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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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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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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What Jesus Probably Didn’t Mean – John 14:1-6 – Part 2

 Interpretation

In our last post, we were considering the message Jesus was trying to communicate to his disciples in John 14. If you haven’t read it, this post will be of no benefit to you.

Go ahead and check the previous post out – I will wait for you.

WHAT JESUS PROBABLY DIDN’T MEAN – John 14:1-6 – Part 1

OK – so what did He intend for his disciples to understand?

We discussed the “Father’s house” concept and settled on a possibility.

Lets dig a bit more.

The ESV took a word that John uses only twice in his gospel. In the first instance it is translated as “rooms” The greek word is μονή, (mone).

Interestingly John is the only author that uses this word and he uses it twice in the same chapter. Of course the first instance is where “rooms” is used as the translation.

The second instance is found in verse 23.

John 14:23
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

Can you guess where we will find the greek work μονή? In the verse above, μονή is translated as “our home”.

Let’s think about this. Using Vine’s Expository Dictionary as reference material (see below) we find that the word μονή, (mone) defines an abiding place, a dwelling place.

So we have the following considerations:

  • The Fathers House is the Temple.
    • Heaven is not referred to in the passage,
  • The rapture was unknown to the disciples at this time, so they could not have associated Jesus message with any catching up after His death and resurrection and ascension and church age and…. (They had a lot to still learn!)
  • The reference to room in verse 2 seems to cloud the intended meaning of an “abode”.

So what is the Master’s intended message for His people in this passage?

He is speaking of the fulfillment of God’s desire to abide with His people. He will prepare a place by way of His crucifixion and resurrection. He will come to take up residence in His church.

John 14:2
In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

I am thinking that He is talking to His disciples in a manner that they can understand, referring to the temple (the Fathers House) as a place that has many abiding places. I don’t see in this portion any reference to who is abiding in these abiding places. Is it for the believer or for the Father? Could He be saying I am going to prepare a place for you (that place being the church, the body of Christ?) Consider verse 23, where John is speaking of the Father and the Son as abiding with His people.

John 14:3
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

When he prepares this place (the Church, the Body of Christ), He will come again (Pentecost?) accepting/receiving the disciples unto Himself (in the Church, the Fathers House, the new Temple), with the purpose of having His people with Him in the same place (the Church, the Fathers House, the new Temple).

This kinda make sense!

John 14:4
And you know the way to where I am going.”

And you know the way to where I am going. He is going to prepare the body of Christ, and the disciples have been with Him for three years by now – of course they knew “the way” He IS the way. No wonder Jesus was surprised by the question posed by Thomas.

Do we sometimes insert later revelation into a text to support our ideas? Do we sometimes miss the tremendous blessing of the Body of Christ by hoping for something better? The rapture and end of the world is coming, the resurrection has been secured by the Savior. We need to enjoy His presence, and that of others in the Body now, and not simply look to the future as the beginning of (real) eternal life.

It is available now. Are you abiding in his room?

With these thoughts, I would ask you to read the passage with new eyes and consider His message for your life today.


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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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What Jesus Probably Didn’t Mean – John 14:1-6 – Part 1

 Interpretation Is Jesus preparing a mansion for you?

I was in Sunday School a while back and we ventured into John 14 for some discussion.  It was a good class but I was distracted with something I discovered a while back.

I suppose that is why I am writing this very post.

Whenever I read John 14:1-6, I previously understood it as follows. (italicized inserts my understanding)

John 14:1-6

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

2 In heaven are many buildings. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to heaven to build a castle/palace/house for you?

3 And if I go and prepare a castle/palace/house for you, I will come again at the end of time and will take you to myself in the rapture, that where I am in heaven you may be also.

4 And you know the way to where I am going.”

5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

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

Is this the message the apostles understood from the Master?  I am not so sure and I would like to try to explain why.

This message was given to the disciples after the last supper and prior to the arrest of the Messiah.  At this point in the life of the Messiah, the apostles had not yet accepted the idea of the Master being taken from them in death.  Jesus had informed them of His departure,  but they did not want to accept it, they had no idea of a resurrection, and the rapture as we understand it was a completely foreign concept to them.  (To insert the idea of a rapture into this passage seems to be a very fine example of eisegesis*.)

But Carl – he talks of mansions in heaven.  Does He?  Does he really?  Consider the following.

Is Jesus referring to heaven when He speaks of His Fathers house? Are there any passages in the Old or New Testaments that are able to reinforce this teaching?

Consider all of the passages I found in the Bible that equate the Fathers house to heaven.

…tick tock tick tock…..

Dang – I couldn’t find any either.

