Tradition and the Calf Path

calf-path

One more time where I find a poem in my travels that teaches more than I expected.  I hope you enjoy.


by Sam Walter Foss

Tradition and the Calf Path

One day, through the primeval wood,
A calf walked home, as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail, as all calves do.

Since then three hundred years have fled,
And, I infer, the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.

The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way;
And then a wise bellwether sheep
Pursued the trail o’er vale and steep,
And drew the flock behind him, too,
As good bellwethers always do.

And from that day, o’er hill and glade,
Through those old woods a path was made,
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged and turned and bent about,
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because ’twas such a crooked path;
But still they followed — do not laugh —
The first migrations of that calf,
And through this winding wood-way stalked
Because he wobbled when he walked.

This forest path became a lane,
That bent, and turned, and turned again.
This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.

The years passed on in swiftness fleet.
The road became a village street,
And this, before men were aware,
A city’s crowded thoroughfare,
And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.

Each day a hundred thousand rout
Followed that zigzag calf about,
And o’er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.
A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They follow still his crooked way,
And lose one hundred years a day,
For thus such reverence is lent
To well-established precedent.

A moral lesson this might teach
Were I ordained and called to preach;
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf-paths of the mind,
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,
And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the path that others do.

They keep the path a sacred groove,
Along which all their lives they move;
But how the wise old wood-gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf!
Ah, many things this tale might teach —
But I am not ordained to preach.

The following is the core of the matter.

A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They follow still his crooked way,
And lose one hundred years a day,
For thus such reverence is lent
To well-established precedent.


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Our Modern Way of Meeting

I found this a few years ago, written by a guy named Rusty Entrekin. I think it catches some of the differences we experience in church life that the first century believer may be surprised by.

Our Modern Way Of Meeting

preacher

How is it then, brethren?

When ye come together, the pastor hath a doctrine, and the minister of music hath psalms.

Let all things be done unto worship.

If anyone besides the pastor hath a doctrine, let him not speak; let him hold his peace.

Let him sit in the pew, and face the back of the neck of the person which sitteth ahead of him.

Complete-church-midnight-mass

Let the people keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith church tradition.

But if they will learn anything, let them ask their pastor after the service, for it is a shame for a layman to speak in the church.

For the pastor, he hath a seminary degree, and the layman, he hath not so lofty a degree.

If any man desire to remain a church member in good standing, let him acknowledge that what I write to you is the command of the denominational headquarters.

But if any man ignore this, he shall be promptly escorted out the door by the ushers.

Wherefore brothers, covet not to speak in the church.

Let all things be done decently and in the order in which it hath been written in the church bulletin.


Hey – I created a poll for your opinions on this post.  Meet me over at “Our Modern Way of Meeting” Poll to let me know what you think.

 

Thanks, and hope to visit with you soon.


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A Literal Bible – Part 2

page-turning-bible-animation-21Does the Bible lend itself to a LITERAL reading?

Our last post on this topic dealt with the question

“Is all the Bible to be read literally?”

We discussed the literal definition of the word “literal” – Oh how boring…., and genres of literature that passages within the Bible fall into. (somewhat interesting….)

This post, I would like to focus on the question

Is the message intended to be taken literally?

This is the heart of the message I am trying to communicate!

The intended (or true) meaning may be clouded or completely in error if taken literally.
Sometimes the message isn’t completely clear and the author will correct the misunderstanding. The following passages are offered to try to explain this concept.

Lets see if some of the messages Jesus gave in the Gospel of John were meant to be taken literally.

  • A Literal Temple

When Jesus said “Destroy this Temple”, the religious leaders understood the literal temple. Might this have been a mistake?

John 2:18-21

18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?”
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?”
21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
  • A Literal Rebirth

When Nicodemus came to Jesus, Jesus told him he must be born again. Did Nicodemus take this literally?

John 3:3-9

3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”
  • A Literal Well

When Jesus told the woman at the well about living water, and she asked Jesus about a bucket and the depth of the well, was she taking Jesus’ words too literally?

