Ezekiel 34 – Shepherds & The Injured – 6

shepherd-carrying-sheepGood Shepherds Bind up the Flock

the injured you have not bound up

In the following post, we will be discussing the third clause in this verse.

Ezekiel addresses the failings of the shepherds of his day, and the application to today’s environment is uncanny.

Ezekiel 34 :4
The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.

True Shepherds Bind up the Broken

This portion of the verse we are considering needs to have some terms defined.

Binding

Binding speaks of bandaging, or restraining. Throughout the book of Ezekiel, this term pictures a tying or fastening. See below for Strong’s definitions.

Broken

Broken defines many types of damage, such as rupturing, crippling, rending violently, being wrecked, crushed or quenched. See below for Strong’s definitions.

True Shepherds Mend the Flock

Ezekiel is describing a very damaged and hurting flock. He is also describing a flock that is being ignored by those who have a calling to minister to them.

In the New Testament, Jesus mentioned the binding the shepherds of Israel were performing. It has changed somewhat since the days of Ezekiel, but only for the worse.

Instead of ignoring the flock the shepherds seem to be taking advantage of the flock. The flock was hurting, and the shepherds loaded them down with burdens, and refused to help them.

Matt 23 :4

4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.

Story Time

Recently, I was sitting in a McDonald’s trying to enjoy a cup of java, watching those about me. Things have not changed much about the flock of God. Many in this place seem (only God knows) to be aimless and placing their trust in empty promises.

Just this weekend many folks trusted in the hope of a Mega Millions lottery, where the jackpot was over $640,000,000.

Did you hope in this?

Winning the lottery is a proven recipe for disaster, yet so many hope in the chance of winning more money than they need.

Prov 23 :5

When your eyes light on it, it is gone,
for suddenly it sprouts wings,
flying like an eagle toward heaven.

prov 11 4

Prov 11 :4

Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
but righteousness delivers from death.

Prov 11 :28

Whoever trusts in his riches will fall,
but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.

The sad thing is that many shepherds in the church would encourage seeking this worlds goods. Simply to live in opulence or to find comfort and safety. They would say that He died so that we might live (in comfort)! He became poor that we might have (physical) riches. These dear folk need to read the Bible instead of their imaginations.

Some shepherds in the church would allow (encourage?) the chasing of the wind (seeking wealth), with justifications such as

chasing the wind

If you win you could support the poor
If you win you could help your children
If you win, you could build a church
If you win you could help missionaries…..

It is a rare person that can steward earned wealth properly. Earned wealth is a trust that is granted from the Lord and it is a responsibility to be faithful in the correct distribution of it, to honor the One who bought us.

I can’t imagine the burden and distraction of “found” money, and the emotional turmoil it would cause.

Keep it away! Father, help me understand that riches are a false hope. May You bind up our brokenness, and in that binding, give us the desire and wisdom to help others find Your mercy and kindness.


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Strong’s definition “Bind”
– Transliteration: Chabash – Phonetic: khaw-bash’ – Definition: 1. to tie, bind, bind on, bind up, saddle, restrain, bandage, govern a. (Qal) 1. to bind, bind on 2. to bind up b. (Piel) to bind, restrain c. (Pual) to be bound up – Origin: a primitive root – TWOT entry: 599 Part(s) of speech: Verb
Strong’s definition “Broken”
– Transliteration: Shabar – Phonetic: shaw-bar’ – Definition: 1. to break, break in pieces a. (Qal) 1. break, break in or down, rend violently, wreck, crush, quench 2. to break, rupture (fig) b. (Niphal) 1. to be broken, be maimed, be crippled, be wrecked 2. to be broken, be crushed (fig) c. (Piel) to shatter, break d. (Hiphil) to cause to break out, bring to the birth e. (Hophal) to be broken, be shattered – Origin: a primitive root – TWOT entry: 2321 – Part(s) of speech: Verb

Ezekiel 34 – Shepherds & The Sick – 5

shepherd-carrying-sheepGood Shepherds Heal the Flock.

the sick you have not healed

We are going to continue in Ezekiel 34:4, and with this blog, we will look at the second clause of Ezekiel 34:4.

Good shepherds heal their flock, seek the flocks health, look for signs of life and pray for the best for the flock.

Ezekiel 34 :4
The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.

Remember that the principle complaint against the shepherds of Israel in Ezekiel’s day was that they did not feed the sheep. The following clauses show how their utter disregard for the sheep, (typified by their not feeding the sheep) was expressed in other ways. The issue in this blog is that the shepherds were not healing the sheep.

True Shepherds Heal the Flock Spiritually

Luke 4 :18

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

I have placed the passage in Luke 4:18 as a primary reference due to the clarification it gives me about what is being healed. Jesus healed physical sickness when He was on earth (and He still does) but the emphasis of His healing ministry is spiritual.

True Shepherds Prioritize the Healing

If I get healed of a sickness today, tomorrow I may die. Healing of sickness is a wonderful gift of God, something that is granted to the believer and non-believer based solely on the mercy of God.

The great physician

Spiritual healing is a potentially eternal condition, that has ramifications in this life and the one to come. His ministry is to heal the sheep of a greater sickness than mere cancer, heart disease or a brain tumor.

Of course the very verse I am referring to above may speak of physical healing (recovering of sight to the blind), but considering how Jesus spiritualized various promises in the Old Testament (see previous blog “A Literal Bible”) the recovering of sight may be referring to spiritual understanding.

Luke 9 :11

When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing.

This verse is definitely speaking of physical healing, but the point I would like to draw your attention to is that He healed them that realized they needed healing!

He came to call the sick so that He might heal them. To find healing, one must admit to their illness. This admission of illness (spiritual) may seem counter-intuitive, even fearful, but this verse teaches me of the desire of the Good Shepherd – He will heal all those that need healing.

Is it too much to say that He is anxious (I speak foolishly) to heal those who seek Him.

