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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conditional Sentences

 

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

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

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

2 Timothy 2:11-14

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

endure2 Timothy 2:12 a

If we endure, we will also reign with him

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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Local Church Membership Q&A – 12

Church on a hill

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

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


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

Time for Questions

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

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

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


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

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

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Conditional Security – 2 Timothy 2:11-14 – Part 1

Conditional Security - if-150x150 - Red with Splash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conditional Sentences

 

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

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

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

2 Timothy 2:11-14

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Timothy 2:11

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

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

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

Romans 6:3-5

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

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

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

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

I am not so sure about this way of thinking!  

Galations 2:20

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will we enter and enjoy the goodness of the Lord?

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

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

Hope to see you there.


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Jeremiah 7 – The Temple of the Lord 3

Temple_Jerusalem

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

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

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

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

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

Lets read the passage one more time.

Jeremiah 7:1-15

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider

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

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

Temple_Jerusalem 2

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

DON’T TRUST LYING WORDS

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

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

They viewed the temple as:

A Place of Safety and Permanence

Consider Jeremiahs core message again

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

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

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

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

Conditional Security - if-150x150 - Red with Splash

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

If is a big word.

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

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

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



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Jeremiah 7 – The Temple of the Lord 2

Temple_Jerusalem

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

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

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

Jeremiah 7:1-15

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider

Leviticus 19 :18

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

Lev 19 :34

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

Deuteronomy 10 :18-19

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

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

Mic 6:8

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

Zechariah 7:8-10

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

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

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

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

Matt 23:23

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

Temple_Jerusalem 2

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

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

Judgement

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

Mercy

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

Faith

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

Consider

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Local Church Membership Q&A – 11

Church on a hill

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

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


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

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

Time for Questions

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

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

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

submit-to-authority-728x500

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

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

Consider …

1 Corinthians 8:12

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


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

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

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Conditional Security – 1 Peter 1:5-9

Conditional Security - if-150x150 - Red with Splash

It’s been a while since I have blogged on the topic of “Conditional Security”. Probably too long.

I admit, I struggle with the topic, and yearn for the days when I was convinced of the “Once Saved Always Saved” (OSAS) belief.

But I have considered what “those other believers” teach (as if there is such a group as “those other believers”!), and have found their argument to have some strength.

How do you handle other opinions and teachings within the church? Are they a threat? Do you automatically consider the source heretical?

Generally, when a believer teaches something your denomination avoids or condemns, do you assume your group is right, or do you test the teaching by studying the Word? Simply refusing it since you may not have been taught it seems shortsighted, and kinda arrogant.

I fell into that religious swamp for far too many years, and I thank God that He gave me the willingness to consider opposing teachings. I was in a religious ghetto, an echo chamber that was creating a spirit of deadness in me.

Don’t live in da ghetto brudder!

Consider some opposing view that good Christian men and women believe. Be challenged by it and do not avoid it. Search the Scripture to see if it be so.

Okay, enough of my rant. Back to conditional security.

This particular set of verses may seem to argue against conditional security, and if that be, that be good. We all need to be corrected by the Word, to be humble enough to admit that our knowledge base is tiny, somewhat full of hot air, and shot through with bias’s and wrong motivations.

If the Bible teaches something that we are to rely on, it needs to be clearly taught and without contradictions. The rest is potential fodder for destructive argument and distractive red herrings. But I digress (again).

Let’s consider the passage.

1 Peter 1:3-9
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you

5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,
7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,
9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

I suppose a point of strength for the OSAS folks in this verse is the reference to God’s power that is guarding us.

What a promise that the imperishable undefiled inheritance is being kept in heaven while we are being guarded.

Notice that “kept” and “guarded” seem to have the same thought. Let’s chase this idea a bit and consider any difference between these two words.

Kept

The word “kept” in 1 Peter 1:4 is sometimes translated as reserved.

