Sunday sermon

Sunday sermon [Video made 10-7-18] Romans 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations Sunday sermon videos- https://youtu.be/Nv_YM_FqL0Q https://www.facebook.com/john.chiarello.5/videos/10204882537501423/ https://drive.google.com/file/d/1SaR0Yxlq-4HuBxsmN2ZpQtc8-tW8OgDW/view?usp=sharing ON VIDEO .Creation account .Man and the Bride .She came from an opened side [rib] .Adam a type of Jesus [The last Adam] .Redemption story seen in creation .Adam ate with ‘eyes wide open’ .Why is this significant? .Jesus obedience unto death- redeemed humanity .His obedient life- never sinning- qualified him to die for the sins of others .Yet it was the obedient act of dying for our sins that saved us [and rising again] Romans 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Philippians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. .A true story from KCTA radio- the boy who lived for 12 days .Gender identity- God made them- male and female .The circumcision- mutilation experiment that went horribly bad in the end- a documented test case .Let the children come to me .The restatement of the obvious is needed again for our day .A brief history of Wall Street- they tore down the wall and built a street- now the famous Wall street- it was built and tore down on the backs of Black slave labour- a sign of the times .The dignity of all people- both minorities- children and all of us- the fundamental right to life 1 Timothy 2:14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations [New Teaching below] Other sites- https://ccoutreach87.com/links-to-my-sites-6-16-18/ Blog- www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/john.chiarello.5?ref=bookmarks Youtube- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZ4GsqTEVWRm0HxQTLsifvg?view_as=subscriber [Links to all my sites at the bottom of this post] NOTE- Every so often some of my sites think I am Spam- or a Bot- I am not. My name is John Chiarello and I post original content [all videos and text are by me]. I do share my past posts from my other sites- but it is not spam- Here’s a link to the most recent video I made dealing with this issue- https://youtu.be/v2ZBCGx-Ltc Thank you- John NEW [Other videos below] This Sunday I taught from the verses for the Mass for this day. Later today [10-14-18] I will try and post the video I make today to Youtube and Facebook. The common theme was God creating both man and woman- from the start. I talked about why this simple truth- is important for our day. [Overblog- Webs- see here https://ccoutreach87.com/2018/10/14/sunday-sermon-34/ ] Young kids in our generation have many difficult choices to make- we live in a day where challenging the most basic things- is in style. And sadly- we have also taught this generation that choosing their gender- is up to them. In the readings from the Mass- and the quote I gave from Ephesians [all at the bottom of this post] the basic truth that God made us male and female from the start- is a truth that needs to be re-stated in our day. I also taught on Jesus as the last Adam- and how the 1st Adam is a type and picture of Jesus. The apostle Paul teaches this in his letters to the churches of the new Testament. In short- The reading from Genesis 2 said God caused a deep sleep to come upon Adam- as he slept- God opened his side and brought forth a bride [Eve]- Genesis 2:21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; Jesus died on the Cross- his side was pierced- and in his death God too brought forth a Bride- the Church. On the video I spoke on other ways ways Jesus and Adam are contrasted in the New Testament- I will try and add my past teachings below that relate. I talked about the social issues of our day- the value of life- all life- and yes- even the unborn child. The reading from Mark’s gospel ended with Jesus interaction with the children- Mark 10:13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. Mark 10:14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Mark 10:15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. Mark 10:16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them. We live in a day where we disrespect the dignity of life- a day where we question our own identities. The elders of society- in all realms- are responsible for bringing up this generation in a just way. Not to simply give people what they want- to affirm their base desires. But to guide them- to instruct them- to show them that there are indeed core values that are important. The simple reality of the value and dignity of life is an ethic that is naturally ingrained in all of us. Most societies today think it wrong to take human life. So the dignity of life is not a ‘right’ or ‘left’ issue- it is a basic precept that whatever side of the political aisle a person is on- should value. I shared an example on the video of a woman- mother- who told about the death of her 12 day old new born. I heard her testimony on the radio shortly before I made the video- and felt it was worth re-telling on the video. One of the readings from the Mass spoke about death- Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. Yes- life is a precious thing- and our Lord laid a valuable life down the day he went to the Cross- He tasted death for every man- that all might live thru him- he was the last Adam who gave us a new life in the Spirit- 1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations On one of the videos below [Reed] I talked to a Veteran- wounded in Iraq- who just happened to be at the park in Corpus Christi where I see my friends. He was from New Jersey and came to Corpus Christi to have an experience with God. Of course- not everything he said on the video was exactly right- but much of his experience was valuable. At first- he did not want to show you the wounds he sustained in the war- he spoke about the regret he had in taking human life. He spoke about Muslims- in a way that might offend some- he spoke about them as in if they were his brothers. Why? Obviously he had a lot of guilt- possibly because he took the life of his brother- not a brother in Christ so to speak- but a brother- another human- whether he was Muslim or Christian of whatever. And it seems as if this act- the act of killing- came at great expense. When our men [or women] come back from our wars- we often diagnose them with PTSD- and it sure seems as if Reed might have had it. Yet- we seem to make this diagnoses as in if something is ‘wrong’- like PTSD is some type of sickness- that should not happen to people who go thru trauma- who take another life. Actually- it is a natural effect on those who are sent to war- told to take life- and then we expect them to come back and be ‘normal’? So I guess this chance encounter- and the video below- fit in well with this post- A post about the dignity of human life- all human life. John OTHER VIDEOS [These are the videos I upload nightly to my various sites- PAST POSTS below] 10-12-18 Reed- injured Vet from new Jersey [here in Corpus Christi] https://youtu.be/pv47iCp_d2Q https://www.facebook.com/john.chiarello.5/videos/10204901371092251/ 10-11-18 Teaching with homeless friends- https://youtu.be/iWQnkKPnIpo https://www.facebook.com/john.chiarello.5/videos/10204896838898949/ 10-11-18 Facebook- social media questions? https://youtu.be/v2ZBCGx-Ltc 10-10-18 CCPD makes armed arrest at Flour Bluff drive and SPID https://youtu.be/ZEs2zslCf0c https://www.facebook.com/john.chiarello.5/videos/10204892811798274/ 10-9-18 Pirate Joe [MSNBC] a media critique https://youtu.be/z8yMia3QA7A https://www.facebook.com/john.chiarello.5/videos/10204889134706349/ 10-8-18 Elena Kagan- questions- Limo crash owner was FBI informant https://www.facebook.com/john.chiarello.5/videos/10204886016308391/ https://youtu.be/M_Qne_parJg Kagan- not about softball- or gay bashing https://youtu.be/--eUoidGxxM 10-7-18 News update- abortion- media- court https://youtu.be/vaY8Yp_GYH8 https://www.facebook.com/john.chiarello.5/videos/10204882850709253/ 10-6-18 CCPD and Caller Times article on rape allegation- true or false? https://youtu.be/NfQhky2LQhA https://www.facebook.com/john.chiarello.5/videos/10204876302945563/ Plane lands in New Jersey https://youtu.be/WnfCw1t41DI Romans 8-10 https://trello.com/c/UoT4POwf/210-2-24-15-romans-8-10mp4 https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uEOXe1ummR3SO8GSBvqj0w-OUKrByua3/view?usp=sharing Kings 22 https://youtu.be/2CjhmZGllL8 Mark 7 https://1drv.ms/v/s!Aocp2PkNEAGMggqhnxRBbBBHO8Om Acts 6 https://youtu.be/j61P6tWV3cI Colossians 3 https://1drv.ms/v/s!Aocp2PkNEAGMggtKHeTI_AiqFHZP Brief history of NYC [filmed by New York City in the back] https://youtu.be/SHIFXEbtGlE Free among the dead https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jmAC8HuaEyvOWvMzFgtIOKkmvXZihgzg/view?usp=sharing Palm Sunday C.C. cathedral https://youtu.be/HCimQgT7OHY Acts 9 https://1drv.ms/v/s!Aocp2PkNEAGMggy_7kgfAhfJNo3Q Statue of Liberty https://youtu.be/SABWyRIYovE Homeless friends- Casanova- a homeless Vietnam vet who was murdered about 2 weeks ago should be on this video https://vimeo.com/293345050 We are the light too https://youtu.be/93bBgnMizcY Thought you were 1 of us! https://1drv.ms/v/s!Aocp2PkNEAGMgg3mc8flOl1etP_H Artist- NYC https://youtu.be/fOPObNrxDjQ Waters cover the sea https://trello.com/c/gNMDQAxl/216-2-13-16-waters-cover-seamp4 https://drive.google.com/file/d/1yorg3li81kOE7OmOLHh61XySdmBAGMhZ/view?usp=sharing Mark 6 https://youtu.be/RpdVNmMv_fE 4-15-18 Sunday sermon https://1drv.ms/v/s!Aocp2PkNEAGMgg6OxgnO7mfO4KZ7 Hudson County Park- North Bergen https://youtu.be/Kefsyta7PSQ Christian- Muslim dialogue https://my.pcloud.com/publink/show?code=XZuJKn7ZT2QL5KLCynYildjfvu1p3hTozdMk Colossians 2 https://youtu.be/BCSgbjOXtZ4 Easter https://1drv.ms/v/s!Aocp2PkNEAGMgg9FekfL2oSVxS8a Galatians 4 https://1drv.ms/v/s!Aocp2PkNEAGMc7CJMXKGvTAhb_Y Galatians 5 https://my.pcloud.com/publink/show?code=XZD86n7ZYmQHRKoKhJYDGcCdKrw3MRGlvsRy Samuel 9 https://vimeo.com/294142170 PAST POSTS [These are links and parts of my past teachings that relate in some way to today’s post- Verses below] https://ccoutreach87.com/hebrews-updated-2015/ https://ccoutreach87.com/mark-links/ https://ccoutreach87.com/ephesians-links/ MARK 10 [Some sites- see the rest here https://ccoutreach87.com/2018/10/14/sunday-sermon-34/ ] Mark 10:43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:Mark 10:44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.Mark 10:45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. https://youtu.be/k8LXEaoxJ2Y Mark 10 https://ccoutreach87.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/5-30-17-mark-10.zip https://ccoutreach87.com/5-30-17-mark-10/ ON VIDEO- .Divorce .Original intent .Receive the kids .Good Master .Imputation .What should I do? .Take up your Cross .Promise fulfilled- not by all of us becoming rich- but thru community sharing .What happened to peter’s wife? .One request denied- the other fulfilled .Kingdom leadership .Son of David .Rahab- from Jericho NEW- [Past teaching- verses below] I’ll try and mention a few things from this chapter- might not be in order. Jesus is questioned about divorce- Mark 10:2 And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. He asks them ‘what did Moses say about it’? And sure enough- there was a loophole in ‘their bible’ that allowed for it- Mark 10:4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. The Pharisees saw every word of the Old Testament as scripture- just like we do today. Yet- Jesus appeals to the original intent of God going all the way back to creation- and shows how that supersedes their understanding of the law- Mark 10:5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. Mark 10:6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. Jesus did not say the Old Testament was not inspired, but he showed them that Moses permitted something that was against the character and intent of God- and they used it as an excuse to bypass God’s word. I think we could apply that to us today [in various ways]. Then we have the rich man ask Jesus- Mark 10:17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? The man was obviously blessed of God- he prospered in all that he did- because he walked in the law of God- Mark 10:19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. Mark 10:20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Yet- Jesus shows him the one thing that was missing- Mark 10:21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. It was his unwillingness to forsake all- even the riches God blessed him with- and to take up the Cross- and follow him. He went away sad- Mark 10:22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. Yes- even those who have sought God- saw their lives prosper in material ways. Many fail to move on from that mindset- and take the cross. Then little kids are brought to Jesus- his disciples are against it- Mark 10:13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. Jesus rebukes them- Mark 10:14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. And gives us a lesson- Mark 10:15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. To receive the kingdom- we must have faith like children have. Often times the answer is very clear- God has already shown us what he wants. And because its so simple- we miss it. Then Jesus tells his men that he will be heading to death- he will fulfill the destiny he had- to die on a cross and be raised again- Mark 10:33 Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: Mark 10:34 And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again. After a pronouncement like that- you would think his men would be there for support. Instead- they get into an argument over who will be the greatest- Mark 10:35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. Mark 10:36 And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you? Mark 10:37 They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory. He shows them who it is prepared for by his example- Mark 10:43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: Mark 10:44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. Mark 10:45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. And finally- a blind man recognizes Jesus as the promised messiah- who would come thru the line of king David. He openly confesses this- Mark 10:46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. Mark 10:47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus asks the man what he wants- Mark 10:51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. Sure enough he gets it- Mark 10:52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way. On the video I get a little more in depth about marriage and how later in the chapter- Jesus seems to contradict what he spoke earlier- Mark 10:11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. Mark 10:29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, Actually- if you read the words carefully- it is no contradiction. I explain why on the video. PAST POSTS- [These are past teachings I did that relate in some way to this post- Mark 10- all verses below] https://ccoutreach87.com/1st-2nd-corinthians/ https://ccoutreach87.com/house-of-prayer-or-den-of-thieves/ https://ccoutreach87.com/galatians-johns-gospel/ MARK- https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/02/28/jersey-city-ride-mark-1/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/03/02/mark-2-north-bergen/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/03/04/mark-3-isaiah-61/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/03/14/mark-4/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/03/27/mark-5/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/04/05/mark-6/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/04/16/mark-7/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/04/30/mark-8/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/05/14/mark-9/ VERSES- [these are the verses I taught or quoted on today’s post- Mark 10] Mark 14:7 For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations 22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Eph. Luke 12:48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations Isaiah 51:2 Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations Psalm 60:11 Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations Psalm 108:12 Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations Proverbs 10:22 The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations Deuteronomy 8:18 But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations Matthew 10:32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations Luke 12:8 Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations Joshua 2King James Version (KJV) 2 And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there. 2 And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country. 3 And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. 4 And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: 5 And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them. 6 But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof. 7 And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate. 8 And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof; 9 And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. 11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. 12 Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the Lord, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token: 13 And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death. 14 And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the Lord hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee. 15 Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall. 16 And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned: and afterward may ye go your way. 17 And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear. 18 Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee. 19 And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him. 20 And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear. 21 And she said, According unto your words, so be it. And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window. 22 And they went, and came unto the mountain, and abode there three days, until the pursuers were returned: and the pursuers sought them throughout all the way, but found them not. 23 So the two men returned, and descended from the mountain, and passed over, and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all things that befell them: 24 And they said unto Joshua, Truly the Lord hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us. Hebrews 11:31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations James 2:25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations John 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations John 12:34 The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man? In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations Mark 10:1 And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again. Mark 10:2 And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. Mark 10:3 And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? Mark 10:4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. Mark 10:5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. Mark 10:6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. Mark 10:7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; Mark 10:8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. Mark 10:9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. Mark 10:10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. Mark 10:11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. Mark 10:12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery. Mark 10:13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. Mark 10:14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Mark 10:15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. Mark 10:16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them. Mark 10:17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? Mark 10:18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Mark 10:19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. Mark 10:20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Mark 10:21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. Mark 10:22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. Mark 10:23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! Mark 10:24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! Mark 10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. Mark 10:26 And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? Mark 10:27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible. Mark 10:28 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. Mark 10:29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, Mark 10:30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. Mark 10:31 But many that are first shall be last; and the last first. Mark 10:32 And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him, Mark 10:33 Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: Mark 10:34 And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again. Mark 10:35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. Mark 10:36 And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you? Mark 10:37 They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory. Mark 10:38 But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? Mark 10:39 And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: Mark 10:40 But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared. Mark 10:41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John. Mark 10:42 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. Mark 10:43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: Mark 10:44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. Mark 10:45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Mark 10:46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. Mark 10:47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. Mark 10:48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me. Mark 10:49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. Mark 10:50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. Mark 10:51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. Mark 10:52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way. http://www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com https://www.facebook.com/john.chiarello.5?ref=bookmarks https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZ4GsqTEVWRm0HxQTLsifvg https://plus.google.com/108013627259688810902/posts https://vimeo.com/user37400385 john chiarelloFollow On https://www.linkedin.com/home?trk=hb_logo http://johnchiarello.tumblr.com/ http://ccoutreach.over-blog.com/ Note- Please do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on- Thanks- John.# Advertisements Occasionally, some of your visitors may see an advertisement here,  as well as a Privacy & Cookies banner at the bottom of the page. You can hide ads completely by upgrading to one of our paid plans. UPGRADE NOW DISMISS MESSAGE Share this: Press This Twitter LinkedIn Pinterest1 Tumblr Print Facebook1 Google Reddit  Related Sunday sermon Sunday sermon 7-22-18 Kings 12 HEBREWS 1-3 The next few weeks I’ll be teaching from an old commentary I wrote a few years back [2007-8]- The notes at the bottom of the chapters- and post- are new [as well as the videos]. https://ccoutreach87.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/4-12-15-hebrews-1-3.zip   NEW NOTE- In the study of the bible- there are debates about who wrote the letters of the New Testament. In the field of higher criticism- it gets a bit silly at times. I just finished an on line course from a respected scholar out of Yale university. He taught from the higher criticism perspective- I enjoyed the course- though I did not agree with lots of his conclusions. At one point he questioned whether Paul wrote the middle chapter of one of the letters attributed to Paul. Yet he did believe the first- and last chapters were by Paul. For the most part- we believe that the letters in the bible- that say in them ‘written by Paul’ are from Paul [or Peter, James, Etc.]. But- Hebrews leaves the authors name out- so some debate who wrote it. Tertullian- an early church father [2/3rd century] attributed it to Barnabus- Paul’s companion that we read about in the book of Acts- For about 1500 years- till the time of the Reformation- most Christian scholars attributed it to Paul. Hebrews is written in a high form of Greek [which is another way we determine who wrote the letters- tough this is not always accurate. Many say John the apostle did not write Revelation- because the form of Greek used is much lower than the other writings of John- yet- there is internal witness that John [the apostle] wrote it. In John’s writings [gospel- 1st, 2nd and 3rd John] he speaks about Jesus as the Word [Logos] and this theme is seen in Revelation too]. So- while we don’t know for sure- I personally stick with the authorship of Paul the apostle.     INTRODUCTION:   I have been wanting to overview this book for a long time. I believe there are a lot of misconceptions from Hebrews. Often time’s modern translations take older books of the Bible and want to make them relevant for our day. This can be both good and bad.   I like the message Bible, but for in depth study it doesn’t really work. There are certain things that must be interpreted in context  of the time and place when the book was written. Hebrews is one of the most important New Testament books to ‘read in context’. I wont go over every verse in this short commentary, I will hit the high points of various chapters and try to show you what I mean by ‘reading it in context’.   I believe it is possible that this book was Paul’s ‘open letter’ to the first century Jewish community, this is quite possibly why it goes unsigned. The ‘Judaizers’ had so polluted the minds of their fellow Jews against Paul ‘he speaks against Moses and our law’ type thing, that if Paul signed this letter, there would be little chance that the intended audience would read it!   If you read a book on auto mechanics, and tried to make it relevant for the human body, it wouldn’t work. For instance if you spoke on the engine of a car, and then tried to ‘translate’ that and equate it with the human heart, you would have problems. But if you left it in context and then applied the concept of maintenance and the need for clean fuel lines, and then applied it to the human need for clean arteries, well then that would be OK.   So I believe when we read Hebrews, and don’t try to make it ‘fit’ Gentile believers, then it works. You still get great principles from the ‘manual’, but you understand that it is not speaking directly to the Gentile church. God bless you guys, I hope you get something from it.    John.   CHAPTER 1: NEW NOTES AT END OF CHAPTER- LOGOS. SEATED.   ‘God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds. Many years ago when I was going to a fundamental Baptist Church, they would interpret this passage in a ‘cessationist’ way. They would say because God says in the past he spoke by prophets, but now by his Son. That this means he doesn’t speak thru Prophets any more. The Prophets here are Old Testament voices. In Ephesians it says after Jesus ascended up on high he gave gifts unto men, some Apostles, some Prophets, etc. The fact that Jesus made Prophets after the ascension teaches us that there were to be a whole new class of New Testament Prophets that were different from the old. I find it strange to believe that Jesus would create a whole new class of gifts, and then take them away as soon as the Bible is complete. Why would Paul give instruction in the New Testament on how Prophets would operate [Corinthians] and then to say ‘as soon as this letter is canonized with the others, all this instruction will be useless’ it just doesn’t seem right.   The reason Paul is saying in the past God used Prophets, but today his Son. Paul is showing that the Jewish Old testament was a real communication from God to man. But in this dispensation of Grace, God is speaking the realities that the Prophets were looking to. Paul is saying ‘thank God for the Old Jewish books and law, they point to something, his name is Jesus’! The Prophets [Old Testament] served a purpose; they brought us from the shadows to the present time [1st century] now lets move on into the reality. Now you must see and hear the Son in these last days. ‘Who being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person…when he by himself purged our sins SAT DOWN on the right hand of the majesty on high’ here we are at the beginning stages of themes that we will see later in the letter. The significance of Jesus ‘sitting down’ will be contrasted with the Old testament priests ‘standing up’. Paul [for the record I think Paul wrote this letter, from here on I will probably just refer to the writer as Paul] will teach that the ‘standing up’ of the Levitical Priests represented an ‘incomplete priesthood’ the reason Jesus sat down was because there would be no more sacrifice, and no more priesthood made up of many priests who would die year after year. This doesn’t mean there would be no more New Testament priests as believers, but that there would be no more Old Testament system. Paul will find spiritual truths like this all thru out the Old Testament.   Some theologians feel that Paul is a little too loose with these free comparisons that he seems to ‘pull out of the hat’, for the believer who holds to the canon of scripture, it is the Word of God. ‘Being made so much better than the angels…but unto the Son he saith “thy throne O God is forever and ever, a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy Kingdom”. Here Paul introduces another theme that will be seen thru out this letter. The superiority of Jesus over angels. Why is this important? Most believers know that Jesus is greater than angels, don’t they? Here we see why context is important to understand this letter. In Jewish tradition it is believed that the law was given to Moses by God thru the mediation of angels. Some say ‘well, we don’t use Jewish tradition, we use scripture’. First, Paul used anything he could to win the argument. Second, if we believe Hebrews is an inspired book, then when we read later on that the law given thru angels received a recompense if broken, then right here you have scripture [Hebrews] testifying that God did use angels to ‘transmit’ the law to some degree. Now, why is it important for gentiles to see this? Well it really isn’t! But it is vital for a first century Jew to see it. If Paul can show that Jesus is greater than the angels, then he is beginning to make the argument that the New Covenant is greater than the Old.   Here is the context. Moses law is highly revered in the first century Jewish community, so here Paul says ‘how much better is the law/word given to us from Gods Son’. Since Jesus is much better than the angels, therefore pay closer attention to the words spoken thru Gods Son, he is greater than the angels! ‘But to which of the angels said he “sit at my right hand until I make thy enemies thy footstool” we end chapter one with the theme of Jesus being better than the angels, yet in chapter 2 something funny happens, Paul will make the argument of Jesus being “a little lower than the angels” lets see what this means. NEW NOTES- 4-2015 LOGOS. We see God having created all things thru Christ ‘the express image of his person- by whom also he made the worlds’. Jesus is called the WORD of God in scripture- the Greek word- for ‘word’ is Logos. We read in the bible that God made all things- but also that Christ made all things- Is this a contradiction? No- For the first 3-4 centuries of Christianity- as you study the early church councils- The early church struggled over how to view the relationships between God and Jesus These debates raged- and at times each side viewed the other as Heretics. I think it was a mistake to be so quick to judge those as heretics- who were having difficulty in expressing in finite words- the great mystery of God and Christ. In Genesis we read that God spoke all things into existence- so- here we see God’s Word- Logos [Christ] as being the instrumental cause of creation. In John chapter one we read that Jesus was the Word- in the beginning- who was with God- and was God. I’ll try and simplify it [not an easy task to say the least]. God- who is Spirit- spoke- and this expression of God- his Word- is also referred to as Christ- Christ/Jesus is the Word of God made flesh- and it is thru his humanity [incarnation] that we do indeed see God in ‘the flesh’- Yes- by Him- all things were made.   SEATED. We see a theme in chapter 1- that will run thru the whole letter- HE SAT DOWN- In Hebrews we are seeing the superiority of the New Covenant over the old- and there will be many comparisons to show how the Old Covenant- priests- sacrifices- the law itself- was less than what we get in the New Covenant- And the reality that Jesus sat down at the right hand of God- shows us that he was the last- and final High Priest- and the whole system of Priests under the law are now done. We will read that the Old Testament priests stood [signifying that there work was ongoing- meaning they would have to keep offering sacrifices that could never put away sin]. But Jesus- after he offered himself- sat down. All thru this letter we will see these comparisons- LOTS OF QUOTES- We also see a lot of quotes from the Psalms in this letter- just like we saw in the Romans study. There is a debate over whether or not Paul wrote the letter- I think he did. One of the reasons is the author of Hebrews does the same thing as Paul in the other letters- lots of cross references from the Old Testament books- and it just seems to me to have the same flavor as Paul’s other letters. Psalms 2, 104, 45, etc.   CHAPTER 2: NEW NOTES AT BOTTOM .HOW SHOULD WE INTERPRET SCRIPTURE? .PSLAMS, ISAIAH ‘REVEALED’ THRU CHRIST   ‘Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at anytime we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression received a just recompense of reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation that was first spoken by the Lord and was confirmed to us by them that heard him’. Now, we see the contrast. If the word spoken ‘by angels’ [law] was so strict in judgment, then how much more will God hold responsible those who reject the word spoken by the Son [gospel], being he is so much better than the angels? This is the theme taught in chapter one. That’s why chapter 2 starts with ‘therefore’ he is saying because of all this truth of the superiority of Jesus to angels, don’t reject the word of the Son! Also now we begin to see context. The ‘not neglecting so great salvation’ is really speaking to Israel [Hebrews]. It is not telling believers not to neglect salvation or they will be lost, it is telling first century Israel if you reject/neglect this true gospel of Jesus as Messiah, then YOU will be lost.   Many of the verses thru out this study will begin to make a lot of sense when taken in context. We will do much more of this in the coming chapters. ‘Thou madest him a little lower than the angels, thou crownest him with glory’ ‘thou hast put all things under his feet’ ‘we see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and  honor, that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man’. Now we see the doctrine of Jesus being made lower than the angels. Does this contradict chapter one? No! He was first made ‘lower’ [became a man and humbled himself more than any other man-Philippians] and for this reason God gave him the highest position at his right hand. He was made lower so he could ‘taste death for every man’ here Paul gets right into the central message of the gospel, that he will spend the rest of this letter explaining. He realizes that 1st century Israel must transition into the death and resurrection of Jesus. He doesn’t take the common evangelical approach to Israel, which seems to defend and extol her on a regular basis. Paul sees her ‘lost ness’ and makes every effort to bring her into the gospel. Jesus died for EVERY man, Israel, so you too must transition into this one new man that he desires to create.   ‘For as much than as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also likewise took part of the same, that thru death he might DESTROY him who had the power of death, that is the devil: and deliver them who thru fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage’ did you know that Jesus already destroyed the devil? The greatest act of deliverance and redemption that will ever take place, already took place! Evangelicals can be notorious for looking to the 2nd coming as an ‘escape hatch’. Sometimes the 2nd coming is looked to as the event that ‘destroys the devil’ sorry, but he has already been destroyed. Now there definitely will be a future aspect to his final judgment, but its inevitability is sealed by the fact of the death and resurrection of the Son of God!   These verses also say that Jesus delivered us from him who had the power of death, that is the devil. Jesus taught in the gospels that God had the power to take life or spare it. Fear God. Then how can the devil have ‘the power of death’. The devil has used death as a ‘sword of Damocles’ over the heads of people. He works thru intimidation. How many people live their whole lives in fear of getting cancer, or some other disease? They often go to extreme lengths to do all they can to avoid death. This type of self survival can be obsessive. People will run back and forth on hopes of escaping some sickness. The devil often accuses people ‘you have this sickness’ or ‘you might get it’. He had ‘power’ thru deception. He knew man did sin, and one of the prices for sin was death. So the enemy constantly accuses the saints. And one of his main weapons is ‘you will die because of what you did’. Jesus dealt with this ultimate fear thru tasting death himself and coming thru the other side. This is why Peter was so eager to go thru death after he saw Jesus do it. Peter was such a chicken before, that he would deny he even knew Jesus, to a girl, just to save his skin. After the resurrection, it was all over! They were convinced that death had no more power over them. They would die someday, but it wasn’t the final curtain.   ‘Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people, for in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to help them that are tempted’ One of the other reasons why Jesus took on flesh was so he could empathize with man. Paul wrote the Corinthians and told them that the things that they suffered were for a purpose. The purpose was that after they went thru stuff, God would show them comfort. They then would be able to comfort others with the same comfort that God showed them. Later in Hebrews we also read that every priest taken from men had infirmity. Therefore he could identify with man.   We will also read that Jesus was in all points tempted like us. So here we see that Jesus incarnation allowed him to identify with man and to be faithful to have compassion and understanding with mans weakness. Often times in Christianity you will have well meaning ministers give up on the addict. A lot of times you hear ‘well, if they were serious about God they would do right’ or ‘if they only made a quality decision at the altar’ and things of this nature. Often times those who have not been thru addiction cannot really understand the life of a person who will steal from his own family, go to prison, lose everything he has ever earned. And then get out after 10 years and do it all again! Jesus had compassion because he walked in our shoes. He knew the terrible draw of sin and temptation, and he asks us to come to him for help because he knows what the struggles are like.   NEW NOTES- Psalms 8, 22. Isaiah 8- Notice how the author freely quotes from Psalms and Isaiah- just like we saw in the book of Romans- Notice how the writer applies the quotes to Jesus himself ‘I will sing praises to you in the midst of the congregation’ ‘made a little lower than the angels’ etc. I just finished another course- by a Yale university scholar- He taught from the ‘historical criticism’ view of scripture. This type of reading of the bible arose out of the German universities in the late19th- early 20th centuries. It had some good aspects to it- but in many ways it was an unfair criticism [taking apart] of the biblical authors. I mention that to say when we see the New Testament writers interpreting these Old Testament scriptures in this way- Those of us who believe the bible to be the inspired Word of God. Then we don’t see it as a ‘miss-reading’. For instance- critics say that some of these verses are not speaking of Christ- now- that may be true in the general sense- when the Jews first read these verses from the Old Testament. But we- Christians- see it as God revealing the true fulfillment of these prophecies- in Psalms and Isaiah. So- the critics will note that these verses applied in a general way- and not to Christ. But the believer sees it as God using the writers of the New Testament- under inspiration- as revealing to us how the Old Testament is now being fully revealed thru Christ. Psalm 8:4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? Psalm 8:5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Psalm 8:6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: Psalm 22:22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. Isaiah 8:18 Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.   EPHESIANS 5 Ephesians 5:30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. Ephesians 5 https://youtu.be/R9hmfExkpwU ON VIDEO- Ephesians 5] .The glove test .Partake of the table too- like David .A type of the priest from Judah- the Lord of the Sabbath .Walk in love .1 Spirit in a corporate community .The same Spirit of Christ 1 Corinthians 6:17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. .Not just a symbol .Gnostic/Docetist heresy refuted http://www.dictionary.com/browse/docetism .We are vitally connected to him .What is the great mystery? .The Body of Christ OTHER VIDEOS- [These are the videos I make during the week- as well as past videos I post every night on my various sites] 2-7-18 Update- judge busted- caller times https://youtu.be/l1OfF20xWr8 2-6-18 News update https://youtu.be/IE6jrn0JFLI 2-6-18 Update- Tim at the end https://youtu.be/D746UC6j-Rw 2-6-18 Island girl? https://youtu.be/26HcgG-aMJs Times Square- NYC https://youtu.be/Zzz8rjM4G8I Samuel 12-13 https://vimeo.com/254234967 Sunday sermon https://1drv.ms/v/s!Aocp2PkNEAGMcX_RR1U1bfeROjo Hebrews 4-6 https://drive.google.com/file/d/1z7LmpMCMwv8d-rAWvIEPFMpLbacVz9wN/view?usp=sharing St. Patrick’s cathedral- NYC https://youtu.be/_awHe0MTO0c John 11 [filmed close to Mexico] https://vimeo.com/254597044 On the road- Hebrews 4 https://vimeo.com/254773370 Apologetics- Philosophy- Prophets https://1drv.ms/v/s!Aocp2PkNEAGMcqT0iKU_ZT_0qsM Hebrews 7-9 https://drive.google.com/file/d/19pXxmPw7J3PlBlWkxkyWgziR5nEsO6mg/view?usp=sharing Mark 2:28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations NEW- [Past posts- verses below] The apostle now gives practical living truth- As believers- we do not walk after the flesh- we are instead to be filled with the Spirit- and walk as new creatures in Christ- Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. Ephesians 5:3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Ephesians 5:4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. Ephesians 5:5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Ephesians 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Ephesians 5:7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. Ephesians 5:8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: Once again- a theme I have hit on the past 2 weeks- we see the death of Christ for us as an example of the love of God- Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. Then Paul talks about the marriage union- the same instructions he gave in his other letters- Ephesians 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Ephesians 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; Most of us are familiar with it- Husbands love your wives- wives- submit- not in a negative way- but as examples of Christ and the church. The church is lead by Christ- the head- so the family unit- when functioning properly- is lead by the husband- if he is loving his wife properly. Now- the verse I wanted to emphasize the most- Ephesians 5:30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. When I read it the other day- it seemed to ‘say more’ than what we usually ‘see’. The church as the Body of Christ is an ‘image’ that most of us are familiar with. But here it seems to go further. The apostle says we are bone of his bone- flesh of his flesh- and he says this is a great mystery- Ephesians 5:32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. We as humans were made alive when God gave us life- spirit- identity- Genesis 2:7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. 1 Corinthians 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit Human beings live- because we have spirits- souls- life given to us as a gift from the creator. This is not a symbol- this is reality. Now- when we as believers are born again- our spirits come back to life- we were dead in sin- and have now been made alive again. We also have the Holy Spirit indwelling us- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 [Full Chapter] What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. This is not simply a symbol- but a reality. Jesus actually rose- physically from the dead- and ascended bodily into heaven- 9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. He lives today in a resurrected body- and is seated in a position of authority [right hand of God] So he too- physically has the Spirit of God in him. We- as people still on the earth- have that same Spirit residing in us- Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. God has done a new thing in the redemption of man- God has created a community of people- in whom the same Spirit- One Spirit- now actually resides in all of us. When I saw it this way- I didn’t take the verse as being only a symbol- but a reality. Yes- we do retain our individuality as believers- we still have our own regenerated spirits in us- But we also have intimacy with the resurrected Christ- and one another- because the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is now living in us too. See? Ephesians 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations NOTE- I also shared from these 2 portions of scripture on the video- Ecclesiastes 6:1 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men: Ecclesiastes 6:2 A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honour, so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it: this is vanity, and it is an evil disease. Luke 6:3 And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him; Luke 6:4 How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone? Luke 6:5 And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath. I read them the other night- and felt they had a special meaning for those in ministry- as well as all of us- I’ll try and add my past teaching below on Luke 6- this portion is actually a great truth about Jesus and the New Covenant- I taught it on the video [Ephesians 5] PAST POSTS- [My past teachings that relate in some way to this post- Ephesians 5] EPHESIANS- LINKS https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/11/30/ephesians-1/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/12/13/ephesians-2/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2018/01/09/ephesians-3/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2018/01/25/ephesians-4/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2018/02/04/sunday-sermon-it-is-finished/ https://ccoutreach87.com/acts-links/ https://ccoutreach87.com/1st-2nd-corinthians/ https://ccoutreach87.com/john-complete-links-added/ [I mentioned chapters 1 and 3 on today’s post- Eph. 5] https://ccoutreach87.com/james-2015/ https://ccoutreach87.com/romans-updated-2015/ [See chapter 12] https://ccoutreach87.com/christian-recovery-from-addiction-long-version/ https://ccoutreach87.com/hebrews-updated-2015/ Samuel 21 POSTED BY CCOUTREACH87 ⋅ OCTOBER 9, 2016 ⋅ LEAVE A COMMENT SAMUEL 21- As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever. Isaiah https://youtu.be/psCMQgX_7v4 Samuel 21 https://ccoutreach87.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/10-6-16-samuel-21.zip ON VIDEO- [Yes- I ‘Backslid’. I promised no more political stuff- but for the first 20 minutes of the video- I get into it. The last 10 minutes I do teach- and have some new notes below on that. I made this video a few days ago- before the latest ‘controversies’- the Hillary WikiLeaks and the Trump video. It really makes no difference- I’m simply dealing with media bias. Trying to show how the media decides what to focus on. Yet- the real important issues of our time are put on the back burner- and we do politics like a sport]. .Debates .Media bias .Clinton Foundation .Why no taxes? .Clintons health is a real issue .Why is she off the trail? .How did the Clintons get rich? .What about the server? .Why did CNN fire the doctor? .Google even manipulated the search results .Russia .Abortion .The sword came back NEW- David is on the run from King Saul. He shows up at the house of God and asks the priest for food. The priest is nervous- David is alone [not a full military back up] and something just doesn’t seem right. David assures the priest ‘look- I’m on a special mission for the king- it’s so secret I left quickly- didn’t even have time to take food or weapons’. Wow- this must be some mission? How about some lie. Yes- David is good at lots of stuff- and he lied great here. So- the priest gives David and his few men the Holy bread- which is only for the priests. Now- David is not from the priestly tribe- Levi- but from Judah. Ok- David takes the food and asks ‘do you have any weapons’? The priest says ‘only the sword- I mean it’s wrapped up in the back- we treat the thing like it’s holy’. Yes- the sword David used to cut the giants head off. I think David must have felt a little remorse here. The whole nation had that sword as a memento of David’s great victory over Goliath. He used the sword only one time- the day he cut the giants head off. After all- it was the giant’s sword. Now- he’s on the run from Saul- already made up some great lies- and the priest gives him the weapon he used in the past. When he trusted in the living God- against all odds- and was a righteous warrior. David takes the sword- goes to the Philistines- Huh? Yes- he flees to the enemy camp- and the king of Gath says ‘why did you bring this guy to me- isn’t he David the great warrior who killed us in the past’. Now- David seems to have been trying to get a job- you know- as a mercenary. He couldn’t fight for Saul-and that’s his greatest paying skill. But when the philistines recognize him- Well- what do you think David did? Maybe yelled out ‘yes- I’m the one who took the giants head off- and I still come to you in the name of the living God- and…’ Yeah- did he do that John? Well actually not. Instead- he started drooling at the mouth- and scribbling on the doors- you know- like he was nuts. ‘John- you shouldn’t joke about stuff like that’. I’m not! Go read it [below]. Yes- the great man after ‘God’s own heart’ was so afraid- he pretended he was nuts- and yes- the scheme worked- The king says ‘this guy’s not David- that great man of honor- he’s a nut’! Ahh- we see what fear can do to a man- even a great man. Yes- David is in a tough spot- His own king- Saul- is out to get him. His only option was to go work for the enemy- At least that’s what he thought. And then he not only acted like a nut- He lied to the priest too. He ate the bread that Jesus himself said was only for the priests 25 And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him? 26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? Jesus. And he schemed his way into a corner. Does anything good come out of this at all? Yes- Jesus used this story- when defending himself and his disciples when they were accused of violating the law. 23 And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. 24 And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? 25 And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him? 26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? 27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: 28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath. And Jesus- who too was from the tribe of Judah- Superseded the Old Covenant law- He never broke it- but he ushered in a better covenant. By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. Hebrews So David- on his bad day- actually glorified Jesus on his good day. And even in his failure- gave Jesus one of the greatest stories he could use to show his superiority over the Levitical priests. Yes- that Jesus and his men- just like David and his- did indeed have the right to do what they did. Because they were from a better tribe- The one that our Lord ‘sprang from’. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. Heb. 7:14 Amen. PAST POSTS [verses below] https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/06/10/the-mexican-judge-and-benghazi/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/russia-u-s-world-events/ 1st- 2nd Samuel-  https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/1st-2nd-samuel/ %5BOld commentary I wrote years ago] VIDEO/POST LINKS- https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/06/24/every-cop-a-criminal/ %5B1-2 Samuel] https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/06/28/when-the-saints-go-marching-in-sam-3-john-2-4/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/06/29/just-a-box-samuel-4/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/07/03/would-you-be-isis/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/07/07/samuel-5-6/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/07/12/samuel-7-8/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/07/18/samuel-9/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/07/23/samuel-10/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/07/27/the-chapel/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/07/29/samuel-11-kings-n-priests/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/08/02/samuel-12-13/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/08/09/samuel-14/ https://youtu.be/iImxoD3cRfQ Samuel preview https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/08/13/john-12/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/08/17/samuel-15/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/08/19/samuel-john-hebrews-review/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/08/24/samuel-16/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/08/31/samuel-17/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/09/07/samuel-18/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/09/19/samuel-19/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/09/24/john-17/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/09/26/samuel-20/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/09/28/james-then-it-rained/ SAMUEL REVIEW I’ve been commenting on the book of Samuel- brief overview. Samuel is born at a time in Israel’s history where ‘the word of the Lord was rare- no open vision’. God had stopped communicating to his people- because they were lukewarm- not serious about God. God was looking for at least one passionate person- to cry out to him with all their heart. He found that person in Hannah. She was barren- could not get pregnant- and one day her desperate plea came to God. ‘Give me a child- and I’ll dedicate him to you’. This might have ‘surprised’ God [I know- not really] because that type of desperation was missing from his people. So- she has a son- Samuel- and she drops him off at the church one day [the tabernacle] and leaves him for good. He’s raised under the leadership of Eli- and his 2 sons- who were priests. These sons were using ‘their religion’ for personal benefit- they were wicked and sleeping around- and Eli knew this was going on- and didn’t stop it. Yet- Eli has this woman [Hannah] who left her son- so he could ‘live for God’. I’m sure Eli must have felt guilty ‘geez- this lady is living in the past- when people really did sell out to God’ And his own boys- were using religion as a scam. One day [Samuel chapter 3] the young boy hears someone calling him. Samuel gets up and thinks it’s Eli- he goes to Eli ‘what do you want- I heard you call my name’. Eli has no idea what Samuel is saying- and tells him to go to bed. It happens 2 more times- and Eli realizes ‘Maybe God is calling the boy’. He gives Samuel instructions to go lay down- and when he hears the voice again- to say ‘Speak God- I’m hear’. Sure enough it does happen again- and God gives Samuel a message. He tells Eli what God said- and the news was not good. God will judge the wicked priests- Eli’s 2 sons- and God will clean house. Ok- that’s it in brief. I mention on the video how God revealed himself to Samuel thru his voice- and I have been teaching about the Logos recently. God’s word comes first- then the ‘flesh’ the actual outworking of what he wants to do- Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:2 The same was in the beginning with God. John 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. Samuel is an important figure in the nation at this time- because he will be the one to anoint the first 2 kings that Israel has- Saul and David. God was willing to start speaking to his people again- but there would be a cleansing first. The prophet Amos said ‘woe to you who ae looking for God’s day- asking ‘why is God not speaking anymore’. Because there’s usually a reason his communication is cut off from his people- and that’s because his people are not hearing [hearing in the bible is not simply ‘hearing’ but it means you obey what is said] him anymore. Yet- if we want to hear his prophets again- see his miracles- then that entails repentance on our part. For many years Eli’s wicked sons were ‘doing ministry’ and the things they were getting away with seemed a common practice. All the people knew it was wrong- they despised ‘the church’ because bad stuff was going on. Yet- that’s just the way things were. But then God had a vessel for his voice- a prophet- dedicated by a passionate mother- who kept her vow. Much like the Virgin Mary- when the angel appeared to her- she said ‘so be it’. God needs willing people- then he too will speak again. Yes- we too can hear his voice- and the word of the Lord won’t be ‘scarce’. VERSES- 1Samuel 21:1 Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest: and Ahimelech was afraid at the meeting of David, and said unto him, Why art thou alone, and no man with thee? 1Samuel 21:2 And David said unto Ahimelech the priest, The king hath commanded me a business, and hath said unto me, Let no man know any thing of the business whereabout I send thee, and what I have commanded thee: and I have appointed my servants to such and such a place. 1Samuel 21:3 Now therefore what is under thine hand? give me five loaves of bread in mine hand, or what there is present. 1Samuel 21:4 And the priest answered David, and said, There is no common bread under mine hand, but there is hallowed bread; if the young men have kept themselves at least from women. 1Samuel 21:5 And David answered the priest, and said unto him, Of a truth women have been kept from us about these three days, since I came out, and the vessels of the young men are holy, and the bread is in a manner common, yea, though it were sanctified this day in the vessel. 1Samuel 21:6 So the priest gave him hallowed bread: for there was no bread there but the shewbread, that was taken from before the LORD, to put hot bread in the day when it was taken away. 1Samuel 21:7 Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before the LORD; and his name was Doeg, an Edomite, the chiefest of the herdmen that belonged to Saul. 1Samuel 21:8 And David said unto Ahimelech, And is there not here under thine hand spear or sword? for I have neither brought my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king’s business required haste. 1Samuel 21:9 And the priest said, The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom thou slewest in the valley of Elah, behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod: if thou wilt take that, take it: for there is no other save that here. And David said, There is none like that; give it me. 1Samuel 21:10 And David arose and fled that day for fear of Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath. 1Samuel 21:11 And the servants of Achish said unto him, Is not this David the king of the land? did they not sing one to another of him in dances, saying, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands? 1Samuel 21:12 And David laid up these words in his heart, and was sore afraid of Achish the king of Gath. 1Samuel 21:13 And he changed his behaviour before them, and feigned himself mad in their hands, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard. 1Samuel 21:14 Then said Achish unto his servants, Lo, ye see the man is mad: wherefore then have ye brought him to me? 1Samuel 21:15 Have I need of mad men, that ye have brought this fellow to play the mad man in my presence? shall this fellow come into my house? I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence, Is. 62:6 http://www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com https://www.facebook.com/john.chiarello.5?ref=bookmarks https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZ4GsqTEVWRm0HxQTLsifvg I talked about the Gnostics/Docetists on today’s post- Ephesians 5- here are my past teachings on it- (739)ACTS 20- Paul travels with some brothers on the journey. This mode of visiting different regions and bringing brothers with him is exciting! They are truly seeing the Kingdom of God becoming established in the earth. Scripture says ‘they broke bread on the first day of the week’ we read later in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians that when they met on the ‘first day of the week’ he asked them to take up a collection before he arrived [so he could take the money and meet the needs of the poor saints at Jerusalem]. Do we see here some type of Sunday Sabbath, that is the ‘church day to pay tithes’ so you don’t get cursed? Of course not. You are seeing the simple practical outworking of a people who are becoming the people of God. It’s fine to meet on a Sunday and to ‘break bread’. Hey, the group needs to know when to meet for the meal! But don’t develop liturgical/sacramental ideas out of this. You say ‘hooray for John [me], he is really giving it to those Catholics’ well, don’t say hooray yet. Now he calls for the Elders at Ephesus to come to Miletus so he can give them some instructions and a farewell. This address from Paul is one of the best in the New Testament. He covers the basics for leadership and church growth. Now, he tells them ‘all the time I was with you guys I was upright. I taught you publicly and from house to house. I showed you repentance toward God and faith towards Jesus Christ. I worked and did not covet your money. I did this to prove I was not there to gain financially from you. To give you an example as Elders yourselves, so you would not see the responsibility of oversight thru a covetous mindset. Beware! After I leave you there will be an attempt by the enemy to undo the work of the Cross. Some men, even from your own group will rise up and speak twisted doctrines. They will try to become preeminent in the group, drawing away disciples after themselves. Don’t become sidetracked and become followers of men! Guard the flock over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Feed them Gods good word’. Paul lays down strong guidelines here. He actually teaches the elders that he worked when he was among them to leave this example of leaders not seeing ministry as a means to get gain. In one of his future letters [Timothy or Thessalonians?] he actually says this ‘working’ that he did was a tradition for them to keep. He said this in context of those who refused to work. Very strong indeed. Peter also will teach the Elders to take oversight of Gods flock ‘not for money, but out of a pure motive’. In the wars that rage over ‘simple church’ versus the modern 501c3 model, both sides have shot at each other wrongfully at times. There are very intelligent brothers who will take this chapter and teach that the modern Pastor has fallen into the trap of ‘making disciples after themselves’. They see the development of the role of Pastor as becoming the fulfillment of this. Now, I do see some merit to this, but I see most pastors [all the ones I know and have known personally over the years] as Elders who are striving to help Gods People. I see a real need for all leadership to see that ministry is not a fulltime clergy type office that has developed over the centuries! Paul is simply addressing the Elders [more mature ones- in the gospel, not necessarily old!] and showing them that their purpose is to help the people of God grow in grace and make it to a place of self sufficiency in Christ. Paul is pretty much laying down the gauntlet that leadership is not some ticket of ‘now that I am in ministry, my income comes from the God ordained tithe’. This is never taught as a means of support for New testament ministers. These ideas have developed out of the Old Testament idea of the tithe supporting the Levitical Priests. In the New Covenant all are Priests and we don’t practice this type of thing. But Paul does teach that it’s good to support materially [financially] those who are feeding you spiritual food. He does teach ‘don’t muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn’ [he called us ox’s!] seriously, he lays down the biblical guideline of supporting those who minister the word. But it is important to see he was not establishing some type of clergy system, the fact that he was working while with these Ephesians and actually used this as an example for OTHER ELDERS as well as the believers shows you this. All in all the main point Paul is getting across is he wants the basic truth of the gospel to prevail and he does not want top heavy leadership to come in and draw away disciples after them. That is for strong gifted leaders to become the main focus of these Ephesian believers. So this chapter is important because we see Paul address these elders that he has been ‘ordaining’ in the churches [groups of believers]. We see the basic character and function of these men. We see the warning that cults will arise. In Paul’s day groups did come forth from the basic Christian communities [Gnostics and Docetists] that had a basic understanding of certain Christian things, but would deny the reality of Jesus. Paul bids them Farwell as they all embrace on the shoreline. The Elders were heartbroken over Paul’s words that he will probably see them no more. He wanted to keep the upcoming feast at Jerusalem and eventually preach at Rome. He was on this obsession to carry this gospel to the seat of the empire, even if it means his life. Here’s a link- https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/08/20/acts-20/ https://ccoutreach87.com/mark-links/ Here’s my past teaching from Mark 12 that relates to the Matt. 23 reading- https://youtu.be/7dfLhO2HBf8 anti- Christ [2nd, 3rd John] https://ccoutreach87.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/10-23-16-anti-christ-2nd-3rd-jn.zip ON VIDEO [past posts below] .See my Hillary drawing [sorry] .Who is anti-christ? .Some thought Hitler .Apostles relate to the bride .Soteriology .Was John a theological liberal? Mosul .Iraq- Libya .ISIS .Sunni- Shia division .Execution- or human shields- or just murder? .Abortion .Docetism refuted [parts] OBADIAH- Obadiah 1:7 All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; that they eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him. https://youtu.be/LaG8b0etYK8 Obadiah ON VIDEO- .Peace treaty? .Leaked emails .How to skew the polls .Do I like to lynch Black people? .The 1 dollar cheese story .Homeless stuff .Iran- Yemen- Libya- Syria .The shores of Tripoli .ISIS .Turkey .Britannia ruled the seas- and lost [overblog- see here- https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/11/15/tuesday-5/ ] .Mosul GW BRIDGE- https://youtu.be/70CVdZxFIMg GW bridge ON VIDEO- .Foundation stones .Why Bishops? .Gnostics and Docetism .Dads boat .GOV Christie and hot dogs .Restore the paths .Isaiah and John .Memories of a kid- train tunnel .Robert Moses to blame? .Mayor LaGuardia .The argument for Rome .Church fathers .Mystics .Suicide signs .Apostolic succession .What church is the ‘true church’? .Most amazing intellectual discourse ever? Only if you don’t hear [have to watch to get it- sorry] .Bedrock .I am homeless- can you spare a 5? NOTE- I made the video- and typed the notes sitting in my car at Hudson County Park [in the rain] Ill upload tomorrow at Dunkin Donuts [or somewhere else]. What big financial budget was needed for this? None. One of the things I want my minister friends to see- is it’s not about money. Sure- it would be easier to be at my home office- or even a home. But you don’t need it- you can use the things that you have. This has been one of my ‘pet peeves’ for many years. I want you to see how simple all of this is- the friends you see [both in Texas and here] are just friends I made along the way. The kingdom is about relationships- and sharing with one another- even Marie quoted Jesus- and as far as I know she’s not a Christian. So- maybe this whole unplanned experience was God’s will. To be honest- I never know- at least at the start. Be spontaneous- I left Texas on Sunday- because I heard the song ‘Head East’ [or group?] So yes- we all have limited time on the planet. Don’t live ‘too safe’ or you won’t live- at all. FRIDAY NIGHT- PARKING LOT- https://youtu.be/UYOvIw6jhiI Friday night- parking lot Just finished the GW bridge walk a few hours ago- and being it might be the last night sleeping in the car, I figured I’d do a video for a few minutes. This will probably be the last time you’ll be able to see- real time- me living in the car like this. But- like they say ‘you never know’. [parts] In both the gospel and his 3 little letters [1st, 2nd and 3rd John] he uses this term to describe Jesus. ‘In the beginning was THE WORD and the word was with God…’ That’s the Greek word- Logos. It should be noted that the early Greek philosophers had a concept much like this. All the way back to the time of Plato- Socrates and Aristotle [around 500 years before Christ] the Greeks were speaking about a universal principle- some type of ‘unifying theory’ that would be the basis of all knowledge. They spoke about this principle as THE LOGOS. So- some of the critics of Christianity did use this as a criticism of the church- they say ‘see- the disciples were just making stuff up- borrowing themes that were already there’. Do they have a point? A point- maybe- but that’s all. In the letters of John we also read him refuting a cult of the day- called Gnosticism [Gnosis is the Greek word for knowledge. They believed that they had secret knowledge that the others did not have. A modern twist on this is sometimes referred to as Revelation Knowledge- it’s a form of this ‘special knowledge’ idea that existed in the early days of the church.] An off shoot of this group were called the Docetists. These guys were pseudo Christians- they held to some form of Christian belief- but denied the true faith of the church. They taught that Jesus was ‘a phantom spirit’ that is- they denied what we refer to as the incarnation. That God became man in the person of Christ. John was one of the youngest disciples- and he also outlived the others. His writings are probably the oldest in the N.T. [Revelation] So- he was around long enough to refute the growing philosophical challenges to the church. So- putting all this together- when John said Jesus was the Divine Logos- he was not ‘stealing’ that idea from the earlier Greek philosophers who were indeed looking for a Logos principle. No- he was saying ‘look- we- the followers of Christ- have found the thing you were looking for all the time- he is the Wisdom- the Logos of God’. See? Okay- I haven’t read John in a long time- nor have I ever studied Greek. But- I do have a Greek lexicon [a book that gives you the Greek word before it was translated into English]. And back ‘in the day’ when we were young believers- seeking to learn the faith- these were the basic tools of the trade. But today- well- the tools are motivation- success stuff. Learning how to invest- make a buck [or 2] – how to ‘create your world’. Yeah- we really don’t have time for all that silly stuff like the Logos. After all- it’s all Greek to me. Yeah- I know. http://www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to scroll down on the timeline [Facebook] – I have posted lots. Mark 2 [North Bergen] POSTED BY CCOUTREACH87 ⋅ MARCH 2, 2017 ⋅ LEAVE A COMMENT WEDNESDAY 3-1-17 Revelation 5:9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; Revelation 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. https://youtu.be/_SRevM8Tcs4 MARK 2 https://ccoutreach87.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/3-1-17-mark-2-north-bergen.zip https://youtu.be/4S5YHb2hea8 BURGER KING [Glenn] https://youtu.be/mij6WkuCllE MONKEY WITH 3 TAILS [Rick] ON VIDEO [Mark 2]- .91st. st. to park [Fairview- North Bergen] .Who can forgive sins but God? .Man healed .Why was Jesus with sinners? .Culture shock .New Wine [and skins] .Don’t pick the corn .Don’t you remember what David did? .The Sabbath was made for man- not the other way around .David and his men a type of Jesus and his men NEW- I taught on the first video [Mark 2] and spent a few hours with some of my friends. Glenn is homeless- and we have had some good talks. I share a little of his story on the short videos. On the teaching video I’ll try and add my past teaching on this chapter. I haven’t done a commentary on Mark’s gospel- and when I get back to Texas I might pick up on where I left off and make a complete study out of it. When I left the guys I thought of possibly doing a NYC video at midnight type of a thing- I’ve done those before- and you can see how the streets are always crowded in the ‘city that never sleeps’. But I’ll put that off for now. On today’s post/video I walked past the spot where I made some of my first teaching videos- in 2014- below are those videos. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSwvNQlFyuY %5BNorth Bergen- 2014] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SxYy2p1OX4 %5BNorth Bergen- 2014] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4VF0gOYw_k %5BNorth Bergen- 2015] PAST TEACHING- [verses below] Jesus talks about the story of king David found in Samuel- I taught that chapter before- 1st Samuel 21- here’s the link to my study [below I’ll paste the text to my commentary on the chapter] https://ccoutreach87.com/1st-2nd-samuel/ I mentioned these bible books on today’s video [Mark 2]- here are my studies on them- https://ccoutreach87.com/john-complete-links-added/ https://ccoutreach87.com/james-2015/ (905)SAMUEL 21- David is fleeing from Saul and he goes to the priest at Nob. The priest wonders what’s up. David tells him he is on a special assignment from the king and he and his men need food. The priest tells him the only food available is the consecrated bread that is only for God and the priesthood. David convinces the priest to let them eat and David asks ‘do you have any weapons here’. The priest says ‘I have the sword you used to kill the giant’ David says ‘great, that will work just fine’. Jesus used this story to describe himself and the disciples [Mark 2]. One day Jesus and the disciples were going thru the grain fields and the disciples picked the grain and ate it on the Sabbath. The Pharisees said ‘your disciples are breaking Gods law by picking it on the Sabbath’. Now, to be honest they were breaking the over extended ideas that the religious Pharisees came up with thru their legalism. But Jesus still used this example as a defense. He says ‘have you not read what David and his men did? They ate the ceremonial showbread that was not lawful, only the priests could eat it’. David and his men are a symbol of Jesus and his men. While it is true that the bread was only lawful for the priests, David is a king/priest who gets away with doing ‘priestly things’ because of his picture of Christ. Scripture says he put on an ephod [priestly garment] which only priests could do. David functioned before the open Ark in Jerusalem. He did things that other kings were punished for [Saul, Uzziah]. Jesus in essence was saying to the Pharisees ‘I am the new priest/king from which all future law and worship will be measured by. Me and my followers are not under the law, the law serves us’! In Christ we are free from the guilt of the law, we live above legalism and follow the master. David and his men were acting like priests and kings contrary to the economy of their day. David was a type of Jesus whose future priestly ministry would ‘out trump’ the law. [parts] https://youtu.be/psCMQgX_7v4 Samuel 21 https://ccoutreach87.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/10-6-16-samuel-21.zip ON VIDEO- [Yes- I ‘Backslid’. I promised no more political stuff- but for the first 20 minutes of the video- I get into it. The last 10 minutes I do teach- and have some new notes below on that. I made this video a few days ago- before the latest ‘controversies’- the Hillary WikiLeaks and the Trump video. It really makes no difference- I’m simply dealing with media bias. Trying to show how the media decides what to focus on. Yet- the real important issues of our time are put on the back burner- and we do politics like a sport]. .Debates .Media bias .Clinton Foundation .Why no taxes? .Clintons health is a real issue .Why is she off the trail? .How did the Clintons get rich? .What about the server? .Why did CNN fire the doctor? .Google even manipulated the search results .Russia .Abortion .The sword came back NEW- David is on the run from King Saul. He shows up at the house of God and asks the priest for food. The priest is nervous- David is alone [not a full military back up] and something just doesn’t seem right. David assures the priest ‘look- I’m on a special mission for the king- it’s so secret I left quickly- didn’t even have time to take food or weapons’. Wow- this must be some mission? How about some lie. Yes- David is good at lots of stuff- and he lied great here. So- the priest gives David and his few men the Holy bread- which is only for the priests. Now- David is not from the priestly tribe- Levi- but from Judah. Ok- David takes the food and asks ‘do you have any weapons’? The priest says ‘only the sword- I mean it’s wrapped up in the back- we treat the thing like it’s holy’. Yes- the sword David used to cut the giants head off. I think David must have felt a little remorse here. The whole nation had that sword as a memento of David’s great victory over Goliath. He used the sword only one time- the day he cut the giants head off. After all- it was the giant’s sword. Now- he’s on the run from Saul- already made up some great lies- and the priest gives him the weapon he used in the past. When he trusted in the living God- against all odds- and was a righteous warrior. David takes the sword- goes to the Philistines- Huh? Yes- he flees to the enemy camp- and the king of Gath says ‘why did you bring this guy to me- isn’t he David the great warrior who killed us in the past’. Now- David seems to have been trying to get a job- you know- as a mercenary. He couldn’t fight for Saul-and that’s his greatest paying skill. But when the philistines recognize him- Well- what do you think David did? Maybe yelled out ‘yes- I’m the one who took the giants head off- and I still come to you in the name of the living God- and…’ Yeah- did he do that John? Well actually not. Instead- he started drooling at the mouth- and scribbling on the doors- you know- like he was nuts. ‘John- you shouldn’t joke about stuff like that’. I’m not! Go read it [below]. Yes- the great man after ‘God’s own heart’ was so afraid- he pretended he was nuts- and yes- the scheme worked- The king says ‘this guy’s not David- that great man of honor- he’s a nut’! Ahh- we see what fear can do to a man- even a great man. Yes- David is in a tough spot- His own king- Saul- is out to get him. His only option was to go work for the enemy- At least that’s what he thought. And then he not only acted like a nut- He lied to the priest too. He ate the bread that Jesus himself said was only for the priests 25 And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him? 26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? Jesus. And he schemed his way into a corner. Does anything good come out of this at all? Yes- Jesus used this story- when defending himself and his disciples when they were accused of violating the law. 23 And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. 24 And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? 25 And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him? 26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? 27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: 28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath. And Jesus- who too was from the tribe of Judah- Superseded the Old Covenant law- He never broke it- but he ushered in a better covenant. By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. Hebrews So David- on his bad day- actually glorified Jesus on his good day. And even in his failure- gave Jesus one of the greatest stories he could use to show his superiority over the Levitical priests. Yes- that Jesus and his men- just like David and his- did indeed have the right to do what they did. Because they were from a better tribe- The one that our Lord ‘sprang from’. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. Heb. 7:14 Amen. [this is a chapter from one of my little books- talked about wineskins] CHAPTER 8 ARE CHURCH BUILDINGS EVIL? [OR THE GUY WHO WANTED TO CAST DEMONS OUT OF ME!] Many years ago before I really understood the truths of ecclesia and the communal aspect of the church, I was introduced to the belief that the ‘church building’ itself was wrong. I don’t personally adhere to this belief, but let me share the story. While ministering as a new believer in Christ and learning ‘the ropes’ of ministry, I remember driving past a brother who was a street minister from Mexico. It was unusual in the way he was conducting his street meetings. He would get permission to use an empty lot and then set up actual church pews in the lot without walls or any type of cover over it [even if it rained!]. Well one day on my daily rounds of visiting people and witnessing for Jesus [because this is what ministers are supposed to do, right?] I stopped by this brother’s lot and figured I would bless him with some lunch and listen to him preach [I felt sorry for the brother because no one else was attending his meetings]. After he spoke I had a chance to fellowship with him. After hearing his thoughts I realized it was on purpose for him to have no walls or cover over the pews [these were actual church pews that were out there in the open!]. He shared with me the verse in Hebrews [13:10] where it says that those who worship at the sanctuary have no right to partake of the altar of Christ [the cross]. He saw this as meaning that all Christians who meet in buildings [the sanctuary] were lost! Well, even as a young believer in the lord I was smart enough to know that this verse had nothing to do with ‘church buildings’. I showed the brother that in context the verse simply meant that those Jews [remember who the book of Hebrews was written to] who were not willing to leave the old covenant system [the sanctuary] could not move on with the new covenant truth of Christ and his cross. The sanctuary represented the whole concept of law and Judaism. This verse had nothing to do about the inherent nature of church buildings! Buildings themselves are neutral ground; it’s the style of one person functioning [the pastor] at the expense of the rest of the body that I see as less than ideal. Well after seeing the obvious error of the way this brother was reading this verse, I began to ‘expound unto him the way of God more perfectly’. When he finally understood what I was saying [you could tell by the look in his eyes that he saw the truth] instead of repenting of his distorted view, he became irate and began to cast demons out of me [hey, I didn’t think there were any in me!]. The reason I share this example is because there are those in the house church movement, while not as extreme, seem to view the church building itself as an evil thing. My personal view is the church building can become a hindrance when we view it as part of a system that makes up ‘church’. We seem to see the whole concept of the church building and the pastor as the weekly speaker and all the other things associated around this structure [like tithing to the storehouse] as ‘the system’ that God instituted to carry out his work in the earth. Remember Gods inherent authority resides in no human system or mode of religious worship. His authority resides in the church, the actual people of God in any given community on earth. So if there are believers carrying out Gods purpose, whether they have the whole system that we deem ‘local church’ or not, is irrelevant. Remember what we said about Jesus and the 1st century religious mind? They were finding fault with Jesus and his disciples because they were not following the religious protocol of the day. When we embrace certain mindsets that see ‘local church’ as the limited system of Sunday worship and all the other usual things associated with it, what we’re unconsciously doing is vesting authority in a style, or form of religious worship while by-passing the true legitimacy of Gods people. Its not to say that Gods people who function in the whole system of Sunday church are illegitimate [that would be making the same mistake as the brother who wanted to cast the demons out of me!] but this shows us how we unconsciously make the same mistake as the 1st century Pharisee by seeing as illegitimate those who don’t follow certain protocols. It was a common thing during the 90’s to speak about the ‘changing of the wineskin’ in order to receive the new wine [the new move of God]. Many of theses thoughts were helpful in causing us to re-think the way we ‘do’ church. I also remember a common theme being ‘God wants to pour out his Spirit, but the wineskins are not ready’ in some of these examples the ministers actually meant that we don’t have big enough buildings to put all these new converts so God is ‘withholding the new wine until the new buildings go up’. At this point you should begin seeing how once again this is confusing the reality of Christian community with ‘the church building’. I find it interesting that the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost was not delayed because of the lack of facilities to put all the new converts in. Also the great missionary journeys of Paul were not delayed ‘until the new wineskins were in place’. This shows us how we’ve come to view the people of God as being dependent on the present system. Could it be that God withholds His Spirit because the ‘new wineskin’ could refer more to believers seeing themselves as the actual church that God wants to fill? If we are not rightly discerning Christ’s community as a self-sustaining society of people then the church really isn’t able to contain the new wine. If we are so limited in our thinking to view the new wineskin as larger facilities, as opposed to a rethinking of what it means to truly be Christ’s body, then maybe the holdup has more to do with a change in the way we view ‘church’ then it has to do with bigger church buildings! CHAPTER 9 WHAT IN THE WORLD IS ‘THE LOCAL CHURCH’? Growing up as a catholic boy [though not a good one] I remember when I came to know the lord I started reading through the bible and found how the bible contradicted many of the religious beliefs I held to as a boy [this is not to say Catholics are not Christian]. Later while attending a good Baptist church I naively believed that good Baptists must have it right because they do read the bible![parts] Here’s the whole book- https://ccoutreach87.com/further-talks-on-church-and-ministry/ [parts] There were Jews at the time of the first century who tried to ‘get along’ with Rome- and with the person in charge of their region [one of the sons of Herod the Great at the time of Christ]. These are referred to as Herodian’s in the bible. Some wanted a revolution to rid Rome from Jerusalem- these were the Zealots [one of Jesus disciples was in this group]. Some thought if they returned to a legalistic obeisance of the law- that this would bring in a deliverer- like the stories we read about in the Old testament- these were the Pharisees. And some took more of a political compromise- these were the Sadducees. Eventually a war with Rome would be fought [By the way- Josephus- the famous 1st century historian- fought on the side of the Jews in the war- and after Jerusalem was sacked in A.D. 70- he went to Rome and wrote his great works- thinking he would make a case for the Jewish people with the Romans. This is why we have his works today- which are very valuable to scholars]. NOTE- In time I’ll try and cover how we ‘got our bibles’ [called the Canon- meaning Rule/ Measurement]. Frankly- there is a lot of confusion in the general public about conspiracies [like the Catholic Church had some type of plot to keep certain books out]. Or stories about how the Church taught Mary Magdalene was a prostitute so they could discredit her. Actually- we read in the gospels that Jesus cast out ‘spirits’ from a woman who was probably living this type of life- And Jesus had a ministry to the down and out- it is indeed possible that Mary was one of these women- And if true- it would not demean her in any way- That’s how this tradition more than likely developed- But- we don’t know for sure. So a few years back the Church officially said ‘we don’t know’. Ok- Plot? [parts] Ok- the ruling empire at the time of Christ was Rome- just prior to the appearance of Jesus- the Roman Emperor- Caesar Augustus- consolidated the Roman Empire under his rule- Rome was ruled by a senate- some famous names from history were in it- Cicero being one. Caesar Augustus was the nephew of Julius Caesar- his real name was Octavian [Octavius]. After the death of Julius Caesar- there were some power struggles that took place- between some other famous people. Marc Antony being one of them [Cleopatra too- he was in love with the girl for sure]. Now- we read about Augustus in the New Testament- and we read in the book of Revelation about the Mark of the Beast- and that those who don’t worship- give homage to the Beast- they will be killed. So- Many Christians would be killed because they would refuse to give homage to Caesar Augustus [meaning son of the Divine]. ‘Wow- how did he get a name like that’ [there was more than one Caesar by the way- as well as more than one Herod- who did play a part in these power struggles- it can get confusing- even to me]. When Octavian defeated Marc Antony at Actium [32 BC]. Herod [The Great] had a problem- he had previously sided with Antony and found himself on the losing side. Yet he was smart- did some ‘brown nosing’ as we say-and patched things up. Herod had 3 sons- who would eventually take positions of authority in the Roman government at the time of Christ. Herod Antipas was over the region that we read about in the New Testament where Jesus did most of his ministry- Galilee. Ok- Octavian claimed deity because of a heavenly sign associated with his rise to power- and this is how he became called ‘Caesar Augustus’. He sort of saw himself as a ‘re-incarnate’- of his great uncle Julius Caesar. ‘John- what in the heck does this have to do with the Dead Sea Scrolls’. Ok- good question. The Jews had various responses to the empires that ruled over them during various times. Alexander the Great instituted Hellenization- a sort of cultural compromise over the people he conquered. They could keep their religious/cultural roots- but would be subservient to Alexander and Greek rule. Some Jewish people rejected any compromise- we call them the Essenes- they moved out of town- so to speak, and lived in what we refer to as the Qumran community. This was a few centuries before the time of Christ- and this was where the Dead Seas Scrolls were found in the 20th century. A Bedouin boy was looking for his goats- threw a rock in a cave right off the Dead Sea- and that’s how we found the scrolls. The scrolls might have been hidden there by the Essenes- Now- when my friends asked me about them- I told them that it’s been a while since I read up on any of this- but to the best of my memory the thing that made them significant was the fact that they were very old manuscripts- from the bible- and they backed up what we had had all along. I did read up this week- and basically had it right. The earliest Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament we had previously dated back to around 900- 1000 A.D. These manuscripts went back about 1000 years earlier- and they contained portions from almost every book of the Old testament- and some complete books. The only book missing was Esther. So- this was indeed a very significant find for scholars. But the Scrolls also contain some of the writings from the Essenes themselves- things we never had before- so this too was significant. There were Jews at the time of the first century who tried to ‘get along’ with Rome- and with the person in charge of their region [one of the sons of Herod the Great at the time of Christ]. These are referred to as Herodian’s in the bible. Some wanted a revolution to rid Rome from Jerusalem- these were the Zealots [one of Jesus disciples was in this group]. Some thought if they returned to a legalistic obeisance of the law- that this would bring in a deliverer- like the stories we read about in the Old testament- these were the Pharisees. And some took more of a political compromise- these were the Sadducees. Eventually a war with Rome would be fought [By the way- Josephus- the famous 1st century historian- fought on the side of the Jews in the war- and after Jerusalem was sacked in A.D. 70- he went to Rome and wrote his great works- thinking he would make a case for the Jewish people with the Romans. This is why we have his works today- which are very valuable to scholars]. NOTE- In time I’ll try and cover how we ‘got our bibles’ [called the Canon- meaning Rule/ Measurement]. Frankly- there is a lot of confusion in the general public about conspiracies [like the Catholic Church had some type of plot to keep certain books out]. Or stories about how the Church taught Mary Magdalene was a prostitute so they could discredit her. Actually- we read in the gospels that Jesus cast out ‘spirits’ from a woman who was probably living this type of life- And Jesus had a ministry to the down and out- it is indeed possible that Mary was one of these women- And if true- it would not demean her in any way- That’s how this tradition more than likely developed- But- we don’t know for sure. So a few years back the Church officially said ‘we don’t know’. Ok- Plot? No- just being careful. So there are other misguided beliefs like this- that sincere people have- and over time I hope to get to them. I’ll do one more in keeping with this post. I mentioned above that Caesar Augustus did indeed take the title of ‘son of God’. And some critics of the Church say ‘see- there were all types of religions that had Sons of God’. I watched one show a few years back- and it stated that these religions had ’12 disciples- a leader named Lord and Savior- and he healed and claimed to be God’s Son- and rose from the dead’. Ok- that show was ‘fibbing’ to put it lightly- they went too far [historically speaking] in trying to diminish the Christians claim of Christ by doing this. Now- is there some truth to this at all? Yes- like I just mentioned above- Octavian did indeed claim deity- a ‘son of god’. So- how do we explain this? In the book of Galatians the bible says ‘in the FULLNESS of times God sent forth his Son’. Jesus came at a set time in history- in fulfilment of the Jewish Prophets- to be who he was- and to do what he did. Now- this is not special pleading here- but I find it a masterpiece that God’s Son came at a time when the Roman Empire had one sitting on the throne- who too claimed deity. Yet Jesus was in a region of the lower class- his men were not highly educated- and his followers were people under oppression. Augustus lived in the wealthy and influential capital of ‘the world’- he had all you could ever ask for- he was worshiped as a god. Yet in 3 short centuries- one of the heirs of the empire- Constantine- would have an experience – not with a former Caesar- but with a vison of a Cross- He would convert to Christianity- and declare Christianity to be the religion of the realm. VERSES- Mark 2:1 And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. Mark 2:2 And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. Mark 2:3 And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. Mark 2:4 And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. Mark 2:5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. Mark 2:6 But there was certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Mark 2:7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? Mark 2:8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Mark 2:9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? Mark 2:10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) Mark 2:11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. Mark 2:12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion. Mark 2:13 And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them. Mark 2:14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him. Mark 2:15 And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. Mark 2:16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? Mark 2:17 When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Mark 2:18 And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not? Mark 2:19 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. Mark 2:20 But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. Mark 2:21 No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse. Mark 2:22 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles. Mark 2:23 And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. Mark 2:24 And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? Mark 2:25 And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him? Mark 2:26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? Mark 2:27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Mark 2:28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath. NOTE- Why all these ‘past posts’? On today’s post- Ephesians 5- I quoted a verse from this bible chapter [Hebrews 4] so I added my past teaching on this whole chapter- that’s why you see these sections on the posts- I also add the verses at the bottom of the entire post- the ones I either quoted or taught on the videos for each post. To some- this might be too much for one post- that’s why I add the recent teaching in the NEW section at the top- HEBREWS 4-6 [Just made the video- so today you get ‘real time’- P.S.- to my kids- the carnival looks good- maybe we will go today? Text me- dad.] CHAPTER 4: NEW NOTES BELOW- .SABBATH REST   ‘Let us therefore fear [Jews in the first century, not Christians in the 21st century! At least in this context] lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest [now defined as the New Covenant rest. Paul is telling Israel God has left you a promise of rest in Messiah, where you will cease from your own works [law], beware Israel, our forefathers missed out on the promise because of unbelief, don’t do the same!] any of you should come short of it, for unto us was the gospel preached [1st century Israel] as well as unto them [Israel at the edge of entering the promised land had the gospel [good news] preached to them by Joshua and Caleb, they gave the ‘good report’ that the land was great and it was there for the taking, of course they didn’t believe and therefore couldn’t take it] but the word did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.   For WE WHICH HAVE BELEIVED [the remnant of Jews who were believing in the first century were entering into the rest of the New Covenant of grace, they left off trying to be made righteous by the law, they ceased from their own works] do enter into rest…for he spake in a certain place of the 7th day on this wise, and God did rest the 7th day from all his works, and again, if they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it still remains that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: again he limits a certain day in David [Psalms] today if you will HEAR HIS VOICE [as opposed to the voice of the law/Moses] harden not your hearts. For if Joshua [my king James says ‘Jesus’ this is because the translation is the same] had given them rest then he would not have spoken of another day, there remaineth therefore a rest TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD! [Jewish people ‘of God’ not gentile converts!]. Well, we covered a lot here. Paul takes the creation account, the verses that will later speak of a future rest for Gods people, and then a verse from Psalms where David prophesies that there still remains a future rest. He puts them all together to show Israel that God has ordained a future ‘7th day’ for his people to enter into. He uses the 7th day as a symbol of Gods ‘day of Grace and rest’.   He then shows Israel that it really wasn’t speaking of the rest of the Promised Land after all, because eventually Israel did inherit it, but yet David still spoke of it in the future tense. So Paul concludes that the future rest of the 7th day that ‘Gods people’ [Jews] still must enter is the offer of grace to the 1st century Jew. Wow! This is why some theologians feel Paul was a little too loose with the scriptures. I think this stuff is great! Paul basically was using all of his understanding as a first century theologian [Pharisee] and was absolutely proving Christ to Israel in a way that none of the other Apostles could do. He was the only Pharisee out of all the Apostles, one born out of due time. This is obviously why Jesus chose him. It is so important to see the connections that Paul is making here. If Israel were following the timeline that Paul is giving, they will see that their own Old Testament scriptures testify that there was a future ‘place of rest’ that would be offered to them as a nation.   And Paul also shows that in history, Israel had a pattern of not entering into ‘this rest’ because of unbelief. And then he says ‘but the rest that Joshua finally did give them [the promised land] wasn’t really the true rest after all, because David still spoke of it in a future tense’ then he says ‘see, there remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God’. Seeing this in context clears up many wrong interpretations of these passages. You can still read Hebrews as a Christian and get wonderful principles, but you must see it in context to truly understand what its saying. ‘For he that hath entered into rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his’ amazing, Paul says just like God ceased from creative activity on the ‘7th day’ so likewise when we enter into the covenant of grace, we too will cease from the works of the law. This is so significant to the Jewish community whom Paul is addressing. He is showing them, in their language [Old Testament] the same things he writes to the gentiles in Galatians and Romans.   He is using the story of Genesis to show the truth of grace. Out of all the Apostles, Paul is unique in his ability to see Jesus in all of these Old Testament stories. No one could have made a better apologetic for the Christian faith than Paul. ‘Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall into the same example of unbelief’ Now, I have heard it taught that this is telling Christians to ‘work for your rest’. This would be a complete contradiction to this entire letter. But if you see this in context, that the recipients of this letter are 1st century Jews who are already under the bondage of the law, then you read this as ‘those of you Jews who are always working to try and make yourselves righteous, you need to stop working for this, but instead let all your labors and struggles end up at the Cross’ in essence ‘labor [struggle] to see these things I am showing you, and if you do you will find rest’ in the New Covenant of grace! ‘Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession, for we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.’ This of course applies to all of us. Paul and other New Testament writers saw redemption in a way that naturally included everybody. It was only those who rejected it thru unbelief that were missing out. This is why you will see statements made like ‘Jesus is the savior of all men, specially of those that believe’ there was a real sense in the early church that Jesus really redeemed everybody.   They were not preaching universal salvation in the sense that everybody will be saved. But the gospel was presented in a way that simply included everybody. So here Paul says ‘we have a high priest’ he is including Israel in the ‘we’. I also like to apply these verses to all of us. How many times do we feel intimidated to come before Gods throne? We feel unworthy and God seems unapproachable. Sort of like Saint John of the Cross who experienced the ‘dark night of the soul’ as well as Mother Theresa. There are times where believers feel separated from God’s real presence. It is during these times when God says ‘come boldly, I too have experienced weakness and separation thru the incarnation. I know what it is like. Come to me, I can see what you feel like, I can feel your feelings of weakness and inadequacy, come to me for help my child’. In the next chapter we will read this in depth. Jesus and all the high priests of the law were able to identify with man because they were at one time in mans shoes. This is one of the great realities of the incarnation. NEW NOTES- .SABBATH REST   Remember context- in this chapter the writer is appealing to his Jewish brothers. And he reminds them of their own history- he says ‘just like our forefathers died in the wilderness- because they did not BELIEVE’- So beware- if you now reject this new offer of REST- it will be because of UNBELIEF. The writer is making an argument for Justification by Faith here. He spiritualizes the promise of the Promised Land- and the story of Creation and Sabbath Day. He says ‘ok- God RESTED himself on the 7th Day of Creation’. This REST [a type of rest found in Christ and the New Covenant- based on Faith/Grace- NOT WORKS -The law]. Was not the Rest promised to Israel when they entered the Promised Land. Why? Because King David says many years later- in Psalms 95- that a Rest is still in the future. What Rest? The 1st century offer of Grace- thru Faith- not works. See how important context is? So- when he says ‘there still remains a REST TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD’- He is not talking to Christians- as this verse is often seen. No- in the letter of Hebrews- the People of God are the Jewish nation- who now must ‘labor- work- strive’ to believe the Promise of Messiah- and enter into rest. These verses only make sense in this context. Preachers often teach the verse ‘strive to enter into rest- people of God’. And apply that to Christians- who are already ‘in rest’. No- that’s the wrong setting for these verses. But- to the 1st century Jew- under the law- then it makes sense. They were at a transition stage- they were still under the law [works] and they had to beware- because this present promise of grace- just like the Old Testament Promise of entering into the Promised Land- is based on faith. So- when the writer says ‘if you strive- and hear this Gospel of Grace- you can enter into the Sabbath Day Rest’ [a symbol of the covenant of Grace]. And have Rest. See? NOTE- It’s not an ‘accident’ that the writer quotes from Psalms 95- written by Kind David. Jesus is identified as ‘The Son of David’ so it’s thru the Davidic line that the promise of Rest would ultimately be fulfilled. In a sense the writer is saying ‘The Joshua that lead our Fathers into the Promised Land was not the Real One- but the Joshua of the New Testament [Jesus and Joshua are the same word in the Hebrew/Greek English translation] has now come thru the Line of David- and he will lead us into the True Rest- if you Believe’ Psalm 95:6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. Psalm 95:7 For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, Psalm 95:8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: Psalm 95:9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Psalm 95:10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: Psalm 95:11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest. Genesis 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. Genesis 2:2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. Genesis 2:3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. Hebrews 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. Hebrews 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. Hebrews 4:3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. Hebrews 4:4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. Hebrews 4:5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Hebrews 4:6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Hebrews 4:7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. Hebrews 4:8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. Hebrews 4:9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. Hebrews 4:10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Hebrews 4:11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. . VERSES- Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. Ephesians 5:3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Ephesians 5:4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. Ephesians 5:5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Ephesians 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Ephesians 5:7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. Ephesians 5:8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: Ephesians 5:9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Ephesians 5:10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Ephesians 5:12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. Ephesians 5:13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Ephesians 5:14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. Ephesians 5:15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Ephesians 5:16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Ephesians 5:19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Ephesians 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Ephesians 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; Ephesians 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, Ephesians 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. Ephesians 5:28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. Ephesians 5:29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: Ephesians 5:30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. Ephesians 5:31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. Ephesians 5:32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. New International Version The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.” Matt. 11:19 Luke 7:36-49 Contemporary English Version (CEV) Simon the Pharisee 36 A Pharisee invited Jesus to have dinner with him. So Jesus went to the Pharisee’s home and got ready to eat.[a] 37 When a sinful woman in that town found out that Jesus was there, she bought an expensive bottle of perfume. 38 Then she came and stood behind Jesus. She cried and started washing his feet with her tears and drying them with her hair. The woman kissed his feet and poured the perfume on them. 39 The Pharisee who had invited Jesus saw this and said to himself, “If this man really were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him! He would know that she is a sinner.” 40 Jesus said to the Pharisee, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher, what is it?” Simon replied. 41 Jesus told him, “Two people were in debt to a moneylender. One of them owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other owed him fifty. 42 Since neither of them could pay him back, the moneylender said that they didn’t have to pay him anything. Which one of them will like him more?” 43 Simon answered, “I suppose it would be the one who had owed more and didn’t have to pay it back.” “You are right,” Jesus said. 44 He turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Have you noticed this woman? When I came into your home, you didn’t give me any water so I could wash my feet. But she has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45 You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You didn’t even pour olive oil on my head,[b] but she has poured expensive perfume on my feet. 47 So I tell you that all her sins are forgiven, and that is why she has shown great love. But anyone who has been forgiven for only a little will show only a little love.” 48 Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Some other guests started saying to one another, “Who is this who dares to forgive sins?” Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. Psalm 23:2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. Psalm 23:3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Psalm 23:5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 1Corinthians 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 1Corinthians 15:2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 1Corinthians 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 1Corinthians 15:4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: Isaiah 32:20 Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations MY SITES http://www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com [Main site] https://www.facebook.com/john.chiarello.5?ref=bookmarks https://ccoutreach87.com/ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZ4GsqTEVWRm0HxQTLsifvg https://plus.google.com/108013627259688810902/posts https://vimeo.com/user37400385 john chiarelloFollow On https://www.linkedin.com/home?trk=hb_logo http://johnchiarello.tumblr.com/ http://ccoutreach.over-blog.com/ https://www.reddit.com/user/ccoutreach87 https://ccoutreach87.jimdo.com/ http://ccoutreach87.webstarts.com/__blog.html?r=20171009095200 http://ccoutreach87-1.mozello.com/ http://ccoutreach87.webs.com/ https://ccoutreach87.site123.me/ http://ccoutreach87.wixsite.com/mysite https://corpusoutreach.weebly.com/ http://corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com/p/one-link_18.html https://drive.google.com/drive/my-drive https://my.pcloud.com/#page=filemanager&folder=0&file=f5079387329&prev=1 https://onedrive.live.com/?id=root&cid=8C01100DF9D82987 Note- Please do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on- Copy text- download video links [Wordpress- Vimeo] make complete copies of my books/studies and posts- everything is copyrighted by me- I give permission for all to copy and share as much as you like- I just ask that nothing be sold. We live in an online world- yet- there is only one internet- meaning if it ever goes down- the only access to the teachings are what others have copied or downloaded- so feel free to copy and download as much as you want- it’s all free- Thanks- John. Advertisements Occasionally, some of your visitors may see an advertisement here,  as well as a Privacy & Cookies banner at the bottom of the page. You can hide ads completely by upgrading to one of our paid plans. UPGRADE NOW DISMISS MESSAGE Share this: Press This Twitter LinkedIn Pinterest1 Tumblr Print Facebook1 Google Reddit  (1010)CORINTHIANS 15:1-19 Paul will deal with the greatest threat yet to the Corinthian church, their doubt over the physical resurrection of the body. Various ‘Christian’ groups over the years have doubted the physical resurrection. Now, some have done this out of a sincere attempt at trying to defend the faith! [their view of it] In the 1900’s you had one of the most popular theologians by the name of Rudolf Bultman [most of his career was spent at the University of Marburg, Germany. Much of the higher criticism of the day originated from Germany] He wrote a book called ‘Kerygma and Myth’. What he tried to say was that any modern man living in the 20th century, with all the breakthroughs in science and knowledge, could not ‘literally’ believe the miraculous stories in scripture. Or even the way scripture spoke of heaven and hell and used limited terms to describe spiritual truths. He used the bibles terminology on Cosmology as an example. How could man believe in a Cosmos where ‘heaven is up there, with the stars and all’ and he felt that enlightened man needed to ‘re-tool’ the bible and cleanse it from all these mythical images, but yet keep the spiritual aspects of it. The moral teachings of Christ and stuff like that. So you have had sincere men doubt the truth claims of scripture. The problem with this attempt [higher criticism] is it throws out the baby with the bathwater. The resurrection of Jesus is presented by the apostles as a real event. The fact of this resurrection can also be attested to by examining the historical events of the day. Simply put, there is a ton of proof for the real resurrection of Christ. Bultman and others meant well, but some of the ‘facts’ that they were using were later  proven to be false. Bultman used a model of cosmology that would later be rejected by science. Yet the testimony from scripture would remain sure. Paul told the Corinthian’s that they needed to reject any attempts at spiritualizing the resurrection of Christ. Sometimes believers grasp hold of limited proof’s for certain doctrines. For instance, the New Testament does speak of a spiritual resurrection. In Ephesians Paul says we are presently raised with Christ. In Romans chapter 6 we have all ready been raised with Jesus. This reality does not mean there will be no future resurrection of the saints. In Johns gospel Jesus speaks of the resurrection as being a future real event, as well as a present reality. Those in the graves will hear his voice and be raised from the dead. And those who were presently ‘dead in sins’ would ‘come alive’ [spiritually] when they heard and believed the testimony of Jesus. It is important for the believer to be familiar with the various theories and ideas that theologians and believers have grasped over the years. It is a mistake to simply see all higher learning as ‘liberalism’. There are some very important things that we have learned thru the great intellectuals of the church. But we also need to stick with the ancient traditions as seen in the creeds, as well as the plain testimony of scripture. If Christ ‘be not raised from the dead, then we are of all men most miserable’.   (1011)CORINTHIANS 15:20-28 here we see the guarantee of mans resurrection based on Christ’s resurrection. ‘As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall ALL be made alive’. Is Paul teaching a form of universalism [all being saved]? He is showing us that all men will someday be raised from the dead. Now, does Paul leave room here for a type of Pre-millennial resurrection? A ‘raising’ of the dead prior to a thousand year literal reign of Jesus. Then another resurrection at the end? Yes he does. If you read Revelation you will see this type of scenario play out. Also Jesus speaks of the resurrection of the just and the unjust. Historically the church has held 3 basic views on this. Pre-millennialism says Jesus returns first [pre] before the literal thousand year rule occurs. ‘Post’ says the thousand year rule is literal, and after that Jesus comes back. Those who held to this view were excited at the turn of the first millennium [1000 ad] they thought it possible for Jesus to have returned after the first thousand years since his death and resurrection. And then you have A-millennial, they spiritualize the thousand year reign spoken of in the book of Revelation as being a symbol of Christ’s present rule and kingdom. Now, today’s most popular form of Pre-millennialism is not historic, it dates back to the 19th century. Today’s form is called ‘Pre-tribulational, Pre-millennial’ this teaching [dispensationalism] says Jesus comes back 2 more times. One is called ‘the rapture’ the other is the second coming [revealing]. The proponents of this form find little [or no] early Christians who believed this. There is one early writing by a Syrian brother who speaks very clearly about a rapture type event. Some think he speaks a little too clearly! The writing is believed to have been a fake. Either way we do have Paul teaching stages involved with the coming of the Lord and the kingdom. It is possible to have 2 future resurrections, this would not mean you need two future ‘second comings’. The first resurrection takes place at Christ’s return. He rules a literal thousand years and ‘the dead are raised again’ at the end of the literal rule on earth [ a literal reading of Revelation]. Also Paul does use the language of Jesus submitting to the Father at the end so ‘God will be all in all’. I feel believers have been confused and at times contradictory while trying to explain the nature of God and the Trinity. I recently read a teaching on the Trinity that tried to compare the Trinity to the nature of the organic church. It seemed confusing to me, they tried to say that just like in the Trinity you have no one ‘being’ having authority over the other, but instead you see all three persons equally submitting to one another [Father, Son and Spirit] so in the church you have equality. Now, I do believe that there is equality in the church, but I felt the example was way off. The New Testament clearly teaches the willful ‘submission’ of the Son to the Father. God [the father] is clearly the one ‘in charge’. Now, I admit it’s difficult and brothers have spent years trying to explain all the ins and outs of this. Here Paul shows us that the Son has willingly submitted to the Father so the father can put all things under him. Then once again at the culmination of the kingdom the Son submits to the father and God receives the glory. We will praise and worship Jesus thru out all eternity, it is his willful submission to the father’s plan that makes this happen. NOTE- Some believers spiritualize the first resurrection spoken of in Revelation, they relate it to those who have been ‘born again’ spiritually. Modern ‘Preterism’ holds to this view.   (1013)CORINTHIANS 15:29-49 the resurrection body is a real ‘spiritual’ body. Paul describes the natural body [us now] as fleshly and like Adams body. He then describes the promised resurrection body as being like Jesus in his raised state. These verses can be a little confusing. When Paul says the resurrection body is ‘spiritual’ as compared to earthy, is he saying it is not real? No. But you can see how some early sects could use these verses and teach a ‘phantom’ type resurrection [Gnostic, Docetist type groups]. I was once asked by a Catholic believer if the church taught the physical resurrection. I assured the person that both Catholic and Protestant [and Orthodox] expressions of Christianity embrace the real future resurrection of the body. Now, is it the same body? Well, the way Paul describes it is by comparing the planting of seeds. When you plant a seed you don’t simply get a bigger seed! But you get various types of growth, whether it’s a tree or plant or whatever. So Paul says our future bodies will be new and glorious in this way, but if it weren’t really you, then it wouldn’t be a resurrection! So you will come back, but it will be a ‘new you’. Over the years I have studied various theologians [Christian ones] and I have seen the penchant for various groups to focus in on a certain doctrine and to stray somewhat from the faith. Now, they aren’t always cults, some of them are highly knowledgeable Christians who seem to be testing the boundaries of orthodoxy. I like N.T. Wright, the famous Bishop of Durham [Church of England] but you need to be grounded in what you believe before you can really read him. I feel at times he is helpful in bringing new perspectives to things, I have seen some of the things he teaches myself. But there is also a danger of ‘re-thinking’ stuff a little too much. By the way Wright has written on the resurrection and has done a great job at defending the historic churches position. He’s in somewhat of a theological controversy at the moment, some of the strong reformed brothers have come out and challenged his view on Justification. Wright teaches that the historic reformers kind of missed what Paul was saying. Wright ‘extends’ the doctrine to mean ‘a sign/badge of those who are already in Gods covenant community’. The historic reformers taught a more forensic meaning of the doctrine. That justification is primarily saying that God imputes the righteousness of Jesus to the believer. That Jesus took our sins, and we get his righteousness. Now, I feel there is some truth to Wrights view. But I would be careful to throw out the reformed view all together. There certainly is much truth to the reformed view. John Piper [a reformed Baptist] just released a book on the reformed view, Wright has one coming out pretty soon [Wrights is already published overseas, but the states wont get it for a few months]. So, the point is I believe the historic church and the ancient creeds ‘got it right’ on the resurrection. It is real, it will happen to all people some day. Those who have ‘done good’ [wow- these are Jesus actual words when describing the final judgment!] will be ‘raised to life’. Those who have done evil will be raised to face judgment. We can all escape the coming judgment, Jesus died for us. If we believe and accept his death, burial and resurrection, then we will be raised to a new life some day. 378- (I stuck this entry in here because it deals with the ‘baptism for the dead’, I didn’t want you to think that I just skipped over the verse) Let me give a little example of the ‘overriding act of redemption’ trumping any little verse or experience. Paul actually tells the Corinthians ‘if the dead are not raised, then why are you baptizing people in ‘proxy’ for the dead?’ This is tough stuff. Let me give you one way to see this. The ‘baptism for the dead’ seems to have been a real cultural thing that took place in a specific time and setting [like the slavery verses I mentioned earlier]. There seems to have been a concern specifically to the 1st century church that said ‘this new doctrine of Jesus is great, but being its only been around a few years, and you are telling us [Paul] that you must embrace it to be saved. Then we have a problem. A lot of our loved ones never got a chance to hear. How do you expect us to quell these concerns?’ And it’s possible that the ‘baptism’ by proxy [like a father or son getting baptized in the place of the loved one who died] was a 1stcentury cultural thing that grew out of this. The fact that they were doing this does not mean that Paul the Apostle was condoning it. Paul was simply saying ‘if you guys really don’t believe in life after death, then why are you bothering with this rite?’ Its like Paul was using their own cultural thing to show them the inconsistency of their thinking. He wasn’t really teaching the baptism for the dead. [This is my view, Mormons believe different. They do practice this today and they use this verse as justification].   (1014)CORINTHIANS 15:50-58 Okay, let’s wrap up this chapter. ‘Flesh and blood will not inherit the kingdom’ Paul speaks a little on the nature of the resurrected body. It is real, but not mortal [flesh and blood] without getting lost in the technical aspects of the actual body, Paul does make a distinction between the natural life of man [blood gives life to the mortal man] and the supernatural life of the resurrected body [spiritual life]. Then Paul shows us a mystery [something that was hidden up until the time God reveals it- here thru Paul!] that ‘we shall not all experience death, but we shall all get new bodies’. Paul teaches that some believers will not face natural death, they will be the generation that is alive at Christ’s coming. Paul says this happens at the ‘last trumpet’. For those of you not familiar with some of the silly stuff that passes under the heading of ‘theology’, let me explain some stuff. In the world of ‘dispensationalism’ there is an entire body of teaching that deals with the trumpets in scripture. Basically if Paul is teaching that this event, getting raised from the dead and being transformed, if this takes place at ‘the last trump’ then it is pretty clear that this event is not some type of rapture that takes place 7 years prior to Gods ‘last trump’ [last day, when God wraps things up]. But if you read the portions of scripture that speak about Christ’s return and the resurrection [Thessalonians 4, John 14, Matthew 25] you will see that all these scriptures teach that the resurrection takes place at the end, when Christ returns. So anyway a whole lotta time is spent by the rapture guys to explain that when you are in school, you might say ‘hey, that’s the last bell [trump] before class starts’ and that ‘last bell’ doesn’t mean ‘last bell’, but it means the ‘last bell for now’. It’s kind of silly stuff that preachers do in order to back up their theories. If scriptures ‘last trump’ isn’t really the ‘last trump’ then you can fit the rapture in as a separate event from the second coming. I think doing doctrine like this is silly and hairsplitting. The first century believers who were reading these letters [not all at once, but as they were slowly being penned and sent] simply saw all of the references on the second coming as one event. It’s silly to try and make two separate lists of the New testament verses on Christ’s coming and then place some verses under a rapture heading, and others under a ‘second coming’ heading, especially when the rapture brothers themselves cant agree on which ones belong to which list! Well any way we have a glorious promise of a future resurrection body, the last enemy that Jesus destroys is death. Revelation says ‘death and hell are cast into the lake of fire’ Jesus has power over death, hell and the grave. He will totally eradicate all death some day, Jesus tasted death for every man [Hebrews] so that man does not have to be in bondage under its fear any more.  Romans 5:1-9 ‘Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God thru our Lord Jesus Christ’. There are certain benefits ‘results’ of being ‘made righteous by faith’, peace being one of them. Paul goes on and says we glory in hope and also trials, because we realize that thru the difficulties we gain experience and patience. Things that are needed for the journey, we can’t substitute talent and motivation and ‘success principles’ for them. We need maturity and God produces it this way. Those who teach otherwise have a ‘self inflicted wound’ their teachings are very immature! That is there was a ‘strain’ of teaching in the church that said ‘we don’t learn thru difficulty and suffering, we learn only thru Gods word!’ [that is reading it]. Those who grasped onto this false idea have produced some of the most unbalanced teaching in the church, stuff that even the younger generation is saying ‘what in the heck are these guys preaching’?  If you by pass the difficult road, you will be shallow. Now Paul says ‘God commended his love toward us, that when we were sinners Christ died for us’ ‘being now justified by his death, we shall be saved thru his life’ [saved from wrath thru him]. Once again this theme pops up; ‘since we are justified, made righteous by believing with the heart, we shall be saved [continual, future deliverance] from wrath thru him’. I don’t know if you ever realized what a major theme this is in Romans? The ongoing, future ‘being saved’ is a result of ‘being made righteous’. Later on in chapter 10, when we read that the righteous call for salvation, we need to understand this context. Remember, when the two are linked together in the same verse, it is not saying ‘saved’ in the sense of some sinner’s prayer. It is speaking of the ongoing, promised deliverance [from many things, not just wrath!] to the ‘justified caller’. We have access ‘by faith into this grace wherein we stand’. Wow! That’s some good stuff, Jesus ever lives so that those who come to him are ‘being saved’ to the uttermost. This grace we are in is available to us all of the time, are we availing ourselves of it?   ROMANS 5:10-21 ‘For if, when we were enemies of God, we were reconciled to him by the death of his Son… much more we shall be saved by his life’. Now, some have ‘divided’ the role of Jesus death and resurrection in salvation. I heard a radio preacher teach that all the people who think they are ‘saved’ because Jesus died for them were deceived. He used this verse to say they need to believe in his ‘life’ [resurrection] to ‘be saved by his life’. Well I get the point, but he was missing the meaning of the verse. Why? Because once again we see ‘saved’ as initially ‘getting saved’ while here it is in a continual sense. Paul is saying ‘if God reconciled us [justification] while we were deadly enemies, how much more shall the actual ministry and life of Jesus at Gods right hand do for us!’ The New Testament teachers that we have actually entered into an eternal covenant with God thru his Son. Jesus ‘ever lives’ to make intercession for us [Hebrews]. Therefore he is able to ‘save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him’. The bible teaches an ongoing ‘saving’ relationship that believers have with the Messiah. This ‘relationship’ would not be possible if he were dead. Now we ‘joy in God thru Jesus Christ from whom we have received the atonement’ good stuff! Isaiah says God will meet with those who ‘rejoice and do what is right’. We have both of these ‘abilities’ because of the atonement. The rest of the chapter teaches the Pauline doctrine of original sin. That because Adam sinned, death and sin passed to all men. So likewise the ‘righteousness’ of one man [Jesus- the last Adam] has passed upon all men [those who receive of the abundance of grace and the gift of life]. This is an interesting angle that Paul uses to teach redemption. He shows the reality that there are only 2 ‘federal heads’ of mankind. You are either in the first or last Adam. The ‘righteous act’ is speaking of the Cross [Philippians says Jesus was ‘obedient unto death’. The singular act of obedience that allows this righteousness to pass to all who believe is the Cross. Some have misunderstood this chapter to teach that the obedient life of Christ, his sinless life, saves us. I feel this is a wrong reading of the chapter. The sinless life of Jesus, pre Cross, made him the true candidate to be the substitute for man. He was able to die in our place [obedience unto death] because he was the sinless Son of God. We are now ‘saved by his life’ because he ever lives to make intercession for us]. All who believe in Jesus can now trace their lineage to the ‘last Adam’ [Jesus] and be free from ‘original sin’.   ROMANS 6- Lets talk about baptism. To start off I believe that the baptism spoken about in this chapter is primarily referring to ‘the baptism of the Spirit’, that is the work of the Holy Spirit placing a believer in the Body of Christ. The Catholic and Orthodox [and Reformed!] brothers believe that Paul is speaking about water baptism. The MAJORITY VIEW of Christians today believe this chapter is referring to water baptism. Why? First, the text itself does not indicate either way. You could take this baptism and see it either way! You are not a heretic if you believe in it referring to Spirit or water. You are not a heretic if you believe in Paedo baptism [infant baptism]. ‘What are you saying? Now you lost me.’ Infant baptism developed as a Christian rite over the course of church history. The church struggled with how to ‘dedicate’ new babies to Christ. Though the scriptures give no examples of infant baptism, some felt that the reason was because the scriptures primarily show us the conversion of the first century believers. There really aren’t a whole lot of stories of ‘generations’ of believers passing on the faith to other generations. So some felt that the idea of dedicating babies to the Lord through infant baptism was all right. The examples they used were the circumcision of babies in the Old Testament. Infants were circumcised [a rite that placed you under the terms of the Old Covenant] though they weren’t old enough to really understand what they were doing! This example was carried over into the Christian church and applied to infant baptism. Now, I do not believe in infant baptism. But I can certainly understand this line of reasoning. As Christian theology developed thru the early centuries, particularly thru the patristic period, you had very intellectual scholars grapple with many different themes and ideas. Some that we just studied in chapter 5. Some theologians came to see infant baptism as dealing with original sin. They applied the concept of infant baptism as a rite that washes away original sin. The church did not teach that this meant you did not have to later believe and follow Christ. They simply developed a way of seeing baptism as ‘sanctifying’ the new members of Christian households. This basic belief made it all the way to the Reformation. The Reformers themselves still practiced infant baptism. It was the Anabaptists [re-baptizers] who saw the truth of adult baptism and suffered for it, at the hands of the reformers! Ulrich Zwingli, the Swiss reformer, would have them drowned for their belief. Some Protestants stuck with the infant rite, while others [the Restorationists] would reject it. Today most Evangelicals do not practice infant baptism, the majority of Christians world wide do. Now, the reason I did a little history is because Evangelicals [of which I am one] have a tendency to simply look at other believers who practice this rite as ‘deceived’. Many are unaware of the history I just showed you. The reasons the historic church developed this doctrine are not heretical! They used scripture and tradition to pass it down to future generations. I do not believe or practice infant baptism, many good believers do.   ROMANS 6: 1-11 ‘shall we continue to sin, so grace may abound? God forbid! How shall we, who are dead to sin, live any longer therein?’ Now begins the ‘actual part’ the result, if you will, of being ‘made righteous by faith’. One of the main accusations against Paul, by the Jewish believers, was that he taught ‘sin a lot, because you are no longer under the law’. Paul spends time defending himself against this accusation thru out the New Testament. Here Paul teaches that the believer has been joined unto Christ [baptized, immersed into him] and this ‘joining’ identifies him with Christ’s death. So how can ‘we, who are dead to sin, live any longer in sin’? Paul’s argument for righteous living comes from the fact that we have died with Christ unto sin. ‘We have died with him, and we have also been raised with him to new life’. In Ephesians chapter 2, Paul says we who were dead in sins have been made alive in Christ. Now, we live a new life, free from sin [practically speaking- not absolute sinless-ness!] because we are identified with Jesus in his new life, we are ‘alive with and in him’. ‘Since we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection’! Jesus died once, and now he lives forever unto God ‘likewise count yourselves dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God thru Jesus Christ our Lord’. Paul’s basis for the transformed life is Grace and being ‘in him’. Paul does not appeal to the law to try and effect holiness in the believer, he appeals to Christ ‘in him you have died to legalistic practices, trying to earn salvation and acceptance; and now because of this new position [placement] you too have died to the old man [lifestyle] and are alive unto God’. Paul obviously did not teach ‘sin hardily’ to the contrary he taught ‘live unto God’.   (834)Romans 6:12-23    ‘Let not sin therefore rule in your mortal body’ if we have died with Jesus, we are ‘dead with him to sin’. If we are risen with Jesus ‘we are alive unto God thru him’ for this reason don’t sin! Paul makes sure his readers understand him, he in no way was teaching a sinful gospel. He encourages the believers to renew their minds to this truth. ‘For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace’ Paul clearly saw the dangers of legalism [living under strict ‘do this, don’t do this’ guidelines] he saw that the law actually quickens the fleshly nature and brings to the surface mans sin. Now, because we are under grace, does this mean we get to keep on sinning? ‘God forbid!’ Paul launches into the explanation of sin and bondage. Remember, sin was in the world before the law. Men were dying ever since Adam sinned. So for Paul, this means even though we are not under the restraints of law, yet the reality of sin, bondage and punishment still exist. Paul says ‘if you yield to sin and allow it to rule you, you will become its slave’. There will be a penalty and price to pay ‘the wages of sin is death’. But because you are identified with Jesus ‘sin shall not have dominion over you… you have been made free from sin’. Paul teaches the victorious Christian life. He does not deny the struggle [next chapter!] but he shows the reality of redemption. He obviously never taught the concept of ‘sin more, so grace can abound’. He understood the dangers of preaching ‘we are not under the law’ but he also understood the reality of ‘being under grace’ he figured it was worth the risk of being misunderstood if he could truly imbed the gospel into the believing community. Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? Romans 6:2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Romans 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Romans 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. Romans 6:7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. Romans 6:8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Romans 6:9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. Romans 6:10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Romans 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Romans 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Romans 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? Romans 6:17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Romans 6:18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. Romans 6:19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. Romans 6:20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. Romans 6:21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. Romans 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.   VERSES [These are the verses I either quoted or taught from on today’s post] October 7, 2018   « October 6  |  October 8 » Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time Lectionary: 140 Reading 1GN 2:18-24 The LORD God said: "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him." So the LORD God formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each of them would be its name.  The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of the air, and all wild animals; but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man. So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The LORD God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said: "This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called 'woman, ' for out of 'her man' this one has been taken." That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh. Responsorial PsalmPS 128:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6 R. (cf. 5) May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives. Blessed are you who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways! For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork; blessed shall you be, and favored. R. May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the recesses of your home; your children like olive plants around your table. R. May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives. Behold, thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD. The LORD bless you from Zion: may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. R. May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives. May you see your children's children. Peace be upon Israel! R. May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives. Reading 2HEB 2:9-11 Brothers and sisters: He "for a little while" was made "lower than the angels, " that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting that he, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the leader to their salvation perfect through suffering. He who consecrates and those who are being consecrated all have one origin. Therefore, he is not ashamed to call them “brothers.” Alleluia1 JN 4:12 R. Alleluia, alleluia. If we love one another, God remains in us and his love is brought to perfection in us. R. Alleluia, alleluia. GospelMK 10:2-16  The Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, "Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?"  They were testing him. He said to them in reply, "What did Moses command you?"  They replied, "Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her." But Jesus told them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment.  But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate."  In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this.  He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery." And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, "Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it." Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them. Or MK 10:2-12 The Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, "Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?"  They were testing him. He said to them in reply, "What did Moses command you?"  They replied, "Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her."  But Jesus told them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment.  But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate."  In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this.  He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery." Genesis 2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. Genesis 2:19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. Genesis 2:20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. Genesis 2:21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; Genesis 2:22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. Genesis 2:23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Genesis 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. Genesis 2:25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. 11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. 12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. Jn. 11 John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations Isaiah 53:10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 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We live in an online world- yet- there is only one internet- meaning if it ever goes down- the only access to the teachings are what others have copied or downloaded- so feel free to copy and download as much as you want- it’s all free- Note- I have many web sites- at times some question whether I’m a ‘bot’ because I do post a lot. I am not a ‘bot’- I’m John- so please- if you are on the verge of deleting something- my contact email is ccoutreach87@gmail.com - contact me first- thank you- John

