these type of Old Testament verses, I would consider them to all be referring to one event, and that event was the same event that Jesus prophesied of – the end of the world. I really didn’t consider the context of the passages because it just seemed so obvious. Maybe I was wrong. (Hint – Yup, I was wrong!)

Passage #1 Isaiah 13:10

Isaiah 13:10

For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.

Lets see if Isaiah is directing this to anyone specific.

Isaiah 13

1 The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see.

Chapter 13 is the beginning of a section in Isaiah directed to the nations. The first nation to be dealt with is the nation of Babylon.

But how is the Lord going to bring about this judgement?

Isaiah 13

4 The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the LORD of hosts mustereth the host of the battle.

The Lord musters the kingdoms of the nations. He even names them for us! Interesting side note that the Lord defines the force He is mustering as multiple nations. This is precisely what occurred when the nations of the Medes and the Persians, joined together to defeat Babylon. (The Medes became the dominant people group within this cooperative effort.)

Isaiah 13

17 Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.

The Medes and the Persians are the nations that the Lord used to obliterate the Babylonian empire, in one night!

So, in the midst of a passage where the Lord is speaking to a specific nation (Babylon) about other nation(s) (the Medes and Persians), He refers to the sun, moon and stars being darkened.

What gives?

Option 1 – Literal Darkening of the Sun Moon and Stars

During the siege, the smoke would be so heavy that all light would be obliterated from sight. Considering the poetic nature of so much of the Old Testament, this option doesn’t hold much weight in my mind. Especially since the takeover of Babylon was so dramatic and quick. In one night the nation fell and the Babylonian governing authorities were eliminated.

Not much to see here folks – Lets move along!!

Option 2 – Literal Dissolution of the Sun Moon and Stars

Obviously, the sun moon and stars were not darkened permanently or even temporarily. I have never found any record of the sun, moon, and stars being darkened during the siege of Babylon.

The stars did not literally cease to exist. I am thankful for the sun hanging around. I just can’t imagine being cold all the time! I left Canada for the warmth of Texas. I love da sun!

Option 3 – Symbolic Representation of Authorities

Story time!

A long time ago in a world far far away, before the Jewish nation was formed, a young boy had a dream. In this dream he referred to the sun moon and stars.

Genesis 37

9 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.

10 And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?

When Israel (Jacob) heard this dream, he was shocked. As head of the family, Jacob was the authority over the entire clan. It was obvious that Joseph was stating that he would be the authority in the future. Jacob bowing to his Son? What arrogance! What pride! What accuracy!!

This dream greatly influenced the Jewish nation and the prophets took this phrase (sun moon and stars) and used it to describe earthly authorities of their time.

If so, and since Jesus was the greatest prophet ever, he may have been leaning on these passages when He spoke of the sun moon and stars being darkened in Matthew 24. (Hint – Isaiah 13 is accepted by most scholars as the passage Jesus was referring to in Matthew 24:29)

With that, I will leave you with the remaining 3 passages. (I’m not gonna do all the work for you!)

Check it out (and consider!) to see if there is consistency in the interpretation I am suggesting.


*An example of three Old Testament verses referred to in one New Testament verse can be found in Matthew 24:15. That verse alludes to Daniel 8:13, Daniel 11:31 and Daniel 12:11.

By the way, this isn’t all that rare in the New Testament! Don’t even get me thinking about Revelation – That is nuts!!!


Full Passages

Isaiah 13

1 The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see.

2 Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them, shake the hand, that they may go into the gates of the nobles.

3 I have commanded my sanctified ones, I have also called my mighty ones for mine anger, even them that rejoice in my highness.

4 The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the LORD of hosts mustereth the host of the battle.

5 They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the LORD, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land.

6 Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.

7 Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt:

8 And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames.

9 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.

10 For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.

11 And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.

12 I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.

13 Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.

14 And it shall be as the chased roe, and as a sheep that no man taketh up: they shall every man turn to his own people, and flee every one into his own land.

15 Every one that is found shall be thrust through; and every one that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword.

16 Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished.

17 Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.

18 Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children.

19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.

20 It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there.

21 But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there.

22 And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.

Ezekiel 32

1 And it came to pass in the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, in the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

2 Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt, and say unto him, Thou art like a young lion of the nations, and thou art as a whale in the seas: and thou camest forth with thy rivers, and troubledst the waters with thy feet, and fouledst their rivers.

3 Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will therefore spread out my net over thee with a company of many people; and they shall bring thee up in my net.

4 Then will I leave thee upon the land, I will cast thee forth upon the open field, and will cause all the fowls of the heaven to remain upon thee, and I will fill the beasts of the whole earth with thee.

5 And I will lay thy flesh upon the mountains, and fill the valleys with thy height.

6 I will also water with thy blood the land wherein thou swimmest, even to the mountains; and the rivers shall be full of thee.