A True Shepherds Motivation for Healing

Lets consider the motivation for the two types of healing (physical and spiritual) from the perspective of the Great Healer.

1 Peter 2 :24

24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Of the many verses that speak of healing, the passage in 1 Peter draws me in. Did the atonement grant physical healing to those who have enough faith?

Story Time

A while back I was chatting with a Word of Faith preacher concerning physical healing and the miracles that his church regularly experiences. I asked him about a couple of issues that concern me.

My first question was “Does 1 John 1:9 describe forgiveness as an act of mercy on God’s part?” He agreed, yet I drew his attention to the phrase “faithful and just” in the verse. This phrase tells me that the reason God forgives His people of the accidental sins they commit is due to His faithfulness to the righteous (just) conditions His people are under, not an emotional response based on our strong(?) faith.

1 jn 1 9

When we confess our sins, HE FORGIVES.

In other words, God forgives His people because of the “covenant/contract” He has entered into with His Son, due to His Son’s obedient sacrifice, and our relationship in Him.

It is not an act of mercy that motivates God primarily, but His faithfulness and justness that motivates Him to forgive His people, if we confess our sins to Him.

The second concern was logical. I pictured what I imagined as a typical gathering at his young preachers church. Say one person gets a healing due to their faith. What about the “99” others. Granted some may not need healing. Some may, but do not receive. What does that say about their status of being a believer?

It seems that if I were in the crowd, and listening to the teaching that the death of Christ afforded all believers (who had enough faith) to claim their physical healing, and yet not receive a healing, I would begin to question my salvation.

After all, if God won’t heal a temporal sickness, what makes me think He will heal my eternal sickness.

This young preacher admitted to not having considered these topics. He seemed to be an honest man and I appreciated his willingness to discuss these issues. I believe he has a sincere desire to be healing the flock, but his zeal for God may not be according to knowledge.

The important issue is that God has supplied a Good Shepherd to the church and that Good Shepherd heals His flock.

bad_shepherd 2

If you are associated with a group that is abusive or harmful, and not reflective of the Good Shepherds character, it may be wise to consider the Master and listen to His voice.

His sheep hear His voice


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Ezekiel 34 – Shepherds & The Weak – 4

shepherd-carrying-sheepA Good Shepherd Strengthens the Flock.

The weak you have not strengthened

Verse 4 has a number of clauses that define the actions of the evil shepherds.

The Good Shepherd is described in the New Testament as fulfilling each of the activities God addresses when He rebukes the evil shepherds.

I loved seeing this – how that the Good Shepherd supplies the very needs of the sheep as opposed to those who simply abuse the flock for self-gratification.

Ezekiel 34 :4

The weak you have not strengthened,

the sick you have not healed,

the injured you have not bound up,

the strayed you have not brought back,

the lost you have not sought,

and with force and harshness you have ruled them.

Strengthening Shepherds are Gentle

Remember that the principle complaint against the shepherds of Israel in Ezekiel’s day was that they did not feed the sheep. The following clauses show how their utter disregard for the sheep, (typified by their not feeding the sheep) was expressed in other ways. The issue in this post is that the shepherds were not strengthening the sheep.

Matt 12 :17-21

17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:
18 “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
19 He will not quarrel or cry aloud,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;
20 a bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory;
21 and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

The Good Shepherd will be gentle with the flock, seeking to encourage some, as one would encourage a smoking flax to reignite, and refusing to damage a bruised reed.

Matthew 12-20 A Bruised Reed-portrait

This truth has been very refreshing to me, teaching me that the Lord’s attitude toward a weak child is not that of sneering at them, or despising them or ridiculing them. He will strengthen them, even at the point of their greatest weakness.

A bruised reed has no structural strength. It is literally useless. So often, I consider those that are damaged to be useless, but this seems so anti-Christlike. His attitude is to strengthen the flock, and the verse above exhibits His attitude towards the weakest and most hopeless condition. Ever try to get smoking flax to reignite?

Strengthening Shepherds Supply Strength to Others

Luke 22 :32

32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

The true Shepherd strengthens His people, sometimes through very unexpected methods. This passage is reflecting the time of Jesus speaking with Peter after his denial. How small Peter must have felt, how unworthy! Yet Jesus, in giving the command to strengthen the brethren, strengthened Peter. Peter needed to know how Jesus felt about him and Jesus trusts him with caring for the flock.

This is something wonderful!

The Spirit of the Good Shepherd will be reflected in mutual encouragement among His people, in their communion with each other.

Who is your Good Shepherd? Your Pastor, Priest, Minister?

good shepherd

His sheep hear His voice and they follow Him. But if you are in a religious system that does not allow you to obey your Lord, either through your conscience, the written Word or otherwise, it may be profitable to compare your earthly shepherd with the Good Shepherd.

As we venture through the remaining parts of the verse, it will become obvious that Jesus is the perfect anti-type of these wicked shepherds.

The sheep hear His voice and they follow.


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Ezekiel 34 – Shepherds Compared – 3

shepherd-carrying-sheepShepherds Compared

In an earlier blog, I mentioned how the passage describing shepherds in Ezekiel 34 seems so very modern.

Many times I have come across men (and women) who say they are shepherds and yet might not like to consider what Ezekiel says. Some may say they have had a calling, a vision, a dream.

Ezekiel doesn’t seem to care about stories. He is looking at the impact of the shepherd’s shepherding on the sheep.

Stories are fun and lately have become outlandish as to how some are “called” to be His shepherds. But in the end, they are simply stories, stories that the gullible or (too) trusting want to believe, because of dry skin on thier ears (itchy ears – get it?).

Lets consider what Ezekiel is trying to teach us. In the following blogs on Ezekiel 34, I would like to settle on the 4th verse for a bit.

Ezekiel 34 :4
The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.

This verse defines the failures of the shepherds of Israel during Ezekiel’s time. Instead of simply finding fault, (due as it may be), I would rather contrast these shepherds with the Good Shepherd that we seek to follow.

The Good Shepherd Is Against The Bad Shepherds.