Genesis

GENESIS (1389) THIS IS A LARGE WORK I HAVE CALLED YOU INTO, DON’T BE OVERWHELMED BY IT- Jesus to his men, message version. The other day I read some stuff from a fairly conservative blog site [Christian post] and was surprised to see that one of the blogs they recommended had a scientist espouse a sort of theistic evolutionary view. He spoke about ‘human like beings’ who lived before man and had no souls and all, he also gave a version of Noah’s flood that said it was possible that meteors might have impacted the ocean and caused a regional flood. The man is smart and gave many fine examples and stuff, I just felt like he was off the mark. Over the years of looking at the various views among believers I have noticed that often times we can believe that biblical accounts happened, but we have a tendency to want to reduce them down to size. The God of deism has no problem with a God who is ‘hands off’- that is they view God from a perspective that says ‘yes, he started things at the beginning, but it took billions of years for things to form’. Sort of like God could have created the first living cell, but in no way could he have actually formed a complete man in one lump sum! In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean there is this huge ridge, a possible crevice that broke up during the shifting of the Tectonic Plates when the continents first separated. Some scientists believe this happened when the planet spread apart in the distant past. Now, it is perfectly plausible to theorize that if this event happened in a short time [like a year] instead of a long time over many thousands of years, that this breaking up of the floor of the ocean might very well have created an effect that caused the ocean floor to rise and much of the water in the Atlantic could have ‘spilled out’ and easily covered the entire planet in a short period of time [Gore thinks a little ice melting can do it!]. The biblical account of Noah’s flood tells us that it not only rained for 40 days and nights, but that the ‘fountains of the deep broke open’. The point being there are many plausible ideas on how the earth could have experienced a global flood, much like the account in Genesis gives us. But we have a tendency to want to break things down into small chunks, and then think these ‘small chunks’ are reasonable enough for enlightened man to accept. I am personally an ‘old earth’ adherent, I do not believe the earth is only 6 thousand years old, but at the same time we need to be open to the arguments that both sides of these issues make. To be honest, many of these endeavors are ‘large’ that is God has called the church to engage in all realms of society; science, philosophy, etc. - at times it seems like a huge task, something that can be overwhelming to the average student of the bible, take heart, there are many able believers in all these fields that are doing a superb job. Don’t let ‘science’ tell you that all the facts are on the side of the atheists, that’s just not true. (1174) Almost finished with Noll’s book [scandal of the evangelical mind] and thought it time to comment. The book was published in 1994 and I realize a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. Noll brings out great points; he shows a fundamental weakness in American evangelicalism because of the way the movement shaped a sort of anit intellectual way/thought pattern of viewing the world and society. He really takes the dispensational wing of the church to task, frankly, I was surprised how willingly he dismantled many of their belief systems. I agree with him on this issue, but was surprised that a very popular book would go this far [and still be nominated book of the year by Christianity today- back in 1994!]. I think an area of weakness in the book is Noll’s ‘over association’ of young earth creationism with the Seventh Day Adventist church, and his repeating of the charge that creationists [and fundamentalists in general] are practicing a form of ‘modern Manichaeism’. He basically links an ‘anti material spirit’ that was seen in the early Christian heretics [Gnosticism, Docetism and Manichaeism] and applies this to the views of creationists and their so called unwillingness to allow the facts from nature speak for themselves. I wrote the note ‘way too much’ a few times when reading the book. I think he’s basically mistaken on this, many early Christian thinkers did hold to a young earth view, and they were the same thinkers who rebuked these cults who rejected the natural world as evil. Overall the book is a worthwhile read, it exposes the weakness of the fundamental/evangelical movement to ‘think Christianly’ about the world and society around them. Too often believers think ‘thinking Christianly’ means introducing bible verses into the conversation, this is not what Noll is speaking about. He shows the fundamental error that arose during the modernist/fundamentalist debates of the 19th/20th centuries, and how this caused the church to accept modes of thinking and learning that were disconnected from the fathers of these movements. For instance, Jonathan Edwards, who is considered to be the greatest homegrown thinker of the American experience, he embraced an acceptance of the natural sciences as a way to learn more about the ways of God. True studies of the earth and universe and things in the world were accepted as a means of God communicating truth to his people thru the ‘book of nature’. Noll shows how the fundamentalist movement came to reject this willingness to look at the natural world and learn from it. Thus his overstated charge of Manichaeism, a group that saw the natural world as evil. A blind spot of Noll is his seeming belief that the majority of all Christians/scientists accepted as fact the old earth views of the Geologic table and the other sciences that arose at the time [like evolutionary theory]. He paints a picture that says ‘see, most believers were open to learning from science back then, but the fundamentalist movement and the rise of creationism side tracked the church’. This is simply not true. Many scientists and Christians did not accept the science of an old earth and the interpretation of the geologic table. Many fathers of the church accepted a young earth view [Noll's creationism] since the beginning of church history. Though Noll quotes saint Augustine in his defense of thinking critically, yet Augustine himself believed in a young earth. He actually believed God made everything in an instant and the 6 days of Genesis 1 were symbolic, that God used the ‘6 day framework’ to show us his creative acts. The point being, Augustine’s spiritualizing of the days of creation did not make him an old earth believer! So there were a few things like this that I take issue with, overall I think every evangelical/protestant believer would benefit from reading the book. Noll’s challenge to the evangelical church to ‘think Christianly in all areas of life’ is a needed rebuke to many in the church. Noll is correct in showing the weakness of the American protestant church and her basic disdain of intellectual learning, thinking that higher learning in and of itself is a bad thing. This has fostered a community of believers that has cut itself off from the basic institutions that effect society as a whole [the research universities being one example]. If Christians shy away from the natural sciences and the reality that even unbelievers have at times revealed to us true things thru these studies, then we are going down a road that will eventually cut our influence off from the broader society at large. (1149) Just started reading Luke, in chapter one we see the story of the birth’s of John and Jesus. We see the dual ways that God works. In John’s birth the angel appears to his parents and reveals that Elisabeth will get pregnant, though she and her husband are old. She has been unable to have children and they have prayed for kids. God does it thru a miraculous intervention and reveals it thru an angel. The same angel appears to Mary and tells her she will have Jesus, Mary asks ‘how can this be, I know not a man’. It’s almost if she was looking at the miraculous situation of her cousin and the fact that God allowed her to get pregnant, but yet there were natural means that God used. John’s parents did sleep together and God gave them the child; miraculous in that Elisabeth was beyond the age of kids, but also a natural explanation can be seen. So Mary must be thinking ‘now Gabriel, I do realize you are an angel and all, you have a pretty good prophetic track record when it comes to announcing births; but you must understand there is only so much God can do, if you don’t know yet, I’m still A VIRGIN!’ The fact is that both John and Jesus births were considered miraculous, the fact that a natural explanation could be attributed to the process with John, this did not mean that there had to be a natural explanation to all miraculous births! As we just came off a series of posts on creation and science, I want to overview a few things when it comes to the miraculous. First, the act of creation itself is a tremendous miracle that can never be fully explained by naturalistic means. Hebrews says ‘by faith we understand the worlds were framed by the word of God’ there are things that God does, that often can not be explained thru science. Though we try and make a noble effort to use the tool of science to argue for the reality of God, yet we don’t want to fall into the trap of Mary, who thought ‘how can this be?’ It ‘can be’ because God said it can be! God’s creative power causes things to be! There is a danger of skepticism creeping into the ranks when we try and affix a scientific explanation to all the aspects of creation, the fact is the actual act of God bringing things into existence by his spoken word is a mystery that can never be fully explained by science. We can try and understand things as much as possible, like the light from galaxies that are supposed to be 13 billion miles away, if the earth were only 6-10 thousand years old, then we wouldn’t be able to see the galaxies yet. The light wouldn’t have had enough time to travel to our telescopes! Okay, sounds good. But then the young earth creationists will explain that the light from all the super novas that occur [the deaths of stars that put off tremendous light] if the planet were billions of years old, we would be seeing the light from many more of these star deaths than we currently see. The light from these explosions would literally be bombarding the planet at a much higher rate than we now observe. So these are two good arguments made from both sides of the debate. But can we hold God down to these types of natural explanations? How can science fully measure the creative act of God? The appearance of all things from nothing can not be measured in the same way as all other things that currently exist. The divine act of creation was a one time event that can not be repeated. It does not fall under the scientific category of testability, it is in the category of observable past events. We know it occurred, we look at it, but we can’t repeat the process and test the event itself. Some say that at the initial creation God created the light ‘in transit’ he was not limited to the natural speed of light that would need 13 billion years to travel from the furthest galaxies to the planet, he made these things in a truly miraculous way! To be sure there are many other things like this that can be used to defend both sides of the issue, today’s point is in the situation with the miraculous births of John and Jesus, both were considered miracles, but one birth had a natural explanation to it [God used his power to enable the barren womb of Elisabeth to conceive thru natural means of conception] and the other didn’t [Mary was really a virgin, the only way you could explain the event itself was that it was a miracle from God- no natural explanation could suffice]. When it’s all said and done we do our best to understand and love God with our minds and intellect, but there are things that we cant always wrap our minds around, these are the ‘things we understand by faith’. (1148) THE TOWER OF BABEL- Today I finish the Genesis study that I started a few years ago. Sort of a milestone if you will. In chapter 11 we see the famous story of the Tower of Babel. Man united his efforts, learned how to build things contrary to God's initiative [brick and mortar versus stone] and gave his time and efforts willingly in order to make a name for himself [image building]. Over the years I have observed the church of God go thru various seasons, sometimes I cross paths with good men who are at different levels of the journey [like myself]. One of ‘the levels’ is the realization that ministers/pastors have often unconsciously built towers of Babel when they meant to build Gods church. Babel was an affront to what God wanted. Babel was an edifice that drew your attention to man and his ability to get things done, it shouted ‘look how much I have been able to accomplish, cant you see what I’ve done’! Contrary to mans building plan, God used stones that were honed and fashioned at the quarry before they were brought to the temple site. This represented the reality that though man is used in Gods building program, yet he is simply a stone carrier/placer. He doesn’t actually produce the building materials [brick and mortar]. The Lord stopped the tower of Babel by confusing the languages of men and scattering them throughout the land. The contrast to this chapter is Acts 2, where the Lord supernaturally allowed men of many different languages to once again come together and understand each other. Sort of like Gods divine imprimatur on the new building/tower that he was going to build [the church]. He would allow men once again to take part in this unified effort to build something. But it would be like the prophet said ‘not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord’ [stones versus brick]. On the journey most leaders will eventually see the common mistake that many Protestants have made in allowing the things we have built to bring honor and attention to who we are, what we have been able to do. This mindset of building is exactly what God rebuked at Babel, he did not want man to ‘build a tower unto heaven’ and believe in his own intellect and abilities. Jesus often challenged the mindset of the disciples on the nature of leadership, he built into them a new way of seeing leadership, it would not be a means to become the greatest, the most well known one among the group. It is common today for the leader/pastor of a congregation to unconsciously become the center of attention; this is a mistake that Christians have made by not seriously following the commands of Jesus about leadership in his kingdom. Most leaders will face a time where they will have to die to this addiction that is common among good men, men who mean well. When confronted with this challenge it is a conscious choice that leaders will make that is not easy, it truly will be a Cross to bear. But it’s better than God having to come down and personally stop the building program! (1147) Lets do a brief overview. Those of you reading these last 10 or so entries from the Genesis Study will see that I taught the chapters 12-50 a few years ago. I had no real reason to have left out the first 11 chapters; it just worked out that way. It gave me some time to look at both sides of the creation debate [young versus old earth]. First, I want to say that I still lean towards old earth myself, but do not consider myself a Progressive Creationist. These brothers view the creation days as long ages, the problem I have with that view is it has God intervening directly and creating life at many different intervals over millions of years. I don’t hold to that. But I do believe it’s possible to have an old earth and a literal reading of the days [I already explained it in these last few posts]. Most of all I want to stress that the bible is not clear when it comes to the age of the earth. The young earth brothers have made a very noble effort from verses that connect the beginning of creation with man [Mark 10:6] or other verses speaking about things from the start [Mark 13:19-20, Luke 11: 50-51]. Too much to do now, but it is a long argument for a young earth. The other word that comes up often is Phenomenological, this word is used to explain the language of scripture that is used when speaking to the common man. Like when the bible speaks of the Sun set and Sun rise, most of us realize that the Sun is not the object that is moving! So to technically argue something that we know is ‘not true’ would be silly. Mark Noll wrote about stuff like this in the popular book ‘Scandal of the Evangelical mind’. So, how much science do we accept? Do we use these arguments to open the door to Evolution and everything else that comes down the pike? Of course not! But we try and stay open to science while at the same time staying true to Gods word. For many years science and philosophy believed in an eternal earth and universe. It wasn’t until the tremendous breakthroughs of the 20th century that the Big bang Theory became accepted science. If you listened to Einstein’s theories at the beginning, they seemed utterly ludicrous! His ideas about time not being fixed, and the relationship between time and space were way out there. Many Christians did not accept his ideas. But there were many atheistic scientists who were more troubled, if Hubble and Einstein were right [they were] that would mean the universe had a starting point [the so called point of singularity] the atheists knew that this would sound the death bell for their belief in atheism. If there was a starting point to time and matter, then there was no way to get around it, you would need an initial starter [Aristotle and Aquinas would be right- prime mover, though they both believed in an eternal universe]. So today the majority view of cosmology is the Big Bang theory, some scientists still argue for the eternal universe, but most believe in the Big Bang. In essence this is an example where science has handed to the theologian one of the greatest weapons to argue for the existence of God. But just like the age of the earth debate, you have believers who challenge Big Bang cosmology. Some are smart and have good reasons to challenge it. When I say I believe in the Big Bang, I am not saying I hold to the various views of evolutionary processes that come along with the theory; things like the stars producing the matter that swirled out over millions/billions of years and formed planets. There are obviously parts of the Big bang theory that are questionable. So scientists try and come up with ideas to make the questions go away. A major problem to the Big bang theory is how can the universe have such a stable balance of temperature all over the place. If everything expanded [that’s really a better word to explain it than explosion] at such a rapid rate, you would not have the stable atmosphere that science shows us. So a professor at M.I.T., Alan Guth, came up with an idea called ‘inflation’ he guessed that at the initial point of singularity, everything first expanded to the size of a basketball and all the matter of the universe was stabilized at this point. Then the massive expansion took place and that’s why you have a steady balance when there shouldn’t be one. To say the least these ideas are very questionable, that’s why some scientists don’t accept the whole theory. But for the most part the accepted truth that all matter did have a beginning point is one of the strongest apologetic arguments that science could have ever given to the church. The point being we as believers need to look at both sides of these issues, the debate between young and old earth creationism has at times lost the Christian mandate to deal charitably with each other. I realize the views held are sincere, and many believe the integrity of Gods word is at stake. But we need to present our views and let the chips fall where they may. I will probably finish this short excursion into Genesis tomorrow, but those of you reading these entries from other parts of the blog besides the ‘Evolution/Cosmology’ section, I would suggest reading the stuff I have written in that section along with these last 10 posts. It will help give you a better idea of where I am coming from. (1146) SONS AFTER THE FLOOD- In Genesis 9 we read the account of Noah and his sons repopulating the planet. God promises Noah that he will never destroy the earth again [by way of water- what about fire? We’ll get to that in a minute] and we see the beginning of man eating animals for the first time, the institution of the death penalty and civil justice [Romans 13] and the famous promise of the rainbow ‘when ever it rains again you will see my bow in the clouds and know I will not flood the earth again’. Are there natural explanations to things that the bible ascribes to God? Yes. Does that mean the bible is a book of myths and fables that were fake and only meant to give us moral lessons? No [contrary to liberal theology]. The fact that we know every time there is a rainbow in the sky, that there is a natural explanation to it, this does not mean this story is fake. God obviously created a repeatable situation that never occurred before, and he told man it was for a sign. Just because science can ascribe a naturalistic explanation to a thing, this does not mean the thing has no supernatural elements to it. This is also where the theistic evolutionists/progressive creationists make parts of their case. Does the fact that God created something mean that there are no possible natural means for him to work by? They will show you that when David said God formed him in his mothers womb, that obviously ‘God formed’ David in a different way than Adam! When you look at ‘a test tube baby’ do you not see a creation of God? Yes, even though there are obvious natural explanations to the conception and birth [like the rainbow being explained by nature] yet the actual life itself is still a mystery that can only be attributed to God. Also God reassures man not to worry about a total future destruction of the planet, in the last verse of chapter 8 he says as long as the earth remains there will never be another worldwide ceasing of the created order [seedtime and harvest]. How do we square this with the Christian doctrine of ‘the end of the world’? Now, this can get complicated and take more time than I have right now, but lets try and take a quick ride. The famous New Testament verse on the future ‘destruction’ of the planet is found in 2nd Peter 3 [the same chapter that deals with the flood] Peter says the elements will melt with a fervent heat and we await a new heaven and earth. In the gospels Jesus also speaks about ‘the end of the world’ the word for world does not mean the planet, but the age. Just like when the bible says ‘satan is the god of this world’ it speaks of age, not earth. So a careful reading of the ‘end of the world’ verses show us that there will be a future time of cleansing ‘by fire’ that will usher in a new age/order. Preterists [those who believe the future judgment scenarios were speaking of a.d. 70 and the end of the old order of the law] take these verses to mean that God was ending ‘the old order/age of law and bringing in a new age of grace’ I see partial truth to this, but don’t fully accept that there is no future aspect to it. The futurists [dispensationalists] see a destruction of the world and sometimes allow this view to effect their responsibility to the planet and society at large ‘heck, why worry about the environment and future stuff, it’s all coming to an end soon’ type mentality. Some, not all, have this mindset. The Preterists think the Futurists have made a fatal mistake in misreading the verses that should say ‘age’ instead of ‘world’. There are very good points that the Preterists make, though I don’t fully embrace everything they have to say. Overall we see that God wanted to reassure man that he was not going to totally wipe the earth out again like he did in the past. Whether you see the future fire burning up the elements as some sort of nuclear thing [I don’t] or a reference to the glory of Jesus burning up the chaff at his return, the important thing to remember is God wanted man to know that the natural order of day and night would go on, and a new heaven and earth would continue to exist for all eternity. The mindset of ‘don’t give up on the mandate to have dominion and care for the planet’ was being instilled in Noah and his sons. I think it would do the evangelical church some good if we looked more seriously at some of these issues. (1145) THE FLOOD- Okay, this is a hot topic. First, the flood really happened! Some old earth creationists insist on a local version of it, others say it was worldwide [I’m in the world wide camp]. God tells Noah to embark on a very long building program. He certainly looks like a nut to those around him. Eventually the Ark is finished and Noah and his family get in, they bring 7 of every clean animal and 2 of every ‘unclean’ type. It rains [some say 40 days and nights, others think it rained longer] and the ‘fountains of the deep are opened up’ obviously a reference to some type of Tectonic action. After everything dies, the Ark rests and Noah and his family repopulate the planet. The young earth creationists have good arguments from this story [real event!] some of the old earth brothers tend to trivialize it. Ever since the science of geology gained ground [19th-20th centuries] many have argued for a very old earth based on the geologic table. They look at the different strata of the earth [levels] and say ‘see, these levels took millions of years to develop, you have dinosaurs buried in the lower levels, then other types of animals, birds and then man is rarely found fossilized’ these brothers see a sort of scientific record that backs up the progressive creation view. They say the creation days are ages, and the science shows us deep time. Are there any other explanations for the various fossil levels? Yes. The young earth brothers will make a very good argument that the cataclysmic effect of the flood caused the levels. They say the reason you find dinosaurs and other land animals at lower levels is a result of natural panic and survival during the flood. The slower, heavier animals would die first and get buried first. The birds lasted longer of course; they kept flying to high land until they too died off. Man was the smartest of the bunch, he managed to survive longest, and that’s why you don’t find as many fossils of man as you do other creatures [those who die late would not get covered in sediment and would simply rot!] This argument isn’t that bad, to be honest. There are of course many other things besides this, the point I want to make is if you rule out the biblical record of a world wide flood, then you are leaving out other interpretations of the data. Most young and old earth brothers agree on the actual record [i.e.; we do see things buried at different levels] they simply disagree on the interpretation of the data. Lets do a few practical things here, God had Noah prepare things ahead of time. He also spent some down time in a huge boat with a ‘lot of dung’ [ouch!] Often times on the journey we hit spots that don’t look [or smell] that great. People might even mock us ‘look at that idiot Noah, he’s even got his family believing in this stuff!’ but when it was all said and done he was vindicated. Those who tend to spiritualize the stories of Genesis usually see the first 11 chapters as a mix of symbol and history. The genealogies of chapters 4, 5 and 11 are sometimes seen as not exact [by the way, in the last entry I used Enoch as an example of the ascension, the Enoch who was taken up was the Enoch of chapter 5]. The reasons are various [like the other ancient near east genealogies used 10 generation lists, both chapter 5 and 11 are 10 generation lists]. Some do this in order to fit more time into the biblical record. Jesus, Peter and the writer of Hebrews all speak of Noah and his flood as a real historic event! There should be no reason for believers to doubt or spiritualize these stories away. But we also want to be open to the reality that other cultures had their own tellings of these stories, and that the recording of genealogies does not mean there is no room for an older earth [the genealogies are accurate, but they don’t start right at the beginning of time!]. And let’s finish in a practical way, are you going thru a season of feeling stuck in a big box with a lot of dung? Sometimes the word of the Lord to us is ‘just survive at this time, when the storms over things will look better again’. The Lord used Noah to have an influence on the entire civilization that would re-populate the planet! God will increase your influence if you simply find a way to survive the flood. (1144) CAIN AND ABEL- After the fall of man, God kicks him out of the garden and he loses intimacy with God. Eventually Eve has kids and Cain kills Abel his brother. In Hebrews 11 and 1st John we read the story. Abel brought an animal offering, Cain brought from the fruit of the ground. Some say this was a comparison between Jesus [typified in Abel's sacrificial animal] and the law [Cain’s work of his hands, the ground]. Maybe so? Hebrews says God accepted Abel’s offering because it was in faith and rejected Cain. Cain got jealous and killed his brother, the first recorded murder in the bible. Cain has a son named Enoch [which means teacher- rabbi] he builds a city and names it after his son [God is building us, the city of God- we are named after his son, the Body of Christ] and Enoch will eventually be caught up bodily into heaven [a type of the ascension]. The skeptics often ask ‘where did Cain get his wife’? The most likely answer would be from his extended family. There was no rule against marrying your kin back then, so this sounds reasonable to me. But wait! The skeptic says because we don’t know for sure where Cain got his wife, therefore atheism is true. They then will tell you where all people really came from. Around 15 billion years ago nothing existed [not even God] and from this point of nothing something exploded into existence [without an exploder!] eventually the earth showed up and it rained on the earth for millions of years. Somehow the rain on the rocks produced this soupy mixture [primordial soup] that all by itself produced the first living cell. After millions of more years man showed up. Yeah brother, that explanation sure puts to shame the Cain and his wife thing! The story of Cain warns us of the danger of jealousy, comparing ourselves with others. Putting pressure on people to make things happen so you look better. I recently read a story about a mega church [not in Corpus] and they went thru a few years of battles. They were building a new expensive building; the pastor put pressure on the people to give. Some of the people felt like they were always being challenged to give more money. Then word got out that the Pastor bought expensive gifts for his friends with church money, 3-4 thousand dollar suits and jewelry. He was flying all over the world at great expense, doing public speaking and stuff. It was a big mess, lawsuits entailed and relationships ruined. From what I read about it in the news paper stories that were on line, it seemed like there were mistakes on both sides, both the church leadership and those who wanted to expose it. The bigger problem is this basic style of church, the high powered world traveling leader, spending lots of money on seemingly okay things. The people being supporters of the gifts and persona of the charismatic personality [whether thru media or personal travel] this whole system is being rightfully challenged at the present time by a new generation of community minded believers who see that this high powered style of an individual leader is not the pattern of church found in the New Testament. Often time’s jealousy can be a factor on both sides of these issues, but we also need to understand that there are legitimate challenges against this whole expression of church. Most of all we want to avoid taking things into our own hands, trying to personally stop what we might perceive as wrong. Cain was jealous; he allowed his rage to lead him to the killing of his own brother. He might have gotten rid of the thing he felt was an obstacle, but he would live with the guilt for the rest of his life. (1143) THE FALL- God puts man in the garden, he gives him only one restriction ‘don’t eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil’ sure enough, he does! The serpent [satan] tempts Eve in 3 areas, the tree is good for food [lust of the flesh] good to look at [eyes] and can make you wise [pride]. In 1st John 2 we see these three areas mentioned as the common categories of all other temptation. These were the same areas the devil used on Jesus in Matthew 4. The temptation to Eve essentially said ‘look at this God of yours! He wont give you the freedom to do anything you want, he is withholding such a good tree from you’ sounds like the philosopher Freud, he taught that the problem with man was Gods restrictions. That if man would cast off the limits that religion imposed upon them, then all would be well. But what man did not know was that these basic limits were for his own good. When man would choose to walk out from under Gods limits, he would suffer for it. In this chapter [Gen. 3] we also see the great prophecy of the child of the woman eventually crushing the serpents head [called the Protoevangelium- Latin] a prophecy about Christ’s future victory at the Cross. God also covers man with animal’s skins, a type of the future sacrifice of Christ on behalf of man. Man tried to cover up with leaves, God said it wont do, so he sacrificed the life of an animal and used the skins as a covering. The wages of sin is death, the price was paid. In Romans chapter 5 Paul will show us that death and sin passed upon all mankind from Adams sinful act, but thru the obedience of one man [Jesus dying on the Cross] righteousness comes to those who believe. This is the basic Christian doctrine of original sin. Some refer to this as the federal head theory of redemption. I believe it’s vital for Christians to have a grasp of this doctrine. In the 19th/20th centuries you had liberal theologians deny the doctrine of Jesus dying on behalf of man. Along with this they also denied that original sin existed. Most believers realized that this denial was heresy and avoided it, but some are playing with the idea again. The bible clearly teaches the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ on the behalf of man [Isaiah 53] and it is a foundational doctrine for all true believers. To some it seemed unfair to charge God with the doctrine of original sin, and along with it the doctrine of Penal substitution [Christ being punished for us] these are core Christian truths, if people want to deny them, that’s their choice. But to be a Christian in the biblical sense of the word, these truths are necessary, they are part of the foundation of all true Christian churches. (1142) MAN, GODS UNIQUE CREATION- Okay, we already saw how God made the animals and fish and birds, but when he describes mans creation he shows us that it is unique. Out of all the other created things, man alone is in ‘Gods image’ and bears his likeness. Man is a moral being with a built in conscience, he has the capacity to know God and live with him forever. This is the basis of the Judeao Christian value on human life. Those religions who believe in the Genesis account of creation, see man as having special value. The Darwinian worldview [social Darwinism] sees man as a simple blob of meaningless flesh, no different than the other life forms along the line. I always found the atheists reasoning to be a little illogical; they will argue that they are the real intellectuals, the so called ‘brights’ [a recent term they have come up with to describe their group] they will then explain to you how their view of their mind and brain is purely naturalistic, their brains are simply these jumbled masses of cells that are the result of thousands of years of meaningless process. Their whole being started as an accident, they have no initial purpose or final end. They see themselves, and along with it, all their reasoning and education and knowledge as being the result of years and years of luck and chance, and then they want you to trust in their conclusions! Ah, the utter foolishness of mans wisdom. God formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed into him his own breath and man became a living soul. Though the basic material of man is the same as the other material things God made, yet he only breathed his own image into man. The great 17th century philosopher/mathematician Blaise Pascal was reading the gospel of John one night, he was meditating on John 17 and had an awakening, he began to see that God was ‘the God of Jesus’ not the God of the philosophers. He saw that having a real relationship with God was different than simply knowing the things about him. God built into man the capacity to know him, while all other creatures are valuable and special to him [Jesus said not even a little sparrow dies without God caring about it!] yet man alone has the capacity to know and be in true communion with his creator, man was created in Gods image. (1141) UNIFORM OR CATASTROPHE ? One of the key verses in the debate between young and old earth creationism is in 2nd Peter chapter 3. Peter says that in the last days scoffers will doubt two specific things; the second coming and the flood of Noah’s day. I find it interesting that some theories on the long age of the earth also incorporate a local flood for Noah’s day. The young earth guys will use the Peter verse to show that if you purposefully rule out a world wide flood from your theory, that you fall into the snare of viewing certain scientific data [geologic table] as being a result of millions/billions of years of gradual uniform time [uniformitarianism] as opposed to being a result of the flood. The young earth brothers point to the fact that much of the fossil evidence and geologic column [like the Grand Canyon] can be a result of the universal flood. These brothers see the catastrophe [catastrophism] of the flood as the cause for these things. Does Peter [or any other bible passage] shed light on this subject? Yes, even though the bible does not speak to us in scientific language, it is reliable on all the things it does speak about; history, events like a flood, the future judgment, the second coming, etc. So it is important to not rule out the effects that a worldwide flood might have had on the data. Do we have any examples of the bible referring to worldwide things, and not really meaning ‘the whole world’? Yes, in Acts 2 the bible says there were people gathered from ‘every nation under heaven’ at the time, but the chapter gives us the nations that were there, there were obviously no people from America! So does ‘every nation’ simply mean every nation from the known world of the time? Yes. So some local flood believers use this type of stuff to defend their view. We do need to be careful when doing theology like this. Does the biblical account give us other clues that the flood was worldwide? Sure, why in the world would God have Noah build a huge ark, gather all these animals, have them in it for a long time while the earth floods. If the flood was regional, just tell the guy to move! The biblical account says the waters covered the highest mountains of the day, this could not happen unless the flood was world wide. So even though the bible does say ‘world wide/all nations’ at times in a non literal way, this does not mean we can change all the events described as world wide into local events. Some who read the first few chapters of Genesis in a poetic language way, also have the problem of deciding when the poetry stops! Is the Genesis 6 account of a flood real? What about the tower of Babel in chapter 11? Once you start going down the road of over spiritualizing the bible, you can run into problems. Overall I believe we need to be open and willing to see both sides of this argument [young and old earth views] there is somewhat of a tendency to view opposing views as real heresy [I sense this mostly from some of the young earth writers]. But there is also a condescending attitude towards young earth believers that at times seems to say ‘how can you be so behind the times in your views’? This debate on the age of the earth and the various progressive stages of evolutionary progress [cosmological evolution- stars producing basic elements over billions of years and these things ‘birthing’ planets and so forth] these theories are in no way definite! There are a lot of things that we simply don’t know for sure. But at the same time there are and have been true scientific breakthroughs that have challenged the mindset of the church and have corrected the church’s view in certain areas. As believers we need to hear both sides, while avoiding the warning of Peter who did say that there would be scoffers who purposefully would overlook the historical event of the flood of Noah’s day, we must let scripture form our views, while at the same time understanding that the bible does not give us a scientific explanation for all things. (1140) CREATION DAY 7- On the seventh day God rested and enjoyed what he had made. This does not mean he was tired, or that he ceased from activity. But is shows us the process and ways of God. When you read the parables of Jesus he often uses land and seed analogies to explain God’s kingdom ‘the kingdom is like planting a seed’ and stuff like that. God rested because it was his purpose to initiate the first 6 days of creation and for that creation to be self sustaining/propagating [under his sovereignty]. It’s important to see this aspect of creation. In chapter 1 God chose to use the words ‘let the waters bring forth’ and ‘let the ground bring forth’ when speaking of land and sea creatures. Why not simply ‘let there be animals, fish’? It seems as if God himself is leaving some room here for a reading of the text that has more to it than meets the eye. Does this mean the Progressive creationists are right? [or theistic evolutionists] not necessarily, but is shows us that there is some language in the text itself that shows a sort of ‘co-operative effort’ where God caused the initial base elements to ‘bring forth’ life. Some see this as God using simple language to describe deep scientific truths that would be found thru out the ages. Some equate this language with deep time ideas [old earth]. Also in chapter 2 we see the Lord describe the entire creation event as happening in ‘a day’ [singular]. This simply meaning ‘at the time period’ the young earth creationists are correct in pointing out that this does not mean the first 6 [or 7] days were not literal 24 hour periods. Scripture does use the word Day to speak figuratively at times; the ‘day of the Lord’ and stuff like that [meaning both a day and a time period]. But the point can be made that very early on [Gen 2] God chooses to use the word Day in the singular to describe the entire event. Also the writer of Hebrews will ‘spiritualize’ the phrase ‘and God rested on the seventh day’ to describe the age of grace, the new covenant ‘rest of God’ [read my Hebrews commentary, chapter 4- To be honest I don’t remember what I said at the time, but I’m sure I must have explained it!]. Once again, this would not necessarily leave the door open for a symbolic, non literal reading of day 7. But it shows us the various ways other new testament teachers used these scriptures, they were not afraid of applying them in theological ways. Of course we can get into trouble if we carry this too far. In the early days of the church you had the Alexandrian school, a great 3rd century Christian school, that adopted a highly symbolic way of reading scripture. The famous teacher Origen would head up the school at one point. He taught a type of spiritual interpretation of the bible that had 4 meanings to it, it was a little [or way] overboard to be honest about it, but the school was very influential. Eventually saint Augustine would embrace many of these ideas. Augustine was a titan in the early church and has been said to have had more influence in the later centuries of the church than any other teacher next to the apostle Paul! So we have had somewhat of a history at how far we should go when reading these texts. I would simply point out that there is some room here, early on in the bible, to see that even a straight forward reading of the text leaves room for some progressive ideas, some ‘spiritualizing’ of certain aspects, and a certain feel for the text that seems to say ‘there’s more going on here than initially meets the eye’. This does not mean we should abandon a literal view of the days, but shows us that God can use natural, normal days and extend his ideas to us in a manifold way [like Jesus use of the seed in his parables- real seeds, greater meaning]. Also the text shows us that God created the heavens and earth first and used language that said ‘let the waters/ground bring forth’ showing us that all other things were made from the basic stuff of the original heavens and earth. Does natural science go along with this? Yes, science shows us that all the base elements of all things come from the initial base elements that were used in the creation of the material world [The 90 or so elements found in the periodic table- hey, it’s been a long time since high school!] So even science itself would agree with the biblical record! How would the writer of Genesis have known this at such a pre scientific time? These things testify of the Divine nature of scripture itself. So we need not abandon a literal view, but we also see there is room for more than initially meets the eye. (1139) CREATION DAYS 2-6 There are various views on these days; of course the literal view, each day is a 24 hour day that ends with the description of ‘evening and morning’. The symbolic view would argue that there was no ‘real’ evening and morning until day 4, because on day 4 God made the sun. So an ‘evening and morning’ that would be measured by the earth’s rotation as it relates to the sun [solar day] could not happen in a literal sense. These see certain poetic elements in these verses. A repetition of certain phrases- evening and morning, let there be, God said. These repetitive phrases show a stylized Hebrew narrative. It should be noted that this argument is true, whether you believe in the literal or figurative reading. It is still possible to have this type of stylized element, while at the same time speaking a real historic narrative. Another interesting view is called The Framework Theory. This view has been around since the early 20th century. It’s a topical view of the creation days. It sees the first 3 days and the 2nd set of three days as basically describing the same time frame. Basically this view says that God simply used the ‘framework’ of the 7 day week to give to man a real historic explanation of creation, but God used the framework of the 7 day week in a symbolic way for mans benefit. This view will compare day 1 [the first day of the first 3 day set] with day 4 [the first day of the second 3 day set]. Day one has God creating light, day 4 has the sun and stars. This view says these are 2 descriptions of the same creation act. The light from day one comes from the luminaries in day 4. Day 2 coincides with day 5. Day 2 has the heavens appear when God divides the waters [heaven and sea] day 5 [the second day of the second set] has the things that fill the heavens and seas- birds and sea creatures. Day 3 has land and vegetation, day 6 has land animals and man- things that eat the vegetation and walk the earth. It’s interesting, though not exact. You could see the seas as being part of day 3, and as you read both creation accounts [Genesis 1 and 2] there is a mixture of when things showed up. Are there other explanations for why the account in chapter 2 differs from chapter one? [chapter one has man being made after the animals, chapter 2 shows Adam before the animals, God brings the animals to show Adam, he sees nothing fitting for him and God then makes Eve]. Some see a purposeful inconsistency, put in the text by God himself, to show man that this was not to be taken in a literal, consecutive way. Sort of like the critics of the gospels, they will find various inconsistencies in the gospel narratives, like one gospel having two angels at the tomb, the other showing one. The critics say ‘see, inconsistent’ but the other argument can say if you had exact testimony from various eyewitness accounts in a courtroom, this would not convince the jury that their testimony was true, to the contrary it would indicate that the witnesses were coached. So the various different details might be actual clues to the validity of the gospel writers! So in Genesis, some feel there are purposeful poetic structures and differing accounts for the purpose of telling the reader ‘don’t take this too literal’. I don’t personally hold to this, but do see the point. It should be noted that in Exodus 20 and 31 Moses will speak about the creation days as historical narrative. No matter which view a person takes [literal or symbolic] the fact that creation itself happened by the hand of God is an undeniable fact of history and science. All things could not have come from nothing, there had to be an initial cause some where down the line. This initial cause himself had to have had no beginning [logic and science show this] and it just so happens that these attributes belong to the God of the bible, even before we knew that creation needed an initiator that possessed them! (1138) CREATION DAY 1- In Genesis 1:1-5 we have the first recording of Gods creative acts, over the years Christians have struggled with this text. One of the main reasons believers ‘struggle’ with it is because modern scientific understanding [majority view- not all!] indicates that the earth is quite a lot older than 6 thousand years. Some scholars believe that the church has been duped into believing in old earth science and because of there acceptance of science, above Gods word, they have come to compromise Gods word. A simple reading of the first 5 verses of Genesis tell us that ‘in the beginning’ God made the heaven and the earth. At this point, God is not constrained to a time/space continuum of ‘day’ [the Hebrew word Yom]. The day itself will be created in this time period called ‘in the beginning’. God will create light and separate the light from the darkness and call this ‘day’. I see the possibility of there being a very long period of time having passed at this point, at least according to this text [we will look at Exodus 20:11 in a moment]. I do not see a need to create a ‘gap theory’ between verse one and verse two, some theorize that you had an entire pre adamic world, that God judged this world and this is how they explain the long age of the earth. I believe that a simple reading of the first five verses could go like this ‘at the start of all things, God made the heaven and the earth [no day constraint yet] and he also made light and dark [now we are getting into Gods cycle for man] and he saw that all these things were good. He made the day itself at this time, and the day became mans measurement of time’. Now, this is my paraphrase on how this text could be read. I do find it interesting that out of all the scholars I am presently reading on this subject, none of them are making this simple point; that the 24 hour day constraint was itself created ‘in the beginning’. Now, exodus 20:11 does say that God made all things in ‘6 days’, this verse seems to indicate that there was a time constraint to the actual making of the heaven and earth ‘in the beginning’ so to be fair to both sides [young and old earth creationists] I had to throw this in. Jesus also refers to the creation of man as an historical event [as opposed to a theistic evolutionary view] he says ‘in the beginning God made them male and female, and for this cause a man leaves his parents and is joined to his wife’ the young earth brothers will use this to show that Jesus believed that God created man ‘in the beginning’ as opposed to there being billions of years passing before man showed up [which is also a progressive view of creation- a sort of joining together the timeline of long age science with the Genesis account]. The point I would make is if God created time at ‘this point in time’ then the phrase ‘in the beginning’ could refer to thousands, or millions of years all being ‘at the start’ [compared to forever!]. I do not hold to a ‘progressive view’ myself, I simply believe that a plain reading of the first 5 verses of Genesis shows that the time constraint of day [Yom] was itself created at this time. The Exodus verse does seem to say that all the events of Gods creative acts did fit into the time/space of 6 days, but this first Genesis reading seems to leave room for a longer period of ‘one day’ when speaking of the creation of heaven and earth. While the young earth creationists do seem to fault the old earth creationists for trying to make scripture fit into current scientific theories of the earths age, I would like to point out the fact that both sides [young and old earth groups] see the first 3 days as distinct from all the other days that have occurred since that time. All agree that the sun was not the original light source for the first three days [well, some believe God was not giving us an exact consecutive recording of creation. So these see the sun as being the source of light for all the creation days] the charge could be made that even the young earth creationists are admitting that some of the creation days are not ‘days’ in the classical sense of the word. These first days were not solar days! The whole point is we do find some room for the interpretation of the creation days as having some areas that we don’t fully understand, or at least we don’t know all that was going on in a scientific sense [was the light for the first three days God himself? Possible. But then that would leave the door open that God created himself! A much greater theological heresy than the long earth view!]. I also believe that the fact that ‘the day’ itself was said to have been created by God ‘in the beginning’ leaves much room for a longer time period of the earths age. Out of all the other ancient near east [A.N.E] stories of creation, none of them have ‘a god’ who himself transcends time and space and actually created time itself. For thousands of years the common belief was that either matter itself always existed, or that time always existed. So the competing stories of creation found in other cultures have a god that was himself formed from matter, or creation itself was a process of these dependant gods fighting each other. No other view has a god that transcends time and space and actually creates time and space. It wasn’t until the 20th century that science itself proved this to be a fact, Einstein’s theories on time and space gave us proof that all things did have a starting point [big bang cosmology]. So anyway, in the coming weeks I might hit on these things a little more, but for today I wanted to emphasize that a simple, literal reading of Genesis 1:1-5 does show us that God created ‘the day’ [the actual time measurement that man goes by] during his initial act of creation. God himself was not ‘bound’ or constrained to the time/space continuum, he actually made the time/space continuum at ‘the time’. (1137) Not sure which way to go, either the danger we are in right now as a country; that both sides [right and left] seem to be going to extremes, some wanting failure for the purpose of feeling vindicated. Or the liberal side that seems to always overlook the devastation of late term abortions. Never able to actually see and realize that we are actually dismembering real babies, babies that cry and squirm and wince on screen as they actually have taken pictures of this horrible act! Of course the murder of the man who engaged in this act for 5 thousand dollars a shot was wrong, very wrong. But the act itself is still horrendous! Both sides [right and left] are truly wanting the failure of the other side, even if it means national disaster! Bad stuff indeed. Okay, recently I have been reading up on the various views of Genesis and the recording of creation. Some scholars see the reality of other ancient near east [A.N.E] stories about a flood and creation, that have similar things to the biblical account, they see this as a key to understanding the Genesis account [I don’t fully hold to this myself]. While it’s interesting to note that some of these other stories have similarities [7 days are used frequently, the story of a man building a boat and saving his family as the world floods] and some of these stories existed before the Genesis account was written [around 1500 years B.C.] this in and of itself does not cast doubt on the biblical version. So what was the reaction to those who found out that these other stories had similarities to Genesis, and were written before Genesis? Some saw this as a clue to understanding the Genesis account; for instance they would say that when Moses recorded the Genesis account, he was a man influenced by his time and culture, so he obviously wrote in a sort of symbolic way, a style that he knew would be understood by the culture of his day. These scholars don’t reject the belief that creation did happen by God, they are simply trying to resolve some of the seeming problems [like God creating light on day 1, while the sun wasn’t created until day 4!] and feel there are some answers by using this paradigm. How else could you resolve the fact that other cultures [Babylonian, Egyptian] actually had their own stories of creation and a flood, before Genesis was written? Well the other possibility is that if Genesis is telling us the literal truth, that all people came from Adam [and later Noah] and that a great flood occurred, and that God really did make everything in 7 days, if these things really happened [by the way, I believe they did!] then why would you think it strange that the Babylonians and Egyptians had their own telling of these events, the other explanation for these other cultures having their own stories about these things is that these things really did happen to them! If all people really did come from Adam, then every culture would eventually have some type of telling of these stories passed along thru their culture. The possibility that some of these stories would be recorded before Genesis, does not diminish at all from the biblical account. No where in scripture does it tell us that the bible is the only book that would ever record the events of creation or a worldwide flood. The way people view these various truths depends a lot on their pre conceived mindsets. If you lean towards skepticism, then you tend towards seeing these things as ‘aha, I knew the bible was fake all along’ but if you lean towards a real belief in scripture, you could see it like the way I just showed you. In the future I will tackle some more of these issues [like light being created before the sun] and will try and give you both sides of the debate. But for now I wanted to just drop this in, to give your mind some things to chew on. The over spiritualizing of the creation account can be dangerous, Paul and Jesus both use the creation account in their teachings as historical narrative! In Romans Paul even says ‘like death entered into the world by one mans disobedience [Adam] we receive eternal life thru one mans obedience [Jesus]’ so to over spiritualize the creation account can be problematic. But even the literalists have some hurdles to overcome when reading the account. Most of all we know we can trust God’s word, and if there are portions of it that are Prose, Narrative, History or Phenomenological in language, this does not mean the Word of Gods is not true. (696) THOUGHTS FROM GENESIS- Been reading Genesis 12-22. I felt like the Lord wanted me to overview some stuff. Paul will quote the account in Gen: 15 [and 12] a lot. ‘The just shall live by faith’ is oft mentioned in the New Testament. He uses Abraham as an argument for Justification by Faith. Both Romans and Galatians are masterpieces at this. In my first book ‘House of Prayer or Den of Thieves’ I wrote a chapter titled ‘the Abrahamic Blessing’. I tried to undue a false teaching that arose out of the prosperity movement that taught the ‘Abrahamic Blessing’ was believers being promised material stuff. If you read the chapter [Galatians 3] you will see the Abrahamic blessing to mean Gods promise to Abraham that he would bless the whole world thru his child [seed]. Paul uses this to combat the Judiazers who were teaching you get saved by the law. Paul in essence says ‘God promised Abraham that he would bless [in context, to ‘Justify’ and give the Spirit to those who have faith] the world thru his child [Jesus] long before he gave the law to Moses’. And being God can’t lie, the first promise [to Abraham] is stronger than the second promise to Moses [Law]. Good stuff! But a false teaching twists the ‘promise’ and says ‘see, Paul says we are Abraham’s kids [true] and therefore we get his blessings’ [stuff] false! There are many reasons why it is false, but if your Pastor simply reads scripture in context, he will lead you right. I have grown ‘weary’ over the years in trying to correct this stuff. I have come to the conclusion that many well meaning Pastors/Teachers should have never had the large area of influence [media] due to the ‘basic’ level of thought they were functioning at. I want to be kind, but many of these doctrines are propagated because the mass of teaching going out is by brothers who simply can’t grasp scripture in context. Now, they are not all bad! But if your Pastor can’t see that the same writer of Galatians would also write 1st Timothy 6, and say ‘false teachers will rise in the last days, teaching gain is godliness. Turn away from them’ the fact that Paul connects false prophets to those who connect money with ‘godliness’ shows you that Paul is not teaching the Galatians that they were going to get rich because they had faith! Simple stuff, but the average teacher that can’t see or discern this should not be teaching on TV![or radio]. Because they wind up propagating stuff that is false. That’s why James says ‘don’t all try to be teachers, you will be held to a higher standard’. There seems to be a mindset in Christian ministry that says ‘The goal of our ‘church’ is to raise as much money as possible, expand our influence as far as possible, and have our Pastors message go to the ends of the earth’. This causes there to be a basic violation of ‘not many of you should be teachers’. Or a rush to get your words out! Now, God does ordain certain voices at certain times to have great influence. And it is fine for all ministers to try and get the gospel out as much a possible. But when I hear these national voices teach the most obvious mistakes, I think ‘surely these guys are not supposed to be teaching on this level’! So in Abraham’s story, the Lord tells him ‘I am going to bless the whole planet thru your seed’. God is giving us glimpses of Jesus Christ and his purpose to bring blessing to the whole world thru him. Have you been ‘blessed’ [born again] thru Abrahams seed? (697) GENESIS 12: 1-3 ‘The Lord said unto Abram, get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred and from thy father’s house, unto a land THAT I WILL SHOW THEE. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and make thy name great; [God will do it, not him!] and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless THEM that bless thee, and curse HIM that curseth thee: and IN THEE SHALL ALL FAMILIES OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED’. The blessing is contingent upon Abraham going on a pilgrimage, for his entire life! Jesus said a prophet has no honor in his home town and among his own family. Over the years I have seen many gifted men along the way. Many still live WITH THEIR PARENTS. Or have a family situation where their wife IS THE PARENT. They have never ‘launched out’ and become responsible adults. There came a time in Abrahams life where the Lord said ‘you must leave your familiar surroundings, in order to become a great nation of people, you must leave the comfortable nation [environment] that you are trusting’. Some times all it takes is a willingness to get up and begin the journey. It’s scary at first, but no adventure is 100 % safe! Notice the Lord also informs him that he WILL FACE OPPOSITION! Those [plural] who are for him will be there. And HIM [singular] that is against thee shall also be there. God promises there are more on your side than on the critic’s side! Hey, they might only be invisible angels [Elijah, Elisha] but God says the numbers are on your side. The enemy often uses this ploy against you. ‘Hey, everyone thinks you are a failure, what are you still doing trying to finish Gods work!’ These were the accusations that Nehemiah would hear. That everyone is talking about what a mess the whole thing is. ‘Who does he think he is anyway’? Who cares what they think! We will ALL be dead and gone in a few years, the voices of opposition will be gone. The only thing that will matter then is what you did with a sincere and noble heart. At least you will have some rewards coming, the critics will only ‘have words’. (698) GENESIS 12- Abraham goes into the Promised Land. God begins appearing to him, and Abraham builds an altar and calls on the Lord. A key principle to ‘possessing your land’ is responding right! Each time you move forward in the journey it is imperative that you ‘hear God’. He must ‘appear to you’ in some way [thru scripture, prophetic direction, etc] and your response should be prayer. This sequence of events will take place more than one time with Abraham and his kids. Though they are strangers in the land, each time God appears to them they set up ‘outposts’ [altars] for the Kingdom. Altars are places of prayer and sacrifice. They are ‘contact points’ between heaven and earth. Abrahams grandson, Jacob, will ‘set up one’ at Bethel [house of God] and have a dream of angels ascending and descending on a Ladder. Which of course is a type of the Cross. Abraham goes into Egypt and commits a familiar sin that he will pass on to his kids. The famous ‘this is my sister, not my wife’ deal. Pharaoh takes her and God curses Pharaoh and Pharaoh rebukes Abraham for lying out of fear. Isaac will do the same later on. Notice in this chapter the Lord told Abraham to ‘leave his family and go into a new place’ did he fully obey? Not really. He takes Lot [nephew] with him. Of course he was to take his wife, but I am not sure if he fudged on the Lot thing. You will notice later that as soon as he separates from Lot that the Lord begins reaffirming the promise to him. I kinda get the feeling that things were put on hold until he fully obeyed. One of the things we will see in Abraham’s life, was though he was a great man of faith. Yet he struggled like everyone else. He still clung to stuff out of fear. We end this chapter with Abraham going up out of Egypt, a short excursion and lesson in disobedience. Some of these early failures will plague his future dynasty! (699) GENESIS 13- Abraham leaves Egypt and the scripture says HE WAS VERY RICH! One of the things we want to do as we review these chapters is to rightly divide the word of God. The church went thru an ‘immature’ level of thinking and teaching. She [the church!] saw all these truths on God blessing Abraham. The many true verses on ‘the blessing of the Lord, it makes rich and he adds no sorrow to it’ ‘the Lord gives you power to get wealth that he may establish his covenant in the earth’ and all the other truths on God meeting the needs of his kids and blessing them. But the teachers went overboard and taught a doctrine of a rich Jesus who died to make you rich. They would become the false prophets that Paul would warn Timothy about in 1st Timothy 6. So here we want to see and understand that the Lord blessed Abraham and did make him rich. We also want to balance this with all the teachings of Jesus on ‘beware of covetousness, for a mans life consisteth not in the abundance of the things he possesses’ ‘you can not serve God and money’ ‘the love of money is the root of all evil, while some have gone after it they have left the faith’ [Paul]. All of these scriptures are true, not just the ones we like the most! In this chapter Abraham separates from Lot and the lord reaffirms his promise to him. It seems like God was waiting on Abraham to ‘fully leave his family’ like the earlier verse said ‘get thee out of thy country AND FROM THY KINDRED’ here he finally left ‘the kindred’ and God said ‘now lets keep going’! Sometimes the only thing holding us back is full obedience. You don’t need to re do everything! Just bring some stuff back into alignment. Also after the Egypt ‘side trail’ Abraham renews his ‘first love’ and reconnects with God at bethel, but then moves to another spot and builds another altar. This chapter says ‘he went on his journeys’. God didn’t want Abraham to go stagnant, enjoy the area around the first altar and never advance. The purpose for Abraham was to be a father of MANY NATIONS. You can’t do that if your comfortable just settling down on the street corner and ‘pastoring your little flock’ [ouch!]. God wants us to ‘go on journeys’. I am not saying there are not times where ‘Pastoring the flock’ is OK. But the modern church goes to extremes. She either wants to build huge 20 thousand seat auditoriums [which tends to lead to a spectator mentality] or preach to 30 people at a time! God’s purpose is to impact all of society with the gospel. Jesus gospel was bigger than the one we embrace today. Hey, if you really enjoyed God’s presence at ‘Bethel’ just wait until you get to the next altar! Don’t forget Bethel [your first love] but you have a nation [nations!] to inherit! (700) GENESIS 14- Abraham goes after the kings who took Lot captive. He takes his 318 trained men and gets Lot and the rest of the spoils from the invading armies. When Abraham brings the stuff back to the King of Sodom, the king tells Abraham ‘take all the goods as well’. Abraham refuses and takes only his expenses. You also find Abraham later on paying for the burial site for Sarah and his family. Even though the people wanted to give it as a ‘tax free gift’! It is important to see that although Abraham was rich, he often refused free handouts! The problem with the church today is you have too many Preachers who see the truths on Abraham being rich and they mix it with a message that says ‘sow seed into my ministry, don’t disobey God!’ it is taught in a way that violates the whole character of Abraham. If you want the lord to bless you, reexamine the way your are expecting it. Abraham would not take free stuff! The church needs to teach prosperity in balance with all the other principles of diligence and giving to God and being smart investors and AVOIDING FREE GIFTS! This mode of operation will be found in the life of Abraham more than once! (701) GENESIS 15- Abraham has been living for a bunch of years since God told him ‘you will have lots of kids, great nations and peoples’ yet he hasn’t had any children yet! You begin to see the natural mind working. Abraham suggests that one of his servants might become the promised ‘seed’. It was not uncommon for a father with no natural children to give the inheritance to a servant. Scripture says a wise servant will rule over a foolish son. Remember the movie ‘Gladiator’? The King/father chooses the Roman gladiator [Crowe] over the son. So Abraham is thinking maybe this is Gods plan. He will do this later with Ishmael as well. A son born from him, but not from Sarah. The Lord will have to keep reaffirming the original vision, so Abraham will have to trust. Also scripture says ‘the word of the Lord came to Abraham in a vision’. Let’s do a quick study. The New Testament teaches faith comes by hearing and ‘hearing by the Word of the Lord’. In the book of Acts the phrase ‘they preached the Word’ appears. Paul says ‘all scripture is given by inspiration of God’. What exactly is ‘the word of the Lord’? While you certainly can apply it to our bible, yet Paul will use this phrase before the New Testament was complete. The preaching in Acts was ‘the word’ yet they had no bibles like we have today. What is the ‘all scripture’ Paul is speaking of? It is specifically the promised ‘word’ that was fulfilled thru Messiah as the completion of the revelation of God to man. This certainly included the Old Testament, but it was more specific. The preaching in Acts was focused on Jesus being the fulfillment of the promise that all Israel was waiting for. So ‘the word of the Lord’ is not simply some general belief in scripture [though it is good to have this belief!] but it is belief in the promise and revealed will of God to you thru out your life. It is the thing you have been waiting for, as revealed by God to you. If you will, it is the actual vision of God for your life. When you believe and see the purpose of God for you, you will have momentum and a dynamic that can not be achieved thru other means. When God calls you and reveals his will to you, you must reattach to this purpose thru out your life. Even in Abraham’s doubts, he is still trying to figure out how to complete the mission! The whole ‘let my servant be the son’ or later on ‘let Ishmael live before thee’ are doubts that are arising out of his determination to see ‘the word of the lord’ [Gods original promise to him] fulfilled! So I want to encourage you to do a little housecleaning. Have things moved so fast [or slow!] in your life that you have lost the original purpose? Are you spending your time doing things that are not primarily connected to your destiny in God? Re attach to the original purpose. In verse 6 Abraham believes God again and it is accounted unto him for righteousness. God is still wanting you to believe him to bring it to pass! (702) GENESIS 16- Abraham is around 85 years old. He’s been waiting around 10 years for God to fulfill the promise and give him a child. In the last chapter he suggested for the Lord to count his servant from his household as the heir. Now Sarah says ‘take my maid Hagar and have a son with her’. Of course the sons name is Ishmael. For all you preachers who read this site, well you know the story. But for all my buddies let me explain. Ishmael is usually looked upon as ‘the flesh’. That is Abraham went out in his own strength and tries to make Gods promise happen. True. But Paul will use this story in Galatians 4 and teach the difference between law and grace. Though Ishmael is the father of the Arab nations [Muslim people for the most part]. Yet Paul does not compare Ishmael to ‘natural Arab descent’. He compares Ishmael to JEWISH PEOPLE WHO ARE LAW KEEPERS AND WHO PERSECUTE TRUE BELIEVERS! Now, I don’t want to go anti Semitic. I want you to see this very important distinction. Today we should see this whole story thru the eyes of law versus grace. Not thru the eyes of Jew versus Muslim! When you preach it the ethnic way [Jew versus Muslim] you do harm to the purpose of God. Paul will use the illustration to show how all those who are under grace are free and don’t have to be under a legalistic mindset. He will compare Ishmael to those who are NATURAL JERUSALEM [not Arab people!] and say ‘you must be free from trying to please God thru the law, and come to the Cross!’ [Hebrews, Romans, Galatians, etc.] Preaching it like this is consistent with the New Testament. Preaching it like the American Fundamentalists causes strife in the world! So read this chapter along with Galatians 3 and 4. Think about what I just told you as you read, and see if it falls down on the side of grace versus ethnic division. God loves all people. He is calling all nations to himself thru Christ. Let’s keep this in mind as we ‘preach the bible’. Many times we do damage to the purpose of God because we think ‘preach the bible’ means spewing out hatred to Muslim people. Here we have shown you that this is not the will of God! (703) GENESIS 17- Once again God appears to Abraham to reassure him of the original promise. What did God promise him again? He will be the father of many nations [Paul will refer this to Abraham being the father, spiritually, of all believers. Not just natural Israel!] God told him he would be a blessing to the whole world thru his offspring [Both Jesus individually, all men being justified and receiving the Spirit by faith. And also thru the ‘corporate Christ’. The whole body of Christ, including Jew and gentile believers] and Abraham would ‘inherit all this land thru his offspring’. If you go back and look at the actual borders that God spoke of, it is much more than what you see on a map of Israel today! We are going to deal with the mistaken idea of the Protestant American Evangelist and his preaching on so called ‘replacement theology’. Now The Lord will reaffirm this basic promise and tell Abraham ‘walk before me and be perfect’. I get the sense that the Lord was waiting until Abraham’s faith was ‘perfect’ enough to fulfill the promise [read my commentary on Hebrews 11 on this site!] It’s like the Lord was saying ‘walk right son, I am waiting to give you all the stuff I spoke of!’ Abraham is 99 and Sarah is 90. God says ‘Sarah will be the mother of many nations’. It seems like Abraham all ready gave up on his future son Isaac and had all his hopes on Ishmael. Abraham will say this in response to the promised Isaac. ‘O that Ishmael would live before thee’ in essence ‘just do the promise thru Ishmael, I’m all right with it’. God says no, he will do it thru the promised child! Now, let’s get into it. Read Galatians 3-4 and Romans 3-4. Paul will take all these promises and say ‘the promise that God made to Abraham that he would inherit the world was not to Abraham or his kids thru the law, but by faith. So at the end [fulfillment] the promise might apply to all the kids, not just to natural Jews who are living by the law’. Paul absolutely is a REPLACEMENT THEOLOGIAN! He is really not guilty of what this so called accusation means. Some preachers will say those who ‘spiritualize’ the promise of God to Israel and apply them to the church are ‘replacement theologians’. But the fact is Paul is doing this! Read Romans 4: 13-14. Paul interprets these passages to refer to the church. Both Jew and non Jew who believe. ‘Why brother, how can the church fulfill the promise of God to Abraham that his seed [kids] would inherit the holy land’? Easy, the New Testament clearly states that we are joint heirs with Christ. We basically own the planet. There are believers right now in every part of the Holy land and all Palestine and Iraq and Egypt and as a matter of fact all over the world! Did you notice Paul will expand the ‘land promise’ from the holy land to the world! Jesus is actually seated at Gods right hand in heaven ruling from a universal throne [which includes Israel!] and is expanding his actual earthly presence thru the church. The fact that right now Abraham has spiritual children inhabiting the whole planet, including Israel. Shows that the promise to Abraham is being fulfilled thru ALL THE SEED, not just those who are ‘of the law’ [natural Israel]. Well in a nutshell, Paul was a ‘replacement theologian’ but I prefer to see it more as a ‘full world theologian’ a type of interpretation that sees all of Gods kids possessing all of Gods world thru the ‘promise of the Spirit’. NOTE; It is vital for believers to see this truth. It will keep us from getting involved in ‘holy wars’ between Israel and Palestine and advocating actual murder as a fulfillment of Gods word! (704) GENESIS 18- The Lord appears to Abraham and tells him he is going to destroy Sodom. Abraham has family living there [Lot] and pleads with the Lord not to judge the place. Abraham says ‘what if 50 righteous people are there, will you destroy them with the rest’? The Lord says ‘No’. Abraham goes all the way to ‘what about 10 people’ and the Lord assures Abraham he will not destroy the place if there are 10 righteous people there. Well, you know the story. Lot and his family will leave and God will judge the place. Peter will use the example of Lot and say ‘the Lord knows how to deliver [save] the righteous’. He ‘delivered’ just Lot. Also the Lord ‘saved’ Noah who was a preacher of righteousness. David in Psalms says ‘The righteous cry [call upon] and the Lord hears and saves them’. The theme of God ‘saving the righteous’ is different than God ‘saving sinners’. This is actually what Paul is referring to in Romans 10 ‘with the heart mans believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation’. In essence ‘you are saved’ when you believe. And the process of ‘ongoing promised salvation and deliverance will come to all who call’. Hey, once you believe [are made just] you can’t help but call! For the Spirit of God is sent forth into your heart and you will cry ‘Abba, father’. I don’t want to get technical here. If you asked Jesus into your heart and are truly serving God, great! But in context there is a ‘salvation of the righteous’ as well as a ‘salvation of the sinner’. They are intricately connected, but you see the doctrine here. God will save the just over and over again as they call upon his name. The righteous cry and the Lord hears their prayer and delivers them. (705) GENESIS 19- The Lord tells Lot to leave Sodom quickly. Lot has to be forcibly removed by the angels! The men of Sodom wanted to have ‘relations’ with the angels! Lot offers his daughters instead and the men pass on the offer. God initially tells Lot to flee to the mountain [the name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into and are safe- once again we will see the doctrine of the righteous being saved by the Lord]. Lot offers the angels a compromise. He says ‘let me go to this nearby city instead’ the angels say ‘fine’. The next day lot wakes up and sees the total destruction of Sodom and realizes this was the last city he lived in that the Lord wasn’t to happy with. He must have turned around and thought ‘geez, the lord also wasn’t to happy with me going to this other city [Zoar] either, he wanted me to go to the mountain’ and he tells his kids ‘you know what, that mountain retreat sounds like a good idea after all’! The scripture says he feared to stay in Zoar! If you read 2nd Peter 2 and Jude you will see Lot mentioned. The writers will once again say the Lord knows how to save the righteous. These chapters speak of both the deliverance of Noah and the story of Lot. Many times rapture theorists will see the truth of God saving his people from wrath and mistakenly apply it to a geographical deliverance. Both lot and Noah are examples of believers who were ‘removed from wicked places and preserved from God’s wrath’. It was a geographical salvation if you will. In the New Testament the wrath of God is seen in a more universal dimension. In John 3 the scripture says ‘the wrath of God continually abides on the unbeliever’. Paul will say ‘Jesus delivered us from the wrath to come’. Past tense! The New Testament doctrine of promised deliverance from ‘the wrath to come’ is not contingent upon a geographical location. It is based on ‘being in Christ’ [the city of God, the bride the lambs wife! Revelation] and coming ‘out of Babylon’. The world [not the earth!] and its false systems of pride and sin. So in context you can apply these geographical deliverances to the child of God being spared from future wrath. But you shouldn’t develop a doctrine that says ‘Jesus comes back 2 more times, one to take away believers for 7 years and another to reveal himself’. Jesus will come back, but if you haven’t already been ‘delivered from Babylon’ by the time he comes, then be assured ‘the wrath of God abideth on you’. (706) GENESIS 20- Abraham does it again! He travels to Gerar and tells the king ‘Sarah is my sister, not my wife’. This time the king takes her but before he sleeps with her God appears to him in a dream and tells him not to do it. In this chapter we see dreams, prophets and healing mentioned. All before Pentecost! In the following days we will cover Joseph and his dreams. I want you to see the reality of God communicating and interjecting himself into the human story as he wills. The fact that all thru out scripture AND CHURCH HISTORY we see an ongoing work of God in supernatural things shows us that God is still sovereign and can do all the things he has ever done. One of the big divisions in Christianity today has to do with the Charismatic movement and the more Orthodox/Reformed brothers. While I realize the Reformed brothers do accept the supernatural workings of God, some of them hold to cessationist views of the gifts of the Spirit. The Charismatics will accept the gifts, but often fall short in the simple teaching of scripture. I have been frustrated over the years in trying to tell Charismatic brothers that you can’t teach that Jesus was a very wealthy person who taught a money message. No matter how much proof from scripture or history you give them, they dismiss it as ‘that old tradition’. I can see why the more Reformed guys just avoid the whole deal. But to be honest to scripture we need to see and have a basic belief in a supernatural God who can communicate thru dreams and can use Prophets and does heal miraculously! Now after God appears to Abimilech and tells him ‘don’t do it, she is the mans wife’. The king is also told ‘restore her back to the man and he will pray for you and I will heal you, he is a Prophet’. So Abraham makes it right. Now, the king also gives restitution to Abraham. Lots of stuff. Does this contradict what I taught earlier about Abraham? We showed how he didn’t take free handouts. In this case this is really not a free handout, it is the biblical doctrine of restitution. Jesus taught this in the New Testament. When someone is wronged by you, do what you can to make up for it. So we leave this chapter with Abraham once again coming out on top, even though he messed up! This shows you that it is only by the mercy and favor of God that you are where you are today. You might think ‘you know, I really am a pretty talented guy. If I weren’t with the lord I probably would have succeeded in some other endeavor’ NOT! It is his grace alone that has exalted you to success. If it weren’t for the Lord you would be a big mess! (707) GENESIS 21- God gives Abraham a child thru Sarah in their old age. Sarah was ‘beyond the time to have kids’ and it was truly a miracle. The child grows and Abraham’s son from Hagar, Ishmael, mocks Isaac. The scripture says ‘cast out the bondwoman’s son, he shall not be heir with Isaac’. This thing grieves Abraham but God says ‘listen to Sarah’ and he sends Ishmael and Hagar out. Once again in Galatians 4 Paul says ‘these things are an allegory’ [wow, talk about presumptuously spiritualizing the word! Many preachers believe doing this is wrong. They seem to not see the heavy amount of ‘spiritualizing’ that Paul does!] Paul says these are examples of how the legalistic Jews would persecute those born of the Spirit. Paul clearly says ‘just like Ishmael made fun of Isaac, so today [the New covenant] those who are born of the Spirit are being persecuted by those born ‘after the flesh’. There simply is no other way to see this. Paul flatly applies this story to law versus grace. Not Jew versus Arab [Muslim]. Paul will even call ‘natural Jerusalem’ Ishmael, who is under bondage with her children. And call those who are born of the Spirit children of ‘the heavenly Jerusalem’ who are born from God. For a first century Jewish former Pharisee to absolutely reject any glorifying of natural Israel, and to call her ‘in bondage with her children’ shows you the strong disconnect that the modern fundamental evangelist makes with scripture when he applies such honor to natural Jerusalem! In a previous chapter Abraham circumcises his son [Ishmael] and himself the same day. Paul will also teach that this shows Abraham to be the father of ‘many nations’. The fact that Abraham was declared righteous before he was circumcised shows you that Abraham is not only ‘the father of Jewish heritage’ but of ‘all who believe, even those who are not circumcised’. This might not mean as much to you today, but in 1st century Rome the Jews considered the uncircumcised as ‘dogs’. For Paul to say Abraham is the father of all who believe, even the uncircumcised, was a major break with ethnic tradition! Sort of like what I just showed you about the ‘natural’ versus ‘spiritual’ Jerusalem. It challenges the strong ethnic ties that believers hold to when they do not rightly interpret scripture. Paul was hated for this type of theology! So we see the Lord finally fulfill his promise to Abraham. The child has arrived! Boy is he gonna be surprised when God says ‘now, go and offer him as a sacrifice’! (708) GENESIS 22- The big test day! It comes to all of us. A time in your life where you choose to obey or keep playing around the danger zone of disobedience. God tells Abraham ‘you see that boy Isaac, the one you have been doubting me about thru out this journey. You thought I would fulfill the promise thru your servant at first. Then for sure you had your hopes on Ishmael. Boy don’t you remember what we went thru in order to get you to the place of promise’? I could hear Abraham saying ‘I know Lord, forgive me for being so stubborn. I had a hard time believing Sarah could really have a son. She was ‘beyond the time of child bearing’ and I doubted it would happen. But now that it did happen, well I can see Isaac truly being the father of nations, just like you said’. God ‘yeah, it’s been a wild ride son. Oh yeah, one more thing. Take the child and offer him up on an altar!’ WHAT! I am sure Abraham thought the major days of testing were over. The miracle boy has arrived. Things are going well for Ishmael, he’s on his own and enjoying some bow hunting [he became an archer!]. And Abraham wants to settle down and enjoy the rest of his life. But the Lord says ‘let’s go for another round’. In Hebrews 11 the Word says Abraham at this point simply learned how to trust. He knew in his own mind that the only way to get any where was to obey. He tried all the other angles before and they just delayed the promise. He also knows that this child is the one that the promise will be fulfilled thru. Hebrews says Abraham just figured ‘what the heck. I got the boy by way of a miracle. He was as good as dead when he was born. He came from a ‘dead womb’. If God wants me to kill him, I guess he will just raise him up again!’ Abrahams mind was trained at this point in his life to fall down on the side of ‘I will do what God says, and he will do whatever needs to be done to bring the future to pass’. [Read my commentary on Hebrews 11 on this blog!] Often times this Isaac story is taught in a way that says ‘God will ask you to give up on the promise. You must ‘lay Isaac down on the altar’. While there is some truth to this idea, it really doesn’t grasp the full picture. I just showed you how in Abraham’s mind he didn’t think he was ‘giving up on the vision/destiny’ he just learned to allow God to do it the way he said. It is really not a test of giving up the vision, it is a test of how do you think it will come to pass! Have you learned to not try and organize and strategize and be ‘motivated’ enough to make it happen? We usually create idols out of the process, the way we think it should be done [wrong concepts of ‘Local church’] and God doesn’t say ‘lose the vision/purpose’ he says ‘quit trying to do it in ways that are heavily dependant on your own strength’. Abraham wasn’t giving up on the vision, he was giving up on his own wisdom! (709) GENESIS 23- Sarah is old and dies. Abraham mourns for the loss of the ‘mother of many nations’. She was just as much a recipient of the promise as he was. Abraham offers to BUY a burial spot for Sarah and his family. He tells the people ‘sell me a place to bury my dead’. The sons of Heth say ‘you are a great and influential person. Take any spot you want for free’. Once again Abraham refuses a free gift. He did this earlier with the king of Sodom. Why is this important to see? While in today’s economy we allow for ‘churches’ to be tax free. Yet we need to be very careful about looking like we are freeloaders. I have heard unbelievers in the past say ‘these prosperity preachers are claiming God has prospered them. But they are getting tax free stuff’. While I believe it’s o.k. to use the benefits the government provides for advancing the gospel, we need to be aware of the impression this gives to the unbelieving world. Especially when we use the tax free status and at the same time amass wealth! So here we see Abraham purchase the land for the full price. He buys a field from Ephron and counts the silver in public [open books!] and lets everyone see up front that there are no secret financial dealings. I think Abraham would be a member of the financial accountability groups that oversee the ministries finances! (710) GENESIS 24- Abraham sends his servant back to his homeland to get a wife for Isaac. The servant asks ‘what if the women doesn’t want to come back to the Promised Land, should I bring Isaac back to your original homeland’? Abraham is adamant ‘under no circumstances is my son to leave this journey and go back!’ the writer of Hebrews says ‘if they were mindful of the land they came from, they might have had opportunity to have returned’. The whole point is the idea of leaving the ‘homeland’ was a type of Israel [and you!] leaving the old ways and traditions that we are familiar with and to launch out into new things. Paul will often use this language in exhorting natural Israel to leave the old law and come into the New Covenant. We need to make sure that we don’t go back! [note: I am not saying all tradition is wrong, but sometimes we are so joined to past ancestry that this hinders the things God has planned for us]. The servant goes and finds a well and says ‘Lord, give me a sign. Let the woman who I ask to give me a drink. Let her also offer to water the camels and I will know she’s the one’. Is it wrong to ask for signs? Sometimes. But God wants us to succeed so much that he will show you beyond a shadow of a doubt what he wants! Sure enough Rebecca comes to the well and she fulfils the sign. They go back to Abrahams relatives [Labans house] and the servant tells the whole story. Rebecca goes back to the promised land with the servant and Isaac marries her. This story is often taught in Sunday school as Abraham being a type of God who sends his servant [Spirit] to get a bride [the Church] for his son [Jesus]. I think it fits. God also sends his Spirit to draw you away from the place of security into a new land. He knows that unless we leave familiar co dependant environments, we will never mature into the full functioning person that he intends for us. Often times the missing ingredient is ‘get up and get out’. We fail to launch! (711) GENESIS 25- Isaac and Rebecca are married for around 20 years and still have no children. Isaac prays for kids and Rebecca is pregnant with twins! The first one out is Esau and then comes Jacob. Scripture says ‘the older will serve the younger’. Paul will quote this in Romans 9 to explain Predestination. The doctrine of God saving you based on total grace. He chose you before you were born! Now, I have said before that Christians have fought wars over this stuff. After all the studying I have done over the years, I fall down on the side of Calvinism [or Augustine or Paul!]. The critics of this doctrine have good reasons to be critical, there are some difficult questions that come with this teaching. For the most part you see Paul defending it in Romans 9 by using this story. He says God chose Jacob before the boys were even born, they had done nothing to earn Gods choosing. Now those who reject Predestination will say ‘God saw ahead of time the future decisions that the boys were to make’. Fine. But Paul still defends the doctrine from the point of view that ‘before the boys did right or wrong God chose Jacob’. Paul then says ‘you will then say to me, how can God find fault? People are just doing what they were predestined to do’. If God was just choosing Jacob based on his foreknowledge of their future choices, then Paul would have said ‘easy, God is being fair because he based this decision on his future knowledge of what the boys would do’. But Paul doesn’t say this. He answers the critics of predestination by saying ‘who are you to question God? Can the thing that God created question the creator’? Paul will go on in the rest of the chapter and defend classic Calvinism using this defense. I believe there are some real answers to be found thru out Romans that might be a little too ‘heavy’ for us to get into. Most believers who have argued over these 2 Christian views [Calvinism versus Arminianism] have argued over the seeming unfairness of the doctrine. There are things that we don’t fully understand or grasp as humans. When we try to ‘adjust’ scripture to make it fit our rational minds we err. I believe we should rejoice over the mercy of God, teach all people that Jesus loves them and Christ died for them. And thank God that you and I are in this thing because of Gods sovereign choice, it had nothing to do with what we did [or would do!] We also see Esau sell his birthright to Jacob. Paul uses this in Hebrews 12 to warn Jewish people not to despise the privileged position of ‘being first’. The gospel came first to the Jews. Jesus is the Jewish Messiah! The fact that they rejected Jesus has caused there to be a ‘despising’ of that which was originally theirs! Many Jewish people have fallen into the error of Esau. They have rejected something that was designed for their benefit. And while others have benefited from this rejection, they actually despise hearing about their rightful place in Messiah! Many Jewish families see it as heresy for a family member to convert to Christianity. Esau sold what was really his, and he hated Jacob because of it. (712) GENESIS 26- There is a famine in the land and the Lord warns Isaac not to go down into Egypt. Isaac stays and dwells in Gerar and the surrounding area. He pulls the ‘this is my sister, not my wife’ thing. The king finds out she is Isaacs wife and rebukes him for lying. Isaac is really blessed in the land. Scripture says ‘he sowed and reaped a 100 fold’. Now, let’s do a little stuff. The modern church went thru a whole phase where believers were confessing and believing and doing everything [but working!] in order to get ‘the 100 fold return’. We have previously showed you how when Jesus spoke of ‘the 100 fold return’ in the parable of the sower, he in no way was speaking of money! [Read the chapter ‘twisting the parable of the sower’ the book is ‘HOUSE OF PRAYER OR DEN OF THIEVES’ on this site]. But because the Old Testament is the ‘shadow’ of things to come, and not the true riches. That’s why in this story it is speaking of natural stuff. Now the church went thru this stage of believers doing all they could to ‘reap the financial harvest’. We taught believers to think on money, confess it. Basically consume your thoughts with ‘money thoughts’ [all in violation of Jesus teaching on ‘the gentiles are always thinking about this stuff, let it not be like this with you’!] So we had a whole group of young believers violating the mandate in scripture to work and be diligent. And they often times were doing it by believing a distorted doctrine on the 100 fold return. Well Isaac reaped because HE SOWED. He planted that darn farmland! [To be nice about it]. So today we should teach the believer the responsibility of working and living diligently and being responsible. And we need to teach that the way you reap the 100 fold return is by actually planting that field! Isaac also will re open the wells that his father had dug. They were stopped up out of jealousy by the philistines. Sometimes people ‘who are not doing the work themselves’ [sowing] have a lot of free time. What do they do with this free time? Figuring out ways to stop up other peoples wells! Paul called them busy bodies in the New Testament. These brothers just make more work for those who are in the harvest field! Isaac opens up the wells and honors his fathers heritage. The church goes thru these stages every so often. A re opening of the church fathers. Studying Patristics again [1st 7 centuries of church history]. I think it’s a good thing to honor our spiritual heritage. These wells go deep and have been feeding people for centuries! (713) GENESIS 27- Isaac is old and ready to die. He calls Esau and tells him to go get some deer and prepare him a good meal. Isaac is going to give the blessing of the firstborn to Esau. Rebecca hears the plan and when Esau goes hunting, she tells Jacob [her momma’s boy!] ‘Quick, go get some cabrito and let’s make some carne’! They dress Jacob in Esau’s hairy clothes and he goes to dad. Dad is a little suspicious but Jacob is a great liar. When Isaac says ‘son, how did you hunt and prepare the food so fast’? Jacob not only lies, but he even invokes the Lord! ‘God was with me and he helped me prosper’ OUCH! This boy likes to fib! The plan works and Isaac blesses Jacob instead of Esau. Notice the blessing, it is the actual blessing that Jacobs’s son Joseph will dream in the future. Isaac says your brothers will come to you and bow down and serve you, I have made you preeminent among them. Years later Joseph will tell these dreams to his father Jacob and Jacob will act surprised. ‘Are we all going to bow down to you, where in the world did you ever get such an idea’? I think Jacob knew where it came from, but he was playing the stoop! Esau comes in with the venison and finds out it’s too late, Isaac already gave the blessing of the firstborn to Jacob. But Isaac musters up a cheap blessing and gives it to him. Esau plots to kill his brother. Rebecca hears and says to Isaac ‘lets send Jacob away to Labans house. God forbid that he takes a wife from this place’! She wants her boy gone to protect him from his brother. Notice this whole story. God is using this family to fulfill his purpose in the earth. These are all the great heroes of the faith for heavens sake! You would be hard pressed to find a more dysfunctional family today. We have a tendency to present leaders and ‘movers and shakers’ as stage performers. They are seen at their best. The average saint feels he cant live up to the high powered models we present to them. That’s why when a book is written from the honest standpoint of failure and struggle, it is popular. The people of God want to know that they are not alone in their struggles and sins. They want to see that many of the ‘great Christians’ struggled like them. I think this story does a good job at accomplishing this purpose. Also in the last chapter I forgot to mention something. One of the wells that Isaac digs is named ‘Rehoboth’. Which means ‘the Lord has made room for us and we will be fruitful in the land’. I have already incorporated this into my prayer time. These chapters carry many tremendous promises of God giving you the influence of a true revolutionary. God telling Abraham ‘all the land you see you will inherit’ reaffirming these promises to his seed. ‘I will multiply you exceedingly, I will make nations out of you and kings will come from you’ ‘your children will inherit this land. They will prosper in all their ways’ all these themes can be found thru out these chapters. Remember Paul teaches these promises are being fulfilled thru the people of God. Claim these promises over you and your children. Claim them over both natural and spiritual offspring. God wants to bless you with the blessing of Rehoboth ‘he will make room for you in this land and make you fruitful’! (714) GENESIS 28- JACOBS LADDER; Isaac sends Jacob off to Labans house. Esau sees that his father never dealt with Jacobs’s schemes and goes and TAKES A WIFE FROM ISHMAELS DAUGHTERS! A huge no no! Isaacs’s family knows this story like a family taboo. How many times has Esau heard how uncle Ishmael used to mock Isaac. And how ‘Father Abraham’ had to send Ishmael away. This story must have stuck like a thorn in the side of Ishmael and his family. Well, after all these years of family strife and division, old Esau goes and says ‘uncle Ishmael, can I have your daughters hand in marriage’? I am sure Ishmael thought ‘why what have we here, the precious heritage of beloved Isaac wants to associate himself with us. Sure I’ll help you old nephew’. Ishmael was more than glad to oblige. Isaac never really dealt with the inner strife in his family. King David and others would fall into this category as well. Esau did what he did out of spite, and it affected many others. Now on Jacobs journey he stops and sets up a bunch of stones [living stones- Peters epistle calls believers living stones] and makes a pillow for his head [a place to rest his head. Jesus is the ‘head’ of the church [authority!] and he ‘rests’ [abides] in the people of God thru his Spirit. We are the habitation of God!] As the sun sets [it got dark on Golgotha- the place where the sun went down] he falls asleep [Jesus ‘slept’ 3 days and nights in the grave]. During his sleep God appears to him and assures him that because of the journey he will become the heir and father of nations and peoples [Jesus is the actual seed of Abraham that would inherit all kindred’s and nations. He was faithful to go on a journey to earth, the incarnation. And the father made him heir of all things while he ‘slept’] Jacob wakes up [resurrection] and says ‘this is the house of God’ [Jesus made us the house of God thru his death and resurrection] and puts the stones together into a pillar. It actually calls the stones [corporate] ‘the stone’ [singular] at this point. We were all individual stones before Christ. But in him we have become one ‘stone’. The church, the Body of Christ. The pillar is made from the stones [Peter said we are the living stones who being formed together are an habitation for God- Paul said the church was the ‘pillar’ and ground of the truth] and Jacob pours oil on the pillar of stones [Jesus poured out his Spirit on all the living stones on the day of Pentecost, anointing us as his New testament pillar of stones]. Oh, by the way, the ladder that Jacob saw in his dream was a door of access from heaven to earth and earth to heaven, this is a wonderful type of the Cross. Bravo to the great victory of the Son of God! (716) GENESIS 29- Jacob goes on his journey after the Bethel experience and shows up at a well in Laban's land. As he is talking to the brothers who are sitting there at the well he scopes out the situation. He finds out that Rachel, the daughter of Laban, will be coming to water her dads sheep. Great, he is having some success in hooking up with a possible wife. As he is talking to the shepherds he asks ‘why don’t you guys water the sheep, there thirsty and it’s as good a time as any’? Jacob is pro active. His family history is digging up wells. For heavens sake water the ‘darn’ sheep already! The guys answer ‘O heaven forbid it! Our tradition is to wait for all the other brothers who are also bringing sheep. Then someone else rolls the stone away from the wells mouth [the ordained clergy ?] and then, and only then, do we water’. Well Jacobs a newcomer and he can’t figure out what’s wrong with these Yankees from the east. He just keeps his mouth shut. Sure enough Rachel shows up, and what do you know, he goes and rolls the stone away. That unordained rebel! Doesn’t he realize that he is violating the traditions of our fathers? The water in the well is precious, who does he think he is freely watering as if the water was ‘growing on trees’. Well it is! Or better, the ground is full of it. Jesus said ‘feed my sheep, the water that I give freely is available to everyone. This water will become a river in my people. For heavens sake the stone has been removed from my grave [well] for 2 thousand years, why don’t you water the sheep’? We are like the brothers waiting for the official ‘stone roller’ to tell us when it’s OK to water. Jacob was a go getter, if these other guys feel they don’t have the authority to roll away the stone and freely give access to the river of life, then that’s their problem. But ole Jacob is gonna provide that water whether they like it or not! Jacob goes to laban's house and they share the whole story. Laban says ‘just because you are my relative, doesn’t mean you are going to work for free. Tell me your price’. Well, I kinda like Rachel. We did smooch at the well. Sure enough Laban says work for me for 7 years and she’s yours. They sort of had a long time payment plan for stuff like this. Jacob works the full 7 years and scripture says it seemed like a few days to him. The 7 years are up, Laban says ‘your bride is waiting in the tent’. It’s late and dark, Jacob makes love to his wife, and sure enough in the morning its Leah and not Rachel! Jacob is incensed. Laban says ‘Oh, didn’t I tell you we have this custom that the older sister gets married first? But being I am such an honest broker. Just work another 7 years for Rachel’. We often see Jacob as a schemer. After all the whole reason he is at laban’s house is because of his past schemes. But in this instance, laban was the slippery character. This will be the beginning of many years of deceit. Jacob will go ahead and trick laban out of the good flocks. Eventually Jacob will leave under less than perfect circumstances and his wife, Rachel, will learn the supplanting ways of Jacob. We will read how Rachel steals laban’s idols and lies about them. But we leave this chapter with some deep-seated mistrust in Jacobs’s dealings with uncle Laban. (717) GENESIS 30- I forgot to mention that in the last chapter Leah gives Jacob 4 sons. Now Rachel is barren. Notice how all these mothers of the faith are barren. What’s up with this? Sarah, Rebecca and now Rachel. Paul will quote Isaiah in the book of Galatians ‘more are the children of the desolate, than of the married wife’. Paul quotes this in context of saying ‘the spiritual Israel [church] will actually have more ‘children’ than the natural Israel’. He quotes it in a way to teach the reality of God bringing forth the promises thru the promised seed as opposed to the natural law. I hope you’re following me. It is consistent with everything I showed you when we covered Isaac as the promised seed. Now here we see a theme of the promised mothers as barren. And then God miraculously giving the mothers birth [remember Sarah was past the time of having kids?] So God is doing the same here, Rachel feels hopeless as each year passes and she is barren. Especially because Leah has given Jacob kids! So in this chapter the race is on! It’s actually quite funny. Rachel says ‘Jacob, sleep with my maid’ [A Hagar type thing] and sure enough Rachel starts the competition. Leah is also popping out more kids and is trying to keep up. Then Leah stops getting pregnant and enlists her maid. Sure enough the race continues. Then Leah starts getting pregnant again and names the kid ‘Gad’ which means ‘a troop is coming’ OUCH! Old brother Jacob must have been thinking ‘am I personally going to fulfill grandpa’s dream of populating the earth?’ Then Rachel gets pregnant for the first time. She has Joseph, thru him we will see the prophetic lineage carry on. He will have future dreams and fulfill great destiny. His role will be crucial to the survival of his whole family. Now Jacob tells Laban he wants to move away. Laban wants to work out a deal to keep him as his main worker. Jacob is an excellent employee! So Jacob does a famous scheme. This chapter is one of those stories that people use to try and discredit scripture. The reason is Jacob will take all the sheep with spots and stripes and remove them from the herd. He than tells Laban ‘now, I have removed the spotted sheep. All that is left are plain ones. From now on all the new sheep will be divided like this; those born with spots/stripes are mine. Those born plain are yours’. And scripture says Jacob peeled stripes in Poplar tree branches and placed them at the watering trough. When the sheep conceived while looking at the striped branches they had striped kids! Some have had a hard time trying to explain this story. Does science teach stuff like this? Not really. Some have come up with various excuses. Let me give you my explanation. In this whole story it does say ‘when the sheep mated in front of the branches they gave birth to striped sheep’ and when the weaker sheep were there mating without the branches that they gave birth to plain ones. The scripture doesn’t actually say it was because of the branches! Its obvious Jacob thought it was because of the branches, but if you read it carefully the guy might have been fooling himself! It’s sort of like these mafia guys from New Jersey. Lots of them ran construction crews or Pizza Parlors. They actually made great Pizza! They could have made it legitimately if they wanted. But they wanted their hands in the cookie jar. It’s possible that God was simply giving Jacob favor when the stronger sheep bred! God has been known to favor his kids. But old scheming Jacob needed some angle, like the mafia guys. He very well might have thought ‘look, my scheme is working’ scripture does say ‘when the stronger sheep mated in front of the sticks, they gave birth to spotted babies’. But the lord might have been making those babies spotted regardless of the sticks! It just said the sticks were there! So without being too dogmatic on this, lets say Jacob was the type of ‘supplanter’ [this is what his name means] that was always looking for an angle. He never could fully trust God to simply meet his needs without his own devising. Jacob struggled with ‘trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding’ he was a lot like us. (718) GENESIS 31- As Jacobs flocks increase and he becomes highly successful, Labans family gets jealous. Scripture says Labans countenance changed. He began listening to what the critics were saying ‘look, this guy is getting all the credit/blessings that are rightfully yours, it’s coming at your expense’. Notice, Laban probably would have been content that his son in law was prospering. He even says this later in the chapter. ‘I am happy for you son, your wives and kids are part of me’. But the incessant jealousy that he was hearing day in and day out wore him down. Be careful that you aren’t upset about stuff that you shouldn’t be upset about! Jesus gave the parable of the workers who got their agreed wages, but then felt wronged because the master gave the same amount to others who didn’t work as long. Jesus says ‘is your eye evil because I have been extra merciful to others who you deemed less worthy’? Of course this theme fits in perfectly with the Jewish context of the gospels. The Jews would be incensed that Messiah offered the same forgiveness to those who they deemed less worthy, the gentiles. So here Laban has heard it long enough, his ‘countenance changed’. Jacob sees the writing on the wall and what do you know, just in time he says ‘I had a dream and God told me to leave’. Now, I will take the brother at his word. But he has already shown a history of saying ‘God told me, or helped me do such and such’ when covering up deception! [He told pops ‘I got the venison quickly because God helped me’, the brother was lying thru his teeth!] In the dream the lord tells Jacob ‘I am the God of Bethel, it’s time to journey again. Go back to Canaan’. Why would God remind him of this milestone of Bethel? Bethel was the place where Jacob earlier learned to commit all to God. He came to Labans land with nothing, God blessed him tremendously. It’s easy to begin trusting in the success and systems around you. You see your job and career as your source of security. God is reminding Jacob that he is still the God of Abraham and Isaac. Jacob is just a fulfillment of Gods previous decree to his forefathers! When God says it’s time to journey you journey! As Jacob gets his wives and family they sneak away. Laban comes chasing him down and is mad ‘now what, you left secretly at night! I didn’t even have a chance to kiss the kids’ he must have been battling with the gossip that he’s been hearing from his men. They did say ‘watch out for this guy, we don’t trust him’. Jacob makes his defense, even though he himself is not totally innocent. ‘How dare you question my integrity! I have done this and that…and on and on’ he makes laban feel guilty. Now Laban isn’t the brightest light bulb in the chandelier. He tells Jacob ‘someone stole my images [idols!]’ and Jacob says ‘search for them, whoever has them will be guilty’. Jacob does not know that Rachel has them in her tent. Poor Laban goes rummaging thru everything and comes to Rachel’s tent. Rachel says ‘forgive me father for not standing up, but the time of women is upon me. So I can’t get up and let you search the couch I am sitting on. You don’t have a problem with that, do you’? Old brother Laban obviously wasn’t a C.S.I. watcher! So at the end of this chapter they mend relations. Jacob leaves the land where he has been blessed, and now has to deal with some past demons. He will face Esau, the last person that wanted to kill him! (719) GENESIS 32- Jacob makes the trek back home. He’s burned this bridge in the past, but now he has to go back thru the wreckage! He fears Esau, he thinks ‘does he still hold my trickery against me’? He sends some messengers to talk to Esau. They come back ‘what did he say’? Nothing, he’s just coming with about 400 men. O that’s all. He prays ‘God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and me!’ [Jacob- I fudged, he doesn’t say his own name] he says ‘you told me to go back to Canaan, I am just doing what you said. I trust you to save me and the kids. What in the world will happen if they all get wiped out? You promised…on and on’ Jacob is like me, an over reactor! You will see this thru out his life. He later will think all is lost when Joseph keeps one of the brothers in Egypt before he reveals his identity. He thought all was lost when his boys had those brothers circumcised that raped their sister. They tricked the pagans into circumcising themselves and when they were ‘sore’ the 2 brothers went in and slew the city! Jacob responds ‘what have you done! They will surely wipe us all out’ but instead it put the fear of God in the surrounding enemies. They all thought ‘what in the heck is up with this family. One of the guys from our area had ‘relations’ with the girl, and they go and trick them into mutilating themselves, then the next day they come and finish you off!’ It actually worked out pretty well. So here Jacob trusts the Lord and will commit it all to him, right? Not! Jacob says ‘Quick, split the women and children into 2 camps. Get some bribery packages together. Send a bunch of guys out to Esau and give him the bribes. If he doesn’t bite, and one camp gets wiped out, then the other group will go free’. Gee, I guess he thought the Lord didn’t hear him? Well Jacob finally meets up with Esau and all goes well. O, I forgot, Jacob has the meeting with the Lord. This is the chapter where he wrestled all night with the lord and receives the famous ‘Jacobs limp’. God changes his name to Israel, he will have influence with God and men and will prevail. Despite all his conniving and deal making, yet God sees him as a prince. A man who will influence nations and peoples. He has power with God himself! I guess that leaves room for the rest of us. (720) GENESIS 33- Jacob finally confronts an old problem. He faces Esau. He has robbed him in the past, not just from his birthright, but from his dignity! Does Esau remember? I am sure. Will we find one of these new gospels some day [the fake ones!]? Will it be called ‘Esau’s revenge’ and tell a different story? Well the biblical one says Esau hugged Jacob and was overjoyed to reunite with his long lost brother. Esau learned the power of forgiveness. Jacob might have been carrying the baggage of his wrongdoing for many years. Esau dropped it long ago. So they have this great reunion, they settle old grudges. Esau says ‘come on brother, lets go back together’. I get the feeling that even though Jacob is back home, he really wants to maintain his own level of independence. He tells Esau ‘O, that’s all right. You go back. We will catch up later’. Esau offers to leave some of his men, Jacob refuses. I get the sense that Jacob is like one of the hometown boys who has been gone for years. Even though his family and friends have also grown and become responsible adults, yet he is different. It was Jacobs willing independence to leave his natural father and journey with God that has been key to his success. He really has found God as his Father. Now Esau was a good man, but over the years as times were rough, he had his family right there to help. Jacob had only God. Jacob didn’t want to sacrifice this precious gift. He’s back home, but he realizes his true home is Bethel! [The house of God]. (721) GENESIS 34- Jacob and the boys start settling down. Before too long one of the local men rapes the sister Dinah! Jacob hears and holds his peace. The boys come home and are livid. How dare these people disrespect us! You get the sense that Jacob is willing to let it slide. He is operating out of fear, self preservation. True courage demands a willingness to take the kingdom by violence! John the Baptist wasn’t weighing his options when he railed against the king’s sin. It cost him his life, but he knew he couldn’t let the injustice stand. So Jacobs’s sons are true warriors at heart. These are the 12 boys who are the beginnings of the heritage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. These kids were like messing with the sons of Katie Elder [some old John Wayne western. To be honest I don’t think I ever watched it, but it sounded good to mention it] these boys have prophetic destiny written all over them. So here is the plan, they hear about Dinah’s rape. The father of the boy who raped her is the prince of the land. He comes and works out a deal with Israel. He says ‘my son loves the girl, lets be trading partners. We can all live together in harmony’. Jacob seems to think this is a good idea. The Boys have other ideas! They tell the father ‘sure, but we have this custom. We don’t deal with uncircumcised people. So go and circumcise all the men in your town and the deal is on’. Now, this is no small request! The father/ prince goes back to town. He gets together a city meeting. All the towns men are thinking ‘what’s it gonna be now? Another rate hike in our utility bill’. The meeting is held and he tells them the deal. ‘Oh, is that all. Just get circumcised. Doesn’t sound that bad. What does it mean I wonder? Sprinkle a little water on our heads. Some Episcopalian Baptism rite or something?’ Boy were they surprised. I can just see the look on their families faces when they got home to tell momma what the prince wants them to do. The wives must have thought ‘you gotta be kidding me, I want to move out of this county’ [and you thought Nueces county was rough!]. Poor Tommy hears the news from his dad and thinks ‘what in the heck kind of Waco cult are these people, they want me to cut what?’ So the deal is on, they go thru with it and 3 days later 2 of Jacobs sons [Simeon and Levi] get their swords and show up in the middle of the town and say ‘lets get it on’. They slew all the men. They spoiled the town and even took the women and children captive. And you think I’m an over reactor. Jacob is incensed ‘what have you boys done? You will bring the wrath of the whole area down on us. They will wipe us out’. He really was willing to do the fake deal and let his own daughter’s rape go unpunished. He believed the boys offer as much as the town’s people. The boys never intended to let their sister’s rape slide by, Jacob did. This shows you what fear can do, it clouds your thinking. Scripture says the fear of man brings a snare. Fear not the reproach of men. Jesus said don’t fear those who can kill the body only [men] but fear him who can destroy both body and soul [God! Some bad translators have said Jesus was speaking of satan, he was referencing God]. In the next chapter we will see God tell Jacob to go back to Bethel, and as they leave, the surrounding people didn’t lay a hand on them. They feared Jacobs’s boys more than Jacob feared the people of the land. (722) GENESIS 35- As Jacob fears what will happen to him after his boys killed Hamor and ransacked his city, God tells him ‘calm down, return to Bethel. We need to get some things settled once and for all’. Bethel is the original spot where Jacob made God his Lord. He vowed earlier in his life that if God would be his provider then he would commit his life to him. God wants Jacob to settle down [spiritually!] renew his entire purpose and get his priorities right. As Jacob and the boys leave the area scripture says ‘no one dared touch them, the terror of the Lord was upon all the surrounding people’. I could just see one of the raiding tribes saying ‘hey, look at this group. They have lots of wealth and stuff. How come no one is raiding them? Lets get them!’ and one of the other tribal families says ‘That’s the family who tricked the entire city into mutilating themselves’ Oh yeah, I never heard the story. Tell me more. Where did they cut themselves? He tells them where ‘WHAT IN THE HECK!’ He continues ‘and then 3 days later 2 of the boys with swords show up in the city and announce ‘everybody up. The cuttings not over yet!’ and they killed all the men. Took the women and children and spoiled the place. The raiding group thinks ‘you know what guys, lets pass on this family’. The terror of God was upon them for good reason! At Bethel the Lord reminds Jacob of his calling ‘you are Israel, not Jacob. Don’t forget this, you are a prince and have power with God and men’! It was hard for Jacob to act like a prince. After the Lord instructs him and reminds him of the original destiny, Jacob once again builds a ‘pillar of stone’ and anoints it with oil. I sort of see a prophetic thing here. The first pillar did represent the church, the people of God. I think this ‘second pillar’ can also speak of Gods future purpose to bring ‘another flock’ [Gospel of John] into the fold. In essence this is a type of the church also. The ‘second pillar’ to go with the ‘second covenant’. God is showing Israel his intent to gather together a future community and to ‘re anoint’ [Israel were the first people to have the Spirit. Read Hebrews and Romans] this new people at Pentecost. Also in this chapter we see the birth of Benjamin and the death of Rachel, Jacobs ‘favorite’ wife. It then says ‘Rueben slept with his father’s concubine’ and in the very next verse ‘Rueben was the firstborn from Leah’. I see something here. Why did Rueben purposefully disgrace his dad? It came right after Rachel’s death. Ruben was conceived in a situation where his father was tricked into it. You remember the story of Leah. Now how many times over the years did Rueben witness the favoritism that his father showed towards Rachel’s son Joseph? How long was Rueben waiting for things to turn around? Maybe when Joseph gets older dad will pay more attention to me as the firstborn? Maybe this favoritism is a stage that dad is going thru? Well he hears of the death of Rachel, and also of another new born son! Oh my, will Jacob spend another 25 years pampering this other boy from his favorite wife? Ruben saw the writing on the wall. It was time to let dad know how he felt about this whole situation. He did. (723) GENESIS 37- Chapter 36 has a lot of genealogies, so let’s skip it. In this chapter we see Joseph having the dreams that his brothers and father and mother will bow down to him. He makes the mistake of telling everyone about it! Rueben is already mad about the favoritism shown towards Rachel’s sons as opposed to him being the firstborn. The other brothers clearly see the favoritism too. Jacob made Joseph the coat of many colors. To me this represents the multi ethnic diversity of Christ’s church [body]. Skins represent ‘covering’ or flesh. All the animals sacrificed in the Old Covenant were a type of Christ. The tabernacle represented a living mobile dwelling place of God, the church. They used skins as a covering. So this coat of many colors is like the body of Christ. Joseph typifying Jesus as the favored son who will eventually bring together all tribes and nations into unity as Jesus ‘wears them like a robe’ [truly we are his dwelling place, covering of flesh if you will!] Jacob sends Joseph to ‘see how his brothers are doing and bring back the report’. Just like the parable Jesus gave about the king sending the servant to check up on the vineyard. Eventually the king says ‘I will send my son’. Jesus says they take the son and kill him. Joseph’s brothers see Joseph coming and say ‘here comes Mr. big shot, the dreamer’. Understand Josephs dreams were simply the destiny of God on his life. It is important to differentiate between ‘what I want out of life’ and Gods purpose. Joseph’s dreams did speak of exaltation and fame. But these were things he did not seek! Jesus gives instruction in the New Testament to actively pursue the lowest place. The teachings on taking the seat in the back of the room and not the front. The teaching against gentile ideas [Roman] of authority. So we must not read into Joseph’s story that God wants us to ‘be all we can be. Become great’. Greatness in Gods kingdom is backwards. You seek not to be exalted and exaltation comes! Now the brothers take him and throw him into a pit [grave] ‘without water in it’. A type of death. Water and spirit are interchangeable words. A pit without water is like the grave [body] without the spirit. James says this is what death is, separation of body and spirit. Now something is happening at this point. The brothers are falling into the trap of group think. Just going along with something because others are doing it. Rueben begins seeing this deception. He also despises Joseph, but begins realizing things are getting out of hand. He says ‘lets not kill the boy, just throw him in the pit’. Judah also speaks up on his brother’s behalf. So they take Josephs coat, put blood all over it. They sell Joseph into slavery and they bring the coat to Jacob. ‘Dad, we found Josephs coat with blood on it. I wonder what happened to him?’ Now, how many options do we have? Maybe the boy got into a scrap trying to save some sheep and that’s what happened, or maybe he hurt himself and used the coat as a tourniquet? Yeah, that’s possible! But Jacob is a pessimist ‘surely some wild animals got to him’ bad enough! But wait ‘and they tore him to pieces, devoured him and he’s gone’ Yikes! Then he says ‘I will be depressed about this for the rest of my life and go to the grave never getting over it!’ Boy, who would have thought the guy was gonna take it like this? We once again see the over reaction of Jacob. It’s so easy for leaders with destiny and purpose to think all is lost. Moses and others have thought the same. Elijah was ready for the Lord to take his life because some Jezebel was giving him a hard time! I want to encourage leadership, don’t make rash or major decisions when your emotions are out of whack. We have a tendency to take reproof or correction the wrong way. We want to quit and start all over. Find someone else to ‘take over the church’ so we can get out of dodge. Jacob thought the worst, but what was actually happening was Gods pre ordained plan that would actually be for his salvation down the road. Jesus is still thought to be dead by Jacobs descendants, they only see the ‘pit without water in it’. They don’t realize that Jesus [Joseph] is actually alive and waiting for them to come and bow the knee! (724) GENESIS 38- Judah goes ‘down from his brothers’ [isolates himself] and sleeps with some women. He does have a history of ‘going in unto harlots’. This chapter will get graphic, just warning our younger readers! He seems to have a pattern with this. Now, one of the sons, Er, will marry a girl named Tamar. The son is wicked in the sight of the Lord and the scripture says ‘the Lord slew him’. Judah tells the other son, born from his playboy lifestyle ‘Go and have kids with your brother’s wife, and raise up children for your brothers name’. This was a custom of the time. If a brother died before his wife had children, then the other brother was supposed to do this. Now it wasn’t being Mormon! [The old time ones]. They wanted to make sure the lineage of the tribe from whom the son died continued to carry on a legacy. It was for the procreation of the children of Israel. Now Judah’s second boy, Onan, does not want to raise up seed to his brother. I see in him a sickness that plagues the Body of Christ today. Because of the way we have come to view local church as the separate 501 c3 organization, this tends to build a mindset into the clergy that says ‘are you with us [the so called 'local church’] or with the other team down the block?’ There is a strange concept that says ‘I will spend my time, resources and energies raising up seed to my name [my 501 c 3] but I can not give of my gifts and life to build into people who I do not derive some loyalty or benefit from’ [raising up seed to your brother]. Now Onan does something; here’s the warning about graphic language! He ‘goes in unto his brother’s wife and spills it on the ground’. I don’t think I should explain this. Years ago one of the Captains at the fire dept. would say ‘well, the bible says it’s better to spill it in a prostitute, than on the ground’. And he would look at me to confirm his translation. He really thought it was in the bible! I would ‘instruct him in a way more perfectly’. I also had a friend who said ‘well, the bible says “woman, if thy husband hitteth thee [notice how he used ‘hitteth’ as opposed to ‘hit’] divorce him, for he is lower than a rattler’. I would inform him I was pretty sure this wasn’t in the bible. He was adamant! I would tell him ‘besides it being contrary to scripture, I don’t think the Lord would say ‘rattler’ he would use ‘rattlesnake’. So Onan ‘spills it on the ground’ and guess what? The Lord kills him too! Now poor Tamar is real innocent in the deaths of the 2 boys. But Judah begins to wonder. Like the show I saw on some court channel. The woman accidentally shot her husband in the head. The defense had a hard time convincing the jury, being this was the second husband that she ‘accidentally shot in the head’! So Judah tells Tamar ‘go home to your dad, when my young son is old enough I will let him marry you’ sure! He of course tells his young son ‘stay away, you don’t want to die like your brothers’ [I added this part, but it sounds likely]. So one day when Judah is on a business trip, he looks around for the town prostitute. Tamar hears Judah is in town and puts a veil on her face and goes and stands on the corner. Judah doesn’t know it’s his daughter in law and sleeps with her. Judah agrees to pay for her services with a goat. Tamar takes his ring and staff and bracelet as a down payment. A few days later Judah sends his servant with the goat and he can’t find her. He asks the men of the town ‘where’s the harlot who was working the corner’? The men say ‘who’? They tell the servant they never had a harlot working the streets. Judah hears Tamar is pregnant and says ‘she played the harlot and should be stoned’! [He was a member of the Moral Majority]. Tamar sends the staff and ring to Judah and says ‘this is the man who got me pregnant’ and Judah admits his sin. I find it interesting that Judah will be given one of the best blessings from Jacob as Jacob is on his deathbed. Jacob will say ‘The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet. His hand shall be on the neck of his enemies, unto him shall the gathering of the people be. As a young lion he shall crouch down and go up from the prey’. We will read this later on in this study. These are Messianic prophecies. Jesus is called ‘the lion of the tribe of Judah’. God uses people who have done wrong. People who when confronted don’t try and cover it up. People who have made mistakes and are willing to admit them. This leaves room for the rest of us. (725) GENESIS 39- Joseph goes into Egypt and is bought by Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh. The guy puts Joseph in charge of his entire household. Joseph truly excels in everything he does. The scripture says he prospered in everything he put his hand to! Just keep this truth balanced with all the undeserved suffering and afflictions he experienced. Now Joseph is so good at everything he does, that even Potiphars wife wants to ‘try him out’. She bugs him day after day to sleep with her! Joseph refuses. She gets him alone in the house, grabs his clothes and says ‘sleep with me’. He flees the house naked as she ripped his clothes from him. She then tells her husband ‘this Hebrew mocks you, he tried to rape me’. She lied and the husband puts him in prison. Notice something here, the wife’s accusation included racial stuff. Sort of like the racist movies from the 50s-60s. They played to mans inherent racism and would show the black man as wanting the white woman. These accusations were playing to the heart of racism. Some churches today still teach separation of the races, Christians look askance at mixed marriages. My position is in Jesus Christ these divisions do not exist and we should accept all races without prejudice. Now Joseph goes to prison and he excels again. The jailer makes him trustee of the whole place! You can’t stop this guy. In the next chapter we will see how it was part of Gods plan for this to happen to him. He did not go around rebuking the devil or claiming verses to get out of unjust persecution. He responded like Peter taught in his letter to the Christians ‘if any man suffers as a believer, let him praise God’. Peter makes a distinction between suffering persecution for wrongdoing and suffering as a believer. Peter experienced both. Even though he suffered shame by denying Jesus, God still turned it around and used it for his glory. Joseph understood the simple reality of a just man suffering unjustly. Now I want to emphasize the fact that Joseph was just! Peter also teaches us that we are partakers of the divine nature. John the apostle writes in his 1st epistle ‘whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin [habitually]’ ‘I write these things unto you that ye sin not, but if any man sins we have an advocate with the father’. Though I have shown you the many failings of the great heroes of the faith, I also want to show you the great walk that some of them had. You don’t have to have had a testimony of being a drug addict or ex con or some other terrible past in order to glorify God. It’s like my first Pastor used to say, his favorite song was ‘years I spent in vanity and pride, caring not my Lord was crucified’. But his testimony was getting saved at a young age. I would kid one of my buddies and say ‘Brother Skinners favorite song is about the years he spent in vanity and pride. I guess he meant all the times he acted out in recess!’ I know this is wrong, but it was too funny to leave out. So Joseph shows us the ideal can be achieved thru the wonderful grace of God. But if any man sin, you still have the advocate. (726) GENESIS 40- Joseph is in prison and Pharaohs chief men get thrown in jail. His butler [the guy who tastes the wine before the king drinks it, to make sure it’s OK] and the baker. One day Joseph notices there sad faces ‘what’s wrong guys’? They tell him they both had dreams the previous night. They were troubled that they did not know what the dreams meant. Does Joseph say ‘O, you had too much pizza last night’ or ‘don’t you know we have the books of Moses completed! There are no more prophetic dreams.’ Instead he says ‘God is the one who can give the interpretation of dreams’. It is understood that some dreams have meaning and come from God. You find this all thru out scripture. I’ll be honest, I have recently had some prophetic dreams but have stopped sharing them on the site. Why? These last few years there have been so many prophecies shared and put on line and I feel the consumers of these words are not getting a steady diet of scripture and New Testament Christianity. I just read a ‘prophetic word’ that spoke of ‘why we are not getting the end time harvest of money yet’ it went into ‘targeting the demonic forces holding back the cash’ and other techniques to use to get the money. I have written and even sent some of our teachings to some of these brothers. Could it be the reason all the wealth hasn’t been released is because we are viewing the ‘end time transfer of wealth’ from an unbiblical standpoint? So I too have grown weary of all the ‘prophecies and dreams’ that seem to miss the mark. But here Joseph jumps write into the fray and interprets the dreams. He tells the butler ‘your dream means in 3 days you will be restored and hold the kings wine glass again’. The baker likes the word and asks ‘what about my dream’? ‘In three days Pharaoh will hang you on the gallows’ OUCH. Never mind Joseph, I don’t believe in prophecy any way. The dreams do have prophetic significance. The wine and bread [baker] speak of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The 3rd day speaks of the mighty resurrection of the Son of God. Jesus offered his Body [bread] as a sacrifice for all humanity. He ‘hung’ on the Cross for us, just like the baker hung on the gallows. Jesus also was ‘lifted up’ out of the ‘prison’ the 3rd day and once again was restored to his previous position at the right hand of God. He took ‘the cup of his Blood [wine] and presented it once again to his father’. I think these dreams were prophetic. (729)GENESIS 41- Joseph is sitting in prison for 2 full years after he was promised by the ‘cup holder’ to advocate for his cause once he was released! The cup holder forgot to mention it! I think one of the most unjust things that has happened in society has been these brothers who have been falsely accused of some terrible crime and spent years in prison and then later were found to be innocent. I think this is why we need to really rethink the death penalty. Now Pharaoh has these dreams and he calls all of his wise men in and no one can interpret the dream. At this point the cup holder realizes his wrong. He tells Pharaoh that when he was in prison a guy interpreted his dream. Sure enough, after years in jail and having been persecuted by his brothers and sold into slavery, at the age of 30 he finally begins inheriting some stuff. Joseph was 17 when the problems started, he is now 30. 13 years of suffering and obscurity. Now, scripture says ‘see a man skilled in his work, he will stand before kings. He will not serve obscure men’ [Proverbs? It’s a newer version of the bible]. God was ordering things in Joseph’s life to ‘bring him before kings’ men of influence. He was 'accidentally' sold to an officer of pharaoh. He then gets thrown in jail and runs into the ‘chief butler and chief baker’ and now he gets a shot at pharaoh! It was the hand of God positioning him to be in a place of influence. Joseph will interpret pharaohs dreams to mean 7 years of famine will follow 7 years of plenty [read the chapter, I didn’t include the dreams in this entry]. Pharaoh says ‘great, what should we do about it?’ Joseph says ‘how about you find the wisest, smartest most impressive man in your country [gee, I wonder who this could be?] and put him in charge and have him collect a fifth of all the lands produce during the time of plenty and then he can distribute the food during the harvest’. Pharaoh says ‘sounds like a great idea! And who is wiser than you Joseph, you’re the man’. Joseph basically pulled a Dick Cheney [for those reading this in a hundred years, Cheney is the current vice president of George Bush] Bush hired Cheney to find the most qualified vice president he could recruit. Sure enough Cheney says ‘it’s me!’ So Joseph carries out the plan, Pharaoh puts him in charge of the whole country. Pharaoh says ‘only in my official title am I higher than you’. Joseph is truly running everything! He didn’t despise his day of ‘small things’. He ran Potiphars house, then the prison and now the country! Joseph is a type of Christ here. Pharaoh says ‘I give all authority to you, the nation will stand or fall on your word’. Jesus told the people in John’s gospel ‘My words will judge you in that day’. Joseph truly is a man of power and authority. He has 2 kids in this chapter. Manasseh and Ephraim. Their names mean ‘God has caused me to forget all my previous trials’ and ‘God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction’. Isaiah says ‘remember not the former things, nether consider the things of old, behold I do a new thing. Shall ye know it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Before these things happen I declare them unto you, so when they come to pass you will know I ordained it’. Also Joseph tells Pharaoh ‘God has revealed to you what he is going to do’ by giving him the dreams. Joseph understood that it was Gods purpose to reveal his plan ahead of time to Pharaoh. The coming to pass of these dreams on a national scale was proof positive of the ‘God of Joseph’ being the true God! I remember hearing a testimony of a Muslim tribe who all converted to Jesus in a single day. One morning one of the men woke up and shared a dream he had. He explained how he saw Jesus in the dream. As word spread they soon realized that every single person in the tribe all had the same dream the previous night! When God reveals himself on a wide scale like this it leads to whole nations [groups of people] converting. As Joseph stores up the food for 7 years he strategically puts the food in store house cities thru out the land. This is a type of Jesus future revolutionary movement. In Matthew 13 Jesus speaks of the kingdom as seeds. Both the people and the word are described as seed in this chapter. When Jesus sent out the disciples they were distributing seed [the message] as well as being ‘seed’ [Jesus says the good seed were the children of the kingdom planted and growing in the world]. In essence Jesus was placing garners [communities of people] filled with seed all over the region. Paul himself will target the influential cities of his day with the gospel. He knew if he could spread the fire to strategic places it would take root. So Joseph has all this ‘grain in the barn’ just waiting to bust loose during the famine. And sure enough the famine comes and everyone turns to ‘the garners of wheat in the storehouse cities’ for their sustenance. I believe the people of God, Gods ‘fine wheat’ are truly the ones with the answer to society’s ills. Jesus has planted us ‘in the world’ [not in the church building!] so when the times of famine come, people can run to us for the ‘bread of life’. (730) GENESIS 42- The famine in the land gets severe. Jacob tells his sons ‘what are we doing, get up and go down to Egypt and buy some food’. This begins the process of Jacob and his boys submitting to God’s higher purpose that they would be saved thru Joseph’s authority. Now of course we see Jesus all thru out this scenario, but we also see the dynamics of prophetic ministries. Jesus said ‘a prophet has honor, except in his hometown and with his own family’. Though Joseph is revered and a man of great authority and gifting, yet it will take Gods sovereign work to bring his brothers to a place where they can benefit from that which was truly meant for their benefit! Jesus says this about Jerusalem ‘O Jerusalem, you kill the prophets and those who have been sent to you for your own benefit’. Joseph’s brothers should have been the first to have bought the food from their brother, but God is revealing a greater plan. Now when the brothers go to Joseph in Egypt, Joseph recognizes them. But he speaks in the Egyptian tongue and pretends he doesn’t understand them. He recognizes them, but they do not recognize him. The bible says ‘Jesus came unto his own and his own received him not’. Now Joseph works out a plan with his brothers trying to entice them to bring Benjamin back with them. He says ‘well, you guys are spies! You came to spy out the land’. They told Joseph that Benjamin [Josephs only brother from his mom Rachel] was still home with the dad. So Joseph keeps the boys in jail a few days and says ‘lets do this, go take the food back to your families. And I will hold one brother [Simeon] and don’t come back without the other boy’. So they leave and tell Jacob about the deal. Well of course Jacob goes overboard. ‘O my God, I have already lost one son [not really!] and now Simeon is gone and you boys want me to give you Benjamin too!’ Jacob says ‘all things are against me’. Gee, would you calm down for a minute pops! Here we go again with Jacob reading the worst into the situation. I forgot to mention that when the boys were talking in front of Joseph, Joseph hears for the first time that some of his brothers were really trying to help him. Rueben says ‘see, I told you we shouldn’t have done this wrong deed against our brother’. Rueben was the oldest brother who was jealous over the favoritism that Jacob showed towards Joseph. For all those years Joseph never knew that Rueben really cared for him. Joseph heard this and had to leave the room so his brothers wouldn’t see him crying over this revelation. Sometimes we don’t realize that people are actually for us. Elijah and others went thru times of feeling like they were all alone. The enemy’s strategy is to make you think ‘yes, everyone really is against me. The whole town hates me. All the people in the church are fighting me’. Joseph was not aware that some of his brothers were actually for him. We end the chapter with Jacob and the boys back in their land, never planning to return and see Joseph again. Jacobs fear almost cost him 2 sons! (731) GENESIS 43- Jacob and the boys have not acted yet. They came back home and told their dad the situation and it seems as if Jacob is frozen with fear. Being in a place of stagnation. Proverbs says the righteous are as bold as a lion [Judah has lion imagery in the blessing that Jacob will give him!] but the wicked fleeth when no man pursueth. One of the strategies of the enemy is if he can’t out right stop you, then he will try to cause you to simply maintain. Don’t do anything to advance. So the food supply is low and Jacob must decide! He says ‘go back to the governor of Egypt [their brother Joseph] and just buy a little food’. His plan is no plan. He seems to think that if he limits the vision it will be all right! What good is getting a little food? He will be starving again soon. Judah basically says this ‘Dad, the man told us plainly not to return unless we bring Benjamin. If we hadn’t dilly dallied this long we would have already made the second trip and been back by now’! They flatly tell their dad ‘we aint going back without the boy!’ now Jacob agrees to send the boy. He once again falls into the worst case scenario in his thinking. Judah does something important here. He tells his dad ‘I will be surety for the boy. If anything happens to him let the blame be on me’. Why is this important? I mentioned earlier in this study that Judah is the special tribe from which ‘the lion of Judah’ [Jesus] will come. Hebrews says ‘it is evident that our Lord sprang from a tribe which was not represented at the altar’. Basically Jesus had to be born from another tribe that wasn’t a priestly tribe [Levi] in order to fulfill his new covenant priestly image. But why Judah? He doesn’t seem to be super holy, as a matter of fact we already discussed his playboy lifestyle! Judah is the only one in this scenario who sees ‘substitution’ as a viable answer to the problem. He basically says ‘I will be in the boys place’. Now we will see later that Judah will make this offer out right when Joseph attempts to keep Benjamin. But most of all I see Judah and his offer as a forerunner for the future act of Penal Substitution that will be carried out by Jesus, the lion who will spring from his loins. Now the boys pack up some stuff, bring extra money and head back to Egypt. They show up at Joseph’s house and are worried. They tell Joseph’s servant ‘we didn’t steal the stuff last time. When we opened the bags someone put the money back in our bags’. This was a trick that Joseph pulled on them earlier. So the servant says ‘don’t worry, the God of Joseph has shown you favor’. Interesting, though the Egyptians never converted en mass to Joseph’s religion, yet he was showing the reality of his God being the true God. He was a man of great influence who had attained a position of unbelievable authority and he was accepted by the government of his day. I think this is important for believers in our day to grasp. I feel we do damage to our testimony when we do ‘marches on Washington’ and stuff like this. While there might be times for things like this, the overall testimony of the church should be one of ‘the God of the Christians has shown you favor’. We should impact society thru our deeds and social justice concerns, not by our marching in the streets! Well Joseph sees Benjamin [his only other brother born from the same mom, Rachel] and has to leave the room because he almost cried right in front of his brothers. They still don’t recognize him yet. So as we end this chapter he makes all the brothers sit down at the table for a meal. He places them in order of their birth. The boys are thinking ‘how does he know the order of our birth’? They will find out soon enough. (732) GENESIS 44- Joseph feeds his brothers and fills their bags with food and sends them off to Jacob. This time he put the food and money back in their bags, but also he put a silver cup in Benjamin’s bag. After they leave Joseph sends his servant to stop them. He searches the stuff and finds the cup with Benjamin. Now, Joseph is doing all this just so he could keep Benjamin and have the boys return with Jacob. But the boy’s know how nervous pops gets! Joseph doesn’t realize what a panic button pops has become. The boys realize how bad dad is and they tell the servant ‘well, you got us! I guess we will all go back together to Egypt’. These boys had the chance to escape without Benjamin, they figured they would rather face Joseph than dad, OUCH! If you read thru the story you will see that they really don’t want to go home. Joseph actually says ‘go back, leave Benjamin and see your dad’. Finally Judah says ‘look, our dad has been distraught ever since he lost the other boy [Which is the actual guy they are talking to!] and he took it hard. If we leave without Benjamin he will die. I will stay in the place of the boy’. Once again we see Judah offer ‘substitution’ as an answer to the problem. It seems as if atonement was built into the DNA of the tribe of Judah. Also during this whole scenario the servant mentions ‘divination’. The silver cup that was found in Benjamin’s bag was for the ‘purpose of divination’ [or so the servant thought/said!] Joseph tells his brothers ‘why did you steal from me? Don’t you know a man of my stature can divine’? The art of divination, or obtaining ‘secret knowledge’ thru spiritism existed in ancient times. The pagan nations even had priests for their false gods. All of this is Babylonian in nature and forbidden by God all thru out scripture. The fact that Joseph rose to fame because of his ‘interpreting of dreams’ surely put fear in people, they assumed he was a great ‘diviner’. Now Joseph has said all along that God was giving him the interpretations, but it’s likely that the broader culture just viewed Joseph thru the already existing paradigm of ‘divination’. All people are seeking for some spiritual meaning in life. They often flock to new age teachings or eastern religions. God condemns, in no uncertain terms, all uses of the horoscope and sorcery or witchcraft to seek ‘hidden sources of wisdom’. God does have prophets in the church [no new cannon, but true spiritual direction by those filled with the Holy Spirit] and of course God regularly gives directions to his kids by his Spirit. So I just wanted to clarify, just because this chapter says Joseph used the cup ‘to divine’ in no way means that Joseph was ‘divining’ in the mystical sense. (733) GENESIS 45- Joseph could not restrain himself any longer and reveals himself to his brothers. His brothers are absolutely shocked. They are hearing him in his own voice [my sheep hear my voice- Jesus] for the first time, they are beginning to see the actual image of their lost brother in the face of this sovereign person who they have been coming to and bowing to and submitting to. They came late to the table, the entire gentile nation [Egypt and the surrounding nations] have already been submitting to him for a while [Christ and the church made up of gentile nations] but Israel has been slow to respond. And since they have been responding they had no idea of the actual identity of this great ruler. Sure, these gentile nations knew his name was Joseph and they heard all the great stories about his rise to power. But the brothers of Joseph were simply submitting to this governor out of necessity. They actually were learning the ropes of how to come to this sovereign and to bow before him with requests [The Jews sure know how to pray to Jehovah, they have the Wailing Wall!] but to hear this ruler say ‘I am your brother Joseph, who you betrayed’ is almost unbelievable to accept! Now Joseph sees the look on their faces. He tells them ‘come here, I am Joseph your brother’ he has to explain the enormity of this revelation. They can’t connect the ruler with their former knowledge of their own flesh! Israel [the nation] has stumbled over the reality of their home town boy actually being their Messiah. Scripture says Jesus is the actual image of the invisible God, we see God and who he is thru Christ. For the brothers to be looking at the actual lord of the land, someone who they have been ‘submitting to’ already [Jehovah] and then to hear ‘I am Joseph’ [Jesus] out of the actual lips of the ruling authority himself, is very hard to grasp. The nation of Israel has been waiting and believing for the Messiah for 2 thousand years. They pray to Jehovah. The stumbling block is in their inability to actually see the face of Jesus in their God! He truly is the image of the invisible God. Now Joseph reassures them that everything that happened to him was truly a sovereign act of God to preserve life. He holds no grudges! [Father forgive them, for they know not what they do]. Pharaoh hears about this great reunion and tells him to go get the rest of his family and bring them back [to Goshen]. Jacob hears the news of his son’s authority and is shocked. He learns that his son is alive, and Lord of the land, all in one day [Scripture says a nation will be born in a day. Referring to Israel’s national repentance and acceptance of Messiah at the second coming- Romans]. So they make preparations to come to Egypt and for all the family to settle down together. I want to stress the importance of seeing the reaction of Egypt [gentile nations] when they hear that Josephs blood relatives are coming to benefit from the lordship of Joseph. The gentile nations are happy and glad to see the reunion! Much like the reaction that Paul writes about in Romans ‘if their falling away [The Jews rejection of Messiah] was for the benefit of all the gentiles [just like Josephs rejection by his brothers was for the benefit of saving Egypt and the surrounding countries] so how much greater will it be when they are reunited with Christ’. Scripture teaches us that it was for the gentile’s salvation that the nation of Israel rejected Christ’s Lordship. So when Israel returns home to their true Messiah, the gentile church will rejoice! I also want to make a note here, you will notice that Jacob had to relocate from the promised land and move over into the region [church- made up of gentile nations] in order to benefit from Josephs rule. Make no mistake about it, at the time of Israel’s conversion she will see that her clinging on to the old culture of law and sacrifice will have to be left behind in order to benefit from the bread that Jesus [Joseph] will provide. Jacob and the boys will carry some degree of national identity with them, after all they are still ‘Israel’, but the relocation from their land speaks of the willingness to uproot and journey towards the messiah. (734) GENESIS 46-47- Jacob and the family pack up and head to Egypt. They bring 70 ‘souls’ with them. Remember, Jacob is always thinking ‘dynasty’. He has a track record of worrying about his family getting wiped out. He is still relatively small for a ‘nation’ but getting bigger by the day. He enters Egypt and sees Joseph for the first time. What a reunion! I guess now that Jacob realizes all of his worrying was for naught, all the times he allowed his mind to think the worst about stuff, I guess now he learned his lesson? Not. Pharaoh asks him ‘so, how old are you, aren’t you glad to see Joseph? How has life been treating you?’ Jacob responds ‘my days are 130 years, not even close to my forefathers. And they have been short and evil’. Wow, Pharaoh thinks ‘sorry I asked’. Now as Jacob settles down in Goshen, all the nations are coming to Joseph to be sustained. The years of famine that Pharaoh dreamt about are here. Notice something; all the nations spend all their money and the ‘money fails’. Did you know that the overall theme of money taught by Jesus and the apostles was ‘it will someday fail’? James says ‘the rich mans money will evaporate in the day of judgment and it will be to no avail’. Proverbs says the rich mans wealth can not deliver his soul during trouble. Jesus over and over again used examples of people putting their hopes in riches and forgetting the reality of death and judgment. In this chapter the money failed! Now, the nations sell their cattle and lands and eventually themselves to Pharaoh [Joseph]. Joseph and Jacob as well as Joseph and Pharaoh [this one] are types of Jesus and the father. In this case Joseph ‘purchases’ all the people for Pharaoh. Jesus bought us all by his blood. Now, even though I go hard on the prosperity guys, here’s some practical financial advice. Joseph tells the people ‘take the corn [grain-seed] and use it to feed your families and cattle, but plant some of it in the ground for heavens sake!’ he is teaching the mentality of ‘feed a man a fish and you feed him for the day- teach a man to fish and you feed him for life’. Joseph is trying to break the entitlement mentality. Showing the people that a portion of their increase should be invested. Don’t take all your money every month and spend it all. Give a portion to God, and put some in a savings/investment. If you spend all the money you earn [eat all the seeds] then you will be living from paycheck to paycheck. ‘Well brother, I am trusting in social security’ not if you’re a cessationist [someone who believes miracles don’t happen any more] because it would take a miracle for the government to not bankrupt the thing! So we see balance in this chapter. Good financial advice along with the reality that some day ‘your money will fail’. Good Christians maintain good balance. (735) GENESIS 48- Jacob is old and ready to die. He calls Joseph and his boys. Jacob reminds Joseph that God called him many years before at Luz [Bethel]. Jacob is instilling in his son the reality of him and his family being a part of the divine plan. In essence ‘God has called us to great things, he chose me for this many years ago, you my son are simply an incarnate part of his divine purpose’. Now Jacob does something interesting. Joseph’s boys, Manasseh and Ephraim, are here to see Jacob [grandpa] before he dies. Jacob gives the honor of making Josephs 2 son’s equal heirs with the other boys. Joseph’s sons share equally in the inheritance of the 12 tribes. Jacob also says the younger one [Ephraim] shall be greater than the older one. Joseph kind of says ‘dad, you have your hand of blessing on the wrong boy, your right hand should be on Manasseh’. The right hand denotes special authority and favor. Jacob says ‘don’t worry son, I know what I am doing. God will bless your oldest son, but truly the greater blessing is on the youngest’. Now, to be honest, as I study the history of these boys thru the scripture, it doesn’t seem to me that any thing ‘extra special’ happened to Ephraim. I think Jacob might have made a mistake common to people with destiny. He read his own story line into the lineage of his sons. He might have felt that because God showed him special favor by honoring him over his older brother Esau that this mode of operation was to become a long term thing. Many divisions exist in the Body of Christ today because of this reasoning. I have taught tons of stuff on the idea of local church and how many good men seem to mistake a ‘mode of operation’ that worked well for them, but to then try and read this into the up and coming generation in a way that might be wrong. Paul taught in Corinthians that though there is one Spirit, yet there are many different ‘administrations’ and out workings of the gifts. We often read that passage in a way that says ‘in the Sunday ‘local church building’ mindset, you have different ways God works’. But it is actually saying ‘the Sunday building mindset is only one of the various ways the Spirit works’. Now I know Paul wasn’t directly talking ‘Sunday church’ in the passage, but the point is when the New Testament speaks of different ‘administrations’ and ways the Spirit manifests thru the people of God, it is speaking of Gods ability to manifest himself ‘outside of the box’. Jacob experienced God thru a mode that said ‘the younger shall serve the older’ I think he might have over done it when he tried to project this ‘mode’ onto his posterity! (736) GENESIS 49- Jacob gathers the boys together to give them a blessing. He realizes the importance of launching them with both blessings and rebukes! Why does he mention the mistakes and failures of the boys? Rueben is unstable like water; he acted spontaneously and out of jealousy. Simeon and Levi have an anger problem. In today’s ‘church world’ we focus and confess the desired outcomes of what we seem to want. We feel it is against a life of faith to even hear or receive reproof. I watched one of the fathers of the prosperity movement the other day. He was overseas doing a convention. I watch now out of prayer and agreeing as much as possible with parts of the meeting. I see this as a function of the prophetic, a willingness to intercede and agree as much as possible with those you have disagreements with. To be honest, you could see a real sense of uneasiness in the audience. It was almost as if these believers were somewhat familiar with this man, but the teachings were really off. During the service the speaker said how people have come up to him and said ‘did you read that book about you’? People who have begun to learn of the errors of this movement. The teacher said he never reads or listens to those who try to rebuke or correct him. This was obvious as to the fact that the meeting ended in the teacher saying ‘satan, get your hands off my money’ in a very aggressive and angry voice. He was leading the people in prayer and said this. The whole thing was very sad. Now Jacob flat out tells the boys where they have done wrong and went off course, he makes no bones about it. These boys heard criticism that was needful. But he also gives some great blessings. I have already internalized and added the blessings from Judah ‘the scepter shall not depart from you’ ‘your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies’ ‘as a young lion you will crouch down and go up from the prey’. To Joseph ‘you are like a bough [vine] by a spring of water, a well. Your branches flow over the wall’ a type of regional influence, reaching beyond your ‘city borders’. The archers hated you and shot at you but did not prevail, but to the contrary your bow has prevailed. The purpose of God for Joseph and his ‘targeting’ of prophetic arrows of destiny would win. These are great promises to these boys. Jacob speaks to his sons as he prepares to die. He wants more than just a successful career during his lifetime, he wants to launch a movement [dynasty] that for generations to come would carry the torch of the original purpose. Jacob tells the boys ‘I am now going to die’ and he instructs them to bury him in the dirt of destiny! He wants to lay in the ground where he first met and learned of the fatherhood of God. He ‘slept’ before in the land and had a true ‘out of body’ experience at Bethel [Not a new age thing, but a real visitation from God]. He will reconnect with this destiny even in death. We still have one chapter left in Genesis, but we have really closed the book for the most part on this entire journey of Jacob and his boys. There is a real sense of this family living and dying with Gods destiny upon them. I want to ‘charge’ all of our readers and ‘family’ to reassess at this point in life. Bring things back into alignment with the true eternal values that count. I know we have rubbed people the wrong way because of our strong stance on a lot of issues. I have been ‘shot at by arrows’ many times, but I feel the Lord has allowed our ‘bow to prevail’ not for the targeting or hurting of people, but for the target that the Lord wants to hit. Children are like arrows in the hand of a mighty man, when they launch in the right direction they hit the target very time. (737) GENESIS 50- Jacob dies and Joseph buries him in the Promised Land. The cave that Abraham bought years ago as a sign that they would remain in the land of destiny, they even buried their bodies as ‘seed’ in the land! Now the mourning for Jacob is intense. All Egypt and the people of Canaan see what a great loss this is. After Jacobs’s death, the brothers fear Joseph will finally take revenge! They send a messenger to say ‘we are sorry for betraying you as a boy, please spare us’. Joseph is surprised his brothers are still afraid. He assures them all is well, as they come and BOW DOWN TO HIM. Wow, many years earlier it was this very dream ‘shall we bow down to you?’ that caused their jealousy and betrayal. Now that it is being fulfilled to the tee, they are happy to do it, and Joseph feels no glory out of it! This is how scripture is fulfilled when it says ‘you shall see your desire on you enemies’ ‘the sons of those who hated you shall bow down to you’ it is fulfilled not in a self glorying way, but in a prophetic way in order to benefit those who hated and despised you years earlier! I find it funny how some people thru the years will initially meet me at a homeless mission or some other venue where I am just hanging out with buddies. Sometimes I have been treated ‘less than honorably’ by the Christians who think I am just a homeless guy. Now I am not pretending to be homeless! It’s just these guys are really some of my best buddies who I have been around for years. Sometimes I have been yelled at ‘you idiot, get your hands off of that drink’ when I accidentally took a soda 2 minutes before the official lunch bell. Others who are Christians and treat disdainfully some guy who they hear ‘he thinks he is a preacher’ from the homeless guys. It’s a sad commentary on the way believers treat the down and out with such little respect. Now years later some of them actually become students of the ministry, at first finding it hard to associate the ‘radio preacher’ or ‘blog writer’ with the guy that they cursed out at one time. But they are glad to ‘bow down’ [submit] and receive from the ministry. Some will even give the feeling of ‘now that we realize he isn’t a homeless guy, lets get together and talk spiritual stuff’. Sort of the idea that ‘the elite class’ can now accept you, because we see you as elite too. I don’t push them away, I just treat them like any one else. Whether they are ‘elite’ or homeless. In Josephs case he wasn’t thinking ‘now I got you guys, you said you would never bow, well look at you punks now’. He acted right. Joseph also gives a prophecy that after many years God will bring them up out of Egypt and into the land of destiny. Jacob and his sons came into Egypt as a fairly small band of people, they will spend 400 years in difficulty and oppression. God will use this ‘furnace of affliction’ to bring them to a point of supernatural signs and deliverance under Moses. They will add an extra 40 years delay in the wilderness due to their rebellion, and they will once again enter into the land where years earlier Abraham bought the burial ground. The land where Isaac experienced his God, the place where Jacob dealt with his fears and inadequacy. They will come back like stromtroopers as they cross the Jordan and instill fear into the inhabitants of Canaan. God said he would give the land to their forefathers, he kept his promise!