John 4:9-11

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?
  • A Literal Lunch

When the disciples came back from the town, after Jesus discussion with the woman at the well, they were confused about what Jesus had eaten. Maybe the disciples understood Him too literally?

John 4:31-35

31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”
32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?”
34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.
35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.
  • His Literal Flesh

How about when Jesus taught that His flesh was to be eaten and His blood was to be drank. Should that be taken literally?

John 6:48-52

48 I am the bread of life.
49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.
50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

The Person of Christ

How about the “I am” statements in the Gospel? Shall literalness help us in our understanding of the person of Christ? Shall we consider the Messiah to be…

  • A Literal Light

John 8:12

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 9:5

5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

  • A Literal Door

John 10:7

7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.

  • A Literal (Path)way

John 14:6

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

  • A Literal Vine

John 15:1

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.

John 15: 5

5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Two final points come to mind at this time.

  • Many times throughout the gospels, those who took the sayings of Jesus too literally either
    • Were in a state of confusion, but eventually found clarity,

or

    • refused to consider anything other than the literal understanding.

Those who were confused but hungry and teachable eventually got the message. Those who refused to consider any other understanding seemed to be associated with His enemies.

  • Throughout the gospel, there are thousands of instances where depending on literalness causes confusion. And thousands of instances where it occurs in Johns other writings. Thousands! Even in Revelation. Thousands I tell you, thousands!

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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A Literal Bible – Part 1

page-turning-bible-animation-21

Does the Bible lend itself to a LITERAL reading?

Is all the Bible to be read literally?

First off, let me perfectly clear – I’m not saying we are not to read the Bible. Gosh golly nooooo. Read the Bible. Wrestle with it. Struggle with the Word. Argue with Him until it becomes clear. Honestly, if this post is competing for time that you could be reading the Bible, shut me down! Read the Bible instead. It will do your soul good.

Now that you have understood my stance on Bible reading, I suppose I am simply asking that when you read the Bible (remember you should read the Bible), are all portions of the Bible to be read in a strictly literal manner?

Literal Defn

Is it true that the best method of understanding the Scriptures is to interpret the message literally?

I suppose that depends.

First off, lets make sure we understand what the term “literal” means.

I checked the definition found on http://www.dictionary.com, and found the following information.

Literal
adjective

  • in accordance with, involving, or being the primary or strict meaning of the word or words; not figurative or metaphorical: the literal meaning of a word.
  • following the words of the original very closely and exactly: a literal translation of Goethe.
  • true to fact; not exaggerated; actual or factual: a literal description of conditions.
  • being actually such, without exaggeration or inaccuracy: the literal extermination of a city.
  • (of persons) tending to construe words in the strict sense or in an unimaginative way; matter-of-fact; prosaic.
  • of or pertaining to the letters of the alphabet.
  • of the nature of letters.
  • expressed by letters.
  • affecting a letter or letters: a literal error.

noun

  • a typographical error, especially involving a single letter.

Like I said, reading the Bible literally depends on a number of factors. Let’s consider some of those factors.

The Genre of the Passage

Types+of+writing+in+the+Bible

Different genres demand different approaches to interpretation. Types of genres include historical narrative, law, wisdom, psalms, prophecy, apocalyptic, gospel or epistle

In a historical narrative passage, such as the taking of the census before the birth of the Messiah, or the crucifixion of the Savior, literalness serves us well.

In an apocalyptic genre, such as in Revelation, where the writer describes scorpions with stinging tails, it would be wise to consider the genre before committing to a literal interpretation of the passage.

As an aside, it is not a literal interpretation to say that the apostle is describing fighter helicopters. That is an effort to interpret John’s vision by defining what he described as an object that is familiar to 20th century western culture. A literal interpretation will be that the scorpions are scorpions.

A Figure of Speech

Is the writer/speaker using a figure of speech. Some types of “figures of speech” are below with examples from the Bible

  • Hyperbole– an extravagant statement; the use of exaggerated terms for the purpose of emphasis or heightened effect.

Jesus used hyperbole often to teach those listening.