Thayers Greek says this term is this verse refers to something “to be used some day for some purpose” The idea of something that is not being used right now, but is stored, kept, maintained and secured until it is needed.

Ok I think I get that idea.

Guarded

The word “guarded” in 1 Peter 1:5, per Thayers Greek is a term that refers to “watching and guarding to preserve one for the attainment of something (R. V. guarded unto etc.), passive.”

Interesting. Two things catch my eyes in that definition.

  • To preserve one for the attainment of something.
    • This definitely relates to salvation, future salvation, per the verse.
    • What is being preserved?
      • The believer
    • What is the intent of the preservation?
      • Future salvation.
  • Passive?
    • Why is the word passive included in this definition?
      • Does the word passive describe the activity of the participant in the sentence? Like, the guarding is being done to (or for) the believer, not by the believer.
        • This is a general call out to any NT Greek student – I am not schooled in Greek and am open to be corrected. Please let me know.

Let’s dig a bit more and consider Vines Dictionary.

Vines refers to “guarded,” in verse 5 stating it to define “that security that is his when he puts all his matters into the hand of God” (Italics mine)

OSAS 1

I think that is the issue that I missed (avoided?) as an OSAS fella!

If the verse had a period after “guarded”, the message would be completely different. We would be the passive recipients of God’s guarding. Who wouldn’t want that?

But Peter did’t stop there – he seems to have something else in mind. Something called faith, the faith of the believers he is talking to.

But isn’t the initial faith when we first believed sufficient? Peter mentions “through faith”. Note that the power of God is guarding us through faith.

Would Peter accept the notion that the guarding of God would continue if we renounced our faith?

Faith is a decision to believe the known character of God, to act on His promises. The believers in Peter’s letter were undergoing persecution and needed to exercise thier faith in the guarding power of God.

Peter wanted them to understand thier faith would be tested for genuineness, and that would result in praise to the Lord Jesus. Being tested requires an active faith in the Lord Jesus.
Praise God we are being guarded by the mighty hand of God, that His loving protection and guidance is available for believers through faith unto salvation.
Let’s not presume upon the grace of God, but continue to learn of His ways through the Word.


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Local Church Membership Q&A – 10

Church on a hill

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

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


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

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

Time for Questions

Does Local Church Membership actually create divisions among Christians?

If I were to join your church, would you restrict me from joining any other church?

How does this not create a condition of partiality?

James 2:4

4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

These distinctions are not described as unnecessary, illogical or evil in themselves, but simply “distinctions among themselves”

James 2:8-9

8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 
9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

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Even though James does not describe these distinctions as evil, he does describe the outcome of the actions as sin.

Although many time the Bible speaks of a particular teaching only once, it is not so with this concept.

James is echoed by Paul in Galations.

Galations 3:25

25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 
26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 
29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Galatians 6:10

10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Notice that Paul did not restrict the act of goodness to a particular household of faith.  There is no law against love.  I think Paul said something about that in this very book of Galations.

I let you look it up!


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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Local Church Membership Q&A – 9

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.

This is a continuation of a previous study on the definition of “Church” as found in the New Testament.


Many Churches, One Membership

We are not to be independent, different or detached from other believers.  Consider the famine that occurred in Jerusalem in the book of Acts. This suffering enabled all the churches of Asia to contribute to the needs in Jerusalem.  It wasn’t just the  Episcopal, Lutheran or Pentecostal churches that Paul received gifts from.  Every Church, or should I say the Universal Church came to the assistance of the famine stricken area.

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The Bible teaches a Universal Church with “membership granted” by faith in Christ.  The Bible also teaches of many local churches, both defined by the local area (eg. a province or a city) or a group of believers (ie in a home).

In none of the following passages describing this phenomenon, is there any evidence that it conflicts with the teaching of the universal singular church.  This is important to realize in order to keep a proper perspective on the Body of Christ. 

Churches defined by province

Galatians 1:2

2 and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia:

Churches defined by locality

1 Corinthians 1:2

2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

Churches defined by meeting place

Romans 16:5

5 Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia.