Galatians

GALATIANS [Here’s a study I did years ago- I will add it to the current videos/posts I will be doing on the book] (1327) GALATIANS; INTRO- Okay, finally made it, been wanting to teach this letter for a while. Let me overview some church history that I feel would be helpful in understanding the book. During the 16th century Reformation you had an explosion take place within Christianity, though the official ‘schism’ dates back to the year 1054 between the western [Catholic] and eastern [Orthodox] expressions of the church, yet in reality it was the 16th century upheaval that really split the church. A few centuries before [14-15th century] you had rumblings within the church that had well taught Catholic men challenging many of the institutional concepts of the church; men like John Huss, Wycliffe and others. These men were extremely influential and had an effect on the church. Then in the 16th century you had Catholic writers who remained within the Catholic Church, but they too challenged the status quoi. Men like Erasmus of Rotterdam, these intellectuals would call for the idea of going back to the original sources of study [Greek New Testament and also other renaissance ideas] and this too would lead to the historic Reformation. But without a doubt Martin Luther [the Catholic monk out of Wittenberg, Germany] would be the firebrand of the movement. Martin was a well trained Augustinian monk who struggled with the guilt of sin for many years. Not normal guilt, but extreme. A fellow Catholic leader would encourage Luther to trust in the grace of God for his forgiveness. While reading the book of Romans [whose themes relate strongly to Galatians] he would come along the famous passage ‘the just shall live by faith’ and in Luther’s mind this was a total release from the bondage of trying to appease God thru all the religious works that he was going thru. In essence Luther discovered the historic gospel of grace thru the reading of Romans and was set free. Now Luther had no intention of leaving the Catholic Church, but as a very influential teacher/scholar out of the university city in Germany, he had lots of influence. The Catholic church at the time was worldwide and you had differing views of the church in various states. Many saw the state of the church in Rome as having given in to materialism and become too worldly. Rome was at the time trying to raise money for the restoring of the religious buildings at Rome and one of the priests going around selling indulgences was named Tetzel. The abuse of selling these ‘get out of purgatory early’ things was offensive to many Catholics, and Luther had ‘no small stir’ when Tetzel reached his area. These things would lead to the famous nailing of the 95 questions on the door of Catholic academia and would be the beginnings of the historic split. While it would take way too much time to go into all the theological differences between the Protestants and the Catholics, one of the main issues deals with how we as Christians view ‘being saved’. The historic Protestant position is called ‘justification by faith alone’ [Sola Fide] the Catholics counter with ‘the only time ‘faith alone’ is mentioned is in the book of James, where it says a man is not saved/justified by ‘faith alone’. Ouch! The main point I want to make is this letter deals with the early church’s belief that man is accepted with God based on the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. Paul will challenge the ‘Judaisers’ [those who believed you needed to keep the law in order to be saved] and will argue that the law itself [Old Testament books] teaches that men are justified/accepted with God based on believing in the free gift of God thru Christ. Make no mistake about it, the New Testament clearly teaches this doctrine. Catholic and Protestant theologians BOTH agree that man is freely saved by the grace of God in Christ. But at the time of Luther’s day these glorious truths were lost in the morass of religious tradition and works. As we read thru this letter in the next few days, I want all of our readers to see the argument Paul is making from this basic theological view point. Is man saved by works [keeping Gods law] or grace? The bible teaches grace. Now I don’t have the time to also introduce the modern controversy between the ‘new view’ of Paul between Protestants [called new perspective]. There is an ongoing debate over whether or not the historic Reformation view of Paul is correct [men like N.T. Wright and John Piper are hashing it out] and I do think there are some merits to this discussion, but before we can delve into that aspect, we first need to see the historic question of works versus faith, and this letter is one of the best to deal with the issue. (1328) GALATIANS 1- Mark Twain said ‘the classics are books that everyone loves to praise, but nobody wants to read’. As we begin this study I can’t emphasize enough the need for Christians to read the bible! Many of the current problems in Christianity would be solved if we simply got back to reading the bible in context. Okay, in chapter one Paul defends his authority as being one who was sent by God, not man. He explains how after his conversion he spent years receiving direct revelation from God; he was not taught the gospel of grace by consulting with man. Paul was in a unique situation compared to the other apostles, Paul was the first apostle to have had a strong intellectual background in both Judaism and philosophy; he knew his stuff. This ‘allowed’ God to reveal things to Paul FROM THE SCRIPTURES that revealed Gods grace and the reality of how men are justified by faith and not thru the law. In essence Paul wasn’t out in left field receiving Divine revelations about things that nobody ever heard about. They were new things in the sense that they were hidden in God until the time that God chose to reveal them [Ephesians 3]. Paul rebukes them for forsaking the true gospel and being drawn to another gospel ‘which is not another’. Okay, what’s the true gospel Paul is speaking about? It’s not only the definition given by Paul in 1st Corinthians 15 [the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus] but it includes being justified by faith and not by the law. The Judaisers did believe in Jesus, but they were rejecting justification by faith alone. The false gospel that Paul is refuting is the gospel that said the Gentiles must ‘keep the law in order to be saved’ [see Acts 13 and 15]. In no uncertain terms Paul condemns this message; there was no compromising the reality of Gods free grace given to the elect. The actual faith itself that is deposited in the elect is a divine act of God [Ephesians 2] the unbeliever is dead in sins with no ability to ‘resurrect himself’ and the new birth is Gods sovereign act of raising a person from the dead [spiritually] and giving them faith. This is the gospel of grace. Paul was adamant about rejecting false gospels! In our day there are so many ‘gospels’ going around it’s not funny. I caught a few minutes of a TV evangelist the other day quoting verses from all over the bible in order to entice people to vow money to him; yes he used these words in no uncertain terms. He told the people they must quickly pick up the phone and dedicate the money to him, because it was this act of faith that would release the harvest. Now I don’t know how much longer God is going to allow stuff like this to go on, how much longer networks will continue to air this stuff, but we as believers/preachers need to condemn these false gospels in no uncertain terms. Paul will use strong language when defending the gospel; we need to get back to defending it too. (1329) GALATIANS 2- Paul recounts his meeting with the apostles at Jerusalem; some feel he is talking about his first visit [Acts 11- before AD 50] others think he is discussing his Acts 15 meeting [right at around AD 50] I’m in the latter camp. Paul is basically telling the churches of Galatia that he already went thru this whole discussion with the main apostles at Jerusalem [Peter, James and John] and that they had already agreed that the Gentile believers did not need to get circumcised and come under the law in order to be saved. I do find it interesting that out of the 4 decrees that were made [read Acts 15] that the only one Paul recounts here is ‘to remember the poor’. The only decree worthy enough for Paul to recount is the one on charitable giving; those of you who have followed this blog for a while know how much I emphasize this point. If the early church was teaching tithing to the Gentile churches, surely it would have come up at the Jerusalem meeting, but it didn’t. This chapter has some important verses that all believers should commit to memory ‘if righteousness come by the law, then Christ died in vain’ ‘the life that I now live I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me’ etc. I really want all my Catholic/Protestant readers to pay attention to the verse’s that I just quoted; the bible clearly teaches that if men could ‘be saved’ by keeping Gods law, then Christ died in vain. Paul will go on to teach [chapter 3] that if there had been a law given that could have given men eternal life, then ‘being saved’ would come that way; but he then goes on to say that there never was a law given that men could keep in order to be saved. Paul always gives the caveat ‘does this mean we go out and break the 10 commandments’? And his answer is always a big NO! The point of this chapter is we as believers are saved because Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sin; the proof that the penalty was completely paid is in the fact that Jesus rose again [Romans 5]. All who believe in this reality are now the children of God, indeed ‘we are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ’. (1330) GALATIANS 3- The main point of this chapter is God made a promise to Abraham that he would ‘bless’ all nations thru one of his kids someday [Genesis 12). This promise was given to Abraham 430 years before God gave the 10 commandments to Moses. Therefore the promise that men would be justified/saved by faith cannot be ‘undone’ by a later act of giving the law to Moses. The point being that Paul is arguing with the Galatians that their new view that they need to keep the law in order to ‘be saved’ [the blessing of Abraham IN CONTEXT!] is false because God already told Abraham it would be by faith in the coming Messiah. Paul then asks ‘is the law then against Gods promise’? No, it was given to man [Israel] until the time came for the promised child to be born [1st century], but now that the promised child is here we are no longer under the ‘schoolmaster’. The schoolmaster term can be confusing; the word in Greek means the person who walked the kids to school [truth] and then dropped them off AND LEFT. Paul is saying the law period served its purpose; it revealed mans sinful nature to him and then ‘dropped him off at the Cross’. Paul is saying the law fulfilled its purpose and we are now under grace. As new creatures in Christ we walk in love and fulfill the righteousness of the law by our new nature, it’s not a legalistic thing. There is some confusion today on this chapter; some were taught that ‘the blessing of Abraham’ was speaking of the promises in Deuteronomy on financial blessings. And that the curse is speaking about the curse of ‘poverty’. Though it is true that the bible does speak about this in the Old Testament, in context Paul is not saying this here. Paul explains what he means about the ‘curse of the law’. He says it’s the curse of never being able to do enough to appease God, the man that is under the law puts himself under this mindset of perfectionism and lives under this constant feeling of never being able to do enough. This was Paul's previous experience as a Pharisee. When Paul teaches that we are delivered from ‘the curse’ so the ‘blessing of Abraham might come on the gentiles, that we might receive THE PROMISE OF THE SPIRIT BY FAITH’ he is not saying Jesus died to make us financially rich, he is saying Jesus delivered us from the old law mindset of legalism and we now have forgiveness and acceptance as a free gift- ‘being now justified by faith we have peace with God thru our Lord Jesus Christ’ [Romans 5]. This post deals with the faulty understanding expounded by many Evangelical/Protestant ministers [end times scenarios, Tim Lahaye type books] that exalt ethnic/racial elements into the gospel, and contribute to the many present tensions between Muslims/Jews/Christians. (1331) GALATIANS 4- Paul says there was a time period before the promise would be fulfilled thru Christ; that time has come to an end [the law] and we are now in ‘the fullness of times’. When we were under the law we were no different than servants, but now in grace we are mature sons, people able to inherit the promise. Paul says why do you desire to go back under the ‘restraint’ phase, the time of discipline and legalism, we are now in a fullness stage thru the New Covenant and we don’t need the old mentality anymore. Once again Paul really ‘spiritualizes’ the Old Testament in his teaching, he says that the law [Old Testament] taught this difference between law and grace. He uses the story of Abraham having 2 sons [Ishmael, Isaac] and he says ‘cant you hear what the law is saying’? One son was born by promise [Isaac] the other thru the works of the flesh [law]. And just like it was back then, the one born after the flesh persecuted the one born after the Spirit, so today [1st century] those after the flesh/law are persecuting those born after the Spirit. It’s important to see that Paul DOES NOT use this analogy to describe Jewish/Muslim [Arab] relations; he actually refers to natural Israel as ‘Ishmael’! He says the Judaisers [Jews zealous of the law] were fulfilling the type/symbol by persecuting Gentile believers. We need to keep these distinctions in our minds, because when we don’t rightfully discern the truth we do damage to the non ethnic testimony of the gospel. Paul says the law relates to natural Israel/Jerusalem who is under bondage with her children, but the ‘New Jerusalem’ which is above is the mother of us all, and this Jerusalem relates to the church. The New Jerusalem is not referring to a physical city that will ‘hover over the earth during the millennium rule’ [EEK!] But it refers to the new community people of God, the church. I have written on this before and these references in the New Testament [Revelation, Hebrews- us being the new Zion, etc.] are speaking of the church, the people of God. Paul once again speaks of ‘natural Jerusalem’ in a negative light, in the sense that he teaches those who are under the law are not walking in the fullness of the promises of God as come in the Messiah. The New Testament spends no time engaging in the glorying of any ethnic group [whether it be Israel, Gentile, etc.] It’s not that the apostles were being anti Semitic, it’s just the emphasis is on the new kingdom of God and the new people of God [the church made up of both Jew and Gentile]. Its striking to compare the writings of the first Jewish believers to the current trends amongst many evangelical preachers, the two don’t mesh well. (1335) GALATIANS 5- Paul’s main theme is if we possess the Spirit as believers [being indwelt by God’s Spirit] then let us also walk in/by the Spirit, as opposed to trying to please God by the law and being circumcised. Paul will use the somewhat controversial term ‘ye are fallen from grace’ which simply means that these Gentile believers started by faith and went back to the old Jewish system, much like the themes in the book of Hebrews. Paul says when you go back to the law you have left grace. Christ has ‘become of no effect to you, you who are justified by the law’. This is a good example of how words and certain phrases can develop over the centuries of church history and develop a different meaning over time. In essence the bible does teach that a person can ‘fall from grace’ but this does not describe what the modern reader might think. The first church father who attempted to formulate the Christian doctrine of the Trinity was a man named Tertullian, he lived in the second century and was what theologians refer to as one of the Latin fathers [as opposed to the Greek ones- Origen, etc.] Tertullian was famous for the sayings ‘what does Jerusalem have to do with Athens’ and ‘I believe because it is absurd’ he was resisting the influence of Greek philosophy on the church, he felt that Greek wisdom was influencing the church too much. He was trained in law before becoming a theologian [like Luther and Calvin of 16th century Reformation fame] and he used the words ‘God is one substance/essence and also three persons’ later church councils would agree with this language. But the word ‘person’ at Tertullian’s time was the Latin word ‘personi’ which was taken from the theater and meant a person/actor who would put on different masks during the play; the word had a little different meaning then what we think of today as ‘person’. Later centuries would come to condemn certain Christian groups who seem to have formulated language on the Trinity that expresses the same thing as what the original developer of the doctrine meant to say, but because words and their meanings change over time we get ourselves into disputes that might be getting us off track. Paul also tells the Galatians that if they become circumcised that they are obligating themselves to keep all the law. Of course the medical procedure that many have done in our day is not what he is speaking about, but in Paul’s day getting circumcised was the religious rite that placed you into the religion of Judaism, and this is what Paul is refuting among the Galatians, he tells them not to go down that road. This chapter has lots of good ‘memory verses’, the famous lists of the works of the flesh versus the fruit of the Spirit are found here, and it seems pretty clear to me that Paul identified circumcision with the moral law of the 10 commandments, that is he saw being circumcised as an act that obligated you to ‘keep all the law’ some theologians are discussing whether or not Paul meant the law of Moses when speaking about going ‘back under the law’ some think Paul was speaking only of the ceremonial law and the system of animal sacrifices when he was telling the gentiles that they should not go under the law, I believe if you read Paul in context both in this letter and the book of Romans, that he is speaking of the moral law too, not just the ceremonial law. All in all Paul exhorts these believers to fight for their right to be free from the past restraints of religion and bondage, he tells them to not desire to go back under a system of bondage, that Christ has made us free from that legalistic way of life and he has liberated us by giving us the Holy Spirit- if we ‘walk in the Spirit we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, for the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, and these two are contrary one to the other, so that you cannot do the things that you would’ amen to that. (1338) GALATIANS 6- Paul closes this short theological treatise with some practical stuff; help each other out with their burdens, if you see a brother struggling, restore him in the spirit of meekness. Those who are teaching you Gods word, ‘communicate’ to them in all good things [share with them financially and materially]. Good advice that Paul gives to all of the churches he writes to. As we close our study of this letter, I want to emphasize that the majority of what Paul is teaching [over 90%] is great theological truth, it would be silly for preachers/teachers to grasp hold of any single verse and to exalt that above the main body of truths that we have discussed. It isn't hard for any preacher/teacher to go thru this letter on a few Sundays and teach the main truths of the letter. We desperately need to get back to doing it this way in many Pentecostal/Protestant/Evangelical churches- and yes, the ‘organic church’ guys too! We all have a tendency to pick out pet doctrines out of the New Testament and then to make the side issues the main thing. I think the main thing [justification by faith, the blessing of Abraham in context, etc.] is good enough without us having to try and find some type of ‘Rhema word’ that is not the main word of God. Recently a good man died, Oral Roberts. A few weeks have passed and I think it is okay to mention a few things. The media reported how many preachers showed up to the funeral in Cadillac’s and expensive cars, there have been various articles written about the legacy he will leave behind. Some wrongly said he was the father of the ‘Word of Faith/prosperity movement’ [E.W. Kenyon was the real father, and Kenneth Hagin and others lay claim to the title]. The point I want to make is Brother Roberts was a good man who did good things, but his way of doing doctrine is not my cup of tea. He was famous for popularizing the ‘seed-faith’ teaching. It comes from Paul’s letters when he does tell believers that if they give in faith God will bless them, true enough. But when we read the New Testament there are many warnings against greed and materialism, and when we take a simple practical truth from Paul, even though it’s true, and when this truth becomes our main message, then we err. In this last chapter of Galatians Paul gives practical advice about giving financially to those who are teaching you, good. But this is one verse in a letter filled with other main teachings, the important stuff if you will. For believers in our day to have built ministries/churches and to have as the foundation of these ministries the few practical side verses, is wrong. We need to focus on the main thing, and keep the main thing the main thing! [Redemption thru Christ's Blood, eternal life to those who believe, etc.] I don’t want to speak bad about brother Roberts, he was a good man who went home to be with the Lord, it’s just the discussion that has happened after his passing shows us how easy it is for good men to get sidetracked with a verse or 2 and then to exalt it out of context. As I conclude this brief study on Galatians, I think I will go back over a few main verses in the next week or so and give you some ‘practical’ things that I have gleaned these last few weeks. In a sense I will show you how God can speak to us in a personal way thru these letters, yet at the same time not losing the original meaning of the letters. One of the distinctions of the early church fathers was this Christ centered approach to the scripture, they looked for Jesus on every page. I’ll end with an example form Saint Augustine; he shared a thought on the story of Jesus walking on the water to the land, and that the disciples needed a wooden boat to ‘cross over’ he then applied the wood of the boat to the wood of the Cross and said how the Cross allows us to cross over to God, just like the boat let them cross over to the land. Now this is a simple example of applying scripture in a sort of symbolic way that is not in context, but nevertheless it’s okay to do. So I will do a few things like this in the next few posts. But while doing this, we want to not forget the main meaning of the letter, a good ‘side example’ should never negate the main body of truth. (1340) GALATIANS AFTER-THOUGHTS: As I said the other day I will try and go back over a few verses and share a few more things on Galatians. One of the things I wanted to mention was the fact that I purposefully chose to teach the letter in the classic Protestant way [mostly] I avoided getting into the ‘New Perspective’ ideas on Paul and ‘what he really meant’. So let’s talk a little on it; as of the date of this writing there is a theological debate going on [mostly in the ivory towers, but seeping somewhat into mainstream thought] that re-looks at Paul and what the context of his day was. For instance when the Reformers of the 16th century spoke about being Justified by Faith and not by works, many of them were speaking about the works of tradition and the things they felt were wrong in the Catholic faith. Were they wrong in applying Paul this way? No. In context was Paul talking about the works of ‘Catholic tradition’ when saying men are not justified by works? No. So it’s good to point stuff like this out. The problem I see with some of the New Perspective theologians is they can explain stuff and when you’re done listening [reading] it’s possible to miss the heart of the New Testament doctrine on Justification by faith, we don’t want to lose people in the weeds when trying to peel the layers of the onion. So I purposefully chose to teach this letter in the plain way that most Protestants would understand it, but I do think that N.T. Wright [Bishop of Durham, Church of England] has good things to add to the debate [as well as John Piper- the Reformed Baptist preacher who has taken the New Perspective group and rebuked them]. It’s good and profitable to engage in these types of theological discussions, but we need to once again ‘keep the main thing the main thing’. I also avoided getting into the debate on exactly what ‘works of the law’ meant. Some think Paul was only referring to the rite of circumcision. In some verses [both here and in Romans] this is true. But some [N.T. Wright] apply this in a way that says the act itself was simply an ‘identifying badge’ that brought you into the community of God, while this is true, they get a little off track by not fully seeing that in Paul’s writings these things go hand in hand. Paul mixes in the ‘work of circumcision’ with the idea of keeping the moral law/10 commandments. When saying ‘we are not under the law’ Paul includes all of it, not just the ceremonial law. How do we know this? Because whenever Paul makes this argument he always adds ‘does this mean we go out and sin’? And his answer is always no, but instead of saying ‘no, don’t sin because we are still constrained by the 10 commandments’ he says ‘no, how can we who died to sin still live in it’. To be frank about it, many of the Reformed guys have problems with this as well, they teach a kind of theology that says the N.T. believer is under the law, I disagree. So as you can see this debate can go on for a while, that’s why I chose to avoid it in this study. I want all of our readers to be grounded in the basic truths of the letter before launching into a deeper level. Okay enough for now, tune in the next week or so and I’ll try and do some practical stuff from Galatians. (1342) WHEN THE SEED SHOULD COME TO WHOM THE PROMISE WAS MADE- As I was teaching thru Galatians this verse ‘spoke to me’ in a personal way [will explain it in a second]. I felt like the Lord was saying that there are long term promises/destinies that he has planted within us, both as individuals and communities, and that often times he is waiting for the ‘seed to come to whom the promise was made’. In the parables of Jesus the seed speaks of a few things. Most of us are familiar with 'the seed as the word’ imagery- ‘the sower sows the word’. But Jesus also speaks of ‘the seed’ as the children of the kingdom that his father has planted in the world. And of course in Galatians Paul is specifically referring to the singular seed, who is Christ. Every few years I go thru our radio messages and will adjust the programs I air. I often find that the messages that I marked as ‘o.k.’ are not o.k. anymore, it’s not that they are bad, it’s just I notice a tone/level of ‘seed’ [spoken word] that is not mature enough, it seems like as the years roll by the later messages just sound better. God has all of us in a maturing process; things that we thought were ‘deep revelation’ at one time, now sound quite silly. As I was marking off the programs that sounded too immature, I felt like the Lord was saying ‘the seed has come to whom the promise was made’ sort of like the lord was saying ‘son, I was waiting for your level of maturity to catch up to the promise’. Also in Romans it says ‘the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now’ I also felt like the Lord was saying the seed, as it pertains to all the people groups we relate to, were also in a ‘birthing process’ that too had to mature to a point where the promises could be inherited- ‘when the fullness of times was come, God sent forth his son, made of a woman, made under the law’ [Galatians] God has ‘fullness seasons’ times [Kairos] when he says ‘okay, the promises I made to you at the beginning of the journey are now ready to be experienced’ in essence the seed has come to whom the promise was made. Now, this sort of spiritual/symbolic way of hearing God, is it a good way to develop doctrine? No! Never, ever! Pope Benedict critiqued the ‘historical, critical’ method of liberal theology in his book ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ the method developed out of the liberal universities in Germany in the 19th- 20th centuries. Men like Rudolph Bultman would popularize it. It was a way of reading scripture thru an historical/archeological lens. Some of the ideas are good and profitable, but some are not. Many would reject the supernatural aspects of scripture and come to deny the resurrection. Not good. The Pope also warned against this way of ‘dissecting’ Jesus and Christianity to a point where you really don’t see the true Jesus anymore. The real Jesus of Christianity and history, the Jesus that we all have a relationship with by faith. The point being we want to go to scripture with an open heart and expectancy to ‘hear God’. While doing this, we also want to recognize that the scripture had the SAME MEANING to the first century church as to us today, the meaning never changes, the applications do. That’s the main point I want to make, so today the Lord might be speaking to you about certain ‘seeds’ coming to maturity in your own life, things that you have been waiting for and maybe the lord was saying he needed a maturing process to take place, both in you and the people you relate to. The ‘whole creation’ if you will. (1343) One of the other themes that spoke to me from Galatians was the idea that Israel and the world were under a ‘schoolmaster phase’ until the fullness of times arrived. This phase was the whole economy of Old Testament law and rule. I felt like the Lord was saying that many of us have been led, and actually have arrived, at places and purposes the hard way; i.e. - the ‘tutor’ phase. That is God allowed the process of trial and error and discipline to work in us until we arrived at the purpose and goal. Isaiah says that ‘I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction’ yes, this way of ‘arriving’ is much more painful, but it still gets you there. Now the entire discipline phase for the world was the time period before the Cross. The law and the Old Covenant were the only way to ‘get there’ so to speak. If people wanted to have a relationship with God, they were either born Jews, or converted to Judaism. Today of course we have access thru the Cross. One of the earliest ‘cults’ of Christianity was a sect call ‘Gnosticism’ these early adherents mixed Greek dualism [material world bad, spirit world good type of a thing] in with Christianity, they taught that the God of the Old Testament was the evil God who created the material world, and that thru Jesus we can come to know the true God of the New Testament, the God who gives us salvation by delivering us from the material world. Though it seems like there are verses in the New Testament that teach that the ‘world’ is evil and that God wants to ‘deliver us from this present evil world’ [Galatians] yet in these contexts ‘the world’ is simply speaking of the lost system of man and the ‘way of the world’. In Christian theology matter is not inherently evil. The Apostle John would deal with the Gnostics in his first epistle by saying ‘whoever denies that Jesus has come in the flesh is not of God- they are anti-Christ’. Because the Gnostics believed all matter to be evil they would reject the humanity of Jesus, John was targeting them in his letter. As I mentioned before the controversy over the Trinity was settled at the council of Nicaea [a.d.325] but the church still battled with the nature of Jesus. Nicaea said ‘God is one essence/substance and 3 persons’. But this did not fully deal with the nature of Jesus, various ideas rose up [Monarchianism, Dynamic Monarchianism] that challenged the nature of Christ. In 451 a.d. the church settled on the language that ‘Jesus is one person with 2 substances/essences [natures]’, though to some this looks like a contradiction to the earlier language of Nicaea, this council in 451 [Chalcedon] was simply saying Jesus was ‘fully God and fully man’ so anyway we were all under the discipline phase until the ‘fullness of times’. I am believing God to get us to the destination with less ‘tutoring’ if you will, less trial and error. Sure, we will never fully get to the point of not making a few mistakes and stumbling along the way, but as we get older hopefully we will ‘stumble less’. (1345) BUT BEFORE FAITH CAME, WE WERE KEPT UNDER THE LAW,SHUT UP UNTO THE FAITH THAT WOULD AFTERWARDS BE REVEALED- Galatians 3:23 Over the years I have grown in my understanding of ‘church/ministry’ and have come to see that God requires of us to ‘do justice, love mercy and walk humbly’- that is we often begin the Christian life [especially minister/pastor] with a bunch of noble goals and dreams and we become fixated on the finances and buildings and all the outward stuff that we think is needed to ‘reach the world’. All well meaning men with noble goals, but often times the whole thing devolves into ‘if these parishioners would be obedient and tithe 10 % of their income we could do great things’ and behind the scenes there begins to be an accusatory spirit by the leaders/pastors towards ‘these rebels’. As someone who does not receive offerings or money I have been freed from this whole scenario. Now, how does ‘faith come/ be revealed’? In contrast to the above picture, God will often speak to us and use us when we do not have the cart before the horse- when our time and efforts are not always consumed with building ‘our ministry’ or getting the funds needed for what we think is Gods purpose. In the parable of the great supper, Jesus says a man prepared this great meal/table and he sent his servant out at suppertime to call the guests, and out of the first 3 groups he goes to, 2 out of 3 couldn’t make it because they purchased stuff [land, livestock] then the master gets mad and sends him to the poor, blind and maimed [do justice] and there is still room so he is told to go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in. The point I want to make is those who were preoccupied with stuff missed the true riches, it’s not that they meant to be rebellious; it’s just the nature of the beast. I want to encourage all of our leaders to re-focus as the New Year begins, sure- you are going to have to deal with practical things [money, etc.] but don’t become so consumed with ‘the ministry’ that this becomes the driving factor of your life. I have had ‘minister friends’ who were always talking about, or trying to ‘build up the work’ some times when we would interact [run into each other] if I had a homeless guy they couldn’t wait until I would ‘lose’ the brother so we could talk ministry. I know they mean well, but they are so consumed with ‘the stuff’ they couldn’t see the true riches; they were missing the ‘great supper’ and didn’t even realize it. ‘In as much as you did it unto the least of these, you did it unto me’. (1353) THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS WERE UNTIL JOHN, SINCE ‘THAT TIME’ THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS PREACHED- When teaching Galatians we got into the ‘Kairos’ season- that is a time period when God said ‘the old dispensation has fulfilled its purpose and the new time has come’. In the above heading Jesus says it’s a ‘kingdom time’. One of the good things about the New Perspective teaching is they bring out Gods greater world purpose for the whole creation [Romans 8]. It is easy for believers to see their entire Christian lives thru the lens of individual salvation, while this is certainly an important subject, if this becomes the main focus of the believer he can become myopic and miss the greater intention of God- the ‘since that time the kingdom of God’ intention. When Jesus turned the water into wine at Cana, what exactly was he trying to show us? Do you find it strange that there just happened to be all these water containers sitting around? The Jewish religion was very familiar with the idea of ‘washings/baptism’ the temple system was surrounded by these baths and pools and in the gospels we see people linking water with ceremonial cleansing. No one said of John ‘what in the heck is he doing baptizing people in the Jordan’ they were familiar with the rite. Now Jesus doesn’t pick any old water buckets lying around, he is using the symbol of ‘old law’ cleansing, he’s saying ‘look, I just turned your water [old way of getting clean] into wine [my Blood which will replace/fulfill the old system]’. The significance of what he did was heavy. The appearing of Jesus in the 1st century and his death, burial and resurrection [ascension too] enacted a major change from old testament economy into a new kingdom age, the water served its purpose, but the new wine has come- party on.

