Local Church Membership Q&A – 18

Church on a hill

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

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


Time for Questions

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

One question will be offered for comment in the following posts

Consider and respond, or again, if you want to discuss just let me know.

Does Local Church Membership facilitate church discipline effectively?

This might be the most convincing argument for local church membership, if the church is modeled after an organizational structure, but the church is modeled after a family, so this argument is only effective if the premise of organizational church life is considered to be the norm.

Since this is not what the New Testament models the church after, we have to reconsider our thinking.

An example is always helpful for me.

As I have sought to be involved in local churches, being members for many many years, I have seen many families leave the fellowship and move onto other churches.  Not so often, I have seen individuals leave on bad terms, (whether under formal discipline or not, I don’t know, even though the Lord says the final step in discipline is to bring the offender before the whole church)  These disciplined folk usually end up in either another local fellowship, or end up wandering aimlessly.  In my opinion, it seems that the discipline did not have it’s intended effect, that is, the restoration of the believer to the church.

What is the answer?

Make the offender miss the group – that is, reach into the offenders life (prior to any offense) and invest time and effort so that the offender will miss the group.  Having a name taken off a list is not that effective!

Most, if not all offenders would admit that the reason they may have considered coming back to the original fellowship is because they missed the people, not the fact that their name was off a list.

So I have to ask you – What is the purpose of the list in relation to the act of discipline?

Matthew 16:18

 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.


Our next post will address a final question concerning the teaching of local church membership.  I do hope you will join me in my discussion with Cody, and supply comment or correction from the Word for our mutual edification.

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

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Conditional Security – 2 Corinthians 11:2-4

Conditional Security - if-150x150 - Red with Splash

2 Corinthians 11:2-4

2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.

3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.

Security

vacuum
Not this type of vacuum – Oh never mind….

You know it has been a few years now since it “clicked” that the New Testament didn’t arise out of a vacuum.

The New Testament is the flower that grew out of the Old Testament, and as such, is supported by the law and the prophets.

With this “revelation” I have finally took time to notice when the New Testament authors use the Old Testament writings.

Such is the case in 2 Corinthians 11:2-4, where Paul the apostle uses an Old Testament passage about Adam and Eve to warn the believers of the dangers inherent in listening to a false teacher.

What does this have to do with Security?

First off, lets consider the goal of Paul’s warning.  He is seeking to strengthen the believers thoughts of sincerity about the Christ. Could Paul have been worried (fearful) of the slippery slope of these believers falling away from the Master?

Singleness of mind towards the Lord is the topic here, and the context supports this. Within the very verses we are looking at, Paul introduces other spirit’s, other gospels, other Jesus’s and other teachers.

These teachers were introducing alternatives to the people of God, alternatives that competed with the truth. We must remember that security is based on truth, not on how we feel about something or what we want the truth to be.  True security is independent of our feelings.  But our feelings and fears sometimes desire to be placated, which makes us susceptible to those who are willing give us teaching simply to make us feel better.

Eve and the snake

This is exactly what happened in the Garden with Eve, which makes Paul’s reference to the deception so applicable. The alternatives that were being introduced to the Corinthians were such that they could not exist in harmony with the truth.

So where does a believer find security?

The people of God had to make decisions between two different types of messages, and the text is stating that they were “open-minded” enough to allow these teachers to guide them.

Accepting alternatives to the truth, as believers, was of great concern to Paul. Why did he use the Garden of Eden as a picture of what was going on?

Could he have implied the same results? You see – accepting the alternative message condemned Eve.  Although she continued to exist, her security vanished the moment she sinned.

jesus-christ-on-the-cross

For those who seek to defend the “Once Saved Always Saved” teaching, it may have been better if Paul used a different Old Testament example!

Security can only be found in a Person, and the faithfulness of that Person creates the security.  Will we listen to Him above all others, and in the process, find the security we so desperately want?


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Local Church Membership Q&A – 17

Church on a hill

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

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


Time for Questions

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

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

Does Local Church Membership assist in performing the work of the Body?

In one discussion with a brother, (he calls himself a pastor – I tell you this so you may understand the dilemma my question poses -) I asked the following question.

Would you rather have a faithful believer that is not a formal member of your church, or a formal member that is not necessarily faithful?

I don’t remember him answering.

Since I cannot find any place in the Scriptures that clearly demands this practice, the Body of Christ must be able to perform all of it’s duties without the imposition of this practice. Not only does the New Testament teach this, Christian history affirms the same.

The imposition of a formal church membership is associated more often than not with religious organizations that persecute believers.  Thankfully as believers in the west, we do not live in this condition today!

In the passages that specifically describe the working of the Body of Christ, (universally or locally), local church membership teaching or instruction is painfully absent.

It seems the Lord will build His church.

Matthew 16:18

18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.


Our next post will address another question concerning the teaching of local church membership.  I do hope you will join me in my discussion with Cody, and supply comment or correction from the Word for our mutual edification.