7 And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light.

8 All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord GOD.

9 I will also vex the hearts of many people, when I shall bring thy destruction among the nations, into the countries which thou hast not known.

10 Yea, I will make many people amazed at thee, and their kings shall be horribly afraid for thee, when I shall brandish my sword before them; and they shall tremble at every moment, every man for his own life, in the day of thy fall.

11 For thus saith the Lord GOD; The sword of the king of Babylon shall come upon thee.

12 By the swords of the mighty will I cause thy multitude to fall, the terrible of the nations, all of them: and they shall spoil the pomp of Egypt, and all the multitude thereof shall be destroyed.

13 I will destroy also all the beasts thereof from beside the great waters; neither shall the foot of man trouble them any more, nor the hoofs of beasts trouble them.

14 Then will I make their waters deep, and cause their rivers to run like oil, saith the Lord GOD.

15 When I shall make the land of Egypt desolate, and the country shall be destitute of that whereof it was full, when I shall smite all them that dwell therein, then shall they know that I am the LORD.

16 This is the lamentation wherewith they shall lament her: the daughters of the nations shall lament her: they shall lament for her, even for Egypt, and for all her multitude, saith the Lord GOD.

Joel 2

1 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;

2 A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.

3 A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.

4 The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run.

5 Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.

6 Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.

7 They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks:

8 Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded.

9 They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief.

10 The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:

11 And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?

12 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:

13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.

14 Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?

Joel 3

1 For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,

2 I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.

3 And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink.

4 Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? will ye render me a recompence? and if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head;

5 Because ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried into your temples my goodly pleasant things:

6 The children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border.

7 Behold, I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them, and will return your recompence upon your own head:

8 And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off: for the LORD hath spoken it.

9 Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up:

10 Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.

11 Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD.

12 Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.

13 Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.

14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

15 The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.

16 The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.

17 So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.

18 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.

19 Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.

20 But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.

21 For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the LORD dwelleth in Zion.


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Did Jesus go to Hell?

hell-awaits-fire-redDid Jesus go to Hell?

What type of question is that?

Three passages seem to tell me that, between the crucifixion and the resurrection, Jesus actually descended into hell.

The passages are as follows.

1 Peter 3:18-20

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

The popular teaching goes like this – the spirits are those of Noah’s generation that are in some type of prison at the time of Peter’s writing.  The assumption is that at the time of being put to death in the flesh, Jesus preached to these spirits in prison, before the resurrection. To the disobedient, He confirmed their condemnation and to the righteous He declared His victory, and their subsequent being led out of the prison they are in. (See Eph 4:8-10 below for verses that seem to teach this scenario.)

Another interpretation is that he – Noah, during the construction of the ark, by the Spirit, preached unto the disobedient, who are now spirits in prison.

This seems to make sense to me, since:

  • Whoever “He” is in verse 19, the power of the preaching was by the “Spirit”
  • Peter refers to Noah in the very next verse.
  • Peter is referring to a specific time frame – “while the ark was a preparing”
  • Noah is described as a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5) and the souls in prison are described as disobedient.

The passage in 1 Peter in not conclusive, to say the least

Lets go on to the next passage and see if it sheds any additional light on this subject.

Acts 2:25-28

For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:

Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:

Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

The passage of interest focuses on verse 27, where Peter quotes the 16th Psalm, declaring that the resurrection was prophesied.

A major assumption needs to be made if this verse is to teach that Jesus was in the traditional concept of hell. The term used in the Old Testament referring to this hell is Sheol, which by all accounts refers to the grave.

Even within this passage in Psalm 16 itself, with the use of Hebrew poetry (restating the same concept with different words) the psalmist describes what he means when he says “hell”. Hell seems to be synonymous, in this psalm, with corruption. It is commonly understood that Old Testament believers did not have a clear understanding of the afterlife, and Sheol simply meant the grave.

If this is true, then Peter is declaring the resurrection from the grave, not the resurrection from hell.

As an aside, a very interesting study, for those interested, is the number of times the apostles referred to hell in their preaching to the lost. It is true that Jesus preached on hell (gk term hades) very often, but why didn’t the apostles keep up the message? That particular topic is for another time!

Given the last two passages, and the possibility (probability) of alternative interpretations, is this teaching depending on assumptions instead of Bible teaching for support?

The last passage that seems to support the teaching that Jesus visited hell is the following.

Ephesians 4:8-10

Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.  

(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?

He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

captivity captiveWhen Paul mentions that He descended into the lower parts of the earth, is it a safe assumption that he meant hell?  I taught that for decades and assumed it was without fault.  After all, what else could he mean?