Ezekiel 34 :9-10a

9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:

10 Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.

God will put a stop to these bad shepherds from feeding His flock. The food these shepherds were feeding the sheep must have been bad food, food that might be described as “leavenous” in a few hundred years after Ezekiel preached! (Jesus ofter warned His disciples of the leaven of the….)

The Good Shepherd God Has Placed Over Us.

Ezekiel 34 :23-24

23 And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.

24 And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken.

God’s servant David, otherwise known as the King of Glory, Jesus Christ the Messiah, the Great and Good Shepherd, He shall feed us.

Are you being fed by the Master? Are you in communion with Him? Do you hear His voice? He is teaching us, are we listening?

By the way – I didn’t ask if you are going to church regularily, or doing good things in the sight of men, or obeying some preachers wishes.

Is He teaching you?

In the next few posts, let’s look at each of the complaints against the bad shepherds. Hope to visit with you again.

May God bless you and your loved ones!

He is Good.


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Ezekiel 34 – A Good Shepherd Described – 2

shepherd-carrying-sheepA Good Shepherd Feeds the Flock

Recalling the previous verses in Ezekiel 34, the emphasis of God’s complaint against the shepherds is that they are not feeding the sheep.

Lets read the verses again and consider a key characteristic of a good Shepherd.

Ezekiel 34 :1-3

1 The word of the LORD came to me:

2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep?

3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep.

The key characteristic of a true shepherd is to feed the flock.

The Good Shepherd Fed His Flock

When Jesus was restoring Peter, He reiterated three times to feed the flock.

John 21 :15-17

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

It is instructive to remember that the last words Jesus told His apostles was to be “teaching them to observe all that I command”

Peter Fed the Flock as a Faithful Shepherd

Peter got it! I think he really got it! He understood a shepherd’s responsibility and passed on this key characteristic to his readers.

1 Peter 5 :2

2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;

Paul Fed the Flock as a Faithful Shepherd

Paul got it too, and he passed it on to his readers!

2 Timothy 2:24

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

Paul Expects His Converts to Shepherd by Feeding the Flock

Interesting that Paul expects to get some milk from the flock. This is even described as a right for apostles to expect some milk from the flock (see verse 12). Paul teaches this, but relinquishes that right in order for the gospel to have one less obstacle (Paul’s word not mine).

Notice that in the next two passages, Paul expected his converts to continue to feed the flock, to pass truth on, since the truth is the very lifeblood of the church, and by it we are able to stand.

Acts 20 :28

28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

2 Timothy 2:2

2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Chief-ShepherdThe Chief Shepherd Feeds His Flock

Golly – the very passage in Ezekiel 34 speaks of the priority of teaching within the Shepherds ministry to His flock. God will set up the Shepherd, and the first activity He is seen to perform is to feed the sheep.

Ezekiel 34:23

23 And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.

God has set up His One Shepherd to feed His flock. Are you receiving sustenance from the One Good Shepherd?

It is obvious that God is feeding His sheep, and that He has supplied the Good Shepherd to perform this ministry. Feeding His sheep is the emphasis of the Good Shepherd, but God wants to express His all-encompassing concern for His sheep by describing the various other activities of the Shepherd that pleases God.

Although only One Shepherd fits this description perfectly, it is very instructive to consider the characteristics Ezekiel descibes in this passage, in order to understand God’s will for men who would call themselves shepherds of God’s flock.

(P.S. – Continually reminding someone they are a shepherd may be a clue!!)

This we will do in the following posts. Hope you can join me.


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Ezekiel 34 – Introduction -1

shepherd-carrying-sheep

My wife and I were reading in Ezekiel 34 a few nights ago.

During the reading, it occurred to me that this passage is very New Testamental.

By that I mean, many phrases within this passage are directly addressed in the New Testament.

You know, I would consider this passage to be very modern, dare I say it – even applicable to us today.

Lets read the first three verses to get a gist of the passage, and then let me know what you think!

Ezekiel 34:1-3

1 The word of the LORD came to me:
2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep?
3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep.

It seems the Lord is using the picture of the shepherd/sheep to describe the spiritual relationships between the leaders of Israel (both political and religious) and the “rank and file” of Israel – what we might call “the laity” in today’s Christian environment.

The principle complaint against the shepherds was that they fed themselves, to the exclusion of feeding the flock. Of course the leaders fed some of the flock, but as we will see, it wasn’t an enviable condition to be in if you were a sheep!

The shepherds of Israel ate the fat.

It seems that the word fat in the first phrase of the charge may be translated as milk (some translations use “curds”). This would show a progression of abuse on the part of the shepherds as to what they demand from the sheep. Since the milk of the sheep was not restricted from the shepherds, the Lords complaint must be regarding the abuse of this privilege.

Excessive taxation and the demand of religious obligations was “milking the flock”, in a very real manner. Today when we talk of “milking it”, I think we are using the term in a similar manner.

The shepherds of Israel clothed themselves with wool.

shepherdcarrysheep4

Sheep are to supply wool. It is one of their principal functions. So again, the issue must be the abuse of the privilege. In the same way that the milk supplied a temporary need, the wool supplied a more permanent benefit to the shearers. But the next phrase seems to indicate that those that were giving the benefits of milk and wool were not being fed, which reinforces the original charge against the shepherds. They (the spiritual leaders of Israel) were taking from the flock, but not feeding them!

The shepherds of Israel slaughter the fat ones.

The final function of a sheep is to supply food to the owner. It seems the shepherds fed these particular sheep. Please understand this is not an enviable position to be in.

If you were starving, at least the shepherds of Israel were just using you (taking milk and wool), instead of intending to kill you.

I suppose a number of questions rise in my mind. Fellow blogger Gerry Palermo suggested I build a survey of the questions. Check out Ezekiel 34 – Introduction -1 – Survey for a chance to respond to the following questions.