Consider Matthew 5:29

29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.

  • ironyIrony/Sarcasm– The use of words to convey the opposite of their literal meaning. A statement or situation where the meaning is contradicted by the appearance or presentation of the idea. When used to taunt or ridicule, it is called sarcasm.

When the Pharisees went to trap Jesus in His Words, John records their saying with irony. The Pharisees didn’t mean it but the irony is is that He is true, teaches the way of God, etc.

Consider Matthew 22:15-16.

15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words.
16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.

sarcasm

Or for a good example of sarcasm, lets take a look at Elijah

1 Kings 18:27

27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”

  • Paradox– A statement that appears to contradict itself.

Jesus used this method in His teaching very often.

One example is in Luke 16:19-31

Those who live in poverty and destitution while being looked down upon by the rich and powerful are really the first in the Kingdom, while those who are rich and powerful while looking down on those who live in poverty are really last in the Kingdom.

The first will be last, and the last will be first.

Or consider

Matthew 22: 1-14

1 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying,
2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son,
3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come.
4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.’
5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business,
6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.
7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy.
9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’
10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment.
12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.
13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Just as those who are initially invited to the son’s wedding reject the invitation, those who are initially left out of the wedding plans are accepted as insiders at the wedding banquet. The insiders are out, and the outsiders are in. (If you desire to further study the paradoxical statements of Jesus, I would refer you to http://www.renewtheology.org/paperCFreeman1007.htm .)

  • The historical/cultural use of a word/topic/phrase in the scriptures.

A good example of this is the phrase “an evil eye”. In my past reading of the gospels, when I came across the phrase “an evil eye” I understood it to refer to an eye full of hate or maliciousness. After considering the historical use of the term in the Old Testament, I now understand the term to refer to a greedy covetous person. Without the historical use of the term being considered, I could not have come to that conclusion.

Recently another good example of an incorrect use of a cultural phrase occurred in my office, when I noticed my boss had gotten a haircut. I made mention that he had “gotten his ears lowered”, without thinking that that phrase may be cultural. As a Canadian in Texas, this sometimes happens! I had to explain that his ears weren’t actually lowered but that his hair was higher’d, (huh?) Canadians can be so hard to understand sometimes, eh?

Our next post will continue considering the Bible’s message, specifically the intention of the Biblical message.

Hope you continue to visit and open up a discussion.

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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Local Church Membership Q&A – 20 – Epilogue

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.

Since my discussion with Cody, I tripped over a blog that discusses the dangers of signing a church covenant, a very fitting epilogue to our discussion on membership

Take a few minutes to visit Istoria Ministries Blog.


This is our final post on this instance of local church membership.  If you have followed the posts through to this one, I would love to hear from you.  Please drop me a line.  As always, 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 – 19

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 – As I watched you lead the study the other night, I saw a young man who wants to follow the Lord and disciple those he has a chance to. I would challenge you to consider what you are teaching, that is, that you focus on the Word of God and not some man’s teaching about the Word of God. (We spent less than 10 minutes reading the Word that night and the remaining time referring to a booklet.)

In my own studies recently, I have been in Mark 7. In that chapter, the Lord rebukes the religious leaders of the nation. I have to ask myself – How is the requirement for a believer to enter in to church membership any different than the Pharisees requirement for the disciples to wash their hands prior to eating. Both teachings are obviously constructed out of good intentions to protect the “layman”, but the Lord didn’t seem to accept this teaching.

Mark 7:1-13

1 Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem,
2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed.
3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands, holding to the tradition of the elders,
4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.)
5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”
6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!
10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’
11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”‘ (that is, given to God)–
12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother,
13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

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Jesus referred to the Word of God in His defense for the disciples. As a proponent of church membership, I would ask you to do the same. Either refer to the Word of God for your teaching, or admit that your teaching considers the Word of God to be insufficient for the needs of this time.


If you have followed the posts through to this one, I would love to hear from you. Please drop me a line. As always, 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 – 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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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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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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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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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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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.

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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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.