1 Corinthians 16:19

19 The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord.

Colossians 4:15

15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.

Philemon 1:2

2 and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:

The churches are local expressions of a united membership.  Remember, that when Paul heard of the those in the Corinthian church joining to a “man”, that was fighting words for him!


Our next post will begin 9 questions concerning local church membership.

I do hope you will join me 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 – 8

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.


Cody

Since we last chatted, I have been thinking about our discussions on the church membership teaching, and in reflection, I fear I have have probably come off as one who only tears something down, and we know that as believers, we need to encourage and exhort one another also.  With that in mind, I would like to offer a few positive comments in relation to church membership from the Word of God.  Again, if you have any time in the future you would like to discuss these issues, please let me know.

A few additional comments before I begin.

In no way am I suggesting abandoning the gathering of the saints in any act of worship or fellowship.  This is not the point of the past posts.  The point is that I can not find the added requirement of formal church membership in the Word, and that the concept seems to be actually condemned in the New Testament.

One of the strongest passages that alerted me to this teaching is found in 1 Corinthians 1.  Paul is condemning the seeds of denominationalism (what a long word!) and disunity, as believers learn to follow men’s opinions, or separate from other believers, boasting they follow Christ (only?)

1 Corinthians 1:10-12

10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 
11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 
12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”

At this point, I feel it would be beneficial to take a tour of the New Testament and review passages that actually define church.  It is important to understand that the Word defines the Church as One Church.

NEW TESTAMENT TEACHING OF ONE CHURCH

Rom 12:4-5

4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 
5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

submit-to-authority-728x5001 Corinthians 10:17

17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 
13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit

1 Corinthians 12:20

20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

1 Corinthians 12:25

25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

Ephesians 4:4

4 There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call–

Colossians 3:15

15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Time for QuestionsWould you agree that all who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ have already joined the Church?   And to join the church has one prerequisite, per Paul in Galations 3:26 (among many other verses)

Galatians 3:26

26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

Our next post will address additional definitions of the church as found in the New Testament.  I hope you will join me future posts and supply comment or correction from the Word for our mutual edification.  Thanks for visiting and I hope you found some truth that has edified your life today.


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 – 7

Church on a hill

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

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

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

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


6) To Glorify God

Matthew 5:13-16
13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 
15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

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Unless the light shining can be clearly defined as members of a local church, and the members are the only ones who can shine, I am not seeing the justification of this set of verses to defend the local church membership doctrine.

Believers are to let their light shine.  Believers in a church, believers who are members of a church, believers who are persecuted, believers that have no fellowship, believers who are all alone.  All believers are to let thier light so shine.  But show me where the verse teaches that in order for a believer to shine, they must become a member of a local church.

1 Peter 2:12

12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Again, this verse does not defend local church membership, but simply an injunction for all believers to act honorably among those who do not believe (Gentiles).

Titus 2:14

14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Where is the local church membership requirement here?

Might I suggest the following verse to justify local church membership?

Job 1:1

1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.

Job must have been a member of a local church, since he was blameless and upright – It’s right there in the verse – Can’t you see it?


In future posts, I will continue to address this topic, but from a different perspective. Having considered the defense Mr. Dever’s provided for local church membership, I will now provide additional deliberations from the New Testament that may shed additional light on the topic.

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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Universal Reconciliation & the Church Fathers

ThatallshallbesavedIn years past, I delved into the doctrine of hell and came across the teaching often referred to as Universal Reconciliation (UR).  As a tried and true Eternal Torment (ET) believer, I struggled with the initial concept of this teaching.

Emotionally, this is my baby, this is my hope against all hope, my desire and heart.  But my heart is a deceitful animal and my flesh often (always?) whispers sweet nothings in my ear.  I so want to believe this in my heart, but my head is screaming no.  My understanding of the Word, at this point, will not allow this to become a settled belief.