  • How do you see the Good Shepherd?
  • Does the Good Shepherd require milk, wool and meat from His flock? Selah.
  • Is He demanding more than you can supply?
  • Do you feel that you are not able to satisfy the demands of the Master?
  • Do you worry about His intentions?
  • When things are going well, do you worry that you are being set up?

Jesus rescuing lamb

By asking these questions to the sheperds of Isreal, Ezekiel is condemning these actions. The character of God in not such, that His intent is to simply take take take.

He does expect fruit from His followers, which is simply the natural outgrowth of abiding in Him. He feeds us, clothes us and provides life, that we might produce fruit for His glory.

Consider the difference. The true Shepherd is fundamentally different than the shepherds Ezekiel is preaching about in this passage. In the following posts, I hope we will find the contrast to be obvious!

Let us give thanks for our Good Shepherd!


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A Study of Eternal / Everlasting

everlastingEverlasting – It boggles the mind – at least my mind!

How can I grasp this concept?

I remember laying in bed at night when I was a young’n and thinking about the eternal, and just when I thought I had it figger’d out, some extra years would appear in my thoughts. I felt like a dog chasing my tail!

“Everlasting” in the Bible

When I was a dog chasing my tail, I didn’t have the desire or will power to go to the source to research this concept. Now that I am a Christian, I have the Word of God to search for answers.

infinity 3

So lets Consider the Bible and search for answers.

First off, lets find out the words, in the Old and New Testament, that the inspired writers used to describe this concept!

Four Old Testament Hebrew words and three New Testament Greek words are translated to describe the concept of eternal/everlasting .

infinity 2

OLAM – Old Testament “Eternal”
The most common word in the Old Testament is “OLAM”.  The following table analyzes this word in describing various eternal/everlasting things.

You might be asking by this time – What’s your point Carl?

infinity 1My point is that we cannot interpret the Word of God in a strictly literal, “technically accurate” manner.  Some folk have complained that this makes the Bible an unreadable document, that is, they could not simply pick up a Bible and understand it correctly.

When was the last time you considered the Bible to be a cartoon?  When I pick up a Blondie or Garfield cartoon, I don’t intend to spend more than a few seconds (at most) in understanding the message being conveyed.  I think the attitude towards the Word should be somewhat different.

The Bible was written in a completely different culture, time and place than what we live in.  To assume that  we have the right to simply understand the message in a 20th century North American context is foolishness.  Unless, of course, we see the Bible as a magic talisman, instead of a message from the living God.

In the case of this particular study, I find it amazing that some things that are described as eternal and everlasting (in our mindset) are not!

Does this take away from the core definition of eternal/everlasting? No – the core meaning is the core meaning!  What I think I have tripped over is how the overall context can affect the specific message of a particular word.

What do I mean?

Consider

Gen 9:16

And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

What will happen to this covenant when there is no living creatures on the earth?  (BTW – that will happen!)  It is eternal between the two parties that enter into the covenant, so the default message is that although the term everlasting is used, it is not everlasting/eternal. The everlasting condition of this covenant is dependent on the existence of “every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth”.


How about this one.  The land of Canaan is to be an everlasting possession for the seed of Abraham.

Gen 17:8

And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

Two issues erupt in this verse.

  1. Who is the seed of Abraham?
  2. Is this promise or it’s reaffirmations unconditional?

The first point is simple to answer.  Paul labors the point of describing who the seed is in the book of Galations.

Gal 3:29

And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Then two more issues occur to me. – (Come on Carl – gimme a break!!)

Was this promise or it’s reaffirmations unconditional?  Or did the Jewish people misunderstand this verse and “literally” interpret the promise, assuming the land was theirs unconditionally forever?

The very next verse after the great promise to Abraham, the Lord stated…

… Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.

Unconditional promise?  Could the Jewish nation survive if they were disobedient and rebellious? (Did they?)  Could they assume upon verse 8 and ignore verse 9?  (What about the nation of Israel today?  Are they presently keeping “my covenant”? )  The everlasting possession was dependent on the Jewish nation’s keeping of “my covenant”.  It is very interesting to me that the covenant being referred to here was the Abrahamic covenant and that the nation’s allegience to the Siniatic covenant revealed the heart of the people towards God.  Additional examples of how the eternal/everlasting concept is modified by the context, can be found above and I would encourage you to consider them.

Does this contextual effect on the concept of eternal/everlasting continue into the New Testament?  I will leave that for you to study out.  Get back to me when you find something out, eh?

I gotta go study some Garfield!garfield


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Church Things – “Gimme More Money” Training

Dollar-SignIf you give me money, I will train you to fleece your flock better!!!

I received an email recently from some christian organization, and to be honest with you, (as if I  have been lying to you up till now!!), I well nigh wanted to call these people and yell at them. 

But then I thought I might get talked into giving them some money, so I changed my mind!

First thing that got me was the artful manipulation of word-speak these hucksters use to entice christian leadership to join their organization (There’s that word again – organization!)

Secondly, after they have prettied up their message with high faluting terms, the topic itself is offensive. 

To see professional Christians (should there be any such thing as a professional christian?), offer to train other professional Christians to lure cash out of “high capacity givers” seems at best deceitful and at worst simply an act of exercising avarice. 

As a non-professional christian, I can assume any church I might attend is being led by a professional christian who is trained in pulling funds, offerings, tithes, love gifts, cash, money…. out of my pocket so they may pay

  • their own salaries

  • the salaries of their staff

  • church mortgage(s)

  • church overhead

  • entertainment needs

  • technical supplies

  • office supplies

  • utility bills

  • insurance premiums

  • Sabbatical leave

  • furthering education

  • holidays

  • expansion dreams

  • maintenance requirements

  • …………….

Brothers and Sisters – take back the freedom that you have been granted in your faith, and determine to be giving people to those the Lord describes in the NEW TESTAMENT.  (A cursory reading of the New Testament will easily convince you that the influences we find ourselves under in the current “church” is completely out of whack with the will of God.)