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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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What Jesus Probably Didn’t Mean – Matthew 16:18

Institution?

when+jesus+said+loves+your+enemies.jpg?format=original

Organism?
Whats the difference?
Does it matter?

Matthew 16:18

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

This misunderstanding held sway in my life for far too long. I mistakenly assumed that the status quo of a building and professional clergy were the correct interpretation of Jesus statement in Matthew 16:18.

Below are 20 points describing the differences between the institutional church and the Traditional Church, as described in the New Testament.

Each of these 20 points of difference are worthy of much more discussion, but these posts are intended to be brief and to the point – kinda like a bumper sticker!

The Traditional Church The New Testament Church
1. The church meets in a special building Churches met primarily in homes.
(Acts 2:46-47; 5:42; 8:3; 12:12; 16:40; 20:7-8; 20:20; Rom.16:3-5; 1Cor.16:19; Col.4:15; Philemon 2; 2Jn.9-11)
2. New converts are added to the existing church to make it bigger. When the number of believers outgrew a home, a new church was formed.
(Rom.16:3-5; 14-15; Acts 2:41-47)
3. The Christian church is fractured into hundreds of different denominations. There were no denominations; instead there was one church in each city, meeting in various homes.
(Acts 8:1; 11:26; 18:22; Rom.16:1; 1Cor.1:2; Rev.2:1; Col.4:16; 1Thess.1:1; Rev.2:12; 3:7; 3:1; 2:8; 2:18)
4. Pastors are trained in seminaries and sent out to serve in a congregation which has no real knowledge of his life or character. Elders were local brothers who arose from within a local church where their life and character were known.
(Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5)
5. The Sunday “worship service” is characterized by passivity among the laity with the Pastor or a select group of leaders doing nearly all the ministry. Church meetings were participatory and interactive – every member had a function and contribution to make.
(1Cor.12:4-27; 14:26; Eph.4:15-16; Rom.12:3-8; 1Pet.4:10-11; Heb.10:23-25; Rom.12:15; 1Cor.12:26)
6. The Sunday morning worship service is characterized by a rigid and inflexible order of service. Church meetings were characterized by informality, flexibility, and spontaneity. (Acts 20:7-12; 1Cor.14:26-31)
7. The goal of the meeting is worship, listening to a sermon or evangelism. The goal of the meeting was mutual edification.
(1Cor.14:3,4,5,12,17,26; Eph.4:11-12,16; Heb.10:24-25)
8. The church is led by the Pastor (or Senior Pastor in a large church). The church was led by a plurality of co-equal Elders.
(Acts 14:23; 20:28; Phil.1:1; 1Tim.4:17; Heb.10:17; James 5:14; 1Pet.5:1-2)
9. The Senior Pastor is seen as set apart from and over the other pastors and elders. The church was cared for by a team of pastors who were accountable to each other and the church; they were also known as elders or overseers. No one elder functioned as the head of the church. (Acts 20:28; Titus 1:5-7; 1Pet.5:1-2)
10. The Pastor is paid a salary by the church. Some elders might be financially supported, but they were usually bi-vocational
(1Tim.5:17-18; Acts 20:33-35)
11. The church is composed of both clergy and laity. There was no clergy/laity distinction in the church – all the members comprised a fully functioning priesthood.
(Heb.13:15-16; 1Pet.2:5,9; Rev.1:6)
12. The Lord’s Supper is observed monthly, quarterly, or annually. The Lord’s Supper was observed as often as the church regularly gathered and was the stated purpose for their meetings.
(Acts 20:7; 1Cor.11:18-20,33)
13. The Lord’s Supper is observed with a piece of cracker and a sip of juice. The Lord’s Supper was observed as a full meal.
(Acts 2:42,46; 1Cor.11:20-21; Jude 12)
14. The Lord’s Supper is observed in a solemn funeral-like atmosphere as the worshippers reflect on Christ’s sufferings and death. The believer’s vertical relationship with Christ is emphasized. The Lord’s Supper was observed with glad and sincere hearts as the church not only reflected on Christ’s death, but also on the future marriage supper of the Lamb which it depicted. The believer’s horizontal relationship with other believers was emphasized.
(Acts 2:46; Luke 22:15-18,30; 1Cor.11:26; Acts 2:42; 1Cor.10:16)
15. A new believer must go through membership or instructional classes before he can be baptized. New believers were baptized as soon as it was humanly possible.
(Acts 2:37-41; 8:12; 8:36-38; 9:17-18; 10:45-48; 16:31-34; 19:5)
16. Baptism is performed by the clergy. Baptism was performed by any Christian.
(Jn.4:2; Acts 8:12; 8:36-39; 9:18; 22:16; 1Cor.1:17)
17. The church must be present when someone is baptized.. The church was not always present when someone was baptized.
(Acts 8:12; 8:36-39; 16:31-34)
18. Pastors deliver monologue sermons with no opportunity for questions or input from the congregation. Various brothers taught the church, and allowed the congregation the opportunity to question them and/or add their own insights.
(Acts 20:7; 1Cor.14:29-35)
19. The church allocates the great majority of its finances for administrative overhead (salaries and building expenses). The church gave primarily to relieve the poor and assist Christian workers, often beyond their means; they had very little if any administrative expenses
(Acts 2:44-45; Gal.6:9-10; 1Jn.3:17; 1Tim.5:17-18; 1Cor.9:6-14; 2Cor.8:3; Phil.4:15-18; Lk.12:33-34; Eph.4:28; James 1:27)
20. Believers are often urged to tithe; that is, they are taught to give a minimum of 10% to the church. Believers gave voluntarily as God had blessed them and they had purposed in their heart; tithing was not carried over into the NT church.
(2Cor.8:3-4; 9:7)