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

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Conditional Security – 2 Chronicles 15:1-2

Conditional Security - if-150x150 - Red with Splash

2 Chronicles 15:1-2

1 The Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded,

2 and he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The LORD is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.

Asa the king was a good king.

He understood where his security lay.

The history of the following passage is the battle between the children of Israel (specifically the tribes of Judah and Benjamin) and Zerah the Ethiopian.  Turns out that Asa had an army of 580,000 men, while Zerah had close to double the men, coming in at one thousand thousand men (1,000,000 men), with 300 chariots! In the midst of this threat, Asa sought out God and God gave a tremendous victory!

After the victory and the mop up operations, that brought in much booty for the children of Israel, the prophet Azariah comes out to meet the king and his troops.  His message to Asa is found in 2 Chronicles 15:1-2

Asa was informed of his conditional security in the following three phrases.

  • The Lord is with you while ye be with Him – Security!
  • If ye seek Him, He will be found of you – Security!
  • If ye forsake Him, He will forsake you. – Not so much!

Seems simple enough.  Not much to debate on this passage, or so it seems.

Of course, the direct application of security is for the king and the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, during their lives, but this promise given is instructive for us to consider.

The children of Israel could claim a status before the Lord that no other nation could lay hold of.  They had incredible promises and privileges.

Rom 9:4

4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.

5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

And with all these privileges, the children of Israel, as the Old Testament Theocracy, is no more. Brought to extinction close to 2000 years ago, the children of Israel had the kingdom taken from them…

Matt 21:43

43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.

I suppose the loss of the Kingdom itself speaks of the conditional security before the Lord and Master of the Covenant.  Continual rebellion (see an earlier post on Leviticus 26) brought about many, many efforts by the Lord to bring them back to the faith, with the final judgment falling upon the nation that showed their hatred of God by the crucifixion of His Son.

Conditional security of the believer is pictured often in the history of the nation of Israel. I think of Romans 15:4 and 1 Corinthians 10:11 when reading the Old Testament and the history of the nation as a warning for myself.  So often I can place myself in the shoes of the men in the stories I read.

Rom 15:4

4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

1 Corinthians 10:11

11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.

And yet I have hope.  In the midst of rebellion, I can choose to cling to the One who rescues, Who is the Deliverer.

But I digress…

A Good King, with Good Fruit, Reminded of his Conditional Security

king ASAAs a recap, let’s remember that Asa, as a good king, had called out to the Lord at a time of need, had experienced God’s security (a great deliverance), and, as the following passages teaches, was following God’s leading.

1 Kings 15:11,13-14

11 And Asa did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as David his father had done. …

13 He also removed Maacah his mother from being queen mother because she had made an abominable image for Asherah. And Asa cut down her image and burned it at the brook Kidron.

14 But the high places were not taken away. Nevertheless, the heart of Asa was wholly true to the LORD all his days.

Even the book of Chronicles gives high marks to King Asa, and the author of the Chronicles seems to be reluctant to give praise in comparison to the author of the book of Kings.  (Check it out.)  It seems the book of Kings generally grades in the political arena, where Chronicles grades in the religious area of a king’s life.

2 Chronicles 14:2-7

2 And Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God.

3 He took away the foreign altars and the high places and broke down the pillars and cut down the Asherim

4 and commanded Judah to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, and to keep the law and the commandment.

5 He also took out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the incense altars. And the kingdom had rest under him.

6 He built fortified cities in Judah, for the land had rest. He had no war in those years, for the LORD gave him peace.

7 And he said to Judah, “Let us build these cities and surround them with walls and towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours, because we have sought the LORD our God. We have sought him, and he has given us peace on every side.” So they built and prospered.

So Asa had a great victory after calling on the Lord, had a great track record up till this point in his life, and then, it seems out of the blue, comes along the prophet Azariah, to give the assurance of God’s presence. That is IF Asa sought Him and did not forsake Him.

Fruit of the Conditional Security Teaching

Is it not usually claimed that the conditional security teaching is a teaching of fear and threats? It seems the opposite is happening here, where a godly man is reminded that he is with the Lord and that he needs to continue to seek Him out.  And Asa’s track record bears witness that the message was fruitful.

It is important to understand that a teachings veracity is not to be based on its fruitfulness but on its truthfulness.  Nevertheless, a true message, delivered and understood correctly, will produce fruit (eventually).

A true message understood correctly by a soft heart that seeks to follow the Master will respond with an admission of weakness and a desire to follow.

A true message understood correctly by a hardened heart will respond with argument, denial, blameshifting, name calling and such.

But brothers, we have not so learned Christ.


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Local Church Membership Q&A – 16

Church on a hill

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

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


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

Time for Questions

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

Does Local Church Membership foster an “us vs them” mentality?

By this I mean among believers.

How many times have you heard those under your care speak of other believers as “those over there” or “that other church on the corner”? I understand that we live in a fallen world, but creating or maintaining a system that fosters this attitude is counter-productive in my opinion.