Buildings and staff do not further the gospel.   Buildings and staff simply feed the wants of US, and in the doing, cripple us as Christians.

As a matter of fact, the size and affluence that some church buildings try to exude, along with the exorbitant funds required to staff these temples of pride are a major stumbling block to many of the lost today, and dare I say to an increasing amount of believers.

I have chatted about how I feel about the current  church organization found in the USA in other blog posts.  This latest one was simply fueled by a single errant email that somehow crossed my path.

By the way, check out the subscription fees required to join this elite organization – dang that word “organization” comes up alot! 

Almost $1,200.00 a year to join, unless you go with the annual membership, which is soooo reasonable at just under $1,000.00 per year! 

And remember, the church that buys this package for their staff will need to ask their flock for more money to pay for this training! 

But don’t worry – that will be easy, after this training has been absorbed.


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Christian Accountability – Watch & Account

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

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

WATCH & ACCOUNT

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

Lets review the passage and then discuss.

Hebrew 13

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

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

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

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

Hebrews 13:17

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

Watching

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is my point?

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

Account

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

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

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

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

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Christian Accountability – Submit

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

This post will address the third word in our word matrix.

SUBMIT

To submit to One is to understand His wishes and to accept them as your own.

Lets review the passage and then discuss.

Hebrew 13

When this question arises, ie. “Is a Christian accountable to Church Leaders?” invariably the passage in Hebrews 13 is referred to. Therefore, lets consider the passage.

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

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

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

The word of concern in our passage is used only once in the New Testament, and of course it is in Hebrew 13:17.

Hupeiko to resist no longer, but to give way, yield (of combatants) metaph. to yield to authority and admonition, to submit submit (one’s) self

The issue of authority is raised, by the inclusion of this word. The question that is of importance is

What is the authority that a believer is to yield to.

One possibility is that the elders are to be submitted to. This is correct to the point that believers are to submit to one another (Eph 5:21) and to consider one another above ourselves (Phil 2). I am not persuaded that this verse is giving any additional authority to any man simply because of a position in the church.

Another possibility is that the authority to be submitted to is the Word of God. I think this is the answer to our problem. And yet…

Thinking back, there were a group of folk that were very Biblical. Memorized vast amounts of the scripture (that they had!) and lived a very separated life. Always went to meeting, gave according to the scriptures and sought to obey every precept in their religion.

They ended up killing the Messiah.

I am not sure how this is gonna work out in my thinking, and if y’all can help me, it would sure be appreciated. It turns out that there is One who has authority, and I am trying to figger it out in relation to the Word of God.

He said ….”All authority has been given unto Me”

Lets consider one situation.

Jesus brings to our attention the time when David was on the run from Saul, and needed food for his following. We find the passage in Matthew 12

Matthew 12:1-8

At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat.

But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.

But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;

How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?

Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?

But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.

But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.

For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.

How is it that Jesus would refer to a time in Davids life that he performed an unlawful deed, admittedly so, and then use it to justify His disciples actions (plucking and eating some “corn” as they traveled through the area.

The disciples were not doing anything opposed to what the Word was allowing.

Deuteronomy 23:25

When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbour’s standing corn.

So why did Jesus bring up the incident with David? He could have easily rebuffed this complaint with the above passage. But I think Jesus was after bigger fish to fry. It has to do with ….

Da Sabbath

and the religious zealots affection for that special day.

Could Jesus be equating the the sabbath observance (even that which was prescribed in the Old Testament, not merely that which the pharisees had corrupted to its present state) to the ceremonial law describing the eating of the shew bread?

What about the priestly service overriding the observance of the sabbath?

Jesus took this incident and taught of a higher authority over the law, and as I read through the gospels, He seemingly rode this horse often!

So – what authority is applicable in the verse we are considering above (Heb 13) ? I am still trying to process this as I work through the epistles. It is a challenge. I know in the past, I have considered Paul to be the one to listen to, actually filtering out Jesus words by interpreting Paul’s words according to my desires.

I find it amazing that Jesus never abrogated a moral commandment, but those things that are least (ceremonial issues) had become the greatest with men, and Jesus was all about upsetting the apple cart!

Find following some additional greek words that the author to the Hebrews could have chosen to use in our text, but didn’t.

Hupotasso

to arrange under, to subordinate to subject, put in subjection to subject one’s self, obey to submit to one’s control to yield to one’s admonition or advice to obey, be subject A Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader”. In non-military use,it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”. submit (one’s) self unto5, submit (one’s) self to3, be in subjection unto2, put in subjection under1, miscellaneous12

Wow – glad he didn’t use this word in the text!

Dogmatizo

to decree, command, enjoin, lay down an ordinance submit…to decrees

I think we get our word “dogmatic” from this word! (Makes me consider whether being dogmatic is being Christ-like)

Douleuo

to be a slave, serve, do service of a nation in subjection to other nations metaph. to obey, submit to in a good sense, to yield obedience in a bad sense, of those who become slaves to some base power, to yield to, give one’s self up to

I like this possibility, seems to have a similar sense to hupeiko

Sunapago

to lead away with or together metaph. to be carried away with of a thing, i.e. by a thing, so as to experience with others the force of that which carries away to yield or submit one’s self to lowly things, conditions, employments: not to evade their power

Hupakouo

to listen, to harken of one who on the knock at the door comes to listen who it is, (the duty of a porter) to harken to a command to obey, be obedient to, submit to

End Notes – Strongs Definitions

G3982 πείθω peithō pi’-tho

A primary verb; to convince (by argument, true or false); by analogy to pacify or conciliate (by other fair means); reflexively or passively to assent (to evidence or authority), to rely (by inward certainty): – agree, assure, believe, have confidence, be (wax) content, make friend, obey, persuade, trust, yield.

G2233 ἡγέομαι hēgeomai hayg-eh’-om-ahee

Middle voice of a (presumed) strengthened form of G71; to lead, that is, command (with official authority); figuratively to deem, that is, consider: – account, (be) chief, count, esteem, governor, judge, have the rule over, suppose, think.