But if I am honest with myself, the doctrine has much more biblical support than I first assumed. (More support than ET?)  A recent post on this blog  “God – What is HE like?” gives a list of verses that UR proponents point to in order to justify this teaching.  It may be interesting to consider in light of the quotes supplied below.

I’ve read that a great many of the church fathers expressed their faith in this teaching, and the following are quotes from them.

The Church Fathers on Universal Reconciliation (UR)

The mass of men (Christians) say there is to be an end to punishment and to those who are punished.

St. Basil the Great

There are very many in our day, who though not denying the Holy Scriptures, do not believe in endless torments.

Augustine (354-430 A.D.)

For the wicked there are punishments, not perpetual, however, lest the immortality prepared for them should be a disadvantage, but they are to be purified for a brief period according to the amount of malice in their works. They shall therefore suffer punishment for a short space, but immortal blessedness having no end awaits them…the penalties to be inflicted for their many and grave sins are very far surpassed by the magnitude of the mercy to be showed to them.

Diodore of Tarsus, 320-394 A.D.

And God showed great kindness to man, in this, that He did not suffer him to continue being in sin forever; but as it were, by a kind of banishement, cast him out of paradise in order that, having punishment expiated within an appointed time, and having been disciplined, he should afterwards be recalled…just as a vessel, when one being fashioned it has some flaw, is remoulded or remade that it may become new and entire; so also it happens to man by death. For he is broken up by force, that in the resurrection he may be found whole; I mean spotless, righteous and immortal.

Theophilus of Antioch (168 A.D.)

Wherefore also he drove him out of paradise and removed him far from the tree of life, not because He envied him the tree of life, as some dare assert, but because He pitied him and desired that he should not be immortal and the evil interminable and irremediable.

Iraneaus of Lyons (182 A.D.)

These, if they will, may go Christ’s way, but if not let them go their way. In another place perhaps they shall be baptized with fire, that last baptism, which is not only painful, but enduring also; which eats up, as if it were hay, all defiled matter, and consumes all vanity and vice.

Gregory of Nazianzeu, Bishop of Constantinople. (330 to 390 A.D.) Oracles 39:19

The Word seems to me to lay down the doctrine of the perfect obliteration of wickedness, for if God shall be in all things that are, obviously wickedness shall not be in them. For it is necessary that at some time evil should be removed utterly and entirely from the realm of being.

St. Macrina the Blessed

In the end and consummation of the Universe all are to be restored into their original harmonious state, and we all shall be made one body and be united once more into a perfect man and the prayer of our Savior shall be fulfilled that all may be one.

St. Jerome, 331-420

For it is evident that God will in truth be all in all when there shall be no evil in existence, when every created being is at harmony with iteself and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; when every creature shall have been made one body.

Gregory of Nyssa, 335-390

The wicked who have committed evil the whole period of their lives shall be punished till they learn that, by continuing in sin, they only continue in misery. And when, by this means, they shall have been brought to fear God, and to regard Him with good will, they shall obtain the enjoyment of His grace.

Theodore of Mopsuestia, 350-428

We can set no limits to the agency of the Redeemer to redeem, to rescue, to discipline in his work, and so will he continue to operate after this life.

Clement of Alexandria

Do not suppose that the soul is punished for endless eons (apeirou aionas) in Tartarus. Very properly, the soul is not punished to gratify the revenge of the divinity, but for the sake of healing. But we say that the soul is punished for an aionion period (aionios) calling its life and its allotted period of punishment, its aeon.

Olnmpiodorus (AD 550)

Wherefore, that at the same time liberty of free-will should be left to nature and yet the evil be purged away, the wisdom of God discovered this plan; to suffer man to do what he would, that having tasted the evil which he desired, and learning by experience for what wretchedness he had bartered away the blessings he had, he might of his own will hasten back with desire to the first blessedness …either being purged in this life through prayer and discipline, or after his departure hence through the furnace of cleansing fire.

Gregory of Nyssa (332-398 A.D.)