Matthew 16:18

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.

Gates-of-Hell-Sign

Remember that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His church.

I don’t know if there is any guarantee for the institutional church. (I am afraid it might be skating on thin ice!!!)

Leave me a comment, lets start a discussion.

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What Jesus Probably Didn’t Mean – Matthew 5:9

I admit it it – I am Canadian by birth.

I am thankful for my Canadian heritage. As I grew up in the Great White North, I assumed many social norms as being absolutely without debate, the way it should be. One of these social norms, that carried with it a certain nationalistic pride, was the Canadian armed forces . It was commonly understood that the Canadian armed forces were principally a peace keeping force throughout troubled areas of our planet.

Making Peace for Our Benefit

Fast forward to 2001. I had moved to the USA and was living in a small town in the Texas panhandle. The towers had just fallen and the church I was attending had a special meeting to hear what the President had to say about this. The nation I was living in was going to hunt all terrorists down. The populace demanded peace and security. I felt the national pride oozing out of my friends and understood their desire for defending their nation.

But, as a Christian, I was confused. I had been brought up within a peace keeping society, and was now I lived in a nation that has been involved in warfare for 214 of 235 yrs of existence. (see bottom of post for further information)

Peace Keeper or Peace Maker

Imagine my surprise when I read the Masters words (without the group dynamic of believers cheering on a social norm). His words are simple and incredibly challenging, not only for a believer in America, but also for a Canadian believer. You see, He didn’t say…

Blessed are the peacekeepers: for they shall be called the children of God. Nope – nice try but that’s not what He said.

Lets read what He said

Matthew 5:9

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Believers are to make peace. Being a peace keeper or at least being associated as one, was not His intent.

Some may say that His intent was only to direct the believer in their personal relationships, foster peace among friends, but this seems to unnecessarily compartmentalized His words, dontcha think?

Maybe He meant “Blessed are the peacemakers (cept for situations where the enemy has done something bad)”.

Duh, that don’t make no sense. It’s easy, even pleasurable to be at peace with those who at peace with you.

It is important to remember that as believers we have become followers of another King, and that any time a conflict between an earthly king and our Heavenly King becomes apparent, we must follow Him. When the nation we live in decides to pursue military action, as believers we have the privilege of praying for the safety of all those involved, and relieving those who have suffered due to the conflict.