G5226 ὑπείκω hupeikō hoop-i’-ko

From G5259 and εἴκω eikō (to yield, be “weak”); to surrender: – submit self.G69

ἀγρυπνέω agrupneō ag-roop-neh’-o

Ultimately from G1 (as negative particle) and G5258; to be sleepless, that is, keep awake: – watch.

G3056 λόγος logos log’-os

From G3004; something said (including the thought); by implication a topic (subject of discourse), also reasoning (the mental faculty) or motive; by extension a computation; specifically (with the article in John) the Divine Expression (that is, Christ): – account, cause, communication, X concerning, doctrine, fame, X have to do, intent, matter, mouth, preaching, question, reason, + reckon, remove, say (-ing), shew, X speaker, speech, talk, thing, + none of these things move me, tidings, treatise, utterance, word, work.

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Christian Accountability – Rule

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

The Christian life is a life of submission and obedience to the Lord Jesus.

This post will address the second word in our word matrix.

RULE

The central word of the gospel when it comes to the claims of Christ.  In a very real sense, Christian accountability is ultimately to Christ, and is the bedrock of all Christian accountability.  But the issue is whether this accountability is transferred to church leaders, and if so, what does it look like?

Lets review the passage and then discuss.

Hebrew 13

When this question arises, ie. “Is a Christian accountable to Church Leaders?” invariably the passage in Hebrews 13 is referred to. Therefore, as a starting point, lets consider the passage.

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

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

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

RULE (hēgéomai)

The Greek term hegeomai is found in 27 verses in the New Testament,

Of the three occurrences of the term hegomai used in the New Testament translated as “have the rule over”, all three are in this chapter!

Hebrews 13:7

Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

Hebrews 13:17

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

Hebrews 13:24

Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you.

Of the two occurrences of the term hegomai used in the New Testament translated as “be governor”, one is referring to a political office, and one is referring to a governor of a ship

Matthew 27:23

And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.

James 3:4

Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.

It is interesting that the governor of the ship is small, unseen (underwater!) and in the back of the boat – but I don’t want to make too much of that!

One instance, where the term “hegeomai” is used in the New Testament, when associated with biblical church leadership is found in 1 Thess 5:13, where Paul connects “hegeomai” with love, and due to the leaders works sake.

1Th 5:13

And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

Although the same term (hegomai) is used in the New Testament for political “rulers” and church “rulers”, it is evident that two points need to be clarified.

“Ruler”, when used in reference to church life may not be an accurate translation, given the alternative ways this Greek word could be translated, and the freaky way it is translated only in this set of verses. Remember – it is only translated “rule” in Hebrews 13 of the New Testament

Jesus Himself delineated a difference between the two types of leadership in Luke 22:25 (also Mark 10:43)

Luke 22:25-27

And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.

But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.

For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth?is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.

Mark 10:42 – 45

But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.

But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:

And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.

For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

It is interesting also, that the term used to describe exercising lordship over a people, used by the Lord in verse 25, is kurieuo. (See below for definition of greek word.) And it is very interesting that Paul uses the very same term in 2 Cor 1:24, in relation to how believers are to relate to apostolic authority.

Many in the church seem to read this verse like this.

2 Corinthians 1:24 …we have dominion over your faith …

But is that what the apostle said?

2 Corinthians 1:24

Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.

Notice that Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, uses this term in 2 Corinthians 1:24.

Now if any human had “dominion” (rulership?) over a group of Christians, I would imagine that all would agree that Paul did. But he denies any type of dominion over these believers. How crazy is that – Has he not heard how important it is for believers to be accountable to a leader? Something is definitely wrong here Paul!

Again, it is interesting that Paul seemed to have a bit of a problem with enforcing an authoritarian stance over his disciples (maybe cause they weren’t his disciples, they were His disciples)

1 Corinthians 16:12

As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.

Notice that the great apostle Paul, the apostle to the gentiles, who talked directly to the Lord Jesus and was commissioned to bring in the gentile harvest, “greatly desired” Apollos to go with the brethren to the Corinthians, but Apollos didn’t want to.

WHAT?

What type of submission is that – Surely Paul reamed him out for not doing as he said. Maybe I will go study that passage out, and look for where Paul “bit his head off”

When I find it, I will let you know!


End Notes – Strongs Definitions

G3982 πείθω peithō pi’-tho

A primary verb; to convince (by argument, true or false); by analogy to pacify or conciliate (by other fair means); reflexively or passively to assent (to evidence or authority), to rely (by inward certainty): – agree, assure, believe, have confidence, be (wax) content, make friend, obey, persuade, trust, yield.

G2233 ἡγέομαι hēgeomai hayg-eh’-om-ahee

Middle voice of a (presumed) strengthened form of G71; to lead, that is, command (with official authority); figuratively to deem, that is, consider: – account, (be) chief, count, esteem, governor, judge, have the rule over, suppose, think.

G5226 ὑπείκω hupeikō hoop-i’-ko

From G5259 and εἴκω eikō (to yield, be “weak”); to surrender: – submit self.

G69 ἀγρυπνέω agrupneō ag-roop-neh’-o

Ultimately from G1 (as negative particle) and G5258; to be sleepless, that is, keep awake: – watch.

G3056 λόγος logos log’-os

From G3004; something said (including the thought); by implication a topic (subject of discourse), also reasoning (the mental faculty) or motive; by extension a computation; specifically (with the article in John) the Divine Expression (that is, Christ): – account, cause, communication, X concerning, doctrine, fame, X have to do, intent, matter, mouth, preaching, question, reason, + reckon, remove, say (-ing), shew, X speaker, speech, talk, thing, + none of these things move me, tidings, treatise, utterance, word, work.

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Christian Accountability – Obey

What is Christian Accountability & Is a Christian

influence-or-accountable

Accountable to Church Leadership?

The Christian life is a life of submission and obedience to the Lord Jesus.

This post will address the first word in our word matrix.