Notice Paul’s method of teaching the Corinthian body, by using the practices of other groups of Christians to “shame them” into conformity with the rest of the Body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 11:16

16 If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.

How often does a local church seek to be different from the rest of the Body, and by that activity, miss out on many blessings. Of course, this should not apply in individual personal holiness, for we are all called to follow the Lord and not others, but the expression of that life in Christ should be to be at peace with others.


Our next post will address another question concerning the teaching of loacal church membership.  I do hope you will join me in my discussion with Cody, and supply comment or correction from the Word for our mutual edification.

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

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Conditional Security – Acts 14:21-23

Conditional Security - if-150x150 - Red with SplashContinue in the Faith

Acts 14:21-23

21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch,

22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

It was Paul’s first missionary trip so we can forgive him for not understanding all the missiology that modern Christians now know and practice.

He must have returned to the Lystrians, Iconiumians and Antiochians to help them understand their eternal security I suppose he hadn’t yet written the letters that clearly teach the eternal security doctrine.

ContinueYet his message was “Continue in the Faith”. But Paul, once saved, you automatically continue in the faith, right?

Something must be wrong – Paul is wasting time with believers since the entire world needed to hear the gospel.  Why didn’t he simply keep going into new territory to reach more and more of the lost?  If those who truly believe are eternally secure, Paul seemed to waste his time visiting and encouraging the saints to remain faithful.

It is great that as modern believers we have finally come to the knowledge and wisdom to efficiently evangelize! 

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Local Church Membership Q&A – 15

Church on a hill

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

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


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

Time for Questions

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

Does Local Church Membership follow after pragmatism or edification?  

By that, I would refer to the following.

1 Corinthians 10:23

23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.

If, for the sake of argument, the local church is “allowed” to have membership rolls, how is this beneficial to the average Christian?  Remember, permissible actions do not equate to be pleasing actions!

Membership could be seen as a method of allowing or restricting a believer from christian activities or “full fellowship”  This seems to be hurtful to the believer outside and create a sense of “arrival” for the one who is in “the club”.

It would seem that the benefit goes to those who might boast about the members. Although the principle topic is circumcision in Galations, could the attitude of Paul toward the judaizers be similar in regard to those who require local church membership from a believer?

Consider the following very loose paraphrase of Gal 6:12-13  (My apologies to Paul!)

Galations 6:12 – 13

As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be members; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.

For neither they themselves who are members keep the membership agreement they signed; but desire to have you sign up for membership, that they may glory in your potential attendance.


Our next post will address another question concerning the teaching of local church membership.  I do hope you will join me in my discussion with Cody, and supply comment or correction from the Word for our mutual edification.

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

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Local Church Membership Q&A – 14

Church on a hill

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

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


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

Time for Questions

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

Does Local Church Membership “have its privileges”?

Remember, as believers we are to take our marching orders from the Word, and not lean on the secular world (not even popular credit card commercials) for our wisdom.

I never considered asking my children if they wanted to join the family in order to fully enjoy all the privileges (and responsibilities) of the family. My wife and I just figured they were members of the family due to their birth into our family.

Is this wrong?

Am I missing something?


Our next post will address another question concerning the teaching of loacal church membership.  I do hope you will join me in my discussion with Cody, and supply comment or correction from the Word for our mutual edification.

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

.

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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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Local Church Membership Q&A – 13

Church on a hill

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

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


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

Time for Questions

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

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

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

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


Our next post will address another question concerning the teaching of local church membership.  I do hope you will join me in my discussion with Cody, and supply comment or correction from the Word for our mutual edification.

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

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Salaried Pastors? A discussion with a Pastor 1

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

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


Brother

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

Salary 2

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

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

Carl


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


Carl,

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

OLD TESTAMENT BASIS

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

Numbers 18:20-21

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

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

Hebrews 7:5

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

THE RIGHT OF SUPPORT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DOUBLE HONOR

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

5:17-19

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

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

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

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

I hope this helped.

Blessings,

Pastor X


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

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

Conditional Security - if-150x150 - Red with Splash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conditional Sentences

 

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

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

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

2 Timothy 2:11-14

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Faithless2 Timothy 2:13

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

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

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

An OSAS follower might argue…

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

Those other believers might argue…

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

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

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

God is FaithfulHe is faithful.

How ’bout us?

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


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

Conditional Security - if-150x150 - Red with Splash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conditional Sentences

 

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

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

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

2 Timothy 2:11-14

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

deny word on concrette wall2 Timothy 2:12 b

If we deny him, he also will deny us.

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

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

John 10:28- 29

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Timothy 1:15

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

2 Timothy 2:17-18

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

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

2 Timothy 3:8

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

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

2 Timothy 3:5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jeremiah 7 – The Temple of the Lord 4

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

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

Lets read the passage one more time.

Jeremiah 7:1-15

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider

Temple_Jerusalem 2

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

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

Place of Absolution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do not seek something that isn’t promised!

Let us not trust in lying words!



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