Do we have the freedom to kill or hurt?

Matthew 5: 9

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

As an aside, consider the list “American involvement in warfare” at the bottom of the post, and reflect on the effectiveness of using violence to engender enduring peace.

Of course, Jesus was speaking to His followers when He gave these instructions, and not to government power.

Government power ultimately used violence/war to shut Him up.


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American involvement in warfare

  1. The American Revolution
    1775-1783
  2. The Indian Wars
    1775-1890
  3. Shay’s Rebellion
    1786-1787
    Rebellion
    Anti-(state)Government Rebels vs. Massachusetts
  4. The Whiskey Rebellion
    1794
    Rebellion
    Anti-Tax Rebels in Western Pennsylvania
  5. Quasi-War With France
    1798-1800
    Inter-State (Naval) War
    France
  6. Fries’s Rebellion “The Hot Water War”
    1799
    Rebellion
    Anti-Tax Rebels in Pennsylvania
  7. The Barbary Wars
    1800-1815
    Inter-State War
    The Barbary States
    (Tripoli, Algiers & Morocco)
  8. The War of 1812
    1812-1815
    Inter-State War
    Great Britain
    The Growing & Troubled Republic
  9. Mexican-American War
    1846-1848
    Inter-State War
    Mexico
  10. U.S. Slave Rebellions
    1800-1865
    Slave Rebellions
    Various Slave groups
  11. “Bleeding Kansas”
    1855-1860
    Civil War (state of Kansas)
    Pro-Slavery vs. Anti-Slavery Kansans
  12. Brown’s Raid on Harper’s Ferry
    1859
    Rebellion
    Anti-Slavery Rebels (Led by John Brown)
  13. United States Civil War
    1861-1865
    Civil War
    United States (The North)
    vs.
    The Confederate States (The South)
  14. U.S. Intervention in Hawaiian Revolution
    1893
    Internal Rebellion & Foreign Intervention
  15. The Spanish-American War
    1898
    Inter-State War
  16. U.S. Intervention in Samoan Civil War
    1898-1899
    Civil War & Foreign Intervention
  17. U.S.-Philippine War
    1899-1902
    Colonial War, War of Imperialism
  18. Boxer Rebellion
    1900
    Internal Rebellion & Foreign Intervention
    Chinese Government & “Boxer” Rebels
  19. The Moro Wars
    1901-1913
    Colonial Wars
    Philippine Muslim Rebels
  20. U.S. Intervention in Panamanian Revolution
    1903
    Secessionist Revolution & Foreign Intervention
    Colombia
  21. The Banana Wars
    1909-1933
    Civil Wars & Foreign Intervention
    Various Rebel Groups In Central America
  22. U.S. Occupation of Vera Cruz
    1914
    Inter-State War
    Mexico
  23. Pershing’s Raid Into Mexico
    1916-1917
    Inter-State, Border War
    Mexican Government & Mexican Rebels (“Bandits”)
  24. World War I
    1917-1918 (American involvement only)
    Inter-State War
    Germany
  25. Allied Intervention in Russian Civil War
    1919-1921
    Civil War & Foreign Intervention
    Russian Bolshevik (Soviet) Government
  26. World War II
    1941-1945 (American involvement only)
    Inter-State War
    Germany, Japan & Italy
  27. The Cold War
    1945-1991
    Global Inter-State Cold War
    The Soviet Union & Communist China
  28. The Korean War
    1950-1953
    Inter-State War
    North Korea & China
  29. The Second Indochina War “Vietnam War”
    1956-1975
    Civil War, Inter-State War
    North Vietnam & South Vietnamese “Viet Cong” Rebels
  30. U.S. Intervention in Lebanon
    1958
    Civil War & Foreign Intervention
    No real foe for U.S. Troops landed to support Lebanon Gov.
  31. Dominican Intervention
    1965
    Civil War & Foreign Intervention
    Rebels in the Dominican Republic
  32. The Mayaguez Rescue Operation
  33. News Story 1975 (May 15)
    Hostage Rescue & Inter-State Conflict
    Khmer Rouge Guerrillas (the new government of Cambodia)
  34. Iranian Hostage Rescue “Desert One” or “Operation Eagle Claw”
    1980 (April 25)
    Hostage Rescue & Inter-State Conflict
    Iran
  35. U.S. Libya Conflict
    1981, 1986
    Inter-State War
    Libya
  36. U.S. Intervention in Lebanon
    1982-1984
    Civil War,Foreign Intervention & Inter-State War
    Syria & Various Muslim and Leftist Lebanese Militias
  37. U.S. Invasion of Grenada
    1983
    Inter-State War
    Marxist Grenadian Faction & Cuba
  38. The Tanker War
  39. “Operation Earnest Will”
    1987-1988
    Inter-State War
    Iran
  40. U.S. Invasion of Panama
    1989
    Inter-State War
    Panama
  41. Second Persian Gulf War “Operation Desert Storm”
    1991
    Inter-State War
    Iraq
  42. “No-Fly Zone” War
    1991-2003
    Inter-State War
    Iraq
  43. U.S. Intervention in Somalia
    1992-1994
    Civil War & Foreign Intervention
    Various Somali Militias
  44. NATO Intervention in Bosnia (Operation Deliberate Force) Summary
    1994-1995
    Civil War,Foreign Intervention & Inter-State War
    Bosnian Serb Rebels
  45. U.S. Occupation of Haiti
    1994
    Foreign Intervention
    Haitian Government
  46. U.S. Embassy bombings and strikes on Afghanistan and Sudan (The bin Laden War)
    August, 1998
    Terrorist Conflict
  47. “Desert Fox” Campaign (part of U.S./Iraq Conflict)
    December, 1998
    Inter-State War
    Iraq
  48. Kosovo War
    1999
    Civil War, Foreign Intervention & Inter-State War
    Yugoslavia/Serbia
  49. Attack on the USS Cole
    October 12, 2000
    Terrorist Conflict
    Terrorists associated with Osama bin Laden
  50. Attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon
    September 11, 2001
    Terrorist Conflict
    Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida organization
  51. Afghanistan War (Operation Enduring Freedom)
    October 7, 2001-Present
    War against Terrorism
    The Taliban and Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaida organization
  52. Third Persian Gulf War “Operation Iraqi Freedom”
    March 19, 2003-Present
    Inter-State War
    Iraq