But I did find passages that speak of the Fathers house as being the earthly temple of God.  Try these passages out, eh?

John 2:16

And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”.

At no time have I ever considered that the thief’s had set up shop in heaven – It was in the temple that the thieves created a “house of merchandise”

Often in the Scriptures, the Lord speaks of dwelling with His people on earth.  Currently I understand that His house is with the saints, the Body of Christ and we are the living stones, creating a holy temple for the Lord.  These concepts and truths are easily recognized by those who have spent time in the Word.

But I still can’t find where the Fathers house is equated with heaven.  Maybe – just maybe that wasn’t His message.  Maybe heaven is what Jesus probably didn’t mean.

Well then – what did He intend for his disciples to understand?

Lets consider this question in our next post.  Hope to see you then.

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 – 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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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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Local Church Membership Q&A – 4

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 Guard Ourselves and Others against False Teaching.


3) To Guard Ourselves and Others against False Teaching

1 Timothy 4:1 – 4

1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 
2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 
3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
 
4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,

By using this passage under the point of false teaching to justify church membership, Mr Devers seems to be declaring a number of things.

1.) His church has all the truth.

    • Are you willing to actually stand by that statement?

1 Corinthians 14:36

… Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached?

2.) Other churches may be dangerous.

  • Granted, some churches are dangerous. Some churches are less dangerous than others.  As a matter of fact, Paul mentioned that some churches are detrimental to Christian growth.

1 Corinthians 11:17

17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse.

3.) The Spirit of God and the Bible is not enough for the believer who wants to obey.

By this, I do not want to imply that the fellowship of believers is unnecessary. This is critical for Christian growth, but the idea that a believer who is serious about living the Christian life needs to obtain a membership in a church to avoid dangerous teaching does not bear out in history.

Many orthodox church bodies have veered from the right path, and taken the entire group of members with them.  If only each believer realized their own responsibility to pursue truth, instead of relying on some membership for protection, the Body may be healthier.

2 Timothy 3:1-9

1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 
2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 
3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 
4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 
5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 
6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 
7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 
8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 
9 But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.

Many of the comments above could relate to this passage also, but it is interesting that 3:8 mentions those who “oppose the truth”.

The truth is the issue.  Does the Word of God prescribe church membership?

Jude 1:3

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

I think I am seeing a pattern in the passages being used to justify church membership.

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It seems that some of the passages are defining requirements that the faithful believer is to perform, and the requirement of church membership is defined as the way to perform these duties.

This seems to tear the intent out of the injunctions, since many who read these passages might consider the means of performing these duties as merely “joining” a church.  I have always considered Jude’s theme to be contending for the truth, and by implication, to not be depending on traditions or oral commandments.

Jude 1:17 – 23

17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 
19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 
21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 
22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 
23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Although Jude is talking of mockers, the concept of “separating themselves” is a concern in my mind.

When I was a young believer, and had dutifully joined a church, I made the mistake of hanging out with believers that weren’t a part of our “club”.

It seems that my joining that particular church implied that I was to be separate from other believers.  It didn’t quite sound right, but what was I to know – I was young and just learning what the Scriptures had to say.


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 – 3

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  Grow in Grace.


2) To Grow in Grace

 Hebrews 6:1 – 3

1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 
2 and of instruction about washings,the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 
3 And this we will do if God permits.

I am confused.

Where is church membership defined in this verse? 

Please do not get the idea that I am against being involved with a community of believers.  I relish it, love it and enjoy the opportunity to discuss the Lord Jesus with friends at work, in my home, anywhere I can.  (I would love to visit with you at your convenience and chat of the Lord’s work in our lives.  Let me know if this is possible.)  But I am still not sure where the formal membership concept is introduced to me in this passage of scripture.  This passage is a stern rebuke to the submit-to-authority-728x500believers who were being tempted to go back to a dead religion. (I can identify with these dear folk!)  But the Word says we are to go on to perfection.  Is church membership, in the formal definition within our church culture, a necessary component of attaining perfection before our Savior?  If so, where does this passage teach this?

Ephesians 4:11-16

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
 
14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 
15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 
16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Becoming a member of a local church is the topic Mr Devers is addressing. But Paul is discussing the unity of the saints in this passage.  If I were to “join” your church, would you then tell me that I would not be able to join any other local body of believers in the same way?

Is that fostering an attitude of unity amongst the brethren?


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.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

 

Local Church Membership Q&A – 2

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 be Obedient to the Scriptures.


1) To be Obedient to the Scriptures

Matthew 16:13

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

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

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

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Mat 18:15 – 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

Act 5:12 -14

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

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

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

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


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

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

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