That in the world to come, those who have done evil all their life long, will be made worthy of the sweetness of the Divine bounty. For never would Christ have said, “You will never get out until you hqave paid the last penny” unless it were possible for us to get cleansed when we paid the debt.

Peter Chrysologus, 435

I know that most persons understand by the story of Nineveh and its king, the ultimate forgiveness of the devil and all rational creatures.

St. Jerome

“In the end or consummation of things, all shall be restored to their original state, and be again united in one body. We cannot be ignorant that Christ’s blood benefited the angels and those who are in hell; though we know not the manner in which it produced such effects. The apostate angels shall become such as they were created; and man, who has been cast out of paradise, shall be restored thither again. And this shall be accomplished in such a way, that all shall be united together by mutual charity, so that the members will delight in each other, and rejoice in each other’s promotion. The apostate angels, and the prince of this world, though now ungovernable, plunging themselves into the depths of sin, shall, in the end, embrace the happy dominion of Christ and His saints.”

COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT – Jerome (347-420 A.D.)

Our Lord is the One who delivers man [all men], and who heals the inventor of evil himself.

Gregory of Nyssa (332-398 A.D.), leading theologian of the Eastern Church

While the devil thought to kill One [Christ], he is deprived of all those cast out of hades, and he [the devil] sitting by the gates, sees all fettered beings led forth by the courage of the Saviour.

Athanasius, the Great Father of Orthodoxy

Our Lord descends, and was shut up in the eternal bars, in order that He might set free all who had been shut up… The Lord descended to the place of punishment and torment, in which was the rich man, in order to liberate the prisoners.

Jerome

In the liberation of all no one remains a captive! At the time of the Lord’s passion the devil alone was injured by losing all the of the captives he was keeping.

Didymus, 370 AD

While the devil imagined that he got a hold of Christ, he really lost all of those he was keeping.

St. Chrysostom, 398 AD

Stronger than all the evils in the soul is the Word, and the healing power that dwells in him, and this healing He applies, according to the will of God, to everyman. The consummation of all things is the destruction of evil…to quote Zephaniah: “My determination to gather the nations, that I am assemble the kings, to pour upon them mine indignation, even say all my fierce anger, for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then will I turn to the people a pure language that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent”…Consider carefully the promise, that all shall call upon the Name of the Lord, and serve him with one consent.

Origen (185 to 254 A.D.) He founded a school at Caesarea, and is considered by historians to be one of the great theologians and exegete of the Eastern Church.

The nations are gathered to the Judgment, that on them may be poured out the wrath of the fury of the Lord, and this in pity and with a design to heal. in order that every one may return to the confession of the Lord, that in Jesus’ Name every knee may bow, and every tongue may confess that He is Lord. All God’s enemies shall perish, not that they cease to exist, but cease to be enemies.

Jerome (340 to 420 A.D), commenting on Zephaniah 3:8-10

Mankind, being reclaimed from their sins, are to be subjected to Christ in he fullness of the dispensation instituted for the salvation of all.

Didymus the Blind

So then, when the end has been restored to the beginning, and the termination of things compared with their commencement, that condition of things will be re-established in which rational nature was placed, when it had no need to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; so that when all feeling of wickedness has been removed, and the individual has been purified and cleansed, He who alone is the one good God becomes to him “all,” and that not in the case of a few individuals, or of a considerable number, but He Himself is “all in all.” And when death shall no longer anywhere exist, nor the sting of death, nor any evil at all, then verily God will be “all in all”

Origen, De Prinicipiis, 3.6.3. (Origen founded a school at Caesarea, and is considered by historians to be one of the great theologians and exegete of the Eastern Church.)

The Son “breaking in pieces” His enemies is for the sake of remolding them, as a potter his own work; as Jeremiah 18;6 says: i.e., to restore them once again to their former state.