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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What Jesus Probably Didn’t Mean – John 13:19

when+jesus+said+loves+your+enemies.jpg?format=originalWho wants to know the future? 

Come on – I see you out there, just famished for a bit of prophecy to understand.

And when do you want to know it? 

Of course, I wanna know the future, and I wanna know it NOW!

But more importantly, WHY? 

Doh, this is a bit hard to admit to.

Jesus helps us to get our head on straight in the following passage.  Let’s read it together.

John 13:19

Now I tell you before it come, that, before it is come to pass, ye may know the future.

Ah, Carl – you have not been honest with us!  Is that what the Word actually says?  Or is it just what you understand it to say?

OK – you found me out.  Lets look at the passage as it is written.

John 13:19

I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.

What is wrong with me?  Again, I understand the message of the Bible differently than what the Bible is trying to communicate to me.

A few days back I was listening to Mark 15.  In that passage Joseph of Arimathaea took the body of Jesus, wrapped it in fine linen and placed it in a tomb.  My thoughts turned to questions.

  1. Did he perform this action out of obedience to the Word? 
  2. Did he see an Old Testament passage and decide to take action to fulfill the prophecy? 

Joseph’s decision to take Jesus body and bury it fulfilled…

Isaiah 53:9.

And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

In this instance, the text seems to teach that the fulfillment of the prophecy was not Joseph’s objective.  If so,  this particular prophecy in Isaiah was not given to inform prior to its fulfillment, but after its fulfillment. 

What????

Well – if that is generally true of prophecy, do we in the modern church look at Biblical prophecy incorrectly?  Do we try to find out the future for our own purposes? 