Duet- joshua

DEUTERONOMY, JOSHUA DEUTERONOMY- (545) I am reading Deuteronomy and thought I would share a few thoughts [chaps 1-8]. As Moses is standing on the edge of the promised land he asks God ‘can I please go into this land’ God says ‘no, and don’t ask me any more about it’. It seems kind of harsh. It also seems like God is saying ‘I know I have called you to this place. Your whole desire to see the land is something I put in you, but because you represented me in a wrong way before the people, I can’t let you in [yet!]’. Did you know that I found a verse where God let him in? I am not spiritualizing it either. You know the verse also. The Mount of Transfiguration! After all those years God said ‘now I will let your feet touch the land my son!’ it’s like God knew how bad Moses wanted to posses it, so during the true time of inheritance, the coming of Messiah, God said ‘inherit’. God gives a lot of promise’s and lessons in these first 8 chapters of Deuteronomy. He also tells Israel ‘because you didn’t believe me when I told you to go into the Promised Land, therefore I made you wander in the wilderness for 40 years and I caused you to learn a lesson’. What was the lesson? He taught them that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God! How did he teach them this lesson? He gave them plain Manna every day for 40 years. They couldn’t store it up, they had to trust him for ‘beggars bread’ if you will. Hey, if they took the one big step of faith 40 years earlier they would have had tons of great food that they didn’t have to ‘believe for’ every day, it would have just been there, in abundance! But instead he showed them what it means to trust his word. They got to a point after 40 years where if some stranger showed up and said ‘how are all you guys getting fed?’ they would have said ‘no big deal, every morning God gives us Angel food’. It would have seemed like a big deal to the stranger! God taught them to believe in his consistency. They learned that to believe for the big moment [40 years earlier] would have been better than to believe for the ‘little moments’ thru out the 40 years! We just finished Hebrews. Why does God allow Samson to be in the great ‘heroes of the faith’ chapter? Samson had a lot of problems; he had moral failures and was actually quite the playboy. He also had moments of ‘great faith’. He knew when to lay it all out on the line and risk it all. He pulled down the pillars and killed all the enemies of Israel, and oh yes, he knew he would die too. That made up for a lot! I think it would be easier for us to believe God at the edge of ‘our promised land’ than to go 40 years learning the same lesson, in little bits at a time! They still displayed a lot of faith, but it took 40 years of it to make up for that one day! (546) Deuteronomy 9-11 In chapter 10 God tells Moses ‘this time when you come up and get the 2nd set of commandments, build me an ark [box!] so you don’t ‘accidentally’ drop them again’. It is a little funny, Moses broke the first set of commandments out of anger. God says ‘lets do it one more time, but just in case you loose it again, bring a box to put them in!’. Moses had an anger problem. This is what kept him out of the Promised Land! But God even uses this as a prophetic type. Moses actually led the people thru their journey under a ‘second covenant’. Of course the 2nd set of commandments had the same words on them as the first. But it was a type of the prophetic ministry of Moses who was a symbol of Jesus. Jesus of course would establish a new covenant in his blood, so Moses was symbolizing that 2nd covenant thru this act. Also if you review the first 10 or so chapters you will see Moses emphasize again and again the need for obedience. He tells the people ‘if you obey, your kids and land and businesses will be blessed. God will take away all sickness and disease from you. All will go well with you and your kids and you will prolong your days in the land’. God also says ‘you have been at this mountain long enough, it is time to move on. Go north’ I felt like the Lord was telling us to begin looking ‘northward’ see beyond where you have been. You might have spent 40 years in a wilderness place, begin obeying and believing God for new things. Look to him alone. When God called Abraham he called him by himself and took him and brought him to a strange land and made of him a great nation [the children we are reading about right now!] Can’t you remember when God called you in the early days, how it was just you and him? Rekindle that original flame, tell God ‘it’s just me and you again Father, show yourself strong on my behalf’. God wants to do great things with you again. One more thing, when God told Moses to come up the 2nd time to get the 10 commandments, he said ‘bring blank slates’. God asks us to bring a clean slate to him. Sort of like a blank canvas that he can paint on. If we have too many preconceived ideas on how we think things should be done, then that hinders God from painting the beautiful picture that he has in mind. Let your life be clean and open for him to do what he wants. God bless you guys, and don’t forget ‘don't brake what he paints this time around!’ (547) In reading Deuteronomy God tells Israel to tear down the altars and high places where the pagan nations worshipped their god’s. Later in Israel’s history we find out that they didn’t fully obey God in this. Eventually Israel would wind up offering their children on the altar of Moloch. Moloch was a god [demon] that the pagans made an idol of. This statue was heated up by fire until the arms of the idol were bright red. Then the people would place their babies into the arms. God told Israel they made their babies pass thru the fire unto Moloch. They eventually adopted the practices of the other nations. We do this today, in a much more hidden environment. We allow for a woman to go to an abortion clinic and for a doctor to insert a knife and dismember the baby. We do this under the guise of ‘a free and open minded society’. We lie! I have found it sad how those who pride themselves in being liberal minded often hold to the most bigoted idea’s one could espouse. In Darwin’s last book [descent of man] he taught a type of evolution that said ‘the whites are further along down the path of evolving. It is obvious that the Negro is still much closer to the Monkey/Ape than the white. Both physically and mentally’[paraphrase]. Now, for any liberal to hold to this mans ignorant ideas, and to hold to them in such a way that he is proud to say ‘I believe in Darwin’ is total stupidity. Darwin’s theory has come apart at the seems in the world of science. Many scientists have come to the conclusion that the theory can lo longer be honestly held. There are tons of scientific reasons for this. But the simple fact that many in today’s society pride themselves in being ‘disciples’ of Darwin then also think that those who oppose his views are ‘bigoted’ these same people hold to one of the most racist ideas ever put in print. Hitler himself read and was a believer in Darwin’s theory. He actually believed that the extermination of the Jews was a faster way to eliminate the inferior races. This theory of Evolution is demonic at its core. It makes it easy to abort children with no consideration of the actual life of the child. We have our own Moloch’s today! NOTE; God Said that men who did not retain him in their minds would be given over to foolishness. Recently the fossil ‘Lucy’ has been making the rounds to different countries by way of airplane. Many scientists were up in arms that the flying around of this ‘precious fossil’ might endanger it. There were all sorts of debates on how to protect it and all, the best first class service for sure. How satan must be laughing at the stupidity of men who go to great lengths to protect the flying bones of a monkey, while at the same time aborting thousands of children on the planet who were created in the image of God! (550) Deuteronomy 13-18 The Lord instructs the people that he will meet all their needs financially, and that they will always have the poor among them. Just like Jesus taught! The balance is that God would give more than enough provision into the community, and whether or not all the needs were met was up to the generosity of the community. The same thing you see in the book of Acts. Certain rich people gave and the poor had their needs met. To develop a doctrine from Deuteronomy that says to the poor ‘if you just had faith you would be rich’ violates Paul’s teachings in Timothy [chapter 6] where he says certain teaches in the last days will teach that gain is godliness [that is you can measure godliness by material wealth] from such turn away, they have erred from the faith. So in context God will bless us all as a family of people, but do not teach a material gospel. Also the Lord tells Israel ‘when you get into the land and set up a King over you, don’t let him accumulate great wealth unto himself’ interesting, God says make sure your leaders are not living high on the hog thru your money. We violate this all the time in today’s church. How many stories of teachers with million dollar condos and homes, all the while appealing to a broad audience of Christians to give sacrificially. God isn’t saying that leaders can’t prosper, but he is saying they should not be getting rich from the overall giving of many average wage workers. It is so easy to simply read all the wealth verses in this book and to look right past all these warnings. Why do we do this? We all have a tendency to ‘see’ what we want to see and overlook the rest. The Lord also gives instruction on Prophets, he says ‘if a Prophet prophesies something and it comes to pass, but he leads you away from the true God, don’t listen’ also ‘if he prophesies something and it doesn’t happen, don’t listen to him’. It is easy to recognize the second one as false, but we often overlook the first one. I have heard so many times over the years ‘well brother, I know my teachers teach that Jesus was a millionaire, and it works for me, that’s all that counts’ no it isn’t! Whether it works or not is irrelevant [in this instance] God says if it leads you away from the truth, then it’s false! Let all of our teaching and instruction bring us back into alignment with the character and nature of God, he is the goal. (551) Deuteronomy 20-25 You read ‘the elders of the city’ a lot in these chapters. Paul will eventually choose to use this terminology to describe the leadership of the New Testament church. These were plural leaders among a group of believers in a city. Not singular preachers of groups of people in buildings on a set day of the week! You did have the singular model in Paul’s day. Where? In the system of the Pharisees and Synagogues! The concept of a ‘president’ of the synagogue leading the people on Sabbath day in Christian [Jewish] instruction was being carried out in Paul’s day. Paul used to be part of the system! He chose the concept of elders over a city, instead of a singular title over a part of the people that met in a building. I think we need to get back to the better model. Also instruction is given that when the children enter the land they are to share the fruits of the land with the stranger. They are not to totally reap all the fruit from the trees or the fields. The stranger can walk in your fields and eat whatever he wants; he just can’t take it with him. These guidelines are given for the benefit of the alien [stranger]. God says I want you to remember that you too were strangers in Egypt. This cuts to the heart of so much of the present debate over the illegal alien issue of our day. I do understand the anger that some have over this issue, God says ‘remember, you were all aliens at one time or another, don’t get so self righteous. If I tell you to share your goods with those who don’t deserve it, then do it. I am the one who brings forth the produce, so share it with others’. God has blessed us financially and materially, he requires us to share it with others. A few difficult verse’s 23:1 God says if a man is wounded in the ‘private area’ he cannot come into the congregation. God is not telling people if they have had some sexual accident that they cant serve God, he is saying he wants people who can ‘procreate’ in his church! He wants people to be able to ‘reproduce’ [soul winners] for his Kingdom. 23:14-15 God says when you ‘go to the bathroom in the land’ dig a hole and bury it, because he is in the land and your land must be sanctified. If it isn’t then he can’t ‘walk among you’. The spiritual lesson is we can’t accomplish anything without God’s presence. We need him, stay clean so he can work among us. Only by the blood. Also when a man dies without having children, his widow shall marry the brother so he can have seed remain in his name. If the brother says ‘no, I do not want to raise up seed to my brother’ then he is taken before the elders and they take off his shoe, spit in his face, and his name is called ‘the man who has no shoe’. What’s this all about? God is saying be willing to build others up, your gift is not given for you to build your ministry, or the people who relate only to you [church members]. But I have given you gifts to raise up ‘seed to your brethren’ as well. Use your gift to help others, others who can’t repay you [I think I heard this somewhere before? Jesus!] If you don’t, all the people will know your church well, it will be the one in town where every body where’s one shoe! (552) Deuteronomy 28-31 The Lord promises much material blessings in these chapters, but he also says the Levites who receive the tithes are not to own anything. They could not use the tithe as a means to accumulate wealth. I find it funny that the modern church teaches the tithe, but leaves this part out! Also Moses is told ‘you will not go into the land, but help Joshua go in’. Moses must see his gift as something to use to build others and help them achieve goals that he himself will not achieve. Moses learns the true principle of the least being the greatest. He will be the only one who will enter in after death! Out of all the adults who were in the wilderness, only Joshua and Caleb go in to the Promised Land. Moses goes in after death at the mount of transfiguration. He fulfills the symbol of Christ as the first fruits unto God. Moses tells Joshua ‘you must go in with this people’. In the world of church and Pastoral ministry, I have seen how good men will start a ‘work’ and sometimes out of fear begin to look for someone to ‘take it over’. God tells Joshua ‘you must go in too!’ In Moses case the word of the Lord was ‘don’t go in’ [yet!] in Joshua’s case ‘don’t not go in!’ Have you allowed fear and intimidation to lead you to think it’s time to ‘get out’. Only move [remove] as God directs, don’t start looking for a replacement, you have too many years to fulfill, you must go in with this people! NOTE; I thought I just ‘heard’ someone say ‘is this guy talking about me’? Hey, if it’s for you, then yes! (553) Deuteronomy 32-34 Moses tells the people after he dies they will fall away from God and spend years in judgment. This is a necessary failure. He will hide his face from them and they will realize that God alone is God and they will find help no where else. God does stuff like this a lot! One of the verses in chapter 28 says ‘you will have confusion for the sight of your eyes’. This summer I had a terrible case of vertigo. I eventually found out it was from damage that is done to the inner ear from a viral infection. I researched some natural supplements and had to choose between 2 types. I chose St. Johns Wort and also eventually took Valerian root as well. The ‘St. Johns Wort’ seemed ‘prophetic’ enough, it has my name in it! But I never saw any prophetic indications with the Valerian Root. I have a homeless friend who is a deep bible student, he has been asking me to look up Spikenard for him. It is a biblical thing. He has been talking about it for a while. Yesterday we were at my house fellowshipping and I gave him a bible dictionary and said ‘look it up’. He reads the definition, it comes from Valerian Root, Oh well there’s the ‘prophetic’ thing. The real point is God allowed me to go thru a season of ‘disorientation’ cause of ‘the sight of my eyes’. You mean to tell me brother that God chastens you? Oh my, I would never go thru stuff like that. You lie! In the last chapter Moses dies and scripture says ‘no man knows where his tomb is till this day’. I like this. Moses is still fulfilling prophetic imagery in death. Years later a prophet would arise in Israel whose name is Jesus. He will claim to be sent from God. Many will challenge this claim. He will do no wrong, and no deceit will ever be found in his mouth. They will get tired of him. They will finally railroad him in an unjust court and bring false witnesses to testify against him. They will crucify him in front of his friends and family. They will put him in a grave and 3 days later he will come back to life. He will give instructions to his followers and ascend into heaven. This fact is the singular most historical fact of the first century [of all centuries!] many will testify to this. Because of the significance of this movement many will do their best over the centuries to disprove his story. They will search high and low for ways to disprove Jesus. They will spend years and millions looking for ‘the tomb of Jesus’ with a body in it. They will never find one. Just like the people of Moses day would never find his body in a tomb either. NOTE; a few verses that I liked at the end. God says ‘a fiery law shall proceed out of thy right hand’ ‘everyone shall receive of thy words’ and ‘my doctrine shall drop down like rain’. I like these images. I have prayed the scriptures ‘pour out your Spirit on my seed, your blessing on my offspring’ ‘I will pour water on him that is thirsty and floods upon the dry ground’. I felt like the Lord was saying he is going to give power and authority to those who are truly speaking what the Spirit is saying. Not just motivational stuff! God raises up prophetic voices to deal with real issues, not just to motivate you into a successful life. They said of Jesus ‘he speaks with authority, not like the regular preachers’ if you want this type of effect, then you must say what the Spirit is saying. JOSHUA study. (556) Started reading Joshua. As God brings them into the land Joshua is like Jesus in Revelation, leading the people into a triumphant victory. In both books you see 2 spies [witnesses] you have the harlot Rahab getting judged [she is declared righteous, a Divine act of justification-Hebrews 11] and you have the great whore of Babylon getting judged in Revelation. You have the Old Testament Joshua which means Jesus in the New. As the children of Israel take Jericho they see how God is working supernaturally on their behalf. They then go to the next city, Ai, and only send in a few thousand troops. They loose around 36 men. Joshua overreacts to this loss and falls on his face. Tells God ‘why did you make us come over this Jordan, we could have stayed on the other side. When all our enemies hear about this they will surround us and kill us’. He has quite a pity party! It’s like God is looking down and telling Jesus ‘hey, I know I picked the boy, but who would have thought he was going to take it this bad!’ It’s funny, the Lord finally appears to him and says ‘get up, what are you doing on your face? You have encountered a problem, so deal with it’ God reveals to Joshua that one of his men has some of the goods hidden in his camp and that’s the sin that caused the defeat. They get the guy, make him confess, and everything is O.K. Not! They stone the brother to death and then to make sure he’s dead, they burn the guy! Ouch! I could just see one of our local gangs standing by thinking ‘and we thought our gang was bad’. The Lord deals with the sin and they regroup. I find it funny how Gods leaders all have a tendency to overreact to problems. I think it’s in our nature. Leaders have the ability to see farther than the rest of the community, they also come to more drastic conclusions when things go wrong. Elijah, Moses, etc... The Lords solution was ‘deal with the problem, do what you have to do, get up off of your face for heavens sake, and let’s get on with the program’. I don’t like these types of answers either. I wish the Lord would give me a special response like ‘son, I see the problem. Your right. I will rapture you and destroy all your enemies. And I will make all those people who talked about you feel bad that you aren’t around anymore. We’ll show them’ God doesn’t do this, he tells us ‘get off the ground and start moving’ are you moving forward yet? (557) Joshua- As Joshua takes Jericho, they experience failure at Ai. They violate the principle of God being with them as a community. They split off and send a few thousand to Ai, God stayed in the camp! Our victory comes when we see all of our brothers in our region as the corporate people of God, don’t divide the Body of Christ, it is certainly not limited to the Christians who meet in buildings on Sunday. It is also not divided into all these different ‘churches’. We are all the Church, even the ones who don’t ‘go to church on Sunday!’ [That is if you are a believer]. Gibeon sees Israel’s victory and pretends they are travelers going thru the land. They put old clothes on and have moldy bread. They tell Joshua ‘we are traveling thru the land, make a league with us’ Joshua does, and they find out that they are really inhabitants of the land. The people blame the leaders for this bad decision, even though they all thought it was a good idea at the time! This happens all the time in church situations, if you haven’t experienced it yet, you will. So as the children of Israel start possessing land, it becomes easy. They form a habit of possessing! God will bring you to a place where you begin overcoming obstacles on a routine basis. Another dynamic that takes place is the inhabitants of the land begin forming alliances against Israel. One alliance forms, and Joshua conquers them. Then another one forms. Scripture says God put it in their hearts to do this so Joshua would cover more territory rapidly. God was allowing Israel to ‘kill 2 birds with one stone’ so to speak. Do you see your enemies forming alliances against you? Sort of like ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’. Do people who could never agree on things unite now in opposition to you? Then praise God, he is giving you possession rapidly! The tribe Of Joseph asks Joshua for more land, they have 2 tribes to represent [Ephraim and Manasseh] Joshua says ‘you are right, go take the wood land [forest]’ they say ‘it’s to hard to take’ Joshua says ‘be strong; you would be surprised what you can do with Gods help’ Joshua learned this lesson from experience. Some times we are like the tribe of Joseph, we want people to give us opportunities. We want land given to us free and clear. We have developed this entitlement mentality in the church [and country!] Often times the answer to our problem is ‘overcome it’. We don’t like this answer. (558) A few more things from Joshua. He tells Israel to build cities of refuge, so when someone is guilty of the blood of another person he can flee into the city for refuge. This is a type of the church. The bible calls the church the New Jerusalem, John calls her the city of God coming down from God out of heaven, the bride the lamb’s wife. All men are guilty of the blood of Jesus, he died for our sins. We can flee into the Body of Christ and find refuge in the church. Those who fled to the cities of refuge stayed there until the death of the high priest. After his death they could go out from the city and live the rest of their days in their land. The death of our high priest, Jesus, allows us to ‘go out and come in and find pasture’ we have release thru the death of Jesus as well as thru his life! The 2 and a half tribes, Rueben, Gad and Manasseh go back to the other side of the Jordan to posses their land. They build an altar on the coast of Jordan. The tribes in the Promised Land hear about it and confront them ‘why did you build this altar? Are you rebelling against God?’ They reassure their brothers that it is an altar of witness only, they will never sacrifice an animal on it. It is standing there alone, away from the tabernacle and is free from all animal sacrifice. What a picture of the Cross! And last but not least Joshua commands all the people to honor God, he makes them publicly commit to serve the Lord. He then sets up this ‘great stone’ and says ‘this stone is a witness for you, it has heard all the words you have spoken. Don’t go against what you have said’. This is another type of Christ. Jesus is the ‘great stone’ that all judgment has been given to. He has ‘heard all the words we have spoken’ and seen our thoughts and intents. Don’t rebel against him. He also is the ‘capstone/headstone’ that completes the temple of God [the church]. In the prophets [Haggai/Zechariah] they shout ‘grace, grace’ unto it as it is being placed at the temples completion. Jesus will return someday and complete the glorious temple of God, the church, and he does it with absolute grace. He is the great stone!