OBEY

The central word of the gospel when it comes to the claims of Christ.  In a very real sense, Christian accountability is ultimately to Christ, and is the bedrock of all Christian accountability.  But the issue is whether this accountability is transferred to church leaders, and if so, what does it look like?

Lets review the passage and then discuss.

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

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

OBEY (peítho)
A cursory glance through Strong’s definitions reveals that the prevalent meaning of peítho is not obey.

It seems the prevalent meaning is “to persuade” or “to be persuaded” As a matter of fact, if the three verses in Hebrews 13 were translated “to be persuaded”, the concept of obedience (in opposition to persuasion) in relation to this Greek word would disappear from the New Testament.

To be persuaded is a completely different concept than that of to simply obey!  Of course the end result may “look” similar, (that of a believer conforming to the character of Christ) but I am thinking the method of achieving this end result is what is of concern to the Lord.

When someone brings to my attention a careful argument against some thinking that is predominant in my life, and is seeking to persuade me through the scriptures, I am (hopefully) more apt to accept the correction or rebuke.

When someone demands conformance due to his position in a organization, something inside me tends to ask “Why?” My sinful nature? I don’t know, but I don’t find much justification (in the Bible) for obedience to a mans demands simply due to his position within an organization.

Please understand. I am not advocating “lone wolf” Christianity, or a spirit of removal from the family of God.

What I am advocating is acknowledging responsibility for one’s belief, and therefore your action’s before God.

(Hopefully we will address this issue in a later post!)

A long time ago, Moses wrote concerning prophets and their authority over His people.

Deuteronomy 13

1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
4 Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.

Here we have Moses advocating a discerning spirit that stands up to “prophets” within the church, prophets with supernatural powers that seem to have authority in their “ministry”.

Did Moses advocate obeying these prophets?

Verse 5 seems to say they should “kill em”.

These prophets were in a position of seeming authority with all this wonder-working power. But the message these prophets were preaching was one of drawing the people away from God. The people of God needed to love God enough to reject these evil, self promoting men.

Teach me, persuade me of the scriptures.  Human authority is only human authority.

Story time.

A long time ago (not as long as Moses story!), I was a newly married fella, with a job delivering papers. (over 400 each night!) I would usually start around 2 in the morning and be finished around 6.
One beautiful morning, around 5, I was delivering to Georges home. Now George is a fine christian man, one that I respected and listened to. He was awake and he invited me in for a wee drink. I asked him a Bible question and he took me to the scriptures, explaining where I was lacking in my understanding. This fella had a degree in Bible something, but he never referred to his ability to understand the Word, or his awesome knowledge base that I should respect. He showed me the Scriptures. And usually I was persuaded.
Thanks George.

We will address “RULE”  in the next post.  Please return to “Considering the Bible” with me.

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Christian Accountability – Introduction

What is Christian Accountability – Introductioninfluence-or-accountable

Christian life is a life of submission and obedience to the Lord Jesus.

It was a while back, when my wife and I were in a Bible study, discussing various topics, when the subject of accountability came up.  Now, as a Christian, I have always been taught that the Christian life is a life of submission and obedience to the Lord Jesus, and by association, one of submission to authority found in church officials/employees/ministers.  Many passages speak of mutual submission (Eph. 5:21 comes to mind) and of obedience to men placed into church offices.

The last few years have given me pause in the last statement I just made.  No, not the last statement, – just the last phrase of that statement.

You see, I have been pondering a question!

Is a Christian Accountable to Church Leadership?

Some Ground Rules for Discussing “Christian Accountability”

If some of these questions seem to have answers that are inanely obvious, consider answering them with passages from the Bible.

Please do not post an answer that sounds like…

We have always done it that way.

  • It may be right, but previous practice does not justify itself! Prove your point from the Word of God.

That question is ridiculous.

  • Send me a ridiculously easy passage that refutes my erroneous thinking.

That question makes me so mad…..

  • Emotions are not the issue, truth is the issue.

Your thinking is not logical.

  • Someone once said “Logic is the art of going wrong with confidence”

I will overwhelm you with proof texts.

  • Quantity does not equal quality! Please try to focus on the specific topic being addressed.

Posting an answer that includes a short, well prepared question, has tremendous power. Many times the Lord Himself answered His antagonist with a specific, pointed question. Your mission, (should you decide to accept it), is to sharpen a question (if applicable) and/or supply a correcting Biblical teaching.

Some issues that are important in addressing the question above, and which may become topics on their own will be…

  • Does the Bible demand accountability to anyone?

  • Does the Bible define two classes of Christian – That is, clergy and layman?

  • Does the Bible defend the practice of salaried clergy?

  • Does the Bible describe the church as a business? (If not, golly, what could it be?)

  • Does the Bible delineate structure within the Body of Christ?

I anticipate this particular topic to have multiple posts, and I am looking for a “vibrant” discussion, so lets go!

Hebrew 13

When this question arises, ie. “Is a Christian accountable to Church Leaders?” invariably the passage in Hebrews 13 is referred to.

Therefore, as a starting point, lets consider the passage.

Hebrews 13:7-17

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

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

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

We will address each of these words in the following posts.  Please return to “Considering the Bible” with me.


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Inherit the Kingdom? Who knew?

The New Testament uses two words for “know”, ya know?

When I see a two Greek words translated as one English word, my spider senses start tingling. It interests me. One instance where two Greek words are used, (translated as one English word), is found in 1 John 2:29

 1John 2:29

If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

John uses two Greek words, defining which translates to our word “knowledge “.

  • The first Greek verb referring to “knowledge” is εἴδω, eídō. (Strongs #1492) See Thayers definition below.

  • The second Greek word to show up in this verse referring to “knowledge” is γινώσκω, ginṓskō. (Strongs #1097), See Thayers definition below.

Story time that helps me remember the difference in these two Greek words.

charlie brown pitching.gifWhen I was younger my brother and I were playing softball with an older teenager (Scott and I were 8 and 12 at the time.) The batter was a 19 yr old fella that stayed with us. Lets call him Hank.