Granted, some information (ex. Olivet discourse) was given to the disciples prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, that they might escape the judgement of God on the nation of Israel.  Even considering the Olivet discourse though, might the higher purpose of that prophecy be somewhat different from merely saving the disciples lives?  After all, most of the apostles were going to be martyred, and persecution was going to fall on the church shortly after the fall of Jerusalem.

I suppose the general thought of trying to figger out the future is very popular among western Christians (of a certain stripe).  I admit I used to delve into the future forecasting quite heavily, but am now considering the wisdom of this attitude.  After all, each of the obvious prophetic fulfillments I spoke of failed to materialize – I was 100% wrong and in using the Scriptures to prove my point, only made a mockery of the Word – to my shame!)

A year or so back, a particular passage in John got me thinking.  Actually, when I read it carefully, it created more questions than answers!  Jesus is talking to His disciples, telling them of a particular future event and actually lets them know WHY He tells them.

John 13:19

Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.

Did you catch the WHY when I supplied this verse above?  Get ready – here it comes 

exploding head

Why did you supply that prophecy Jesus?

“…that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.”

The purpose was to direct the disciples faith to the person of Christ, not to instruct them of how to save their own bacon.  Not for some temporal reason, but to direct the attention to the Messiah.

Consider

  1. Could revealing the Son of God be the highest purpose of prophecy? 
  2. Should we consider revealing the Son of God to be the primary focus of prophetic interpretation? 
  3. When we come to a particular prophecy in the Word, would the revelation of the Son of God in understanding the prophecy help us to know the heart of God better? 
  4. Would considering the revelation of the Son of God help us to rest in Him instead of hurrying about protecting ourselves from what we think may happen?

Lets consider Biblical prophecy to be a gift, not to inform us of future events, but direct our attention to the One who is faithful!


 

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What Jesus Probably Didn’t Mean – Matthew 22:39

 Interpretation

Gotta Love Ourselves?

 I have often heard in Sunday School classes and small fellowships, (heck – even in big churches!) that in order to love God we need to first love ourselves.

Sort of like when Jesus said in Matt 22:39 …

Thou shalt love thy neighbor after you love thyself.

What?  Is that what the Lord meant?

No.  As a matter of fact, it be important to simply read what Matthew actually records from the Masters lips.

Matthew 22:39

And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Notice that the Lord made a command with an assumption embedded within it.  The assumption is that we already love ourselves.  The command does not say, “You shall love your neighbour after you have fully loved and honored and satisfied thyself.”

Lets read it once more

Matthew 22:39

And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

This seems so obvious, but I still find the occasional believer who has not read what Jesus said but merely listened to some teacher refer to this passage in propping up his humanistic message.  The teaching goes somewhat like this.

In order to love your neighbor, God said that you have to love yourself first.  Only a believer full of love for themselves can supply love for their neighbor.

Is it not obvious that when Jesus said to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, self love was assumed.  This self love is the standard that Jesus was using to compare the amount of love that needs to be expressed to the neighbor.

Love myselfTo Love Ourselves is the Problem

As a matter of fact, it seems that self love is a problem.

2 Timothy 3:2-5

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,

heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,

treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

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

Verse 2 includes self love but it sho isn’t in a list of admirable qualities.  It is also interesting that the culmination of this type of life will produce an appearance of godliness, but alas, denying the power of godliness.

Finally, Paul says – Avoid such people.

Wow.  Kinda harsh a bit, Paul?  He didn’t say to teach them, or to pity them, or to correct them, or to love them ….

Avoid such people.

Jesus also had something else to say about self love.  In Luke 9:23 he states that denying ones self is the way of discipleship, not to find some nebulous self love as the foundation of loving others.

Luke 9:23

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

i-love-myself-quote-1I don’t know about you, but when I have fallen into this thinking, I just can’t seem to love myself enough.  I gotta coddle myself just one more time, one more pleasure, one more right exercised, one more time of me me me.

My problem is that I love myself more than my neighbor, more than Jesus.  I hate it!

Lets read the Word for what it says, not what we want it to say!

Matthew 22:39

And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

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