Corinthians

1st, 2nd CORINTHIANS (942)1st CORINTHIANS INTRODUCTION- Out of all of Paul’s letters, this one is ‘the most verified’ as being his. Of course we know this because Paul says so in the letter! But for all those intellectual higher critics, this helps. Corinth was a city of great influence and trade, many land and sea routes converged at Corinth and her port. The city was also known for her philosophers and ‘preachers of wisdom’ [Rhetoric]. They actually had a custom at Corinth in which you could ‘hire’ your own ‘preacher of wisdom’. These were the traveling teachers who made a living at speaking. This also might be why Paul specifically said ‘when I was with you I did not take money from you’. The custom of the traveling preachers was you could pay a one time honorarium for a single speech, or you could actually hire a regular speaker and have him ‘on salary’. Paul did not want the Corinthians to think that he was their hired preacher! How much influence this type of trade would have on the later development of the ‘hired clergy’ is unknown, but the similarities are striking. The famous 5th century bishop of Hippo, North Africa, Saint Augustine, made his living as one of these traveling teachers of philosophy before becoming a Christian. It’s believed that Paul wrote a 3rd letter to the church at Corinth, so what we know as 1st, 2nd Corinthians might actually be letters 2 and 3. I personally think Corinthians holds special value for the church today. The 21st century believer is being challenged on her Ecclesiology, the whole idea of what the church is. In Corinthians we see a specific picture of what the church is and on how she should meet. Paul will not address ‘the Pastor’ [there was none in the modern sense of the office] but he will speak directly to the brothers at Corinth and give them some heavy responsibilities to carry out [like committing a brother to satan for the destruction of his flesh! Ouch]. Paul went to Corinth on his 2nd missionary journey and spent 18 months with them [Acts 18] one of the longest stays at any church. Because of the pagan background of the city Paul will address specific issues related to believers and certain practices of idol worship. Eating meat offered to idols and stuff like that. Corinth also practiced a form of idolatry that included prostitution, so he will deal severely with the loose sexual morals of the people at Corinth. Well we have a lot to cover in the next few weeks, try and read Corinthians on your own as we plunge into this study, it will help a lot. (943)1ST CORINTHIANS 1:1-17 Paul greets them as an apostle called by God, he affirms his authority and ‘fathering ability’ as coming from God. He tells them he thanks God all the time for the fruit that he sees in their lives, the thing that made Paul rejoice was the work God was doing in the communities he was establishing as an apostle. Today ministers have a tendency to ‘rejoice’ over the Christian enterprise that we oversee. Whether its’ how well the budget went this year and stuff like that. Paul’s joy wasn’t in the fact that God called him to some great personal ministry where he would find self fulfillment. His joy was in the actual growth and freedom that ‘his churches’ [communities of people] were experiencing. He also defines them as ‘those that call upon the name of the Lord like all the others’. Remember what we said when studying Romans chapter 10? One of the signs of the believer is ‘they call upon Jesus name’. They are believing communities of ‘Christ callers’. Not so much a one time evangelical altar call, but a lifestyle. Jesus said we are ‘a house of prayer’. A spiritual community/house who intercedes for all nations. It’s in our very DNA! Paul also commends them as being enriched by God in all ‘knowledge and utterance’ [speech]. It seems funny that he would say they were blessed and enriched in speech. Paul will give some of his strongest rebukes over speaking gifts [tongues, prophesy] to this community. Yet he does not approach it from the strong anti charismatic view. He doesn’t say ‘your speech is demonic’ he says it is enriched by God! We will deal with the gifts later on. Now for the first real rebuke. Paul says he has heard reports that there are divisions and strivings among them. They are already dividing up into various sects. Some follow Paul, others follow Cephas, some say ‘we are the true Christ followers’. Paul rebukes them sharply over these divisions, he does not want the early church to identify with individual personalities and gifts at the expense of true unity. Was this the early development of denominationalism? To a degree yes. But I also don’t think we should view the various Christian denominations as deceived or ‘lost’. The modern church has become what we are thru many struggles and difficulties over a 2 thousand year history. My personal view is we should strive for unity, not by trying to dissolve all the various ‘tribes’ that exist in Christ’s church, but by growing into a more mature view of all who name the name of Christ as being fellow believers who partake of a common grace. I applaud all the efforts being made by various Christian churches today to come to a greater outward unity [for example the Catholic and Orthodox dialogue] but I also believe as we see each other as fellow believers and learn to appreciate our different emphasis, that this approach can also lead to greater unity among believers today. Paul saw the beginnings of division in the early Corinthian community, he did his best to quell the coming storm. (944)1ST CORINTHIANS 1:18-31 Paul declares the actual preaching of the Cross to be the power of God. The Jews sought for a sign [remember the sign of Jonas?] and the Greeks prided themselves in wisdom. Paul declares that Jesus IS the wisdom and power of God. In Christ is contained all the wisdom and power [signs] in the universe! Paul says God destroyed the wisdom of unregenerate man and that Gods foolishness is wiser than men’s greatest achievements apart from God. Wow, what an indictment on enlightenment philosophy. Man goes thru stages of learning and knowledge [renaissance, enlightenment. Industrial, scientific revolution] these are not bad achievements in and of themselves. Many of the greatest scientists and scientific discoveries were made by men of faith [Newton, Pascal, Faraday, etc] the problem arises when men think that sheer humanistic reasoning, apart from God, is the answer. Right now there is a movement [11-08] going on where some atheists bought ad space on the sides of buses that say ‘why believe in a god? Do good for goodness sake’. So they had both sides [Christian /Atheist] debate it. The simple fact is, sheer humanism cannot even define ‘what good is’. ‘Good’ becomes a matter of what serves me best at the time of my decision. Without God and special revelation [scripture-10 commandments] good can be defined by Hitler’s regime as exterminating one class of society for the benefit of the whole. Only Christian [or Deist, Jewish, Muslim] beliefs place special value and dignity on human life. It is a common misconception to think that all the enlightenment philosophers were atheists; this was not the case at all. Locke, Hume and others simply believed that thru human logic and reason people could arrive at a sort of naturalistic belief in God. This would form the basis of Deism, the system of belief in God but a rejection of classic Christian theology. Benjamin Franklin and other founding fathers of our country were influenced by this style of belief. Now, getting back to the Greeks. Paul says ‘God destroyed the wisdom of this world’. What wisdom is Paul talking about? The enlightenment philosophers of the 18th century had nothing on the Greek philosophers going all the way back to a few centuries B.C. Plato, the Greek wrestler turned philosopher, had one of the most famous schools of Greek philosophy. At the entrance of the school the words were written ‘let none but geometers enter here’. Kind of strange. Geometry simply meant ‘form’ in this use. Most of the great theoretical physicists were also great mathematicians [Einstein]. The Greek philosophers were seeking a sort of ‘unified theory’ that would explain all other theories and bring all learning together under one intellectual ‘roof’. Sort of like Einstein's last great obsession. The Greeks actually referred to this great unknown future ‘unifier’ as ‘the Logos’. Now, some atheists will use this truth to undercut the New Testament. They will take the common use of these words ‘The Logos’ and say that Johns writings [Gospel, letters] were simply stolen ideas from Greek philosophy. This is why believers need to have a better understanding of the inspiration of scripture. John’s writings were no doubt inspired, he of course calls Jesus the ‘Logos’ [word] of God. But he was simply saying to the Greek/Gnostic mind ‘look, you guys have been waiting for centuries for the one special ‘Word/Logos’ that would be the answer to all learning, I declare unto you that Jesus is this Logos’! So eventually you would have ‘the wisdom of the world’ [both Greek and enlightenment and all other types] falling short of the ultimate answer. They could only go so far in their journey for truth, and ultimately they either wind up at the foot of the Cross [the wisdom of God] or the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’. God said this ‘tree’ [sources of wisdom and knowledge apart from God] would ultimately lead to death if not submitted to ‘the tree of life’ [the Cross]. You would have some of the enlightenment philosophers eat from this tree all the way to the ‘death of God’ movement. Man in his wisdom would come to the conclusion that ‘God is dead’. If this is true, then the slaughter of millions of Jews is no moral dilemma. If God is dead then man is not created in his image, he is just this piece of flesh that you can dispose of at will. To all you intellectual types, it’s Okay to have a mind, but you must love God with it. If all your doing is feeding from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you will surely die. (945)1 CORINTHIANS 2- Paul tells them that when he came to them to declare Gods wisdom, that he did not do it with excellency of speech or with enticing words of men’s wisdom. What is he saying here? Remember, Corinth had the background of traveling philosophers of rhetoric who could ‘dazzle the average folk’. Sort of like the role science would come to play with modern man. All science is good, it’s when man in his arrogance begins to espouse or ‘twist’ things to his advantage that the problem arises. That’s when the arrogance of mans wisdom simply says to the average Joe ‘who do you think you are to question me! I am a man of wisdom’ Phooey! [I know it’s corny]. The fact is that natural man has always had the ability to deceive or come up with ‘evidence’ just in the nick of time. Did you know there was/is an entire cottage industry in ‘finding’ fossils to prove evolution is true? Do you really think men were above deception in the 1800’s? That they were above the temptation to come up with findings so their funding would not be cut off? Darwin wrote his famous book ‘the Origin of Species’ in 1851. Right after the book became popular there was a race among the archeologists to find the missing link. It just so happened that within a few short years they found it! [or something they thought fit]. It was also a ‘coincidence’ that some of the findings were discovered right before the grant/funding would run our for the researcher. Now, don’t you think the poor brother was tempted to fudge? Do you think that some of these findings, which later fell into the category of various bones simply being found in one location, were simply hyped for the benefit of the researchers to continue their work? You bet stuff like this happened. Some of the discoveries of skeletons that looked a little different were determined to be modern humans that simply suffered from various growth deficiencies. Scientists said this publicly! But this finding didn’t ‘fit’ all the excitement that was happening around the ‘new knowledge’ of Darwin. And the fact is that some of these early findings, with all of these obvious opportunities for fraud, stand today as the best evidence for evolution. After 150 years, these guys just happened to come up with the best evidence under these highly suspicious circumstances. But the average man, like the brothers living in Corinth, were simply dazzled by all the technical jargon. ‘Neanderthal man’ wow, that’s scientific brother! The name comes from a Christian whose name was ‘Neander’ and the famous discovery of the bones were in a field where he lived. Now that’s what I call the wisdom of man! So Paul lets the Corinthians know that his gospel isn’t some fabricated wisdom that has no basis in reality, he was preaching the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ! [chapter 15]. He does say this wisdom and truth of Jesus is ‘hidden wisdom that the princes of this world can’t grasp’. He teaches that only God himself can teach a person this true wisdom of the gospel. But when Paul says ‘hidden wisdom’ he is not talking about the Gnostic belief [early cult of Christianity] of ‘special wisdom that only an elite few have’. Paul is saying mans unregenerate nature cannot grasp the great riches of the gospel. God regenerates us and gives us freely of his Spirit so we can ‘know the things of the Spirit of God’. Make no mistake about it, in Christ there are tremendous sources of riches and wisdom. This wisdom is sound and sure, not like the wisdom of the philosophers. Their wisdom often times was based on sheer fantasy. (946)1 CORINTHIANS 3:1-10 Paul tells them that because of their immaturity he has ‘fed them milk, not meat’. He continues to correct them on their penchant for ‘men worship’. He says ‘I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase’. He even says ‘we are nothing, its Gods Spirit that counts!’ I guess poor Paul wasn’t up on the contemporary self esteem movement in the church? Paul says ‘as a wise masterbuilder I have laid the foundation and others have built upon it’ also ‘ye are Gods building, Gods garden’. I have studied this concept of the ‘wise masterbuilder’ a lot over the years. The Apostle is known for his wisdom. Jesus said ‘I have sent you [Jerusalem] wise men and prophets’. The Apostles are the ‘wise men’. If I remember I will try and paste some entries on the reality of the apostolic ministry today. That is the teaching from scripture on the ongoing apostolic ministry. Don’t mistake it for the original ‘apostles of the Lamb’. They were special eyewitnesses of the resurrection. The ongoing gift which is spoken about in the New Testament plays a different role, yet we can glean things from Paul and others on this ministry gift. Paul was primarily a ‘foundation layer’ he spent no time building ‘buildings’ or human institutions, but he knew the reality of foundation laying. His proclamation of the gospel had the inherent ability to change a region for Christ and his kingdom. He had the wisdom to build into the communities a self sustaining mentality. A few months to a few years was the amount of time Paul spent in these communities. When he left them they were for all practical purposes self sustaining communities of Christ followers. How in the world did he do this on such a shoestring budget? The reality of Jesus and his resurrection was tremendously good news. Paul started them right. In today’s church world we seem to lay all sorts of other ‘foundations’. Faith, prosperity, healing, the ‘house church’; all good things in their proper place, but the reality of Christ seems to take second place. Also, Paul did not institute the pastoral office that we have come to depend on in the modern church. He did establish Elders, but he did not leave a ‘professional minister’ as the primary functioning ‘elder’ in their midst. Why is this important to see? Because when people are given ‘crutches’ they will use them! If momma eagle never kicks baby eagle out of the nest, then baby eagle will wind up on food stamps [Don’t feel bad if you are on them, I am just using this as an example]. In essence Paul built into the first century churches a self sustaining mindset. They were the church and they had the responsibility to represent Christ in their locals. They couldn’t pawn it off on ‘the pastor’. Paul would also do some writing. These letters would circulate throughout the communities and were regularly read by a literate believer in these churches. I know it’s common to think that the early believers ‘had bibles’ but this wasn’t the case. Paul’s letters were part of the early ‘canon’ but you wouldn’t have total agreement on the canon until around the 4th century. But these letters played a major role in ‘foundation laying’. The modern believer is primarily educated thru the sermon. Sermons are okay, but without literature, the job won’t get done. Say if your doctor, or mechanic or tax man told you ‘I have never been educated in school, but every Sunday I attended a lecture at the local lecture hall. I did this for 50 years. So let’s get on with the operation.’ Ouch! But we approach Christianity with this mindset. Paul wrote letters, short booklets if you will. These letters could be looked to as a stable source of doctrine for the early church. They would eventually be canonized and would be passed down to us 2 millennia later. We are reading from one right now. [These 2 entries simply give scriptural evidence for the ongoing function of Apostles/Prophets today] (739) ACTS 1- Luke, the writer of this book, feels the need to document the ongoing work of Jesus and his revolution. He already wrote a gospel and believes this to be the beginning of the story. In essence, the reality of Jesus and his resurrection are just the start, we have much more to do and become on this journey. Most writers jump to chapter 2. We have churches and music groups called ‘Acts chapter 2’. Why does Luke seem to wait till chapter 2 before getting to ‘the good stuff’? Chapter one records the 40 days of Jesus showing himself alive after his death. Luke feels this singular truth to be important enough to simply stand alone [I do realize the early letters did not have chapter and verse divisions like today]. The real physical fact of Jesus bodily resurrection is without a doubt the foundational truth of the gospel. The outpouring of the Spirit and the whole future of the church depends on the reality of the resurrected Christ. Paul will write the Corinthians and tell them if the resurrection were not true then they are the most miserable of all people. Luke tells us Jesus gave instructions for the Apostles to wait at Jerusalem for the Spirit. Thy will be witnesses of him to all the surrounding nations after the Spirit empowers them. We also see Peter emerge as the key spokesman for the group. He quotes freely from the Psalms and reads their own history into the book. He sees the prophetic verse from David on ‘let another take his office’ as referring to Judas betrayal and death. They cast lots and choose Matthias as the one to replace Judas. Peter shows the importance of Judas replacement to come from one that was with them thru out the earthly time of Jesus. Someone who saw and witnessed Jesus after the resurrection. Scholars have confused this with the ‘ascension gift Apostles’. Some scholars have taken the truth of the early Apostles having the criteria of being actual witnesses of Jesus, and have said ‘therefore, you have no Apostles today’. Paul will teach in Ephesians that after Jesus ascension on high he gave gifts unto men ‘some Apostles, others Prophets, etc.’ The New Testament clearly speaks of Apostles as an ongoing gift in the church. Barnabas will later be called an Apostles [Acts 14:14] as well as many other references in the original Greek using the same Greek word for Apostle. But here we find Peter seeing the need to replace Judas. Other scholars think Peter might have jumped the gun. They see Paul’s apostleship as the possible person the Lord picked out as the replacement. You do find Paul referring time and again to his Apostolic authority as one ‘born out of due time’ who saw Jesus on the Damascus road. If Paul was simply an ascension gift Apostle, why would he refer time and again to his authority based on being a witness who also saw Jesus? It’s possible that Paul was in this group of ‘Apostles of the Lamb’ who had extra authority based upon their testimony of being eyewitnesses. So in chapter one we see that Jesus appeared for 40 days giving instructions to the early leadership and told them to wait at Jerusalem for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We see the incarnational purpose of God, Jesus was and continues to be the express image of God to man. He was not some ‘phantom’ like the Docetists will claim, but a very real physical resurrected Lord. Luke begins the early history of the church with this reality being important enough to stand on its own. HEBREWS commentary copyright 2007 John Chiarello www.copruschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com P.O. box 181256 C.C. Tx. 78480 Feel free to copy this booklet as well as all my other books on my blog site! KCTA RADIO [1030 on the AM Dial] every Sunday at 9:45 am. CHAPTER 1: ‘God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds’ Many years ago when I was going to a fundamental Baptist Church, they would interpret this passage in a ‘cessationist’ way. They would say because God says in the past he spoke by prophets, but now by his Son. That this means he doesn’t speak thru Prophets any more. The Prophets here are Old Testament voices. In Ephesians it says after Jesus ascended up on high he gave gifts unto men, some Apostles, some Prophets, etc. The fact that Jesus made Prophets after the ascension teaches us that there were to be a whole new class of New Testament Prophets that were different from the old. I find it strange to believe that Jesus would create a whole new class of gifts, and then take them away as soon as the Bible is complete. Why would Paul give instruction in the New Testament on how Prophets would operate [Corinthians] and then to say ‘as soon as this letter is canonized with the others, all this instruction will be useless’ it just doesn’t seem right. The reason Paul is saying in the past God used Prophets, but today his Son. Paul is showing that the Jewish Old testament was a real communication from God to man. But in this dispensation of Grace, God is speaking the realities that the Prophets were looking to. Paul is saying ‘thank God for the Old Jewish books and law, they point to something, his name is Jesus’! The Prophets [Old Testament] served a purpose; they brought us from the shadows to the present time [1st century] now lets move on into the reality. Now you must see and hear the Son in these last days. ‘Who being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person…when he by himself purged our sins SAT DOWN on the right hand of the majesty on high’ here we are at the beginning stages of themes that we will see later in the letter. The significance of Jesus ‘sitting down’ will be contrasted with the Old testament priests ‘standing up’. Paul [for the record I think Paul wrote this letter, from here on I will probably just refer to the writer as Paul] will teach that the ‘standing up’ of the Levitical Priests represented an ‘incomplete priesthood’ the reason Jesus sat down was because there would be no more sacrifice, and no more priesthood made up of many priests who would die year after year. This doesn’t mean there would be no more New Testament priests as believers, but that there would be no more Old Testament system. Paul will find spiritual truths like this all thru out the Old Testament. Some theologians feel that Paul is a little too loose with these free comparisons that he seems to ‘pull out of the hat’, for the believer who holds to the canon of scripture, it is the Word of God. ‘Being made so much better than the angels…but unto the Son he saith “thy throne O God is forever and ever, a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy Kingdom”. Here Paul introduces another theme that will be seen thru out this letter. The superiority of Jesus over angels. Why is this important? Most believers know that Jesus is greater than angels, don’t they? Here we see why context is important to understand this letter. In Jewish tradition it is believed that the law was given to Moses by God thru the mediation of angels. Some say ‘well, we don’t use Jewish tradition, we use scripture’. First, Paul used anything he could to win the argument. Second, if we believe Hebrews is an inspired book, then when we read later on that the law given thru angels received a recompense if broken, then right here you have scripture [Hebrews] testifying that God did use angels to ‘transmit’ the law to some degree. Now, why is it important for gentiles to see this? Well it really isn’t! But it is vital for a first century Jew to see it. If Paul can show that Jesus is greater than the angels, then he is beginning to make the argument that the New Covenant is greater than the Old. Here is the context. Moses law is highly revered in the first century Jewish community, so here Paul says ‘how much better is the law/word given to us from Gods Son’. Since Jesus is much better than the angels, therefore pay closer attention to the words spoken thru Gods Son, he is greater than the angels! ‘But to which of the angels said he “sit at my right hand until I make thy enemies thy footstool” we end chapter one with the theme of Jesus being better than the angels, yet in chapter 2 something funny happens, Paul will make the argument of Jesus being “a little lower than the angels” lets see what this means. (947) 1ST CORINTHIANS 3:11-23 Paul teaches that once the foundation of Jesus is laid, that no other foundation can come in and replace it. Remember, Paul is speaking about a spiritual foundation. He is not building ‘a literal building’! I know we know this, but for some reason modern church planters can’t seem to break the mindset of having a building ‘to do church’. Now we begin to get into some doctrine. I believe Paul begins a New Testament doctrine here that could be called ‘the sin unto natural death’ or the judgment of a believer when he falls into open sin and rebellion and refuses to repent. Now, I have looked at this doctrine from different views over the years. I try not to allow my own leaning towards reformed theology to effect me. But I have come down on the side of ‘eternal security’ in viewing these verses. Paul teaches that even though the foundation of Jesus is laid, it’s still possible to build a life of worthless things upon it. He says ‘if any man defiles Gods temple, him will God destroy’. This same language will be used in chapter 5 ‘deliver the sinning brother to satan for the destruction of the flesh so the spirit may be saved’. Paul also uses the term again here in chapter 3 ‘yet he will be saved as by fire’. Also in chapter 11 ‘for this cause many sleep [physical death] and are sick among you’ he uses this as a judgment that came upon them for their abuse of the Lords table. So reading this in context it sure seems that Paul is saying ‘if you, as a believer, allow yourself to fall into sin in such a way that you are doing permanent harm to the temple [which he describes as their bodies, both individually and corporately] then God will destroy you’. This seems to fit all these other verses. The apostle John also speaks on the ‘sin unto death’ [which I see as physical death] in his letter. He says ‘if any one sees his brother sin a sin unto death, I do not say you should pray for them’. Now, the Arminian brothers [those who do not believe in eternal security] obviously see these a different way. They would apply some of these verses as meaning the loss of salvation. Though I personally do not see it this way, yet they have some of their own scriptures to back up their belief. They are certainly not out of line with historic Christian belief to hold to this view. So Paul introduces [in my mind] the concept of the possibility of the rebellious believer falling into such a sin that he can ‘be destroyed’ [lose his life] while at the same time saying ‘yet his spirit will be saved’. This ‘in house’ instruction [in house meaning Paul’s dealing with them as believers who fall into sin] should not taint the overriding view of Paul in his entire corpus of teaching. His main teaching on ‘those who live in constant sin’ is they will not inherit the kingdom of God. John also teaches this doctrine in his epistle. So we begin to see the ‘minefield’ we can get into as we tread thru the New Testament. It will be important to make these distinctions with much grace as we continue our journey thru the New Testament. Many well meaning believers view the ‘other camps’ as heretics over these issues. I see it more as a matter of believers being influenced to see these verses from a sincere standpoint of their upbringing. If you were raised Baptist, you more than likely view them from a Calvinistic lens. If you were raised Pentecostal [or Methodist], from an Arminian lens. Both good camps, with their own ‘slant’ affecting their view. I don’t think we should call each other heretics over stuff like this. (949) 1st CORINTHIANS 4: 1-7 Paul says we are ‘stewards of Gods mysteries’. This hidden knowledge of the gospel that can only be revealed by divine revelation has been committed to us. These great treasures of God’s wisdom are not products of our own intellect, therefore there is no reason to glory in men! Paul says stuff like this in Romans 4 ‘if it is by grace that Abraham became righteous, then there are no grounds for boasting.’ Now, because of this reason we ‘ought not to think of each other in an exalted way’. All men [apostles, prophets, teachers] that you have received truth from are simply ‘carriers of a gift freely given’. When you check out a book from the library and it contains great truth, do you exalt the librarian for it? Of course not, she is just a ‘steward of the book’. So Paul says this about him and Apollos and all other human teachers. Paul also teaches that we all will be judged according to the motives and intents of our hearts. He could care less about the private judgments that others made of him, he realized that all men would give an account some day. Therefore why waste time trying to impress people, it is about the most useless thing a person can do. Why? Because all men are like grass, we are here today and gone tomorrow. How much effort would you make in trying to impress your lawn? It’s all wasted time. Paul is not degrading human dignity, he is battling with the mindset of men worship that the church was falling into. Jesus himself said he would not commit himself to man because he knew what was in man [John’s gospel]. What’s in man? Do you ‘know yourself’? Have you ever tried to impress people? Did you later realize what a useless waste of energy this endeavor was? Well all men are like you [and me!] so why waste your time doing something that has no lasting value. Paul said it concerned him very little, he knew God would some day see all of our motives. He focused on stuff that mattered for eternity. (950) 1ST CORINTHIANS 4: 8-20 Paul tells them he’s glad they have an abundance of material things, though he as an apostle is lacking. He’s happy about their sterling reputation [among the elite, though a bad reputation as believers- see chapter 5!] though he is mocked and treated badly. He even says ‘till this hour I labor, working with my own hands trying to make ends meet’. I don’t want to harp on this too much, but I am trying to show you one of the themes that we overlook in today’s pastoral ministry mindset. When we taught the book of Acts [chapter 20] I showed you how Paul purposely worked to leave an example TO THE ELDERS at Ephesus. He called them over to Mellitus and gave them these instructions as he was about to depart. Here we see Paul telling the Corinthians, in a letter [he is not with them at this time] that he is STILL working with his own hands. We often think Paul only worked while at Corinth, in order to not take offerings from them. But a careful reading of the New Testament will show you that Paul made a habit of working all thru out his life. He never became ‘a fulltime apostle’ who was supported thru his apostolic gift. Now we also see Paul send Timothy to them as a ‘carrier’ of doctrine and order. Paul wrote 3 pastoral [I prefer to call them apostolic] epistles. Titus and 1st and 2nd Timothy. These brothers were Paul's apostolic co-workers. They deposited the faith [basic Christian truth] into the communities they were overseeing. Paul knew he could trust them to ‘set things in order’ [an apostolic characteristic]. Some teach that in today’s ‘church world’ you can’t ‘have a church’ without the interplay of an apostle. That basically you need an apostle [in person] to interact with your community to keep things in order. Now, I think apostolic men are needed and helpful, but we also need to realize that we live in a day of mass communication like never before. The web, telecommunications. All sorts of stuff that Paul didn’t have. So let’s not be too dogmatic on stuff like this. I am sure Paul would have used these things if he had them. The basic thrust of Paul having a Timothy who could be sent to a community was for the purpose of seeing and impacting them in a ‘real time’ way. Paul was hearing rumors about their conduct, he is writing these letters to them. But he really needs to have ‘boots on the ground’, he needs to know firsthand what’s going on. Today this real time knowledge could be gained with a simple phone call, or e-mail. Paul also says Timothy will bring them into remembrance of his ways/teachings that Paul teaches ‘every where in every church’. Paul was depositing a consistent message of ‘faith and rule’ with all the churches he was planting. This of course didn’t mean the gentile churches had no individual expression of church life, but it did mean there were some consistent ‘rituals’ they were to follow. Things like we read in Acts ‘continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and breaking of bread and prayers’ simple instructions on living as a community of people. The historic church has a tendency to use these verses to say ‘Paul taught high church liturgy’ well, not really. The ‘radical house church brothers’ [they describe themselves this way!] tend to teach that any consistent rule, or way ‘to act’ violates the ‘no leader rule’ [no pastor] and prohibits the free expression of the ecclesia. Well, this sounds noble, but Paul told the Corinthians ‘Timothy will show you my ways that I teach in all the churches’. It’s not wrong to have some basic order and instructions on ‘how to act, function as the New Testament ecclesia’. (952)1ST CORINTHIANS 5:1-7 Okay, now we get into some tough stuff. Paul tells them that he has heard about a situation where one of the brothers is sleeping with his step-mom [fathers wife, though probably not his mother]. And the rebuke is they are not repenting over it, but instead are kind of proud of the whole thing! Paul says to ‘deliver him to satan for the destruction of the flesh so the spirit may be saved’. Now I already showed you the way I view this verse. I tried to follow the other times where Paul speaks this way in this letter and when using this type of language I see him speaking of physical death [chapter 11- sleep-death as judgment to a believer who sins]. I often ‘day dream’ how bout you? I’m not sure if it’s the lord at times trying to tell me stuff. One of my noble fantasies is I can picture myself as the sole Christian preacher who has survived some nuclear holocaust and I am responsible to train the survivors. In this scenario [I am kinda ad libbing here, I don’t day dream this much!] I have both Catholic and Protestant believers. Although I am tempted to raise this new generation of people as Protestants, I instead teach the Catholics true Catholic doctrine [though I don't fully agree with it all] and I teach the Protestants their stuff. Now, I think this little day dream in some way speaks to what I need to do at times on this blog. I need to honestly tell both sides! In this verse ‘commit to satan for the destruction of the flesh’ some do see it a little differently. You can read ‘flesh’ as meaning ‘fleshly nature’. Paul does use the word this way at times. You can’t really make the distinction by going to the Greek. Instead you have to simply look at the context. So this view would be saying ‘deliver this believer to the enemy, don’t allow him to remain ‘in the camp’ and continue to receive the benefits of the believing community. As you ostracize him he will feel the effect of not being with you, he will come to his senses and leave his sin’ [which in this scenario is ‘his fleshly nature’] so the ‘destruction of the flesh’ in this interpretation would fit in well with Arminians. Now, do I believe it this way? No, but I sure feel noble, sort of like the Protestant preacher in my ‘day dream’. [p.s. if you tell anybody about this day dream, I will deny it!] (953)Yesterday I managed to catch a few TV shows that were good. National geographic did a special called ‘the first Christians’. It was excellent. They covered more historic truth in one hour than you would get from years of sermons. They basically taught the New Testament word for ‘church’ [Ecclesia] and showed how because the early Christians did not believe the ‘church’ was a building, that therefore they spread rapidly without lots of money. They then covered the historic development of the ‘church building’ and the effect this had on them. They also got into the ‘end times’ scenarios that are played out over and over again by today’s prophecy teachers. They interviewed true theologians who put Johns Revelation in historical context. Just an excellent job overall. I also caught the show ‘Journey Home’ on E.W.T.N. [the Catholic channel]. I do like the show, it often gives good historical stuff. Last night they were a little ‘too Catholic’ [I know, what should I expect]. They had a good brother on who left ‘non-denominational Christianity’ and became Catholic. Now, most of these brothers are very intelligent believers who make this choice out of sincerity. They usually study the early church fathers and realize the ‘Catholic tone’ of these early believers. I simply felt the brother who spoke last night was a little too critical of his former church experience [Willow Creek]. I then caught Scott Hahn [an excellent Catholic scholar and apologist], he always has stuff that interests me. He brought up an argument I have heard before on how the early church saw the ‘real presence of Christ’ as being in the Eucharist. Others have made this argument before from the Catholic perspective of Jesus being with us, as opposed to the detractors arguments that he misled the early followers to think that he would soon return and set up a literal earthly kingdom. I have heard and do understand this reasoning. In essence it defends Jesus and his followers by saying ‘Jesus didn’t let down the early church by not returning and ‘being with them’ he was with them all along thru the Eucharist’ good intentions. I would prefer to argue the same point thru the fulfilling of the Fathers promise and the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. Jesus says in John’s gospel ‘I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you’ it is understood by most theologians [Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant] that Jesus is speaking of the Holy Spirit. Jesus actually refers to the Spirit as ‘One just like unto myself’. The new testament very Cleary speaks of the Holy Spirit as Gods presence tabernacling among us in a real way. So in my thinking I would prefer to argue the real presence of Christ as being among the early believers as fulfilled thru the Comforter. Overall it was a good night of viewing some good teachers. I also couldn't help but notice how I have been skipping over the ‘more popular’ preaching shows of the day. I did click on one of the prophecy guys, he was defending ‘the rapture’ and I couldn’t help but notice the difference between the good theological discussions from the earlier shows, and the ‘silliness’ of what this brother was teaching. I don’t want to demean you if you hold to the rapture theory, it was just such an obvious ‘step down’ from the level of theologian to the level of popular prophecy preaching. In our current study of Corinthians we just went thru the verse ‘though you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you have only one father’ [Paul referring to himself]. I couldn’t help but get this sense of the modern seen. You could flip thru all the religious broadcasting of our day and get every possible conceivable viewpoint on some subject, ten thousand of them! But there is a consistent voice of truth and wisdom that comes to us from both scripture and church history/tradition. I think we would be better off sticking with ‘the father[s]’. (954)NOW IT’S A PARALLEL/BUBBLE UNIVERSE! I watched the first TV special I ever saw on the multi-verse theory. I think it’s the first one of its kind by the history channel. It was very eye opening. It seems as if its defenders have been told ‘your initial argument is nonsensical’ and they have made some adjustments. As you read down thru the Evolution section you will see that one of the arguments against a multi-verse is that it is a ‘non physical’ argument. It is metaphysical. This meaning that you could never truly prove the existence of another universe thru the science of Physics. Why? Because the original definition of ‘the universe’ was every thing that exists in the time/space continuum. If by definition, all that can be seen or detected is ‘part of our universe’ then how in the world can you detect something outside of it? [they have some ideas on this, but its pure speculation as of right now] Once you detect it, it, by definition is in our universe! Well the brothers now realize that they fell into this obvious contradiction, so they seem to be moving the goal posts a little. In the special I just saw, they now seem to be saying that our universe is simply one ‘bubble of universes’ that’s floating around in space [before, space and the universe were synonymous!] so they seem to be simply shrinking down the definition of universe and making it mean ‘our closed existing time space continuum, which is simply one of many’ Ahh, you guys are cheating with his one! But hey, how many viewers realized this? That’s the problem with these theories, they come up with them for the purpose of having another explanation for existence, but they then get into more trouble trying to keep their theory alive. Remember, the reason this theory started in the first place was to come up with some type of explanation, apart from God, to explain the fine tuning of the Cosmos [read my sections on fine tuning under Evolution]. The unbelievable fine measurements that have been found to be exactly right to support life have no other real explanation apart from a creator. The multi-verse theory simply says ‘well, if you have millions and billions of unseen universes [pure speculation!] then the odds on one of them getting it right just went up’. So this theory was originally floated for this reason. Now, even if this theory were ever proved [according to the new definition of the universe!] it would simply mean that instead of trying to figure out how ‘our universe got here’ [the original question] now we have to figure out how they all got here! It really proves nothing. But I thought it interesting to see how these giants of Academia now realize that they were violating the basic laws of logic by espousing the theory in its original form! [In essence, all these so called floating, bubble like universes would have originally fallen under the heading of ‘the universe’. You wouldn’t have seen them as a bunch of separate universes. But they had to change the definition in order to keep their argument in the boundaries of logic and common sense]. They also borrowed from Einstein’s theory on worm holes. But Einstein surmised that worm holes might be these tunnels in space/time that one could travel thru and exit at another dimension, a different location of the universe. He did not use this idea as traveling from one ‘bubble universe’ into another, like the proponents of the multi-verse were doing. The show then got too silly to even give it a speck of serious thought. They then theorized that there are possible duplicates of us, and duplicates of other sports teams and presidents and all types of stuff. They thought it possible for the Giants to have won the super bowl in one universe, though losing it in ours [and you call this science!] they even said that this theory has moral implications. How did they come up with this? One of them explained that you could be ‘good’ in one universe, but if you realize that this holy altar image of yourself is doing good somewhere else, then this might effect your choice of being righteous in ‘this universe’ WOW! As we continue our study thru the book of Corinthians, keep in mind Paul’s teaching on the foolishness of men’s wisdom, I think we just saw a good example of it. There is this stature that we give in our modern day to any ‘Tom, Dick or Harry’ that comes down the pike with any nonsensical idea. We see them as a special class, the Academics can’t be wrong! After all it sounds intellectual. A few centuries before Christ you had the great philosopher ‘Philo- Betto’ [O wait, that was Clint Eastwood's character in ‘every which way but lose!’] I mean Plato. Truly Plato and Aristotle and Socrates have had tremendous influence on Western thought. You would be hard pressed to find other later philosophers who have had the same influence [maybe Immanuel Kant]. Plato built this great school of learning in ancient Greece. He bought the land from a man by the name of ‘Academe’. Eventually we would call this pursuit of knowledge ‘the Academic world’ or Academia. Hey, don’t be intimidated by these guys. (955)1st CORINTHIANS 5:6-8 Okay, lets get back to Corinthians. ‘Your glorying is not good, get rid of the old leaven. Don’t you know that a little yeast can affect the whole lump? Get rid of it, you are all unleavened, Christ is our new Passover Lamb who has been sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth’ [my own paraphrasing]. A few things. I want you to see something here, over the years I have read and studied lots of great theologians. It is common for these brothers to go back to the reality of the early church fathers belief in the ‘Real Presence’ of Christ in the Eucharist [Lords supper]. It is also becoming less common [in theological circles!] to defend the symbolic view of the Lords Supper. I believe Paul is presenting the idea of all believers spiritually sitting at the ‘table of life’ on a daily basis and receiving from Christ’s new life in a spiritual/symbolic way. He clearly says ‘let us keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth’ [clearly symbolic!] Peter writes of the new sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. Jesus speaks in an interesting way about this in John chapter 6. The Jews ask him ‘show us a sign, Moses gave us bread to eat from heaven. If you’re from God then prove it like Moses’. I find it interesting that in the key chapter of Jesus being the bread that comes down from heaven, the conversation turns to Moses. The beginning of the chapter does say the Passover feast was getting close, but the imagery is Moses and Manna. Moses represented the Old system of law and works, John’s gospel tells us that ‘the law came from Moses, but grace and truth from Jesus’. Jesus contrasts himself with Moses. He says ‘I am the real bread that has come down from heaven, if men eat my flesh and drink my blood they will live’. Now we must understand the tremendous offence this statement caused. The Jewish people had Levitical laws [commands in their law] that forbid the drinking of any type of blood, never mind the blood of a person! But yet Jesus would speak this way to them. In the conversation the hearers acknowledge the difficulty of the saying, Jesus will say ‘the flesh profits nothing, it is the Spirit that gives you life. The words I am speaking to you are Spirit and life’. At the last supper [which was the symbolic end of the Passover and the beginning of a new celebratory meal centered on the final sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God] Jesus seems to be saying ‘from now on, as long as you do this, you are showing my death until I come again’ [we get this from Paul later on in Corinthians]. As you put all of this imagery together, you get the sense of the New Covenant being one of an ongoing continual New Covenant meal from which all believers daily eat from and ‘keep the feast with the new leaven of truth and sincerity, not the old leaven of sin and wickedness’. You clearly see a symbolic element in this language. Now, I do not discount the importance of the actual ordinance of the Lords Table. I recently defended the Catholic idea to an ex Catholic who is now Protestant. They said ‘how can people believe something so silly’ I had to say that many serious intellectual believers accept the Real Presence doctrine by faith in the literal reading of Jesus words. Luther himself believed it, he made no bones about it when he slammed his fist on the table in his dispute with Zwingli and said ‘this IS MY BODY!’ [I think he slammed his fist, he might have carved it in the table?] Standing for the literal interpretation of the sacrament. John Wesley, the founder of the great Methodist movement, wrote many hymns speaking of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. So make no mistake about it, many good believers hold to the literal belief. I just wanted you to see that it is also in keeping with the scripture to see the entire Christian walk as one huge ongoing ‘feast’ that is kept with spiritual sacrifices and symbolic language. Jesus is the bead that came down from heaven, those who would stay with ‘Moses bread’ [law] would die, those who would eat from this new table would live forever. (957)1ST CORINTHIANS 5:9-13 Now Paul clarifies what he meant when he said ‘don’t associate with those who sin sexually’. He wants to be clear that his instructions on ‘not being with sinners’ is not misunderstood. After all we are called salt and light, Jesus himself was accused of spending too much time with the lost. So Paul says ‘what I meant was don’t keep ongoing fellowship with a brother who is practicing unrepentant sin’. He also says ‘if you thought I meant all sinners in general, then heck you wouldn’t be able to live in society this way’. Some believers have taken a stand on ‘separation from the world’ in such a way that they have no unbelieving friends. Others seem to view the unbeliever as the enemy. Sort of like we are in this culture war and the enemy is YOU! I can’t even watch the O’Reilly factor [Fox news] too long, he says he’s fighting this culture war and then in the ads for upcoming shows he shows the raciest pictures on any news show. What’s up with that? I feel we need to make the distinction between separating from a sinning brother [for his own good] and having friendships with unbelievers. People you can influence down the road. Paul also says if we judge our own [by shunning them for their own good] that this is a type of ‘present chastening’ that believers do experience. But those who are ‘outside the camp’ [unbelievers] are left to be judged by God. We see this same theme in chapter 11 ‘when we are judged we are disciplined by the Lord so we will not be condemned with the world’ [at the final judgment]. I believe that this idea is one of the best arguments for eternal security [once saved, always saved. Though I don’t like this language, you get the hint]. The concept of believers being presently dealt with for sin, even to the possible point of physical death, seems to indicate that they will not face a future judgment like the lost [eternal damnation]. When we recently did one of our Old Testament studies, I overlooked a verse that said to King David ‘I will raise up one of your sons [Solomon/Jesus- dual Messianic prophecy] and he will build this new temple/people. The way I will deal with the people under this new covenant is, if they commit sins, I will chasten them, but I will not utterly take my mercy from them’ [my paraphrasing- it is said to the actual son, Solomon/Jesus, but in the New Covenant revelation of the church actually being part of the Body of Christ, this is how you could apply it]. You can also read this idea in a few other places. I think Jeremiah uses it ‘I will give them a new heart and I will put my Spirit in them’ and he also speaks about not being totally rejected if they commit sin under this new covenant. So the point is, if there is a mechanism under this new covenant whereby sin is dealt with in the present time, and if this is compared to the other choice which is ‘judgment at a later time’. This would seem to indicate a type of ‘in house discipline’ that says ‘if you openly sin now, God will judge you now. He does this for your own good, so you won’t face the judgment of the unbeliever at the end’. So the fact that some were sinning, even pretty badly! Did not mean that they were expelled completely from the benefits of the covenant. As a matter of fact, temporal excommunication itself was one of the benefits! I don't want to be too dogmatic on this, I just want you to see a repeated theme in scripture that says God will deal with his kids in the here and now [no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous- Hebrews] but this in itself is a blessing that is designed to ‘produce the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby’ Hebrews. (958)1ST CORINTHIANS 6: 1-7 Paul rebukes them for taking each other to court. He tells them ‘don’t you have any wise people among you who could handle this? Why go before unbelievers!’ he also tells them ‘plus, why even fight for your rights, if you think you have been wronged in some way by your brother, then simply see it as part of the cost of carrying your cross’. Paul contradicts the prevalent mindset in much of Christianity today. He doesn’t teach ‘get what’s yours, know your rights!’ he teaches the ethos of self denial, of living with the expectation of giving up your rights and dreams. Of taking loss, if it glorifies the Father. Now we get into some ‘stuff’. Paul appeals to them by saying ‘don’t you realize that we shall judge angels some day, we shall judge the world’. A few years back there was a debate going on in theological circles. Some theologians popularized a new way to look at God’s sovereignty. This new system was called ‘Open Theism’. Scholars like Clark Pinnock and others held out the possibility that God doesn’t foreordain all future events, they actually went further and said ‘he doesn’t know all future events’. Well of course this sparked off a firestorm among the Calvinists. Does scripture teach that God is sovereign and does know all that will happen? To be honest about it, yes. But the idea of open theism was saying ‘because God has chosen to give man free will, he, by his own design, has chosen to limit his knowledge in the area of knowing all of mans future choices’. In essence that God purposely ‘does not know’ the future outcomes of decisions that have not been made by humans. If free will is real [of course the Calvinists say no] then God must limit himself to knowledge in these areas. I personally do not believe this, but I think I needed to share it to explain this section of scripture. Paul does tell them they will judge the world and angels. In second Peter 2, the apostle says the fallen angels are being held for a future day of judgment. In Matthew [19-?] Jesus says those who follow him will play a part in a future ruling over human government. These scriptures do indicate that believers will play a role in future judgment scenarios. So if we ‘judge angels and the world’ we should be able to arbitrate between ourselves! Now, in the world of theology you have sincere questions on ‘is it fair for God to judge people who have never heard the gospel’ or ‘if God is truly sovereign in all things, even in predestinating certain people to salvation, then this is unfair’. Many have turned to universalism, or a belief in ‘no hell’ in order to quell these questions. I want to simply float a scenario to you. Jesus says ‘whosoever sins you remit [forgive] they are forgiven. Those you retain [not forgive] will be retained’ while there are differing views on these verses, I want you to see how these scriptures, in keeping with all that I just showed you, might leave us room for another possible way out of all the so called questions on Gods ‘fairness’. Say if at the judgment, we are all gathered [Calvinists, Arminians, Catholics,…] and say if we are all waiting to see who’s right ‘I’ll show that Arminian…I’ll show that Catholic…’ and we are at the day where the future destinies of millions are at stake. What will God do? It’s possible that much of the final decision will rest in the hands of the church. I know it sounds heretical, but keep in mind all the verses I just quoted to you. Say if all of our pompous pontificating [wow!] amongst varying theories of the atonement and universalism and all the other stuff. Say if Jesus turns to us and says ‘You are now going to make the most important judgment of your lives, you shall judge the world and angels’ and all of a sudden all of our scrutiny of God’s fairness turns on us. We see in the crowd of masses, faces of people who we hate. People who have been demonized by history [Darwin, Hitler]. Those we always wondered about [eastern religions] and now much of their final destiny rides on us. Even the possibility of fallen angels being forgiven! [Hey, maybe Origen was right?] The whole point of this scenario is to simply say we might have been asking the wrong questions all along. Now for sure, no one gets in without Jesus and his blood! But there are also a few other verses [Peter] that seem to indicate a second hearing [or first!] of the gospel before the final day. The point being how willing are you to really carry out something like this? Are you really ready for the great responsibility of having someone’s destiny depend on how forgiving you are? I really don’t believe 100 % in this scenario I just floated. But Jesus does put us in positions of responsibility all thru out our lives. He does say ‘whoever’s sins we don’t forgive, these sins will be held against them by your own choice’ we keep people in ‘chains of bondage’ today! Never mind the future. God has committed to us great responsibility as believers, if we are still fighting each other over insignificant things [taking our brothers to court, if you will] then we are truly not ready to ‘Judge the world’. (959)1ST CORINTHIANS 6: 8-20 Paul paints a ‘canvas’ of those who will not inherit the Kingdom. The list not only includes the big ones, but also the ‘average Joe’. Homosexuals, covetous, straight people who commit sexual sin; just the whole gambit. I do want to stress that Paul is not politically correct, he does categorize homosexuality as sin. He is not simply saying ‘non monogamous homosexuality’ but all types. I know there is an honest effort being made to try as much as possible to be more inclusive of other people’s views and lifestyles. I am for this approach as much as possible, but we also need to be honest about sin, all sin. Now covetous is that strong desire to amass wealth, it is the daily longing and confessing and believing for more material abundance. Yes folks, it’s what many of us have been duped into thru wrong teaching. I had a homeless friend who used to tell me how his dad, who was retired, used to wake up every day and simply consume his day with the stock market and how his retirement was going, he didn’t realize that he made the funding of his retirement [an okay goal] the main thought pattern of his life. I also just saw a story similar to this on some business channel. We need to be ‘ware’ of covetousness. Now Paul makes special mention of the destructive nature of sexual sin, he says ‘it destroys you’. I have been reading Proverbs the last month or so and there are many warnings about sexual sin. It says ‘he that does this destroys his own soul’. A few years back I watched [or read?] a local story of a professor who came down with a disease called Dementia. As they shared his story they described the progressive nature of him slowly losing his mind, and how his family eventually brought him back home [he was not married, his parents took him in] as they shared the sad story, they kinda tactfully said ‘one of the possible signs of this disease is obsessive compulsive sexual behavior’. They basically were saying part of this mans history included obsessive sexual sin. I wonder if the dementia in some way is a result of the behavior, as opposed to a symptom. There was also a study done years ago that showed the difference in the brain scans of Homosexuals and Heterosexuals, they seemed to have found some real physical brain distinctions. But once again, is it possible that sexually engaging in certain sinful behaviors is actually ‘destroying the soul’, or causing a change in the brain? Paul singled out this sin [not just Homosexual behavior, but all sexual sin!] as causing actual damage to a person’s physical make up in a way that was more damaging than other sins. I think we all need to heed his warning. [note- sexual sin is a common struggle in life. Many believers do struggle and have fallen into this sin. Paul actually is addressing these sins because of the prevalence of the problem. I don’t want to condemn any one who reads this site and struggles this way, Paul is offering hope and forgiveness thru out this letter. He seems to be extra harsh with the Corinthians because of their lax attitude towards this sin]. (961)1ST CORINTHIANS 7:1-15 Paul addresses divorce. It is interesting that Jesus himself actually raised the bar from the Old Covenant practice to the New. In most other areas he emphasized grace as opposed to law ‘the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath’ but in this area Jesus said ‘Moses made an exception under the law for divorce, but from the beginning this was not Gods plan’ and Jesus restricted divorce to the cause of adultery [fornication- actually the word for pornography] only. Here Paul gives some direction. First, you shouldn’t divorce. You also shouldn’t be married to an unbeliever. Well, what should happen to those who were unbelievers when they married, but now one is a believer? Paul says if the unbeliever is ‘pleased’ to stay in the union, then that’s fine. Well what does ‘pleased’ mean? If the unbeliever is physically abusing his spouse, then that doesn’t seem ‘pleasing’ to me. Paul will say if the unbeliever departs, let them go. The believer should not feel condemned by this. He/she had no control in this case. But if there is a divorce, let the one who left remain unmarried. So what happens if you were forced into it, can you re marry? Paul does not specifically say. He does say to the one who left the marriage, they should not remarry. Divorce is a tricky issue. When attending the fundamental Baptist church they taught that if one were divorced they could never be ‘a Pastor’ [even though no one was ‘a pastor’ in this way in the first century church!]. Many teach that Paul’s instructions on Bishops/Elders said a divorced person should not be an overseer. Paul actually said ‘they should be the husband of one wife’. This most certainly could simply be saying they shouldn’t be in a plural marriage. This was common in the first century, so you could take it this way. Overall I find it strange that someone could have been a murderer [Paul] or any other type of sinner, but the divorcee' seems to be the only sinner that is excluded. The other problem is how much of ‘a believer’ were you at the time of your divorce. There have been well known preachers who initiated the divorce from their wives, they remarried and later wanted this to be treated as any other sin, just forgive and forget. The problem is if you were wise enough in the lord to have known better, then true repentance would entail making things right. Whether that’s reconciliation or simply remaining single, but it sure seems like these types of brothers who went into the whole remarriage thing with their eyes wide open, they should be held to a higher standard. Overall, we should not be in bondage to things that were out of our control. Those who were victimized and the partner left you, you should not be condemned for something that was out of your control. Believers who initiate the divorce from someone who was willing to stay in the marriage, they should not remarry. There have been too many cases where believers divorce other believers, without biblical grounds, and then remarry someone from the church. These situations are not permitted. If the believing spouse was simply ‘difficult to live with’ then that doesn’t cut it. In situations where there was actual physical abuse, well I don't believe the Lord wants you to stay in the house under these circumstances. But the only biblical excuse for divorce, according to Jesus, is adultery. In all of these gray areas, wisdom must be applied. The high profile ministers who have initiated their divorces and remarried, without the proper biblical grounds, should not be simply ‘forgiven’ and permitted to continue in their public role in ministry. True forgiveness and restoration would entail some sort of repentance and a public change in the situation. Like Paul says ‘to the rest speak I, not the Lord’. I am giving you my opinion on some of this stuff, but I too think I have the Spirit of Christ. (962)1ST CORINTHIANS 7:16-24 ‘Were you circumcised when you were called into the Christian life? Then don’t become uncircumcised’ [that would be quite a feat!] ‘Were you uncircumcised when called? Don’t get circumcised’. What’s Paul saying? Basically he is keeping the decrees that were made at the Jerusalem council [Acts 15]. He is stressing the importance of Christ’s spiritual kingdom. To the Jew, he is not saying ‘keep trying to become justified by the law and sacrifices’ but he is saying ‘I am not trying to wipe out your culture and heritage, I am trying to bring you into the fullness of what the Prophets have foretold’. This is Paul’s ongoing defense in the book of Acts ‘I stand condemned because I believe that what the prophets said would happen, did!’. Paul says the thing that matters is ‘the doing of Gods commandments’. When we studied Romans I showed how Paul did say ‘the hearers of the law are not justified, but the doers shall be’. Here again Paul stresses the importance of the Christian life being one of true conversion. Those who believe are changed and become doers of Gods law by nature. The mechanism of conversion is Faith, the outworking of that conversion is obedience. So even though Paul is not putting the law on the gentile converts, yet he does teach that they will by nature keep the law [Romans again]. Now he says ‘were you a slave when called? Seek not to become free. Were you free? Don’t become a slave’ and ‘be not the servants/slaves of men’. We actually have hit on this a few times in recent months. Once again Paul says ‘don’t see this new faith as an opportunity to mount a civil disobedience campaign’ but at the same time he makes it clear ‘don’t put yourself under servitude either!’ The New Testament does not justify the institution of slavery or racism! The basic ethos of this new kingdom is freedom from bondage, it was only a matter of time before this new movement would shake the foundations of society and uproot this evil. Make no mistake about it, the anti-slavery movement was instigated by the people of God [William Wilberforce, Charles Finney and many others]. (963)1ST CORINTHIANS 7: 25-40 let’s be a little unconventional today. This passage deals with Paul’s counsel on celibacy and marriage. The historic church has had a bad rap on this issue. It is common today to say the church devalued marriage [and sex] and therefore we should exalt it. Sometimes this attempt at trying to correct the perceived imbalance puts a stumbling block in the way of those who are truly called to live the single life. Though marriage is an honorable thing, a true gift from God, yet living the celibate life can also be considered a very noble thing. It is rare in contemporary evangelicalism to leave this option open. Paul does say this option is not only available, but a noteworthy calling! He also makes it clear that only those who are called to this single lifestyle should attempt it. The church should not force celibacy on people. Now, do our catholic brothers force it upon the Priests? In a way, yes. But don’t forget that no one is ‘forced’ into the priesthood. Some feel like the scandals of catholic priests who abused children can be blamed on forced celibacy. The problem with this idea is many protestant ministers have also fallen sexually, and they were not celibate! The point being we need to be careful when we brand any Christian denomination with an accusation. Now, Paul also makes an interesting statement that we need to look at. He says ‘for the present distress I give these guidelines’. Is it possible that Paul's seeming harshness on marriage was due to the fact of some type of distress that he saw coming? Possibly the Neronic persecutions? If so, Paul could be saying ‘because of the upcoming severe persecution I recommend everyone just laying low for the time, if married, seek not to be single and vice a versa’. This is possible, we need to keep this in mind when reading this section of scripture. But most of all I think the modern evangelical church needs to retool her message in this area. Marriage and sex are good, God ordained these things in their proper place. But living single and celibate is also considered a very noble calling, we do not normally reflect this balance in the present atmosphere. Also as an aside, a few years back it was common to teach ‘the world/public schools have taken sex and taught it to our kids. They have usurped the job of the family/church’ while there is some truth to this, the problem was some well known TV evangelists began to discuss sex in the Sunday morning setting that was improper in a way [If you local Pastors who read this have done this, be assured I am not talking about you!]. I remember watching a national minister speak openly, with grandma’s and children in the service, and say ‘now speaking about sexual climax’ Yikes!! Just because the family/church dropped the ball on these issues, this doesn’t mean there are no barriers at all while dealing with these issues. Those who do this type of stuff seem to be saying ‘sex is not a dirty thing, therefore we need to bring it out into the open’ while this is true to a degree, there are also age appropriate subjects that should be taught in a private setting. If the church feels the need to delve into these subjects, we need to be careful that we are not crossing boundaries when doing it. (964) MORE PROOF FOR GOD- Okay, what’s up with ‘dark matter’? In the 20th century the amazing breakthroughs in science showed us that what we thought was a limited universe, was actually a growing universe that was expanding at a faster rate every day. The further out you got, the faster it was expanding. This discovery [Hubble] worked in harmony with Einstein’s theories. This discovery also created a problem. If the universe is so much more vast than previously thought to be, then the amount of known matter needed in the universe in order to maintain the proper gravitational force was not there. Basically you need so much matter to exist in order for this newly discovered expanding universe to hold together and function right. The problem is that the matter is not there![some say it is still not detected]. So the theory of ‘dark matter’ [unseen, undetected matter] has been floated. This invisible matter is supposedly the single greatest matter in existence, though we have no proof that even one tiny particle exists! Ahh, when stuff like this happens, we need to pay close attention. Why? Well some who defend the young earth theory of creation use this to back up their claim of a young universe. It’s kinda technical stuff, but this ‘dark matter’ has to be there to defend the old age theory [for some!]. Another problem is we have absolutely no proof that this dark matter exists. It is simply believed in because the naturalistic explanation demands it! Sort of like coming to a part in a puzzle where a piece doesn’t fit, so you simply make something fit. Now, the bible does teach that the vast universe is held together [a key role of so called dark matter] by Christ’s absolute power. The other explanation for how the vast universe is able to function smoothly, without the needed matter to create the huge amount of gravity, is that God himself is holding all things together by his omnipotence. In essence, we need God for this puzzle to fit. I am not saying the idea of dark matter is totally false, but as far as we know today, there is no proof that it exists. We as believers should not take an anti scientific stance on everything, to the contrary, true science always backs up the Christian world view [in general] but we also need to be suspicious when science floats an idea that can be explained by the existence of a creator. If the idea is simply out there, with no proof at all [the multi-verse] then we certainly have the right to challenge whether the whole thing is a bunch of ‘dark [invisible] matter’! (965)1st CORINTHIANS 8- Once again Paul will deal with the issue of what’s clean or unclean, the Christians convictions. Corinth not only had low sexual standards, but also much idolatry. This led to a problem of whether or not believers should purchase the meat sold in the market that was used for idol worship. After the sacrifice was made, whatever good meat was left could be sold on the streets. Now, Paul says the believer knows there is only one true God, so with this knowledge you are not sinning because you know the meat really wasn’t used to worship other gods, because there are no other Gods! But he also says that every man does not have this knowledge. So just like he taught the Romans, he teaches the Corinthians that in all of your freedom, the highest standard is whether you are building others up or tearing them down. If you have a free conscience to eat the meat, then fine, it is no sin to you. But if this liberty is offending the minds of those who are weaker in the faith, then your freedom just became a stumbling block and worked against the main goal of building others up. So the real question isn’t ‘can I do this with a clean conscience’ but ‘does my practice offend or build others up’? Many years ago I had a friend who smoked cigars, he was a believer and simply saw nothing wrong with it. We had a mutual friend who found out about it and bought some cigars and gagged on them. His conscience was emboldened to ‘eat the meat’ and by doing it he sinned. Why was cigar smoking sin to the weaker brother? Because he really wasn’t doing it out of a pure heart with a clean motive. Though the cigar smoker felt he had the freedom to smoke [it wasn’t an every day thing] yet his freedom caused another to fall. So Paul consistently takes this position in his letters. Some day we will get to other verses like ‘the things the gentiles offer to idols are being offered to demons, so don’t partake with them at the same table’ this is dealing with a different thing, I’ll explain it at another time. Paul also says ‘knowledge puffs up, but charity builds up’. One of the side trails believers can easily fall into is thinking the Christian life is simply an exercise is learning things. That is knowledge for knowledge’s sake. While Paul was not advocating ignorance, he was dealing with carnal believers who walked in pride. He was showing them that those who think they stand should be careful lest they fall. Paul was calling them to a higher purpose than just learning scripture and applying it for personal satisfaction, he was calling them to live sacrificially, to take the wrong done to you [legally in court stuff]. To give up the freedom to ‘smoke cigars’ if you will, for the sake of others. Paul was teaching them that it was possible to be right and have the answers to back up your position, but if you are truly not dieing to self, you are simply getting ‘puffed up’. (966)1ST CORINTHIANS 9:1-14 Paul defends his apostleship and gives a strong defense for the New Testament doctrine of financially supporting Christian leaders. Now, I never want to be one of those types of teachers who skews or bypasses scriptures that seem to contradict previous teachings. It’s common for good men to do this, all leaders need to avoid doing it. Recently I added my comments to a debate that raged in the blogasphere. You had Frank Viola put out the book ‘Pagan Christianity’ [good book, I read and do recommend it] and another good theologian, Ben Witherington, gave a good critique [I also recommend Bens site, you can find both Frank and Ben’s sites on my blog roll]. Part of the debate hinged on the financial support of elders/ministers. I must admit I fell on Ben’s side in this argument, though I probably would agree with Frank around 90 % of the time on all the other stuff. Ben argued for the biblical mandate to support elders, frank seems to teach the support of apostles [itinerant workers] is okay, but does not leave room for the support of elders who live in the community. Now, you really need to read all I have written under the ‘what in the world is the church’ section of this blog to get my full view on all of this stuff, but this section of Corinthians makes this stuff pretty clear. Paul says ‘I have the right not to work and only live off of the offerings of the people’. So Paul defends this practice, but he also says ‘I choose not to use it’. He also uses two interesting examples from ‘the law’ [Old Testament] to defend the financial support of leaders. ‘The Ox who is treading out the corn shouldn’t be muzzled’ and ‘the priests who serve at the altar get to eat the meat from the sacrifices’. What is the most obvious example that he does not use? The tithe! I would say this is one of the best proofs for the tithe not being a normative practice of the early church. But Paul does use the other examples to say its right to financially support those who labor among you. But Paul has also given examples to elders [read my Acts 20 commentary] to show them that they are not in this for the money! Paul will actually defend the practice of working and not taking money from the believers. So we see a wide range of freedom in this area. I feel the biblical example is it is fine to financially support Christian leadership who are dedicating their lives to teaching and ministering the word. It is also fine to not use these ‘rights’ as a Christian leader. But nowhere are we taught a type of Levitical tithe system for the support of Christian leaders. Why? Paul’s main message was one of grace and coming out from the requirements of the law. To have used the tithe as an example to give financially would have been counterproductive to his whole message. Eventually believers would come to view ‘the church’ and ‘the priest/pastor’ as the single head of ‘the church building’ who would be supported like a Levite who served as a priest under the old covenant [bring all the tithes into the storehouse type concept]. This legalistic view of ‘the church’ is prevalent today in much of Christendom, both Catholics and Protestants seem to cling to this limited view of the church. The modern house church movement is giving the old view quite a run for its money! But let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water. Paul said its okay to financially support Christian leadership among you, just don't see it as a tithe that is supporting some type of Christian New Testament Levitical priest! (969)1ST CORINTHIANS 9:15-27 I have a letter sitting here from some northern radio station. I guess these guys hear us some how? It’s a great offer to be on 140 stations for next to nothing [$140.00 a month]. I have had radio stations write us before. I choose to stay small so I can be consistent in not taking offerings. I am sure if I took offerings I could easily expand like this, but I think I need to set the example for others. This fits in with the following. Now Paul will say ‘I would rather die than take money from you’ [and you guys think I’m an over reactor!] and also ‘I don’t take money from you because I want to make the gospel free of charge’. Remember, this is in the same chapter where he says it’s okay to support leaders financially. But yet he also makes these strong statements. Does Paul contradict himself? Some have tried to harmonize these statements by either saying Paul wasn’t really teaching the financial support of elders, or by saying Paul only restricted taking money from the Corinthians. Both of these are not true [Read my Acts 20 study]. Paul was hard on whatever group he was addressing. If he is speaking directly to the local saints, he says ‘you should make sacrifice and support those who labor among you’ but to the elders/leaders he says ‘I worked with my own hands while among you [elders!] to give you an example not to expect the people to support you’ [Acts 20]. He appeals to both sides to lay down their rights and give themselves away freely! He also says he adapts to every type of situation, he ‘becomes all things to all men, that he might save them’. He also brings his body under discipline so that after preaching to others, he himself will not be ‘cast away’. In my Proverbs reading I just came across ‘he that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls’. God wants you to succeed and accomplish things, the enemy wants to sidetrack you. Allow God to have the upper hand, let the fruit of ‘self control’ [one of the fruits of the Spirit] abide in you. Now remember, Paul says ‘they do it to obtain a corruptible crown’ [material, temporary stuff. Money included] but we do it [discipline ourselves] for an ‘incorruptible crown’. The scripture is filled with examples that contrast money [material rewards] with true spiritual riches. In these examples the scripture teaches us to expend our time and efforts in building a spiritual heritage as opposed to a financial one. Yet some will even use this scripture ‘running the race’ and apply it to stuff! Ahh, when we do stuff like this we are ‘reading/quoting scripture’ without truly knowing it. Jesus told the religious leaders ‘you search the scriptures because by doing this you think you have eternal life, but you will not come to me that you might have life’. It’s possible to spend your whole life searching scripture [for what you want] and still miss the chief cornerstone! [the main point] (970) CORINTHIANS ‘woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel’ ‘they which preach the gospel should live by the gospel’. Let me do a quick review before we jump into chapter 10. Over the years of re-learning the style and function of the New Testament church, it took time to read these scriptures without superimposing my preconceived ideas upon the text. For instance, you could easily read these verses and simply fit them into the ‘church building’ [as the church!] mindset. I know of, and have partaken of, the excitement that preachers experience when they ‘preach the gospel’. It’s a fulfilling thing. But the problem is much of the present day church follows a program where one main person becomes the attraction of the community. We live and hear and vicariously learn thru the growth experiences of a single individual. Now, we don’t realize that this is not the main intent of meeting together as a community. God originally intended for his people to share as a community of grace. There are specific warnings in the New Testament to avoid the Christian community’s penchant to identify around an individuals giftings [we actually just covered some of these in this study]. But when we simply read ‘they which preach the gospel should live of it’ we think this is justifying the present day context. It really simply meant that those in the community with the ability to read and teach should be taken care of while they are giving themselves for the benefit of others. The first century believer’s could not all read, the majority probably were illiterate. This created a need for those who were literate to actually read Paul's letters out loud in the assembly. These sincere men were not modern day full time Pastors! This is why it’s important to read the scripture with historical context in mind. When I meet with the brothers, or travel to another town. I usually simply ask the guys ‘what’s the Lord been saying, do you have a word to share’? And sure enough, by the time our fellowship is over most everyone feels edified because they gave of themselves for others. One of my homeless friends is an excellent teacher. Believe me, he knows more scripture than many Pastors. He excels in this environment. There is really no need for one person [like myself!] to dominate the conversation, or to think that my calling entails me being the primary voice of the community. Sometimes when I find myself at some Christian function, I can tell that when people find out that you speak on the radio, that they kinda want you to preach. I always [yes always!] avoid it. Not because it would be wrong to teach, but the modern church has made such a profession out of it, that the average saint never really expresses himself on a regular basis. God never intended the church to be a place where people learn and grow and experience most of their Christian lives thru the experiences and gifts of one person. I just wanted to challenge you today with these few verses. When you just read them did you see them thru the old mindset? Don’t feel bad about it, just allow the Lord to ‘re-wire’ your brain as we continue to teach thru the New Testament. We find stuff like this all the way thru. (971) THE PLAYPIPE AND THE ‘RED LINE’- Well it’s been a while since I gave an example from the fire Dept. I was thinking of this the other day and still get a laugh out of them. On our rookie tests at the fire dept. the captains and chief would make up questions to test the guys. One question would ask ‘how many parts are there to a playpipe’ [a type of nozzle for the fire hose]. The answer would say something like ‘5’. One of the expected ‘parts’ was ‘the playpipe itself’. Well that’s like asking ‘how many parts to a car’ and the answer being ‘the wheels, motor, windshield, and the car itself’. The ‘car itself’ cant be a part of ‘the car’. What you could say is ‘the body/chassis’. So the poor rookies who would get the question wrong were actually right. The funny part was trying to explain this to the captain. In his mind he couldn’t see what he was trying to say was ‘the shaft’ [the actual pipe part of the nozzle]. The other funny thing was on one of the fire trucks we had what was called a ‘booster line’ [or red line]. Most of the modern trucks had red hose for this line. So it was common to call it ‘the red line’. The problem was one of the old trucks had a black hose for the ‘booster line’. So the question would ask ‘what color is the red line on unit 104’. So the poor rookie, who wasn’t really around long enough to memorize all the hose colors, what put ‘red’. You simply would think this was a gimme question, a trick question. It would be like asking ‘what color is the red truck’. The problem was the poor rookies would answer ‘red’ and to their dismay they would get it wrong. The ‘red line is black’! Once again, trying to explain this to the test makers was like trying to convert the Pope to Protestantism! The captain would insist ‘the red line is black’! Not realizing what they should have said was ‘what color is the booster line’. (972)1ST CORINTHIANS 10:1-4 it’s actually Christmas morning, 2008, as I write. Paul says ‘all of our forefathers were under the cloud, they were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and sea’. Note- 2 baptisms ‘Cloud’ [Spirit] ‘Sea’ [water]. Let’s do a little thinking here. How can Paul refer to the Jewish fathers as the Corinthians forefathers? Is he expecting a large Jewish group to read this letter? [Like Romans- both Jews and Gentiles were in mind]. Is he addressing them like the author of Hebrews, who is speaking directly to a nation in transition? While it’s possible for a few Jewish believers to have read/heard the reading of this letter. Yet I think Paul is simply being consistent with his letters to the Galatians and Romans, where he taught that all who would believe were the ‘children of Abraham by faith’ Abraham is ‘the father of many nations’. Now, I like the way Paul ‘spiritualizes’ here. Moses was the prophet who typified Jesus. The people were baptized [joined] to him both thru the good times and the bad. There was quite a rough history between Moses and the rebels! Times where they wanted to change leadership. Times where God even said ‘I have had it with this bunch, let’s just wipe them out and start over’. They had history. Also Paul says ‘they all ate of the same spiritual meat and drank from the same spiritual rock. Christ’. Again, Paul seems to teach the symbolic, as opposed to literal, view of ‘eating/drinking Christ’. Israel did have some physical ordinances in the wilderness. The Passover and the bread from heaven [Manna] already happened. But Jesus himself [John 6] would say ‘Moses didn’t give you the real bread, I am the real bread!’. So Paul’s use of the ‘Rock’ is purely symbolic. The story relates to the time where God gave the children of Israel water from an actual rock in the wilderness. Moses spoke to/struck the rock and water came out. Paul sees this as a symbolic picture. He is saying ‘this foreshadowed Christ, the true rock who would be the ‘Rock of ages’ who would be struck on the Cross and water would flow from his side’. Once again, this leaves us some context to interpret the Lords supper in a symbolic way. Was Paul teaching the Corinthians to go out in the fields and actually drink real water from a rock? No. He was simply saying these physical symbols would be fulfilled at a future time, and that time was now! All who believe in Christ are partaking [spiritually] of the water of life, the Holy Spirit. Tomorrow we will get into the examples that were left to us from these stories. I just want to mention that the Apostle Paul freely uses the Old Testament [his only bible at the time!] and applies these stories to both Gentile believers and 1st century Israel. The writer of Hebrews [who I think was Paul] says ‘just like the forefathers missed out on the promise by unbelief- entering the promised land- so too there is a danger that you, 1st century Israel, might miss out on eternal life by not receiving the Messiah by faith’. In this context, Israel of the Old Testament represents Israel in the first century. But when addressing a gentile church [Corinth] it is also okay for Paul to say ‘just like Israel faced physical death by being disobedient, so you too have had premature physical deaths in your community by rebelling against God’. In this comparison Israel [Old Testament] is simply being used as an example of God judging his covenant people for their disobedience. I feel these distinctions are important, they help us to keep the New Testament in context. (973)1ST CORINTHIANS 10:5-13 Paul warns the Corinthians not to fall for the same temptations that Israel committed in the wilderness. ‘Don't sin sexually, don’t complain about stuff [ouch!] don’t be idolaters [lovers of your cash flow!]’ basic sins that effect us all. He also says something interesting ‘you are now those upon whom the end of the world [age] has come’. Not the ‘end of existence’ but the time period where Gods fullness has come [Galatians 4]. I find this interesting. The first century Apostles saw the breaking in of the Kingdom of God, thru Christ, as the event and ‘moment’ that all human history hinged upon. There was a real sense of ‘this is the special kairos season that all men have been waiting for’. The New Testament teaches that even the angels were waiting to see this day. One of the errors of dispensationalism was the idea that the important, main event was still some future happening [the second coming]. While it is true that this event will happen, and it will be glorious. Yet there was a sense in scripture that said the time of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection was the act of reconciliation that turned the destiny of man. Paul in essence was saying to the Corinthians ‘you don’t understand the full import of all that the Father has called you to. You are part of the most important movement in human history, all humanity has been waiting for this season, the ‘ends of the ages’ have come to this point. Don’t blow it for heavens sake’! Got it? Let’s grasp the fact that we too are part of this ‘time period’ [the new covenant kingdom age] and realize that our forefathers are watching from the stands [Hebrews]. Let’s not blow it [I was going to say ‘like the Cowboys’ but this gets too many locals mad]. (974)1ST CORINTHIANS 10: 5 ‘But with many of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness’. As I just sat down and was debating on how much to cover, I felt the Lord wanted me to stop with this one verse. Let’s review a little. Does this experience of being ‘scattered in the wilderness’ define past experiences for you? [Or present!] Historically the church has always had to deal with wilderness times. St. John of the Cross called this ‘the dark night of the soul’. After Mother Theresa’s death we found out that she struggled with doubt many times thru out her life. The historic church has been ‘scattered in the wilderness’ over truly insignificant stuff. I find it ridiculous that one of the main reasons the western [Catholic] and eastern [Orthodox] churches split in 1054 a.d. was over the silly distinction of whether the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father [the historic creed] or the ‘father and the Son’. This is considered the official cause of the split, though there were many other factors as well. In a day or so we will cover a verse that says ‘God is the head of Christ’. I had a friend that used to point out the fact that many Baptists would refer to ‘God and Jesus and the Spirit’ he would think this was in error because they would leave out ‘the Father’. To be honest he was consistent with Trinitarian thinking [I am one by the way!] If the ‘sole’ definition of God in the New testament were ‘3 separate persons who equally posses the Divine attributes’. Then the phrase ‘God is the head of Jesus’ would not make sense. It would be like saying ‘God [Father, Jesus and Holy spirit] are all the head of Jesus’. What am I saying here? Basically the historic church came to certain ways of framing the argument that were limited in their application. Does the New testament teach the Trinity? Yes. Does the word ‘God’ primarily refer to ‘the father’ in its language? To be honest, it does. Though the reality of the Trinity is there, yet the normative language of ‘God’ is referring to ‘the Father’. So my Baptist buddy was right in seeing a contradiction when Baptists said ‘God, Jesus and the Spirit’. If they were true to all the historic language, then they should have said ‘the father’ not ‘God’. Because ‘God’ would be the all encompassing language of ‘3 distinct persons who all posses the divine attributes’. But in fact, my friend was wrong. Why? Because the language of scripture mostly means ‘God the Father’ when simply saying ‘God’. Now why go into all this? Because the historic church has been divided over the language used. Arian, the Catholic Bishop/Priest, said that Jesus is ‘not God’. That ‘God the Father is God’. He was rightfully condemned, and the Trinitarian language would prevail. The problem is some of the language of the creeds and councils that would follow were not totally accurate. Some of the Creeds would say ‘Jesus was eternally begotten [always begotten]’ this statement was for the purpose of refuting those who said ‘Jesus had a beginning’ [Arianism]. Now, did Jesus ‘have a beginning’? John’s gospel says Jesus was with the father from the beginning, and that ‘the Word was with God, and was God’. Jesus had no beginning! But, does this mean he was ‘eternally begotten’? No. He was begotten by Mary 2 thousand years ago. Begotten refers to the incarnation, not the preexisting Son who was with the father from all eternity. So the well intended phrase ‘eternally begotten’ was wrong. Why even discuss this? Because most of Christian Orthodoxy would still condemn certain aspects of the Syrian and Ethiopian churches over this. We at times are ‘scattered in the wilderness’ and our ‘bodies’ [denominations, divisions in Christendom] are a sad representation to the world. [NOTE- I want to restate what I have said in the past. I believe in the Trinity. But I also want you to see how other Christian perspectives have viewed these things in the past. There are large groups of ‘historic churches’ [not Gnostics and stuff like that, the so called ‘lost Christianities’] who lean towards Arianism. Most of the invading barbarians who sacked the Western Roman empire were converted to this ‘brand’ of Christianity. So while I hold to the historic orthodox view, I wanted you to see that we too have been inconsistent at times]. (977)1ST CORINTHIANS 10:15-17 ‘The cup that we bless, is it not the communion of the Blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of Christ's Body? We are all one bread, we all partake equally of Christ’s Body and Blood. We exist as a community because of him’ [my paraphrase]. Here in my study I have various volumes on church history. I own catholic volumes, protestant ones, and even some from ‘the out of the institutional church’ perspective. Over the years I have learned that most believers tell their story from their perspective. This is not a wrong thing, nor is it a purposeful act to distort history. It’s just natural to see ‘your world’ thru your lens of past experiences. Around the 17th century the Jesuit priests were some of the first Christians to write systematic church histories. Though you had many scholars who were informed on the subject, the Jesuits were the first to try and bring all the previous centuries together and present them in an orderly way that could be understood and read by the average student. There is some debate on how accurate some of these first ‘tellings’ of history were. For instance, some classic church histories [both catholic and protestant] show an early 2nd century development of belief in the Eucharist as being the literal Body and Blood of Jesus. Also most volumes focus on church figures such as Iraneus , Tertullian, Augustine [4th- 5th centuries] and many other good men [I know I spelled these names wrong!]. There seems to have been a basic belief that this history is the only ‘history’ of the first few centuries. The problem with this approach is we now have archealogical evidence from the first few centuries that would support the idea that the early church might not have been as ‘institutional’ as previously thought. For instance, most histories say the development of the monarchial episcopacy [single bishop over ‘a church/region’] was early. But the evidence discovered shows that as late as the 2nd, possibly early 3rd centuries you had bishops who were simply elders/overseers in the early church. Burial places were uncovered that showed multiple ‘bishops’ all buried in one spot. The evidence seems to indicate that these were all men who served at the same time. Not one bishop dieing off while others took his place. This would mean that some practicing Christians never fully accepted the institutional idea of the single bishop. But you really couldn’t find this out from a wide reading of all the different church histories. Why? Were the Jesuits who put together the first cohesive history trying to deceive people? Of course not! They were seeing church history thru ‘their lens’. Now, what in the world does this have to do with the verse on communion? The word for communion here is a translation from the Greek word ‘koinonia’, which simply means ‘fellowship’. The church at Corinth practiced ‘communion’ as a love feast. The early believers had their ‘communion service’ as a type of buffet type fellowship where they all shared and came together in real friendship. Now in the next chapter we will deal with some of the problems that arose out of this practice, but the point today is I want you to see that when Paul says ‘we are all one bread who are partaking from one loaf’ he is simply saying ‘just like when we all get together and share in the communal meal, this is the same way we all spiritually live off of the Body and Blood of Christ. We are ‘one bread’ [people/communion] because we all derive our life from Jesus, the true bread that came down from heaven’ [John 6]. I simply want to give you the flavor of what Paul is saying. It’s easy to read these verse’s from the sacramental perspective. To see the focus being on the actual bread and wine of the meal. I think it’s better understood from the broader communal idea that I just espoused. Our entire New Testament is the most verifiable collection of first century documents ever to be found. Though we as believers take them as Gods word, they also show us the most accurate historical picture of what the early church believed and practiced. I think the reformers of the 16th century were right in stating that the final authority should be the word of God. They did not reject church tradition, but they said the final arbiter in controversial issues was Gods word. Even the great Catholic humanist, Erasmus, was known for his desire to ‘get back to the original sources’. He was helpful in urging the Catholic Church towards reform by going back to the Greek New Testament [most scholars were using the vulgate version, which was the Latin translation. The Latin did not do justice to the Greek!] Well today’s point is our New Testaments are accurate first century documents on early church belief and practice. I think Erasmus cry to ‘get back to the sources’ would do us all some good. (978)1ST CORINTHIANS 10: 18-33 Paul ‘re-uses’ a previous analogy of the priests partaking of the meat from the altar. Here he uses it to describe the reality of fellowship and being joined to that which you worship. Now he deals with the idea of the meat from the idol worship that was sold ‘in the shambles’ [market place]. He already said this meat was fine. But here he says ‘the things the gentiles offer are being offered to demons, so I don’t want you joining in with this type of demonic worship’. It’s not a matter of the meat, or the idol! It’s a matter of being unequally ‘yoked together with unbelievers’. This is a theme that Paul discusses in this letter. It not only applies to marriage, but also to any type of intimate fellowship with an unbeliever. Here's where a distinction should be made. Yesterday one of my homeless buddies stopped by. His name is Tim [carpenter Tim]. I mentioned him before. Tim’s a great friend who I have known for many years. He just stopped by to say hi, he told me he caught my radio show on Sunday and really enjoyed it. They get a kick out of being real friends with some so called ‘radio preacher’. I think it’s hard at times to connect the ‘radio guy’ with the simple brother who takes them out to eat and stuff. Tim is a believer who works regularly [thus the name carpenter Tim!] He does not take the free handouts and stuff that are offered to the local homeless population. But I have helped Tim as a friend and brother in the Lord for many years. I asked if he has heard anything about Bill ‘painter Bill’. I have known Bill just as long as Tim. These are the original homeless guys I met in the early 1990’s. Bill is in his 70’s, Tim is around my age [I am 46 years old as I write]. Bill was a bitter homeless person. Just too many years of going thru stuff. Over the years we had become real good friends. I think he sees me as one of his best friends. A few weeks back I heard he was on a respirator and they though he wasn’t going to make it. It sounded pretty bad. As of right now I don’t know if he’s alive or not. A few months back I was giving Bill a ride home. He had a temporary place to live at the time. He did ask if I had a few dollars to spare. I don’t remember if I did or not to be honest. But I told Bill I don’t make the same amount of money since I retired. Just to let him know that’s why we haven’t gone to eat recently. He also asked me if I wanted to get the free eye checkup from the mission. They had some locals donate their time and they would get the guys free glasses. I told him that's all right, I don’t want to take stuff that’s meant for the homeless [I also don’t eat the free meals]. They get upset that I don't use the system. So as we arrive at Bills trailer he asks if I could come in for a minute. I told him sure. He handed me the free glasses he recently got, he asks me to try them on. I did. He then offers them to me. I told him no thanks, though I appreciated the offer. Bill was willing to give me his glasses. When Paul the apostle deals with having fellowship with unbelievers, he is not telling us to have no contact with the lost world. He is showing the Corinthians that they were not to be partakers of evil things along with the world. We are here to reach out to the world, not to have fellowship with evil things, but to be like Jesus. He was accused of being ‘a friend of sinners’. Do you have any ‘sinner friends’? (980)1ST CORINTHIANS 11: 1-16 at first I was just going to skip this section and say ‘I know you didn’t get your moneys worth, but wait, you guys didn’t give me any money!’ But this would be a cheap shot. So what do we do with portions of scripture that are difficult? I have heard this taught in a way that says ‘Christ is the head of the church [both men and women- true] and any distinction between a man being ‘the head’ of the woman only applies to natural families’. The problem is Paul mixes the analogies ‘Christ is the head of a man, a man [husband] is the head of the woman [wife], and God is the head of Christ’. To dissect these verses into a ‘secular/religious’ division is next to impossible! So what do they mean? I believe the New Testament does teach a type of functional difference between men and woman. Now, Paul teaches that women ‘can prophesy’ in ‘the church’. He says so in these verses! In Romans 16 Paul refers to Junia as an apostle and Phoebe as a deaconess. In the Old Testament Deborah was a mighty judge. Peter says that both sons and daughters will prophesy [Acts 2, quoting Joel]. I could go on. Then why make a distinction? Paul gives his rationale in this section. Believers show the order and submission of the Godhead when they willingly take their God ordained positions in society. When husbands love their wives as Christ loves the church, God is glorified. When wives submit [oh no, I can’t believe I said it!] to their ‘loving’ husbands they show the role of Christ’s willful submission to the Father. And yes, Paul also teaches we all submit to each other in love as well. Those who see all of Paul’s teaching on women as a cultural thing will have a problem with the inspiration of scripture. But on the other hand the strong fundamentalist/literalist also has a problem here. Should we mandate the wearing of ‘coverings’ [hats] when women prophesy? I don't think so [some do think so!]. But most fundamentalists have no problem chalking up the ‘hat wearing’ portion to culture. Also in this debate, one of the obvious questions is ‘can a woman be a Pastor over a church’? Or Bishop or whatever. Remember, no one was a ‘Pastor over a church’ like we think until around the 4th century. So before we judge whether or not it is fair to restrict women from certain roles ‘in the church’ we need to understand what roles there are ‘in the church’. Did you ever wonder who was marrying and burying the people for the first few hundred years of Christian history? It is quite obvious that Paul and the first century Apostles/Elders were not doing it. So when did the ‘clergy’ pick the practice up? During Constantine’s legalization of Christianity in the 4th century, the church took over the rites and ceremonies from Rome. The Roman ‘philosopher/speakers’ could be hired to speak a eulogy when someone died, they could conduct wedding ceremonies. They for the most part were ‘the Pastors’ of the day! Now we simply took the job from them. Does this mean all Pastors are pagan funeral directors? No. It simply shows us that when we ask the question ‘why can’t women be pastors like men’. Maybe the question should be ‘were men ever supposed to be pastors either?’ [in the contemporary use of the term] So in this little excursion into history I think we all have some lessons to learn. The people of God are made up of men and women and Jew and Gentile, scripture says in Christ there are no more distinctions like this. We are all considered the Body of Christ equally. Yet this does not mean [in my view] that everyone does the same job as everyone else. The New Testament clearly says ‘are all Apostles, all Prophets’. God has distinctions in this Body. Do these distinctions carry over to the woman/man issue in functionality? It seems so to me to a degree. Those who are striving for more equality in function for women, I think the best way to approach it is not to by- pass all these difficult portions of scripture. But to take the approach that as the church grows she allows the greater overriding truths of scripture to over shadow any personal advice given by Paul to a specific church in the first century. Now I don’t fully take this approach myself, but to a degree many of us do accept this approach when dealing with the ‘hat/covering issue’. So instead of just showing you my view, I wanted to paint a little broader picture. Ultimately how you come down on this is between you and God. Women most certainly can and do function in Christ’s church today, they always have and always will. (983)1ST CORINTHIANS 11:16-34 ‘When you come together IN THE CHURCH’ [king James version] ‘when you come together AS THE CHURCH’ [new king James version]. In this section of scripture we see a real good definition of ‘church’ and also a bad one. The word for church is found over 100 times in the New Testament [114? - if I remember right] in every occasion, bar none, it refers to the people of God. Sometimes it refers to them as ‘coming together’ or simply as ‘the called out people of God’ [that is they are all spiritually gathered as a community in Christ]. The word never refers to a ‘church building’ [there is one reference in James that can seem to indicate a place to meet. James is speaking to Jews, the synagogue [or Jerusalem temple] as a building is different from the term for church in Paul’s letters!]. In the example I just gave you from the king James versions, it shows you how Gods people viewed this term for church [Ecclesia/Ekklesia] as time rolled along. The original translators of the King James saw it as ‘a place you meet in’ the new version saw it ‘as when Gods people come together’. You say ‘what’s the big difference’? Well I am sure the original translators meant well, but in actuality there is a big difference between ‘being an organic family’ or ‘being a building’! As Paul addresses the Corinthians he says ‘your coming together is not for the better, but for the worse’. They were using the gathering as a means of self gratification. ‘What can I get out of this’ type thing. I do see a parallel in much of today’s ‘church meeting’. Do we see Christianity thru the lens of ‘what am I going to hear this Sunday that I can implement in my own personal life for self improvement’? This mindset prevails in today’s church environment. The ethos of Jesus was contrary to this. He challenged his followers to lay down their rights and desires and seek another kingdom, one that was not measured by the standards of this world. Paul rebuked the Corinthians for seeking ‘their own wealth [benefit] and not the other’s’. He also told them to examine their hearts before coming together so they would not be judged. I have heard the new generation of church thinkers [which I am one myself!] kind of mock the old time churches by saying ‘Oh they tell you communion is some dangerous thing that you must approach with a holier than thou attitude’. Most mean well when they level this charge, but the ‘old time churches’ are not without scriptural support for this approach. Paul did say ‘you guys are too flippant in your attitude towards the Lords table, you need to straighten up and take more seriously your corporate call to those around you’. Understand, the celebration of this ‘love feast’ was to ‘show the Lords death till he come’. Who were they ‘showing it to’? The entire ‘unchurched’ community around them! Their selfless lives of being the community of God, loving and sharing of themselves as a spiritual family, was for the intent of having an effective community wide witness. They reminded not only themselves, but those around them ‘of the Lords death’. It was truly a corporate witness! Our Catholic brothers might not be as wrong as most Protestants seem to think. The Catholic Church sees the Eucharist as the central witness and part of their meetings. The Protestants see the preaching of the word from the pulpit. Though the Protestants are sincere in their efforts to teach the word of God, there is a tendency to become ‘pastor/pulpit’ centered, as opposed to being ‘Christ centered’. All in all Paul rebukes and corrects them based on their self centered actions when meeting together. He also sees ‘the gathering’ as ‘the church’. Not the place their meeting at! It’s easy to confuse this when reading ‘when you come together in the church- in one place’ it sure seems like he can be referring to a church building. Take my word for it, he’s not. (984)1ST CORINTHIANS 12:1-6 ‘There are different gifts, ministries and out workings of the Spirit’ [my paraphrase]. In this section we see an idea that I feel gets lost in the current paradigm of ‘doing church’. When Paul addresses a church [community of believers] he is speaking to all the believers in the city. When we think ‘church’ we assume it means ‘church’ as ‘going to the church [building] on Sunday’. Therefore we tend to read these types of verses as ‘there are different gifts and functions in ‘the church’- the Sunday school teacher, nursery worker, door greeter’ well you get it. The better reading would be ‘there are various expressions and ways the Spirit works and administers thru/in the community’. For instance, those who labor in ‘Para-church’ ministries are often considered noble, but not ‘a church’. But according to this passage, they would be just as much ‘church’, a legitimate part of the local body, as the home meeting [of course we know in Paul’s day there were no church buildings]. So the broader view of church as community would see these verses saying ‘where you live there are a variety of gifted ones whom the Spirit of God lives and operates thru. These saints all express the community of the Spirit in various ways. All these expressions are just as legitimate as the other, it is one Spirit manifesting himself in diverse ways for the overall benefit of all the believers in your city’. When we label what the Spirit is doing thru other ‘administrations’ as ‘Para-church’ we violate this passage of scripture. When we limit the various expressions and gifts to ‘the Sunday church meeting’ we actually are violating the intent of these verses. In your city you have doctors, lawyers, and all types of trades. While it is fine for them to operate out of a building and to keep regular business hours. Yet you wouldn’t describe them as separate, individual little ‘cities’ who all operate out of your town. You would see all of them as various gifted people who ‘operate out of your city’. So this is the broader view of what I think Paul is saying. Now he will also give directions on how these various gifts work in the meeting, this of course is part of it. But we need to see the broader view of what the Spirit is saying. Jesus expected his disciples to go out into the highways and hedges and ‘compel them to come in’ [not into the church building for heavens sake! But into the Kingdom] Paul taught that the Spirit accomplishes this in many different ways thru ‘the church’ [people of God]. (985)1ST CORINTHIANS 12:7 ‘But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to EVERY MAN to profit EVERY BODY’. I want to share a criticism that sometimes gets made against me. I know ‘the critics’ mean well, and are actually sincere men. It’s just they have been ‘shaped’ by the present system of ‘church’. The criticism goes like this ‘sure John has an effective teaching ministry [blog/radio] but if you need someone to come pray for you, lets see if he will come’. The idea is that the true legitimate ‘elders’ are those you can ‘call for’. James says ‘if any one is sick among you, let him call for the elders of ‘the church’. They see ‘the church’ as the actual 501c3, building, Sunday meeting [storehouse] type thing - they are simply seeing thru their ‘lens’. What James is simply saying is ‘if someone is sick in your community/local body of believers, call for the elders [more spiritually mature ones] and let them pray for you and anoint you with oil’. Now, I have personally spent many thousands [yes thousands!] of actual man hours on the streets helping people. I have helped and given to some of the local homeless population who attend some of these ‘churches’, out of my own pocket. Yet these same homeless brothers are encouraged to give ten percent of their money to ‘their church’. What am I saying here? I know the men who level this type of accusation are often intimidated by peer pressure and stuff. But the verse above says ‘the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every believer to profit every one around them’. The biblical view of ‘church’ would simply require all believers to ‘administer the gift’ in a way that would profit all those around them. There is no need to make these types of distinctions between ‘the elders of our church’ or ‘the spiritual leaders in our region’. They mean the same thing. So see your gift as a freely received charism that should be used unselfishly for the benefit of others. Also some Pastors do seem to come around to ‘my view’ after many years of hearing us. They might then try and do some city wide ministry, open to all the body. Then if the results are not good, they can become discouraged also. Understand, many of these men took many years before they could really see what we were saying, don’t expect a majority of local believers to see things that took you years to see! The paradigms don’t come down that easily. (986)CORINTHIANS 12: 8-10 this section deals with the various gifts of the Spirit. The list is not exhaustive, Paul speaks in Romans and Ephesians about other ones as well. Instead of diving into a definition for each gift, lets look a little at the various ‘modes’ and characteristics of the Spirit of God. In revelation we have a scripture that many seem to stumble over, it says ‘the 7 spirits of God that are before his throne’. Some associate Isaiah 11 with this. In Isaiah 11 you can find 6 distinct characteristics of the Spirit of God, some see 7. Or you could say ‘God has 7 actual Spirits’. Does God have 7 spirits? Or 25 or 10,000? God is the creator of all spirits. He is the Father of lights! In revelation you have Jesus holding the ‘7 stars’ in his hand, which are said to be angels. Then you have the ‘7 angels of the 7 churches’. I showed you before why these angels are not ‘Pastors’ they are angels! [You can find the post somewhere under END TIMES STUFF]. Revelation has 7 seals, bowls, candlesticks. The book is a prophetic book that has angels revealing and operating and functioning. The 7 spirits before God’s throne are probably the 7 angels spoken about in the book. Hebrews says the angels are ‘ministering spirits’. Well let’s get off the rabbit trail. In Isaiah 61 we have the famous verses that Jesus read and applied to himself in the New Testament [Luke 4]. Jesus opens the scroll and reads about the Spirit of God upon him, the eyes of everyone in that place were fixated on him. Notice how both in Isaiah 11 and 61, one of the main purposes of the anointing was to administer justice to the poor and oppressed. Much of Evangelicalism has opted out of this responsibility. There was an overreaction to the social gospel of the late 19th, early 20th century. The social gospel had a tendency to overemphasize good deeds, without focusing on conversion. But the Fundamentalist movement of the 20th century neglected the social justice aspect of the kingdom, thank God for the Catholics who picked up the torch. The point today is the purpose of the gifts, which we will get into tomorrow, is not simply for self glory and edification. Or should I say the purpose of the anointing. Jesus made it very clear that his mission involved justice for the poor and oppressed, he did not limit his ministry to ‘the church’. (991)1ST CORINTHIANS 12: 8-11 Instead of giving you my definition for each one of the gifts of the Spirit, let me just give you a sense of where I’m coming from. Over the years I have learned the normal Pentecostal understanding of these gifts. I also have learned the ‘anti-Pentecostal’ view. I take a little from each camp. The strong Pentecostal view usually sees all the gifts as ‘supernatural’ I do too! But to them this means the gifts of Wisdom and Knowledge can’t be ‘regular wisdom or knowledge’. Okay, so what are they? Some teach that the ‘word of wisdom’ is simply a prophetic word about future stuff. The ‘word of knowledge’ is simply prophetic insight into ‘past stuff’. To be honest I have no idea how people come up with stuff like this [well, actually I do have an idea]. I see Paul as operating in a strong gift of knowledge, though Paul was trained and had a good education, the Spirit took all of his ‘head knowledge’ and quickened it. I see James as having a strong gift of wisdom, his epistle is the only New Testament work considered to be part of the corpus of wisdom literature. Of course the gifts of healing[s] and prophecy are supernatural, but wisdom and knowledge can be ‘supernatural’ without having to fall into some prophetic type category. If it’s wisdom and knowledge from God, then it is supernatural! I have known Pastors who had the gift of wisdom, sometimes they would come to the same conclusions as me, but they took a different route to get there! They might not have ‘seen’ all the knowledge portions of scripture that I saw, but the wisdom they operated in caused them to arrive at the same place. Some teach that after the Spirit fell on the church at Pentecost [Acts 2] that you no loner had miracles, dreams and visions or angelic visitations. Why is this wrong? The book that records more miracles and angels and visions than any other book [except for the gospels] is the book of Acts. In essence, one of the major New Testament books on these manifestations shows them to be a result of the Spirits outpouring! The point being these things didn’t end after Pentecost. I realize both camps [Pentecostal- non Pentecostal] have had their wars over this stuff. I find that both sides can be just as legalistic and judgmental in their views. I think one of the major ‘signs’ of being ‘Spirit filled’ is a life based on free grace. When people grasp the gospel and are filled with the Spirit, they should be free from living their lives out of a state of condemnation and guilt. Many ‘Spirit filled’ churches operate in the gifts [their view of them] but are just as legalistic as the non Pentecostals. To me this is not what it means to be ‘Spirit filled’. Overall we should be open to the working of the Spirit in supernatural ways. We should avoid making this the goal or identity of our Christian walk, but we should not reject or despise prophetic/supernatural things. They are available and necessary at times for completion of the mission. (994)1ST CORINTHIANS 12: 12-26 Paul uses the analogy of a body to describe the church. Keep in mind that the ‘church’ in Paul’s writings mean ‘all Gods people in the region/city’. Not just the gathered assembly! It’s important to make this distinction because much of the talk on the restoration of the organic church versus the institutional church focuses too much on the way believers meet. Here Paul is saying ‘you are all individual distinct members in the local community, you express Christ in various ways, though you have unique gifts you also are part of one corporate expression of Christ in your city’. The distinct gifts function in your community, not just in the meeting! [Whether it be the Sunday building type thing or the living room!] Paul also tells them to be on the guard for the ‘one member dominating the group’ expression of church. If everyone is centered on one particular gift then the corporate expression of the Body of Christ is diminished. Or if everyone saw ‘full time ministry’ as being a modern Pastor then you would have too many sincere believers all seeking to serve God in a limited way ‘if all were an eye, ear, mouth [speaking gift]’ then where would the Body be? I find this chapter to be a key chapter in the current reformation of modern church practices. As Gods people strive for a more scriptural expression of ‘being the church’ we need to keep this chapter in mind. Now, a word for the strong organic church brothers. The fact that Paul encourages a corporate expression in the church does not mean the gatherings of Gods people must be leaderless. Paul includes the concept of Elders in his writings. To be sure these men were not to dominate the meetings, or be the weekly speaker on an ongoing basis. But some hold to a type of idea that the way the church is supposed to testify of the ‘headship of Christ’ is by demonstrating a human leaderless church. That is God ordained the local bodies of believers to have no functioning human leaders in order to show forth Christ’s headship. To be honest I don’t see this in scripture. I see leaders in plurality [never a one man show] and Paul was not afraid to tell Titus and Timothy to ‘ordain’ [recognize!] Elders in the church. But the overall instruction in this chapter is God wants all of his people to function on a regular basis in the Body of Christ. This of course includes the gatherings, but it is not limited to them. The primary way we ‘show’ the world the Lordship of Jesus is by the selfless love we have one for another. When we daily live charitable, sacrificial lives, this demonstrates the ‘headship of Jesus’ over the church. The way believers meet has some effect on this, but most of Jesus instructions to the disciples was on how they would go out into the world and bring the great message of the kingdom to society. The primary ‘battlefield’ of the church militant is the world, not the meeting place! (996)1ST CORINTHIANS 12:27-31 Lets talk about ‘the fivefold ministry’ [some say four]. In the 90’s there was a real interest in this subject. It comes from this portion of scripture [and Ephesians 4]. The basic teaching is/was that God was restoring all these ministries [Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers- some see this as one combined gift] and that this restoration was one of the final things to happen before Christ’s return. I read and bought lots of books on church planting and how Apostles are gifted to ‘plant churches’. This teaching really wasn’t a new thing. Back in the 1800’s you had Edward Irving head up an apostolic movement called ‘the apostolic catholic church’ [Irvingites]. You had interesting folk like John Alexander Dowie who would start a modern city of God called ‘Zion’ in Illinois. Brother Dowie saw himself as an apostle and felt the Lord led him to start an apostolic city. You can still visit the city today. It was also common for many ‘up and coming’ preachers to begin seeing themselves as ‘apostles/prophets’ and actually advertise their callings in this way. Well of course the old time brothers who reject the gifts all together, saw this as another sign of the end time apostasy. You also had a strange phenomenon take place. It was common for ‘apostolic/prophetic’ people to be taught ‘the missing ingredient is covering and authority’- the churches are weak because they are under pastoral authority, they don’t have apostles ‘covering them’ [ouch!]. So it was not uncommon to have respected men kind of stepping over the normal boundaries of relating to churches and to say things like ‘you need to do this’ ‘you over there, be quiet. I don’t give you permission to speak’ and stuff like this. These sincere men thought it their responsibility to act this way. They felt this was a part of the restoration of apostles. Now, do apostles exist today [and prophets]? To be honest with you, yes. If you read this section along with Ephesians chapter 4, it is next to impossible to teach that they passed away in the first century. These scriptures make it clear that after Jesus ascended he gave ‘some apostles, others prophets’ they are included in the list of evangelists, pastors and teachers. If you lose one gift, then you lose them all. Also the timing of their ministries is given ‘till we all come to the unity of the faith unto a perfect man’. These gifts are all given to build Gods people up until we come to fall maturity. We aint there yet! So it’s pretty obvious that these gifts exist. Those who believe they don’t exist usually refer to the fact that the apostles of the Lamb [a category unto itself] did pass away. They will show you the truth of these apostles having to have been witnesses of Jesus actual resurrection. But these are a different category of apostles. The ones in this chapter were not even ‘made’ until after Jesus ascended on high. The same for the prophets. So, what do these strange fellows do? In all the books and stuff I have read on these movements, I feel some have been too limited in their definitions. Some taught that they were primarily itinerant men [traveling church planters]. Of course Paul was the master at this. But you find James as a stable pillar of the church at Jerusalem. Peter did travel, but he was no Gentile church planter like Paul! And Timothy in the New Testament had an apostolic type gifting, yet he was a protégée under Paul. So for the most part apostles do carry a special ability to ground Gods people in truth. Those who are called to ‘plant churches’ need to be more in tune with the example of Paul. Many modern day ‘apostles’ see church planting as going to a region and organizing Christians to meet in certain ways. I have heard it said ‘I have planted an organic church’ ‘I have planted a home group’ or of course the standard ‘I have planted a building based church’. The main ‘church planting’ of Paul was bringing the gospel to UNREACHED PEOPLE GROUPS and evangelizing those groups. Now of course he did give instructions to them on ‘how to meet’ [like in this book we are reading!] But don’t confuse ‘church planting’ with organizing believers around a new way to meet. All in all God gave us these gifts to build each other up and bring us to maturity, a place where we are no longer dependent on these gifts to function. I feel one of the greatest dangers was the strong authoritarian mindset that some of the apostolic brothers had, they meant well, but they stepped over their boundaries at times. (998)CORINTHIANS ‘DO ALL SPEAK WITH TONGUES’? - Before we leave chapter 12, let me overview a little. Paul mentions ‘do all speak with tongues’ and the presumed answer is ‘no’. I love my Pentecostal brothers, but some have developed an interesting doctrine that says ‘God wants all to speak with tongues’ though here it is obvious that all don’t! I am familiar with the classic defense of this. It says that in the beginning of the chapter the gifts are individual gifts that all believers can have [true enough] but that later in the chapter the ‘tongues’ that all don’t operate in is speaking of some sort of ministry gift of tongues. That Paul is basically saying ‘you can all prophesy, speak with tongues, etc..’ but you are not all going to have public ‘ministry gifts’ in these things. Okay, I got it. What’s the problem with this defense? Simply that when your done making the case, the brothers usually wind up saying ‘therefore, we should all speak with tongues’! Any argument [case] made from scripture, needs to use the plain language/thought flow to interpret that which is not plain. I believe all the gifts are for today [though I would disagree on certain Pentecostal definitions of them] but I also believe we violate the New Testament when we teach that certain gifts are supposed to operate in every person. Sure, you can find tongues and other gifts as signs in the book of Acts that believers were filled with the Spirit. But this doesn’t mean that those who don’t speak in tongues are not filled with the Spirit. Paul’s teaching here is that we are all baptized into Christ by the Spirit and we are all ‘drinking in the one Spirit’ but yet he empathically says ‘you all will not have the same gifts operating’. I think it is a violation of scripture to develop a doctrine that says ‘unless you function in a certain gift, you are not Spirit filled’. I do not see the classic Pentecostal division between ‘public tongues’ [that everyone doesn’t do] and ‘private tongues’ that you must have in order to have proof of being baptized in the Spirit. I do see the division to a degree, but I feel the Pentecostal brothers are being legalistic when they make this case. (999)1ST CORINTHIANS 13:1 ‘THOUGH I SPEAK WITH THE TONGUES OF MEN AND OF ANGELS, AND HAVE NOT LOVE, I AM BECOME AS SOUNDING BRASS OR A TINKLING SYMBOL’ Over the years I have seen how the church can ‘have a voice-make noise’ without actually effecting change. Last night I watched some Martin Luther King stuff. Without ‘sucking up for political purposes’ I must admit that Martin is at the top of my list of personal heroes. Martin spoke with a revolutionary purpose in mind, he was not ‘delivering sermons’. One time I spoke at a friends church, I only spoke for around 15 minutes [much like my radio show] and the pastor said ‘no wonder John doesn’t have a church/ preach regularly, you have to at least speak for 45 minutes’ [something like that]. Though after the message I had good comments from the people, the sincere pastor felt like we didn’t ‘put the time in’ in order to fulfill the Sunday morning practice of ‘church’. Were did we get our modern sermon from? [The actual format]. If you go to Bible College you can take a course called ‘homiletics’ this course will teach you the structure of speaking and putting a message together. If you study Greek rhetoric you will find that this science existed in the Greek intellectual world before Christians embraced it [the actual format and structure taught in homiletics comes right out of the Greek system of rhetoric, to the tee!]. I find it funny how many modern pastors seem to measure a persons degree of ‘being scriptural’ by this measuring rod. ‘Well brother, didn’t they preach in scripture’ you bet they did. We see Jesus reading from the scroll in the synagogue. Paul and Peter were master ‘preachers’ if you will [though Paul himself was no ‘golden tongue’] basically the biblical concept of preaching/teaching was more of a spontaneous thing. It’s certainly not wrong to borrow the sermon from the Greeks [which we did do] but we don’t want to fall into some mindset that sees modern ministry [pastoral] as being a professional speaker. Here Paul says there is a danger of believers becoming like ‘sounding brass and tinkling symbols’ we can lose the reality of simple communication. We also can lose the prophetic edge of speaking into society over issues of justice. If we become too mundane and ‘professional’ then the world simply views us as another program to simply pass over when clicking the remote. Both Martin Luther King and Charles Finney were known for their social activism. One of the charges [actually true] made against them was that they held to liberal theological positions. Finney was effected by the higher criticism of his day [the trend in the universities to deny the supernatural elements of scripture] he embraced certain doctrines that could be viewed as heretical [things on the atonement and mans sinful nature]. King’s critics make note of the fact that he also accepted certain types of bible interpretation that viewed some of the miraculous stories as ‘myth’ [not fake, but simple allegorical stories that were not literal but simply meant to convey a spiritual theme]. Things like Jonah and the whale, or Ballams talking donkey [or the talking snake in the garden!] Some intellectual brothers view these stories this way. Is there any validity to these views? Actually yes. I personally hold the ‘literal’ view with stuff like this, but ‘literal’ does not mean the bible does not contain different styles of writing. You do have poetry, allegory, symbol and other types or forms of grammar in scripture. Even the strong literal brothers will contradict themselves when they fully accept the ‘Lamb on the throne’ as not being a literal Lamb! [or when they interpret the scorpion like demons in Revelation as Black Hawk helicopters] So scripture does use allegory and symbol. But why did Luther and Finney associate with the more liberal trends in theology? I feel it was because of the strong anti social gospel that the fundamentalists embraced. The more conservative thinkers who rejected the liberal trends in teaching, would also reject social activism. Luther and Finney simply gravitated towards those who were like minded in their concern to speak into society. Basically they didn’t just want to be theologically correct [though they might have been in some of there views] but they wanted to be able to effect change in society. They wanted to be more than just a tinkling symbol that could tickle your ears. (1002)1ST CORINTHIANS 13: 2-3 ‘and though I have the gift of prophecy [Pentecostal, prophetic expressions] and understand all mysteries and all knowledge [Orthodox, Reformed, intellectual creedal churches] and though I have all faith that I could remove mountains [the Faith camp] and have not charity [Agape- love] I am nothing’. Whew! Thank God us mission/outreach type guys are not in there. ‘And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor [ouch] and have not love it profits nothing’. I love the various expressions of the church, I feed from the Reformed brothers teaching, Love reading and studying Orthodoxy and Catholicism. I of course favor the outreach/hands on type ministries, but according to this text we can have all these things and still be missing the mark. Our intellectual type brothers are engaging the culture and defending the faith, but without love we don’t even put a dent in the culture. The apologists are great at refuting the new atheists, to be honest about it the Christian intellectuals are head and shoulders above the atheists [Craig Lane and men like him] but I have noticed that we don’t really change that many minds even when all the proof is on our side. And I cant tell you how many well meaning missions and soup kitchens I have been too, but often times there is a disconnect between the people being served and the ‘servers’. You get the feeling sometimes that the well meaning helpers are simply punching a time card. We all need to reevaluate our motives. People can tell when we are in ‘ministry’ for the love of the business. Or for the self glory and adulation that comes with our service. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because they truly were in it for the recognition of men. They wanted others to see that they were ‘successful in the ministry’ so they could receive recognition in public. Paul tells the Romans ‘he that shows mercy, let him do it with love [cheerfully]’. It’s easy to fall into a rut and simply be functioning out of a sense of duty. Now duty can be a good thing, there are times where we just need people to report for duty! [The harvest is plenteous, but the workers are few] but we need to examine ourselves and make sure we are functioning out of the Love of God. Often times the various ministries and expressions of the church are simply God ordained ‘places’ where we can connect with people. As we interact with the lost world, lets do our best to win the arguments, give proof for the legitimacy of Christianity. Combat false ideas and mindsets that are imbedded in our culture, but lets leave room for the other side to get in with us. Understand that they have a ‘missing piece’ [Augustine’s hole in the heart] and we are the only ones that can show them how to fill it. (1003)CORINTHIANS 13:4-10 Okay, what exactly is this love that we need? Paul has told us that all religious activity apart from it is vain. Paul here simply gives us a picture of the way it acts. You can read this section and substitute your name for the word love ‘love puts up with stuff and is kind’ ‘John puts up with stuff and is kind’ [ouch] ‘It does not boast or show off’. ‘It does not seek its own benefit’ a ‘what’s in it for me’ type mentality. Love is being just like Jesus. James tells us ‘if you fulfill the royal law of scripture, you do well’. The law is to love thy neighbor as yourself. Paul also shows us why love outshines the other gifts of tongues and prophesy and knowledge. He says ‘we know in part, prophesy in part. But when we are made perfect and mature at the appearing of Christ the partial gifts will no longer be distinguishable. Only love will rule’ [my paraphrase] I find it interesting that Paul says knowledge itself will cease. Will actual knowledge cease? What exactly is ‘knowledge’? When we use this term in society what we usually mean is the degree of ones learning/education compared to someone else. If you have a masters and I have a high school diploma, we see a difference. We measure knowledge by the amount we have as compared to others. Now, at Christ’s appearing when we all ‘shall know, even as we are known’ this fine distinction will ‘pass away’. We still will have knowledge, but as a tool that we use to measure one another, it will cease. It wont make a difference how much of the ‘knowledge pie’ [know in part] you possess, at that time everyone one will have ‘all pie’. Knowledge is a funny thing, our understanding of it has developed thru the centuries. During the enlightenment era the concept of ‘what does it even mean to know’ was tackled. One of the famous sayings was ‘I know/think, therefore I am’ [Descartes? Hey, I forget sometimes] the study of ‘how we learn/know things’ is called epistemology. The enlightenment produced a way to approach knowledge that can be called ‘modernism’ mans modern way of knowing stuff. In essence, there exists real truth that a person can know and learn. There is/was a challenge to this mode of thought. Many in the Emergent church movement would grasp on to another theory of ‘knowing’ loosely defined as being in the category of ‘post modernism’. Some challenged the actual ability to know a thing. The emphasis is on who is actually viewing/learning the thing. The terms ‘metta- narrative’ are sometimes used to describe this dynamic. There is some truth to the fact that our context, who we are and where we are coming from, can shape the actual stuff learned. But the question is ‘does our perspective actually change the thing, make it real or not’. Some in the field of Cosmology have grasped on to this post modern theory and have surmised that the very act of human beings studying and examining a thing can in and of itself cause the thing ‘to be’. You can see how this theory would be helpful to the atheist. ‘Where did every thing come from?’ ‘it is a result of human kind’s thoughts and inquiry’ [Ouch]. This sounds a lot like the metaphysical cults that espouse that reality is a product of what you think, confess. That man has the power to create reality simply by the act of studying a thing. Well this is of course a challenge to the truth of God. Jesus and the Cross aren’t ‘real’ because men ‘put their mind to them’. They are real whether or not man ever thought about them. ‘Let God be true, but every man a liar’ Romans. Paul tells us that all these varying degrees of knowledge will some day ‘pass away’. We will all stand before a self existent God and give an account of our lives. This day is coming whether you ‘think about it or not’. (1004)CORINTHIANS 13:11-13 WHEN I WAS A CHILD I UNDERSTOOD AND THOUGHT AND SPOKE LIKE A CHILD, BUT WHEN I GREW UP I PUT THOSE THINGS BEHIND ME- Paul shows us that we presently see and understand things thru ‘a glass’. God gives us insight and glimpses into Divine truth, but we need mercy because we all have limited sight. Over the years I know I have ruffled some feathers. Whether it be our teaching on what the church is, tithing, end times stuff. How New Testament believers should view the nationalistic promises made to Israel under the Old Covenant. I have found that the problem usually isn’t solved by simply proving something from scripture. For instance someone might become convinced by an ‘avalanche’ of information, they might actually see what I am saying. They can even articulate it to a degree [sometimes better than me!] but at the end of the day the answer to the problem is we all need to ‘grow up’. We need an overall change in the way we view things thru a legalistic lens. For instance, the tithe issue. Over the years I have taught the concept that believers are not under this law. Those of you who have read this site for any length of time know this. But I have also taught that it is fine to put 10% of your money into the offering on Sunday. It’s okay to support those who ‘labor among us’. But there are also many examples in the New Testament warning Gods leaders to not be in it for the money. Now, if we took seriously the mandate in Malachi to tithe. If we want to actually bind the believer’s conscience in this way ‘how are you robbing God? By not bringing in the tithes!’ Then we need to also look at the context. Israel as a nation was mandated to ‘tithe’ of their goods [not money] in three ways. They gave to support the Levites, also for the poor, and then they gave a tithe for religious feasts. In essence this ‘tithe’ was a total of around 30 % of their annual income, not 10%! [This by the way is right around what I spend on a monthly basis for the ministry stuff I do]. So, if we were telling people ‘you are going to be cursed if you don’t pay 10%’ we are actually misreading this verse. Also, how many believers think they are going to be cursed if they don’t ‘tithe to the poor’? Most modern preaching on the tithe simply puts it in the category of the Sunday offering. Most of this type of giving goes to support salaries, building upkeep, light bills, insurance for staff. I could go on and on. A very minute portion of this money [in general] goes to the poor. Certainly not a third! Also the portion that went to the Levites could not be used to purchase anything that would be owned by the Levite. They were forbidden to own any type of personal inheritance as Levitical priests. How often does the modern concept of tithing include this? The whole point is if we are going to bind peoples consciences in this way [which we shouldn’t] then we need to make sure we are at least teaching it right! Why bring this up? This is simply a good example of what Paul is saying. ‘When I understood in a limited way, I spoke and acted in a limited way’. The answer to the problem is simply ‘becoming mature in our thinking and speaking’. Recently I read an article from a U.S. congressman, he was speaking about the situation between Israel and Palestine. He sided with a military interpretation of the Old Testament promise to Abraham to ‘posses the land’ and used that to influence his political activism for war. How ‘mature’ is this type of thinking? Did any of the JEWISH apostles do this? No. So instead of trying to ‘crisis manage’ every single doctrinal problem, we really need to mature on an overall basis and view these doctrines thru the paradigm of Jesus and his life and work. Are we imitating his ethos when we do these things? Was this the primary message and life of Jesus when he walked the earth? How did he respond to Roman oppression and unjust govt.? Did he advocate military action in defense of the promises of God made to the nation of Israel? If we as the 21st century church do not ‘rightly divide’ these things, then we are of all men ‘most miserable’ [1st Corinthians 15]. (1006)CORINTHIANS 14:1-20 Lets deal a little with ‘Tongues’. I have written before on the various ways believers view this gift. Much has been taught over the years that can be seen as extreme from both camps [the Pentecostals and the non charismatics]. Is Paul speaking about the same gift as seen in Acts 2? If not, then does that mean the only legitimate ‘tongues’ are the Acts 2 expression? If a distinction is made, then Paul obviously put his stamp of approval on the second type of tongues by actually writing about it here! Ecstatic utterance was not exclusive to the early church. Paul earlier taught that the pagans engaged in this type of speech when worshipping false idols. This does not mean that true spiritual worship has no ecstatic type elements to it. The gifts themselves are seen as divinely inspired speech [the speaking ones]. Isaiah 8:1 says ‘TAKE A LARGE SCROLL AND WRITE ON IT WITH THE PEN OF A MAN’. God was telling Isaiah that he would use his actual writings as inspired instruments from him. Scripture also speaks of ‘the tongue of a ready writer’ we are called ‘living letters’ by Paul himself. Paul doesn’t challenge the legitimacy of this type of gift, but he does stress the importance of approaching all the gifts from a standpoint of unselfishness. If when the believers are gathered, they are all functioning in self edifying gifts, then they are making the same mistake that Paul rebuked earlier with the Lords table. The purpose of the gathering and gifts are for the building up of others and not for self gain. So Paul warns them of the selfish use of the gifts. He says it’s better to use Prophecy or Teaching because others can learn and grow. Some Pentecostal groups make a distinction between the prayer time and the ministry time. They practice tongues during corporate prayer and then treat ‘a tongue uttered’ during the service as something that needs interpretation. I see some merit to his, but it should be noted that here Paul does say ‘when you bless with the Spirit’ [prayer over a meal or something like it] that your prayer is fine, but still the other person doesn’t benefit. So Paul actually includes both ‘prayer tongues’ and ‘a word in tongues’ as needing to be tamped down during the public gathering. Of course we will see the teaching on private tongues as being fine, the point I am making is Paul includes ‘prayer tongues’ along with the other type. The main thrust of Paul’s teaching on Tongues is that the gift itself is legitimate [definitions of the gift vary!] but that all the gifts of the Spirit should be used unselfishly. ‘Well brother, Paul himself says it’s fine to pray in tongues to build yourself up! Got you now!’ well actually you don’t! ‘Building ones self up’ in a private setting can be considered beneficial to the overall corporate group. I just prayed/mediated for around an hour before writing, this was personal ‘self building’ for the purpose of corporate teaching. No matter where you personally come down on the various gifts of the Spirit, it is important to do all things with the benefit of others in mind. I hate to stick this example in here, but heck I just came up with it! Last night I was watching the news. I channel surf from CNN, MSNBC, FOX and even hit the PBS station every now and again [plus the big 3 networks]. Its still the first week of President Obama’s presidency and I couldn’t help but notice the unbelievable amount of ‘slobbering’ [yes, I borrowed it from Bernie Goldberg] that was taking place. I actually clicked the channel from Hannity to CNN. Hannity just finished talking about the embarrassing amount of gushing that the media were doing over Obama. As I clicked to Anderson Cooper, they were showing clips from the first media interview that Obama has given since being in office. It was a very good interview to an Arab language station. As Cooper was asking the reporters on their first thoughts of the interview, one actually said ‘it is so unbelievably outstanding that I am actually ‘giddy’. Now, I don’t subscribe to the Hannity/Limbaugh stuff 100%, but this really was too much. The media are putting such a high expectation on the poor man that no human being could possibly fulfill their image of the man. It was also reported that George [Stephanopoulos-?] actually cried during the inauguration. Of course Chris Matthews will go down in history for describing a ‘feeling going up his leg’ during coverage of an Obama speech. What’s wrong with this picture? I understand that the average white man feels self affirmed when he engages in public displays of support for Black advancement. I too like our President and do pray regularly for him. Not too long ago I met a black homeless friend, he actually has a little apartment but he was at the free mission so I sometimes refer to all these brothers as homeless. He was under the impression that I ran some type of ministry that took in money [I never take any offerings, for radio or anything else] so as I offered to by him some groceries and stuff, he kinda went a little overboard. I really didn’t have any ‘extra money’ but I bought it any way. I didn’t get mad or feel bad about it. I still see the brother every now and then and am still willing to help him. Now, is it better to show your love for the black man by publicly crying and gushing and describing sexual type feelings when listening to the new president speak, or to actually go out and find some black person in need and meet the need? I don’t want to get into the whole political scene at all, sometimes it gets me mad. I have actually ‘cussed’ [yes, I admit it] at the screen at times. [Little curse words, not the big ones!] The point being we all need to heed the admonition in scripture to show our love by our deeds and actions. To simply put on a public display for the world means very little. (1007)CORINTHIANS 14:20-33 Paul instructs the church that when they are gathered together they should do things ‘decently and in order’. God is not the author of confusion. Notice the ‘order’ of the early church meeting. It is participatory in nature, those who give a word should take turns, those who give ‘a tongue’ need to let someone interpret. But there is no sense of ‘a pastoral speaking gift’ in this mix. Some teach that here Paul was giving directions to ‘the home group’ but they still had a regular ‘church service at the building’. This of course has no support at all from scripture or 1st century church history. Paul was simply telling ‘the church’ how to act when they met. I don’t see any hard and fast rules in which Paul is dictating some type of mandatory liturgy to the people. He is giving them some basic guidelines that are in keeping with the idea that God’s people are ‘a body’. He encourages open participation in the group. He shows how someone could be sharing and another who is ‘sitting by’ can also have a revelation. The idea is people grow and mature when they function. People become co-dependant when they simply observe. The modern church service for the most part has believers as spectators while one person speaks. While there are times where one person speaking/teaching is fine, what we have done is exalted this very limited format of ‘church’ and made it the criteria of what church is supposed to be. Note how Paul does allow for the gift of tongues to be used in the gathering, but only when there is an interpreter. He even ‘lifts’ an obscure verse from Isaiah that says God used ‘the languages of foreigners’ as a sign of judgment against unbelief. This verse has been used by the strong anti charismatic crowd to kind of say that the whole tongues thing is ‘of the devil’. Basically Paul was applying this Old Testament verse to show that when languages are spoken that people don’t understand, then unbelievers and judgment can be present. In Acts 2 there were those who said ‘what is this strange thing [tongues] are they drunk or what’. Yet others heard the ‘wonderful works of God’ in their native tongue. The lack of spiritual discernment among those who thought they were drunk was a sign showing their ignorance of Gods Spirit at work. Grant it, you could hardly blame them for thinking this, but the point Paul is making is that unknown languages being used in a setting where unbelievers can walk in does act as a sign of judgment. Paul wasn’t teaching that the gift of tongues was itself a false gift. I think this chapter is important for the present day because very few places in scripture actually deal with the way believers should meet. This chapter gives some of the basic guidelines of what our meetings should look like. I think we could all learn from the Corinthian experience. (1008)CORINTHIANS 14:34-40 ‘Let your women keep silent in the gathering, for it is not permitted for them to speak. If they have any questions let them ask their husbands at home’. As a practical matter, when me and my wife attend church, I bring one of those little note pads with me. You never know when your wife has a question! [This is a Joke! But now you can see why I don’t take offerings]. What is Paul saying here? In chapter 11, verse 5, he also told the women not to ‘prophesy’ with uncovered heads. Some think Paul is forbidding women to operate in the speaking gifts, specifically tongues. Here he seems to be addressing a specific issue at Corinth. He says ‘if they have questions let them ask their husbands’. It’s possible that the wives were interrupting the meetings, or taking an authoritative role that was beyond their calling. I already discussed how Corinth had a form of idolatry that incorporated ‘temple prostitution’. Paul did not want the churches to go the way of the culture at Corinth! Paul is not forbidding women in general to never ‘talk in church’. He closes this chapter with the admonition to do all things decently and in order. Paul has a special relationship with these believers. He spent quite a long time in their city [18 months] he launched another very effective ministry while at Corinth. Do you know what that was? He began his ‘writing ministry’ while at Corinth. He wrote his first 2 letters to the Thessalonians from the city. Paul was very hard on this church, but he did not yet challenge their basic identity as believers because of all their misgivings, he still treated them as Gods holy people. In the next chapter he will question whether or not ‘they are in the faith’. He will challenge them on their unbelief in the resurrection of Christ. (1010)CORINTHIANS 15:1-19 Paul will deal with the greatest threat yet to the Corinthian church, their doubt over the physical resurrection of the body. Various ‘Christian’ groups over the years have doubted the physical resurrection. Now, some have done this out of a sincere attempt at trying to defend the faith! [their view of it] In the 1900’s you had one of the most popular theologians by the name of Rudolf Bultman [most of his career was spent at the University of Marburg, Germany. Much of the higher criticism of the day originated from Germany] He wrote a book called ‘Kerygma and Myth’. What he tried to say was that any modern man living in the 20th century, with all the breakthroughs in science and knowledge, could not ‘literally’ believe the miraculous stories in scripture. Or even the way scripture spoke of heaven and hell and used limited terms to describe spiritual truths. He used the bibles terminology on Cosmology as an example. How could man believe in a Cosmos where ‘heaven is up there, with the stars and all’ and he felt that enlightened man needed to ‘re-tool’ the bible and cleanse it from all these mythical images, but yet keep the spiritual aspects of it. The moral teachings of Christ and stuff like that. So you have had sincere men doubt the truth claims of scripture. The problem with this attempt [higher criticism] is it throws out the baby with the bathwater. The resurrection of Jesus is presented by the apostles as a real event. The fact of this resurrection can also be attested to by examining the historical events of the day. Simply put, there is a ton of proof for the real resurrection of Christ. Bultman and others meant well, but some of the ‘facts’ that they were using were later proven to be false. Bultman used a model of cosmology that would later be rejected by science. Yet the testimony from scripture would remain sure. Paul told the Corinthian's that they needed to reject any attempts at spiritualizing the resurrection of Christ. Sometimes believers grasp hold of limited proof’s for certain doctrines. For instance, the New Testament does speak of a spiritual resurrection. In Ephesians Paul says we are presently raised with Christ. In Romans chapter 6 we have all ready been raised with Jesus. This reality does not mean there will be no future resurrection of the saints. In Johns gospel Jesus speaks of the resurrection as being a future real event, as well as a present reality. Those in the graves will hear his voice and be raised from the dead. And those who were presently ‘dead in sins’ would ‘come alive’ [spiritually] when they heard and believed the testimony of Jesus. It is important for the believer to be familiar with the various theories and ideas that theologians and believers have grasped over the years. It is a mistake to simply see all higher learning as ‘liberalism’. There are some very important things that we have learned thru the great intellectuals of the church. But we also need to stick with the ancient traditions as seen in the creeds, as well as the plain testimony of scripture. If Christ ‘be not raised from the dead, then we are of all men most miserable’. (1011)CORINTHIANS 15:20-28 here we see the guarantee of mans resurrection based on Christ's resurrection. ‘As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall ALL be made alive’. Is Paul teaching a form of universalism [all being saved]? He is showing us that all men will someday be raised from the dead. Now, does Paul leave room here for a type of Pre-millennial resurrection? A ‘raising’ of the dead prior to a thousand year literal reign of Jesus. Then another resurrection at the end? Yes he does. If you read Revelation you will see this type of scenario play out. Also Jesus speaks of the resurrection of the just and the unjust. Historically the church has held 3 basic views on this. Pre-millennialism says Jesus returns first [pre] before the literal thousand year rule occurs. ‘Post’ says the thousand year rule is literal, and after that Jesus comes back. Those who held to this view were excited at the turn of the first millennium [1000 ad] they thought it possible for Jesus to have returned after the first thousand years since his death and resurrection. And then you have A-millennial, they spiritualize the thousand year reign spoken of in the book of Revelation as being a symbol of Christ’s present rule and kingdom. Now, today’s most popular form of Pre-millennialism is not historic, it dates back to the 19th century. Today’s form is called ‘Pre-tribulational, Pre-millennial’ this teaching [dispensationalism] says Jesus comes back 2 more times. One is called ‘the rapture’ the other is the second coming [revealing]. The proponents of this form find little [or no] early Christians who believed this. There is one early writing by a Syrian brother who speaks very clearly about a rapture type event. Some think he speaks a little too clearly! The writing is believed to have been a fake. Either way we do have Paul teaching stages involved with the coming of the Lord and the kingdom. It is possible to have 2 future resurrections, this would not mean you need two future ‘second comings’. The first resurrection takes place at Christ’s return. He rules a literal thousand years and ‘the dead are raised again’ at the end of the literal rule on earth [ a literal reading of Revelation]. Also Paul does use the language of Jesus submitting to the Father at the end so ‘God will be all in all’. I feel believers have been confused and at times contradictory while trying to explain the nature of God and the Trinity. I recently read a teaching on the Trinity that tried to compare the Trinity to the nature of the organic church. It seemed confusing to me, they tried to say that just like in the Trinity you have no one ‘being’ having authority over the other, but instead you see all three persons equally submitting to one another [Father, Son and Spirit] so in the church you have equality. Now, I do believe that there is equality in the church, but I felt the example was way off. The New Testament clearly teaches the willful ‘submission’ of the Son to the Father. God [the father] is clearly the one ‘in charge’. Now, I admit it’s difficult and brothers have spent years trying to explain all the ins and outs of this. Here Paul shows us that the Son has willingly submitted to the Father so the father can put all things under him. Then once again at the culmination of the kingdom the Son submits to the father and God receives the glory. We will praise and worship Jesus thru out all eternity, it is his willful submission to the father’s plan that makes this happen. NOTE- Some believers spiritualize the first resurrection spoken of in Revelation, they relate it to those who have been ‘born again’ spiritually. Modern ‘Preterism’ holds to this view. (1013)CORINTHIANS 15:29-49 the resurrection body is a real ‘spiritual’ body. Paul describes the natural body [us now] as fleshly and like Adams body. He then describes the promised resurrection body as being like Jesus in his raised state. These verses can be a little confusing. When Paul says the resurrection body is ‘spiritual’ as compared to earthy, is he saying it is not real? No. But you can see how some early sects could use these verses and teach a ‘phantom’ type resurrection [Gnostic, Docetist type groups]. I was once asked by a Catholic believer if the church taught the physical resurrection. I assured the person that both Catholic and Protestant [and Orthodox] expressions of Christianity embrace the real future resurrection of the body. Now, is it the same body? Well, the way Paul describes it is by comparing the planting of seeds. When you plant a seed you don’t simply get a bigger seed! But you get various types of growth, whether it’s a tree or plant or whatever. So Paul says our future bodies will be new and glorious in this way, but if it weren’t really you, then it wouldn’t be a resurrection! So you will come back, but it will be a ‘new you’. Over the years I have studied various theologians [Christian ones] and I have seen the penchant for various groups to focus in on a certain doctrine and to stray somewhat from the faith. Now, they aren’t always cults, some of them are highly knowledgeable Christians who seem to be testing the boundaries of orthodoxy. I like N.T. Wright, the famous Bishop of Durham [Church of England] but you need to be grounded in what you believe before you can really read him. I feel at times he is helpful in bringing new perspectives to things, I have seen some of the things he teaches myself. But there is also a danger of ‘re-thinking’ stuff a little too much. By the way Wright has written on the resurrection and has done a great job at defending the historic churches position. He’s in somewhat of a theological controversy at the moment, some of the strong reformed brothers have come out and challenged his view on Justification. Wright teaches that the historic reformers kind of missed what Paul was saying. Wright ‘extends’ the doctrine to mean ‘a sign/badge of those who are already in Gods covenant community’. The historic reformers taught a more forensic meaning of the doctrine. That justification is primarily saying that God imputes the righteousness of Jesus to the believer. That Jesus took our sins, and we get his righteousness. Now, I feel there is some truth to Wrights view. But I would be careful to throw out the reformed view all together. There certainly is much truth to the reformed view. John Piper [a reformed Baptist] just released a book on the reformed view, Wright has one coming out pretty soon [Wrights is already published overseas, but the states wont get it for a few months]. So, the point is I believe the historic church and the ancient creeds ‘got it right’ on the resurrection. It is real, it will happen to all people some day. Those who have ‘done good’ [wow- these are Jesus actual words when describing the final judgment!] will be ‘raised to life’. Those who have done evil will be raised to face judgment. We can all escape the coming judgment, Jesus died for us. If we believe and accept his death, burial and resurrection, then we will be raised to a new life some day. 378- (I stuck this entry in here because it deals with the ‘baptism for the dead’, I didn’t want you to think that I just skipped over the verse) Let me give a little example of the ‘overriding act of redemption’ trumping any little verse or experience. Paul actually tells the Corinthians ‘if the dead are not raised, then why are you baptizing people in ‘proxy’ for the dead?’ This is tough stuff. Let me give you one way to see this. The ‘baptism for the dead’ seems to have been a real cultural thing that took place in a specific time and setting [like the slavery verses I mentioned earlier]. There seems to have been a concern specifically to the 1st century church that said ‘this new doctrine of Jesus is great, but being its only been around a few years, and you are telling us [Paul] that you must embrace it to be saved. Then we have a problem. A lot of our loved ones never got a chance to hear. How do you expect us to quell these concerns?’ And it’s possible that the ‘baptism’ by proxy [like a father or son getting baptized in the place of the loved one who died] was a 1st century cultural thing that grew out of this. The fact that they were doing this does not mean that Paul the Apostle was condoning it. Paul was simply saying ‘if you guys really don’t believe in life after death, then why are you bothering with this rite?’ Its like Paul was using their own cultural thing to show them the inconsistency of their thinking. He wasn’t really teaching the baptism for the dead. [This is my view, Mormons believe different. They do practice this today and they use this verse as justification]. (1014)CORINTHIANS 15:50-58 Okay, let’s wrap up this chapter. ‘Flesh and blood will not inherit the kingdom’ Paul speaks a little on the nature of the resurrected body. It is real, but not mortal [flesh and blood] without getting lost in the technical aspects of the actual body, Paul does make a distinction between the natural life of man [blood gives life to the mortal man] and the supernatural life of the resurrected body [spiritual life]. Then Paul shows us a mystery [something that was hidden up until the time God reveals it- here thru Paul!] that ‘we shall not all experience death, but we shall all get new bodies’. Paul teaches that some believers will not face natural death, they will be the generation that is alive at Christ’s coming. Paul says this happens at the ‘last trumpet’. For those of you not familiar with some of the silly stuff that passes under the heading of ‘theology’, let me explain some stuff. In the world of ‘dispensationalism’ there is an entire body of teaching that deals with the trumpets in scripture. Basically if Paul is teaching that this event, getting raised from the dead and being transformed, if this takes place at ‘the last trump’ then it is pretty clear that this event is not some type of rapture that takes place 7 years prior to Gods ‘last trump’ [last day, when God wraps things up]. But if you read the portions of scripture that speak about Christ’s return and the resurrection [Thessalonians 4, John 14, Matthew 25] you will see that all these scriptures teach that the resurrection takes place at the end, when Christ returns. So anyway a whole lotta time is spent by the rapture guys to explain that when you are in school, you might say ‘hey, that’s the last bell [trump] before class starts’ and that ‘last bell’ doesn’t mean ‘last bell’, but it means the ‘last bell for now’. It’s kind of silly stuff that preachers do in order to back up their theories. If scriptures ‘last trump’ isn’t really the ‘last trump’ then you can fit the rapture in as a separate event from the second coming. I think doing doctrine like this is silly and hairsplitting. The first century believers who were reading these letters [not all at once, but as they were slowly being penned and sent] simply saw all of the references on the second coming as one event. It’s silly to try and make two separate lists of the New testament verses on Christ’s coming and then place some verses under a rapture heading, and others under a ‘second coming’ heading, especially when the rapture brothers themselves cant agree on which ones belong to which list! Well any way we have a glorious promise of a future resurrection body, the last enemy that Jesus destroys is death. Revelation says ‘death and hell are cast into the lake of fire’ Jesus has power over death, hell and the grave. He will totally eradicate all death some day, Jesus tasted death for every man [Hebrews] so that man does not have to be in bondage under its fear any more. (1019)CORINTHIANS 16:1-4 ‘When you come together on the first day of the week, let every one of you put some money aside as God has provided for you. So when I come we won’t have to waste any time taking offerings. And we will use this money for the purpose of meeting the needs of the poor saints at Jerusalem. Whoever you approve to take the money to Jerusalem can do it, I might also go with them if the Lord permits. I gave this same order to all the churches in the Galatian province’ [my own paraphrase]. These verses are usually used to justify the Sunday morning offering. They are also used to teach ‘Sunday as the Lords special day’. Let’s talk a little. Paul gave these instructions to at least this church and all the churches of Galatia. We have no idea if all the first century churches actually did this. But let’s say they did. What exactly are they doing? They are taking a Sunday offering and using it 100 percent for charitable purposes. Remember how I have taught in the past that the main teaching from Jesus on giving dealt with the poor? So if we want to use this text to command believers to give on Sunday, then we need to use ALL THE MONEY for helping poor people. Paul also says ‘do it before I arrive, I don’t want to have to spend time messing around with collections’. I find it interesting that it is common today to spend a good portion of the Sunday service [any church U.S.A.] to kind of do a celebratory offering thing. Lots of time to stop and emphasize the importance of worshiping God with our money. The point I would make is Paul did none of this. He actually said he did not want to have to set aside time for the collecting of money when he arrived, and for this very reason he said take up the offering on Sunday! One more thing; it is obvious that the early believers began a tradition of meeting on Sunday. Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection on 2 consecutive Sundays. Acts 20 has believers meeting on Sunday. Jesus of course rose from the dead on Sunday. But there is no indication from scripture that believers are under some type of New Testament Sabbath law. Sort of like Sunday is now the ‘special day’ just like Saturday for Judaism. Various groups argue over this issue, I have taught on it before. In the New Covenant we have tremendous freedom to meet or not meet on Sunday. Or to meet or not meet on Saturday for that matter! But doctrinally we are free from the law and all of its observances. I appreciate the work that has been done by various scholars [Especially some catholic ones] on showing how Sunday became the special day of observance for believers. But we need to be careful when we read what the believers did in the New Testament and then proclaim it as law. I believe its fine to meet on Sunday, to take offerings and to do all of these types of things. But when we grasp hold of limited ideas, and then exalt them to a place of law, we err. Paul was simply telling this church to collect some money on the first day of the week for the sole purpose of charity. If modern day believers want to apply these scriptures literally, then we should use all of the Sunday offering for charity. If we apply them literally, then there is absolutely no sense of a tithe system to pay for salaries, building upkeep, insurance, on and on. For modern day believers to engage in such things is fine. If these expenses seem needed for the overall purpose of Gods work, then fine. But to use these verses and actually tell believers they are robbing God if they don’t tithe on Sunday is absolutely not true. I have written a lot about these things over the years [you can find stuff on my ‘statement of faith’ section and ‘what in the world is the church’ section] I do not condemn all the churches who practice these things, it’s just we need to be careful when we take examples from scripture, lift them out of context, add a few verses from Malachi and then teach some air tight system that if not obeyed brings the curse of God on someone. Do all things in grace, remember THE POOR, and you will do well. (1020)CORINTHIANS CONCLUSION- Paul concludes this long letter with a bunch of personal notes. He tells them that the Lord has opened up a great effective door for him at Ephesus and there are many adversaries. He wanted Apollos to make a visit but he did not want to at this time. He told them to go easy on Timothy because he was a fellow worker in the Lord. Overall Paul’s message to this church was one of true grace. I want to emphasize again [like we did when studying Romans and the other epistles so far] that one of the main themes of the first century apostles was belief in the gospel. Paul told these believers that it was believing in the message of the Cross that saves them. He defined the gospel as Jesus death, burial and resurrection. He encouraged them to live free as Gods community and to help each other out. Paul did not lay on them some type of guilt trip to become some high powered institution in order to ‘change their world’. He believed that the simple lifestyle of love and purity would be able to do the job. I see a contrast from the first century church and its simple gospel and today’s idea of church. Also notice how Paul was ‘planting’ these churches. He visited them, spent time with them, LEFT THEM, and continued corresponding with them thru letters and friends. In essence, first century church planting was simply establishing groups of people on the foundation of Christ. They were not organizing under some type of 501c3 model [I do realize they didn’t have this back then!] they didn’t see ‘church’ as some type of social group that you joined [Elks lodge type thing]. They actually were the church! I want to stress this theme as we continue teaching thru out the New Testament. Many times believers hold on to and embrace ideas that seem to be biblical [you can find a verse here and there type thing- proof texting] but when you see the whole story you get a better picture of what’s going on. Well I hope you guys got something out of this brief study, try and keep in mind the things that challenged you as we read thru this book. Did you see some things differently than before? Did some stuff get you mad? Did we challenge your belief system in some way? My goal is to encourage reformation in the church, not disorder! Take the new things you might have seen and implement them in Gods time. Those of your starting from scratch [first time church planters] can start with a clean slate and implement many of these ideas from day one, others who are already in ministry will have to take a more measured approach. Do all things as God leads and in his time. To all you ‘church members’ don’t take the stuff that you learned and use it to come against your ‘church’. Let God lead you on your journey and reform as God directs. It’s easy for some young rebels [or old!] to take the stuff on tithing and use it against your current church, that’s not our goal. Be patient with your pastors and leaders and allow God to use you as a force for change, not destruction. Well that's it for now; I am not sure what study we will jump into next. Recently got some good emails and phone calls from some of our friends laboring in other towns, people I did not even know of, but who follow the ministry. Those of you out there who are following along, send me an email every now and then so I can see what type of growth we are having, the different regions we are impacting. Those of you who have launched home groups, let me know how things are going. God bless till next time, John. (1192) ARE WE SUPPOSED TO BE DUMMIES? Still in Luke 18, the disciples forbid the young children from coming to Jesus; Jesus rebukes the disciples and tells them that the Kingdom of God is made up of little children. There is a theme in the New Testament that goes like this ‘become childlike in your faith and trust in me, but be mature in your thinking and understanding’. Often times these two things are confused. Why? In the letter to the Corinthians Paul will rebuke the wisdom of the world, he states that when he was among them he did not use men’s wisdom to convince them of the message of the Cross. Paul also encourages believers to be ‘child like’ as well. Many confuse Paul’s teaching with an idea that says Christians should not be engaged in the development of the mind. Paul was not rebuking all wisdom and forms of knowledge, but a specific kind of wisdom. In Acts 17 we read of Paul at Athens, the Greek intellectual city of his day [Alexandria was the philosophical center in Egypt]. As Paul disputes with the philosophers of his day he actually quotes their own poets/philosophers in his sermon, he does not quote from the Old Testament, but uses the sources that they are familiar with. Right after Athens Paul goes to Corinth, the cites are very close geographically. There was a form of philosophy at Corinth that was very popular, you had the Sophists and the professional speakers [Rhetoric] operating out of Corinth. The Sophists were the philosophers that came right before Socrates in the Greek cultural world, around 6 centuries or so before Christ. Their form of philosophy was what you would describe as the first Relativists [or post modern thinkers who appeal to subjective knowledge as opposed to objective] they taught that philosophy and arguing were simply things you do ‘just for the heck of it’. Sort of like a hobby of simply disputing things while never being able to arrive at truth, something Paul will rebuke in the New Testament by saying some people were ‘always learning and never being able to come to the knowledge of the truth’ Paul himself tells the Corinthians ‘where is the disputer of this world’. So the Sophists were famous for this type of thing. Now the great philosopher Socrates disagreed with the Sophists, Socrates taught that thru the practice of thorough debate and the art of constantly asking questions, that you could arrive at truth [seek and ye shall find type of a system]. He believed real knowledge could be found thru seeking after it. Socrates stirred the waters too much, he was put to death by being made to drink the famous hemlock, the city where this happened was Athens. So Paul more than likely is disputing the system of thought that said you could not arrive at objective truth. It’s no secret that his letter to the Corinthians has one of the strongest statements of factual [objective] belief found in the New Testament. The great chapter 15 reads like an early creed to the church ‘Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures…’ It’s very probable that this chapter was used as a sort of creed in the early Pauline churches. So, what exactly was Paul saying [and Jesus] when they taught us to be like children, to reject the wisdom of the world for the wisdom of Christ? Simply that our approach to God and the things of God should be done in a humble manner, being childlike and open to God all throughout our lives. Paul was not teaching us that the following ages of great Christian thinkers was wrong; men like Anselm, Aquinas, C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton. It is perfectly acceptable for the believer to become well versed in the field of philosophy, to argue the Christian worldview from a biblical perspective. While it is true that no church was founded by Paul after his Athens visit, and some feel he abandoned his use of ‘worldly wisdom’ at Corinth because of this failure, but I think Paul continued to appeal to the intellectual world thru his great wisdom [God given] thru out his life [read Galatians and Romans!]. Ultimately it is the wisdom of the Cross that saves people, a wisdom that Paul said he communicated not in the words of mans intellect, but in the direct ability of the Spirit to speak. Sometimes that ability came thru a sermon that quoted the philosophers of old [Athens] sometimes thru the simple sharing of the message of Christ. Jesus grew in wisdom and stature with God and man, he knew the ideas of his day, so did Paul. Do you? 2ND CORINTHIANS- (1223) INTRO, CHAPTER 1- Out of all of Paul’s letters, this one is the most autobiographical. This is Paul’s 3rd letter [some think 4th] to the Church at Corinth. There is a missing letter that we don’t have. Some scholars feel parts of the missing letter are in this letter [chapters 6, 10-13] either way, we know the letter is inspired and part of the canon of scripture. In chapter one Paul recounts the difficulties he went thru [and continues to go thru] for the sake of the gospel. Paul sees both his sufferings AND his deliverance as beneficial for the communities [churches] he is relating to. He says ‘God establishes/strengthens us and anoints us together with you’. Paul’s view of the church [his ecclesiology] is that God works with corporate groups of believers. His view on discipline is seen from this angle. In 1st Corinthians he says because we do not live to ourselves, therefore if one is in open, unrepentant sin, then commit him to judgment. Why? Because everything that one member does affects the others. I would not go so far and say that Paul taught ‘no salvation outside of the church’ but he sees salvation and Gods working with humans as a corporate experience. The Catholic Church for the first time in her history accepted other Protestant churches who confess Christ and his deity as ‘separated brethren’. This happened at Vatican 2 [1962-65]. The council explicitly taught the other churches were actually ‘churches’. They specifically used the word ‘subsists’ when describing their view of the church. They said the church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church in it’s fullness. They still believe that the fullest expression of Christ’s church on earth is contained within her, but they rejected the hard line doctrine that the church exclusively resides within her. They realized that God was working with all Christian groups/churches, not just one. I recently saw an ad in my local paper from one of the traditional Latin churches, these are the old ‘tridentine’ churches who observe the mass in Latin. The ad said that salvation is only in the Catholic expression of the church. I hate to correct my Catholic brothers [being I am a Protestant] but this language is not in keeping with the spirit of Vatican 2. Paul understood that God was working with him along with the corporate groups of people that he was relating to as an apostle. He will even teach that this dynamic can take place when they are physically separated, i.e.; he did not have to be in the same room/city for God to be working with them as a community. This is very important to see, it comes against certain expressions of local church. It also opens the door for other expressions of church, like ‘on-line’ communities. There are passages of scripture where Paul does say that whether he is with them in body or not, yet he is present in spirit joying and beholding their growth in Christ. Or he says word got back to him about their growth and he rejoiced in it. While believers should physically meet together as a testimony of their faith, yet the fact that there are occasions where this might not be possible does not mean that they can’t be joined together in spirit and truth. Peter says ‘you who were not a people are now the people of God. You who did not obtain mercy have now obtained it’. God ‘birthed’ churches [communities of believers] thru the apostolic ministry of Paul, these groups were both birthed and received mercy as a corporate event, they understood that they were brothers and sisters in Christ. (1224) 2nd CORINTHIANS 2- Paul instructs the church to forgive the brother who was excommunicated earlier on [1st Corinthians] he tells them just as they were zealous to carry out the previous judgment, so now they should be willing to forgive. He says it’s possible for people to be overcome with too much sorrow. The other day I wrote a post on Obama’s green jobs czar, I felt [and still feel!] that he needed to resign, he resigned 2 days after I wrote the post. I have also seen some conservatives say good things about the man [Van Jones] that in essence he has also done some good things. But they feared that he will be tagged as this nut case who signed the 911 ‘truthers’ petition [well, he really should not have signed the thing]. The point was it’s possible to over do an attack on an individual like this, to not stop until all the czars fall type of a thing. Paul reminds us that there are times of being hard with people, but the purpose for it is too bring them to their senses. Here Paul warns against being unforgiving. He also says that when he shared Gods word with them he did not do it like others; he said they were ‘peddling/corrupting’ Gods word. This carries with it the idea that certain people/ministers were preaching for profit. Paul is not saying ‘too much profit’ he is simply saying those who were sharing the word and taking money in return. We already know that Paul's mode of operation was to support himself when with the churches [see Acts 20] and at times he even paid the way for his fellow workers. Paul carried out the greatest apostolic ministry known to man [apart from Christ] and he did it free of charge at his own expense. Paul tells them that when he wrote to them he did it thru much affliction and difficulty. He previously spoke about God opening up great opportunities for him, but along with the gift came a great price. Let me share a little personal stuff with you guys. My wife went to the E.R. the other day with some serious problems; she has been admitted into the hospital. We do not have health care insurance. When I retired I couldn’t afford to keep it. I managed to get my kids insurance, but me and my wife are on our own. Out of the 2 of us I have a few more serious health problems than she does. Some have been self inflicted [past mistakes] others just happened. The way I ‘self-treat’ is I go on line and do ‘home cures’- this my friends is not good. Some have helped, others I am not sure of. But this past year I had some things that needed to be checked [like bleeding from places where you shouldn’t be] and frankly, I haven’t done it. But I needed my wife to stay healthy, so this has been pretty awful for me. At the same time we had some serious problems with one of our daughters, and we were/are in a real bind over this. During this whole time I started this new bible study [2nd Corinthians] and whenever I start a study I just do a chapter a day and it doesn’t take long at all to finish. But I wonder how many I’ll be able to do over the course of my life. I would like to do the whole bible, but I realize that it’s thru ‘much affliction and suffering’ that I have written to many of you. Paul said he had the ‘sentence of death within himself’ so he would learn not to trust in himself, but in God who raises the dead. As we read thru these letters, see the real problems and difficulties they were facing; hear Paul when he says ‘I am not peddling Gods word’ he was not taking offerings or collecting money for his own well being. He collected only for the poor saints at Jerusalem. Watch the give and take, the beliefs of the early church. We need an overhaul in our thinking and acting, ‘ministry/preaching/church’ all need to be re looked at, we need to teach/train the upcoming ‘crop’ of pastors in a new way. Don’t see these things as jobs, or opportunities for self advancement, see these things as opportunities to lay your life down for others, to cling to the death experiences and not run from them. Paul said we are the sweet fragrance of Christ to the nations; in both them who are dieing and those who are being saved. God reveals his knowledge thru us to all people groups, we die daily so this fragrance can go forth. (1225) 2ND CORINTHIANS 3- Paul defends his apostleship, he states he needs no letters of approval for them or from them. They are his ‘letter of proof’ written on their hearts. Paul puts more weight on the work of the Spirit in them as a church, than on written letters. I find this interesting; the historic church has been divided over the issue of how much weight should be placed on tradition versus scripture. There is some confusion on the matter; lets clear it up. First, the Catholic Church does not teach that there are 2 words from God, sort of like tradition is one word and the bible is the other. They believe Gods word comes to us in two forms/ways- both scripture and tradition. The Protestant reformers did not totally reject tradition, they are creedal churches! They simply taught that Gods word was the final arbiter in issues of faith and morals. I do find it interesting that Paul put more weight on the ‘fleshly letters’ [the church] than written ones. He also contrasts the Law of Moses [10 commandments] with the New Covenant in Jesus Blood. He says if the glory of the old law, which was fading away, was so strong that Moses had to put a veil on his face. Then how much more glorious is the New Law in Christ! Some feel that Paul was saying that Moses veil was covering up the glory on his face that was fading away. When Moses went to get the law, on his return from the mountain his face shown, some feel this glory/shining was beginning to fade and Moses put the veil on so the people wouldn’t see it fading. In context I don’t think this is what Paul was saying. The thing that was fading [passing away] was the law itself [see Hebrews]. Moses was not a vain man; I don’t think he was hiding the fact that the glory was leaving his face. All in all Paul says this New Covenant of Gods grace is much greater than the Old Covenant of condemnation. That in this New Covenant we behold Gods face openly, by the ministry of the Spirit. No more veil, we are changed by the Spirit of God and the work of Jesus. Paul says these two covenants are like comparing apples and oranges; they are in a whole different class. (1226) 2ND CORINTHIANS 4- In chapter 3 Paul said we are beholding/seeing God in an open way as compared to the old covenant. In this chapter he shows us how we ‘see God’. We see him in his Son. God has chosen to reveal himself to us thru his Son. One of the first Christian councils [after the one at Jerusalem in Acts 15!] was held in the 4th century under the Roman emperor Constantine. The reason was to bring unity to the church on the issue of Christ’s divinity. These councils played political roles as well as theological. After Constantine became emperor he established the great city in the eastern empire called Constantinople. This city [named after him] became both the theological and political seat in the eastern half of the empire. So you had both a religious and political competition going on in the empire. Rome, situated in the west, was feeling like she would lose her position if the eastern half started gaining too much influence. So you had differing reasons for these councils. But you also had sincere men who held to various beliefs at the time. The bishop Arius came to teach that Jesus was the Son of God, but not God himself. This created a stir in the empire and Constantine called a council to settle the question. The debates went forth, both views were discussed and classic Orthodoxy came down on the side of Jesus being God. Now, there would be more councils dealing with Gods nature and Christ’s role, but this was a defining moment in Christian history. The church [and the scriptures] teach that God became man [incarnation] and thru Jesus we ‘see God’. Paul also relates the many sufferings and trials he was going thru. He says he tastes death and bears in his body the death of Jesus. He simply does not give a picture of the Christian life that is common in today’s world. Many believers are taught that these types of difficulties and sufferings are a result of their lack of faith, or their inability to rightfully ‘access their covenant rights’. Paul refutes this doctrine strongly. Paul has already mentioned those who ‘peddle Gods word’ or who twist the scriptures for their own benefit. It always amazes me to see well meaning believers/teachers go thru the entire corpus of the New Testament and never see these things. It’s so easy for preachers/teachers to read the scriptures with blinders on. Here Paul taught that the many sufferings [both physical and spiritual] were an honorable thing, they were his way of sharing in the sufferings and death of Christ. They were ‘death in him, but life in you’ he saw his difficulties thru a redemptive lens. He says the present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us. The first verse of this chapter says seeing we have received this great ministry, we don’t faint. I like Eugene Petersons Message version, he says ‘just because times get hard, we don’t throw up our hands and walk off the job’ I like that. (1227) 2ND CORITNHIANS 5- Paul speaks of the Christian hope- resurrection! This chapter can be confusing if not taken in context. You could think that Paul is saying when we die we have a house/room in heaven ‘waiting for us’ and this seems true enough. But he is really saying something more along the lines of ‘in heaven [Gods realm] we have a promise of a new body. The Spirit in us is the down payment, but full redemption will be complete when we are raised from the dead’ the hope is a new body, not our souls living some type of disembodied existence in a heavenly mansion. Now, Paul teaches us that this new covenant [last chapter] is one of reconciliation, not condemnation. That because of the work of the Cross, all men have been reconciled to God! It is therefore our job to tell them. In the field of Christian thought there have been thinkers [Origen, Carlton Pearson, etc.] who have dabbled with the doctrine of universalism. They believe that ultimately all people will be saved. I do not believe in this doctrine myself [though I wished it were true- I mean wouldn’t you want everyone forgiven and with God?] but those who embrace it find there reasoning in these types of verses. The New Testament teaches a theme of redemption that says ‘all men have been reconciled to God; Jesus has died for all men. God wills for all to be saved’ and it is because of this theme that some have held to universalism. The point I do want to make to all my orthodox friends is the New Testament message is one of total acceptance based on Christ’s death for us. Sometimes Christians ‘make it hard’ for people to ‘get saved’. The bible doesn’t make it hard, it says it’s a free gift that anyone can have [I know my Calvinist friends are upset right now, but heck I cant please all the people all of the time]. We want the world to know that ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself’. These major themes need to be engrained into the mind of the church and the world. I am not talking ‘easy believism’ in the sense that God requires no repentance, but I am talking the reality of the free gift based upon what Jesus has done. There are so many people struggling with so many things, many have prayed and pleaded with God for change. Many have given up; they see God as a demanding judge whom they could never please. The message of the Cross is ‘you can’t please God, make up for your own sins. God placed those sins on Jesus, that’s why you can be accepted’. He was made sin for us, who knew no sin. That we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Once you see this truth, God will set you free. You will change, you will become ‘righteous’ but it’s a result of the Cross, not your own efforts. (1228) 2ND CORINTHIANS 6- Paul tells them to not receive Gods grace ‘in vain’. He quotes a very popular verse among Evangelicals ‘now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation’. He says the Lord heard their prayer and ‘accepted/saved them’. Paul is referring to salvation in the sense that after his first letter, they repented, asked God for forgiveness and responded in the right way. Now in this letter he’s saying ‘look, God heard your heart. He has received you. Don’t keep repenting over the thing’. Paul also gives another list of his trials. He gave one in chapter 4, will give another one in chapter 11. I like the part where he says ‘we are unknown, yet well known’. In today’s Protestant/Evangelical churches, we are often ‘well know, yet unknown’. Let me explain. In Paul’s day he raised up quite a stir. In the book of Acts we see how when he was at the temple in Jerusalem someone finally recognized him and accused him. He wasn’t’ well recognized/known like we are today. Yet his writings and the communities of believers he was establishing were well known. People knew his message and gospel. Yet today, we have so many Christians who follow a cult of personality. They associate ‘the church they attend’ with the main leader. Often these men are well meaning, in some cases their public persona is known world wide. Yet the average viewing audience has no grasp on what they are teaching. They see our famous images [well known] yet what we are speaking is often irrelevant [unknown]. And last but not least Paul teaches what I like to call ‘an incarnational ecclesiology’- in simple terms, God lives in his people in a real way. The real presence of God in society is manifest thru his actual people. Often times the historic churches will emphasize the Eucharist as the way Gods presence is in the world. Some argue for ‘an incarnational sacramental’ view of Christianity. They teach that because God manifested himself in a material way thru Christ [the incarnation] that this principle continues today thru the sacraments that the churches practice. I respond this way; while this is true that God has/does manifest himself in real ways in the world, the primary method of him dwelling in the world in a real way is thru the people of God. Paul refers to us as Gods temple in the world. While the history of Israel in the Old Testament is somewhat liturgical, I feel to carry sacramental theology too far into the New Covenant misses the point. Jesus did give us the communion meal, and we do ‘show his death’ while celebrating it. But Gods primary means of ‘showing’ himself to the world is thru the charitable deeds of his saints. They will ‘know we are Christians by our love, by our love’. This theme is woven thru out the entire New Testament. Its’ fine for believers to have ‘sacred space’ [church buildings] to celebrate liturgy and traditional forms of Christian worship, but to keep in mind that we are the actual dwelling place of God in the world, we are his temple. During the first millennia of Christian history the church developed an idea that said because Jesus did come in the flesh, therefore it is now permitted to have Icons [special religious paintings that have special meaning in the Greek/Eastern Orthodox churches] and physical ways for Gods presence to manifest. The western church [Catholic] would struggle over this issue. One of the Popes would condemn iconography and some would destroy these religious paintings from the church buildings. Eventually an Orthodox theologian [I think John of Damascus?] would develop the theology that I explained above and the church would accept the practice of God manifesting himself in a special way thru religious objects. I personally enjoy the Catholic/Orthodox and traditional expressions of Christianity, but I think they over did it in this area. (1229) 2ND CORINTHIANS 7- Paul tells them that at first he regretted being so hard on them in his 1st letter. But now he rejoices that he was so hard, because they fully heard him out and came to their senses. I have found over the years that many people initially ‘hate’ me for some of the stuff I write. But sometimes they really reconsider certain beliefs that they picked up along the way and they make adjustments, this is the purpose. So Paul was glad he did it. Now when he was in Macedonia he was in distress 'without were fighting’s, within were fears’ he struggled daily with difficulty. But in all these troubles he rejoiced when the good report came back to him from Titus, his co worker who was sent to check up on the Corinthians. Titus came back and told Paul how they listened to him and repented. This was Paul’s reason to rejoice. I want you to see the give and take between Paul and these churches/communities. In the next chapter we will deal with money issues, but for now he is giving his life away for the benefit of these churches. He preaches the pure gospel of Jesus, he does not view ‘being a child of the king’ thru the lens of making wealth or having no problems, to the contrary he will teach that these doctrines are not from the Lord [see 1st Timothy 6]. Paul’s intent was to establish these churches on the reality of Christ and what the Cross meant in their lives. He urges them to separate from idolatrous and sinful practices and for them to be holy [set apart] for Gods work. He warns his churches not to come under the influence of false teachers, people who were bringing in ‘damnable heresies’ even denying the faith of Jesus. All in all Paul made plain the reality of Jesus and how we as believers do not pursue the desires of the world, he tells Timothy ‘we came into the world without wealth and material goods, when we die we can’t take it with us. So lets be happy with what we have’ no doctrine of seeking extreme wealth to advance the kingdom, but to live soberly and righteously in the present world. These letters that we are covering [all the studies we have done so far on this blog] are the foundational documents of the church, we need to read and hear what they are saying. Too many churches are built upon proof texts found all over the bible, but when you read the actual story in context, they tell a different story. Paul rebuked this church in a strong way; they were sorry and broken over the things he said. Then after a period of time they humbled themselves and made some changes. That’s all Paul wanted, for his converts to stay on course. (1231) 2ND CORINTHIANS 8- Paul talks about giving in these next 2 chapters. It’s important to see the context in which he is speaking. Many fine men [pastors] and believers will use a verse or two out of these chapters and apply them in a wrong, or out of context way. We find verses like ‘he that sows [plants] sparingly will reap sparingly’ or ‘God shall supply all your needs according to his riches and glory’. These verses [as well as a few others] are to be seen in the context of giving in a charitable way, doing it by ‘choice’ and not by force, and giving freely to help the poor saints that were living at Jerusalem. But too often these verses are used to tell believers if they do not tithe 10 percent of their income into a Sunday morning offering, they will be cursed. Or appeals are made by the TV preachers that say ‘sow into this ministry and reap a harvest’ in many of these scenarios there is tremendous force and manipulation used to get the saints to give money for all types of projects, or to fund the rich lifestyles of charismatic figures. These things ‘ought not to be done’. In this chapter Paul says he that gathered little had ‘no lack’ how often have we taught believers to ‘get a full harvest’ and said it in a way that says unless you ‘gather much’ you will be in lack? Here Paul says those who gathered ‘just enough’ those who were satisfied with the basics ‘had no lack’. Or ‘give according to what you have, not according to what you don’t have’ how many appeals are made all the time telling believers ‘if you don’t have it, make a vow anyway’? We tell people to give according to what they don’t have all the time. And the churches of Macedonia did give ‘out of their poverty and great affliction’ you do not measure the success or spirituality of believers by the amount of financial wealth they have, these giving churches had ‘poverty’. All in all we need to rethink much of what the contemporary church/ministry does when it comes to money. In these chapters Paul teaches voluntary giving along the lines of helping the poor, we often use all these verses and simply apply them to our ‘churches’ ministries or personal callings. We err. In the next chapter Paul will quote Psalms ‘he hath dispersed abroad, HE HATH GIVEN TO THE POOR, his righteousness remains forever’ again, the whole context is giving to the poor. I know we mean well as believers, but we need to get back to really reading what the text is saying and applying it in that way. To give to churches, or ministries is fine. To give 10 % of your income is fine. To meet the needs of laboring elders/pastors is fine, but we should not use these types of scriptures in a condemning way when exhorting the saints to give, doing that is ‘not fine’. (1232) 2ND CORINTHIANS 9- Paul encourages the church to be generous ‘give much, and you will be blessed much’. The principle is clear. The other day I wrote on the verse ‘he hath distributed and given to the poor, his good works will endure’ [my paraphrase] let me give you what the message bible says- ‘he throws caution to the wind, giving to the needy with reckless abandon’. Yesterday my friend John David came by. He’s the friend I wrote about a few weeks ago, one of the local homeless guys. John is doing well; he made it thru the local drug rehab and is attending the aa/na meetings. John is really excited about the lord, even though he is an older brother [57] he really wants to do things for God. I gave him a few old copies of some of my original books I wrote years ago, and I gave him all the cash I had [around 15 dollars from my wallet]. He didn’t ask for it, I just felt ‘what the heck, if I don’t give it I’ll just spend it’. Later my wife asked me if I could take my daughter to get her I.D. at the driver’s license place. You need cash, it’s around 16 dollars. I thought ‘geez, maybe I’m too reckless in giving to my buddies’ and then I read this verse this morning. Paul exhorts these believers to give themselves and their goods away for the gospel. He challenges us to live with ‘reckless abandon’ knowing that our lives are like a vapor that appear for a little while and then vanish away [James]. If you give yourself away, God will increase ‘your seed’ and multiply the results 100 times, but you must lay down your life first. Jesus said unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abideth alone. But if it dies it will bring forth much fruit. He was speaking of his impending death, how he saw it as a necessary event for the purposes of God. Paul also says in his letter ‘if Jesus died for everyone, then we are all dead. He then that lives should now live for God.’ We are not here to please ourselves, to derive some type of fulfillment through our Christian experience. That is to ‘seek to save our lives’ we are here to lay them down for a greater cause, Jesus showed us how this must be done. (1233) 2ND CORINTHIANS 10- Paul defends himself once again, he says ‘the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but mighty thru God to the pulling down of strongholds. Casting down imaginations [arguments] and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God’. Contrary to popular opinion, Paul is not speaking about ‘spiritual warfare’ in the sense of casting demons out of the sky, but he is talking about refuting false opinions and ideas that the false teachers were popularizing. In essence true spiritual warfare is presenting the truth of Christ in its purist form and undoing false/popular ideas that don’t line up with scripture. Paul also defends his right to speak into their lives/location. He says he has been given a sphere/place of authority by God, and this area did indeed cover Corinth. He also claims authority for other regions. In scripture Apostles do have more of a regional authority/influence than other types of callings. Paul did not exercise his authority in a way that said ‘you guys must only listen to me’ in the sense that ‘submitting’ to authority meant actually listening to him preach every Sunday. The New Testament churches had tremendous freedom and sharing in their corporate get togethers. It actually was the false teachers who tried to cause these early believers to come under their control. In Galatians Paul says ‘who hath bewitched you’ or cast a spell on you. Paul would only come in and use his authority in a strong way when the churches strayed from the simplicity that was in Christ. In this chapter he says the authority that he had was for the purpose of building them up, not tearing them down. The main way Paul ‘did battle’ was thru the refuting of the false teachers thru the scripture [Old Testament] and presenting the fullness of Gods grace in Christ. Paul often used examples from urban life to help him get his point across- things like sports, arenas, military, etc. Jesus used more of an agrarian type setting in his parables- fishing, seed planting, etc... Of course they both used other symbols as well, but the point was they spoke and argued their ideas in ways that their hearers would be familiar with. When Paul refuted the philosophers at the Areopagus [Mars Hill, Acts 17] he made use of the public forum to get his points across. Paul operated in an intellectual world, as opposed to Peters fishing background. But they all presented Christ in his fullness, whether the message came from a fisherman or a theologian. Paul simply had a little better equipment when it came to refuting the false philosophies of his day. He didn’t buy the argument that ‘they were not in his sphere’ sort of like religion belongs ‘in the church building’ but leave the science and philosophy to us. He had authority from God to function in those spheres. (1234) 2ND CORINTHIANS 11- Paul fears that the church will be drawn away from the simplicity that is in Christ. He warns of false teachers/apostles and defends his own calling. He says he espoused them to Christ in marriage, yet the false teachers were bringing in a different gospel, spirit and Jesus. He uses this same language in his letter to the Galatians. Who were these false teachers? Probably the Judaisers, the main instigators of Paul. Over the years many well meaning believers who are members of various churches have used verses like this to describe the ‘church down the block’. Whether it was over the gifts of the Spirit, water baptism, or a host of other doctrines. Often times these verses on ‘false teachers’ would be used to strike fear into the hearts of their members. In context these types of verses are speaking of those who reject historic Christianity, the reality of grace and other Christian teaching. Those who were trying to supplant the true gospel and bring the churches under legalism. Now, in this chapter we see Paul make a defense by saying he did not take financial support from the Corinthians, but ‘robbed other churches’ instead. Meaning he did receive financial aid from other believers. He says the churches of Macedonia helped out. We also read in the letter to the Philippians that they too helped Paul with money. I used to think that the only church that Paul did not receive aid from was the Church at Corinth. He does seem to say that he used this style of ‘taking no offerings’ only when at Corinth. Many believers are under the same impression. A careful reading of the New Testament shows us that this was not the case; in Acts chapter 20 [read my commentary on Acts 20] he teaches us that when he was staying with the church at Ephesus he also worked and provided for himself and those who were with him. He says he did this to give the leaders an example, so the Ephesian elders/pastors would not see ministry thru the lens of a hired profession. Peter says the same when speaking as ‘an elder to fellow elders’ taking the oversight of the believers, willingly, not for ‘filthy lucre’. And Paul says the same to the church at Thessalonica. Now some argue that leaders/elders should never accept financial help. I think that is going too far myself [though I never take a dime!]. The point is it was okay for Christian brothers to help other brothers out when in need. The things that Paul tried to avoid was elders/leaders seeing ministry thru the lens of ‘it’s my job’ type of a thing. But Paul clearly says stuff like ‘they that preach the gospel should live of the gospel’ here he is saying those who are actively giving themselves to teaching the word should be taken care of. I suggest you read the sections ‘what in the world is the church’ and ‘prosperity gospel’ I have many posts in there that deal with this issue. Overall Paul did not forbid fellow believers from helping him, but he certainly did not teach a doctrine of ‘sow into my ministry for a harvest’ type of a thing, in a way where he justified extreme wealth coming from the offerings of the churches. We need to keep the entire story/picture in mind when appealing to these verses in the current day. The New Testament is not a materialistic book, it warns against those who ‘peddle the word’ [taught for money]. It plainly tells leaders ‘don’t do it with financial reward in mind’. In today’s media environment these warnings are mocked and described as ‘that old tradition’ many err because they know not the scriptures. (1235) 2ND CORINTHIANS 12- Before I get into a long history discussion with you guys, let’s hit a few verses. Paul says ‘when I was with you, did I gain a profit from you, take advantage of you?’ or ‘when I sent Titus, did he gain a profit from you?’ He then goes on and says the fathers lay up money for the kids, not the other way around. He says he has spent out of his own pocket for them, and he will continue to do so. He says he does all this so people won’t have the excuse ‘he’s just in it for the money’. Notice, Paul himself did not have the common mindset we see in ministry today. Often times financial appeals are made from Paul’s writings in Corinthians, these appeals often say ‘we are not asking for ourselves, but for you’ it is put in a way that says it would be wrong to not take money from people. That in some way not taking an offering would violate scripture. Paul flatly said he did not take money from them for personal use, nor would he. When the modern church uses Paul’s other sayings in this letter to appeal to giving, we need to share ‘the whole counsel of God’ not just a few verses that fit in with what we practice. Now, Paul speaks about being caught up into ‘heaven’ [Gods realm-Paradise] and hearing truths from God that were not lawful for men to speak. He states that God gave him truth that came from Divine revelation. If you skip a few pages over in your bible, you will hit Galatians. In the first chapter he says how after he was converted he did not confer with the other leaders at Jerusalem, but received teaching straight from God. Let’s discuss what revelation is, how we come to know things. The last few centuries of the first millennium of Christian history you had the ‘Holy Roman Empire’ which was a political/religious union of church and state. Under the emperor Charlemagne the territories of the empire were vast. Those who came after him did not have the same control over the regions that were vast. Eventually you had a form of rule arise that was called Feudalism; the sections of the empire that were too far to benefit directly from Rome would simply come under the authority of the local strongman [much like the present dilemma in Afghanistan, I think it’s time to get our boys out of that mess]. People would come under the authority of a ruler and he would lease out land to the citizens and they would benefit from his protection. The citizens were called Vassals and the land was called a Fief. At one point king John of England would do public penance in a disagreement he had with the Pope and all of England would become a Fief under the rule of the Pope. Now, this would eventually lead up to the development of the strong nation states, an independent identifying with your state/region as opposed to being under Rome and the papacy. This type of independence would allow for the 16th century reformation to happen under Luther. If it were not for Frederick the Wise, the regional authority in Germany where Luther lived, he would have never had the protection or freedom to launch his reformation. Luther also had the influence of being a scholar at Wittenberg. Around the 12th-13th centuries you had the first university pop up at the great cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. The word university simply meant a co-operative effort from two or more people. It applied to many things besides learning. It was also during this time that the church began to develop a system of harmonizing Christian doctrine; she began to do systematic theology. The writings of the Greek philosophers [Aristotle] were rediscovered after centuries of them being hidden, and the great intellectual Saint Thomas Aquinas would wed Aristotle’s ideas with Christian truth. This became known as Scholasticism. Aquinas believed that men could arrive at a true knowledge of God from pure reason and logic. But man could not know all the truths about God and his nature without ‘special revelation’ [the bible and church tradition]. All Christians did not agree with Aquinas new approach to Christian truth, the very influential bishop Bernard would initially condemn Aquinas over this. Bernard said ‘the faith that believes unto righteousness, believes! It does not doubt’. The Scholastic school taught that the way you arrive at knowledge was thru the continuous questioning and doubting of things until you come to some basic conclusions. These issues would be debated for centuries, and even in the present hour many argue over the issue of Divine revelation versus natural logical reasoning. Tertullian, an early North Afrcian church father, said ‘I believe because it is preposterous, illogical’ he became famous for his saying ‘what does Jerusalem have to do with Athens’ meaning he did not believe that Greek philosophy should have any part with Christian truth. Origen, his contemporary, believed the other way. So the debate rages on. Why talk about this here? Some believers ‘believe’ in a type of knowledge called ‘revelation knowledge’ they mean something different than the historic use of the term. Historically ‘revelation’ meant that which God revealed to us THRU THE BIBLE, not something outside of the bible. For instance, the first canon of scripture put together was by a man called Marcion. His ‘bible’ contained the letters of Paul and parts of :Luke. He believed the revelation God gave Paul was for us today, not the Old Testament or the historical gospels. He was condemned by the church as a heretic. The point being some took Paul’s writings about receiving knowledge from God as an indicator that what God showed Paul was different than what the church got thru the other apostles. In point of fact the things that God revealed to Paul, or to you or me; all truth is consistent, it will not contradict any other part of Gods truth. Paul’s letters are consistent with the gospels, not in contradiction. When believers cling to an idea that their teachers are sharing ‘special revelation’ or a Rhema word that is somehow above the scrutiny of scripture, then they are in dangerous territory. Paul did appeal to his experience with God as a defense of his gospel, but he backed up everything he said with Old Testament scripture. God wasn’t ‘revealing’ things to Paul that were outside of the realm of true knowable ‘truth’. You could examine and test the things Paul was saying, he wasn’t saying ‘because God showed it to me, that’s why I’m correct’. So in today’s church world, we want all the things we learn and believe to be consistent with what the church has believed thru out the centuries. Sure there are always things that are going to be questioned and true reform entails this, but beware of teachers who come to you with ‘revelation knowledge’ or a ‘Rhema word’ that goes against the already revealed word of truth. (1236) 2ND CORINTHIANS 13- Okay, it took 13 days to do this brief study. Paul finished up his letter by telling them that God gave him authority to build them up, not tear them down. The message bible says ‘to not tear them apart’. Why say this? Because after 13 chapters [yes, I know the chapters are not in the original!] it sure felt like he wrung them thru a wringer. In Jeremiah 1:10 God gives him power to root out, tear down, uproot and also build up. If you read the exact wording Jeremiah does 4 ‘deconstructing acts’ and 2 constructing ones. It is part of leadership to spend more time dealing with the problems than doing the good stuff. Dealing with the problems is actually part of ‘the good stuff’. We spent a few weeks simply trying to look at the context of Paul and his relating to the Corinthians. How many good men and churches spend whole lifetimes quoting a verse or two from this letter, maybe during an offering time. Then applying it in a way that has people focused on money and wealth building [a verse like ‘he became poor so we might be rich’] and yet the verse is totally taken out of context. You might hear it a million times thru out your whole church going experience, and yet never really come to a sober understanding of the text. These types of problems [proof texting] are a major problem in the Protestant/Evangelical churches, good men simply losing their way. Paul was tough on the believers, but when he was thru with them they were much better off for it. The level of correction and reproof in the modern church is very low, we simply do not receive or listen to reproof. Those who wish to excel in their callings and purposes in God are those who listen and make the proper adjustments. Proverbs says reproofs and correction are the path to life. As I finish up another one of our many blog studies, I am not sure what we will do next, but as you read these brief New Testament studies, see them in context. Look at them as whole letters that have meaning, don’t just see individual verses. When you read these letters as a ‘whole’ you will stay on course and avoid the snares and weeds that may prominent preachers and teachers have fallen into, you will avoid the pitfalls of creating a story from a few chopped up sections of a letter. Seeing these wonderful New Testament letters in context will ground you in grace and keep you on course, in the end you will be built up on a good foundation. Like Paul said in his first letter to them ‘if any man build wood, hay, stubble- or precious stones’; the day of judgment will show what you valued the most. Those who take these letters and turn them into moneymaking schemes, or techniques for worldly success, they have built things that will burn up. Those who take these epistles and build their lives on Gods grace and the reality of the Cross, their lives will show good fruit that will not be burned up on the Day of Judgment.