I have a greater appreciation for the Word, now that I have finally understood that Paul, along with the rest of the New Testament authors, were preaching the risen Christ from the Old Testament. When a passage like Ephesians 4:9 is compared with the Old Testament, and found to shed light on a weak assumption, I will gladly confess my error.

Consider what I found after a simple search.

Psa 63:6-11

When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.
But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes.
But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.

This passage uses the very same phrase Paul uses, and seems to describe Sheol within the context. Simply defining the grave. Nothing to see here folks – lets move along!.

Isa 44:21 – 25

Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me.
I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.
Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.
Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that preadeth
abroad the earth by myself;
That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish;

Realizing Isaiah is using Hebrew poetry, the “lower parts of the earth” are coupled with “ye heavens”. The very next verse, Isaiah 44:24, is coupling heaven and earth, and seem to be defining the “lower parts of the earth” as simply “the earth”

At the very least, it would not prove that “the lower parts” are necessarily hell.

One other passage that I find amazing is the following.

Psa 139:12 – 16

Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

lowest parts of the earthBased on the passage in Psalm 139:15, the lowest parts of the earth, are referring to the womb. This is an incredible passage in light of Ephesians.

Granted, it is not the exact phrase that Paul used in Ephesians 4:9, but it shows the difference between my independent interpretation (lower parts of the earth = hell), compared with Scripture interpreting Scripture.

In view of the previous three Old Testament verses, Ephesians 4:9 could be referring to

  • “the grave” (Psa 63:9) – This interpretation seems to have some strength based on the passage in Acts.
  • “the earth” (Isa 44:23) – This interpretation would coincide with the incarnation of the Messiah.
  • “the womb” (Psalm 139:15) – This interpretation would also coincide with the incarnation of the Messiah.

I have also understood that Paul may be referring to the class of people Jesus came to be among, that is, the lower class. This is a possibility and a teaching that Paul has brought up in his writings before.

With all of this being said, I find there to be very little Biblical support for the popular teaching that Jesus visited our traditional concept of hell, ie. a holding place of suffering for the lost.

What think ye?

 

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Christian Accountability – WATCH & ACCOUNT

What is Christian Accountability and is a Christian influence-or-accountableAccountable to Church Leadership?

This post will address the last two words in our word matrix.

WATCH & ACCOUNT

These words supply two characteristics of the man who persuades and leads the christian are revealed in this passage.

Lets review the passage and then discuss.

Hebrew 13

7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.
8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.
10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.
11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.
12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.
13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

I have emboldened the verse under consideration. The following posts will address Hebrews 13:17, and a considered review of critical words the apostle uses in exhorting the believers he is writing to.

Following is a matrix of words that need to be considered in understanding the teaching of Hebrews 13, especially verse 17. (See end of study for Strong’s full definitions.)

This next study will incorporate the last two words under consideration, due to both of them describing the christian leader being referred to in this verse

Hebrews 13:17

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Watching

As you can see from the context, the first characteristic of the christian leader is that he is “watching”.  It is very interesting to me that this term has everything to do with being awake, alert, attentive. Attentive to “your” souls.

Is the “your” plural, that is, is the writer stating that the minister is concerned over the body of believers as a congregation, or is it more personal than that.  Could it be that the writer is referring to individuals?

Am I too jaded when I question the watching of men over my soul when they do not even know my name?

How many times have I put myself under a man who has never known what the condition of my soul is, where I am at in my christian journey, whether I understand the gospel, whether I am in sin…..

I do know that there have been times when I was sure the minister was watching over my wallet!

In the future, I would like to address the general topic of a ministers relationship to support, but at this time, suffice it to say, I believe the Word does not give authority of one man over another in the delegation of that man’s gifts or talents.

What is my point?

This verse is describing a man who is giving of himself for the purpose of others.  If taken literally, and I assume that it would play out this way, the godly christian minister would actually lose sleep over the condition of those he ministers to.  This type of minister would be one I would gladly give deference to, and seek to be easily persuaded by faithful Bible teaching.

Account

The minister in this text is one who will give account of the believers he has ministered amongst to the Lord, at least in the last day.  (Could it be that this minister is giving account of those he ministers to during his times with the Lord on a daily basis?)

It is funny to think that many in the church today advocate an accountability to each other to ensure faithfulness to God.  This passage, (and the rest of scripture, I believe) does not advocate any type of primary horizontal accountability.  Of course we are responsible to love and care for one-another.  This is not accountability.

My accountability is to the One who owns me.  My Father, not my brothers.  Love the brotherhood, Fear God.

In His ministry, did not Jesus persuade the populace, even seeking to make those interested more curious by telling dark sayings and parables?  He taught those who wanted to be taught, and lead a life that no man has ever led.  He is One who we should gladly hear and obey.  He is watching for our souls, and if you have a minister that exhibits these qualities in your life (professional or not) be thankful to the Master for him.

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