Eusebius of Caesarea (65 to 340 A.D). Bishop of Caesarea

Our Savior has appointed two kinds of resurrection in the Apocalypse. ‘Blessed is he that hath part in the first resurrection,’ for such come to grace without the judgment. As for those who do not come to the first, but are reserved unto the second resurrection, these shall be disciplined until their appointed times, between the first and the second resurrection.

Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (340-397 A.D.)

We think, indeed, that the goodness of God, through His Christ, may recall all His creatures to one end, even His enemies being conquered and subdued…. for Christ must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet.

Origen (185 to 254 A.D.) He founded a school at Caesarea, and is considered by historians to be one of the great theologians and exegete of the Eastern Church.

For it is needful that evil should some day be wholly and absolutely removed out of the circle of being.

Gregory of Nyssa (332-398 A.D.), leading theologian of the Eastern Church

In the present life God is in all, for His nature is without limits, but he is not allin all. But in the coming life, when mortality is at an end and immortality granted, and sin has no longer any place, God will be all in all. For the Lord, who loves man, punishes medicinally, that He may check the course of impeity.

Theodoret the Blessed, 387-458

When death shall no longer exist, or the sting of death, nor any evil at all, then truly God will be all in all.

Origen

All men are Christ’s, some by knowing Him, the rest not yet. He is the Savior, not of some and the rest not. For how is He Savior and Lord, if not the Savior and Lord of all?

Clement of Alexandria

What think ye?  This is a list of fallible men’s thoughts and I by no means imply the list carries the weight of Scripture.

I suppose the quotes above bear the same weight as, I suppose, an elder or deacon you may know in your church, whom has lived for Christ and is worthy of listening to and comparing with Scripture.


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Local Church Membership Q&A – 6

Church on a hill

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

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

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

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


5) To Evangelize the World

Deuteronomy 4:5 – 7

5 See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 
6 Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 
7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?

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I assume the commandment to the children of Israel in verse 6 (Keep therefore and DO THEM) is the basis of church membership, but I fear there is no justification for this connection.

The children of Israel had no idea of the concept of church membership in the way it is understood in this culture.  Moses was defining the nation of Israel as a potentially great nation and the only connection I can find with the New Covenant would be where Peter defines the entire universal Church as a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9)

Applying this verse to a local body of believers may have some application (all scripture is profitable) but to connect to church membership seems to be a strain!

Matthew 5:13 – 16

13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 
15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

When the Lord says “Ye” in the first verse, is He defining the local church? (As far as I can tell, the disciples have yet to hear of Jesus mentioning the word “church”, little lone the modern concept of church membership!)

Is the local church the city on a hill?  How about the candle?  I tend to think Jesus is discussing something other than church membership!

Act 5:13 – 14

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,

See the response in earlier post.

1 Peter 2:12

12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Individual Christians are to have an honest lifestyle among the Gentiles. This is so true, and so relevant for today’s modern church.  Not for the application of church membership, but for the moral strength that the church/believer is to exercise daily in a corrupt and sinful society.

I’m just not seeing a direct relationship of local church membership with this verse.


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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Local Church Membership Q&A – 5

Church on a hill

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

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

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

In this post, I examine the claim that Local Church Membership, as understood in our modern world is required in order To Serve and Build Others Up.


4) To Serve and Build Others Up

Mark 10:42 – 45

42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 
43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 
44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 
45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Excellent set of verses defining the Christian life of serving one another.

My question to you is – How is it that church “membership” assists a Christian in this area of Christian serving?

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If a believer isn’t a member of a local church, is he hobbled from serving within the Body of Christ?  I am really confused at this point!  I have known of some churches that require a believer “signing on the dotted line” to give them the opportunity to teach or serve within the church, but I see that as an artificial restraint on the believer by an organization.

I once asked a pastor if he would rather have a faithful believer (but not a member) in his fellowship, or a name on the list that may not be available for service.  (I did not get a clear answer back!)

We are to serve one another.  Every opportunity should be afforded to the believer to serve the Body.