Scott bugged me to let him pitch, and I was stuck out in the outfield chasing balls. Everything was going along just fine (for Scott) until Hank connected on one of Scott’s pitches, and drove a line drive ball right into Scott’s face.

I know about this incident. Scott knows about this incident

Do you think there is a difference between Scott’s knowledge and my knowledge? If you were to say that Scott “ginṓskō” of this incident while I “eídō” of this incident, you would be right!

So lets summarize – “ginosko” refers generally to experiential knowledge, while “eídō” generally refers to factual knowledge.

So lets get to the point of the post. I was looking at Ephesian 5:5 when I was reminded of this “knowledge” concept.

Ephesians 5:5 Wuest

for this you know absolutely and experientially, that every whoremonger or unclean person or covetous person, who is an idolator, does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of the Christ and of God.

So What?

So whats the big deal on this verse about knowing, Carl. Consider the message in the society we live in. Three characteristics are called out of those who will not inherit the kingdom.

  • The sexually immoral

The Greek word translated sexually immoral is πόρνος, pórnos. (Strongs #4205), See Thayers definition below.

The transliteration pornos gives it away. The word originally meant “to sell”, and defined specifically a male prostitute. Eventually this word came to simply mean a fornicator, whether a man or a woman.

  • The impure

The Greek word translated impure is ἀκάθαρτος, akáthartos. (Strongs #169), See Thayers definition below.

This term is very broad, describing moral filth in thought, word or deed. The term leans towards sexual impurity. Check out Galatians 5:19 to see the link of impurity with sexual filth.

“The impure“ is a kind, gentle translation.

  • The greedy

The Greek word translated greedy is πλεονέκτης, pleonéktēs. (Strongs #4123), See Thayers definition below – (not really necessary cause we all know what greed is!!!)

This Greek word is made up of two words –  pleíon = more + écho = have. It speaks of one who is grasping for more, more than is due, and especially of those things that belong to someone else.

So lets think about this

If you are chatting with a friend and he or she speaks of pornography as a normal or common lifestyle, you can know he/she will not inherit the kingdom.

Is that what Paul is trying to get us to understand?

If they are constantly spewing filth from their mouth, or their actions imply filth, (which in this culture is becoming so widely accepted by so many!), you can know they are definitely not going to inherit the kingdom.

If they only need one more dollar, and live their lives in the grasping of the wind, you can know they will not inherit the kingdom.

Please understand me – I am not suggesting we go tell every person who is living a life of pornography, impurity and/or greed of this truth. They don’t care and they will only mock. They need to see the gospel and be open to the grace of God before they will accept any bad news.

We do though, need to know (both experientially and factually) who it is we are speaking to. As your friend or coworker exhibits these characteristics, Paul says you can (experientially and factually) know of their relation to the kingdom. They will have “no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. “

Which brings up an exception and conflict.

The Exception and Conflict

CSLewis (1)This exception occurs when he/she lives a life of pornography, impurity or greed and professes of being a believer.

I need to inform him or her that he or she is deceived.

How do I do that? A lot depends on your relationship with the person. Remember we are to be wise as serpents, knowing when and how to “strike”.

Some may respond to gently referring them to the passage we have been discussing, and some may need to be strongly rebuked. But with both efforts, the Word needs to be referenced and not simply our opinion. Asking them what they think of the passage usually is a good method to begin the discussion, or asking them what the passage means. Depending on the Spirit to guide in your discussion is critical.

Considering the moral temperature of the society we live in, and the many surveys telling us that a high percentage of Americans consider themselves believers, this exception and conflict will surely occur in our day to day lives.

As an aside, I fear the church of God is blindly accepting everyone’s profession as true, that the Christian life is not what defines a man or woman as a Christian. It seems that if you grew up in a christian home or nation, if you “asked Jesus into your heart” 44 yrs ago, made a decision for Christ (whatever that may mean) or just assume God is nice, everything will be just fine.

My friends, to know Jesus is the difference. To know him experientially on a daily basis, this is life.

Do not be lulled into a false security simply by trusting in a knowledge of Jesus, a sterile factual (εἴδω, eídō) knowledge. Many have that knowledge and are living a life that tells us they are not going to inherit the kingdom.

To “know” (γινώσκω, ginṓskō) Jesus is to be changed by Jesus, to experience His kindness and mercy, to sense His willingness to guide and correct. This is life! As you “know” (ginosko) the kindness of the Master, it will draw you into wanting to “know” (eido) more truth (found in the Word!) about Him. As you “know” (eido) more truth about Him, and obey the knowledge of Him in your life, you will “know” (ginosko) greater and greater joy and contentment, a settled peace, even in the midst of tragedy and pain.

Don’t lose out on life by being satisfied with simply a sterile, factual only, knowledge of Him.

 

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Thayer’s Definitions
1. eídō
to see, to perceive with the eyes, to perceive by any of the senses, to perceive, notice, discern, discover, to see i.e. to turn the eyes, the mind, the attention to anything, to pay attention, observe, to see about something i.e. to ascertain what must be done about it, to inspect, examine, to look at, behold, to experience any state or condition, to see i.e. have an interview with, to visit, to know, to know of anything, to know, i.e. get knowledge of, understand, perceive, of any fact, the force and meaning of something which has definite meaning,, to know how, to be skilled in, to have regard for one, cherish, pay attention to
2. ginṓskō
to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel, to become known, to know, understand, perceive, have knowledge of, to understand, to know, Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman, to become acquainted with, to know
3. pórnos
a man who prostitutes his body to another’s lust for hire, a male prostitute, a man who indulges in unlawful sexual intercourse, a fornicator
4. akáthartos
not cleansed, unclean, in a ceremonial sense: that which must be abstained from according to the levitical law, in a moral sense: unclean in thought and life
5. pleonéktēs
one eager to have more, esp. what belongs to others, greedy of gain, covetous