Classics [All writing by me- john Chiarello]

[STUDY] CLASSICS-These are just posts where I mentioned some of the classics of western literature. Hopefully it will encourage people to become more familiar with the classics 2065 The Iliad and Odyssey [Homer] I want to cover some of the classics of Western Literature- when I do the philosophy and science stuff- the purpose is to show how God- and ‘religion’ are an inescapable thread that we see all thru out history- and in fact- the rise of what we call ‘intellectualism’ did indeed come from the Judaic/Christian tradition [for instance- the modern day university system did come from the Church]. Ok- lets start with what most believe to be the greatest work from antiquity- outside of the bible. These are 2 poems by Homer- the Iliad and Odyssey. These poems were written in the 8th century BCE- and cover the Trojan war- which most believe was a real war- that took place in the 12th-13th century BCE. In Homers works we read about this epic battle. The war starts with- once again- a ‘woman’ issue. Prince Paris of Troy steals Helen of Greece- from her husband King Menelaus [king of Sparta]. The Greeks- led by Achilles- lay siege to Troy. In Homers telling of the event- the Greeks are actually defending the honor of marriage- and are carrying out a just retribution against an unjust act. Sort of the same themes we read in scripture- when the sons of Jacob defended the honor of their sister Dinah- when she was treated unjustly by the pagan nation that took her- forcefully- to be the wife of a kings son. The brothers meted out justice- by tricking these pagans to get circumcised- then- while recovering ‘from surgery’- the sons went in and wiped out the city- to their fathers dismay! In the story- Achilles is a warrior- who displays extreme violence- and also the human traits of a man who acts out of selfish motives. At one point in the war- he removes himself from battle- because he feels his honor was betrayed. The only thing that brings him back is the killing of his close friend Patroclus- by Hector. Achilles leads the Greeks to victory- and reflects the struggle between living a long life- or dying young- yet dying for a just cause. One of the more famous quotes form Homer’s Poems- attributed to Achilles- is ‘I carry 2 sorts of destiny to the day of my death. Either, if I stay here and fight beside the city of the Trojans, my return home is gone, but my glory shall be everlasting; but if I return home to the beloved land of my fathers, the excellence of my glory is gone, but there will be a long life- left for me, and my end in death will not come to me quickly.’ There has been some debate over the historicity of the war itself. Some scholars believe it was Myth [I’ll get to this in a moment]. That is- they believe the war itself was not true- but a sort of Oral Tradition- that encompasses the reality of the human condition- and that Homers Poems are simply mythological ways to reveal the true condition of man. Yet- much like the debate that took place in the 19th century German universities- over the ‘Myth’ of the bible- later on- the rise of what we now call Archaeology [because of the Industrial revolution- a new field arose- men started digging up the ground- for the primary purpose of extracting materials from the earth- and at this time we also discovered ‘lost worlds’- that is we could actually trace cities and lands that were once deemed fake]. So- as with Homers Troy- and bible lands- these archaeologists did indeed find Cities that matched the stories. In 1870 the German Archaeologist Schliemann discovered remains that seemed to find the city of Troy- the area is known today as modern day Turkey. This same thing happened with the bible- we did indeed find historical evidence that seemed to back up the historicity of the stories we find in the bible. As a matter of fact- a famous doubter of the bible embarked on a search- to prove the bible was ‘myth’ yet- after researching carefully the historical names and places we read about in the book of Acts- he came to believe that the book of Acts- written by both an historian and doctor [Luke] was the most historically accurate writing that came from the first century [Acts has lots of names of political figures- court proceedings- stuff like that- and when doing research like this- it is quite easy to debunk the historical reality of a fake work- but- when these names and places were researched- from actual historical records dating back to the first century- it was amazing how the pieces fit]. The Trojan War is found in many works of Greek literature- and art. But the most comprehensive account comes from Homer’s 2 poems. Now- in Homer’s poems there are obvious references to Mythology- Goddesses- Golden apples- the Greek gods intervening in the affairs of men. So yeah- we see that there are obvious mythological aspects to the work. Yet- the ancient Geeks did indeed believe the war itself was a real war that took place at around the 12th century BCE. Some believe that Homer never actually wrote the poems- but that he told the stories- like Oral Tradition- and they were later written down by others. Sort of like the classic- Paradise Lost- by John Milton. Milton was blind- and told the story to his daughters [oral tradition] and the actual work was penned by those who heard it. Jesus himself used this method- he never wrote a book- or letter in the New Testament- yet the gospels were compiled by his men after his death. We read about this when Luke [who I mentioned above] gives the reason for his documenting stuff in the book of Acts [read Acts chapter one]. Luke also wrote his gospel a few years after the death and resurrection of Christ. So- some believe the same thing happened with Homer- those who heard him tell the story multiple times- simply put it together later on. Most scholars believe that Homer did indeed write the poems- and that the famous Trojan War was a real historical event. Last year- when in North Bergen- my atheist friend Daniel said he watched a PBS show- and he said ‘even a priest said the bible was Myth’. I explained to Daniel that when the more liberal scholars use this term [like in the writings of Bultman] that they do not mean ‘fake’- like Greek Mythology. But they mean that some of the stories in the gospels might be a compilation of the many Oral teachings of Jesus- and they were put together as one story [some think the Sermon on the Mount was actually multiple teachings Jesus did- and they were compiled into one event]. Now- when I explained this to Daniel- he said ‘see- even you believe it was Myth’. I told Daniel that no- I do not hold to this theory [not 100%] but that I was simply telling him that even those who use the term Myth- when talking about Theology- they do not mean Myth- as in fake. So- I find it interesting that both the New testament- and Homers poems- got the same scrutiny. In these poems we do indeed see the condition of man- which Homer depicts as one of constant war- not peace. The letter of James in the New Testament says- James 4:1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? James 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. James 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Homers poems are considered by some to be the beginning of the great works of Western literature- of which there are many. The great writer C.S. Lewis- who rejected Christianity for many years- later became a believer. He attributed his conversion to the fact that he could not escape the reality of the Church- or Christian themes- found in all the fields of study. Whether it was the classics- or history- philosophy. He said every were he read- studied- he could not escape this scarlet thread that ran thru out all the fields of knowledge. Yeah- in the end- his thirst for knowledge- his intellectual search- led him to the Cross. Jesus- in a way- was a 1st century Achilles- he battled the forces of darkness- for the honor of a woman- the Bride- the church. He- Like Achilles- chose a just death- for a just cause. There’s a prophecy in the Old Testament- it speaks of Christ ‘the zeal of thine house has eaten me up’. Jesus was a righteous warrior- a prophet, priest and king- and he had a zeal for the church- that far exceeded anything we find in Homers poems. [1757] I’M JUST NOT ONE OF THOSE ‘WORD TALKERS’ Caught the debate last night- didn’t go to well for my gov. I mean I still thought he had a fighting chance- not any more. I mean even Cain started looking good compared to Perry. When Perry could not remember the 3rd govt. dept. that he wanted to shut down- that was it. Even Ron Paul tried to throw him a lifeline ‘the E.P.A.’ Yeah- that’s the one! I even guessed ‘maybe he means the energy dept.’ [you know- that’s always been kind of a joke- like having a ‘sky dept.’]. Sure enough- the next time Perry ‘spoke’ that was the one. I read a Conan joke the other day- he was mocking Perry because he was going to start skipping the debates- he said Perry’s excuse was he was not a skilled debater- you know- he wasn’t one of those ‘word talkers’ yeah- guess he’s right. I went thru a few news articles the other day- when I read the papers during the week I cut the articles out that I think are important- and then in the morning before I post I’ll look them over to see what looks relevant. Out of the 2 I saved- one was on a possible looming crisis in Italy. Sure enough- yesterday everything hit the fan. The reason the stocks took a big hit was out of fear that the European debt crisis might spread to Italy. Italy has a big economy- not like Greece. The main reason Greece was important- was that many observers feared that if Greece went bankrupt- that the ‘contagion’ might spread to the other Euro Zone nations- like Italy- and that would be bad- very bad. Well- that looks like what might be happening. Greece’s Debt to GDP ratio is 144 %- not good. Italy is at around 120%- not as bad- but still not good. This coming year they have about half a trillion dollars coming to maturity [bonds they must pay out on] and they owe 2.6 trillion [not like our 14 trillion- but for the size of their nation- it’s a lot]. So the interest rate just went up for Italy- it will now cost more for them to borrow- and when you’re paying a little over 7 % on 2.6 trillion- well that hurts. Italian bonds are not like Greek bonds- Italian bonds are in all of the big banks that we are familiar with- many of our investments are in the same banks that hold Italian debt- so if Italy goes bust- that’s a huge problem- that will indeed drag the U.S. down. I mean Greece already seems to be a lost cause- even their own people are pulling all their money out of the Greek banks and putting it in Swiss banks. Geez- if your own citizens don’t trust you- forget the other nations bailing you out. I find it funny [sad] that a few weeks ago- Fahreed Zakariah [a CNN guy] was mocking the Tea Party crowd- because he said that the Europeans were handling their debt crisis well- like adults- and that even the Europeans were saying ‘geez- cant you be mature like us- you stupid Tea party Repubs’! He said it in the same mocking way that Martin Bashir [I think they are both Brits? I know they of course are both foreigners] made an on air accusation the other day. I mean- it was bad. Bashir said a certain Repub referred to injured Iraqi war vets as injured ‘dogs’. Now- for the life of me- I could not imagine this charge to be true. Then I heard the rest of the story. Some Repub said the occupy protestors were leaving a huge mess at the camps- ‘like dogs’. And Bashir applied this to the Iraqi war vet. who was hit with a gas canister in Oakland- so yes- this Iraq war vet was a wounded protestor. But to then go on national TV and say that Repubs are referring to wounded Iraqi war vets as wounded dogs- I think this network [MSNBC] is very dangerous for the country. We need to hear both sides of all arguments- but this stuff is incendiary. Being I already mentioned Italy- let me finish with some history/philosophy that might be relevant. In the last post I mentioned saint Thomas Aquinas- and after Augustine [and Anselm- 11th century] he is the next main character I wanted to cover [in our ongoing philosophy study]. Aquinas is referred to as the Doctor Angelicas [angelic doctor] by the catholic church. Aquinas lived during the time of a cultural/philosophical reawakening that was beginning to take place in the Western world- the Renaissance. Renaissance means ‘re-birth’. It was a rebirth of the ancient Poets and philosophers of days gone by. Men like Cicero and Aristotle were once again brought to the fore front of many thinkers and lovers of culture. The catch phrase for the Renaissance was Ad Fontes- which meant ‘back to the sources’ [source- Fountain- Fontes]. In the 14th century a famous and influential Catholic family- the Medici’s- were a catalyst for mixing this cultural movement in with the church. The Renaissance sort of challenged the historic view of education- up until this time most learning was done thru the prism of the church. In the universities of the day Theology [study of God] was called the Queen of the sciences- and philosophy was referred to as her Handmaiden. Well the Renaissance thinkers said they wanted to study things for what they are- they did not want to see everything thru the lens of the church. Eventually the theme of the movement [back to the original sources] would play a major role in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. Men like Erasmus [the famous 16th century Catholic Humanist] would re discover the original Greek New testament- and it was thru the study of the Greek text that many of the Reformers made their case to get ‘back to the bible’ and eventually break from Rome. This was also the beginning period of modern capitalism. Recently when Libya had her ‘civil war’ and the new leaders started talking about a new constitution- one of the interesting things that came up was they wanted to do away with interest on loans. Why? Well Muslims teach that interest itself is a bad thing. ‘Gee- wonder where they get that idea from John’ Oh- from a little book- called the bible. Yes- to the surprise of some- this is very much taught in the Old Testament. Now- it was God’s law governing the nation of Israel- but they were forbidden to charge interest. ‘So John- is it wrong for us today to make interest’? Not really- Jesus used interest [usury] as an example in some of his parables- and overall- we as believers are not under the Old Testament laws that govern natural Israel. But- for many centuries- the world did not see interest on money as a legitimate way to earn a living. So during the Renaissance you also had the rise of exploration- and explorers like Columbus would go on their voyages with the financial backing of investors. The normal rate for these voyages was a 75/25% cut. When the explorer returned- the investor [Spain- or whoever] got 75% of the goods- and the explorer kept 25. So there were a lot of changes taking place in the world at the time- and the rise of modern capitalism was one of them- money of course existed way before this time- but as a commodity- this was a new way of viewing the world. Okay- just thought I would throw in a little history along with the current events of the day. As we see the current turmoil in the Italian markets [the original renaissance started in Florence- Italy] maybe seeing money/interest as a commodity- and ‘usury’ as a major way to increase ones wealth- well maybe that’s not such a smart way to do things after all. When Jon Corzine's global investment firm went bust the other day- it was a direct result of taking a gamble on the ‘gullibility’ of the common man. What his firm did was they took a huge risk by investing in European bonds- bonds from Greece that everyone knew was a terrible 'bet’. Then why did he do it? The risk was so high- that the interest [usury] on the bonds was also high- you would make lots of money- if you got your money back. But how would you get the money back- if the company [or nation- or bank] is in such bad shape that they might go bust? Your basically betting that the other nations around them [and the 1% crowd] would never let this happen [too big to fail] and when the nation [or company] gets ‘bailed out’ well then you get the money back- at a huge gain- all at the expense of the ‘99’ %. ‘Gee John- that doesn’t seem right to me’. That doesn’t seem right to me either- and to the legitimate ‘occupy Wall st. guys’ that’s not right to them as well. Basically Corzine did the exact same thing that the big banks did during our 2008 bail out crisis- the banks can’t do that anymore- we did pass regulations that forbid this. But private investment firms can- they take a risk if they do- but that’s their choice. Corzine took the risk- and lost [besides the fact the there is also about 600 million dollars ‘missing’ from private investors money!]. Okay- that’s it for now. We will keep an eye on Italy for the next few days [Germany is already talking about bailing out of the Euro Zone] and if things keep going downhill like this- well we might all be better off if we moved our money into less interest bearing accounts- safe places to ‘park’ your money- and after the dust settles- then maybe get back into the market. But right now- I would trust getting a bigger return from a Columbus voyage than the market- yes- maybe ‘usury’ is not all that’s it’s cracked up to be- maybe the Libyans are right [and the Old Testament]. Yeah- maybe they know something we don’t. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com [1756] Philosophy and Politics. This last week the media circus has centered around the Herman Cain ‘sex scandal’. Yes- it does seem like good old brother Herman [Christian ‘brother’ to you racially sensitive types] has a little problem with the ladies. Yes- I have heard both sides on the thing- the conservatives [Limbaugh] have used Cain as an example of how the ‘left’ castigates Black conservatives- while they cover up for liberal ones. And the left wing media types- well they sure do like to go thru every detail of the Repub candidates lives [no- the sex harassment issue is a real issue- I’m talking about all the other stuff]. It’s funny [sad?] to see some of the commentary on how Cain’s ‘worst’ mistake was in the way he handled it- that it was his mishandling of the scandal that worries folk. Look- I like good old Bill Clinton- and for those who remember- Bill also had quite a few dalliances with the ladies. Paula Jones even sued Bill- And won! Yes- the pres settled for 800 thousand and paid the girl. How did Clinton deal with his sex scandals? Those who say ‘see- Bill knew how to deal with them’ they seem to forget that his defenders- they ridiculed all the women- Kathleen Wiley [he groped her]- Jones- well- he pulled an Antony Weiner one day when Jones walked into the office- and oh yeah- lest we forget [well- actually I do forget the name] one woman had some very credible claims that Clinton did indeed rape her. And of course- he ‘received’ oral sex from Monica in the oval office- and all these women were described as ‘off balance’ or greedy women seeking a pay day- or these women ‘asked for it’. Yes- this was the way the Clinton defenders went about it- yet these same media savvy folk [Carville] are saying ‘Clinton knew how to deal with scandal- Cain does not’. Would they be happy if Cain’s people went after all the women? Not only have they not revealed the name of the lady who got a settlement but they have been pretty silent about all the women. Not Clintons people- you know- the ones who handled it ‘right’ oh yeah- they had his ladies looking like a bunch of trailer park bimbo air heads- even a young intern- who worked for the govt.- even she was demonized at first- for engaging in an act that would have called for the firing of any CEO who was caught doing this with any young female staffer- yet in his case- the women were all at fault. So it’s just a sad thing to see this play out. Do I think Cain ‘did it’ of course he did! ‘How do you know John’- one statement- from Cain himself. He was asked by Hannity ‘did you ask this girl to come to your hotel room’ his answer ‘I don’t recall’ yeah- if someone says ‘did you string up that Black man in the south 40 years ago’ and if you say ‘I don’t recall’ well that’s a problem. Okay- enough of that. I really want to cover a little bit more on the few Philosophy posts we did last month. If you remember we stopped at the 4th-5th century B.C. and we left off with Aristotle. Now- Aristotle [and Plato and Socrates] ruled the day for hundreds of years- most Western thinkers were shaped by their ideas. So for that reason- lets skip about 800 years forward- to the time of Saint Augustine. Augustine lived in the 4th/5th century [A.D.]. When studying Philosophy you will study this man. But you run into him in the fields of Theology and church history as well- he’s considered by many to be the ‘best’ theologian of the 1st thousand years of Christianity- and to some- the best ever. I have covered Augustine before- so let’s go light right now and hit a few high points. Augustine had early influences that led him to the philosophy of ‘Neo Platonism’ [an offshoot of Plato’s thought] and he dabbled [well more than dabbled] in a sort of early metaphysical cult called Manichaeism [like a 3rd century type of Christian Science- the movement in our day]. As Augustine carried out his traveling teaching ministry [he was a teacher who was skilled in Rhetoric- and these traveling teachers would charge for their services] he eventually converted to Christianity [the Catholic Bishop Ambrose played a major role in Augustine’s conversion] and became the Bishop of Hippo- North Africa. Augustine came to defend the Christian world view against his former belief in Neo Platonism. Platonism taught a Pantheistic view of God and creation. This view teaches that God and creation are one in the same. Many eastern religions still hold to this view in our day. Augustine argued that God was the creator of all things- but that he himself was not created- or a part of the created world. He developed a very sound theology on creation- which most Christian traditions hold to this very day. He had a few theological battles in his day. With Pelagianism and Donatism- these were early Christian movements that broke away from the standard teaching of the church- they derive their names form the Bishops/priests who espoused these ideas. Pelagius denied the doctrine of original sin- and he taught that men were indeed capable of obeying Gods law- out of their own moral integrity- and thus ‘save themselves’. Augustine rejected this view and taught that men were saved only by the grace of God- that men were indeed sinful and corrupt- and if left to their own designs would end up in hell. There were various adherents to Pelagius’ view- and his ideas have carried down thru the centuries to varying degrees- sometimes you will hear [read] the term ‘Semi- Pelagian’ this refers to those who have various ideas about man’s ability to save himself through good works. Some in the Reformed church [the original Protestant belief system that came out from the 16th century Reformation] accuse the Catholic Church of this very thing- yet the Catholic Church has made it clear that they do reject Pelagianism- and they agree with Augustine on the matter. The Donatists taught that the Sacraments were dependent upon the ‘holiness’ of the Priest who ministers them. That if you were in a Parish where the priests were bad- lived in sin- rejected a holy life- then if you were Baptized by these men- that the Baptism didn’t ‘stick’. The Donatists formed there own break away church in the 3rd century- and a few very influential men would join the group. A well respected early church father- Tertullian- eventually joined their ranks. Augustine argued against the Donatists teaching- and taught that Gods grace- and the grace given to believers thru the sacraments were not derived from the holiness of any priest or preacher- but if a believer in good conscience received the sacraments- that that’s what really counted. Saint Augustine is one of the titans of church history- he is loved by Protestants and Catholics alike. He is famous for his belief in the doctrine of Predestination [that those who are saved were chosen by God before they were born] and for this reason he is loved by the original protestant theologians [Luther, Calvin, etc.] He also taught a very ‘Catholic’ form of Ecclesiology [church govt.] and is well loved by many Catholics as well. The Catholic Church refers to him as the Doctor of Grace- later on in the 13th century we will meet Saint Thomas Aquinas- who the church refers to as the Angelic Doctor. Both of these men played a major role in the development of western thought and Augustine made an effort to distinguish true Christian thought from the philosophy of Neo Platonism which was very strong in his day. When reading Augustine [he wrote a lot] you need to be careful to distinguish some of his earlier writings from his later ones. Early on you still see forms of Platonic thought in Augustine- but as the years rolled by his thinking progressed more and more towards historic Christian thought. For those of you who are interested- the Confessions of Saint Augustine is considered one the classics of Christianity- you can pick up a short version at most good bookstores- it’s well worth the time to read. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com [1705] THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA I was gonna wait till next week to post- but there has been some important news stuff going on- and last night S&P actually downgraded our rating [from AAA to AA+]. So let’s do some today. Of course last week we finally raised the debt ceiling- our debt will now hit around 17 trillion [wow] until the next raise. I found it interesting to see how the media try’s to tell the public what they think is best- and they actually lie quite a bit. A few weeks back CNN started a new show with Fahreed Zakariah- I thought I would like it- Fahreed is somewhat of an intellectual and I have heard him in debates before. The only drawback I saw [in the past] was he seemed to take one position- and defend it vigorously- and then take the other side at another time- and sware that this time he was right. Okay- during the debt ceiling debate- many on the left described the ‘Tea Party’ as nuts- terrorists, psycho’s- the whole deal. It did get a little ridiculous after a while. I saw Fahreed- you know- the smart guy- he tried to give an in intellectual argument to why the Tea Party was ‘subverting the constitution- and actually bringing down the Democracy’ what? Yes- he explained how our govt. has 3 branches- and when one party [Dems] hold 2 [Pres, Senate] that if a minority of the 3rd branch [Tea Part- minority in the house] ‘take hostage’ the country- then they have actually subverted the Republic. He then went on to attack the whole Tea Party mantra- their idea of cuts without taxes- everything. He then explained that the entire world has compared us to Europe [now it gets bad] and that even Europe looks good compared to us- he said that the Europeans have actually ‘shown the world’ that they are very reasonable compared to the U.S. in their dealing responsibly with their debt crisis. Now- the very next day- because of European fears [no matter what anyone says- they have not solved their debt problem- it has actually spread this week- Italy is on the edge right now] we began to see the market collapse [dow went to 11,300 from a high of 12,500]. There are many reasons that this happened- but one of the main ones is the fear that the European debt crisis might spread to the globe. So- the night before Fahreed said the world compared us to Europe- and the reasons we are in trouble is because we did not act responsibly- like Europe. Then when asked ‘overall- is it at least good that we made the deal and avoided default’ he said no- and then made the actual Tea Party case to defend his position. He said that the deal only cuts a few billion in the beginning years [which he has advocated before!] and then he said- the way congress spends- ‘there’s no guarantee that they will ever stick to the cuts’. This is the exact argument the Tea Party made- to the tee! That’s why they fought for a constitutional amendment- which Fahreed does not want. Okay- then MSNBC had on an addiction specialist [I kid you not] to analyze the mental health of the tea party. Martin Bashir asked this guy to explain the danger of the Tea Party. The shrink went on to explain that when addicts have unrealistic expectations [Tea Party- cuts and no taxes= want dugs to make me happy] that they will resort to any means to get what they want [Heroin addict- give me your money or I’ll shoot. Tea Party- do the cuts or well not vote for a debt increase] when addicts do not see the danger of their unrealistic expectations- then yes- you get Oslo, Norway. You must be kidding- they had a guy on the air- comparing the position of the right to the guy who killed 80 people in Norway- and he [like Fahreed] tried to make it sound respectable. On the news last night- before the downgrade- the jobs numbers came out for July. Now- news addicts like myself watch these things closely. The ‘left’ wants real bad to have some good news for the average folk. If the numbers are bad [under 200,000 new jobs is bad] then that doesn’t help. But there was no way the numbers would be above 200 thousand- I mean no one predicted that. They were hoping that they would at least be around 100,000- and not like the last report- where they hoped for 100 thousand and got around 18,000. So as I perused the talking heads [ABC, CBS, NBC] of course they talked about the ‘number’ of unemployment dropping to 9.1 from 9.2- the number that I was waiting to see was the actual jobs number- how many new jobs were created last month? Instead- I saw a screen graphic [you know- Lemmings like graphics- they think if they show the public anything- well they will never know] and it showed 230,000 new jobs [what!] and the unemployment dropping to 9.1 [from 9.2]. I immediately new they were lying- they were gonna show what they wanted to show you- and if they can tell you their story- any way they can- they will. So- the small print [under the 230,000 jobs number] was the total manufacturing jobs gained- get this- since 12-09. What? Why take one sector- and go back to Dec. of 2009- and then add it up and show on the screen ‘230,000’ new jobs. Well, that’s the only jobs number [230,000- for total jobs from July] that would fit with the picture ‘unemployment went down to 9.1’. [Note- the reason 130,000 new jobs does not lower the overall rate is because that does not even keep up with the population growth of the country- we get over 100,000 new people seeking jobs every month] No other jobs number would work. So they simply lied- they gave you a picture- false- and thought ‘you know- the average folk- we tell them what we think they should hear’. So how did the unemployment number drop to 9.1? There are various factors that make up the number- some months you have natural weather disasters [snow storms] and people simply don’t go looking for work- that skews the number. Other months- people have been out of work so long- they give up- that skews the number. But if the total jobs were only 130,000- then you know for a fact- that the real number didn’t drop a decimal Point- cant happen. So more than likely some people didn’t go job shopping last month- and that skewed the number. But- the media knew they needed you to see the headline ‘230,000 new jobs’ and ‘unemployment down- 9.2 to 9.1’ and by golly- they found a way to make that happen. Now- I hate to say [well actually I don’t hate it] ‘I told you so’ but heck- I did! If you go back and read/check the last months posts- somewhere in there I said ‘people must be nuts to be in the stock market right now’ now- I gave the caveat ‘I’m not telling you to get out’ but I then went on and said ‘if you’re smart- get out’. Every media financial guy that was on the air- bar none- said ‘to the average investor- don’t panic- stay in the market’. Yet- in the past few weeks- 98% of trades that were done by these professional fund managers- who manage 401 k’s- 98 % were trades fleeing the stocks and going into bonds. Why? The Dow was at 12,500 [too high in my view] and we were facing all types of bad news. The Greek debt crisis [now more than Greece] the entire U.S. housing market is still a mess- and will be for a long time. The jobs numbers are terrible- and every indicator tells me these next few years are not going to be good. So- if the odds of the economy getting worse are very high- then why take the risk of staying in right on the verge of a possible collapse? I know we can’t ‘time the market’- but heck- all those fund managers thought you could. Look- there was [is] no chance that the market was gonna hit 13,000 in the next few weeks- and a very great chance that it would collapse- then get your money out for the danger week/month- and if the sky doesn’t fall- then you can get back in- there was no chance you were going to miss a bull market- none. But all the guys on the news said ‘stay in- hang in there’ and at the same time they- and all the professional funds they managed- they all jumped ship- left the stocks and fled for safety- while telling you ‘you can’t time the market’ yes- we are the lemmings. Okay- then last night- well the S&P downgraded us- for the first time ever. Why? Well besides all the stuff I just mentioned- they felt the debt deal did not go far enough- that we needed to at least cut 4 trillion in spending over 10 years- we did about half that. The defenders of the president were out in numbers- blaming the S&P for bad math [yeah- they did make a mistake- but that doesn’t change the overall picture one iota] and the reality is- the global economy is in trouble. Now- when you downgrade an entity [state, city, nation- bank, etc.] that means that entity has to pay you more interest if you buy their debt [treasury bonds]. But the last few weeks we have seen all the professional money fleeing stocks- and yes- going into U.S. bonds. Look- these investors know the scoop- S&P didn’t reveal anything that we didn’t already know- so the fact is- yeah it’s bad that we got downgraded- but the other investment options are so bad- that at the end of the day- people are still buying U.S. debt. In high school I had a teacher- Mr. Steinberg. Mr. Steinberg was not ‘cool’ as a matter of fact- he seemed a little nerdy. He was Jewish- and at times wore a Star of David necklace- it was big- it was like he was asking for the persecution. I liked Mr. Steinberg- and respected him for not being ashamed of his faith. It was in his class [English] that I was introduced to the great classics. Grapes of Wrath, Old man and the sea- all the classics. After we covered a book- he would check the TV Guide and when the made for TV movie was on- he assigned us to watch it. Both of the above books/movies became favorites of mine- till this day I’ll watch them when they pop up on the classic channel. I actually have the Grapes of Wrath book sitting right here. But the movie- Old man and the Sea- enthralled me. The struggle of the old man- his fight with the great fish- his arm wrestling bouts with the younger guys- the whole mystique was my thing. The author- Hemingway- was himself a ‘mans man’ he lived large- took in all the experiences of life- and embraced a philosophy of life called Nihilism. This world view was popularized by men like Sartre, Camus and Freud. It basically is atheistic and says ‘there is no real meaning to life- man is a ‘useless passion’- he exists, only for the purpose of experiencing life- when the pain exceeds the pleasure- that the responsible thing to do is check out’. Yes- this philosophy advocates suicide. Sartre [John Paul Sartre] actually said that the only philosophical question left is suicide- that we need to ask ourselves- as a society- should we allow ourselves to check out- for the good of the whole- when the pain exceeds the pleasure. Another great work of Hemingway is titled ‘the Sun also rises’. He took the title from the biblical book of Ecclesiastes- written by Solomon [you know- to everything there is a season]. Solomon also embraces a sort of nihilistic view in this book- though it is in the bible- it is a form of literature called ‘pessimistic wisdom literature’. Sort of the philosophy Hemingway embraced. Hemingway spoke about this view all thru out his life- though he was a brilliant writer- he had no hope ‘in the world’ [Apostle Paul]. One night, after he went to bed with his wife- he woke up- went downstairs and rigged up his favorite hunting rifle- and blew his head off. His daughter followed him a few years later. I don’t know what’s down the road for our world right now- there are many people feeling hopeless today because they have lost- yes once again- a big portion of their wealth. As Christians we can say ‘yes- life is hard- we struggle at times- but in the end our struggles are working out a higher purpose- we have meaning in life’ but the atheist/nihilist- to them there is no redemptive purpose to the struggle- when the pain exceeds the pleasure- well yes- they check out. Over the next few weeks- wherever you are at- think for yourself. If all the professional investors take their money out of stocks- and at the same time they advise you different- then stop listening to them. If your mad at the right [or left] then don’t keep watching people who are coming up with diagnosis’ that say the country is being run by actual Oslo killers- that’s just not true- no matter how much you might hate their point of view. And at the end of the day- we as believers- we do have hope in the world. Mr. Steinberg wore that star of David- proudly. And in a recent post [Last?] I spoke about the promise that God made to king David- that he would raise up one of his sons and this Son would rule on the throne for ever. Yes- today this promise has been fulfilled through Christ- who sits at the right hand of God. I don’t know- maybe I’ll rent the Old man and the Sea later [I tried in the past but couldn’t find it] and I’ll see the struggle of the old man [played excellently by Spencer Tracy] but instead of embracing his creators view [that is his earthly creator- Hemingway] I’ll ‘give’ my sufferings up- as the Catholics say- I’ll offer them to the Lord. Hemingway took the cowards way out- at the end of the day- he wasn’t the man we thought he was- he copped out. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com [1634] HE QUOTES SHAKESPEAR! A few years ago my city appointed a new police chief- he was a local guy who rose through the ranks and made it to the top. Lots of times the city hires out of towners who apply- but this time they went with a local. At the time the news was ‘He quotes Shakespeare’ I mean over and over again. Our local news is funny- all 3 major networks do a local news format 3 times a day- each. They run a show at 5 p.m. - 6 and 10. They run the exact same show [each channel does their own show- but the repeats are exactly the same]. So for some reason the big story at the time was the police chief quotes Shakespeare. I mean I heard the story- 3 times a day [actually 9] all day. Read it in the paper- saw the news ads about the ‘news at 10’ the thing was everywhere- I was tempted to write a letter to the editor of the paper- the headline being ‘NO MORE SHAKESPEAR- PLEASE!!’ Anyway the chief eventually became embroiled in a few scandals and he quit/was fired. The reason the Shakespeare thing was popular was because in our day we have a tendency to neglect the ‘more refined’ things in life. I know there's always a danger of doing stuff just so others can think your more refined- Jesus did warn against it [don’t pray, fast and do charity just to make a show of it] yet at the same time we do want to be wise- to become informed about stuff. A while back I took my computer to a friend who offered to help me with the web site- I was/am a total amateur at web stuff- I know I write a lot- but I didn’t even have an email account until the last 5 years or so. Anyway as an amateur I try and seek wisdom from others who have been at this longer than me. So my buddy indicated he was a computer whiz and he offered to show me how the system works [it was when I first set up the blog]. As I was explaining to him that all I’m trying to do is have a site where people can click a link and read the books/studies separately [at the time everything was just one long scroll] he mistook what I was asking- he thought I wanted to do a PDF type file so people could download the materials. As he told me that this is what I wanted [which I really didn’t want] I tried to humbly say ‘I’m sorry, I must not be too clear- what I really mean to ask is this’ and I tried to say I don’t need what he’s telling me. He got silent- he stared at the screen and said ‘this is what you mean’- he was mad. Now- I didn’t want to get my friend mad- he was doing this for free- as a favor- but I began to realize he really was not much wiser than me on some of this stuff. At one point- being perturbed- he explained to me that the blog/web site only exists on my lap-top. That there is no ‘viral realm’ where the site exists. He was trying to say if I dumped the laptop in the bay- that the web site would be no more. Now- even as an amateur I realized my friend was not as wise as he made himself out to be- obviously a web site continues to exist- even if your laptop takes a drink in the bay. Sometimes we simply need to check the source- a person might mean well- but not be capable of the task at hand. Fine- they meant well- but they didn’t have the capability to do the job. When the local news were enamored with the new top cop- they mistook ‘quoting Shakespeare’ with the ability to do the job. It’s good to be refined- to learn the classics- to have a grasp on world events- to be well rounded in your education- but at the end of the day if you can’t do the job- all the Shakespeare quoting in the world doesn’t help. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com [1622] ARE THE JAPANESE DISPROVING FREUD? One of the narratives coming from the Japan disaster is the response of the Japanese people. In contrast to our Katrina tragedy the Japanese are very self reliant. Jack Cafferty [CNN] read an email from some elderly lady who contrasted the 2 responses. She called the Louisiana residents who looted, killed, complained and wined- she said ‘those scumbags’ [ouch!] What are we seeing in the Japanese people? The media are referring to them as Stoic’s- the philosophy [ancient Greek- one of only 2 philosophies mentioned by name in the bible- Acts chapter 17 mentions the Stoic’s and Epicureanism] that said the secret to life is living on an even plane. Don’t get too ‘up’ or too down- just ride the wave of life as moderately as you can. The other side of the coin is Hedonism- the philosophy of men like Freud- who taught that the problem with man is that he is taught to restrain himself [by religion] and that this restraint is itself a product of neurosis. Freud was a strange fellow, the father of modern Psychoanalysis; his ideas were actually quite weird. As a Jew [non practicing] he embraced the higher criticism of his day [a way of interpreting the bible as not being actually true- just good stories] and he sought to come up with an explanation for mans religious bent. So he came up with the idea of the Oedipal Complex- a strange view of man that said the real problems of man are they have this view of love and hate for the father figure- and the ‘real’ story of Moses and the children of Israel was the Jews killed Moses in the wilderness [hatred for the father figure] they then felt guilty about it- and out of this guilt they would eventually develop a ‘religion of the Son’ [Christianity] and Walla- that’s the real story. You would be surprised how many people hear silly stuff like this in life [or college!] and they never give it a second thought. Like Pope Benedict says in ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ [1st book of a trilogy on the life of Christ] he mentions the theories of the critics [men like Bultmann] and he then responds ‘and how do you know this’? Bultmann [one of the famous liberal theologians of the day] would come up with ideas like this- and he would just espouse them. The funny thing about these critics was they were trying to challenge the historical accuracy of the bible- are the gospels true- stuff like that. And in their challenge they would ‘make up’ their own stuff [Oedipal complex] and simply expect everyone to believe it. So Freud taught that we need to free man from this neurosis of religion- this thing in society that says ‘restrain yourself’ and if we teach man to do and be all that he feels like doing- then we will have healed him of this destructive religious belief that developed out of a secret love/hate relationship of father. Wow. I can think of no greater philosophy to not live your life by than that. How did the Freudian experiment turn out? It was/is a disaster- I’m not just saying this as a Christian who rejects Freud’s atheism- but many of his ideas have also been roundly rejected by the psychologists of the modern day. Freud actually taught that when you counsel a person [yes- he was the originator of the idea of the patient lying on the couch while the counselor listens] that the patient is ‘transmitting’ psychic energy from himself to the doctor- and that’s what makes him better. Freud wrote Moses and Monotheism [his fictional account of the origins of Judaism/Christianity] Totem and Taboo- the fictional idea of the primitive religion of man- and Civilization and it’s Discontents, his explanation of the conflict between mans psychic life and the demands of society. The basic view of Freud [Hedonism] is a failed system that does not work in the real world. To live your life based on the philosophy of ‘if it feels good- do it’ does not work in any area of life- for the long term. In food, shopping, family life, marriage, sexual expression- the basic principle of self restraint and discipline [the Japanese response] is in great contrast to the ‘unrestrained’ view of life [as seen in some of the Katrina response- many of the looters and rioters were raised with a welfare mentality- they were dependant on the state/govt. to do things for them. When things went bad- they blamed the govt. for it]. In the end of the day- the society that practices self discipline- that teaches their children to be self reliant- those are the ones who have the most successful lives. Those who practice Hedonism blame stuff on everyone else. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com (1332) Been doing some reading on church history/philosophy, it’s interesting to see the role that theology/Christianity played in the universities. Theology is referred to as ‘the queen of the sciences’ and philosophy was her ‘handmaid’. They saw the root of all learning as originating with the study ‘of God’. Many modern universities have dropped the term ‘theology’ and call it ‘the study of religion’. The study of religion is really the study of how man relates to God, his view of God; this would fit under anthropology/sociology, not under theology. Modern learning has lost the importance of the study of God and the role it plays in all the other sciences. The classic work of Homer [8th century BC] called the Iliad, has Achilles debating whether or not he should ‘stay and fight along the city of the Trojans’ and attain the legacy of a warrior; or to go ‘back to my homeland and live a long life’. He chooses to fight and lay his life on the line. The themes of the classics [courage, heroism, etc.] are biblical themes, even if God is not directly mentioned. The point being to try and exclude God from learning is silly, you can’t do it. Around the 17-18th century you had the philosophy of Existentialism rise up, as an ‘ism’ it really is a misnomer; ‘ism’ is a suffix that you add to the end of a word that makes it a system- ‘humanism’ ‘secularism’ etc. but existentialism is a word that means ‘anti-system’. Nevertheless the person who popularized this belief was a Christian, Soren Kierkegaard. The system he was rebelling against was the dead institutionalism of the Danish church, he felt that Christianity devolved into dead orthodoxy and lost all of its passion for true living and experiencing God. Nietzsche would pick up on this philosophy and apply it to atheism, and in the 20th century men like Albert Camus and John Paul Sartre would also embrace it from an atheistic worldview. They would say things like ‘man is a useless passion’ or write books titled ‘Nausea’ summing up the human condition. Though the 19th century atheistic humanists tried to give value and exalt the state of man, in their rejection of God and Christianity they were taking away the foundation for mans value. If you tell society that they arrived on the scene by some cosmic accident of evolution, and when you die you dissipate into nothingness, then how do you at the same time glory in his natural abilities to reach some point of Utopia? As the late Frances Schaeffer said ‘they were philosophers who had both feet planted firmly in mid air’. The point being when you neglect the reality and role that God and Christianity play in every sphere of life, you are then removing the foundation that these spheres were built on, true science and learning derive their basis from God. The greatest scientific minds of the past were either Christians or Deists, they were too smart to try and reject the reality of an eternal being. (1346) In Luke’s gospel the parable of the pounds [money] has the master giving 1 pound to each servant and when he returns he takes the 1 pound from the brother who hid it and gives it to the other guy who made 10 more pounds with the first pound. Moral of the story, don’t squander your capital! One of the most influential works on human government was Plato’s ‘Republic’ Plato lived 4 centuries before Christ and in the famous work he has Socrates [his mentor] having a dialogue and discussing the elements needed for ordering a just society. The leaders must be educated and put the good of the people/community above their own personal desires. Leaders should be statesman and not politicians. As I was watching the news over the weekend they are still debating health care and both sides have stooped so low as to use the Haiti tragedy for political gain. On one of the Sunday shows, the person representing Bush was trying to be non partisan and praised Obama for his actions. Then the Democrat had the gall to contrast the quick response of Obama with the poor response of Bush to Katrina, these guys are never going to learn. Why are the Democrats willing to be the first party in history to push thru major legislation in secret meetings against the majority public opinion? They have calculated the cost, politically, of not passing something and have come to the conclusion that it would be better politically to pass something and take the heat, than to not pass something. Bill Clinton and others have openly said this, they have been found out on more than one occasion to have made this crass political choice. So in the minds of many of them it’s not a matter of telling many American workers ‘you are going to pay an extra 40 % tax on your health ins.’ and then tell the other worker, doing the same job ‘you do not have to pay the tax because you are a union member and we need your votes’ this is not statesmanship, this is political expediency- do whatever it takes to get your side to win, even at the expense of the public. President Obama [who I just finished praying for, and his family!] had lots of political capital at the beginning of the year, much more than any other president in recent history; but he took the ‘1 pound’ and squandered it, he blew it by making these terrible political calculations. As this new year begins it seems as if he really hasn’t made much out of the ‘pound’ that was given him at the start. It looks like the voting public is about to say ‘take from him the pound and give it to someone else’. CLASSICS (1379) HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO UNJUST GOVERNMENTS? One of the most famous dissidents of the soviet era was Alexander Solzhenitsyn; Alexander was a simple school teacher who would serve in the military when Stalin was in power. He had written some critical things about Stalin in a letter to a friend and was put in the communist prison camps. While doing time he met believers and returned to his early faith as a Christian. In the year I was born [1962] he wrote the famous ‘A day in the life of Ivan Denisovich’ it was a fictional account of a man in the prison camps and how he dealt with his captors. The main character would meet a Baptist believer while doing time and sort of represented Alexander’s own plight. Alexander came to fame when Khrushchev would permit him to publish his book, Khrushchev was advancing his own program of Destalinization and he underestimated Alexander’s criticism of all communist type systems, not just Stalin. He would also expose the evils of the prison camps in his other work titled ‘The Gulag Archipelago’. Eventually he was exiled to the U.S. [Vermont was his home] and received much notoriety as a prophetic voice who spoke out for justice. He gave a controversial speech at Harvard [1978?] and the western media came to dislike him; he was critical of loose morality and the evils of western society as well, he was not the sort of liberal crusader that they mistook him to be. Eventually he would return home to Russia and live to see the fall of the system he despised. History is filled with people who stood for what was right against all odds and impacted society for the better, Alexander was a school teacher whose life took a turn of events that he simply followed; he was not ashamed of the gospel and did not tailor his message to please the audience. I like that style; it reminds me of another revolutionary who gave his life to save the world. [1744] LIVING IN THE REAL WORLD? I read an article the other day- some guy got busted for assault- because of Facebook. It went on to say how he posted a status update when his mom died- and he was waiting for his estranged wife to ‘like’ it. She never responded- so he did what any normal person would- he jumped in the car and drove over to her house. Okay- I’m gonna ad lib here ‘knock knock’ she comes to the door and he says ‘go into that damn computer room right now and Like the status’! One thing lead to another- and he got busted. What’s wrong with this picture? I mean he was talking to her- in the ‘real world’ face to face- yet instead of saying ‘ex- are you sad that mom died’- no- he says ‘go like the post!’ Okay- this will be the last post for a while on philosophy- I think I did about 3 or 4 the last week or so- I used to do one subject and stick with it for around a month. Then at the end of the study [Physics, History, etc.] I would stick them all together on the blog as a single study. But I realized that new friends who are just reading the site- post by post- they might think that’s all I write about- so now I’m trying to just do a few at a time. Okay- we made it all the way to Plato and his famous school that he founded at Athens [Greece]. Though Socrates was his teacher- yet Socrates never founded an actual school. Like I said earlier- Plato had a view of Reality that was a bit strange. He was an Idealist- not in the way we use the term today [mostly] but he believed that Ideas themselves were the real world- and what we see/experience in the material world are not ‘as real’. Plato believed that knowledge was A Priori- which means the actual knowledge about a thing exists before the thing comes into being. The famous example he used was a Chair. He would ask ‘what is that’ pointing to a chair. The student would respond ‘a chair’ Plato would say ‘and how do you know this- how did you obtain that knowledge’ and he argued that in the Idea realm- there is a perfect form of Chairness that exists- and that’s why we can identify ‘the chair’ in the material realm. Now- Plato’s most famous student was a man named Aristotle. He actually respected his teacher a lot- but there was some tension between the 2. Plato was more of a down to earth type guy- liked to wear plain clothes- did lots of his teaching by walking around the classroom- interacting with people. Aristotle was more of a ‘Fancy Pants’ type guy. He had a little bit of the elitist thing going on. He was more of a book worm than Plato- and he would eventually start his own school to compete with Plato’s Academy. Aristotle’s school was named the Lyceum. Aristotle was more of a Realist than an Idealist. He believed that this material world was more than just a copy of the Idea world. He taught that Substance and matter were very real- and that contained within the thing is the actual form and future potential of ‘that thing’. For instance- the Acorn has within it the actual form of the Oak Tree. This form did not come from an Idea world- it came from the thing itself- the Acorn. So matter has within it both the potential of its future form- as well as eventually becoming that thing. For Aristotle- knowledge is more A-Posteriori- that is we obtain knowledge about a thing- from the very thing itself. We see/touch and experience that thing- and by our senses interacting with the substance- we get knowledge- after the fact. Okay- to Aristotle all substance has both Form and Matter. Then what he called substance- had 2 categories as well. The ‘substance’ [actual thing it is] and the Accidens [not accidents- not a typo]. The Accidens was simply the outward appearance- what we see on the outside. It might not be what the substance really is- or it might. This teaching would eventually become a major way that our Catholic friends would come to define the doctrine of Transubstantiation- during the 13the century the great thinker Thomas Aquinas would re-discover [and introduce] Aristotle’s teaching back into the church. In his theological works [Summa Theologica] he would use Aristotelian thought to explain how the Bread and Wine become the actual Flesh and Blood of Christ. Thomas explained that the actual substance of the thing was Flesh and Blood- but the Accidens- what you’re seeing on the outside- looks like Bread and Wine. Catholic scholars have debated for centuries on whether or not they should stick to the hard line teaching from Thomas on this. They are not challenging the belief in the Real Presence [that Jesus is really there at the Eucharist] they simply wonder whether or not explaining it this way is right. Finally- after many years of certain Catholic scholars asking this question- in 1965 the Pope [I think it was Paul the 6th?] put out a Papal Encyclical [an official Vatican teaching] and he stated clearly that the way Aquinas taught it is the official doctrine of the church- so that settled that. Okay- Plato was an Idealist [Dualist] and Aristotle was a Realist. That’s the major difference. I will note that Aristotle’s most famous student was Alexander the Great. And during the great conquests of Alexander he took with him a whole team of scientists who brought back all types of specimens of things and he gave them to his famous teacher Aristotle- to advance the cause of learning at the Lyceum school. It has been said that Alexander’s efforts at collecting and bringing these things back after their victories- that this was probably the most expensive scientific endeavor of all time- right up until the modern space Era. Note- I try to avoid too many ‘big words’ in these posts. Not because people don’t understand them- but because I forget how to spell them! And in this post- there are around 10 words that my spell check has no idea how to spell- so just a warning- there might be a few misspelled words in this one. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com

Christian Recovery

Christian recovery from addictions. As you scroll down you will read my story in AA- as of this update I have 3 years- 6 months sober [7-2016] TRADITIONS OF www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com [I developed this short list for the purpose of having a format for Christian based bible studies/home groups. Feel free to copy- use- or even start your own group based on these principles- I wave the copy right to all this stuff. To be honest- I have never used a format in our meetings over the years, but for those who want to duplicate/start their own meetings- I find using a format helps. Zechariah 13:1 In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness. Zechariah 13:2 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land. Ezekiel 36:24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Ezekiel 36:25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. Ezekiel 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. Ezekiel 36:28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. Ezekiel 36:29 I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you. Ezekiel 36:30 And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen. Ezekiel 36:31 Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. Ezekiel 36:32 Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord GOD, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel. Ezekiel 36:33 Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded. As you scroll down there is lots to read. Those who click this page might be struggling with addiction. For a short/quick help- just read thru this top section regularly [print it if possible]. This will train your mind in a way. Also memorize the short verse I HATE VAIN THOUGHTS BUT THY LAW DO I LOVE. Repeat it 3 times every time you find your mind being tempted- or even if your are in the middle of acting out a particular sin- each time you say it 3 times in a row- no matter what- stop the addiction at that moment. At the start- you might have to do this many times a day [depending on the addiction] but over time it will train your mind to stop. PRAYERS [read together at the start of the meeting] 1; I confess to almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters- that I have sinned thru my own fault. In my thoughts and in my words- in what I have done and in what I have failed to do. And I ask Jesus Christ- and all my brothers and sisters- to pray for me to the Lord our God. 2; Our father who art in heaven- Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come- thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread- and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation- but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the glory and the power- now and forever- Amen. CONFESSIONS [repeat 3 times each] 1; I hate vain thoughts- but thy law do I love. 2; Commit thy works unto the Lord and thy thoughts will be established. 3 PILLARS [Readings from Peter, James and John- either read together- or have one person read one ‘pillar’ each. The bible refers to these 3 men as spiritual pillars of the church] 1; Gird up the loins of your mind and be sober and hope to the end for the grace that is being brought unto you at the appearing of Jesus Christ. Abstain from fleshly lusts that war against the soul. Those that have suffered in the flesh have ceased from sin- that they should no longer live the rest of their lives in the flesh to the lusts of men- but to the will of God. 2; Blessed is the man that endures temptation- for when he is tried- he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those that love him. Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust- and enticed. And when lust has conceived it brings forth sin- and sin- when it is finished, brings forth death. Resist the devil and he will flee from you- draw near unto God and he will draw near unto you. Cleanse your hands- ye sinners- and purify your hearts you double minded. Be afflicted and mourn and weep- let you laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness- before that great and notable Day of the Lord. 3; Behold- a new commandment I give unto you- which thing is true in Him and in you- because the darkness has now passed- and the true light now shines. Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin- but his word remains in him, and he cannot sin- because he is born of God. This is how we know he hears us- because we keep his commandments and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. THURSDAY MORNING- [Sponsors- the danger of co-dependency] We had a change of plans yesterday- Mike [my artist] stopped by around 9 am- he asked if I would do a meeting. His friend saw him last night- and was suicidal. Mike- who has been a friend for many years- but has just recently been in my meetings- told his friend that we do a sort of Christian based AA/NA meeting. So- I grabbed a few guys and did a meeting here in the Bluff. It went well- I talked about how Christ re-established our relationship with God- as our Father. I spoke about the danger of co-dependence. When I was in New Jersey last year for 3 months- I met some real good people in the NA meetings. But during my year in AA- I saw things that from a Christian perspective- were not compatible with healthy living. I did write about it- in a gracious way [it’s on my blog- under the section ‘Christian addiction recovery’. But one of the things I never hit on was the teaching on Sponsors. I wrote a book years ago- part of it dealt with the Shepherding/discipleship movement back in the 70’s. This was a movement within the church that had ‘shepherds’ who were sort of like Sponsors in AA. The problem with that movement was it created a co-dependency - people became too dependent on another person. In scripture the concept of Sponsor- Mentor- is there- but the biblical view is- it’s only for a period of time. There must be a breaking away from that relationship over time. The Shepherding movement made the mistake of trying to control people- for life. Jesus discipled his men for 3 years- then told them it was needful for him to leave. At first- they didn’t want that- but he said ‘I go to prepare a place for you’ We often read that as ‘I’m going to get heaven ready for you’. Actually- in context [it’s in John’s gospel] he was saying- ‘I go- to make room for you [here on earth]’ Sort of like ‘when I leave- the Spirit will come- and the works that I did- now you will do them’. He had to leave- so they would grow in their own relationship with God. In my meeting yesterday I spoke about how we- people- become co-dependent on girlfriends- sponsors- etc. There must come a time where we move on. In New Jersey- I met a guy at one of the meetings- don’t remember his name- but we talked a bit. He told another person next to him ‘I have not only done the 12 steps- but 13’. Now- he was nice- talking to some friends- The lady asked ‘what do you mean’. You could tell he was hesitant to sound critical of NA- he must have been in it for around 20 years or so. He was clean- doing well. But he said he got a new sponsor a few years ago- and he made him do the steps all over- over a period of years. He said he didn’t think he needed to- but he had to obey the sponsor- so he spent a few more years- doing something- that he felt was a waste- but if he didn’t do it- he was fearful that he was not obeying the sponsor. I didn’t say anything- but of course I saw the same danger in this- that I actually had written about years before. Any movement- or group- that creates this sort of co- dependency - can be dangerous. So- we talked in our meeting about eventually moving beyond that initial relationship [I think Sponsors are ok- just at the start- maybe even a year- but over time it would be better to move on]. Stephen Covey- in his best seller ‘7 habits of highly effective people’ talked about 3 types- stages- of personal growth. 1- Independent 2- Co-dependent 3- Interdependent Independent is the mindset of ‘I don’t need anyone else’. Co-dependent is ‘I can’t live without you’. Interdependent is ‘I don’t ‘need’ you to survive- to make it- but I see the value of our relationship- and we can go further together- as co-equals- than alone’. I think that’s the proper view. I have a friend who is dating a local girl. Her ex-boyfriend is also my friend. They are both at the street mission every week. Then- her ex-husband now shows up [he got out of prison recently]. When she’s there- she has these 3 guys ‘fighting’ over her. One actually stabbed the other one a few years ago- over this. My closet friend [out of the 3] said ‘John- she just loves the attention- she wants us to fight over her’. He was right. Part of overcoming addictions- is also becoming interdependent. Recognizing the value of others- but being mature enough to say ‘Brother/sponsor- I know you think I need to do this [whether it’s redoing the steps- over a few years- or whatever] - but I am maturing in this initial relationship- and I’m moving on’. In my year in AA- I never had a sponsor- But boy was there pressure to get one- almost to the point of ‘we are waiting for you to re-lapse- so you will see your in rebellion’ [I was actually told this by a good friend]. This is a very important aspect- in my view- of becoming a well-rounded person. Ok- that’s it- see you next week. 2; AA/NA AND THE SEX ISSUE Note- when I post these types of post on Facebook- my intent is not to ‘preach’ to my friends who are living in various situations [I have gay friends- friends in different situations]. No- these types of posts are for those who are in these types of groups- AA- etc. and seem to be wanting a lifestyle change to some degree. So- for those who keep seeking some difference- and keep stumbling over stuff- for those- I thought this type of post might help- ok- trust me- I don’t wish to offend anyone. I want to cover Sponsors in one post- but first let’s get to what I think might be the most important aspect of why some- in AA/NA- might still be struggling- with continual relapse- after an entire lifetime in the program. This past year as I did read the Big Book- and attended meetings- I noticed- and was told- that many in AA/NA have ‘traded one addiction for another’. Actually one of our first Halfway House residents told me how- in his view- many have traded the substance addiction for ‘sex addiction’. That is- a lot of the people are ‘picking up’ people for sex- to put in bluntly. A few months ago- I was having a talk with a friend who is sort of ‘an expert’ in AA. Been in it for 25-30 years- knows the material well- good guy. In our discussion I told him that I feel like many are continuing to have problems because the sex issue is really not dealt with- as a sin- and many who stop drinking/using- are still dealing with the guilt- and what the bible calls ‘wrath’ on a daily basis- because of this actual issue. Ok- I’m not preaching here- I have ‘been there- done that’. As most know- I’ve pretty much talked about stuff in an open way this year. So- no one here is a saint. But- in scripture- the act of sex- outside of marriage- is considered much more destructive to a person’s soul than all other sin [outside of murder]. So- when people stop abusing drugs/alcohol- but still participate in adultery- the penalty- feeling this Wrath- will still be there- but in a much more pronounced way. Let me explain. The Apostle Peter wrote ‘There are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises- whereby we can escape the corruption that is in the world THRU LUST’. As I have stated in other posts this past year- I have come to believe that the core issue of addiction is indeed this lust [sex] issue. Now- many will identify as a substance abuser- but often the person started using substances- maybe years earlier- as a way to deaden the Wrath [that feeling of guilt- and judgment] that comes along with ‘sleeping around’. You cannot escape this- period. So- for some- the root cause of their addiction is this very thing [remember- the bible- which I just quoted above- actually says that the corruption exists in the world- thru lust. Which means that is the root of all other sin in the world. Not saying sex- the God ordained way- in the marriage covenant- but any sex outside of marriage brings this judgment on a person]. Ok. I do believe that this is a root cause of relapse- continuing in what the bible describes as a much worse sin/addiction- then the actual substance abuse itself. But now- when some do indeed find freedom from the substance- but can’t seem to overcome the sex thing- Walla- you begin feeling this judgment- this wrath- in a more pronounced way. And because the sex thing is not dealt with [I’ll explain in a moment] then there is a natural tendency for the user to want to return to the drug/drink- because that’s the thing that ‘deadened’ the guilt from the start. Now do you see? Ok- when I was talking with my friend who has much experience in AA- I told him that when I read thru the big book this past year- I remember reading a page that said the founders of AA decided to be neutral on the sex issue. My friend vehemently denied this! See- once again- it was more of a defense of the movement itself- then an honest conversation. I was not defensive- I told him ‘oh- maybe I’m wrong- I just remember reading a passage- and I remember how it talked about the popular philosophy of Freud- Hedonism- and then that page seemed to say that AA takes a neutral position on the sex issue’. I remembered the passage because I teach philosophy as well as history- and when the Big Book was written the thinking of Freud was a big debate- Freud taught that one of the problems of man was him trying to restrain himself from any expression of sex at all. That if we throw off all those old ‘Victorian/religious’ rules- and practice unrestrained sex- Hedonism- then we can resolve man’s problems. So- that’s why I remembered the passage from the big book- it did not say it accepted Freud- but also chose to take no position and not really deal with the whole sex issue [which in my view is THE ROOT of most addictions]. So- my friend- who at first said I was wrong- that the big book does take a stance- went and found the page. I read the passage- and sure enough- it was the page I remembered. And- as I re-read it- I was right. [Just a note here- when he showed me the page- he seemed to say ‘see- it’s here’- like he was defending the Big Book. When I sat there and read it- I told him ‘yeah- this is what I just said- that here AA takes the neutral position’. He then agreed with me. He too knew Freud. He admitted I was right. See? That’s a problem in AA- even my friend- who was open and sincere- when he knew the page he opened to was actually agreeing with my point- he still went ahead- to defend the book- knowing he was wrong.] I wasn’t mean- I just told my friend how as you read the page [he did know about Freud] that you can see that the Big Book is not taking a stand on the sex issue. And actually teaches- in another section- that on these issues you follow your conscience- and if whatever type of sex your conscience says is ok- then that’s acceptable. Ok- once again- if you follow this- and try it- you will never be able to escape the ‘built in’ wrath of God- and in my view- eventually relapse- because the root issue is not dealt with. I want to say that my experience in AA was not a negative one- but because I was open minded- and never was ‘anti-AA’- this allowed me to get to know people- ask them questions- and try and learn from their experiences. This last year- as I read up on addictions and the Rehab industry in the U.S. I found some who are totally opposed to AA- and want to end the program. I am not in that camp. As I sit here and write- a verse comes to mind. When I was back in N.J. - I struggled with whether or not to stay in the meetings. Most of all I didn’t want to be a stumbling block to those who have found AA/NA as a great help. To those- I say ‘great- keep doing what you’re doing’. My intent in this brief critique is for those who are finding themselves in some of the examples above. The bible says ‘you will know the truth- and the truth will set you free’. I have found many- most- of the AA friends do not want to hear- or read any of the other literature on addiction. If someone is close minded- or has a view that reading the other stuff is somehow wrong- then those people will continue to suffer from not knowing the latest information about addiction. The verse that I read while asking God what position I should take- I knew I was seeing lots of this stuff because I have taught- and participated in Movements over the past 25 years. So I knew many of the good things about Movements- as well as the dangers. So- I could see some of these things- and many of my AA friends had no way to spot some of these flaws. The verse- from Acts ‘REFRAIN FROM THESE MEN- IF IT BE A WORK OF GOD- NO ONE CAN STOP IT- BUT IF OF MEN- IT WIL FALL’. I believe AA/NA is a work of God- and that as it goes for all movements- you can attack them- pick them apart [as many did in the books I read- or from friends who did not want to get clean]. So- this critique I write for the benefit of ‘Bill’s Kids’. Yeah- one of the most amazing things to me in my year with AA was how God used an ex-alcoholic to start a worldwide movement that would help many people become free from substance abuse. If I were talking to Bill W right now- I would say- ‘Brother Bill- what a great work of God you founded with a small group- I truly enjoyed being with your kids this year- they are a great family. These things I write are not meant to simply criticize you. But I felt like the kids needed this- that as all movements- and books go- apart from the bible- they are with flaws. I even think you would be displeased to see that some of your kids treat the Big Book- almost like the bible. So- as I say goodbye to AA- I might stop in every now and then- but I felt like my purpose was done with this great family. I worried- a lot- that my seeing these things- and not being able to deal with them in a meeting format- might cause others to fall- who are your kids Bill- not mine. So- I bless your kids- they are a great family- you did something that most never do. You remained anonymous as much as possible. You effectively passed off the movement to THE KIDS. Your kids run the show- that’s great! Yes- many biblical principles have been introduced thru AA. I pray that as the movement goes on for many more years. That the adjustments that need to be made- will be made. God bless you all John. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to scroll down on the timeline [FaceBoook] - I have posted lots. 2045- A Christian perspective on AA/NA. I debated about doing one final post on my experience with AA/NA [Alcoholics anonymous- Narcotics anonymous]. Why? I want to do an honest critique- not only from personal experience- but from the experiences of others. Yesterday I saw a new resident at our halfway house- I wanted to meet him- a mutual friend had told me this new addition to the house used to be his sponsor- and he relapsed- again. As a matter of fact- my friend told me that all 5 of his sponsors- over the past 5 years- have relapsed. The friend who was telling me this- has an addiction to prescription pills- buys- sells- spends whole days in his addiction. Yet- he too is a sponsor- and does not consider himself an addict- because he has not had ‘one beer in 5 years’. I tell these stories for the benefit of those who might be saying ‘Gee John- that’s me too!’ Over the years of Pastoral ministry- I of course was familiar with AA. I spoke about AA in a positive way- most pastors did not. Many had trouble with the ‘higher power’ concept- not me- till this day most of my friends have found God and refer to God when they use this language. Yes- many good people have found God and have become clean thru the program. But- the above scenario has been repeated many times- in just my short year in AA. I asked the sponsor who relapsed- let’s call him Chuck. ‘Chuck- I was looking forward to meeting you- I have heard lots of great things about you- how long were you clean [this last time] before you relapsed’. 3 years. ‘Ok- what’s the longest clean time you have had- since you have been in AA’? 8. ‘How long have you been in AA’? 25 years. Chuck is 58 years old. ‘Chuck’ was standing in the same room- at our halfway house- as another resident of the house was just a day or 2 before. Let’s call him ‘Paul’. Paul has the same story. Knows the Big Book- quotes it- has been in AA for 30 years. And is now 5 months clean- after multiple years of clean stints- and relapses. Then- one of our newest residents came in- high as a kite [He did not know I was there- or he would not have come in. If you get high- you get kicked out of the Halfway House]. Just about a week before- I had a talk with him about why I feel the AA meetings are not for me. [Though all the guys at the house are very involved with AA- and I will still take them to meetings- and in no way try to hinder them from what they feel they need to do]. I have tried to be very nice- and honest- about this. I told this kid ‘son- you keep referring to yourself as someone with a disease that others just don’t have’. I went on and told him that sin- in its essence- is sort of like a disease. But all people suffer from it to one degree or another. And for the past 2 thousands years- many people have overcome addictive lifestyles thru the grace of God. I told him that when we do overcome these addictions- it would be better to simply view ourselves as yes- sinners- but sinners who have accessed God’s grace- and are the same as all other sinners. I found the mindset of ‘I have a disease that makes me different than others’ to be counterproductive in some cases. One friend says ‘John- we are INSANE- the book says we are insane. Why else would someone go back out and drink after many years of being sober- see- we must be insane’! Well actually- people go out and chose to sin- because they are sinners. And yes- some might describe this as insanity. But my friend used this argument in a way that said ‘see- WE ARE in another group of people- who are different- both mentally and physically than normal people’. [As a side note- I hope to get to this very point in this study. But- Alcoholism does not fit the category of a disease- like other diseases. Now- to be sure- the EFFECTS of putting substances into your body- whatever they be- do indeed CAUSE diseases- but the actual addiction to a substance- apart from babies being born from mothers who used during pregnancy- is not a disease in the classic sense. Many believe because the medical associations did indeed accept it as a disease- that this makes it one. Many doctors do not embrace this idea at all- and if you simply compare the normal idea of disease- with an addict- they are not the same]. So- as someone who never took a negative view of AA- and still does not- I began to see inherent- if you will- structural problems inside the system. I also found too many defenders of the movement- who were actively in relapse- to some degree- and yet did not want to admit it- because they took a view of AA like some Christians have about their particular church/denomination. And they hid their relapse because they wanted to defend their movement. [Note- when people find their identity by having a particular ‘clean date’- and when so much rides upon that date- 2-3- 10 year celebrations- if they relapse- there is a very real sense that ‘all is lost’. I think the ‘identity of addiction/non addiction’ a term I have coined- is counterproductive. Too much emphasis is placed on the DON’T EVER USE command. While I believe- and practice total abstinence- by God’s grace- yet I do not see it thru a legalistic mentality- a LAW mentality. Over the years I have taught about the difference between law and grace. And I think focusing so much on a person’s clean date can lead to a terrible fall- depression- because many who relapse then try and come back and work twice as hard then before- which can be legalistic]. Some have said ‘for the FIRST TIME in man’s history a way has been given…’ [If I remember- I think this is read at the meetings?] Now- once again- I know this statement means well- but it’s simply not true. And if you begin believing this [that God has given- for the FIRST TIME- a plan that will work] then you become a defender of a movement [though good] in a way that certain cultic members defend their movements. ‘God has- for the first time- restored the true church’- etc. etc. So- I have read up this last year on the entire Addiction/Recovery industry- and I want to share more up to date info. Historically- more people have achieved recovery thru the Church- thru not only ‘attending church’ [which is not ‘church’ to the full degree of being a practicing Christian] but thru either the participation of the sacramental life of the High Church denominations [Catholics- Orthodox, etc] or thru the usual means of the dispensation of Grace from a Protestant perspective [Altar Call- Baptism- witnessing- etc]. What I mean is- more addicts have become clean thru the practice of the Christian faith- than in AA- period. I don’t say this as a ‘shot’ at AA. Some have said ‘I tried church- it didn’t work’. I asked ‘what do you mean- you tried church’. ‘Well- I went to church on Sunday- watched religious shows- etc.’ I would then respond ‘no- that’s not CHURCH’. I responded ‘no- Jesus- and Christianity teach -you must give it away to keep it’ [a main theme in AA]. I told him ‘what you tried was simply going to a Christian church meeting without practicing the ‘whole program’. Which includes many [if not all] of the steps that you would follow in AA. Which indeed is where Bill and the founders based their movement on, it was at one time called THE JAMES GROUP- named after the letter of James in the New Testament. The point I was making was- I have had more than one well intending person simply write off THE CHURCH- not realizing that they never really tried THE CHURCH. That is- they never really implemented the teachings of Christ fully- and many others- over a 2 thousand year history- had. So- once again- this is not to say that God is not working in AA/NA. No- without a doubt he is. But because I have had many experiences this past year- of people- who after 30 years or so- continue to relapse. [Note- these people- without an exception- when I asked them what happened. They simply believed that it was their fault. Now- maybe so. But to the point of ‘no- this program has BEEN PROVEN to have never failed- for those who do it fully’ is taught in the Big Book. But there are many- I’m sure- that might have failed because of other reasons. Like I’m explaining today. See- if after multiple stories of relapse- and if you are reading the words in The Big book- that says ‘up to now- all who failed- did so because of ..’ some fault of their own- then this can become a self-defeating cycle. There might be- and indeed are- other reasons that some of these people continue to relapse. Some have developed such a defeatist view of themselves- and at times an irresponsible one ‘I have a disease- that’s why this happens to me’. See- some have embraced wrong- false ideas. And it is possible that this minority [or majority?] of cases- they are relapsing because they need better- more up to date help with their addictions]. If you hold to this outdated view [that all who have followed this system have never been known to fail- up to now] - penned by good men about 80 years ago. Then you need to be updated on the latest data. [Maybe at the time that Bill wrote this- it was true- but not now. And to continue to tell people that all who followed the plan never relapsed- is simply not true]. Updating these mistaken concepts would help the movement- in my view. For their sake- those who have a history of relapse after many years in the program- over the next few days I want to give you a balanced approach. Though I am clean for a year- I really don’t see this as some ‘rare’ thing. Nor do I want to use my example as the basis for this study. No- the actual data show us that more people over the past 2 thousand years- have become free from addictions- thru the practicing of Christianity [and to be fair- other religious disciplines as well- Islam- etc.- which teach biblical principles of self-discipline- prayer- fasting- etc] then following any other program. The bible does indeed tell us that we can chose to ‘sin not’. That’s really not such a surprise- to have to go thru all types of other things- then to simply seek God- apply the teachings of your church- and yeah- many get clean. Ok- I don’t want this final post on AA to be negative. Those in the movement that have found freedom- I bless you. If you were to ask me a percentage number on the ‘good versus bad’. Geez - I would say 90% is good- maybe 10 % needs a correction- a structural change within the movement. The problem is- because AA is truly a movement- and yes- a God given movement [but not THE FIRST- or only]. Run by what we call ‘laymen’ [the biblical principle of the actual followers running the show- this is very biblical in nature- and because the meetings are founded this way- with no single Pastor type person- the meetings are in my view run in a more biblical way than many churches]. But at the same time- I don’t know how the movement can make the adjustments that in needs to make. There are many examples I can give- from well-meaning people in the program- who simply do not realize that their view of AA/NA in general has become ‘cultic’. Just one example- out of many. One friend was giving me the NA book- and of course as a reader- who has also read many more up to date materials on addiction- I received the book graciously- and told him I would start reading. Which I of course did- like I did with the Big Book. But he told me that all the other books I read- they were ABOUT addiction- no- this one was different than all others [once again- the same cultic approach you see in various Christian cults- who are also very good people- but have a sort of higher view of the writings of their movement- sort of like scripture]. My friend simply believed that the NA book he was giving me was one of a kind. That every other book on drug addiction fell into the category of ‘about addiction’ But that this one- this was the only one that saved you from addiction. Once again- all well-meaning people- but these signs are danger signs- at least to me. They come too close to the more extreme Christian churches- who also hold to these types of views about their writings. I also found that many appealed to their own example [though as of now- every one that has discussed this with me- has seemed to have relapsed] I would say ‘don’t just look at me- or any other person- no- the data show [data- other books- studies] show that many are getting clean thru these other approaches’. [Note- in my discussions- some friends openly admit this- they say that the Book says there are other programs that work. But yet later- they will also still hold to the concept that FOR THE FIRST TIME God gave a program that frees people. These 2 ideas are contrary. I think some simple changes to the language would help]. One friend- a leader in the local movement- would tell me outright that reading the other literature was sort of being unfaithful to the Big Book. I gave him my other books on addiction- he did not read them. But then when we got into these discussions. Maybe he would say ‘No- this is the first time a God given program has been shown to man…’ I would simply quote the latest data- which shows this belief to be false. He would say ‘I never heard that’. I would respond ‘if you don’t read anything else on addiction- but simply keep re-reading the 154 pages [which seems to be a sort of Fundamentalist approach within the movement itself- I have heard some Old Timers say the 154 are the key] over and over again- then you will never broaden your perspective about anything- including addiction recovery!’ THURSDAY- I’m going to do something right now- that I never planned on doing again. What’s that? Write a bit more about AA/NA. The main reason I did not want to write on this subject anymore- is because I never was really ‘in the program’- in the sense that I never did a step. I never had a sponsor- but only attended some meetings early on- and did read the big book. Now- why write then? Good question. One of the changes that I felt needed to be made- in my ‘transition’ season that I have been writing about- was I felt in all good conscience that I can’t be affiliated with previous ministries- for a few reasons- but one is they are strong in AA- to the point where at times I see many ‘cultic’ signs in some of the people I associate with. What do you mean Cultic? Since I’ve been back in Texas- I have had friend’s relapse- again- and they start the whole routine over ‘John- I called my sponsor and…’. Ok- if that’s the track you feel you need to be on- fine. But if after 30 years- and the track never lead to anywhere [in around 90% of the cases- this is true. The latest statistic I read was the success rate is about 10%- many in the movement do not know this- because they do not read the most up to date data on addiction- many feel it is in a way wrong to be informed about the issue]. So- even though I am now clean for almost 2 years- yet- in a sense- when I run into some old friends still in the movement- and not clean themselves [many are addicted to prescription pills- and some use pills that are not prescribed to them- yet they still count their clean date from the last time they drank a beer]. It’s almost like trying to escape a cult- they view all of life thru the paradigm of AA/NA- which is a danger sign. These are all good people- and when I first started writing on AA I did not want to side track those who are finding help thru it- the 7-10 % of success stories. But- there are the other 90 %- who still need help- and often times the relapse is indeed because they are in a legalistic bondage to AA/NA. I’ve taught on this a lot- and this is the basis of Christianity [many of the videos I’m making deal with this- the freedom from a system- the law- and having a new life in Christ- not focused on some system- that’s the heart of the New Covenant]. So- even though I have determined to try and cut all ties with the movement- in some ways those who are in it- however well intended- seem to take a cultic approach. If you attempt to keep a relationship- with others in the movement- you are viewed as needing to ‘get with the program’. I fear many of the well meaning people in the movement do not see the danger. When I was in N.J.- not this last time- but about 2 years ago. The last meeting I went to there was a speaker [note- I do realize you are not supposed to talk about what was said in the meetings- let me say- I am not in AA- and I am trying my best to not step on too many toes here- one of the aspects of a cult is you do not talk about what’s going on in their meetings- so- when I share the things I learned- it’s so we can all benefit- I also realize the reason people do not share is so they can be anonymous- which is ok- I get it]. So- one of the last meetings I went to- there was a guest speaker. As he spoke- he said he wished he could live his life without being in a never ending process of depending upon meetings- sponsors- the whole thing. He described it as a sort of bondage- But he said because he was an addict- he can never have a normal life- being free from addiction- unless he did this- for the rest of his life. I didn’t say anything- and maybe he was having a bad day. But his own testimony- from his mouth- was what I already began seeing at the time. The fact is- the free gift of grace- does indeed free us from focusing our lives around overcoming addiction- that was indeed the great break thru of the Cross- that God would set us free- for FREE [meaning you do not have to focus your life around a system to be free- Paul the apostle taught in Romans 7 that if you do try harder to keep the law [any program that you think you need to follow to be free] that it actually strengthens the sin [addiction]. This is what is indeed happening in many of the 90% of those who are relapsing]. NOTE- When I read other literature on addiction recovery- just to broaden my understanding- I did not realize that there were many others who saw major flaws with AA/NA- many of these alternative approaches were developed because of some of the stuff I mentioned above. Any movement- must in time be open to new things- and I have had people tell me that AA/NA was given by God to Bill W- and because it was given- by God- that’s why it ‘rarely’ fails for those who do it. But it does fail- often- And it’s ok to say this- it needs to be said- But if your view is because it is a God given program- that man never had before- then you become a defender of a movement- much like a cult defends their beliefs- this is happening with many in the movement. Some of the teaching that I did recently dealt with the SEX issue- how in the bible adultery [any sex outside marriage- even Porn addiction] is considered very serious. The bible says ‘drunkards- adulterers- etc.’ will not inherit the kingdom. Now- if you’re in AA/NA just to try and get free from a substance- that’s your prerogative. But- in the biblical teaching- if you are ‘under’ [meaning sponsor type thing] people who do practice sexual sin- then those under you will never get free- from the thing the leader is in bondage to. That’s a biblical principle. [I have had many friends tell me that the porn/sex problem is one they cannot overcome- yet they stopped using substances- they do not realize the biblical principle I am writing about now- they need to know this- or the train will never stop] I was invited to an AA celebration last year- I was told ‘you might not want to go- they are all renting rooms already- to sleep with each other’. The person knew I would have a problem with that. I said ‘what you have is hedonism- without the alcohol’. Now- if that’s what you want- fine. But Christians in the movement are submitting to sponsors- if they are involved in this- that the bible teaches you should not submit to. Because the sex issue- in scripture- is just as bad [or worse] if done outside of marriage- as the substance. The biblical principle is you can’t help others- if you’re in bondage yourself. I often tell people ‘look- if you want help quitting smoking- I can’t help you’. Why? Because I smoke. I wrote in the past that I felt the underlying issue to most addicts is lust- The BIBLE says ‘we have escaped the corruption that is in the world THRU LUST’. If you are in a fellowship- that actively practices lust- you will never get free from it- and many of the people who have overcome drugs and drink thru the program- do indeed struggle with lust- porn- adultery. Why? Because of what I just told you- the bible is a higher authority than man- and any movement that allows you to develop your own conscience on sex- leads to a bondage- if at the end of your ‘sex inventory’ you come to a conclusion that is not compatible with scripture- which is God given. This past month those of you who have followed my journey- you’ll notice some of the verses and old radio quotes dealt with the issue of how should believers relate to those living in sin. I tried to strike a balance between being ‘in the world’ yet not of it. I mentioned that in the letter to the Corinthians the apostle Paul did say to have no fellowship with the brother who was in sexual sin- because his sin was open- and accepted. Yet- in the ‘world’ you will have people who are living in all types of situations- and it’s ok to have ‘friends’ that are sinners. Jesus was called ‘a friend of sinners’. Now- the problem with joining with a group/fellowship that practices sexual sin [not all- but many- and I covered in previous posts that the movement has decided to take no stand against adultery- in the big book I gave you the section that left that open-and I have known people in the movement that said when they did their sexual inventory that their conscience permitted various sexual sins that scripture forbids]. Now- I’m not nit-picking here- the point I’m making is if a believer puts himself under the authority of a movement/sponsor- that permits sexual sin [which is very different then someone who struggles with sin- yet does not condone it]. Then they are violating the mandate to not be unequally yoked together- meaning when you voluntarily submit to the leadership of a person- or movement- that permits this- you are indeed violating scripture- in this area. I read a book from some pastors who were pro AA. At the time I too was ‘pro’ AA- until I saw some of these things. In my time in AA- there was more than one occasion that I knew of younger kids- struggling with porn- who were getting advice/sponsorship from men who themselves permitted it- they told me that to them it was not a sin. Yet- the younger ones they sponsored did not know they were under the ‘covering’ of men who practiced the same thing [as far as I know]. There was a very respected older man- in his 70’s- who is well known around the country for having brought many to sobriety thru AA. One day I was working with a person from the streets- and I mentioned how I thought the sex issue- being openly practiced- was a problem. I later found out that this highly respected older man- well did the same thing [I can’t explain it all- but the girl knew the man]. I said ‘I can’t believe it’! The person told me that he’s just a leader in AA- and it’s not ministry. Now- that might be ‘ok’ if your not a Christian- but if churches and pastors are ‘partaking’ of a movement that permits a very serious sin- bondage- and many young men in the movement are seeking deliverance from this very thing [lust- porn- etc.]. Then the church leaders need to re-examine their support- because if they are recommending to join a ‘fellowship’ that permits this- then in my view they are violating the scripture in the area of not associating [or at least recommending] a movement that permits this. Now- this is not a critique of others who are just in the movement to get free from drugs/alcohol- this is a Christian based view that I feel is scriptural. In essence- church leaders are telling their people to submit to leadership- that is in violation of the scripture willingly- openly- and not ‘repenting’- like the Corinthian brother. And many of the younger [older] leaders in the movement practice sexual sin- because they permit it. This is much different than working with people struggling to overcome sin- but know it is wrong. The sinning brother at the church of Corinth was engaged in sexual sin- and was open about it- he saw nothing wrong with it. That indeed is the position of many in the movement- those they sponsor WILL NEVER GET FREE from a lifestyle that the leadership condones- Do you now see? THE DALLAS BUYERS CLUB- Right from the start of me going to the AA meetings- my friends knew that this was an area that I had strong problems with. Meaning they knew that I felt the ‘addiction’ to sex sin- be it porn- sleeping around- etc.- was a sin/addiction that was just as strong [or worse] then drugs or alcohol. And my friends knew that I had a problem with those who openly slept around with other people in the group. In Texas at the end of the meetings we did pray the ‘Our Father’ which was a good thing- but some in the prayer saw nothing wrong with leaving the meeting- with someone else from the group- and having sex. It was simply acceptable. One day one of the old timers- famous in AA- he knew I had these strong reservations. He told me a story from back in the day- that there was a famous Dallas AA group- and one member was jealous that another member had sex with his girl. He went to New York City and brought back 2-3 hookers- who had aids. He didn’t tell anyone in the group- he just brought the girls to the meetings- knowing the other members would sleep with them. According to the old man- many [he said all] of the the men in that group contracted aids- and it became a famous story in the movement. One of the kids that was at our halfway house- James- he was very paranoid from his use of Meth. Some days I would go the halfway house- and the door was locked with a chain- I couldn’t get in. I liked the kid- and he knew I was doing the Christin aspect of recovery [the meetings you see me do on video- actually the video for this week was done at the halfway house where James was staying]. James eventually left our halfway house- and I saw him about a year later. I was at Timons [a feeding mission] and he said ‘Hey John- don’t you remember me’. I didn’t recognize him- he was clean- gained weight- and ‘on fire for Jesus’. He went to a Christian based recovery group- called Rapha House [I have taken guys there before- also to the Victory Outreach- these are Christian based recovery groups- many in these groups are very anti AA]. He said ‘John- I found true recovery thru Christ- I’m sorry- but the halfway house and AA thing – to be honest- were of no help’. Now- I share these stories to let Christians- who advocate for AA/NA- see that from the Christian view- it’s problematic. I want to make a note- many who struggle with Porn- sleeping around- etc. - have actually justified it thru their reading of the literature in AA/NA. Yet- some have also expressed- to me- that they feel tremendous guilt when they practice these things. I have always told them that the bible is a higher authority then what they are reading in the Big Book- that even if you develop a view on sex- that in your mind is acceptable- because of what you found in the Big Book- yet- you have to decide if you will hear God’s view [from scripture] or man’s view. But- some of these people have a view of the movement- that says ‘because God gave this movement to Bill W- for the first time a way has been made- therefore what the movement says- has God’s approval’. I don’t know how many times I have told my friends- in this area- they have it wrong. Now- I had no plan on covering this issue again- but in the last week I have run into some of the guys- and the cycle repeats ‘I relapsed- called my sponsor- …’ All of these guys are also struggling with sex issues- one told me ‘Johnny- I’m doing ok- but I’m still looking at porn on the phone’. Others are still sleeping around- I mean you can’t get ‘free’ if you do these things- and view them as acceptable. Look- if your struggling with these things I’m not condemning you- struggling means you see it’s wrong- and are trying- by God’s grace- to stop. But many in the movement condone- practice- and teach that it is ok- that they are simply trying to stop substance abuse- and in many cases they have. But they are using their ‘freedom’ from drugs/drink- to go full speed ahead in a practice that the bible clearly condemns- adultery- in just about every form you can imagine. The BIBLE says ‘do not use your new found freedom to engage in sexual desires’. For those of you who are not getting this yet- this book is called THE BIBLE- It trumps all other man made books- including the big book- get it? Now- I’ve already gone too long here- my advice for Christians in the movement- the bible forbids being in fellowship [meaning a spiritual community] of people who practice adultery. If you are seeking freedom from bondage- all forms- you will not find it in a fellowship that allows/practices it- period. If you have found freedom from substance abuse in the program- I bless you- great. But in my experience- I have seen younger kids battle with the lust issue- and calling their sponsors- who do the same thing- and have justified doing it- because of all I wrote in this post. These kids will struggle with that addiction- for life- if they submit to a leader/movement who approve of it- that’s the biblical teaching on this- ‘A bad tree cannot produce good fruit’ if the ‘tree’ [movement- etc.] permits a practice that the bible condemns- then it’s considered a bad tree- in that area- it will never be able to help you- in that area- because it is the nature of the tree to re-produce after it’s ‘kind’- this is a biblical principle that will never change. There’s a verse that says ‘blessed are those who do not condemn themselves in the thing they allow’. Some have told me that after they did the sex inventory- their conscience permitted certain sex practices that the bible forbids- but ‘their conscience is God given- so God ok’s it’. WRONG! The bible says our consciences can be ‘seared with a hot iron’ meaning you can violate Gods word- and actually manipulate your ‘conscience’ to justify sin. That’s what these guys are doing. Once again- it’s an issue of believing God’s word- or the words of men in some book. ESACPED A CULT? The other day one of my friends- who I have helped over the years- who recently relapsed- again- asked me something about AA. I told him ‘brother- I’m out of that cult’- Now- understand- me and the boys are open- those of you who have seen my site realize this. So- I would not have said it like this to a normal ‘AA’ member- get it? Cult? When I first started attending meetings- meeting the guys- I did express to the older guys ‘look- I’m getting free from alcohol addiction- but I think the underlying issue to addiction is lust- so- no more porn for me- or sex at all- I’m doing the celibacy thing’. Now- I can’t say much more here- you say ‘brother- you’re married’. Just trust me- I’m doing the celibacy thing- ok? Now- I had a friend who fought me on this- he told me it was impossible- and every time I saw him he tried to discourage me. He justified masturbation to porn- he justified sleeping with people you are not married to- and I would say ‘look- the bible does say some men- not all- practiced this’. He would tell me ‘no- these guys all did it- it’s impossible’- He was a Christian! Now- I didn’t make it an issue- he made it one! Always telling me ‘it can’t be done’- It would be like me saying ‘you can’t stop drinking- or using drugs’. He was trying to pull me down- because he engaged in this stuff. Now- this is the principle I’m writing about- how can kids being sponsored by these guys- who come to them- about this very issue- ever get clean? They can’t- and the sponsors [in some cases] just keep reassuring the kids- and then when they hang up the phone they engage in the practice. This is very problematic- In order to get free from an addiction- you must admit that it is wrong- and it has power over you. But- if you justify the sex issue- then you are violating the whole procedure of getting free. And this issue- porn- sex sin- many of the kids in the movement are wanting to get free of it- do you now see the problem? I want to make a note- I’m talking about the snare of porn and all- if you are a girl who made porn- and have seen that is was wrong- and stopped. Then don’t let that effect you any more- God forgives- and you can move on. Don’t live in the fear of ‘what if they see my videos- or on-line stuff’. God forgives- and if people are seeking it- they are just as in the wrong as the poor girl who made them. So- for you girls who made it- you’re forgiven- ok? A few months ago I lent my phone to a new friend- Jacob- He was living on the streets. He called his ex-girlfriend in San Antonio- fine. But later I kept getting texted by someone I didn’t know. Then I realized it was his girl- I said ‘hon- I’m not him- I lent him my phone’. So- she texted me a few more times- and one said ‘check out my pictures here’. Now- I was with another friend- older then me, a Christian- he saw the texting thing. Then I said ‘I’m deleting all of this right now’. He said ‘wait- let’s look at the pictures’. I deleted it- before I opened it up. I realize that this issue is big- and lots of kids do the ‘sexting’ stuff- I’m not writing any of this to be judgmental- I want you to understand I’m dealing with an issue where kids in a movement- who are trying to overcome these things- are in the wrong movement- for this thing. 1Corinthians 5:1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. 1Corinthians 5:2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 1Corinthians 5:3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 1Corinthians 5:4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 1Corinthians 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 1Corinthians 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 1Corinthians 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 1Corinthians 5:8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 1Corinthians 5:9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 1Corinthians 5:10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 1Corinthians 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 1Corinthians 5:12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 1Corinthians 5:13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person. Revelation 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Ephesians 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Ephesians 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) Ephesians 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. Ephesians 5:3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Ephesians 5:4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. Ephesians 5:5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Ephesians 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Ephesians 5:7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. Ephesians 5:8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: Romans 8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Romans 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. Romans 8:8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Romans 8:10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Romans 8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. Romans 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. Colossians 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Colossians 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. Colossians 3:3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. Colossians 3:4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry Colossians 3:6 For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience Colossians 3:7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. 1Peter 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 1Peter 4:2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 1Peter 4:3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 1Peter 4:4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: 1Peter 4:5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. 1Peter 4:6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. 1Peter 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. Revelation 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. These are from the King James bible- but much of the language is referring to sexual sin. In scripture- you’ll notice- that drinking alcohol [which I do not do] is actually not forbidden- drunkenness is. But- in the area of sexual sin- there is no moderation- meaning- you can’t do ‘a little’ and get away with it. It is not like substance abuse- according to God’s word- it is only permitted in the marriage covenant. What I fear has happened in AA- is some have a false reassurance- because they don’t drink at all [like me] and somehow think the sex issue is ok. Actually- the sex issue- is worse- according to scripture. I obviously am not condoning alcoholism- or drug abuse- but- the scripture puts a much higher price on those who commit sexual sin. LAST WORD- as I get ready to post this- to be honest- I hope it’s the last time I write on this subject. Yesterday I made a couple of new teaching videos- which I will upload in the next few days. Some of the guys are already talking about making a trip to San Antonio again- and doing- a ‘spur of the moment’ meeting- with our friend in San Antonio. In the next few weeks I’ll text some of our former home groups- and see if they want- we will do a meeting or 2- like I said we would. Now- in this post- I know I hurt some friend’s feelings- my purpose is not to offend anyone. These past few years- as I saw some of these things- I went out of my may to let my friends see these things- I copied- printed- these posts for friends who do not have on-line access. I hand delivered the posts- told my friends ‘I think you need to read this’- I really felt like some of my friends needed to take a strong- hard look at what was happening. So- I’ll post this in a few minutes- and God willing- move on.