Any restriction to that service is simply a restriction.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 
5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 
6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 
7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 
8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 
9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 
10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 
11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

Considering that the gifts are given to “profit withal” and that this epistle was written to the Corinthians (the church in the city of Corinth) is it not possible that there were multiple groups of believers that met at different places and times of the week. (I realize this is not stated in the passages, but it definitely was the case in Rome and other cities. ) 

If so, the Word is defining the Spirits gift’s as that which is to profit all within the city, and may argue against the membership concept.

Heb 10:23 – 24

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,

A great passage to defend the daily need for encouragement and rebuke.

How is it that membership will accomplish this end?

Is there a Biblical commandment to church members to avoid encouraging and rebuking those who may not be members of their church?  I am becoming more and more confused.


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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The Lord’s Enemy

Don’t be the Lord’s Enemyenemy - red


Exodus 23:20-22

20 “Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. 
21 Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him 
22 “But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.

adversaryAs I was reading Exodus this morning I came across the verse above and it stopped me in my reading for a couple of reasons. God will be an enemy?

An Enemy Does Not Obey

Many times I have heard or thought to myself of how the Lord is on the side of a certain people group.  Take for instance in the Old Testament.  It was commonly thought (correctly at times) that the people of Israel had God on their side.  I suppose that is how it appears, (I hope I am not splitting hairs here) but it seems that is not exactly what is going on here.

The initial condition that has to be met is that the people “obey his voice”, “indeed obey his voice” and “do all that I speak”.

THEN

opponentThen God will be an enemy to thine enemies, an adversary to thine adversaries.  Note that obedience to the voice of the Lord brings the people into the will and desire of the LORD Himself.  The “enemy” here does not gain an adversary in God if the people obey Him.  God’s enemy does not change unless of course they change into His friends.  (The enemy of God is such, not because of God’s desire, but the enemies desire – God wants no enemies)  The people simply join God in having the same enemy.  Is our motivation in obeying God simply to earn a big brother to beat up an enemy who may have hurt our feelings or made us cry?

An Enemy is not Pardoned

What is tarnation is going on with verse 21?  “he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him” I don’t know about you but whenever I hear “my name is in him” I automatically think of a theophany.  Also the fact that the one referred to is “an angel”, I want to think it is a preincarnate appearance of the Lord Himself, especially when the angel’s prerogative to forgive sins comes up.  Usually the Old Testament mentions “the Angel of the Lord” as what is commonly accepted as a theophany – I don’t know.  If it is the Lord Himself or a representative (angel), the message is the same.

I fear that sometimes modern nations fall into a wrong-headed thinking.  They give lip service to God and call on Him to fight for their nation.  This gives me pause.  Why would God do this when His Nation (the body of Christ), is a holy nation of saints that is pulled from each nation on earth.

I suppose judgement must fall on nations who do evil, (and maybe that is the idea of verse 21?), but to think that God is pleased when innocents die in war, or enlisted men are killed simply due to an imaginary line in the sand, this is beyond my understanding.  I admit my past desire to see justice after 9/11, but looking back on those days, I feel my concept of God’s will for this planet was incorrect.

My Confusion

If someone can explain verse 21 to me, I sho nuff would appreciate it.  How could it be said that he (God or God’s messenger) would not pardon their transgressions, when many times the Old Testament clearly states that the Lord Himself is plenteous in mercy

Psalm 86:5

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.

Ps 86:15

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

Psalm 103:8

The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

Difficulties with the WORD

Like I said, this is difficult for me to understand.

But that is ok – as a matter of fact, that is great!  If I understood everything, if the mystery completely evaporated, how poor we would be as Christians?

So, if I may be so bold to exhort you, revel in the mysteries, do not be satisfied with some pablum that another man spoon feeds you.  Ask the Word questions, converse with the Living One and struggle with the text.

A Conclusion

So what is the conclusion?

  1. Obey what you know.
  2. Struggle to understand more.
  3. Be happy!

He is the LORD!


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

 

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