Acts

ACTS study Introduction; Yesterday I took my kids to the mall after church, I usually get lost in the book store. Even though I bought an entire shelf of books a few months back, I still can’t help from buying more books! So I picked up a few more and found a comfortable bench and started reading the History of Christianity. At the house I am almost thru with another ‘history of Christianity’ that covers the story of the church from Pentecost to the present day. I own a few complete volumes and have checked out many from the libraries over the years. I read from both the Protestant and Catholic [Orthodox] perspectives. I also read from the ‘out of the institutional church’ perspective. These are the histories of various groups of believers who never became Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant. I consider all these groups Christian and appreciate the tremendous wealth of knowledge that these communities provide. Now, as we go thru Acts, I want to stay as close as possible to both the doctrine and practices of the early church as seen in scripture. We are not the first [or last!] study that has attempted to do this. That is attempted to ‘get back to the original design’ as much as possible. Historically you have whole categories of believers who fit into this mindset. They are referred to as ‘Restorationist’ as opposed to Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox. The Church of Christ, The Disciples of Christ, the Anabaptists and others fall into this class. I believe you find true believers in all of these groups. As you read the history of Christianity as told by the other perspectives, you will find it interesting as to the way the institutional church describes these ‘out of church’ groups. Some are called heretics [Waldensians] others are simply seen as fringe groups. The strong institutional church has branded those who would reject her authority as schismatics and heretics on the grounds of their refusal to submit to the hierarchy of the institutional church. As we go thru Acts, I want us to read carefully and see the story as told by Luke. We will not find ‘another more true group’ in the sense that I want to start some new denomination. I also don’t want to simply find proof texts to justify doctrine. Many well meaning believers can find the verses they like the most and use them to combat the other points of view. We will see verses emphasizing the importance of water baptism, or various truths on the outworkings of the Spirit. We will see prophets functioning and read texts that clearly teach Gods sovereignty [as many as were ordained unto eternal life believed]. Instead of getting lost on these side trails, I want us to read with an open mind and allow our beliefs to be shaped by ‘the story’. I will spend time defending my own view of Local church. Not because I believe ‘my view’ is the only thing worth arguing about, but because I believe we see the intent of God for his people to be a living community of believers in this book. Right off the bat we will see giving taught in a radical way. The early church at Jerusalem will ‘continue in the Apostles doctrine and breaking of bread and prayers’. They then sell their goods and distribute to all who had need. Where in the world did they get this idea from? The Apostles doctrine obviously taught the plain teachings from Jesus on sharing what you have with others. So instead of seeing an early tithe concept, you see an early ‘give to those in need idea’ straight from the teachings of Jesus. We will see this early Jerusalem group meet daily, as opposed to seeing ‘Sunday worship’ as some sort of New Testament Sabbath. Of course this group will meet at the Temple [actually an out door courtyard called Solomon’s Porch] and from ‘house to house’. But the simple realty of Christ’s Spirit being poured out on them as a community of people will be the basic understanding of what ‘church’ is. You will find citizens of many surrounding areas going back to the their home towns after Pentecost. These believers shared the gospel with those in their regions and this is how the early church would spread. Some commentaries will show you how when Paul will eventually show up in Rome there already was an established church there. They obviously heard the gospel from these early Roman Jews who were at Jerusalem during Pentecost. So we will see ‘church planting’ from the paradigm of simple believers going to areas with the message of Christ. Those who would believe in these locations would be described as ‘the church at Corinth’ or ‘the church at Ephesus’ and so on. So we see ‘local church’ as communities of believers living in different localities. We will see the development of leadership along the lines of ‘appoint elders in every city’. Not a top heavy idea of ‘Bishop’ in the later sense of Catholic belief, but a simple ordaining [recognizing!] of those in the various cities who were stable enough in the basic truths of the gospel, that in Paul’s absence these elders were to be trusted as spiritual guides. Now, many of our brothers can trace the historic office of Bishop as a fairly early development in church history. Polycarp and others were considered direct disciples of the Apostles who would be seen as Bishops and even write of the importance of Bishops for the church ‘Where there is no Bishop there is no church’. This will cause many well meaning believers to eventually become Catholic/Orthodox as they read the church fathers and see the very early development of Catholic Christianity. In many of the church fathers writings you will also see an early belief in the Eucharist as being the actual Body and Blood of Jesus. To the consternation of many Protestants you even find Luther condemning fellow Protestants for not taking literally the words of Jesus ‘this IS my Body’. Now, I will not defend transubstantiation, but try to follow the trend lines in Acts as to the lack of this doctrine being a part of the early church. We will find Paul’s letter to the Corinthians addressing the Lords Supper, but for the most part we do not see a strong belief in the transmitting of divine grace to the soul thru the eating of Christ’s literal Body and Blood as they ‘broke bread’. We do see the sharing of the common meal and the ‘Eucharist’ as one meal called the ‘love feast’. Only later on in church history is there a division made between the full fellowship meal and the Eucharist. So to be frank about it, I will challenge both our Catholic and Orthodox brothers on some very fundamental beliefs. Well I hope this brief introduction sets the proper tone for the rest of this study, God bless you guys and I hope you get something out of it. John. (738) ACTS 1- Luke, the writer of this book, feels the need to document the ongoing work of Jesus and his revolution. He already wrote a gospel and believes this to be the beginning of the story. In essence, the reality of Jesus and his resurrection are just the start, we have much more to do and become on this journey. Most writers jump to chapter 2. We have churches and music groups called ‘Acts chapter 2’. Why does Luke seem to wait till chapter 2 before getting to ‘the good stuff’? Chapter one records the 40 days of Jesus showing himself alive after his death. Luke feels this singular truth to be important enough to simply stand alone [I do realize the early letters did not have chapter and verse divisions like today]. The real physical fact of Jesus bodily resurrection is without a doubt the foundational truth of the gospel. The outpouring of the Spirit and the whole future of the church depends on the reality of the resurrected Christ. Paul will write the Corinthians and tell them if the resurrection were not true then they are the most miserable of all people. Luke tells us Jesus gave instructions for the Apostles to wait at Jerusalem for the Spirit. They will be witnesses of him to all the surrounding nations after the Spirit empowers them. We also see Peter emerge as the key spokesman for the group. He quotes freely from the Psalms and reads their own history into the book. He sees the prophetic verse from David on ‘let another take his office’ as referring to Judas betrayal and death. They cast lots and choose Matthias as the one to replace Judas. Peter shows the importance of Judas replacement to come from one that was with them thru out the earthly time of Jesus. Someone who saw and witnessed Jesus after the resurrection. Scholars have confused this with the ‘ascension gift Apostles’. Some scholars have taken the truth of the early Apostles having the criteria of being actual witnesses of Jesus, and have said ‘therefore, you have no Apostles today’. Paul will teach in Ephesians that after Jesus ascension on high he gave gifts unto men ‘some Apostles, others Prophets, etc.’ The New Testament clearly speaks of Apostles as an ongoing gift in the church. Barnabas will later be called an Apostles [Acts 14:14] as well as many other references in the original Greek using the same Greek word for Apostle. But here we find Peter seeing the need to replace Judas. Other scholars think Peter might have jumped the gun. They see Paul’s apostleship as the possible person the Lord picked out as the replacement. You do find Paul referring time and again to his Apostolic authority as one ‘born out of due time’ who saw Jesus on the Damascus road. If Paul was simply an ascension gift Apostle, why would he refer time and again to his authority based on being a witness who also saw Jesus? It’s possible that Paul was in this group of ‘Apostles of the Lamb’ who had extra authority based upon their testimony of being eyewitnesses. So in chapter one we see that Jesus appeared for 40 days giving instructions to the early leadership and told them to wait at Jerusalem for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We see the incarnational purpose of God, Jesus was and continues to be the express image of God to man. He was not some ‘phantom’ like the Docetists will claim, but a very real physical resurrected Lord. Luke begins the early history of the church with this reality being important enough to stand on its own. (739) ACTS 2- The Apostles are gathered together in the upper room. As they continue in unity and prayer the Spirit of God comes upon them like a rushing wind. There appear ‘cloven tongues’ like fire above each of them. Why this image? Why not ‘ears’ or some other sanctified body part? God is going to give supernatural power to the words that they will speak. In a few chapters we will read how an angel will supernaturally deliver Peter from prison and say ‘go, speak the words of this life’. These tongues are a precursor to the tremendous fire that will be loosed from their lips. James says the tongue is a little member but boasteth great things, it has the ability to start fires. Jesus said he came to earth to ‘start a fire’ and how he wished it were already burning. Here he gets his wish! Now the Apostles and early believers experience the gift of tongues. They begin speaking and prophesying in the unknown languages of all those who are gathered together to Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost. God ordained this event to be strategically done at this time. All the surrounding regions heard the believers speak the ‘wondrous works of God’ in their native tongue. Peter stands up and delivers a scathing message! He basically tells Israel ‘this is that which the prophet Joel spoke about’ he goes on and says this outpouring is part of Gods predetermined plan to pour out his Spirit on all flesh in the last days. He speaks of divine manifestations [dreams, visions] and carries the prophecy right to the end of the age. He then speaks the gospel of Christ and tells Israel ‘this is the Jesus you killed’. Wow, these guys are bold. Peter leads them to faith in Christ, their public baptism is the immediate sign of their willingness to be identified with Jesus and 3 thousand Jews become believers this day. Now, what is the church? This corporate group of first time followers do 4 basic things. They ‘continue in the Apostles doctrine and breaking of bread and prayers and share their goods with all in need’[true fellowship]. This early community was a brotherhood who actually gave priority to the teachings of Jesus passed on to them from the Apostles. Don’t miss this! Many will develop all sorts of practices and beliefs that ‘make up church’. Some will justify extra biblical beliefs under the guise of ‘the Apostles doctrine’ as in if it were something totally contrary or not known thru the gospels or the writing of scripture. Paul will tell Timothy to stay true to the traditions he passed on to him. But I want to focus on the fact that the Apostles doctrine was not something different then the basic instructions Jesus left us in the gospels. Paul will add to this basic body of Christian doctrine thru his letters to the churches, as well as the whole New Testament. But we do not see a bunch of strange or unknown doctrines that come from this time period. The basics are mentioned above. I do want to stress the fact that this early expression of church life had no ‘Pastor’ in the sense of their gatherings being a time where a singular authority figure had oversight of the entire community. They had strong leaders to be sure, but would avoid the Protestant idea of Pastor. They had no church building or belief in a strong liturgy. The ‘breaking of bread’ was a common meal where they all shared together in a real life setting. And of course their giving was radical, it was not ‘a tithe’ and it was done to meet the real needs of the community around them. All these elements are basic to what the New Testament church is. A functioning society of people in whom Christ Spirit dwells and who see themselves as a real spiritual community of people. As we progress thru out the history of the church as seen in Acts we will never lose this basic mindset. It will be carried into the epistles of the New Testament and remain the best idea of ‘local church’ as found in the first century. There is a trend going on right now in Evangelicalism that says ‘lets return to the ancient practices of the church and see what we can find’. As an avid reader of church history I am not totally against this movement, but I do see a danger in thinking ‘the ancient practices’ are the 2nd or 3rd century development of liturgy and Eucharist and other early ideas, and by passing the ‘real ancient’ story in the book of Acts. To put it simply, some of the Protestant and Evangelical ‘practices and beliefs’ that have developed since the reformation are ‘ancient’. I believe we all have a long way to go, but the ‘low view’ of the Lords Table [low as opposed to ‘high church view’. Though I personally believe in the Lords table as a memorial, not as the actual Body and Blood of Jesus. Yet I personally don’t like referring to such an important practice as low!] seems to be the true ancient practice as seen in Acts. The absence of the Priest officiating over the altar is no where to be seen in the actual ‘church’ setting. This ancient church is really a simple brotherhood of believers having all things common and having the resurrection of the Son of God as the central organizing principle of their lives. (740) ACTS 3- Peter and John go up to the temple and heal the lame man. This stirs up a commotion and gives opportunity for Peter to preach Christ. I want you to see something here. The miracles of healing thru out this book testify of something specific. They do not simply prove the existence of God. These first century people were not ‘post moderns’ they had no pre enlightenment era that affected their minds. For the most part they were highly religious! Paul will tell them this later in Acts ‘you are too superstitious’ [religious]. The miracles are testifying to the fact that Jesus is alive, he really rose from the grave! Peter’s sermons are centered around the reality of Christ being the fulfillment of all that the prophets have spoken about! The church must not be ashamed of the gospel. Recently the ‘church world’ was up in arms over the Popes recent reinstating of the Tridentine Mass [the Latin Mass]. After Vatican 2 the Mass was done solely in the language of the hearers. Many old time Catholics were wanting the Latin too. So Pope Benedict said fine, you have the option to practice it either way. Now, this ancient Mass had a prayer that simply prayed for the Jewish people to come to know Jesus. Well, this upset the Jewish groups and they demanded a change in the prayer. At first the Pope re wrote it but it still asked for prayer for the Jews to come to Jesus. This still offended them. So finally the church produced some prayer less offensive. We should not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ and his resurrection! Peter was preaching the reality of the resurrection and was in their face about it! Jesus has proven himself to be alive, we are not just witnesses of the existence of God, we are witnesses that Jesus is the way to him. The only way! Now Peter ends this chapter in a unique way. He invokes the ‘blessing of Abraham’ and says it means ‘the blessing of Jesus in turning you away from sin’. We just finished a study in Genesis. I emphasized how the New testament apostles viewed the Abrahamic blessing thru the lens of redemption. They did not teach it in a materialistic way. Peter also quotes Moses [as well as David] and says ‘Moses said the Lord would raise up a prophet like myself, whoever doesn’t hear him will be destroyed’. Peter sees the fulfillment of ‘the Moses type prophet’ in Christ. Peter has a great gift of taking the old testament prophets and proving Christ from them. There is a young hearer in this early church. He will eventually become one of the first Deacons. His name is Stephen, boy he must be drinking everything in. He is seeing and hearing the testimony of Jesus straight from those who walked with him. He hears Peter’s teachings on Christ. He becomes familiar with the way Peter associates the ‘Moses prophet’ with Jesus. This young man will testify in Acts 7 of the reality of Jesus being the fulfillment of the Moses prophecy. He will give the longest recorded sermon in scripture. He will brilliantly trace the roots of Israel and show how Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophets. He will be accused of going against the law and the temple. He has the first grasp of ‘Pauline theology’ [actually Paul got it from him!] and does such a convincing job of proving Jesus to be Messiah that they stone him to death. He becomes the first martyr in the book of Acts. At his death he says ‘forgive them; don’t hold this sin against them’. A witness named Saul is sitting by. God answers Stephens’s prayer and Saul will become one of the greatest fire starters known to man. (741) ACTS 4- The religious leadership at Jerusalem bring the Apostles in for questioning. The reality of the lame man being healed and the fact that Peter was doing it in the name of Jesus was an offence to them. Part of the group were called Sadducees. We often think of them as simple Pharisees who disbelieved in the resurrection of the body. While this is true, we must not overlook the demonic strategy behind the rise of a religious group, just prior to the resurrection of Jesus, who would imbed doubt in the minds of people concerning resurrection. Peter and John are questioned concerning the healing of the lame man. The leaders really had no problem with the healing, they did not want them doing this stuff in Jesus name! Why? Once again we see the fact of mighty works being done in Jesus name as proof of his resurrection. If the resurrection is true then Jesus must be the Messiah. If Jesus is the Messiah then this first century group of religious leaders killed the only Messiah that they will ever have! Peter actually tells them this in the chapter ‘you rejected the chief cornerstone’. Jesus was not simply one religious figure in a religion of many religious figures. Let’s see, we have Mary the mother of Jesus, a great woman to be sure. What about old John the Baptist, man was he a firebrand! And don’t forget Moses and the prophets. But Jesus stands out because he is the cornerstone. He alone is the mediator. Peter says ‘neither is there salvation in any other, there is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved’. These religious leaders killed the main person! Once again we see the church practice ‘communal giving’. They sell their lands and houses and bring the money and lay it at the apostle’s feet. The money is used 100 percent for distribution to the communities needs. Why is this so important to see? As you read all my writings you will see me teach over and again this basic Christian principle, that giving in the New Testament churches was primarily focused on meeting the needs of people. There was no sense of tithing to the storehouse as being a practice of ‘giving to the church meeting on Sunday or you are under a curse’. Now, it’s fine to give 10 percent on Sunday, it’s just we shouldn’t by pass the actual documented practice of giving as seen in the New Testament. Now, we do have the advantage of hind sight. Paul will continue to write the epistles of the New Testament and never once stray from this principle. In every single case, bar none, is New Testament giving taught as a voluntary free will offering. It is radical, taught in proportionality [as God has blessed you lay by you in store- Paul] but never once is it taught as a compulsory tithe that if not obeyed will bring the curse of the law upon the believer. Now, in the very next chapter we will see 2 people die because of lying in the area of giving. But it’s not because they didn’t tithe. Nor is it because they didn’t give all the price of the land. It was because they were lying to the Holy Spirit, they were introducing a deadly poison into the fledgling church. Jesus warned them in the gospels to avoid this cancer. He told them ‘beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy’. He wasn’t saying ‘beware of their doctrine’ in the sense of don’t listen to what they teach. He was saying ‘beware of actual hypocrisy’! The leaven of trying to present an image of yourself contrary to truth. Faking it so you look good. Now the leadership will warn the Apostles not to speak or teach in Jesus name. Peter says ‘we ought to obey God more than you’. Was he being rebellious against God ordained authority? Jesus did teach in the gospels ‘they sit in Moses seat, do what they say, not what they do’. Paul will respond later ‘I didn’t know I was speaking against the high Priest, I know he should be treated with respect’ as he defends himself before this same group. Some believe Luther and the reformers and even people like me are rebelling against authority when we question the system. To be sure Peter was ‘rebelling’ against an authority system that actually served God to a degree. This religious system [Judaism] did preserve the writings of the prophets. Peter was quoting the Psalms and prophets and utilizing the actual writings the scribes passed on to him. But there comes a point in time where ‘we ought to move on with God, rather than man’ a radical break from past well meaning systems, and a moving forward with God and the working of his Spirit. We end the chapter with the Apostles and believers rejoicing over the fact that Jesus movement is winning and Gods word is being fulfilled ‘of a truth the kings of the earth and its rulers are coming against God and his holy Son Jesus’. They knew they were in some rough waters but heck, Jesus has been raised from the dead! What can they really do to us? We will soon see. We also see another description of early church life. The term ‘church’ is referencing a corporate group of people who are meeting daily, both at the temple and from house to house. They are sharing their material things with one another. The Apostles are testifying of the resurrection of Jesus and his Messiahship every where they go. A believer named Barnabus sells some land and brings the money for distribution. Another couple will make the mistake of trying to ‘be like the Joneses’ they will pretend to do the same, Peter will judge them severely! (742) ACTS 5 – As the word spreads rapidly, all the surrounding towns bring the sick and vexed to lie in the streets. Even the possibility of Peters shadow passing over them for healing is hoped for. Notice the charismatic reality of this early church. I do realize the many reasoning’s that intelligent people use to explain the miracles as limited to the Apostolic period, but for the most part we see a supernatural church in Acts as well as thru out the epistles and well into the first few centuries of Christianity. The 20th century story of Pentecostalism and the awakenings just prior, seem to show the reality of a supernatural church existing alongside a theological one! There is much proof to the orthodoxy and giftings of the church all thru out scripture and church history. Peters shadow healed people, how can we explain this away? [p.s. Phillip, who is not an Apostle, will also perform miracles. Just thru this in for those who teach the Apostles were the only miracle workers!] Now, the immediate response of the high priest and religious leaders was ‘if we don’t do something about this, their movement will gain momentum’. They imprison Peter and the Apostles. An angel appears and frees them and tells them ‘go back to the temple and speak the words of this life’. When the authorities realize what has happened they once again warn them about using Jesus name in their ministry. They even say ‘do you intend to bring this mans blood upon us’. Basically Peter says ‘yes’. Peter has been ‘putting it in their face’ ever since Pentecost. He has blamed BOTH the nation of Israel and her leadership for the death of Christ. He does not worry about offending them! During this time some priests become believers. The majority of them do not. Why? What has happened is common among movements. When an initial movement starts up, there is always the question of ‘is it from God or not’? A few years back the church went thru a renewal movement. Some referred to it as ‘the Toronto blessing’ ‘the laughing revival’ and other names. You had those who were 100 % against it and those 100 % for it. Who was right? Well, to a degree both of them! The point is there were some things that were needing rebuke, but to throw it all out was wrong. The defenders appealed to Jonathan Edwards’s writings and how during the first great awakening he experienced many of the same manifestations as the Toronto movement. Edwards left quite a bit of room for God being present in the religious emotions of the people. The critics were offended that the revival guys were appealing to Edwards and they would appeal to other stuff Edwards wrote in concern over the religious affections. You also had the same manifestations a century later under the second great awakening. The revivals in Kentucky had laughter and ‘strange barking’ and other weird stuff. The point is you always have a response to a religious movement. Once the battle lines are drawn, it is very hard to switch sides. In this chapter we see Gamaliel, a very respected Pharisee, stand up for the Apostles and say ‘lets give them some room, others before them rose up and gained a following, they all passed on. If this work is of God you can’t stop it, if it’s of men it will fail’. There was some breaking thru to the religious mind that was taking place in the elite religious thinkers of the day. After all, Peter has been quoting Psalms and Joel in ways that were confounding the religious thinkers. Don’t forget, Peter is an uneducated fisherman. Jesus deposited some stuff in his men that was way beyond the basic understanding of the day. Some ‘thinkers’ and intellectuals were humble enough to listen, most were not! (743) ACTS 6- There arises the first controversy in the Jerusalem church. The fact that they were doing this daily massive food distribution led to an area of prejudice. The ‘Grecians’ [Greek speaking Jews] were being neglected. They were seen as a little lower on the scale of racial purity. They were speaking a language less pure than the Hebrew tongue. So the Apostles heard of the problem and said ‘pick out 7 men of good report, who have favor and wisdom and put them in charge of ‘this business’. In essence these were the first Deacons. The business was simply speaking of the duty of serving the food. Up until now the Apostles were involved with the distribution. But they said ‘we will devote ourselves to prayer and the Word’. This chapter is important, many well meaning church communions trace their practices of church government to this time. Are Deacons positions who ‘do the business of the 501 c 3’? Not really. Well, not at all! Are there ‘Pastors’ here in the modern idea of the office of a person who is over the flock and is the weekly speaker whom the people see every ‘Sunday’. No. Are these practices all wicked and from the devil? Of course not! But it does help to see what is actually going on. This early community saw the need for the leaders to devote time to the word and prayer. Fulltime ministry? Really more of a community adjustment allowing those with greater insight to propagate the gospel. Paul will later show us this doesn’t mean each separate community had ‘full time ministers’ who were forbidden to work secular jobs. He will continue to make tents thru out his life. But he will also teach that it is all right to meet the material needs of those who are ministering spiritual food. We also see the Apostles lay their hands on these first deacons. Is this some type of official ordination [recognition, licensing] from a seminary? Of course not. Is it wicked to attend seminary and have an ordination? Of course not. The principle of the ‘school of the prophets’ in Elijah’s day shows the possibility of God working thru these universities. It’s just we need to be careful we are not reading ideas into the story that are not faithful to the text. My reading of this chapter shows an organic community of people who were ‘the church’. They did have leadership and sought God for direction and weren’t imprisoned by any specific form of ‘church’. The main ingredient was a group of people sharing the life of Christ and living this life out as a community. All church communions have a tendency to read there own story into ‘Gods story’. That is we find isolated verses of scripture and say ‘see, this is why our church government does it this way’. It’s OK to a degree, but then when you see ‘our church government’ as the only true church government, that’s where problems arise. I think we should avoid looking for prescriptive patterns of ‘church government’ from the book of Acts. We should read the story as a community of people who are experiencing God and learning to walk out this experience as the Body of Christ. The great mystery is that God is ‘no longer dwelling in Temples made with hands’ but in a vibrant Body of people! [p.s. Stephen will quote this prophetic scripture in the next chapter as he does one of the most masterful jobs of an Old Testament survey to be found in the New Testament]. (744) ACTS 7- At the end of chapter 6 we saw the accusation against Stephen ‘he teaches the temple will be torn down and that Jesus will change the laws and customs of Moses’. There are a few key chapters In Acts, this is one of them! Up until this point we have seen Peters message of the Messiah thru the lens of repentance and baptism. You will notice Peter is very strong on ‘you guys need to repent and show it’. Strong word indeed! Peter also introduced the scripture ‘the Lord your God will raise up a prophet like unto me [Moses speaking of Christ] whoever doesn’t listen to him will be destroyed’. But Stephen is the first one to teach publicly the passing away of the law and the temple and the new ‘house of God’ to be the people. It’s the beginnings of Pauline theology. Now I have read how this chapter was questioned and doubted as to why Stephen was teaching this. Some theologians thought the chapter was questionable as canon because of it’s seeming to be so out of context. These are the times where I do agree with the ‘seminary as being a cemetery’! This chapter is absolutely brilliant! I don’t want you to miss the main point. Stephen traces the history of Israel and uses the verse from Moses ‘the Lord will raise up a PROPHET LIKE ME’. Stephen explains that when Moses first showed up on the scene to deliver his people, that the people said ‘man, who do you think you are! Who made you the boss’? Then Stephen says ‘yet this Moses, who the people refused. He was actually the ruler and deliverer that they refused’. Stephen is showing them that the prophets actually prophesied of the first century reality of Israel rejecting Jesus because Moses said they would! Don’t miss this point. This is the main point of Stephens message. He is telling the religious leaders ‘you simply fulfilled prophecy by rejecting the Messiah’. He even compares the miracles and great works that were done by Moses to the great miracles Jesus did. Stephen ends the chapter by also tracing Jewish history to David’s son Solomon and how the future temple that he would build was simply a shadow of the New Testament house of God. He quotes David in Psalms ‘God will not dwell in temples made with hands’. Now, this has nothing to do with ‘church buildings’. This has everything to do with Stephen’s insight into the theological truths contained in Jesus teachings about the destruction of the temple. In today’s ‘church world’ we have a very unbalanced view of temple rebuilding and the significance of the passages in Matthew that prophesy of its destruction. In Stephen’s mind the future destruction [that is future from his time. A.D. 70!] showed the passing away of the old law and its entire system of worship. The first century Apostles and teachers saw the eschatological portions of scripture from a redemptive lens. Peter earlier said ‘repent and be baptized… so your sins will be blotted out at the return of the Lord’ ‘whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things’. He couched individual salvation in with Gods ‘full world’ purpose of redemption [Romans]. They saw it from a wider angle than just ‘me and Jesus’. Now Stephen is doing the same. The whole Apostolic tradition concerning the destruction of the temple showed the purpose of God in ending the old concept of law and ‘limited kingship’ [from Jerusalem’s throne] and how God raised up his Son and placed him at his right hand and made him Lord and Christ. The passing away of the temple and Stephens preaching on ‘the customs being changed’ was right on! When I taught Hebrews I tried to bring this out. I realize that some teachers say Paul didn’t write Hebrews. I attribute it to him simply because no one else had the revelation he had in these areas. But I wouldn’t argue with saying Stephen might have penned it [depending on the dates!] Now we end the chapter with Stephens’s famous martyrdom and him saying ‘lay not this sin to their charge’. Saul [Paul] is a witness to this killing, he will become the greatest advocate for grace versus law that the church will ever know. NOTE- I forgot to mention that Stephen even compares the mass killing of babies at the time of Moses with the mass killing done under Herod during Jesus time. He shows how Moses and Jesus were alike in many ways. (745) ACTS 8- After the death of Stephen the church scatters thru out the region. We see Phillip being used and directed by God. An angel will speak to him, he will be supernaturally translated from one place to another. We see the simple reality of all believers having Gods legitimacy to function. This is important to see! Later on we see the first gentile church at Antioch being told ‘separate me Paul and Barnabus unto the work which I have called them to’[Acts 13]. Some will develop unbiblical restrictions from this verse. The strong ‘local church’ view [the view that sees local church thru the 501c3 Sunday building mindset!] will later teach ‘see, you can’t function on your own. If you are not under a ‘local church covering’ you are an independent rebel out of Gods authority’. Here we see the simple reality of God sending and communicating to Phillip on the basis of him being a child of God. In Acts 13 the Spirit communicated his purpose to an entire group, in this chapter he communicates to an individual. The legitimacy comes from the reality of God being the one who is giving the directions! Now, we see Phillip at Samaria preaching the Kingdom and doing miracles. The sorcerer Simon gets converted. The church at Jerusalem sends Peter and John to see what’s happening and they lay hands on the Samaritan believers and they ‘receive the Holy Ghost’. This is also described as the Holy Spirit falling on them. This chapter is used as a proof text for pro Pentecostal theology and anti! The Pentecostals say ‘see, believers don’t have the Holy Spirit until a separate Baptism takes place’. The anti Charismatics say ‘this is an anomaly. God did this because he didn’t want to have a competing church in Samaria that did not have the approval of the Jerusalem church’. I will agree and disagree with both of these propositions [yes, at the same time!] Paul will teach in his epistles that it is impossible to believe without having the Spirit. He will also teach a doctrine of being filled with the Spirit. The arguments over the terms used can be confusing. The fact is we see both the experiences of believers [who have the Spirit] still experiencing greater empowerments down the road. And we see believers ‘getting it all at once’ [Acts 10]. Theologically, you can’t be born again without having the Spirit. But you can call ‘the Spirit falling on you in a fresh way’ ‘getting the Spirit’. The different expressions people use do confuse the matter. The hard and fast Charismatics will not agree with me. And the old time Calvinists might disagree with me. I believe both sides have things to add to the debate. I want all of us to be open and daily expecting God to renew us with the Spirit on a daily basis. I know one thing for sure, Paul taught we can water and plant all day. But if the Spirit doesn’t do his work we will never see any real increase! Simon the sorcerer sees that thru the laying on of hands the Spirit is given. He asks ‘Hey, I will pay you money for the gift of being able to lay hands on people and have them receive the Spirit’. Peter responds ‘you wicked sinner! How dare you think you can purchase Gods gift with money! You and your filthy money will perish together! You better pray that God forgives you for this’. Simon says ‘can you pray for me’? He didn’t want to get struck down that instant! Peter will later teach in his letters ‘take oversight of Gods flock, not for filthy lucre. But of a ready mind’. James will write in his letter ‘woe to the rich, their day is coming’. John writes in 1st John ‘love not the world neither the things in the world’. Paul will pen ‘The love of money is the root of all evil. Some went coveting after it and have left the faith’. Where in the world did all these first century Apostles get this idea from? Was it the devil tricking them out of the truth of wealth? Were they under the spell of church tradition? Lets see, Jesus said ‘the rich man dies and goes to hell. The poor man to Abrahams bosom’ ‘it’s harder for a rich man to go to heaven than for a camel to go thru the eye of a needle’ ‘the rich man went away very sad because he had much riches’ [after Jesus said go sell all you have and give to the poor] ‘you can not serve God and mammon’ ‘the deceitfulness of riches choke Gods word’ ‘thou fool! This night thy soul shall be required of thee’ [to the rich man who was planning on building more storage for his stuff!] The simple fact is the early church had imbedded in their minds a non materialistic gospel. The modern church seems to read scripture thru the lens of the prosperity promises that you do find thru out scripture. The prosperity promises are true and should be understood, but we need to also see the reality of what I just showed you. The church will eventfully coin the phrase ‘Simony’. It will refer to those who use money to gain influence and official positions in the church. Simons name does becomes famous, but not in the way he wanted! (746) ACTS 9- Paul gets permission from the high priest to go to Damascus and arrest the believers. On his way the Lord appears to him and Paul is told to go to Damascus and wait for instructions. He is blind for 3 days. God gives a vision to Ananias and tells him to go to Paul in Judas house, because he too had a vision of a man coming to him and laying hands on him. Ananias is afraid but does it at the Lords insistence. I want you to see the role of visions and divine guidance in this event. The purpose of the visions and supernatural events has nothing to do with the canon of scripture. Some teach that the only reason you had supernatural guidance in the early days was because the canon was not complete. But after its completion you no longer had these types of things. First, no where is this doctrine taught in scripture. Second, you did not have total agreement on ‘the canon’ [all the books that make up our bibles] until the 4th century! Now you did have a basic group of letters and writings that were accepted as authoritative, but there was not total agreement. Many early believers had the epistles of Barnabas and a few other letters that were accepted. Some did not include Revelation at all. Others questioned Hebrews and James. You also did not have a workable, readable ‘bible’ in actual book form until the 12th-13th century! That's right, the actual form of our modern books was not invented until that late date. Plus the availability of books on a mass scale did not appear until the Guttenberg printing press of the 16th century. Just in time for Luther’s Reformation! The first book printed on his press was the Guttenberg bible. So the point is, the idea that somehow right after the early Apostles died off you had all believers going to ‘their bibles for direction’ as opposed to having dreams or visions or other divine guidance, really isn’t a workable solution. In this chapter God needed to get orders to his people, he gave them visions! Now Paul immediately preaches Christ as the Son of God and Messiah. He stirs up the waters and they sneak him out of town and send him to Jerusalem. The church at Jerusalem are leery of him, Barnabas vouches for him and he is received. He starts preaching there and once again they want to kill him. He eventually is sent back to his area of Tarsus. Now Peter is still on the road preaching Christ. He heals a man at Lydda and many come to the Lord. A woman named Tabitha dies at Joppa, a town close to Lydda. They call for Peter to come and he does and raises her from the dead. What are we seeing here? An early church [community of believers] preaching the gospel and doing miracles and affecting large regions without lots of money. Without hardly any organization. Without setting up ‘local churches’ in the sense that each area has separate ‘places’ they see as ‘local churches’ with salaried pastors running the ‘churches’. You are seeing a radical movement of Christ followers who are sacrificially giving there lives away for the gospel. No prayer meetings on ‘how in the world are we going to reach the region for the Lord. We need tons of cash’! They believed the simple instructions Jesus gave to them on going into all the world and preaching the gospel. Sure there will be times where support is sent to help them make it to the next location. But the whole concept of needing tons of cash and to build huge ‘church buildings/organizations’ and to set up salaried ministers is not seen in this story. I do not think the development of these things over the centuries means ‘all the churches are deceived’ type of a thing. All ‘the churches’ [groups of believers who are presently identifying themselves this way] are great people of God. They are doing the works of Jesus and functioning to a degree in the paradigm that they were given [either thru their upbringing or training]. But today we are seeing a rethinking of the ‘wineskin’ [that which contains the new wine] on a mass scale. As we read this story in Acts I want to challenge your mindset. Don’t fit the story into your present understanding of ‘local church’. But let your understanding of ‘Local Church’ be formed thru scripture. This chapter said ‘the churches had rest and were edified and were walking in the fear of the Lord’. The ‘churches’ are defined as all the communities of believers living in these various locations! (747) ACTS 10- This is another key chapter in Acts. Peter is still in Joppa and while praying on the roof he has a vision. God shows him all the non kosher animals that Jews were forbidden to eat and says ‘rise Peter, kill and eat’. Peter refuses and tells the Lord he has never allowed himself to eat unclean stuff. The Lord reveals to him the principle of not making judgments of what is ‘clean or unclean’ according to the old standards of the law. It is important to fully see this. God wasn’t simply saying ‘now all things are clean’ he was saying ‘the old prism of law and moral standards are no longer to be used as the measuring rule of clean or unclean’. Now, was God throwing out all ‘measuring rules’? No! He will flatly show Peter that ‘all who believe in Jesus are justified from all things that you could never be justified from BY THE LAW’. In essence God is saying to Peter ‘Jesus is the new measuring rule!’ [Actually he was the original one the law always pointed to]. Well at the same time Peter has this vision, a man named Cornelius has an angel appear to him and tells him to send men to Joppa and get Peter. So as Peter is wondering about his vision of the unclean animals, the brothers knock on the door and relate the angels message to him. Peter goes to Cornelius house and preaches the gospel and the Gentiles become believers. Is this the first time we see Gentile converts in Acts? No. Phillip converted the Ethiopian eunuch in chapter 8. But this is seen as the Lord giving Peter the ‘keys’ of the kingdom to the Gentiles. In the gospels we read how Peter was given the keys to the kingdom. Our Catholic brothers see the office of Pope as ‘the keys’. I think a better view is to see how the Lord used Peter in Acts 2 and here to be the one to ‘introduce’ the gospel to both Jew and Gentile. Keys open things. They open doors. Jesus is the open door that Peter walked them thru by faith. Now we also see Peter preaching justification by faith for the first time in Acts. His other invitations were legitimate, but they focused on repentance and baptism. Here Peter says ‘and to him give all the prophets witness that whoever believes in him shall receive remission of sins’. Now I have taught this before on this blog. I try not to make excuses for the teaching by Peter on baptism. He even says in his epistle ‘the like figure whereunto baptism doth also now save us, not the washing away of the filth of the flesh but the answer of a pure heart towards God’ [quick quote, go find it for an exact wording!]. Now, if you do a word check on this blog, probably in the section ‘prophecies, dreams, visions part 2’ and you find the teaching on baptism from Acts 2:38, I do give an explanation on this. I believe we are seeing the natural progression of greater understanding that Peter and the brothers were attaining as they progressed on the journey. I showed you how Stephens sermon in acts 7 hit on Pauline theology for the first time in Acts. A few chapters later we see Peter quoting a scripture on ‘all who believe’ are justified. The first connection from Peter on ‘believe and be justified’. Now that Peter has opened this ‘door’ we will see Paul preach this thru out the rest of the book. We see the famous verse in acts 16 ‘believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, and your house’. The point is we are seeing not only the development of the Body of Christ in this book, but also the development of Christian theology. Many believers fight over these various verses and even trace the authenticity of their movements to these verses. Others try to brand you as a heretic over which scriptures you see as the ‘conversion text’. While I fully agree with the doctrine of Justification by faith as one of the foundational doctrines of scripture, I avoid calling the churches who trace their ‘altar call’ experience to water baptism as ‘Cambellites/heretics’. I also disagree with those who are strong water baptism advocates when they say those who do not believe in full submersion are not Christian. In this chapter these Gentiles were justified by passive belief! No evangelical altar call at all ‘the Spirit fell on all who heard the word’. Peter says ‘can we forbid water to those who received the Spirit like we did’? There was no altar call because Peter would have never given one! Even though God gave him the whole vision and all, yet they were shocked when God actually ‘saved them’. So we see the will of God in accepting all who believe in Jesus. The justifying of these Gentiles was passive, they had no ‘sinners prayer’ they were justified before they got in the water. So to all those Church of Christ [or even Catholic and Orthodox brothers] it is not totally wrong to trace your outward experience of becoming a Christian to the time of baptism [I will not get into infant baptism here!]. But it also is not wrong to trace it to the time of simple belief. Gods purpose is to save people. Acts is revealing to us the progressive journey of man with God. God does put down the requirement to ‘believe in Christ’. The entrance into communion with God is limited to all who believe in him! But don’t make it harder than this. NOTE- I didn’t get into all the particulars of repentance and baptism and exactly how many ‘steps’ you need to ‘get saved’. Seeing Acts this way misses the main thrust of the book. But let me add, why don’t we see Peter mention repentance here? Cornelius is called ‘one who feared God’. This description didn’t just mean ‘he prayed and fasted’ it actually described Gentile converts to Judaism. These were called ‘God Fearers’. They practiced Judaism already, except for the rite of circumcision. So this fact meant they ‘already repented’ to a degree. The law did teach repentance well. It had a system that engrained the moral concept of sin and repentance into man. Hebrews chapter 6 teaches this. So you can say Cornelius and his relatives were already aware of sin and the need to turn from it [also the basic elements of Johns baptism] so here Peter bypasses the repentance part and simply shows them the missing ingredient, which was faith in Christ. (748) ACTS 11- Peter recounts his vision and experience he had at Cornelius house. The Jews at Jerusalem were upset that he went and ate with non Jews. He explains that the Lord showed him not to view these gentiles as unclean. They were accepted and made clean thru Christ’s blood. The leadership at Jerusalem agree [for now!] We begin to see the tension that will play out thru the rest of the New Testament. This struggle between Jewish law and grace will become the number one issue of contention in Paul’s letters. In this chapter we see Barnabas go down to Antioch and eventually get Paul from Tarsus to help him establish the fledgling church at Antioch. After Peters experience they began preaching to gentiles and Antioch becomes the counterbalance ‘church’ [community of believers] to Jerusalem. I want you to see something important here. The church at Antioch does not have ‘Temple worship’ along side ‘home meetings’. The believers ‘assembled’ as a brotherhood. They met in homes to be sure, but ‘the church’ was simply a description of a called out group of people who continued in grace and lived as a fellowship community. The reason I emphasize this is because we grasp limited ideas of church and then we try and make others fit our ideas. The church at Antioch [and Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia, etc.] will continue to maintain this basic identity all thru out the New Testament and well into the second century. The earliest archeological find of a ‘church building’ is found in the 3rd century. There was an inscription discovered that spoke of the ‘church’ meeting here. The ‘here’ was the home of a believer! [I think the find was ‘Europa/duropa’ or something to that effect]. The point here is I want you to see the original design of the church. Up until this point we see the early church evangelizing large regions by simply being led of the Spirit. The finances are simple, this chapter will end with the believers at Antioch pooling their resources to send relief to the church in Judea. It will be the beginnings of Paul’s ministry of relief that we read about in 1st Corinthians 16. This chapter says Prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. Agabus prophesied of a famine to come, the church made arrangements to send relief to their brothers. One of the main Apostles at Jerusalem, James, will oversee a group of poor saints thru out his life. There is no early doctrine seen of rebuking the poor saints and teaching them how they were redeemed from poverty and the curse of Deuteronomy in a way that poverty was see as a sin. James will actually pen his letter and say ‘God chose the poor of this world [not just ‘poor’ in spirit] rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom’ he will also rake the rich over the coals! The whole point is as we read the bible, we need to read it in context and allow the story to shape our views, not the other way around. This Antioch community received New Testament prophets, they did not view the verse in Hebrews ‘God spoke to us in the past by prophets, but in these last days by his Son’ they didn’t see this as meaning there were no more prophets. These believers were not tithing, they did not have a church building, no ordained clergy or ‘high church’ model. They were a vibrant bunch of grace believers who will be told they don’t have to keep the law to be saved! From this point forward, no New Testament church in scripture will lose this basic idea. Some will struggle [Galatians, Corinth] but the basic truth of ‘the church’ being the people of God justified freely by grace, will remain strong. They are still living a communal type of idea, and giving is still radical, done to meet the real needs of people, and is not a tithe! (749) ACTS 12- Herod kills James [not the brother of Jesus who is one of the lead Apostles at Jerusalem] and puts Peter in jail. The church has a prayer meeting for Peter and an angel goes into the cell and wakes Peter up. He leads him outside the city and frees him. Peter thinks it’s a vision and realizes it really is happening! Note how real their visions and dreams must have been, Peter at times can not determine fact from vision! He shows up at the prayer meeting and a girl named Rhoda hears a knock at the door. She asks ‘who is it’? He says ‘It’s me, Peter!’ She can’t believe it and leaves him standing at the door! She tells the prayer group ‘it’s Peter’ they tell her ‘no way, maybe his angel?’ Funny, you can believe his angel showed up, but no way could the Lord deliver him from jail. At the end of this chapter we see the return of Paul and Barnabas after they brought the relief money to the saints at Jerusalem. It calls it ‘their ministry’. This early church did not see ‘the ministry’ as the actual business and the need to raise funds for the ‘church’. Now, it’s fine to pool your money for good cause’s with other believers. When I teach we are not ‘under the tithe’ this does not mean we shouldn’t support good ministries with 10 percent or more of our money. The point is, here we see Peter going back out to the field, Paul and Barnabas returning back from ‘the field’. Spontaneous prayer meetings. No set time or way to give offerings, just a true freedom of giving themselves away for the cause of Christ. Leadership does exist, but the normal function and flow of this church is not centered around ‘the Sunday Sabbath’ [EEK!] There is a real sense of this community of believers being led by the Spirit. It would be wrong to say ‘hey, Phillip went out on his own! He is not under the local church covering’! Or ‘now that we are back from Jerusalem, lets ask Pastor so and so [the supposed Pastor of the ‘church at Antioch’] what's next’. There were no ‘Pastors’ in the sense of the fulltime Christian minister who oversees the ordinances on Sunday. Now, these developments will arise as the centuries progress. Many good Pastors and Priests will function this way for centuries. They will see the church ‘building’ as ‘the church’. Our Catholic brothers will begin to see ‘the altar’ as the actual place ‘in the church’ that Jesus Body is ‘re offered’ [presented] as a ‘bloodless sacrifice’ for the salvation of the world. All developments that are not seen in Acts. The point is, we limit the flow of Gods Spirit thru his people when we regress from ‘the true has now come’ [the whole reality of Jesus and the church being the real image of things. The law and it’s shadows were only an incomplete picture]. When we as believers go back to ‘the shadows’ thinking that form and ‘pictures of things’ [symbols] are the way we will touch the world, then we lose the reality of us being the actual people of God showing the world Christ thru our unselfish lives. Jesus said when the people of God love each other and lay their own desires and goals down for his Kingdom, then the world will see our actions and believe. Jesus did leave us memorials ‘do this in remembrance of me’ ‘as often as you do this you SHOW the Lords death till he come’. I do realize that the church does have an element of ‘presenting thru picture [art] the Lords death and resurrection’ [passion plays and so forth] but when we lose the real fellowship mentality of this first century church, we then lose the greatest picture of all. Being the actual functioning Body of Christ on earth. John writes ‘how can you say you love God, who you don’t see. When you can’t love your brother, who you do see?’ [1st John] the New Testament clearly shows us that the love we have in word and deed is the greatest ‘sacramental’ picture we can declare to the world. Our Catholic friends have a song ‘they will know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love’. I agree. (750) ACTS 13- The believers at Antioch were praying and fasting and the Holy Spirit said ‘separate me Paul and Barnabas unto the work which I have called them’. Then the whole group laid their hands on them and sent them out. Notice, there was not a singular authority figure who was the overseer of this church [community of believers]. It is important to see this, because when you share the oversight of a body of people with a plural team [Elders/Pastors- the title you use is insignificant] then there is less of a chance of one person becoming too elevated in the minds of the group. There is also a dynamic of the group coming to maturity as they see themselves as being able to ‘ordain-lay hands’ and send out. Now Paul and Barnabas begin their missionary journeys. At Paphos Paul casts blindness on a sorcerer and the chief deputy believes. At Antioch [Pisidia] they preach in the synagogue. Paul does a good Old Testament survey and mentions ‘Saul from the tribe of Benjamin’ as being part of Gods plan. I always wondered if Paul saw himself in this image [Saul from Benjamin]. Jesus did tell Ananias that Paul was a chosen vessel to bear his name. Notice also that Paul's message saw the promise to David in Psalms ‘the sure mercies of David’ as being fulfilled thru Christ’s resurrection. The theme of the message was not ‘Jesus rule is delayed’ [dispensational teaching] but that thru Jesus the promises to the fathers have come to fruition. While it is true that the Jewish hearers will reject their Messiah as a people, yet this did not mean that the Kingdom was delayed or that the ‘church age’ was a parenthetical time until the ‘Kingdom age’ reconvenes. The whole tenor of Paul’s message is the reality that Jesus resurrection and being seated at Gods right hand is the promise being fulfilled that God made to the fathers. It is important to see his theme all thru out the Apostolic writings. The following week after Paul delivers his message, many gentiles come back to hear the word again. The leaders get jealous and Paul rebukes them. He tells them it was necessary for the Jews to have heard the word first, but then in fulfillment of the prophets, Jesus will be a light to the gentiles also. Paul and Barnabas sail off to Iconium next. An important theme in all the sermons in Acts is how the main message is that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Prophets. Paul tells them that they heard the readings from the prophets [Old Testament] every Sabbath day, but they also fulfilled the prophetic word by not being able to understand what the prophets were saying. So they crucified Jesus because of their blindness to the meaning of scripture. We need to see Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophets. The ultimate end of our purpose. To become like him in every way. In today’s church world it is so easy to see the word and ‘church attendance’ as a means to self fulfillment. But we need to re focus on becoming more like him. I am sure it was a shock to Paul when he realized all the time and study he did as a Pharisee was missing the main intent of scripture. It was humiliating to find out that the simple men who became these followers of Christ were closer to the truth than the theological doctors of the day. Jesus said we must become like little children again in order to see Gods kingdom. (751) ACTS 14- Paul and Barnabas continue going thru different cities [Iconium, Lystra] Paul heals a man who was lame from birth and the whole city says ‘these men are gods who have come down in human form’. Paul barely stops them from offering sacrifices to them! In each city they travel to, they have a routine. They go into the synagogue and speak to the gathered. Both Jews and ‘God fearers’ [gentile followers] the pattern of some believing and others resisting becomes routine. Paul also has to deal with the Jews who were following him from past cities. They were sort of 1st century ‘apologists’ who made it their purpose to simply stop Paul. I want you to see that the ‘churches’ were the various groups of people who believed. They did gather together [Ecclesia] but they did not see ‘church’ as a place they went to for religious instruction. They did not start ‘gentile synagogues’ in competition with Judaism. Now Paul goes back thru the cities and at that point ‘ordains Elders in every church’. This is important to see. The ordaining of Elders was the simple process of seeing who had the maturity of understanding in the gospel and could be looked up to as a spiritual guide. Any questions or new converts in the towns would know ‘so and so’ is a responsible believer who Paul put his stamp of approval on. Why even do this? Remember, the enemies of Paul [Jewish law keepers] are going behind Paul’s back and trying to undo all the work that Paul was doing. Elders were gifted men who had the ability to push back against those whose ‘mouths must be stopped’ [Paul’s future language against false teachers]. These Elders were not full time Pastors in the modern sense. They were not singular authorities who ‘cover the flock’. They were not hired clergy! The reason why it is important to see this is because we want to stay as close as possible to the historic picture of the church as we read thru Act’s. These ‘local churches’ were caring communities of Christ followers who did have spiritual oversight that were to be respected and held in high esteem. Paul and Peter will teach the concept of giving honor to those who have spiritual accountability for you. But we can’t apply this to unbiblical forms of ecclesiology/hierarchy that will develop over the centuries. In Luther’s day many well meaning men felt Luther [the 16th century reformer] was rebelling against God ordained authority by going against the Pope. We need to understand that John the Apostle rebuked the rise of singular authorities who would seek to have the preeminence amongst Gods flock [Diotrephes- 3rd Jn]. Paul will warn the Ephesian church [later in Acts] that after his departure men would rise up seeking to make disciples after themselves. The point is any future use of the teaching of Elders/Pastors and the true responsibility to honor and submit to godly authority has to be seen in context with the complete story. While Luther’s [and Paul’s] critics could make the case that they were rebelling against God ordained authority, yet at the same time true revolution always carries an element of casting off old systems and restraint. Paul will confront Peter openly over his hypocrisy between treating Jewish believers different than Gentile believers. Peter was an Apostle before Paul and the argument could have been made ‘who does Paul think he is, going over the head of Peter’. So we need to see the biblical truth of God ordained leadership. The fact that many good Pastors and men of God have faithfully served Christ’s church. But we do not want to develop mindsets contrary to the freedom that we have in Christ while teaching the truth of godly leadership. Paul ordained ‘Elders’ on his way back thru Lystra and Iconium. He sails back to Antioch and recounts all the wonderful success that they had with the gentile believers. Antioch has this free flowing spirit amongst the church. They are gentiles and are not keeping the Jewish law. Paul and Barnabas were getting a reputation amongst the Jewish leadership in the cities and towns. Word gets back to Jerusalem and we will see whether Paul’s gospel will prevail before the ‘church authorities’? I believe we could describe Luther’s response before the Catholic church as fitting Paul’s spirit ‘unless I am persuaded by scripture I can not go against my conscience. Here I stand, I can do nothing else’. (752) ACTS 15- Some brothers from Judea came down to Antioch and taught the believers that they had to be circumcised and keep the law in order to be saved. These are the Pharisees out of Jerusalem who became believers. They tried to put the gentile believers under the yoke of the law. Paul and Barnabas disagree strongly with this teaching. They decide to bring the question before the Apostles and Elders at Jerusalem. This is the first ‘church council’ in history. The ‘Jerusalem council’. At the meeting the dispute arises. Peter speaks up and recounts his experience at Cornelius house. How God showed Peter that he would justify people by faith, without having to become converts to Judaism. James chimes in and quotes a famous verse [famous now!] from the prophet Amos ‘in those days I will rebuild David’s tabernacle and all the gentiles upon whom my name is called will see me’. I want to stop here for a minute. On this blog I wrote a chapter on David’s tabernacle. It is in the booklet ‘The great building of God’ you might want to read it if you are not familiar with David’s tabernacle. I want to note that scholars disagree on what James means here. Some see ‘David’s tabernacle’ as the house or dynasty of David. Like Paul saying ‘house of God’ when speaking of ‘the family of God’. Others say this verse teaches the rebuilding of the Temple. The main reason James is quoting this verse is really not for the ‘rebuilding of David’s tabernacle’ section. It is for ‘all the gentiles who call upon my name’ part! James is agreeing with Peter and taking the side of grace when he says ‘look, even Amos said gentiles would call on Gods name’. Paul does this in Romans, he quotes the Old Testament prophets in context of the gentiles being accepted. So I wanted to just put some context to why James is bringing up this verse. But I also give credence to seeing ‘David’s tabernacle’ as speaking of the New Testament house of God [the Body of Christ] and Gods intent to ‘tabernacle in his people’. Acts does teach that Jesus has ascended and is seated on a throne that includes Israel as well as the whole universe! So in this context Christ can be seen as ‘building the tabernacle of David’ [spiritual temple of believers] that includes all ethnic groups. Yes, gentiles too can call upon his name! The Apostles and Elders and brothers all reach agreement and write a short letter and send Judas and Silas along with Paul’s group back to Antioch to read the final decree. They told the gentile believers they were not under the law and did not have to convert to Judaism to be saved. They did give four simple restrictions. Don’t eat meat with the blood in it, don’t eat food offered to idols or strangled animals. Don’t commit fornication. Basic requirements that later on will lose their emphasis as the church grows in grace [accept for fornication! God does require believers to walk in holiness]. Now this chapter is vital for every believer. The 16th century reformation restored the truth of people being saved freely by grace. Many Christians were lost in the legalistic requirements of religion. Many believers thought they could buy their way out of purgatory with money! Others thought they would be saved by keeping church law. This early church council gave freedom to the church in seeing herself accepted by grace. The church grew in her understanding of Gods grace. As God’s revelation of himself progressed thru out the early church, they saw him as being ‘inclusive’ not exclusive! The more they learned about God, the more they understood him justifying people freely. It is easy to lose the reality of God justifying man freely thru grace. No excuses for living in sin, but true acceptance and forgiveness because of Christ. This is truly the heart of the gospel. The first church council laid the foundation of Gods free grace. The gentiles at Antioch and the other towns were ecstatic over this decision. Truly the gentile churches are experiencing more freedom than the church at Jerusalem, after all they had the ‘Pharisees who believed’ at Jerusalem, and they weren’t willing to give up on their belief of the importance of the law and circumcision. They will haunt Paul thru out his life. After the letter is read, Paul and Barnabas continue to teach at Antioch and the 2 brothers who were out of Jerusalem are free to leave. Judas goes back, but Silas likes the freedom at Antioch and decides to stay. Paul says ‘lets go visit all the brothers in the cities where we preached’ Barnabas says ‘great, lets take John Mark!’ Paul doesn’t want him because he abandoned them on an earlier missionary journey. Paul takes Silas and John goes with Barnabas. The ‘visiting of all the brothers’ is also described as ‘visiting the churches’. Once again, the brothers [and sisters] in the cites are defined as ‘the churches’. They were called out groups of believers who were recognized not because they ‘attended church on Sunday’ but because they were followers of ‘the way’. (753) ACTS 16- Paul and Silas hit the road. They are being led by the Spirit and are evangelizing large regions without a lot of money, organization or ‘corporate help’. Now, these things are permitted, but we need to make sure we are seeing this story right! Jesus imbedded a mindset into the Apostles, he told them ‘don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment! No special appeals for funds [ouch!], keep it simple’ [Message bible- Jesus instructions when he sent them out by two’s]. So here we actually see the Apostles living the vision. Paul by the way has a vision! He sees a vision of a man in Macedonia saying ‘come and help us’. Luke writes ‘we took this as a sure sign of God sending us’. Wow, what childlike simplicity. The great theologian Paul, the man who could argue orthodoxy all day [and win]. He has a vision and says ‘we took it as Gods will’. Don’t develop doctrines that cut you off from God’s supernatural guidance. Sure, people have gotten into trouble with visions. Cults have ‘prophets and apostles’. But the church also had these things and it helped on the journey. Now at Philippi they convert a woman down by the river. They cast out a demon from a fortune teller. The ‘masters’ see they lost their ‘money maker’ and stir up trouble in the city. Paul and Silas get thrown in jail. They praise God and sing, an earthquake happens. The doors swing open. The jailer thinks they all escaped and is going to kill himself. Paul and Silas preach the gospel and he asks ‘what must I do to be saved’ they say ‘believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, your family too!’ The whole house gets baptized and the city leaders send word ‘tell them to leave’. Now, Paul is a lot like me. He doesn’t let stuff slide. He says ‘they beat us unlawfully, we are Roman citizens! Now they want us to leave secretly. Let them come and tell us publicly’ the leaders hear they are Romans and are worried. Paul made them squirm! Let’s do a little overview. We are halfway thru the book of Acts and we see the ‘churches’ as these free flowing believers carrying out the gospel. Baptisms and healings and visions. We also see doctrinal growth. We challenge the mindset of many evangelicals, baptismal regeneration is not taught [at least I don’t see it] but baptism in water is the immediate outward identification of the believer. In essence it was the New Testament ‘altar call’. Our Catholic friends will eventually develop an idea of baptism as washing away original sin. But sometimes we miss the other idea of putting off adult baptism because of fear of future sins. Saint Augustine, the emperor Constantine and others delayed their baptism thinking they would use it to ‘clean them up’ after any future faults. The doctrine of baptism in Acts is seen as an immediate rite that does affect the believer [as do all outward acts of obedience! Even the Lords Supper strengthens the faith of the believer]. But justification and believing are prior to baptism. But not two weeks or two years prior! But a few minutes. I also forgot to mention that Paul has Timothy circumcised in this chapter. The great Apostle Paul, who will eventually pen the words ‘circumcision means nothing, but a circumcised heart is what matters’ here he gave in. Paul and Silas are fresh off the recent Jerusalem council. They have been accused of teaching Jews ‘abandon the law and circumcision’. The decree from Jerusalem said the gentiles don’t need to worry about these things. But they were still teaching Jewish converts to maintain Jewish law and custom. Timothy was not circumcised, and everyone knew it! His mother was Jewish but his father was Greek. So Paul realized that the judiazers would eventually say ‘see, Paul is even teaching Jews to break Moses law’ so Paul gives in and compromises here. Do the restrictions at the Jerusalem council still hold sway over Jewish believers today? No. Paul will eventually abandon all Jewish law and custom from his doctrine of justification by faith. But at this stage they are still learning and growing. The mindset of ‘God’ in this book is one of ‘less restrictions’ and more acceptance as time rolls on. We see enough stuff on baptism to not call the churches who emphasize baptism ‘Cambellites/heretics’ [the term Cambellite comes from the founder of the Church of Christ/ Disciples of Christ groups. Their founder was Alexander Campbell. He falls into the restorationist camp. He saw the emphasis on adult baptism in scripture and many of his followers see the act of water baptism as the moment of conversion]. But we also see the basic ‘ingredient’ for acceptance as faith. So God is not excluding those who focus on baptism [Peters initial converts] but showing us greater acceptance among ‘those who believe’ [Acts 10]. This is what I tried to say in our introduction to this study. As we read we shouldn’t be looking for formulas or hard and fast verses to simply justify our churches beliefs against the church down the block. But we need to see the heart and mind of God. We also shouldn’t trace our peculiar belief to this historic church and say ‘see, our group is the most accurate one’. Why? Don’t I believe my idea of simple church is closer to the historic church? Yes. But the ‘church’ will develop in good and bad ways as the centuries roll on. The fact that many Catholics and Orthodox and future Protestants will grow and fight and reform, means the church herself has within her the inherent ability to ‘get back to the Cross’ or the reality of all of these groups believing in Jesus causes there to be a fundamental unity that exists because we all possess Christ’s Spirit. So even though I personally see the organic church in Acts, this doesn’t mean that I see the other expressions of church as totally illegitimate or lost! So let’s end this chapter rejoicing with the jailer who heard the gospel and ‘believed with all his house’. (754) ACTS 17- Paul heads to Thessalonica and preaches 3 Sabbath days in the synagogue. Once again the unbelieving Jews follow him and stir up trouble. Paul heads to Berea and speaks the word. The Bereans are said to be more noble because they heard Paul out and then searched the scriptures to see if he were telling the truth. The message he preached is that Jesus is the Messiah that the Old Testament prophets spoke of. In 1st John, John says ‘whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God’ Paul was showing them that Jesus was the Christ. Again trouble arises and Paul sails off to Athens and sends for Timothy and Silas later on. Now, Paul spent 3 weeks at Thessalonica. No huge budget, no message on ‘how can we reach Thessalonica without lots of money’ [I have heard it taught that you cant even begin to think about planting a church unless you have $250,000 dollars!] Paul believed in the power of the gospel. It took 3 weeks of simply sharing the gospel to plant this church! He will write them a few letters and give them some instruction, but the simple truth is every believer has the ability to ‘plant churches’ [speaking the gospel to people groups and those people believing and becoming ‘the church’]. At Athens Paul is troubled by all the ‘superstition’ [religion]. He runs into the philosophers. It said the people there spent all their time in either telling or hearing some new thing. An ancient form of ‘the view’ [the television show where the ladies talk about nothing all day long!] So Paul disputes with them and uses their own altar to ‘the unknown God’ and declares Christ unto them. Recently a Catholic priest made headlines because he advocated for Christians to use the name Allah instead of God. He felt the name was referring to the same God. Does Paul’s use of the ‘unknown God altar’ fall into this category? No. When any religion names their god and defines him, then this god is a false god [unless your speaking of the true God]. So in this case Paul was simply saying ‘this altar to the God you don’t know, I will show you how to come to know him’. Now, why were these philosophers in Athens? A few centuries before Christ you had the rule of Alexander the great. The Old Testament prophet Daniel speaks in detail of his rule. Alexander ruled one of the greatest empires known to man. He established the greatest library of the ancient world. He made Greek the common language. This is why the New Testament was written in Greek. Though Rome was the ruling empire of Jesus day, the culture was still Greek to a degree. This is called ‘Hellenization’. The Greeks even translated the Old Testament into Greek before the days of Christ. This translation is called the Septuagint, which means 70. This comes from the supposed number of scholars who worked on the translation. This period just prior to Christ was the time of the great philosophers. Plato, Aristotle and others. These Philosophers laid down a foundation of sorts for morality and the cultures that would develop down the road. The church fathers disagreed somewhat to the degree of mixing Christian faith with the thought of the pre Christian philosophers. Origen thought these men were Christian to the degree that God used them to instill types of thought and belief in the immortality of the soul and other concepts as a precursor to Christ. Others thought they were competing worldviews for the religion of Christianity and should be rejected. Paul himself will write the Colossians and warn them of the philosophies of men. Many thinkers were affected by the ‘new age’ concepts that came from these groups. Augustine, the great 4th-5th century Bishop from North Africa was into Manichaeism prior to his conversion to Christianity. He eventually would sit under the sound teaching of Ambrose and leave his former ideas. These groups had strange beliefs and concepts that would sound like the scientology adherents of our day. Others were not as drastic but would still be seen as on the verge of Christian truth. Marcion was sort of in this class. The point is Paul will take advantage of the philosopher’s willingness to delve into all types of ideas, and use this as an open door to preach Christ. Some breakaway groups from the more Orthodox churches will claim that the Catholic churches belief in the immortality of the soul is not scriptural. These groups teach that the ancient church picked these beliefs up from the philosophers of the day [some of the seventh day brothers say this]. You also find some Protestant brothers challenge the authenticity of various bible translations based on the Septuagint translation from ancient Greece. The church father Jerome will use the Septuagint in his popular translation of the Latin Vulgate. Some Protestants see Jerome’s version as less than pure. This is also why the Catholic bibles have the Apocrypha in them [The books between Malachi and Matthew that the Protestant bibles don’t have]. When Jerome translated his vulgate, he brought these books over from the Septuagint version. Jerome did put an asterisk next to the apocryphal books, he noted they were included from the Septuagint, but were not seen as authoritative. Simply added for historical content. So we see the tremendous influence that Greek culture and philosophy played in the early stages of the church. Paul knew their thought, but his gospel was founded on more than some new belief system. Paul claimed that Jesus had been raised from the dead! (755) ACTS 18- Paul goes to Corinth, he meets Aquila and Priscilla. They are all tent makers and he stays with them and does some manual labor! Poor Paul, he just didn’t understand that when we read earlier in Acts, that the Apostles at Jerusalem devoted themselves to prayer and the word, that this meant they were in ‘full time ministry’. I am being sarcastic! The point is Paul did not see his very gifted apostolic ministry as a ‘ministry’ that would be run like a modern business. He certainly did not see manual labor as some type of lack of faith. In today’s environment you can ask a brother ‘how are you supporting yourself’ and many times the answer is ‘we are a faith ministry’ kind of saying ‘I don’t work, but I ask for money’ [Ouch!]. Now, Paul will say it’s good to meet the material needs of laboring elders/pastors, but don’t develop more into it than this. At Corinth Paul teaches for a year and a half, one of the longest recorded stays at any of his ‘churches’ [cities with believers in them]. He goes to Ephesus and back to Antioch. Then makes a tour of the cities where he originally preached. Basically going back and strengthening the churches. The Lord speaks again to Paul in a vision while at Corinth, he says ‘don’t be afraid to speak, no one will lay a hand on you. I have lots of people here’. Simple encouragement by divine means. Why, or how Christians can develop doctrines that say ‘these things don’t happen any more’ is beyond me. At Ephesus Aquila and Priscilla hear a great preacher. His name is Apollos and he is very well spoken. He is also limited in his understanding of the gospel. They take him and ‘expound unto him the way of God more perfectly’. It took humility on both sides for this to happen. Over the years I have had good friends who were/are pastors. As the Body of Christ goes thru transition it is becoming very well known that the development of the full time clerical office of Pastor was really not a scriptural development. Sort of like realizing during the reformation that there were limited teachings from the church that were simply wrong. As the people of God become more aware of ‘the more perfect’ things [more mature understanding on stuff] there is a humility that needs to be present in order for the proper change to occur. In many cities across the nation [and world] there are structures of church and practice that are limited. As Gods people [both pastors and parishioners] see this, then there is a process of change that occurs. In the more limited ‘churches’ you have scenarios where well meaning men often rebuke any freedom of growth along the lines of ‘I am your pastor, your role is to come to the Sunday [they view it as some type of Sabbath] service, pay your tithe to the storehouse [which they actually see as the church building!] and any rebellion against this order is like rebelling against Moses in the wilderness!’ Now, all good pastors obviously are not like this, but there are more situations that fit this example than you realize. So like Apollos [a good public speaking ministry- Pastor] he simply had to go thru a stage of seeing things at a deeper level. Simply submitting to the gifts that exist in the Body of Christ and being humble enough to learn. After Apollos learns, he is even stronger than he was before! (756) ACTS 19- Paul runs into some of Apollo’s disciples at Ephesus, he asks them if they received the Spirit ‘since they believed’ [Notice what they were believing!] And they said they have never heard about the Holy Spirit. He questions them on what they are believing in. They answer John’s baptism. They only knew the message of John the Baptist on repentance. The basic preaching from Apollos before he was ‘instructed in the way of the Lord more perfectly’. Paul does not say ‘now, believe in the Holy Spirit and you will have the baptism in the Spirit’. He says ‘John [the Baptist] preached that you should believe on him, that is JESUS, who would come after him’ after hearing THIS [the basic message of Jesus!] they were baptized in Jesus name and Paul laid his hands on them and they received the Spirit. There are lots of things here that different groups use to justify their beliefs. I fully believe in all the gifts and workings of the Spirit, but once again many well meaning pastors [from Pentecostal backgrounds] teach this chapter as saying these disciples were believers in Jesus and did not have the Spirit. This is not true! They were not yet believers in Jesus and the actual person they believed in to get the Spirit was Jesus, not the Spirit! But all in all we see the laying on of hands, prophecy and tongues happen. So these guys are charismatic! But also Calvinist [in my mind- I believe Paul was strong in predestination, but also operated in the gifts]. Now Paul goes and ruins his reputation! Can you believe he is actually sending handkerchiefs to sick people and they are getting healed and delivered from evil Spirits! Old Jonathan Edwards would never do that! [Or Calvin or Luther…or would they?] Paul casts out some demons in Jesus name [that’s it, he is cancelled from speaking at our reformation conference!] and 7 sons from a Jewish family try to cast out a demon from some guy using Jesus name. The demon says ‘Jesus I know, and Paul too! But who in the heck do you think you are’ and the guy who’s possessed beats the hell out of them! Ouch! I find it funny that the demons knew Paul by name. They must have heard how Paul was one of the deadliest enemies to satans agenda. The demons who were showing up for orders were scared they would be assigned to Paul, they knew he had some strong handkerchiefs! Demetrius, a guy who made his living building idols to Dianna, a false goddess, realizes that if Paul keeps preaching about Jesus that his living will be threatened. So he stirs up trouble. He says ‘if we don’t stop these guys, our shrine making business will be in jeopardy, oh, and the great goddess Dianna will also lose her honor’ He couldn’t give a rip about the fake god, he was worried about the bottom line! I find it funny how people will choose which image of ‘God-Jesus’ they believe in based on the bottom line. Some choose to grasp an image of Jesus contrary to the New Testament, if you challenge this belief, they will simply ignore you based on the bottom line. The Jesus of scripture challenges the materialistic gospel that permeates many in today’s church. Some grasp this modern image of Jesus because they can’t let go of the possibility that there ‘trade’ [belief system of profit] is going away! (757) ACTS 20- Paul travels with some brothers on the journey. This mode of visiting different regions and bringing brothers with him is exciting! They are truly seeing the Kingdom of God becoming established in the earth. Scripture says ‘they broke bread on the first day of the week’ we read later in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians that when they met on the ‘first day of the week’ he asked them to take up a collection before he arrived [so he could take the money and meet the needs of the poor saints at Jerusalem]. Do we see here some type of Sunday Sabbath, that is the ‘church day to pay tithes’ so you don’t get cursed? Of course not. You are seeing the simple practical outworking of a people who are becoming the people of God. It’s fine to meet on a Sunday and to ‘break bread’. Hey, the group needs to know when to meet for the meal! But don't develop liturgical/sacramental ideas out of this. You say ‘hooray for John [me], he is really giving it to those Catholics’ well, don’t say hooray yet. Now he calls for the Elders at Ephesus to come to Miletus so he can give them some instructions and a farewell. This address from Paul is one of the best in the New Testament. He covers the basics for leadership and church growth. Now, he tells them ‘all the time I was with you guys I was upright. I taught you publicly and from house to house. I showed you repentance toward God and faith towards Jesus Christ. I worked and did not covet your money. I did this to prove I was not there to gain financially from you. To give you an example as Elders yourselves, so you would not see the responsibility of oversight thru a covetous mindset. Beware! After I leave you there will be an attempt by the enemy to undo the work of the Cross. Some men, even from your own group will rise up and speak twisted doctrines. They will try to become preeminent in the group, drawing away disciples after themselves. Don’t become sidetracked and become followers of men! Guard the flock over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Feed them Gods good word’. Paul lays down strong guidelines here. He actually teaches the elders that he worked when he was among them to leave this example of leaders not seeing ministry as a means to get gain. In one of his future letters [Timothy or Thessalonians?] he actually says this ‘working’ that he did was a tradition for them to keep. He said this in context of those who refused to work. Very strong indeed. Peter also will teach the Elders to take oversight of Gods flock ‘not for money, but out of a pure motive’. In the wars that rage over ‘simple church’ versus the modern 501c3 model, both sides have shot at each other wrongfully at times. There are very intelligent brothers who will take this chapter and teach that the modern Pastor has fallen into the trap of ‘making disciples after themselves’. They see the development of the role of Pastor as becoming the fulfillment of this. Now, I do see some merit to this, but I see most pastors [all the ones I know and have known personally over the years] as Elders who are striving to help Gods People. I see a real need for all leadership to see that ministry is not a fulltime clergy type office that has developed over the centuries! Paul is simply addressing the Elders [more mature ones- in the gospel, not necessarily old!] and showing them that their purpose is to help the people of God grow in grace and make it to a place of self sufficiency in Christ. Paul is pretty much laying down the gauntlet that leadership is not some ticket of ‘now that I am in ministry, my income comes from the God ordained tithe’. This is never taught as a means of support for New testament ministers. These ideas have developed out of the Old Testament idea of the tithe supporting the Levitical Priests. In the New Covenant all are Priests and we don’t practice this type of thing. But Paul does teach that it’s good to support materially [financially] those who are feeding you spiritual food. He does teach ‘don’t muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn’ [he called us ox's!] seriously, he lays down the biblical guideline of supporting those who minister the word. But it is important to see he was not establishing some type of clergy system, the fact that he was working while with these Ephesians and actually used this as an example for OTHER ELDERS as well as the believers shows you this. All in all the main point Paul is getting across is he wants the basic truth of the gospel to prevail and he does not want top heavy leadership to come in and draw away disciples after them. That is for strong gifted leaders to become the main focus of these Ephesian believers. So this chapter is important because we see Paul address these elders that he has been ‘ordaining’ in the churches [groups of believers]. We see the basic character and function of these men. We see the warning that cults will arise. In Paul’s day groups did come forth from the basic Christian communities [Gnostics and Docetists] that had a basic understanding of certain Christian things, but would deny the reality of Jesus. Paul bids them Farwell as they all embrace on the shoreline. The Elders were heartbroken over Paul’s words that he will probably see them no more. He wanted to keep the upcoming feast at Jerusalem and eventually preach at Rome. He was on this obsession to carry this gospel to the seat of the empire, even if it means his life. (758) ACTS 21- Paul goes to Tyre and the saints prophesy for him not to go to Jerusalem. He makes it to Caesarea and Phillip has 4 daughters who also prophesy. Agabus shows up, he is a prophet, and he takes Paul's garment and does one of those weird prophetic actions and wraps it around him and says ‘the Lord says whoever owns this garment will be bound like this at Jerusalem’. A few things, many good men teach that the word for ‘Prophecy’ [to prophesy] is simple preaching. Now, true simple preaching of the gospel is a function of the prophetic. Paul says in Corinthians that whoever says the name of Jesus is speaking mysteries that only the Spirit knows. So preaching does fall into this category. But a simple reading of the text shows you that Agabus, who functioned in the office of a Prophet, was doing more than simple preaching. There obviously was a predictive element to what he did. Agabus is an ‘ascension gift Prophet’. In Ephesians Paul teaches that after Jesus ascended he gave gifts unto men. Some of these gifts are Prophets. Why would Jesus establish an entire class of New Testament Prophets, and take them away as soon as the New Testament was complete? Now Paul makes it to Jerusalem despite the warnings. Right away James and the Elders call him to a meeting. They rejoice over all the Lord is doing with Paul’s gentile outreach, but they tell him ‘look, we have many Jews. They are all believing in Messiah, and they all keep the law’. There is a fundamental rift between James and Paul. Most preachers do not say or admit this, they feel to admit it would violate the Canon of scripture. First, read my commentary on Hebrews 11 on this site. Second, I believe we are simply seeing the historic development of truth as we progress thru Acts. Peter, James and Paul [later we read Johns epistles] never contradict each other as far as the overall message of the Cross is concerned. But God does allow us to peer into the different insights that these key 1st century elders were seeing. So James might really be seeing things from a different vantage point than Paul. Paul might not fully see James reasoning. They are both being used of God, their writings will harmonize. But they don’t necessarily see it yet! James pressures Paul to take a vow with some brothers to basically show he isn’t teaching Jews against the law. Paul does it. The city finds out Paul is in town and they drag him out of the Temple and they beat the guy! The local police come and rescue Paul. As he is being carried away he speaks Greek to the soldiers, they are surprised he speaks Greek. He then addresses the Jews and speaks Hebrew. Paul used positioning and all the influence he had in any area [even language] to make his point. In the next chapter we will read his defense. I want to close with us seeing that Paul was being accused of teaching Jews against Moses and the law and Temple. Was he? Actually as Paul’s understanding of the gospel of grace increases, he does teach this. If you believe Paul wrote Hebrews [the letter] then you see it there. But Paul initially was only preaching grace to the gentiles. James even says ‘show the people that the rumors about you are wrong, show them that you too are keeping the law like all Jews’ and basically Paul gives in by agreeing to join in the vow with the brothers. Some times we read Acts [as well as the bible] as if it were a single book written at one sitting. When you do it like this you don’t leave room for the development and growth of the characters themselves. God is allowing Peter to preach in a more limited way in the first few chapters, after Peter hears from Stephen and Paul he seems to leave more room for believing and being justified. He is learning and growing as the story progresses. The same with James. His epistle is obviously a different view point from Paul. Do they contradict? No. But some commentators do not honestly look at the different angles. James will actually say ‘see how a man is justified by his works, and not faith only’. Now, he does say ‘faith without works is dead’. And many good teachers say ‘all James was saying was you need active faith at the time of conversion’ [James isn’t speaking about the ‘time of conversion’!] Well actually , he was saying more. Was he teaching justification by works? No, at least not in the way most theologians see ‘justification’. But James was seeing justification thru the lens of the future result of the believer actually becoming just! [What some believers call sanctification] He was seeing the Genesis 22 justification of Abraham offering Isaac, not the Genesis 15 account that Paul emphasizes. So James is teaching ‘justification by works’ that is, Gods grace that legally justified you when you believed, actually changes you to the point where you do good works, and at that point God continues to say ‘good job son- you are doing what’s right’ [another word for doing what’s just/right- justification!] Now, I can’t explain the whole thing here, the point is James is dealing with Jewish believers and he is seeing things from a different timeline than Paul. The strife between the early Jewish believers and Paul is intense. Ultimately the Temple will be destroyed and the future of the Christian church will be shaped by Paul’s theology. James writes a great letter! But Paul will carry the day. NOTE- I see James saying ‘see how a man is justified by works’ meaning the future act of God being pleased with the changed life of the believer. We see ‘see how a man is justified by works’ and try to make that fit ‘see how a man is initially saved/born again’ but James, in my view, is not speaking of the initial act of justification [which is solely by faith] when he says ‘see how a man is justified by works, and not by faith only’ James is working on a different timeline! (759) ACTS 22- Paul makes his case before the Jews at Jerusalem. As he speaks in Hebrew, they give him special attention. We learned earlier [Acts 6] that Hebrew speaking Jews were looked upon as better than non Hebrew speakers. Paul tells the Jewish people that he too used to be zealous of the law and also hated the new movement of Messiah. He informs them that he was raised under Gamaliel’s school of Phariseeism! You had different schools of learning, even within the class of the Pharisees, Paul was what you would call a Harvard man. He explains that on his previous trip to Damascus he encountered Jesus. He gives his conversion testimony, which by the way contains most of the elements of all the various conversion accounts in Acts ‘arise, be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling upon the name of the Lord’. Paul was such an anti Christian that the Lord made sure he would cover all the angles![and also be received amongst all the different groups of believers thru out the church who will claim strong baptism verses, or calling on the Lord verses. In essence you can find in him the varied experiences of believers thru out the centuries]. Now Paul recounts how after his conversion he had a vision in the Temple at Jerusalem. He has his audience captivated until he says how Jesus appeared to him and told him to go to the gentiles. This was too much for the elite Jewish mind to grasp. The people chant ‘away with him’ they want him killed! As the soldiers are getting ready to beat him some more, he says ‘is it lawful for you to beat a Roman citizen like this?’ Paul was quite a guy, he used any advantage he had to win the argument. The soldier's enquire how he obtained Roman citizenship, he tells them he was ‘free born’. All people under the rule of Rome were not Roman citizens. The region of Judea and the area of Jesus and his men were considered the ‘wrong side of the tracks’ Galileans were a low class. Most scholars believe Jesus spoke Aramaic, the language from his area. Paul was the first out this bunch of radical followers who had an upper class image. His pedigree was good. He surprised his opponents by having a good education and being a Roman citizen. Paul also wrote [Corinthians] how not many noble and educated people were chosen by the Lord. It wasn’t because the lord didn’t want the upper class folk! It was the fact that education and ‘class’ can be such obstacles in the minds of those who posses it. It’s the sin of pride. Also in this chapter Paul describes his vision at the temple as ‘being in a trance’ the same language used of Peter in chapter 10. A trance is a different type of experience. St. Thomas Aquinas, considered by many to be the most intellectual apologist of the latter middle ages [scholastic period] shared experiences he had right before his death. He would call them ‘being in a state of ecstasy’. These were sort of ‘trances’ where he would experience the presence of God so mightily that he would describe it as almost unbearable. He would say that the Lord revealed so much to him during these times that all he had ever written or taught in the past seemed trivial compared to what he was ‘seeing’ during these events. Paul himself will write about being caught up into the 3rd heaven and not knowing whether he was in the body or out of it. He would say he saw things that were impossible to explain in human words. In this chapter Paul says Jesus appeared to him at the beginning of his journey, it seems as if this wasn’t the only time he saw the Lord. (760) ACTS 23- Paul continues his defense before the council and chief priests. He realizes that the council is divided ‘politically/religiously’ along the lines of the Pharisees versus the Sadducees. Though these were both religious groups who were Jewish, yet they had major disagreements. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection or spirit or angels [why in the heck would you even want to be religious if you rejected these things? ‘Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you die’! The philosophies that rose out of the enlightenment era and the French revolution were based on ‘nihilism’ the idea of having no moral compass. The rise of Marxism and other communist expressions of Government had good intentions at times! The problem was they espoused the atheistic philosophies of the time and ultimately this leads to a total loss of purpose and meaning. Though these philosophers tried to say that religion and the ‘God delusion’ were the cause of all the ills of society, there grand scheme would ultimately lead to forms of human government that disrespected human life. Hitler of course was an extreme example. He did embrace eugenics, the idea that the stronger races will eventually win and the weaker races/classes will die off. He simply thought he was speeding up the process by exterminating Jews. Though the philosophers of the enlightenment fall into different groups. Some for example did believe in deism and they felt God could be proved from natural means. Others saw religion as the ‘opiate of the people’ and ultimately did disgrace unto the human race!] The Pharisees believed in resurrection. So good old Paul stands up and says ‘I am a Pharisee, and the very reason I am in trouble is because I believe in the hope of the resurrection’ Paul knew how to ‘triangulate’ [politically]. Well of course the Pharisees say ‘well, we see nothing wrong with this man. If an angel or spirit appeared to him, then Gods will be done’. So the group splits. Paul is put under guard and eventually appeals to the next step. The authorities send him to Governor Felix in Caesarea for the next appeal. Why is it important to see the legal maneuverings of Paul? Jesus even appears to him again and says ‘you will testify of me in Rome’. The religious leaders of the 1st century did all they could to not report the facts of the early followers of Christ. The gospels tell us that they even resorted to outright lying to cover up the fact of the resurrection. Paul’s interjection into the legal arena caused there to be a written record of these events! The historians of the day were covering the legal events of the day. The record of Jesus and his followers would be forever imbedded in the historic records of the time. God wanted Paul in this system as a sure testimony of the witness of Christ’s resurrection. We end the chapter with Paul waiting at Caesarea for the accusers to come and make their case. (761) ACTS 24- Paul’s accusers come down from Jerusalem. They hired a lawyer [orator] to accuse him! Tertullus gives a speech to the Governor that could be defined as the classic political ‘suck up’ speech of all time. Paul defends himself and says ‘I am not guilty of these so called accusations. But I am guilty of believing the law and the prophets. I believe that what they spoke of [the shadows] have happened! I believe in the resurrection. Jesus has fulfilled the promises of the prophets!’ I had a discussion with a good friend the other day. We have a mutual friend who is really into Messianic stuff. He has espoused the idea that the feasts and images of Israel are EXACT PICTURES that give us a detailed road map to Christ’s return. Basically the friend believes that all the shadows and images are exact descriptions of all future events. I shared with my friend that I too believe that the feasts of Israel are prophetic signs of things. Surely Passover and Pentecost have had great meaning for the people of God. Paul says ‘Christ our Passover died for us’. Some see the end time feast of the latter harvest as having future fulfillment in the ingathering of the nations to Christ. I have taught some of this on the radio before. The problem with this other stuff is it takes the feasts and shadows and tries to ‘detail’ every little thing. Paul understood the prophets and law having been fulfilled thru the present work of Christ and his resurrection. I can’t stress enough how the apostolic witness in Acts sees Jesus as the fulfillment of these things. They do not preach a heavily nationalistic [Jewish] message, though they are all Jews! [The Apostles] As Paul defends himself, the governor listens and trembles! Paul spoke of judgment and temperance and the reality of a future resurrection of the just and unjust. The basic apostolic message as seen in the classic creeds of the church. Paul will sit under house arrest for 2 years until another person takes over Felix’s position. The guy’s name is ‘Porcius festus’ [I think I would prefer the name Judas over Porcius!] We end the chapter with Paul waiting to give another witness of Jesus before another ruler. The legal problems of Paul were Gods providence to give Paul opportunity to speak the gospel all the way up the chain. The chain ends at Rome. (765) ACT 25- Festus hears the Jews at Jerusalem, they want him to bring Paul to Jerusalem. Festus goes back to Caesarea and asks Paul ‘why don’t you go back with me’? Paul appeals to Caesar! Of course going to Rome was part of the plan. Now King Agrippa [another one of the many ruling authorities that Rome had over the people!] comes to Caesarea and Festus tells him about Paul. Agrippa will get a strong word in the next chapter. Also the Jews come down from Jerusalem and accuse Paul of many things. I want to make a note here. In the area of apologetics, which we do a lot of, you need to be careful that you don’t jump on the bandwagon of unfounded accusations. There are and have been real doctrinal heresies that needed to be dealt with, but some of the apologists really get personal. Even calling family members degrading names! In Paul’s case he had accusations that were not true. He does defend himself against the false ones, but also admitted that he believes in Christ’s resurrection and that this is considered heresy among certain Jews. Paul’s main message was Christ and the resurrection! As we get ready to close our study in a few more days, I want to recap the importance of seeing Jesus and his fulfillment of the Old Testament prophets as the main message of the Apostles. This early teaching by the Apostles needs to be the ‘tradition’ if you will, once again. We [believers] have a tendency to delve deeply into all sorts of stuff. Paul will warn his spiritual sons ‘don’t get lost in endless genealogies and debates about the law’ and Hebrews says ‘it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace, not with meats [legalistic doctrines] which have been unprofitable to those who have gone that route’. Now, you guys know I believe in correct doctrine, and Paul wasn’t advocating ‘no doctrine’. But it is easy to get lost in endless debates that lead to nowhere. Ultimately our goal is to present every man perfect in Christ. Paul will stick with this message all the way to Rome! (766) ACTS 26- Paul makes his case before Agrippa. Paul says that he is being accused of the hope that all the Jews are waiting for and serving God day and night to receive! It’s funny how all the religious requirements of the law and temple, the whole culture of Judaism. All the symbols that made up their heritage. All the times they would quote Moses or Abraham ‘we have Abraham as our father’ ‘we know God spoke to Moses’ all of these things were for THE SOLE PURPOSE of coming to a point in Jewish history where the Jews would receive their Messiah. Paul states ‘this actual hope and reason for our existence as a Jewish nation is the cause of contention that the Jewish leaders have against me’. What an amazing thing! Now once again Paul will state the basic Christian doctrine of Jesus and his resurrection ‘king Agrippa, why would it be so hard to believe that God can raise the dead’? Did you ever ponder this question? A few years ago you didn’t exist [30-50-70?] since you were born you have been taught that you exist because of certain natural means. You learned the process of birth, and some of you have actually had kids yourselves. During you life you have heard and learned about the universe, planets, the history of man. We have lived thru an industrial and technological revolution. We put men on the moon, we splice genes, we take men’s hearts out of their bodies and put pumps in there place! Plus all these things came from a point in time where there was no thing! Hebrews says God made every thing from nothing! Science actually does agree with this [read my section on Evolution] and after all this experience and knowledge you have attained in your very short life, yet if God were to say ‘I will raise the dead’ people say ‘now, how can you expect me to believe that?’ We do have pea brains at times! Paul also retells his conversion and says how Jesus told him he would be a witness of the historical events of Christ and his resurrection, but Jesus also said ‘and you will testify of the things I will reveal to you in the future’. Now we have to do some stuff. What were the things that Jesus was going to reveal to Paul in the future? We read these things in Paul’s letters. Basically the great reality of our sharing in the divine nature [actually this is Peter] our sonship. The great mystery of God making one new man out of Jew and Gentile. Truths concerning the ascension and the heavenly realities of redemption [Hebrews]. The point is the ‘future revelation’ of Jesus to Paul was not some knowledge outside of the boundaries already laid down in the gospels. The doctrine of the Apostles was already being taught thru out the book of Acts. God simply gave Paul greater insight and revelation into the truths that already existed. The Gnostics [early second century cult of Christianity- the word comes from the Greek term ‘Gnosis’- knowledge]. They taught a type of special knowledge that said the basic Christian who only has the historical truths of Jesus are at a lower level. Once you become a Gnostic, you then have special revelation that can’t be learned thru normal means. A popular Christian teaching comes close to this ‘revelation knowledge’. Many years ago I was a student of E.W. Kenyon and the word of faith movement. Brother Kenyon taught a type of mystical teaching that said God can reveal things to people outside of the 5 senses, and this is ‘revelation knowledge’. Can God do this? To a degree, yes. We actually read how Agabus gave Paul a prophecy about being bound at Jerusalem. Or Paul dreaming about a man in Macedonia asking for help. I see the reality of God being able to reveal things to us supernaturally as a gift of the prophetic. We are born of Gods Spirit and we do receive understanding from God as his Spiritual children. But yet Paul will write ‘study to show yourself approved’. So Jesus told Paul he was going to show him stuff in the future. Paul based his apostolic authority on this fact [Galatians 1-2]. He would say ‘the gospel I preach was not given to me by men, but God revealed it to me’ what gospel is Paul talking about? The gospel [good news] of the grace of God. Jesus revealed the more important stuff to Paul as time went on, Paul was seeing more and more grace! (767) ACTS 27- Paul heads to Rome! He sets sail under guard and has a few harrowing experiences. He warns the ships captain not to sail at one stop, the time of severe weather is at hand. They refuse to listen, they set sail and wind up almost dying. Paul gives them a classic ‘I told you so!’ and says ‘don’t worry, an angel from God appeared to me and told me your lives will be spared’ [poor Paul, when is he going to see that these prophetic experiences are ruining his ministry!] they all swim to shore after the ship gets stuck off shore. At one point while still stuck in the water Paul tells them ‘you guys have not eaten in 14 days, have some food’ he breaks bread, thanks God and invites them to eat. I really see this as a type of ‘Lords supper’ thing. I have showed you guys in the past that the early church practiced a type of ‘common meal’. They seemed to take Jesus words in John 6 [Paul in Corinthians too] to teach that ‘as oft as you do this’ [do what? As oft as you get together and eat a meal from this time forth, you will remember that your actual spiritual life is pictured by you eating and drinking for physical life. I am your daily bread of life. You live because I live!]The early believers seemed to take it in this ‘buffet style’ way. So Paul seems to be holding some type of ‘invitation Lords meal’ and saying come and dine! At the end of this chapter Paul’s life is spared by the favor he had with the centurion Julius. God gave him protection to complete the mission. Paul has been witnessing of Jesus to all these gentile [Roman] authorities and he will take it to Rome. Ultimately it will take 3 centuries before the whole kingdom [Roman Empire] will bow the knee, but Paul was the firebrand who set the match. (768) ACTS 28- After the shipwreck they wind up on an island called Melita. Paul meets the barbarous people and they welcome him. During a bon fire type thing, Paul is collecting wood and a poisonous snake bites him. The people think ‘surely this man is a murderer and ‘vengeance’ got him!’ Notice the fact that moral/natural law was imbedded in the consciences of these savage like people. Where in the world did they come up with such an idea of right and wrong and justice? The atheists say ‘well, all people simply come up with some type of code to live by. This is really not proof for moral law’. The Christian answers ‘so how come you never find some isolated tribe who rewards murder and punishes goodness’! Now, I realize there are distant tribes who practice violent stuff. The point is in all of these societies, there is a basic right and wrong that is honored. If the tribe is violent, they still don’t reward the cowardly killing of one of their own kids! These savages had the built in conscience of moral law that Paul teaches in Romans. Now after Paul doesn’t get sick or die from the bite, they ‘change their minds’ and say he is a god! People are fickle. Paul heals the father of the chief of the island, a small healing revival breaks out. Paul demonstrates the power of the gospel in word and deed. Even today, in many 3rd world countries you see healings and miraculous signs along with the preaching of the gospel. They launch off and land in a few more spots and finally make it to Rome! Paul calls the Jewish leaders and makes his familiar defense. He lists the accusations against him and defends himself. He thought the whole Jewish world knew about the gossip! The leaders tell him ‘we haven’t heard any stuff about you, but tell us more about this sect’. Leaders, don’t make the mistake of defending yourself over personal stuff from the pulpit! Often time’s people don’t know what you are talking about. Paul does set up a day and teaches the Jews in Rome from morning till evening showing them all the scriptures that testify of Jesus in the Law of Moses and the prophets. He ‘testified of the Kingdom of God and Christ’ [they go hand in hand!] Some Jews believe, others don’t. Paul then quotes the most quoted verse from the Old Testament in the New Testament ‘Isaiah was right about you! Having eyes you can’t see, ears you can’t hear…’ Luke ends the chapter [and book] with Paul living 2 years in a rented room and preaching the kingdom of God to all who will listen. Paul finished his days infecting the capitol city of the empire with the gospel! Church history tells us that Paul [and Peter] were martyred under Nero’s persecution. John [the apostle] writes about the beast making war against the saints and killing them. No wonder why the early church called Nero ‘the beast’. Paul writes one of his best letters to the Roman saints and the church will forever have an ‘eternal witness’ in the city of Rome. Paul got his wish. (769) ACTS CONCLUSION- As we finish our study in Acts, I want to review a few things. The ‘church’ [ecclesia] as seen in Acts are without a doubt ‘organic’ this term describes the community of people in the various locations who believed the message of the Messiah. These people were not establishing ‘church meetings at the church on Sunday’ to compete with the Jewish meetings at the synagogues on Saturday. The transition from the old law into the new covenant was not only one of a change in message [law versus grace] but also a transition from shadows to reality. All the ways of worship and ‘liturgical’ form were part of the old law. The temple and priest and altar were important types and symbols of what was to come. But in the New Testament communities these ideas of physical worship changed. The actual praise of Gods people and doing good deeds will become the sacrifices that God is well pleased with [New Testament]. The Lords meal was actually a meal! The gathering on the first day of the week became a good tradition in memory of Christ’s resurrection. But as time went on many well meaning believers would return to the symbols and incorporate them into their worship. The church would be seen as the ‘church house’ the altar would be seen as a real place upon which the ‘bloodless sacrifice’ [Eucharist] would be re offered again for the sins of the world. The priest would be seen as having special powers given to him by Jesus, that during the mass the host becomes Jesus flesh and blood and as the people ‘eat’ him they are partaking, literally, of Jesus flesh and blood. Now, are all these believers wrong? Should we see the development of sacramental theology as pagan? I personally don’t think so. I prefer to view the changes that took place in the church as part of a process of Gods people grappling with doctrines and beliefs while at the same time struggling to maintain unity as the centuries progressed [I am not making excuses for wrong doctrine, I think well meaning church fathers grasped wrong ideas out of a fear of loosing their identity. The idea of a strong magesterium [teaching authority] gave room for wrong doctrines to become firmly entrenched in the collective mind of the early church]. For the first 1000 years of Christianity the people of God were primarily seen as Catholic. In 1054 the official split between eastern and western Christianity will take place. Another 500 years until the Catholic Church split again [1517]. The host of churches that came out of the Protestant Reformation are too innumerable to mention. Should we view all of these groups as deceived religionists? Of course not. Do we find a pattern in Acts that would allow us to trace ‘the true group’ and lay claim to being the most authentic? I don’t believe so. But as all the people of God strive for the unity that we actually posses in Christ, we have the great resource of the church fathers, the wisdom and insights of the reformers. The heritage of the outgrowth of the restorationist movements. The excitement of the Puritans as they launched out to found a new world free from religious persecution. If it weren’t for the strong institutional church we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to have even had a Luther [Wittenberg] Calvin [first Paris then Geneva] or Zwingli [Zurich]! Or the ‘pre reformers’ Wycliffe, Huss and Knox. These men were products of Catholic higher learning! It was the reality of Catholic institutional Christianity that allowed for these men to be trumpets of truth in their day! The university cities that they taught in as Catholic priests allowed for their influence to spread far and wide. In each generation of believers you have had Gods people progress so far and leave us with great treasures that were intended to be passed on to future generations If we severe ourselves from historic Christianity, then we lose the great gains that have been made in the centuries gone by! The book of Acts shows us the freedom of the people of God. ‘Where 2 or more are together in my name, I am in the midst’ isn’t some description of ‘local church’. As in if we copy the formulas of what happened in Acts [break bread, prayer, etc.] then you ‘have a church’. Jesus promise to be with us when we are together is the act of brotherhood. Surely we saw Jesus going along with the people of God all thru out Acts. The Spirit of God that indwelt them in chapter 2 was the promise that he would be with them. He legitimized them! Not some institution [‘local church’] that they were to start! So today all the people of God are striving to find a closer identity with each other as fellow believers in the Lord. I believe the book of Acts gives us a beautiful picture of the church in her infancy stage. I also believe the growth seen as we read Paul’s letters to these churches indicates the heart of God for his people to remain in grace. Paul warns the churches to not fall into the legalism of observing days and regulations and legalistic requirements. He wants them to live simply, free from sin and to be the people of God in society. Some branches of Christianity took hold of the strong ‘we are pilgrims’ view [which is true to a degree] and would separate from society. Not realizing we are pilgrims and strangers to the worlds system, but our Father is God of heaven and earth! We are here to impact this planet! So let’s run with the exciting message and revolutionary mindset that the early church possessed. They weren’t in this thing for what they could get out of it, they were really laying their lives down for the gospel. They were sharing their stuff with each other. They were loving God and their fellow man in ways that were uncommon for their time. It wasn’t only what they said that allowed them to ‘turn their world upside down’ it was who they were, the People of God.

My 3 books

3 books I wrote years ago- -[BOOK] 'HOUSE OF PRAYER, OR DEN OF THIEVES' a critical look at the modern prosperity gospel. TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER 1 ‘YOU CANNOT SERVE GOD AND MAMMON’ CHAPTER 2 ‘TWISTING THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER’ CHAPTER 3 ‘WHAT IS THE ABRAHAMIC BLESSING ?’ CHAPTER 4 ‘WHAT DID JAMES SAY ?’ CHAPTER 5 ‘WHOSE MINISTRY, JESUS OR OURS ?’ CHAPTER 6 ‘1 TIMOTHY 6’ CHAPTER 7 ‘WERE JESUS AND THE DISCIPLES RICH ?’ CHAPTER 8 ‘COVENANT THEOLOGY’ CHAPTER 9 ‘SOWING INTO GOOD SOIL’ CHAPTER 10 ‘IS THERE HOPE FOR FALSE PROPHETS ?’ INTRODUCTION It all started a few years back when I was regularly listening to certain ministries who taught the prosperity gospel. Over the years I subscribed to a few of these ministry magazines and truly enjoyed their teaching, but every now and then while reading through the bible I would come across certain passages of scripture that seemed to contradict the themes of the prosperity movement. I also found it strange the way they interpreted certain passages of scripture, it was almost as if when they were done explaining them, that these passages meant the exact opposite of what they were plainly teaching. During this season of learning, while the Lord was dealing with me about these various doctrines, I would find myself at times saying 'something needs to be done about the extreme teaching coming from this camp'. I would also deal with some of the unbalanced teaching through the small avenues of influence I had through a local radio program and various speaking opportunities. I would even go through stages where I was so upset over some of the more extreme elements of this teaching, that I would avoid dealing with it at all because of the emotional baggage that comes with having to disagree with a brother in Christ. Then why write this book? Each time I would determine to drop the whole matter and never deal with this issue again, something would happen, or be said on Christian television or radio, or be written in a new book, that was so off base that I would ask the Lord again if He wanted me to do more in bringing about a more balanced view of biblical prosperity. The most recent incident was while watching Christian TV one night, the preacher who was speaking is a well-known prosperity preacher. Before he preached he invited another prosperity preacher to share a 'special' revelatory word the Lord had given him, as the preacher came to the pulpit he began to lead the people in a series of confessions/actions that he told the audience to imitate in order for them to experience breakthrough in their finances. As he stood on the stage he then went through the motions of pulling down an imaginary lever on a slot machine while confessing in a very loud voice the words 'MONEY COMING'. He did this three times while the audience followed. When they got to the last shout, the preacher emphasized the importance of this last shout, and as he led them in the pulling down of the lever they all shouted at the top of their lungs 'MONEY COMING TO ME' Well to say the least this was another one of those 'incidents' that caused me to ask the Lord if I should do more about such obvious abuse in the church. A few days later, while driving to work one morning, I remembered this incident and asked the Lord if he wanted me to write a book on this subject. Later on in the day during a lunch break, while reading through the bible during a regular devotional time, I just happened to be reading through the book of revelation, and when I came to revelation 1:19 where Jesus tells John to 'write the things which thou hast seen', it hit me like a ton of bricks. So here I am today, believing that this book will serve a definite purpose in the Body of Christ and cause us to return to a more balanced view of the 'things of this world'. CHAPTER 1 'YOU CANNOT SERVE GOD AND MAMMON' It has been said that the best way to spot a counterfeit is to know the real. So let’s begin with a biblical look at true prosperity. In the past, while trying to deal with this subject, I would often find people responding in defense of the prosperity gospel by saying things like 'oh, but you don't know how good the Lord is' or 'you don't know how much God wants to meet our needs' or, 'the bible doesn’t say money is evil, but the love of money'. To which I would reply 'AMEN', I agree with you. But the bible also gives us many warnings against materialism, seeking to be rich, and living for material things. So while trying to deal with the false prosperity gospel, I would like first of all to establish the truth that God is good, he does want to meet our needs and give us the desires of our heart, and yes, he even wants to bless us financially and materially. God promises not only 'heavenly' or 'spiritual' blessings, but also earthly or material blessings as well. If you go through the bible from Genesis to Revelation you will find instances of Gods people being rich, prosperous and blessed in every way. You will find many promises of Gods provisions for us, not only spiritual but also financial and material. There is no doubt that God can, and does bless His children in all areas of life if they are obedient to Him. We also know that there are many warnings in the N.T. against seeking to be rich, living for material wealth, and the like. So how do we harmonize these two truths? Let’s look at the overall purpose of God for his church. We are commissioned by Jesus to tell the whole world about His love for us, so we can make disciples of all nations. The message from our lips, [and hearts] is to overflow with who Jesus is and what He’s done for us. As a matter of fact, Jesus tells us that as we proclaim and talk about Him, and seek first His kingdom, that He will take care of all the other less important things. MATHEW 6:19-24 ' LAY NOT UP FOR YOURSELVES TREASURES UPON EARTH, WHERE MOTH AND RUST DOTH CORRUPT, AND WHERE THIEVES BREAK THROUGH AND STEAL: BUT LAY UP FOR YOURSELVES TREASURES IN HEAVEN, WHERE NIETHER MOTH NOR RUST DOTH CORRUPT, AND WHERE THIEVES DO NOT BREAK THROUGH AND STEAL: FOR WHERE YOUR TREASURE IS THERE WILL YOUR HEART BE ALSO........ NO MAN CAN SERVE TWO MASTERS: FOR EITHER HE WILL HATE THE ONE, AND LOVE THE OTHER; OR ELSE HE WILL HOLD TO THE ONE AND DESPISE THE OTHER. YOU CANNOT SERVE GOD AND MAMMON. THEREFORE I SAY UNTO YOU, TAKE NO THOUGHT FOR YOUR LIFE, WHAT YE SHALL EAT, OR WHAT YE SHALL DRINK; NOR YET FOR YOUR BODY, WHAT YE SHALL PUT ON. IS NOT THE LIFE MORE THAN MEAT, AND THE BODY MORE THAN RAIMENT? BEHOLD THE FOWLS OF THE AIR: FOR THEY SOW NOT, NIETHER DO THEY REAP, NOR GATHER INTO BARNS; YET YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER FEEDETH THEM. ARE YE NOT MUCH BETTER THAN THEY? ...... THEREFORE TAKE NO THOUGHT, SAYING WHAT SHALL WE EAT? OR, WHAT SHALL WE DRINK? OR, WHEREWITHALL SHALL WE BE CLOTHED? [FOR AFTER ALL THESE THINGS DO THE GENTILES SEEK;] FOR YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER KHNOWETH THAT YE HAVE NEED OF ALL THESE THINGS. BUT SEEK YE FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS; AND ALL THES THINGS SHALL BE ADDED UNTO YOU. TAKE THEREFORE NO THOUGHT FOR THE MORROW: FOR THE MORROW SHALL TAKE THOUGHT FOR THE THINGS OF ITSELF. SUFFICIENT UNTO THE DAY IS THE EVIL THEREOF' Jesus is making a distinction between material things and the kingdom of God. He is saying if we seek first His kingdom, then all these material needs will be met. If the kingdom is about material things, then Jesus contradicted himself. The plain meaning and thought of this passage is that if we put God first, He will take care of us. Now say if the disciples took this to mean that the primary message of the gospel was 'God will add all these things unto you'. And say if they went around teaching all nations to quote 'all these things shall be added unto you'. And then all over Jerusalem and Judaea and unto the uttermost parts of the earth they had people quoting 'all these things shall be added unto you'. And after a lifetime of ministry they taught the people how God would give them things if they kept quoting and meditating on the passages of scripture that speak about material wealth. What do you suppose Jesus would say when He comes back? First of all the plain teaching of Jesus in this passage is to get their focus [meditation, confession] off of material things. He plainly says that the 'gentiles seek these things', and that the disciples are not to be thinking about these things all the time like the gentiles. He tells us to focus on the kingdom as opposed to focusing on material things. He tells us that as we go forth by faith to proclaim his gospel, that he in turn will meet our needs. After all, the disciples left their jobs in order to follow Christ, and he was reassuring them that they would be taken care of materially if they forsook all to follow him. I find it troubling that some teachers use this very passage in order to justify materialism, while the plain meaning of Jesus words are the opposite. Jesus says you cannot serve God and money. So we must take our minds and thoughts and meditations and focus them on God, not worldly things! So true prosperity can be defined as God meeting all the needs of his children as they proclaim him in all nations. True prosperity is God meeting our needs while our focus is on him [not on our needs being met!]. True prosperity is being able to preach the word of God without a covetous motive [1 PETER:5:2]. I should make note that there are some who teach that this passage of scripture [MATT. 6:19-24] actually teaches that we have a bank account in heaven with real money credited to our account! And every time we sow [give into] the kingdom of God, that we are actually building a fund in this account. And that by faith you can claim a withdrawal on your account and receive your financial harvest now. But if this is what Jesus was teaching then the entire passage is twisted into turning our attention towards money once again! Jesus plainly warned us against focusing our thoughts on the material things in life, he told us not to be like the unbelievers who have all their possessions in this life only. Jesus told us to build up treasures in heaven, which meant a life lived for eternal purposes as opposed to temporary rewards. I believe that if we get our priorities right, that God will meet our needs, and we will be so excited about God and his kingdom that we wont even have time to think about serving mammon! CHAPTER 2 'TWISTING THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER' While a new Christian, enjoying that early honeymoon period with the Lord, I’ll never forget the joy I experienced while learning the bible for the first time. The clarity, pureness and unity of scripture were a sure foundation for a long road ahead. While working as a house painter and listening to Christian radio all day long, it was an early introduction to the various 'streams' of teaching that were being produced in the church. One day my job foreman, who often heard me listening to Christian radio, thought I would enjoy listening to a new tape series that he had just been given. So I popped the cassettes into my radio and listened with the excitement of a new believer in Christ. The cassettes were a new teaching on the parable of the sower. MATTHEW 13:1-9, 18-23 ' THE SAME DAY WENT JESUS OUT OF THE HOUSE, AND SAT BY THE SEASIDE. AND GREAT MULTITUDES WERE GATHERED TOGETHER UNTO HIM, SO THAT HE WENT INTO A SHIP, AND SAT; AND THE WHOLE MULTITUDE STOOD ON THE SHORE. AND HE SPAKE MANY THINGS UNTO THEM IN PARABLES, SAYING, BEHOLD, A SOWER WENT FORTH TO SOW; AND WHEN HE SOWED, SOME SEEDS FELL BY THE WAY SIDE, AND THE FOWLS CAME AND DEVOURED THEM UP: SOME FELL UPON STONY PLACES, WHERE THEY HAD NOT MUCH EARTH: AND FORTHWITH THEY SPRUNG UP, BECAUSE THEY HAD NO DEEPNESS OF EARTH: AND WHEN THE SUN WAS UP THEY WERE SCORCHED; AND BECAUSE THEY HAD NO ROOT THEY WITHERED AWAY. AND SOME FELL AMONG THORNS; AND THE THORNS SPRUNG UP, AND CHOKED THEM; BUT OTHER FELL INTO GOOD GROUND, AND BROUGHT FORTH FRUIT, SOME AN HUNDREDFOLD, SOME SIXTYFOLD, SOME THIRTYFOLD. WHO HATH EARS TO HEAR LET HIM HEAR.........HEAR YE THEREFORE THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER. WHEN ANYONE HEARETH THE WORD OF THE KINGDOM, AND UNDERSTANDETH IT NOT, THEN COMETH THE WICKED ONE, AND CATCHETH AWAY THAT WHICH WAS SOWN IN HIS HEART. THIS IS HE WHICH RECIEVED SEED BY THE WAYSIDE. BUT HE THAT RECIEVED THE SEED INTO STONY PLACES, THE SAME IS HE THAT HEARETH THE WORD, AND ANON WITH JOY RECIEVETH IT; YET HATH HE NOT ROOT IN HIMSELF, BUT DURETH FOR A WHILE: FOR WHEN TRIBULATION OR PERSECUTION ARISETH BECAUSE OF THE WORD, BY AND BY HE IS OFFENDED. HE ALSO THAT RECIEVED SEED AMONG THE THORNS IS HE THAT HEARETH THE WORD; AND THE CARE OF THIS WORLD, AND THE DECEITFULLNESS OF RICHES, CHOKE THE WORD AND HE BECOMETH UNFRUITFULL. BUT HE THAT RECIEVED SEED INTO GOOD GROUND IS HE THAT HEARETH THE WORD, AND UNDERSTANDETH IT; WHICH ALSO BEARETH FRUIT, AND BRINGETH FORTH, SOME AN HUNDREDFOLD SOME SIXTY SND SOME THIRTY'. As the teacher taught through the parable he explained how Jesus was teaching us how to plant [sow] the word [scriptures] in our hearts [through confession, meditation, etc.] in order to receive a thirty, sixty, or hundredfold return. He then applied the entire teaching to reaping an hundredfold return of MONEY! He taught how that at each stage of the parable the devil tries to steal the word so we don’t receive our harvest. He then got to the part where Jesus says 'THE DECIETFULLNESS OF RICHES CHOKE THE WORD', I couldn’t understand how Jesus could be teaching us about reaping a financial harvest, and then say this! It almost seemed like a contradiction. Well the teacher then began to sound uncomfortable as he explained how the deceitfulness of riches was actually that old traditional teaching that says you cant be rich [or something to that effect]! Even as a new believer in Christ I just couldn’t accept this explanation, it was almost as if the teacher was trying to make Jesus words say the opposite of what he meant. The basic plain meaning of the parable is self-explanatory. There are always obstacles and enemies of the gospel. Ultimately those who overcome these obstacles will bear good Christian fruit in varying degrees [30,60 or 100 fold]. The various hindrances to the word of God include the 'cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches'. If you want to produce fruit for God you cant get caught up in the materialistic pursuits of the world [2 TIMOTHY 2:4]. Many times in connection with this parable is the doctrine of sowing for a harvest taught. Jesus often uses planting [sowing] and harvesting [reaping] illustrations in his teachings. The main focus is usually dealing with the spreading of the kingdom of God and the message of Christ to the nations. Sometimes the seed refers to believers themselves, and other times the actual message preached [MATT. 13: 20,38]. Sowing and reaping also refer to the works we do, as well as the money we give into the kingdom [1COR. 9:11, GAL. 6:8]. While there are many ways you can apply sowing for a harvest, I find it disturbing that some in the church have focused the entire teaching towards financial and material gain. This type of preoccupation with money is in direct opposition to the warning that Jesus gave in this parable, he told us that the deceitfulness of riches could derail us from being fruitful, and the distorted teaching that applies this entire parable to money is in itself a fulfillment of the warning that 'the deceitfulness of riches' can deceive you, because it denies the very warning of Christ and makes him say something that he never said! CHAPTER 3 'WHAT IS THE ABRAHAMIC BLESSING' I must admit that out of all the various portions of scripture used to teach a false prosperity gospel, this is one of the most deceptive. In order for us to fully grasp the concept of the abrahamic blessing, we must do a little history. In GALATIANS 3, the apostle Paul makes one of the greatest N.T. arguments for justification by faith versus law. I personally believe this doctrine to be one of the foundational doctrines in the N.T. The heresy that Paul is fighting against in Galatians is the heresy of legalism that was taught by the judiazers. The judiazers were the Jewish/Christian sect that taught that gentile believers needed to be circumcised and brought under the law in order to be saved. The main argument that Paul uses to refute this doctrine is in Galatians 3. In this chapter we find Paul going back to the O.T. books in order to show that God established, by covenant, the basis of justifying man by faith without the deeds of the law. The main argument Paul uses is 'the abrahamic blessing'. Paul traces Gods promise to Abraham, made before the law was given, where God says 'in thee shall all nations be blessed' [GEN. 12:3, GAL. 3:8]. This meaning that God would bless [save] all nations through the promised child of Abraham [which would eventually be Jesus]. Paul’s point is to show that God already promised to bless all people through Abraham’s offspring [the abrahamic blessing], and not through the law. The abrahamic blessing referring to justifying the world by faith and giving us 'the promise of the Spirit by faith' [GALATIANS 3:8-14], this argument is also used in Romans 4. Now here comes the tricky part, some teach that God covenants to make us rich trough the abrahamic blessing [or covenant]. They use this chapter to teach that Christ died so we can receive the abrahamic blessing. They then define the abrahamic blessing as the 'things' that Abraham had. But once again the abrahamic blessing as defined in Galatians 3 is referring to God justifying us by faith as opposed to the law. Paul was in no way teaching the Galatians that God was going to make them rich! He was battling for their very souls! The plain text of this passage shows us that Paul was dealing with the issue of justification, and not finances. And it would make absolutely no sense for Paul to begin to address money issues in the middle of this chapter. Each time I came across this type of distorted interpretation, I honestly couldn’t understand how so many different teachers could so consistently apply the same passage in the wrong way. It almost reminds me of the O.T. passage that speaks of a conspiracy of the prophets [EZEK. 22:25]. A sort of network of false/distorted interpretations of the scripture that exist among certain groups of believers, and these same false opinions are then propagated again and again until after you hear them long enough they seem to become accepted truth in the church at large. We need to re-examine some of these doctrines and receive correction and make the proper adjustments in our thinking and acting [repentance!], so we don’t continue to spread these false opinions in the church. CHAPTER 4 'WHAT DID JAMES SAY' One of the strongest books in the N.T. dealing with poverty and riches is the book of James. Simply reading this book in context would give the modern prosperity gospel a strong rebuke! James contrasts both rich and poor, he says that God has chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom of God. The context also implies that these poor Christians will remain poor in this life! [JAMES 2:5] The prosperity message teaches that if you have faith in God that you will not be poor. It’s obvious that both James and the prosperity teachers of today have a difference of opinion! Lets look at exactly what the word of God says; JAMES 2:1-6 'MY BRETHREN, HAVE NOT THE FAITH OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, THE LORD OF GLORY, WITH RESPECT OF PERSONS. FOR IF THERE COME UNTO YOUR ASSEMBLY A MAN WITH A GOLD RING, IN GOODLY APPAREL, AND THERE COME IN ALSO A POOR MAN IN VILE RAIMENT; AND YE HAVE RESPECT TO HIM THAT WEARETH THE GAY CLOTHING, AND SAY UNTO HIM, SIT THOU HERE IN A GOOD PLACE; AND SAY TO THE POOR, STAND THOU HERE OR SIT HERE UNDER MY FOOTSTOOL: ARE YE NOT THEN PARTIAL IN YOURSELVES AND BECOME JUDGES OF EVIL THOUGHTS? HEARKEN, MY BELOVED BRETHREN, HATH NOT GOD CHOSEN THE POOR OF THIS WORLD RICH IN FAITH, AND HEIRS OF THE KINGDOM WHICH HE HATH PROMISED TO THEM THAT LOVE HIM? BUT YE HAVE DESPISED THE POOR. DO NOT RICH MEN OPPRESS YOU, AND DRAW YOU BEFORE THE JUDGMENT SEATS? How were they despising the poor and being prejudiced in their thoughts? They were treating poor people with contempt while showing honor to the rich. This is exactly what we do in the church, by teaching that poor Christians have little, or no faith, we unconsciously treat them with contempt. We teach that the poor are under a curse and are therefore not living up to all their benefits in Christ. We actually set up a cast system in the church. James says the poor have great faith! He doesn’t portray them as having small faith. He warns the rich not to trust in uncertain riches. The bible flatly teaches that financial abundance is not a measure of ones faith! We must stop teaching that if you would simply believe God you would have an abundance of money. This is not true in every case. Sometimes the abundant supply from God is the grace and patience that he gives to the believer in the face of severe trials or lack. The N.T. clearly teaches that there are believers with lots of faith who are poor! You can't deny the plain word of God. We should not suppose that a lack of financial abundance is a sign of weak faith! Now to one of the most recent 'new revelations' that is being taught in the church. I first heard this from a very respected soul-winning evangelist. I then heard it taught from a variety of other teachers. As of this writing it seems to be accepted 'truth' in certain circles. Lets read JAMES 5:1-6 'GO TO NOW, YE RICH MEN, WEEP AND HOWL FOR YOUR MISERIES THAT SHALL COME UPON YOU. YOUR RICHES ARE CORRUPTED, AND YOUR GARMENTS ARE MOTHEATEN. YOUR GOLD AND SILVER IS CANKERED; AND THE RUST OF THEM SHALL BE A WITNESS AGAINST YOU, AND SHALL EAT YOUR FLESH AS IT WERE FIRE. YE HAVE HEAPED TREASURE TOGETHER FOR THE LAST DAYS. BEHOLD, THE HIRE OF THE LABOURERS WHO HAVE REAPED DOWN YOUR FIELDS, WHICH IS OF YOU KEPT BACK BY FRAUD, CRIETH: AND THE CRIES OF THEM WHICH HAVE REAPED ARE ENTERED INTO THE EARS OF THE LORD OF SABAOTH. YE HAVE LIVED IN PLEASURE ON THE EARTH, AND BEEN WANTON; YE HAVE NOURISHED YOUR HEARTS, AS IN A DAY OF SLAUGHTER. YE HAVE CONDEMNED AND KILLED THE JUST; AND HE DOTH NOT RESIST YOU. The first time I heard this 'new' truth, the preacher said that this passage was dealing with the end-time transfer of wealth from the rich to the poor. It was explained that in verse 3 'YE HAVE HEAPED TREASURE TOGETHER FOR THE LAST DAYS’ meant that the rich gathered together their wealth so it could be given to the church in the last days. While I have no problem with the idea of the world’s wealth being used for kingdom purposes, I do have a problem with distorting the word of God to prove our points! A simple reading of James 5:1-6 shows us that the reason the rich are being reproved is because they spent their lives building up financial fortunes without being rich toward God [LUKE 12:16-21]. This scripture also plainly says what is going to happen to their wealth. Is it going to be 'transferred' to us? Is it going to be given to the Christians in the last days? Is it going to be used at all? NO! It is going to canker, rust and corrupt! It is going to be destroyed! It will be of no help at all in the day of judgment [PRVB. 11:4]. It will be a witness against them for living covetous lives. The entire theme of James follows this line of thought. To read all the other things that James says about the rich and poor in this epistle, for us to then interpret this passage and say that James was now teaching the Christians that they would become rich through the end-time transfer of wealth, is ridiculous. Once again the plain meaning of scripture is being distorted in order to make it say the complete opposite of what it means. One more thing before we leave James. The early Christian community did not equate poverty with being under a curse. They did not equate poverty with sin. There are many rebukes in the N.T. against sin in the church, but the poor in the church were praised, not rebuked! The very mindset of looking upon the poor as a lower class permeates this teaching. If the poor are cursed, not living up to their inheritance, don’t know how to apply faith principles or simply don’t know/believe the word concerning prosperity, then in essence we are despising the poor through our belief system. The N.T. plainly teaches that it is okay to be poor! We need to heed the warning from this N.T. epistle and stop despising the poor! CHAPTER 5 'WHOSE MINISTRY, JESUS OR OURS?' I'll never forget the time I was watching 'Christian' TV and saw a preacher holding up his Rolex watch and then teaching the people that this was an example of his faith in action! He then went on to explain that when we use our faith to obtain things, we can then show these things to people as a witness of our faith. If this is what it means to go witnessing for Christ, I think most people would be standing in line to sign up! Over the years I have heard it taught that the only way the world would be saved is if the church becomes extremely rich financially so she could send the gospel to the world. That the world would see our extreme wealth and would ask 'where did you get all that money?' and we would then say 'from God', and the lost would then want what we have and get saved! Convenient isn’t it. But is this a biblical picture of the N.T. church and her witness in the earth? In order to answer this question, we need first to look at what the N.T. church is. The church consists of communities of believers scattered throughout the world. All over planet earth, right now, there are believers thriving and testifying of Gods grace in all types of circumstances and situations. The community of believers that Jesus launched 2 thousand years ago is still going strong. She answers to no man or human govt. She has outlasted empires, persecutions, false religions and every other conceivable attack that can be imagined. The prophecy of Jesus has been fulfilled ‘THE GATES OF HELL SHALL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST HER’ [MATT. 16:18]. As of today there has been no other single institution upon earth that has had more influence in the history of the world than the church! Now, if the church truly consists of believers [seeds], planted [sown] all over the world under the lordship of Christ, with various giftings [Apostles, Prophets, etc.] operating under the administration of the Holy Spirit, this ministry [the kingdom of God] already has the potential of a worldwide witness to all nations. As a matter of fact this worldwide gospel of Christ has been prevailing magnificently throughout the generations. This wonderful kingdom, under Christ’s rule, has been active. It has been supernaturally deploying ministers from day one [ACTS 13]. It has even witnessed for Jesus Christ when its main ministers were broke! [ACTS 3:6]. The witness of the gospel has done extremely well throughout the centuries and will continue to do so, whether or not we all become rich! The reason I say this is because there is a mindset in the church [American mostly] that equates the witness of the gospel with the success of American charismatic entrepreneurial ministries. We have been deluded into believing that unless we all become rich, we will never be able to reach the world. The overall success of the kingdom of God has never been dependent on any budget of any ministry past or present! Most of the modern day proponents of the prosperity gospel usually head up American ministry organizations and equate the sowing of seed [finances], with giving money to help support their organizations. They then sincerely believe that unless their organization makes more and more money, they will never be able to fulfill the great commission of reaching the world. The N.T. clearly teaches the principles of our witness for Christ, and the focus has never been extreme wealth. But on sacrificial living, loving each other unconditionally, a sharing caring community of people who are known for good deeds of charity. In the book of acts the early church had a powerful witness, and they weren’t rich financially, yet they did reach their world for Christ. How? Through great sacrificial living, through miraculous signs and wonders, through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and through a bold proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not one sermon in the book of acts focused on anything else than Jesus Christ and his great work for us. Their hearts and lips flowed with the message of Christ, not money! I find it troubling that many of the ministries who teach the prosperity gospel usually do receive extreme amounts of money, not to proclaim the message of Jesus [speaking about him], but to simply propagate a money making gospel! You can tune into some of these ministries and find them talking about money all the time. What if a lost person tuned in? Would he hear about Jesus or money? What about when Jesus said out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks? [MATT. 12:34]. If someone is always talking about money where is his heart, what’s his treasure? We need to shift our focus back to the pure N.T. message of Christ, and understand that his gospel is the power of God unto salvation! Jesus said the world would be saved when the truth is preached in all nations by a united church, not when we all become millionaires so we can finance our own ministries! CHAPTER 6 '1 TIMOTHY 6' I have often heard it said 'if you’re happy with just enough money to get by, you’re selfish and living in sin, you need to believe God and have faith for increased wealth so you can finance the gospel'. Is this a biblical concept? Should we teach people that being content with what you have is a sin? Lets look at the word of God HEBREWS 13:5-6 'LET YOUR CONVERSATION BE WITHOUT COVEOUSNESS; AND BE CONTENT WITH SUCH THINGS AS YE HAVE: FOR HE HATH SAID, I WILL NEVER LEAVE THEE, OR FORSAKE THEE. SO THAT WE MAY BOLDLY SAY, THE LORD IS MY HELPER, AND I WILL NOT FEAR WHAT MAN SHALL DO UNTO ME. This scripture plainly teaches us to be content with what we have! I even heard a prosperity preacher teach that this means to be happy with what you have now, while using your faith to obtain more. WHAT! When will we stop distorting the plain meaning of scripture? 1 TIMOTHY 6:1-12,17-19 'LET AS MANY SERVANTS WHO ARE UNDER THE YOKE COUNT THIER OWN MASTERS WORTHY OF ALL HONOUR, THAT THE NAME OF GOD AND HIS DOCTRINE BE NOT BLASPHEMED....... IF ANY MAN TEACH OTHERWISE, AND CONSENT NOT TO WHOLESOME WORDS, EVEN THE WORDS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND TO THE DOCTRINE WHICH IS ACCORDING TO GODLINESS; HE IS PROUD KNOWING NOTHING, BUT DOTING ABOUT QUESTIONS AND STRIFES OF WORDS, WHEREOF COMETH ENVY, STRIFE, RAILINGS, EVIL SURMISINGS, PERVERSE DISPUTINGS OF MEN OF CORRUPT MINDS, AND DESTITUTE OF THE TRUTH, SUPPOSING THAT GAIN IS GODLINESS: FROM SUCH WITHDRAW THYSELF. BUT GODLINESS WITH CONTENTMENT IS GREAT GAIN. FOR WE BROUGHT NOTHING INTO THE WORLD, AND IT IS CERTAIN WE CAN CARRY NOTHING OUT. AND HAVING FOOD AND RAIMENT LET US BE THEREWITH CONTENT. BUT THEY THAT WILL BE RICH FALL INTO TEMPTATION AND A SNARE, AND INTO MANY FOOLISH AND HURTFUL LUSTS, WHICH DROWN MEN IN DESTRUCTION AND PERDITION. FOR THE LOVE OF MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL: WHICH WHILE SOME COVETED AFTER, THEY HAVE ERRED FROM THE FAITH, AND PIERCED THEMSELVES THROUGH WITH MANY SORROWS. BUT THOU O MAN OF GOD FLEE THESE THINGS.........CHARGE THEM THAT ARE RICH IN THIS WORLD, THAT THEY BE NOT HIGHMINDED, NOR TRUST IN UNCERTAIN RICHES, BUT IN THE LIVING GOD, WHO GIVETH US RICHLY ALL THINGS TO ENJOY; THAT THEY DO GOOD, THAT THEY BE RICH IN GOOD WORKS, READY TO DISTRIBUTE, WILLING TO COMMUNICATE; LAYING UP IN STORE FOR THEMSELVES A GOOD FOUNDATION AGAINST THE TIME TO COME, THAT THEY MAY LAY HOLD ON ETERNAL LIFE. Paul is clearly teaching the concept of 'you came into this world with nothing, you cant take it with you when you die, so be content with what you have'. I have heard prosperity preachers say that this type of mindset is a religious spirit, and has no foundation in the word of God. This passage of scripture teaches plainly against the mindset of the prosperity gospel. The entire theme and thought of the apostle goes 100 percent against the grain of the prosperity movement. Paul clearly says that some will equate gain with godliness, if he is not dealing with the distortions of the modern prosperity movement, then who is he speaking about? He says that some will equate godly living with financial gain, or they will teach if you’re godly you will gain much money. This is exactly what the modern prosperity movement teaches! He says that those who want to become rich will fall into many foolish and hurtful lusts. The craving [coveting] to become rich can either be through confessing scripture, through meditating on abundance, through the sowing of seed into good soil or any other means imaginable. The scripture simply says that if the acquiring of money, for whatever purpose [even godly purposes], has become your goal, then your motivation is wrong and you have been sidetracked. Now the 'love of money' verse. 1 TIMOTHY 6:10 'FOR THE LOVE OF MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL: WHICH WHILE SOME COVETED AFTER, THEY HAVE ERRED FROM THE FAITH, AND PIERCED THEMSELVES THROUGH WITH MANY SORROWS'. I have heard it said 'brother, this says the love of money, not money' and then the preacher will go right past the warning and talk all about money, not even giving a second thought to the warning! These passages, read in their entirety, give a powerful rebuke against the prosperity movement. They teach us to' be content with what we have,' they tell us' don’t desire to be rich', they plainly state that the pursuit of material wealth will sidetrack you, and they even state that 'you came into the world with nothing, when you die you cant take it with you, so be happy with what you have!' I would exhort any person who is having difficulty breaking away from this movement to read 1 timothy 6 every day for a year and allow your mind to be renewed to the word of God! One more thing before we leave this chapter, in verse 12 Paul exhorts Timothy to 'lay hold on eternal life'. He says this in the context of comparing eternal life against materialistic living. He is saying in essence 'live for eternal things, not temporary rewards [or money!]'. I just finished watching a minister on T.V. spend 30 minutes explaining how the eternal life that Paul is referring to deals with the abundance of God in the area of finances. He flatly said that Paul was teaching us to lay hold of an abundance of money! This type of extreme distorting of scripture actually takes the warnings in the word of God that speak against materialism and turns them around to teach the exact opposite! When our own interpretations of scripture go against the plain flow of the text of scripture, then we have usurped the word of God in order to teach our own traditions! CHAPTER 7 'WERE JESUS AND THE DISCIPLES RICH?' One day while listening to a preacher trying to prove that Jesus and the disciples were extremely wealthy, he used the common ‘proof texts’ to prove his point. He then went on to explain that religious tradition portrayed Jesus and the disciples as being poor [or average], and that the word of God teaches us that they were really rich. He also explained how important it was for us to know this 'truth', because if Jesus and the disciples were rich, and Jesus wants us to be like him, then we are in disobedience if we are not striving to become wealthy! A simple plain reading of the N.T. portrays Jesus as someone who came with a radical message of forsaking all to follow him. He often approached people who were in business [fishermen], or were rich, and challenged them to leave all and follow him. He would reassure these followers if they forsook all for his cause and the gospel, that they would be taken care of. This same type of radical call continued into the book of acts, where the early followers of Jesus also told the people that to be a follower of Christ they had to forsake all to follow him. If you look at the overall picture [not the prooftexts!], you see the early Christian community as a people who forsook all for the gospel. You find them living and sharing as a corporate community who took care of each-others needs [ACTS 2:44-47]. You find those who were wealthy [not all of the church, but certain individuals, ACTS 4:32-37] sharing their wealth for the needs of the Christian community. You can even trace the ministries of some of the early apostles and still find them many years later proclaiming Christ through much suffering and persecution. Not only does the N.T. portray the early Christian community in this light, but also church history confirms it. You find the apostles still learning to deal with financial lack many years later well into their ministries [PHIL 4:11-12, 2 COR. 11:27]. You see a beautiful picture of a people willing to suffer for the cause of Christ cheerfully. You also see a gracious Lord who met all their needs according to his abundant grace. You find stories where the material needs of people were supernaturally met [not by extreme wealth, but by Gods miraculous intervention [MATT. 14:17-19, 15:34-36]. Now what about the promise Jesus made to Peter in MARK 10:28-31 'THEN PETER BEGAN TO SAY UNTO HIM, LO, WE HAVE LEFT ALL, AND HAVE FOLLOWED THEE. AND JESUS ANSWERED AND SAID, VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU, THERE IS NO MAN THAT HATH LEFT HOUSE, OR BRETHREN, OR SISTERS, OR FATHER, OR MOTHER, OR WIFE, OR CHILDREN, OR LANDS, FOR MY SAKE AND THE GOSPELS, BUT HE SHALL RECIEVE AN HUNDREDFOLD NOW IN THIS TIME, HOUSES, AND BRETHREN, AND SISTERS, AND MOTHERS, AND CHILDREN, AND LANDS, WITH PERSECUTIONS; AND IN THE WORLD TO COME ETERNAL LIFE. Did Peter personally posses [inherit] more houses, lands, sisters and mothers? How was this promise fulfilled in Peter’s life? In the book of acts Peter became a part of the 'Christian family' who had all things common, they shared everything and had no lack [ACTS 4:32-34, 2:44-47]. They had no lack because of their membership in the family of God. The fulfilling of the law of love in their sharing of material things was the fulfillment of Jesus promise to Peter, not making him financially rich! Look at all the apostolic ministries in the book of acts. Wherever they went, whatever city they ministered in, their needs were always met. Why? Because when they became part of the Christian community, the homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, lands and all the other resources were SHARED by all the believers. They ministered to each other’s needs, they supported one another, they truly fulfilled the law of love by bearing one another’s burdens! This picture of Jesus and the apostles as extremely rich 20th century American evangelists who headed up big budget ministries is absolutely no where to be found in the plain reading of the N.T.! I just don’t find Jesus and the disciples as rich evangelists going into the world with extreme wealth, while at the same time telling rich people to sell all they have to come follow him! [MATT. 19:23-24,LK. 1:53, 6:24, 16:19-31, 18:18-25] CHAPTER 8 'COVENANT THEOLOGY' The early settlers [pilgrims] of our nation came by faith in God, believing their new nation to be a promised land of freedom that the Lord had given to them. One of the descriptions of the 'belief system' of these puritans is called covenant theology. They saw themselves as 'new covenant' people who were inheriting a promised land, much like the old covenant people [Israel] inherited their promised land. They claimed and believed the many O.T. promises of God concerning the inheriting of nations. They took God at his word, and it worked! In a sense all believers are covenant theologians, whether they realize it or not. It is through our covenant with God [the blood of Jesus], that we are made right with God [justified], have forgiveness of sins and are made children of God. As a matter of fact, everything that God does for us, or that 'we do for him', is based upon the bedrock foundation of the covenant of the blood of Jesus Christ. Now, it has been taught because of our covenant with Christ, we can go through the bible and find all the promises that are good and by faith hold God to his word and 'cause the things that are not seen [not manifested] to become seen [manifested]', or to put it simple, to get the things that God has promised us by putting our faith into action. I believe this principle is both scriptural and profitable. But the covenant cuts both ways. When people enter into covenant, the 2 parties have complete access to each-others rights and privileges. There are times were the Lord will require of the believer all that he has [leave your nets and follow me mentality]. There are even times where the Lord called people to lay down their lives in martyrdom in order to receive a better resurrection [HEB 11:35, ACTS 7]. As a matter of fact there are many examples of people of faith who have endured great sufferings even though they had great faith [HEB. 11]. So what does it mean to be a covenant believer? It not only implies going throughout the bible and claiming all the good promises and quoting them by faith [sowing], it also carries with it the meaning of laying down all that we have [in this world] for the cause of Christ [HEB. 10:34]. While the early puritans did claim and receive the promises of God by faith concerning their 'promised land', they also endured tremendous suffering and loss [many died in their pursuit!] in order to obtain a noble goal. The N.T. commands us not only to believe and teach the good parts [or the parts we like the most!], but also to heed the warnings [LUKE 12:15, ACTS 20:27]. If we reduce covenant theology to a belief system that only reads and quotes the 'good' promises, but never heeds the warnings, then we are failing to proclaim the full gospel and are presenting a distorted view of the Christian life [ACTS 14:22]. A simple overview of the N.T. shows us how the principles of the N.T. are supposed to work. For example, you never find Jesus or the disciples going around quoting the money verses in order to receive a harvest! As a matter of fact, if we teach people to 'quote, meditate, memorize and only think on the money scriptures', we would be doing the exact opposite of what Jesus said in MATT. 6:31-34. He specifically told us to take no thought [meditate, focus our minds, etc.] of what we shall eat, drink or wear [material things], the whole point of this passage was to teach the Christian NOT to focus on these things! You also never find any of the suffering Christians acting like they 'fell short' of their covenant rights. Instead they counted it a privilege to suffer for his names sake [ACTS 5:41]. The entire flow of the N.T. goes contrary to the 'picture painted' by unbalanced prosperity preaching. The focus of the N.T. was Gods advancing kingdom throughout the nations! Their own lives and the things they could get to make themselves more comfortable ran 100% contrary to the fulfilling of their mission [2 TIM. 4:10, 1 JOHN 2:15]. A simple plain reading of the N.T. in context teaches us that the character of N.T. Christianity is one of self-sacrificial living, not a 'get all you can by faith' mentality. CHAPTER 9 'SOWING INTO GOOD SOIL' A simple reading of the N.T. gives us a broad picture of the life of the believer, which includes giving and receiving, Gods promises of funding the work of the ministry, the Christian concept of charity, and a basic overall view of finances and the kingdom of God. One of the most basic reasons of giving money in the N.T. is to share what we have with those who are less fortunate [JAMES 2:15-16, 1 JOHN 3:17]. As a matter of fact Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of his day for their willingness to tithe to the temple while neglecting to use their finances to meet the needs of people in need [MARK 7:6-13]. One of the most recognized passages of scripture used to describe the character of Christ is found in Luke 10:30-37, an example of someone ministering to the needs of ‘the down and out’. Even in the book of acts the main focus on giving was to meet the needs of people [ACTS 2:44-46, 4:32-37, 6:1]. The very scripture that we use to exhort saints to put in their offerings on ‘Sunday’, is really speaking about a collection being taken to meet the needs of the ‘poor saints’ who lived in Jerusalem [1COR. 16:1-3]. This basic Christian principle of charity is a well-established Christian doctrine that most people would agree with, except for certain teachers in the prosperity movement! I remember listening to a certain teacher actually teach that in order to receive a good financial harvest, you must plant your seed [money] into good soil. He then went on to teach that good soil meant ministries, or individuals, who taught prosperity and were financially rich! He even implied that giving to prosperity ministries would make you rich, while giving to ‘poverty mentality’ ministries would make you poor [because you reap the same anointing from the ministries you so into]. The problem with this is that the bible teaches that giving to poor people [people with a poverty mentality] is good, and that the Lord will reward you for it [PRVB. 22:9,16,19:17,28:27, PSALMS 112:9]. While the N.T. does deal with Gods provisions for ministry [PHIL. 4:14-19,1COR. 9:1-14], this certainly in no way justifies perverting the gospel into a mindset of giving into wealthy ministries in order to receive a financial harvest! Jesus, Paul and all the other N.T. ministers did receive finances and provisions from God in order to fulfill their callings, but at the same time they also warned the people emphatically against materialism. They spoke out against covetousness/idolatry, while at the same time believing God to meet their needs [LUKE 12:15, EPH. 5:3, COL. 3:5, 1 THESS. 2:5, HEB. 13:5, 2 PETER 2:3]. Were they being hypocrites? NO! They understood the difference between using the things of this world without abusing them [1 COR. 7:31]. There is a big difference between believing God to meet our needs, and twisting the entire character of N.T. Christianity into a money focused mentality! The Christian should have a proper understanding of finances, as well as physical exercise, balance in family life and relationships, dealing with the practical concerns of life. But to exalt anyone of these areas of life and to make it the message of Christianity, and then to reshape the entire image of Christianity in order to make it fit our ‘peculiar’ style of belief would be wrong. The very fact that there are in existence today million dollar ministries [which in itself is not wrong!], that teach people to give into their ministries with the promise of a sure return, and even appeal to poor saints to give out of their lack [social security checks, etc.], while all the while propagating a false gospel, is wrong! These same ministries use the funds collected by false pretense and then preach the gospel of money, instead of a clear presentation of the gospel of Christ! Many of these ministries sincerely believe that it is a witness for Christ to have extravagant salaries, wear Rolex watches, drive a Cadillac and be a millionaire. They actually justify this by their own belief in the message they preach. They do not see it as wrong in the sight of God to finance this type of lifestyle/ministry from the offerings sent in by poor saints and widows! Many of their supporters are average, or struggling financially, and they give out of a sincere desire to better their own lives while at the same time furthering the work of God. I know some of these precious believers who are struggling financially while sending in their ‘widow’s mite’ with hope and faith that things will turn around for them. No where in the N.T. do you find rich preachers appealing to poor saints to give into their ministries in order to receive a harvest! This is 100% against the character of N.T. Christianity. The bible actually condemns the idea of ‘shepherds’ taking advantage of their flocks for personal/financial gain [EZEKIEL 34, MATT. 23:14, 1 PETER 5:1-2]. The very fact that we have poor Christians sending in sacrificial offerings to millionaire ministries, often times because the preacher is appealing by the ‘word of the Lord’ to them, is wrong! Many of these ministries are using these funds to propagate a false view of Christianity to the world. They are preaching an unbalanced gospel while they themselves are bringing in large amounts of money. I appeal to the church at large to finance worthy ministries who are actually meeting the real needs of people around the world [good soil!], and to stop financing a false gospel! CHAPTER 10 ‘IS THERE HOPE FOR FALSE PROPHETS?’ Why write this book? Over the years of struggling with these issues I would often come across an article, book or some type of testimonial that would expose many of the errors that are dealt with in this book. Some of the books I read seemed to leave little or no room for repentance and restoration of the ‘prosperity preachers’. I not only believe that Gods ultimate purpose in exposing sin is for the restoration of the individual, but there are examples of former prosperity preachers who have seen some of these gross errors and have returned to a balanced presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. What constitutes a false prophet? While there are many characteristics that we can mention, I would like to deal with one specific area relevant to our study. That area is motivation. In 2 Peter chapter 2, the apostle deals with covetousness as a motive for teaching heresy [2 PETER 2:1-3]. He states that Balaam was a false prophet who ‘loved the wages of unrighteousness’ [2 PETER 2:14-16]. Although balaam's gift was legitimate, it was his motivation [the love of money] that caused him to use his gift in a wrong way. So you can have a true prophetic gift, and yet be a false prophet because of a covetous motivation [JUDE 11]. The early church even went so far as to brand someone a false prophet if they hung around more than a few days and charged for their ministry! [Read the Didache]. As mentioned earlier, Paul and Peter warned against being in ministry for financial gain [1 TIM.6, 2 PETER 5:2, TITUS 1:11]. Jesus himself laid down a strong warning against the hireling mentality [JOHN 10:12-13]. It is clear from these warnings [and the many others in the N.T.], that the early Christians were very aware of the dangers of the love of money. I have heard it taught that this ‘fear ‘ or ‘scared’ attitude towards money is just a ‘religious mindset’ that has no foundation in the word of God. This just isn’t true! The bible contains many warnings against materialistic living and covetousness that were the foundation of the ‘healthy fear’ that the early church had towards money. Now the scripture teaches that there will be a time when certain teachers [false prophets] who are motivated by money, will teach false doctrines [Jesus and the disciples being rich, etc.] and that these teachers would connect faith and money [gain and godliness], as going hand in hand. Now if the current abuses of the prosperity movement do not fall into this category, then who does? We just can’t deny all the evidence pointing to this movement as one of the fulfillments of the ‘false prophets’ who teach that gain is godliness! We as a church must see this before there can be any true restoration of those involved, or more importantly a preventing of this false gospel from being taught to a whole new generation of believers! The scripture says to rebuke false prophets sharply so THEY MAY BE SOUND IN THE FAITH [TITUS 1:13]. Even the false shepherds of Ezekiels day were promised restoration and usefulness in their latter years [EZEKIEL 44:10-14]. If we begin to renounce our errors and return to the Lord [repentance], there will be true renewal in the church. Jesus warned the church to repent because she had within her those that held to the ‘doctrine of balsam’ [REV. 2:14-16]. It is possible for those who have taught these errors to repent and be restored to a pure gospel of Christ. Jesus dealt with the ‘money changers’ of his day just prior to the establishing of Gods kingdom. MARK 11:15-17 AND THEY COME TO JERUSALEM: AND JESUS WENT INTO THE TEMPLE, AND BEGAN TO CAST OUT THEM THAT SOLD AND BOUGHT IN THE TEMPLE, AND OVERTHREW THE TABLES OF THE MONEYCHANGERS, AND THE SEATS OF THEM THAT SOLD DOVES; AND WOULD NOT SUFFER THAT ANY MAN SHOULD CARRY ANY VESSEL THROUGH THE TEMPLE. AND HE TAUGHT, SAYING UNTO THEM, IS IT NOT WRITTEN, MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED OF ALL NATIONS THE HOUSE OF PRAYER? BUT YE HAVE MADE IT A DEN OF THIEVES. The moneychangers served as a sort of currency exchange for anyone wanting to bring any offerings or do any legitimate worship at Jerusalem, but needed to exchange their type of currency for the official currency that was accepted at Jerusalem. I find this interesting, because the function of the moneychangers themselves was a legitimate business function. But their business itself brought a type of merchandising to the temple that Jesus himself found highly offensive. I find a present day application to the moneychanger mentality in the modern prosperity movement. The movement teaches Christians to focus their attention on the return they will get on their investment into the kingdom. It causes Christians to give their offerings with the expectation of some type of return on their money. While this in itself is not wrong, for we know that God does reward his children [HEB. 11:6], the tendency of the prosperity message actually appeals to the covetous nature of people in order to make disciples of Christ! Jesus told people to forsake all to follow him, while the movement tells people if you follow him he will make you rich! I have heard it taught that as you sow your seed [money] into the offering basket that you need to 'picture' your harvest of what you are believing for in your mind [whether healing, a new car or house, the salvation of a loved one, etc.] and then your seed [money] will produce your harvest! The very idea of exchanging your money [or changing it!] into the visualized harvest of your own expectation is just as off base as the money mentality of the first century moneychangers. This is the only recorded incident in the N.T. where Jesus was visibly angry. REVELATION 4:14-22 ‘AND UNTO THE ANGEL OF THE CHURCH OF THE LAODICEANS WRITE; THESE THINGS SAYETH THE AMEN, THE FAITHFULL AND TRUE WITNESS, THE BEGINNING OF THE CREATION OF GOD; I KNOW THY WORKS, THAT THOU ART NEITHER COLD NOR HOT. SO THEN BECAUSE THOU ART LUKEWARM, AND NEITHER COLD NOR HOT, I WILL SPUE THEE OUT OF MY MOUTH. BECAUSE THOU SAYEST, I AM RICH AND INCREASED WITH GOODS, AND HAVE NEED OF NOTHING; AND KNOWEST NOT THAT THOU ART WRETCHED, AND MISERABLE, AND POOR, AND BLIND, AND NAKED: I COUNSEL THEE TO BUY OF ME GOLD TRIED IN THE FIRE, THAT THOU MAYEST BE RICH; AND WHITE RAIMENT, THAT THOU MAYEST BE CLOTHED, AND THAT THE SHAME OF THY NAKEDNESS DO NOT APPEAR; AND ANOINT THY EYES WITH EYESALVE, THAT THOU MAYEST SEE. AS MANY AS I LOVE, I REBUKE AND CHASTEN: BE ZEALOUS THEREFORE, AND REPENT. BEHOLD, I STAND AT THE DOOR, AND KNOCK: IF ANY MAN HEAR MY VOICE, AND OPEN THE DOOR, I WILL COME INTO HIM, AND WILL SUP WITH HIM, AND HE WITH ME. TO HIM THAT OVERCOMETH WILL I GRANT TO SIT WITH ME IN MY THRONE, EVEN AS I ALSO OVERCAME, AND AM SET DOWN WITH MY FATHER IN HIS THRONE. HE THAT HATH AN EAR, LET HIM HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAITH UNTO THE CHURCHES. [BOOK] ‘THE GREAT BUILDING OF GOD’ a prophetic look at the Church and her ministries today. COPYRIGHT 2004 JOHN CHIARELLO Chapter 1 the gates of hell shall not prevail against her. Chapter 2 forbid them not, if they are not against us, they are for us. Chapter 3 the building and its stones. Chapter 4 the church Jesus built. Chapter 5 bring all the tithes into the storehouse. Chapter 6 the garden of God, authority in the church. Chapter 7 the Babylonian captivity of the church, a contemporary look. Chapter 8 the 1’st century church. Chapter 9 the plural voice of ecclesia. Chapter 10 trying to fit the building of God into the building of man. Chapter 11 the tabernacle of Moses/David. Feel free to copy this book in part or whole for free distribution, as long as you don’t sell it for profit! INTRODUCTION; Greetings in Jesus name. This second book is in some ways ‘part 2’ of ‘HOUSE OF PRAYER OR DEN OF THIEVES’, our first book. In our first book we dealt with the last part of this verse ‘DEN OF THIEVES’, in this book we will deal with the phrase ‘HOUSE OF PRAYER’. What is Gods house? The N.T. teaches us that Gods house, or habitation, is the church of God [the dwelling place of God, where God resides]. The church is the Ecclesia of God. This term not only speaks of a community of people, but also a called out assembly. The church therefore as defined in the N.T. are all of Gods people in any given community [city, region, country, etc.] at any specific time in history in any given location in the earth. This community of people is what Jesus referred to when he said ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against her’. The church began as a community of people free-flowing as the Spirit led them with elders and leaders springing up in a natural atmosphere of community and family. She lost her family mentality and power when she became heavily institutionalized during the first 3 centuries of her existence. She then plunged into a state of lethargy of which church historians refer to as ‘the dark ages’. Over the past 2 thousand years God has been reforming and restoring her back to the original form of a free-flowing family of people once again. This restoration includes the restoring of apostles/prophets, which is a subject heavily written about and discussed over the last few years. We will look at how the original apostles/prophets functioned as gifted ones in the midst of Gods prophetic community, as opposed to heavily handed authoritarian figures in the church! If we don’t see the church through a correct lens, then we will also misunderstand her gifted ones. If you try to place checker pieces on a monopoly board you will get a distorted and perverted game. You might be able to play something on this board, but it would not be the right game! So likewise when we try to place Gods unique gifted ones [the chess pieces] into a setting that isn’t the original design, you not only distort the game, but actually do more harm to it! So we will look at the proper roles and responsibilities that Gods gifted ones play in the community of God [I want to stress that all Gods people are gifted and the mindset that looks to the 5-fold and tries to place them as ‘pulpit’ ministers does more harm than good!]. As we examine and look at what the church is we will be tearing down mindsets in the church that have existed for more than 1700 years. This type of truth telling will obviously challenge many modern churches and concepts of ministry. Our purpose IS NOT TO COME AGAINST ANY PARICULAR CHURCH OR MINISTRY, but to pull down false opinions [mindsets], and to build what is true. This is what the apostle Paul spoke about when dealing with ‘spiritual warfare’, He was not talking about casting down territorial spirits from the sky, but about casting down false opinions and mindsets that come against the knowledge of God [Corinthians]. Lets therefore begin this study with an open heart and mind to what the ‘SPIRIT SAITH TO THE CHURCHES’. CHAPTER 1; THE GATES OF HELL SHALL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST HER. The best way to understand and study any subject is to understand as best as possible the original intent and environment of its creator/founder when he first created it. This is why you will find political leaders and judges continually referring to past precedent and the original intent of the founding fathers when dealing with contemporary issues of govt. in the present day. This concept is biblical and helpful in trying to understand what the church is and how she functions. When Jesus told Peter ‘upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against her’ he was responding to peters confession concerning Christ [Mat;16:18]. Much has been said about this verse and it has been used by both Catholics and Protestants to defend their mindset for what the church is. The Catholic Church historically applies this verse to mean that Jesus was telling Peter that God would build his future church on the man Peter, that is on his apostolic office. This is also why you will find various people actually debate where Peters grave is located, as they believe if you could pinpoint the actual place where his bones remain that this would lend legitimacy to their institution. While this is obviously a silly way to literally interpret Jesus words, it is just as silly for Protestants to interpret the verse in rev. [Rev;21:14] to mean the actual physical city of God has the names of the apostles written in stone. Both of these ways of looking at church are simply a symptom that results from having a distorted view of ecclesia. When Jesus spoke these words to Peter, what did Jesus mean? Well if you look at Peter’s writings you will get insight into the way he understood it [1Peter;2:5]. He saw the church as a spiritual temple consisting of the community of believers that would exist in every generation for all time. His confession of Jesus as the Christ qualified him as a living stone from which Jesus would take and build with many other living stones to erect a spiritual temple for God to dwell in. As an apostle Peter also played a special role as a foundation layer in this spiritual building [Eph;2:20] apostles are foundation layers in this building, they carry a special gifting to ground and stabilize this building of God. They are not the foundation themselves, but simply relate to the chief cornerstone in such a way as to have special ability to present Christ and bring long-lasting stability to this structure. The foundation they lay is Christ himself. The building is erected not with brick and mortar, but with living stones. Brick and mortar symbolize the work of men’s hands, while stones symbolize a natural building material. This signifies that while apostles and prophets are builders, they are not creators of this supernatural structure. Brick and mortar represent manmade institutions that men have built as opposed to Gods spiritual temple. In every generation these 2 structures co-exist and co-mingle at various times. There were even seasons where mans structure turned against and killed the living stones which helped build her. Some have attempted to write about this before [Augustine’s city of God and many other writers through the ages] though some of these books are insightful, many of them co-mingled the building of God and the building of man and actually came against Gods building without even knowing it. But thank God that the prophecy of Jesus has come true and the gates of hell have not been able to prevail against her! Paul wrote the church at Corinth and rebuked them for not rightly discerning the lord’s body, he told them that because of this many were sick and some even died. What were the Corinthians doing that caused this? How were they not rightly discerning Christ’s body? They were coming together [ecclesia/called out assembly of people] for the Lord’s Table and some were getting drunk while others were being gluttons. They were disrespecting their brothers and sisters in the assembly and being selfish. They were sinning against one another as co-equal members in the body of Christ. There is a present day application to this when we question the legitimacy of our fellow brethren because they do not fit into the institutional church of our day. As I have taught on our radio show over the years that there have always been a remnant of believers in each generation that carried the witness of Christ who were not part of the institutional church. Often times the man made structure persecuted unto death those brethren who would not come under her authority. This was not only seen in the catholic system, but in the protestant one as well. No denomination had a corner on this market! This in no way means that our catholic and protestant brothers are not Christians, nor am I advocating the destruction of any Christian denomination. But rather trying to present a true picture of what the church is for the benefit of the church at large. I am such a strong believer in the prophecy of Jesus [Mat;16:18] that I see the organic body of Christ overcoming in each of these generations and mightily prevailing to this very day! The body of Christ is so prevalent in the earth today that she finds herself being represented in all of these various denominations. No denomination contains all the church, nor are any void of true Christians either. Our seeing the church as a spiritual temple built together as a habitation of God transcends all human institutions without singularly targeting any one of them as the only ‘building of man’, because in a sense they all have a degree of brick and mortar in their structures [organizations]. Our purpose is not to tell believers to leave their churches and forsake meeting on Sundays, but rather to free them from a limited mindset of church and ministry and call them into seeing themselves as members of the church that Jesus spoke of when he told Peter the gates of hell will not prevail against her! CHAPTER 2; FORBID THEM NOT, IF THEY ARE NOT AGAINST US THEY ARE FOR US [Mark 9:40]. I remember how in the early days of our ministry I enjoyed going to the local jails and preaching to the inmates, I also enjoyed the hands on aspect of getting together with the brothers and spending quality time with them when they were released from jail or prison. While at the same time working as a full time firefighter and pastoring our local church, which consisted mainly of the families of the guys who were in prison, the give and take between the brothers who were recently saved and the functions of ‘pastoral’ ministry meshed well together. During this season of our ministry I would speak with other people who believed that I was wasting time by simply spending time with the brothers who were ex-cons. This same mentality was later expressed when I moved to Corpus Christi and started an outreach to the homeless guys. I would either speak or teach through radio or in person and those who were blessed through some teaching would later express a concern that somehow I was wasting time with the homeless people while instead I could be ‘honing’ my giftings for ‘true’ professional ministry. While I understood the brothers who expressed these types of feelings were viewing ‘ministry’ as being a non-profit corporate entity with a donor base and mailing list, which would build a financial support base which then could launch my speaking/pulpit ministry, I understood that true ministry takes place in a community atmosphere, without the prestige of professional ‘pastor’ or full time minister to interfere with true community friendships. This brief example shows how viewing the building of God [the church], as opposed to the building of man [the manmade system of ministry] can deeply affect the way we function and see our roles in the kingdom of God. The pressure we put on young ministers to fit some type of expectation of what we see as ‘fulltime ministry’ versus what the N.T. actually teaches often derails Gods true desire for his people. The example above shows us how the building of man not only hinders true kingdom relationships, but actually fights against them by accusing the brothers of being illegitimate if they are actually spending their time with people, which after all is what building the church is all about! The language used in the N.T. to describe Gods house is referring to the community of God in a symbolic way. While most believers understand that the buildings we meet in are not the church, they often overlook this aspect of it. We in the church often try to devalue others who are doing kingdom work by questioning their legitimacy. How often have you heard a para-church ministry [a misnomer] challenged on the grounds that it is not a local church, or its ministers are not under authority. If what there doing is a divinely inspired work of God [that is Gods in it] then who are we to say its not ‘church’. Often times we don’t realize that when we make judgments like this we are not rightly discerning the lord’s body! The church isn’t the place where we meet on Sunday, most of us agree, but it also isn’t limited to the organized group to which you personally affiliate with. In each city she consists of all believers in your city! Some of these believers gather during the week with no Sunday service, others associate mainly with the people they are ministering to, still others have an apostolic call to work in an itinerant way. All of these various expressions are part of the church, even the ones who 'belong’ to no outward organization at all! If they are truly believers they are part of the church! No such thing as para-church. It’s either of God or not! Now comes the tricky part, when theologians study the nature of the church and what she is, they often have some truth but sometimes use it to narrowly define and limit the true church [once again the building of God versus the building of man]. The term for church in the N.T. is ecclesia; this term has various applications in different settings. In N.T. times it could actually refer to what we would call today a city council or commission meeting. This term itself was not a spiritual word during the first century, but simply a practical term used to describe Gods called out assembly. While some theologians focus on the local aspect of this term [local church], others focus on the universal aspect [worldwide church]. Both are true. Where we often confuse the building of God with the building of man is in our application of this word. Because the word ecclesia means called out ones we often condemn those believers in our area who don’t ‘go to church on Sunday’ or ‘join the church’. While it is true that in the book of acts the believers were recognizable, and belonged to a called out assembly, this in no way resembles our 21st century American spin that we put on it. We condemn Christians who often times are right in the heart of Gods will [so called para church ministries or extra local ministries] all under the guise of ‘church’. Remember if any believer in your region is doing Gods will he is doing church! Simple isn’t it. He should and will associate with fellow believers as God wills, but we should not try to make everyone fit into our limited view of ‘legitimate’ ministry. CHAPTER 3; THE BUILDING AND ITS STONES. What I am attempting to say and show in this book is a different paradigm [that is the way we see things] concerning the church and the people who make up the church. The scripture says that without a vision the people perish [Prvb;29:18]. This does not only speak of vision in a motivational sense, but also in a prophetic sense. By this I mean a new way of seeing things. Prophetic vision is not only a gift that sees future events, but it also grasps the character of Jesus and reveals who he is [Rev;19:10]. As we look at the church through prophetic eyes we behold the nature of Christ in his body. We see Christ through our brothers and sisters. Because of this reality, when we do harm or mistreat our brothers we are disrespecting Christ. This applies to the way we ‘do’ church as well. When we limit ‘church’ to the 21st century American model of ministry we wrongly discern Christ’s body. When we label other believers as illegitimate because they do not fit the mold that we feel to be ‘true’ local church, we disrespect the body of Christ and its diversity [1Cor;12]. The N.T. church consists of all the believers in your city [or region, state, country, etc.] that are called out of the world and to God and each other [ecclesia]. This ecclesia may not meet in your church building or any church building, she might have no ‘pastor’ over her [in the modern sense], she might have no earthly organization at all, but this still does not make her illegitimate! We must see this bride through a prophetic lens if we are to rightly discern her. We must be careful that we do not classify her as illegitimate simply because she does not fit into our limited perspective of who she is and what we think she should look like. For when we do judge her through natural eyes we often come against her unwittingly and are lending ourselves as stones in the building of man who always comes against the building of God! The spiritual stones that make up this temple are very diverse and special to the Father. The apostles and prophets relate to this temple in a special way as they lay the foundations upon which she is erected. These 2 gifted ones are NOT priests or kings in this temple, nor does the temple exist for their financial well-being or for a platform from which they can find success and fame in ministry. Oh no, this temple is very special to them and these are willing to lay down their lives [and have at certain times!] in order to see her built. The pastors, evangelists and teachers also play a vital role in her construction, in that after the foundations are laid they Labor to build her up in such a way so when she is fully established she will no longer be blown about by every wind and doctrine, but will stand strong during times of shaking and storm. These 3 stones [evangelist, pastor, teacher] also labor in its construction unselfishly as co-equals in the temple. No one of them is more important than the other, and at times you will even find the same stone placed in a different wall of the building to fit interchangeably with each other. These stones do not see themselves as priests in this structure, for all are priests and can function in this temple equally. These stones are simply co-equals with all the other stones, but they bare a special burden and gifting from God to make sure the temple is constructed properly so its king can enter into to her and rule from her throne! Then when this beautiful building of God is fully developed with her king reigning and ruling from her throne all men will come and do homage at the feet of him who sits on her throne! CHAPTER 4; THE CHURCH JESUS BUILT. What pattern of church did Jesus leaves us? Did he leave us one at all? It would seem that a leader who told his disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature under heaven would at least lay down a rough blueprint on what to do in order to establish some type of structure for those who would later believe. Many books have been written on this subject and many learned theologians have spoken on this. W hat I will attempt to do in this chapter is simply look at what Jesus did and how the early apostles patterned church planting after his example. Remember the church is not an institution or organization in terms of our present mindset, but rather a community of free flowing believers. A family in spiritual terms. She has spiritual children and spiritual parents [we must be careful here because some have used this to lord it over the flock in a wrong way] who flow together as one entity with various gifts and abilities. The elders [more mature ones] in this spiritual community are not paid [salaried] priests who the children hire to perform ritualistic functions on their behalf [weddings, funerals, etc.], but rather mature believers who give guidance and direction to the flock in a voluntary loving atmosphere [1Peter 5:2]. As these communities of people have been a reality in every generation since Jesus left us, this body has often taken different forms and expressions as society interacted with her. Some of these forms have severely hindered her witness in the earth while others have sidetracked the main purpose of her existence from the beginning. Though these different expressions of church are not the ideal, we should not label them [that is those believers in them] as illegitimate or lost, but rather strive together for the unity of the faith found in Christ. The many groups who operate outside these organized structures often later fall prey to the frailty of man and create their own structures, not realizing that this is no different than the church systems they often criticize. Some refer to these movements as apostolic or post denominational churches. Others feel that the post-denominational churches are simply denominations at an early stage of development and therefore are post nothing! All of these brothers have taken hold of truth and I hold to the position that they are all fellow Christians, but this shouldn’t stop us from continuing to strive for the ideal while maintaining fellowship with all those involved. Now what church pattern did Jesus leave us? Did he leave us any at all? If you simply read the 3 years of Jesus earthly ministry along with the book of acts you will catch glimpses of it. It exists in simple form beneath all the other activities going on around it. It is simply a pattern of people coming to the reality of the gospel and living out their lives in Christian community with each other. They gather around the great reality of the resurrection of their leader and joyfully witness for him through the way they live and speak. In this community of people [ecclesia, church, body, temple, etc.] there reside believers with various roles and responsibilities. Some are apostles; others are prophetic in their gifting, while others have gifts of giving, charity and a whole variety of different gifts. In this community there are no paid pastors/priests, though provisions are made for those that labor in the word [acts]. There is no concept of professional ministry at all. To the contrary those with apostolic gifts find themselves working regular jobs as they travel around speaking about Jesus. When they do collect money it is for the purpose of sharing it with their brothers and sisters who are in need [Acts 6:1, 1Cor;16:1,2Cor;9:1]. They viewed themselves as the followers of Jesus in a simple way. The church at Jerusalem had structure, but that was primarily because they were still meeting at the temple and the leadership structure of worship and service was not totally abandoned after the Jews became believers. The gentile church in Antioch [acts 13] did not have a hierarchal system at all. There were apostles and prophets, but they were simply gifted ones in a voluntary society of believers. We must not read the N.T. through the paradigm of 21st century glasses. When they speak of ‘church’ and apostle and pastor [a term only found once in the N.T.] they are not speaking of them in terms that we see them today. But simply gifted people in a community of people of whom all are priests and kings. There is no laity versus clergy mentality! That didn’t exist! Jesus spent 3 years with his disciples and then left. Why couldn’t it have been 5 years or 7? While there is no magical number to it, he did say it was expedient for him to deposit truth into them and leave [John 16:7] The concept is if he leaves them, they by necessity will grow and mature! This pattern is later seen with Paul in acts, he goes to areas and preaches the gospel of grace and then leaves! Sometimes he stays for a short time, and other times a few years. But he never stays for good! He doesn’t set up paid pastors over these communities, though he does tell his disciples [Timothy and Titus] to recognize elders in these communities [that’s what ordination is]. These communities of believers continue in the doctrines of the apostles and are left alone to grow up. None of these churches [communities] had leaders who functioned as pastors in the modern sense. It’s amazing how we can read the bible over and over again and never see this. There are verses speaking of leaders and elders in the N.T., but we often translate that to fit into our present mindset of ministry. Remember the example of Christ, the church he built [with the disciples for 3 years] was a community of people who lived, ate and experienced life together over a period of time and then sent into the great commission. This simple pattern is what Paul and others followed in order to spread Gods kingdom in the earth. The great building of God! CHAPTER 5; BRING ALL THE TITHES INTO THE STOREHOUSE. Over the years through various avenues of teaching ministry I have dealt with the area of giving. I have learned that the way we see ‘church’ affects how we see everything else, especially in the area of giving! While a new believer in Christ I soon was introduced to the concept of tithing to the storehouse on Sunday. The people who believe this are not bad people, but rather dedicated Christians who believe in honoring God with the firstfruits of all their increase. While practicing giving as a new believer I had no problem with giving 10% of my income to the Lord. Till this very day we give large amounts of money to the kingdom of God and I personally believe all the verses in the bible dealing with giving and receiving. I just believe that the New Testament storehouse/temple are the people of God [once again you see how we view ‘church’ affects everything we do!] and giving into the storehouse is actually giving to meet the needs of the Christian community all around you. So true New Testament giving would consist of giving cheerfully to meet the needs of people around you as opposed to only putting money in ‘church’ on Sunday. All the verses that we use to justify putting money into the Sunday basket are truly speaking of meeting the needs of believers. Go check it out if you don’t believe me. The times when Paul talks about giving in 1st and 2nd Corinthians he is taking up a collection for the poor saints [Gods storehouse] in Jerusalem. The verses when he speaks on giving are not speaking about him receiving a tithe to finance his salary, but giving to meet the needs of people. When he speaks about giving to support those who labor in the word, once again this is meeting the basic needs of the leaders, and not speaking about a tithe system to support pastors [like a New Testament Levite, this concept is foreign to the New Testament]. Even when Paul speaks about giving to support elders in your community he speaks about not muzzling the ox that’s treading out the corn [1Cor;9:9]. Why not use a verse referring to the Levitical tithe? Because that would be the last verse you would use to convince a gentile church to give, while at the same time teaching them they were not under Jewish law and coming against the judiazers who were always trying to bring Paul’s churches back under Jewish law! Even the silly justification we use to teach tithing [like if its in Hebrews its New Testament] actually teaches the opposite. The fact that tithing is mentioned in Hebrews in no way means we should tithe! Hebrews is simply showing the superiority of the new covenant over the old and this reference [Hebrews 7] is not speaking about New Testament giving at all, but about the new covenant being better than the old. When Jesus rebuked the Pharisees of his day because they were giving to the temple and neglecting the needs of their fathers and mothers, he was giving us a prophetic sign that we should give with the focus on community rather than temple [Mark 7:11]. All the New Testament references dealing with giving as New Testament gentile believers speak about giving freely to meet the basic needs of the Christian community around them, even when dealing with support for the spiritual leaders among them. The concept of tithing on Sunday to your church organization [American corporate entity] as telling people if they don’t they will be under a curse is ridiculous! Where free from the law and that’s It. Oh but some will say the tithe was before the law, which is true. The Sabbath was before the tithe and the law [God instituted the concept of the Sabbath in the first 7 days of creation], but yet we know that the New Testament gentile believers are not under the Sabbath [Col;2:16], but yet we use this argument to justify the tithe. LET ME MAKE MYSELF CLEAR, I AM NOT AGAINST CHRISTIANS PUTTING IN MONEY TO THE OFFERING ON SUNDAY, I am not even against supporting those who labor in the word among you. But I am against telling people if they don’t put 10% of their money in the offering plate on Sunday that they are under a curse! The New Testament clearly teaches the concept of giving of your finances to advance the work of God. The New Testament also teaches giving to meet the needs of people. In all of these cases it is always taught in a way that is voluntary and without compulsion. I don’t have the time to reference all the various verses dealing with these issues, but invite you to either order our cassette teaching catalog, or if you live in the Corpus Christi area to listen to our radio program [currently on K.C.T.A. radio, AM 1030 every Sunday at 9:45 a.m.], either way you will find plenty of teaching on new testament giving that I’ve done in the past. I would encourage you to simply re-read all the verses you are familiar with on this subject and see how they always refer to meeting the needs of people [either poor saints or laboring elders] and never deal with actual building programs for ‘churches’. Don’t forget you will find Old Testament examples of giving for the construction of the temple, but like I said the New Testament temple today are the ecclesia! That’s why giving in the New Testament is always focused on meeting the needs of people. I would also like to stress that no New Testament minister became rich off the ‘tithes’of the people, but rather trusted God to meet their needs. Either through the generosity of others or through manual labor [God forbid we teach this doctrine in 21st century Christendom!]. Today’s mentality of going into ‘ministry’ for the sake of becoming rich off the giving of people to your ministry is way off base of what the New Testament teaches. Young ministers going into ministry and telling people to sow into their ministry so they can reap a reward is a distorted use of the concept of sowing and reaping. Remember that even though Paul did use these concepts to appeal to Christians to give, and he also spoke about God blessing them in return, yet Paul himself was collecting money for poor Christians in these scenarios! He was actually supporting himself by manual labor at the time he penned these scriptures [tent making]. So for the modern day minister to go into ministry and use these verses to rake in a personal financial harvest is wrong! Get our first book [house of prayer or den of thieves] for a more in depth look at this subject. When dealing with this issue in general there are lots of areas of manipulation that leaders use, often unconsciously, in order to get people to give into their visions for God. Many times the leaders are acting themselves out of a fear to compete and live up to the expectations of modern ministry. They are motivated out of a sincere, but misguided desire to fulfill Gods will and because of this they believe if people would be more faithful to God then surely the finances for their visions for God would come in. Thus the references to Achan [withholding that which is Gods] and other verses [Malachi] dealing with being cursed if you don’t give the required amount, actually become a means of unconscious manipulation in the hands of the leaders. When we do not rightly discern the Lords body [ecclesia] a whole host of wrong actions grow out of this. We bring guilt and oppression on Gods people that goes 100% against the spirit and intent of New Testament giving. CHAPTER 6; THE GARDEN OF GOD, AUTHORITY IN THE CHURCH. When God made man he put him in a garden atmosphere with the mandate to care for it. He put man over all of his creation and allowed him to rule it [steward it]. The only thing that God did not put under mans rule, was man himself! God instead put Adam as a husband, and later a father, in a family environment. Eve and the future children that they would have were not originally designed to be ruled by each other. The concept of submission and respect for authority were only to be seen in this type of family relationship. As the family of man would grow and eventually inhabit and have dominion over the earth [not each other!] they would then be fulfilling Gods desire for man, corporately, to rule together. Well as you know Adam blew it and basically everything got thrown out of whack, including the original design for man to rule together as Gods creation. This one area of perverting Gods original design is the root cause of all future problems including false authority and slavery. This one area of sin was the major issue of the most harmful war that America has ever fought, a war amongst ourselves [the civil war]! This false submission that Americans called slavery continues to exist in society in subtle, and at times not so subtle ways. Even as I pen this chapter I am in San Antonio for a soccer tournament for one of my kids. We went out last night to a favorite buffet, while going up for my plate I was served by a young black man. It seemed as if he was in the minority of this mostly white business. Whether he has ever been mistreated or abused as an employee I don’t know. But I do know that when he served me my steak [I like to get my moneys worth at the buffets!] I simply said thank-you. You could tell how much he appreciated being recognized in a voluntary way like this. Every time I got up again to fill the plate [with fruits and salads of course] this young brother wanted to go out of his way to give me another steak! When people are not forced to serve, but feel appreciated for the service they do, they will serve and submit with joy most of the time. True servant leadership is what Jesus taught the future leaders of His church [John 13]. Jesus rebuked false authority when he said the Pharisees were blind leaders of the blind. He stated that they were leading all right, but it had nothing to do with kingdom leadership. True authority in Gods kingdom does not work like the worlds system. Jesus told us that his kingdom operated along different lines [Luke 22:26]. The garden of God was a natural environment that God placed man into in which man and God would commune together, man would love and honor God willfully while submitting to each other in love. The fall affected all of this and plunged man into a sinful state that would cause him to rule over other people instead of creation only. This tragic sequence of events has affected man since the beginning and still exists in man today. Through the great redemptive work of Christ it is being removed, but often at a slow pace. Man doesn’t see all the ways that false authority affects him, especially in the ‘church’ world. Because he yet doesn’t fully see how even our modern mindsets of leadership in the church are at times a product of this false authority, he therefore cannot repent of a sin that he feels is actually a service to God! When church leaders rule with the mindset that the people are simply tools who need to be motivated in order to fulfill the great vision of the leader, and when the people don’t respond properly that they are all rebels who if they were right with God would submit and help bring the vision to pass, this mindset is often a product of false authority. There are times when leaders will inspire people to act and do great things for the kingdom, but it must be free from manipulation and hypocrisy. The Pharisees saw themselves as a ruling class in the religious community of their day. Jesus said they were hypocrites because they used guilt and manipulation to accomplish religious goals. They laid burdens on people instead of freeing them [an act of slavery]. True kingdom leadership is not the mindset or vocabulary of submission and authority. Though these concepts are taught in the New Testament they were intended to function in a family/garden environment. When we put them into the building of man they will have devastating results! CHAPTER 7; THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY OF THE CHURCH, A CONTEMPORAY LOOK. Historians have referred to the Babylonian captivity of the church in regards to the Roman catholic influence over the church in past centuries. John referred to Babylon in the book of revelation as a force that would come against the church and ultimately be judged by God himself because of her persecution of the church. While there are many ways you could apply the verses speaking about Babylon and how she is an enemy of the church, I would like to deal with one area relevant to ecclesia. When the children of Israel were captives in the land of Babylon they came up with the idea of starting synagogues as a way that they could encapsulate their culture and heritage in a ‘local place’ during their captivity so as to not forget their history with God. On the surface this would seem to be a noble goal, after all there intentions were well meaning. Well this ‘place’ that they set up later became a good way to administrate their duties as good Jews [Christians] and they eventually built their whole religious society around this well-meaning institution. They set up their religious leaders [Pharisees] and began to use this well-meaning system to judge any one in their community according to the standards that surrounded this ‘place’ [sounds familiar doesn’t it]. They lost sight of Gods original purpose for them to be a kingdom of priests who would influence all society around them with the reality of Jehovah. They forgot their true calling as a holy nation and digressed into this small-minded society of religious people who were so hung up on the dotting of I’s and crossing of T’s that they didn’t even recognize their own messiah when he showed up in their midst! Well as you can see the culture of worship that they set up while captives in Babylon eventually became their plumb line that not only judged everyone else around them, but also was used to condemn the very messiah whom they were waiting for. Often times we establish systems of religion and worship that might have served a noble purpose in its beginning stages, but later it grows into a system that has a mind and voice of its own. This system [the building of man] can take on a life of its own and even get to a stage were it can persecute unto death the very one[s] that it was intended to benefit. When we don’t see the true picture of what God originally intended [without a vision the people perish] we unconsciously persecute the very ones whom God sends to bring his original purpose to pass [Christ and those whom he sends]. When we view ‘church’ as only that which takes place in our buildings on Sunday [synagogue mentality] or even if we extend our view to that which is being accomplished through the society of people who we associate with in our group, this is still only a small limited view of what ‘church’ is. We often times cannot see that those who are part of the body of Christ in our communities are vital parts of ‘church’. Even those who have not technically ‘joined’ a church. Even when we use the term ‘joining’ church, we usually mean the group who meets on our block, or area of our city. While these groups of believers who meet in our cities on any given Sunday across this nation and the world are for the most part true Christians, this in no way is the only aspect of New Testament ecclesia. The gathering of believers is a scriptural element of New Testament Christianity to be sure, be we often perceive this to be the primary purpose of Christianity. We have all heard of people being spoken of as in sin because they do not associate with any particular building in their city. We say that they don’t go to ‘church’. We don’t even realize what were saying when we judge people after the standard of our concepts of ‘church’. I believe it is o.k. for believers to meet on Sunday and worship and associate with other believers for a common cause [like sending missionaries to the world], but we must be willing to see the bigger picture and stop judging others according to a plumb line that at times is no different than the one the first century Pharisees used to condemn Christ! CHAPTER 8; THE 1ST CENUTURY CHURCH. When the ecclesia gathered in the 1st century, they did not have church buildings. They had no paid pastoral office. They did not take up offerings every time a minister was done speaking. They had no one individual who was considered the main leader of the congregation, who the people saw as their hired minister. There were no traveling evangelists or speakers who made a living by setting up a regular schedule of ‘churches’ in which he would hold meetings to finance his ‘full’ time ministry. There were certainly no big name teachers who would travel around to various cities and receive large 10,ooo dollar offerings from average Christians in order to finance their 200,ooo dollar and upward salaries, especially while appealing to poor saints and widows on a mass scale [through Christian TV.]. While all these practices [traveling, TV, meeting in buildings, etc.] are not in and of themselves bad, but if we use them to measure the faithfulness of other Christians [like always appealing for funds every time we meet or speak, and then insinuating that those who don’t give in this environment are backslidden or even lost!], then what we have done is elevated present day Christianity to a standard of how ‘faithful’ we are to tithe to a ‘church’ on Sunday and whether or not we give money to the speakers who visit our ‘churches’ on a rotating basis throughout the life of our ‘church’. Those who don’t operate in this limited perspective of ‘church’ are deemed in sin and rebellious, even the ones who are faithfully serving Christ in all other areas of life. I personally have given time, money and material goods on a regular basis to meet the real needs of people around me [like feeding homeless guys], I have given money into offerings on Sundays and have financed out of pocket our radio programs and book writing ministry. I have never received a salary from our ministry and don’t appeal for funds. I have supported myself as a fulltime firefighter for over 20 years, and have given many thousands of dollars into ministry. My primary focus on giving has been patterned after Jesus teaching [give to him that asks of you, meet the needs of you brothers all around you mentality]. But my critics over the years have tried to look at a tithing statement from a ‘church’ to judge whether or not we give. I have even refused to deduct our giving from the income tax we pay [this is out of personal preference, its much easier for me to directly meet the needs of the people I work with, without having to justify and save receipts every time I take a homeless guy out to eat!]. Because of this people could read a ‘church’ record of our giving and judge us on a criterion that does not measure up to their understanding of giving. Remember Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for using their giving to a building [the temple] as an excuse to not meet the real needs of their family [the true temple made up of people]. I have found that those who give under law truly don’t take the words of Jesus concerning giving as serious as the words of Malachi. They feel if they don’t put 10% in the basket on Sunday they might be cursed, but whether or not they give to him that asks of them is sort of a little moral teaching from Jesus that we view with a take it or leave it mentality. The law always robs us of the true joy and intent of grace living. This very area [giving of money] is the area that Jesus was speaking about when he said ‘your traditions make void the commands of God’ [Mark 7:13]. Their dedicating of the tithe to the temple was a tradition that they used to by-pass true grace giving. I understand that tithers will read these verses and say that Jesus never told them not to tithe, but that they should have done both [giving to their parents and tithe]. While this is true, you must recognize that Jesus also never told the 1st century Jew not to keep Sabbath, but we know now that Sabbath keeping is not for gentile Christians either . The mindset of Jesus was not to tell the 1st century Jewish community to stop all their religious traditions [tithing, Sabbath keeping, etc.], but to show them a better way through grace. Eventually the gentile church would grow into its own unique organism, not mimicking Jewish tradition [tithing, Sabbath, temple worship, etc.]. This was the tension you saw in the churches of Paul as opposed to the church at Jerusalem [acts 13,15]. The church at Jerusalem continued to meet at the temple and followed tithing and many other Jewish teachings [circumcision], while the gentile churches had none of this baggage at all [read acts 13 and 15]. The gentile churches established by Paul didn’t tithe, keep Sabbath or circumcise themselves. The church at Jerusalem did! We need to understand that the words of Jesus concerning Christian living have the highest priority for us today. While the whole bible is the inspired word of God, even the passages that speak about circumcision, Jewish dietary law, Sabbath keeping and tithing. Yet we don’t observe every ordinance we find spoken about. Just because you can find a subject spoken about in the law, before the law, and in the New Testament it doesn’t mean it applies to us today! The Sabbath was in the law, before the law, and in the New Testament as well. Yet Jesus never told the Jews of his day not to keep Sabbath, but we know that the Sabbath is not for us today. The Sabbath even has more authority than the tithe because it is in the 10 commandments and is found in the 2nd chapter of genesis, long before the tithe and the law! But yet we know we are not under this law! So to be clear and consistent we must understand that it is o.k. to meet on Saturday or Sunday or any other day of the week. Its o.k. to give 10% on Sunday or any other day, but its also o.k. to meet on Tuesday and give 6 or 12 % of your money. Its o.k. to meet on no special day and to simply give as God leads and to commune with other believers from house to house on a weekly basis and never take an offering at all [you simply don’t find Jesus or Paul taking offerings every-time they preach!]. So while my purpose is not to condemn any one for their service to God, we certainly don’t want to condemn others because of what we judge to be their lack of obedience to ‘new testament Christianity’! CHAPTER 9;THE PLURAL VOICE OF ECCLESIA. The modern pattern of ‘American’ church not only silences the corporate voice of true ecclesia, but also gives a distorted platform/forum for individuals to have too much of a singular voice and influence in the local church. Because the church originally was to function in a community atmosphere, when she digressed into a ‘place’ where Christians meet on Sunday this silenced the corporate voice and exalted the individual voice. This is also why you see so many seminars and counseling courses on ‘pastor’ burnout. We are trying to fit pastors into a role of ‘C.E.O’ which was never intended from the start. This is also why you have so much immature teaching in the church [the prosperity gospel and other distorted stuff!] because this false way of seeing church allows for one man to have way too much influence and voice that the Lord never intended any one person to have. While I’m not against teachers having a lot of influence [look at Paul’s influence on us today], I am against the concept that anyone who feels called into ministry begins a lifelong pursuit to raise money from people every Sunday with the intent on creating a bigger voice with bigger influence no matter who he is. God simply hasn’t called ministers to function as C.E.O's who are in this type of rat race to see who could become more famous than the next guy! This false way of seeing church also stifles the true corporate voice of the believers in the congregational setting [when they meet!]. The only N.T. book that actually deals with ‘church’ attendance is Corinthians. The book is written by Paul to all the believers corporately. You will notice that he never addressed his letters to the ‘pastors’ of these churches, because there were none according to our present understanding of the word ‘pastor’. If there were such an office in the N.T. churches, it would be unthinkable for Paul not to directly address and rebuke the ‘pastors’ for what they’re ‘allowing’ to happen in ‘their churches’. The N.T. simply doesn’t have the role of ‘pastor’ as we’ve come to define it today! When Paul does address the churches he writes directly to the brothers in Christ. In Corinthians he rebukes them for having disorderly meetings and tells them that when they get together they should all take turns speaking, one by one in order. What! You mean he doesn’t tell them to be quiet and submit to their pastor! Paul you must be in rebellion! Who do you think you are? Writing the brothers in the first place, and then you tell them they can all speak and prophesy and have a collective voice! Poor Paul just didn’t understand church etiquette! As you can see when we don’t ‘see’ the church as a community of people we distort everything else that we call ‘church’ in today’s modern setting! The pressures of modern day ‘pastors/CEO’s’ are absent from New Testament thought. Paul and other New Testament ministers were under pressure to be sure, but the types of pressure were of a different sort. Paul was under pressure over his concerns for the spiritual development of the communities [churches] he was planting. He did not know the pressures of big budgets and great physical building programs. Absent from Paul’s vocabulary were fears of not raising enough money to complete the buildings, or the brothers showing up on Saturday to paint the ‘church’ and things of this nature. Paul’s pressures and burdens consisted mainly over the spiritual character and well being of the communities he planted. Never do you find him collecting money for his big project for God, or using scriptures on sowing to raise funds for his own financial empire! While I know this type of language is strong, yet I believe if I don’t use it you guys might not truly see the depth of our wrong understanding of what the church truly is! The language of ‘church’ today is so far removed from that of the 1st century ecclesia. Today we are ‘building-centric’ instead of ‘Christ-centric’. That which flows from our lips and hearts is centered around modern day professional ministry. We speak of raising huge amounts of money to fulfill our leaders God given dreams. It’s all about high powered egos competing with each other to prove who is the most gifted or most anointed among us. The same spirit of the disciples when they were fighting over who would be the greatest in Gods kingdom. Much of modern day church is simply a means by which men with great egos manipulate the saints into doing things that God never intended, and much of it is simply fueled by a competitive spirit that is no different than climbing up the ladder in the corporate world! CHAPTER 10; TRYING TO FIT THE BUILDING OF GOD INTO THE BUILDING OF MAN. I recently picked up a copy of a Christian magazine, while briefly looking through it to see if anything would catch my interest, I saw that they were dedicating an entire year to the subject of apostles/prophets and the 5-fold ministry today. They explained how they were going to devote an entire year to the subject because of the various questions arising out of this teaching. Some of the areas they would cover included things like ‘how the 5-fold operates in the congregational setting’ and ‘should every church have the 5- fold operating in it’ and ‘how do they fit into the Sunday church service’. The ‘5-fold’ were NEVER INTENDED TO FIT INTO THE BUILDING OF MAN! Trying to restore gifts into a limited setting only creates more problems than it solves. All Gods gifted ones were meant to function in the community of believers [ecclesia] and not in a limited Sunday morning setting. If you don’t ‘see’ church in the true sense you will not ‘see’ the 5-fold in a true functioning way. All of Gods people were created to flow in community, the 5-fold are simply gifted people in your city who have a calling to relate to your community in effective ways. They are not to compete with each other on Sunday morning to see if we can have all the 5-fold operating in our ‘churches’. Our ‘churches’ are communities of believers in our cities! Not the Sunday morning service! I have read articles on churches who saw the truths of ‘city wide church’ and have attempted once again to fit the building of man into the building of God. While most of these efforts are well meaning, the perspective is still flawed. Many modern movements have ‘started churches’ in more than one location and refer to themselves as one church in 2 or 3 locations. While there’s nothing really bad about this, it in no way is what the N.T. speaks about when referring to the church in your city! The church in your city are all the believers who reside in your city. The 5-fold operating in the ‘church’ are simply all the 5-fold carrying out fathers plan for the kingdom in your city. Trying to see the 5-fold restored or the ‘city church’ through the lens of the building of man only does more harm than good! CHAPTER 11; THE TABERNACLE OF MOSES/DAVID. One of the most interesting studies I have ever done was on the tabernacle of David. When I first heard of ‘the tabernacle of David’ I thought it was referring to Moses tabernacle. I never knew that there were 2 tabernacles, and that both existed at the same time! What a contrast between law and grace contained right in the O.T. and we look right past it and don’t ‘see’ the significance of the pattern! I am not going to give you all the references to where these tabernacles are mentioned in scripture, because it would take too much time to look them up right now, and being I don’t make a profit personally from our ministry [NO SALARIES FOR ME BROTHER!] I’ll have you guys look the verses up for yourselves. It will take an in depth study to ‘see’ everything I am about to show you. During Moses time as a leader of Gods people, God instituted the tabernacle system [the tabernacle of Moses]. This system of worship and service was simply a way to show a type of Christ’s future ministry and sacrifice on our behalf. The high priest and sacrificial system surrounding this tabernacle showed how hard it was for sinful man to approach a holy God without atonement and a priest to serve as a ‘stand in’ for man. Those of you who know the bible are familiar with this. The 2 tablets of the 10 commandments were contained in the ark [box] in the back room of this 2-room movable tent structure. The reason the tabernacle was moveable as a tent that would be set up and taken down as God led, was for a type of Gods progressive revelation for the ages to come. God was showing whenever the cloud by day or fire by night would move so like wise the people of God [a fluent group of followers as opposed to a stagnant place/ ecclesia verses temple!] would be able to move and follow the Spirits direction. The reason God wanted a MOBILE STRUCTURE AS OPPOSED TO A TEMPLE WAS TO SHOW THE ORGANIC NATURE OF ECCLESIA AS OPPOSED TO A STAGNANT TEMPLE CONCEPT! Well later on in Jewish history the people blew it over and over again [a type of the laws inability to change mans nature] and eventually the ark of the covenant [the box with the 10 commandments in it] was taken captive by Israel’s enemy and what you had left was an empty tent, with structure and priest [pastor] and all the ritual of ministry without God! The ark also represented Gods presence because the law is simply a little glimpse of Gods character enclosed in an earthly vessel [which is a type of the incarnation of Jesus too!]. Well as you can imagine the system of ‘church’ continued to go on without a hitch. The fact that God left their tent a long time ago didn’t stop these ministry focused Jews one bit! They kept going strong for God even though He wasn’t in their tent [church] anymore. They had too much riding on the tent system of church in order to shut things down and seek God! After all the Levitical priests would loose their salaries and the tithers would have no were to put their tithes on Sabbath day! Well as Israel managed to keep the tent system alive [absent God] The Lord would eventually raise up a new king after Gods own heart whose name was David. This king was different than all the others. He would be a type of Christ for all future generations. This king rose to power and wanted to know why the people were so willing to carry on church [tent] without that ark! After all God was in that thing [or so they thought]. Well king David would have none of this and quickly devises a scheme to return the ark back to Gods people. In his zeal he goes after the ark to recapture it again, and well you know the story, the poor brother who was picked to go on this ministry assignment accidentally touches the ark when it is about to fall and the brother is slightly rebuked by the Lord [he gets killed!]. Well much to David’s dismay the ark gets sidetracked at some brothers house for a while, and low and behold the brother whose house the ark is at is so blessed that all his neighbors think he hit the Texas lotto [its all right to joke a little, after all 99% of Christendom is still stuck with the tent and no ark and yet God hasn’t killed us yet]. So after David sees this he goes back to the scripture and realizes that God only killed poor brother so and so because he didn’t follow the right tent carrying procedure that is supposed to be used when retrieving a captive ark from hostile territory [wow, who would have known that there was a manual on that one!]. So David calls the ministry team together again and explains to them that the reason old brother so and so died was because he messed up on some little technicality and David’s willing to give it another try! Well as you can imagine the brothers weren’t fighting over this ministry opportunity. Hey send me to the nursing home or something. Well lo and behold they get a team together and go get that ark and no one gets slain in the Spirit. David now builds a brand new tent to put this ark in. I never saw this before. This tent [Davids tabernacle] is set up by David and is a complete violation of the entire system regulating tent-etiquette! You would think they would have learned not to stray from that rule anymore! But bless God this new tent system is greater than the old mosaic one by 1000 %! David sets up his worshippers and praisers who even start their own worship ministry, writing famous music and all [where did you think psalms came from!]. This tent [church] is way better than old Moses tent [church]. All the people in town cant wait to go to David’s tent, and he even picks up some members from Moses tent and as you can imagine there is a little tension between David’s ministry and the tent Moses started way before this David ever came on the seen [who does David think he is starting this new tent in town, doesn’t he know that the Moses tent people were here long before him!]. Well David goes ahead anyway and has the most successful tent ministry in the region. He has the coveted ark, no formal worship service, just free flowing access to the ark! No 2-room system anymore brother, and the praise and worship service, well you cant beat it with a stick [or should we be scriptural and say rod]. Well this new tent is so daring that David even thinks he’s a priest. He has the nerve to put on an ephod! This is something only priests can do! [That’s if your under law, but in this new tent all are priests, and after all David is a type of Jesus and if I remember I think he has something to do with being a priest and king, doesn’t He?]. Well this new tent is so good people started calling it a mega-tent. It’s definitely the tent to be at. If they had Christian TV back then you would be able to pick this tent service up 7 days a week. Things are going so good David’s not about to change things now. WRONG! David is so excited about the great success he’s finding in ministry that he comes up with this great idea. Lets build a temple for God. Surely God would like this permanent structure, after all I’m doing it to glorify Him. Well just to be sure let me call old brother Nathan [he has a great prophetic ministry you know! Very accurate]. Well old Nathan finds time in his very active ministry schedule to meet with David. David floats his plan, and lo and behold Nathan prophesies some great sounding words and the deal is done! Surely a prophet as accurate as Nathan cant go wrong? Well Nathan goes back to his international ministry headquarters and God tells him he was wrong! What, I’m a national level prophet! I can’t go back on what I said, it will ruin my ministry! Old David already went and told everyone about my great sounding prophetic word and this will utterly ruin my income! I must prosper so I can finance my prophetic ministry or else I wont be able to keep up with the big boys! Nevertheless Nathan does God this one favor and tells David he was wrong. The Lord actually tells David that He never wanted a temple in the first place! Could it be that the tent David was ruling over was a better picture of the NEW TESTAMENT community of believers who were yet to come [I think so!]. Could it be that David’s rule as a king and priest over Gods prophetic community would have been fulfilled better if they stuck with the moveable [organic] tent system than a permanent building? Well the rest is history. Let me get a little serious here. I am not saying your church building is wrong. I am saying God is more concerned with the organic nature and growth of ecclesia than he is with your church building program! CONCLUSION. The church continually is in a state of reform and restoration until we all come into the unity of the faith and maturity in Christ. During each generation of church history God had people and groups of believers who were flowing in greater truth than those around them. This is not to say they were a special or elite class, but simply a remnant who were moving ahead of the status quoi! God will only allow the church to recover so much truth and experience as much change as she can handle in any one generation. This principle is found in the story of the children of Israel only being able to take so much land at a time as they were entering their inheritance [Deut;7:22]. God told them if they took too much at one time the wild animals would overtake the land faster than the children of Israel could settle in it. So likewise the Lord allows certain amounts of truth and restoration to take hold in each generation of church history. The reformation of the 15th/16th century restored the lost truth of justification, but Luther didn’t deal with the truth of ecclesia being a community as opposed to a place of meeting. The Lord allowed Luther to go so far and then stop. You can see this pattern in all areas of Gods restoration of truth in every generation of believers. The Protestants moved into truth concerning justification by faith, but they simply replaced the concept of the catholic priest with the role of pastor. They never dealt with the ‘way’ we do church, but only with certain doctrines concerning church. The old tradition of a priest/pastor mentality never changed. This mentality is not found in the book of acts or the gospels, but was introduced sometime around the 4th century when the emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. The well-meaning emperor wanted stability for his realm and slowly introduced the ‘church’ building concept with the role of the ‘priest/pastor’ as the person in charge who is ‘hired’ to perform certain functions for the people whom he works for. The pagan concept of funerals and weddings and so forth were now the responsibility of this new office instituted by Constantine. This is not to say that weddings and funerals are wrong, the bible contains stories dealing with weddings and funerals, but to simply show how the church began to loose the community mentality and digressed into a professional clergy/laity mindset. Over the generations the Lord has been in the process of restoring us back to a family mentality as opposed to an institutional mindset. All the things I’ve dealt with in this book are open and free for anyone to see w