Tuesday, March 31, 2015
.CAN WE WEAR SHORT, SHORTS?
.THE ATHEIST KNEW
NEW NOTES BELOW-
. ON EATING MEAT [I wrote this commentary years ago- so I added some recent notes below].
.DAVID KORESH- KING CYRUS?
.RETHINKING HOMELESS MINISTRY.
.TIMOTHY CHAPTER 6]
(869)ROMANS 14:1-9 Paul discusses Christian convictions. Things that are personal habits of discipline where the scripture is silent on. Some believers abstain from certain types of food. Others see certain days as ‘more special’ than the others. It’s important to see that in this discussion Paul is not concerned with ‘who is right’. Though he will describe the legalistic believers as ‘weak in the faith’. And he himself will say he is convinced that ‘nothing is unclean in and of itself’. He is speaking about the convictions mentioned above. When I first became a believer I attended a good church. It was a Fundamental Baptist church that was a little legalistic in these areas. I remember a funny story, some of the brothers went on a canoe trip. We had a blast. One of the guys was wearing these old cut off shorts that looked like ‘blue jean hot pants’ [who wears short shorts, we wear short shorts!] the pants were old and the ‘fly’ kept unzipping. We told the brother ‘hey James, your gonna get us arrested or something if you can’t keep your shorts on!’. He got mad and called us a bunch of legalists! As you can see there are times where this accusation can simply be an excuse. But seriously the church was old fashioned [though well meaning]. I had another friend of mine that I led to the Lord and he asked ‘what’s wrong with the Christian rock, I like it’? He had heard some songs from the group Petra and he thought they were great. He also questioned why it was wrong for his boys to play mixed sports in public school. He was taught that the boys and girls wearing shorts in mixed company was wrong. So things like this are personal convictions that believers should not use to judge others. I want to stress that Paul does not condemn the more legalistic brothers, but he does make it clear that this is a sign of ‘weaker faith’. A faith that looks at the insignificant things and makes them significant. Many ‘Emergent’ church folk [of which I am one to a degree] seem to have had this type of background. Or at least are familiar with the classic evangelical message and preaching. Some have found a revolution in their thinking by re-organizing their lives around the actual lifestyle and teachings of Christ [which is a very good thing!]. But some seem to despise the older type churches and expressions of Christianity that they experienced while growing up. Some even cast away the good with the bad! Though many of the more legalistic churches practiced this type of Christianity, yet I commend them on spreading the gospel of Gods grace. Taking seriously their faith in the Lord. And being historic defenders of the faith at a time when the more liberal universities were throwing out the baby with the bathwater [the 20th century fundamentalist movement].
(870)ROMANS 14: 10-23 ‘As I live…every knee shall bow and every tongue confess’. Paul teaches that we will all give an account of ourselves to God. He shows that one of the proofs that ‘he lives’ rides on this fact. How? The context of every one giving an account of his life is speaking of a future judgment day. But we also see the reality of Gods existence in the fact that most people [even atheists!] have at one time or another ‘spoken to God’. I was listening [or reading?] a testimony of a woman who was an atheist. Her child became critically ill and as the days went by in the hospital she had a conversation that went like this ‘I cant pray to God now. I would be a hypocrite. I have denied him my whole life’. The point is she actually knew that in time of need you should pray to God. This universal reality that most people on the planet have at one time or another ‘confessed to God’ is proof of his existence. Paul says because of this fact that we all will give an account to God, therefore don’t judge other people [motives] before the time. If you have the freedom to ‘eat meat’ [less legalistic] then by all means do so. But if this freedom causes another to stumble, then your first priority as a Christian is to live your life in an unselfish way for the benefit of others. So do not let your freedom become an offence to those who have ‘weaker faith’. Do all things with the benefit of others in mind. When Paul says ‘don’t judge your brother’ he is not saying there is never a time for correction and reproof. Paul used very harsh language when dealing with the Judaizers. These Jewish legalists did believe in Christ, they just mixed the law in with the gospel. Paul rebuked them harshly [just like Jesus and the religious leaders of his day]. But when dealing with new believers, those who are ‘weaker in the faith’ you don’t want to overload them with too much stuff. You want them to grow and mature in the proper time. If you used to be legalistic [not going to movies, not eating pork, all types of stuff] and now are more mature in your thinking [though some movies are bad and pork isn’t real good for you!] you should not despise those who still see the practice of their faith thru this lens. Paul said ‘he that eats, eats unto the Lord. He that abstains does it also to the lord’. In these less important restrictions that some believers abide by, most of the times their motives are pure. We shouldn’t demean them. We should try to live peaceably with all men as much as possible, we will all give an account some day.
IS EATING MEAT OK?
The question of food and Holy Days are a subject that the Apostle Paul deals with more than one time in his letters to the churches.
For us today- it might not seem like a big issue- but for various reasons it was an issue for the 1st century church.
When he wrote the church at Corinth- their issue was whether or not it was ok to eat meat sacrificed to idols.
Corinth had a tradition [non-Christian that is] where the town folk would sacrifice animals to various ‘gods’.
Now- the priests who dealt in this trade- would take the leftover meat from the animal- and either eat it- or sell it to the local ‘butcher’.
These sacrifices were to false gods [also understood to be demon entities by the 1st century Jewish/Christian communities].
So- the question was- is it ok to eat the meat?
The apostle Paul tells them that we know there are no other gods but the true God- and meat in general is ok for us living under the New Covenant [he also says in the End Times some will command to not eat meat- and that God gave us all animals to be received with thanksgiving].
So- in general- the meat was fine.
But- if doing it offends a weaker brother- then don’t eat it.
Meat also played a big role in another sense- the Jewish converts to Christianity were indeed taught kosher rules for food/meat.
Were these converts not to obey their old religious rules about food?
We read of this type of debate all thru the New testament- not just about meat- but about the whole transition of the Jewish believers- and their relationship to the Old Law.
In Acts chapter 13- and 15 you can get a good feel of this debate.
There are Christians today who still struggle with the Old Law- and how we today should relate to it.
Paul says he is persuaded that there is nothing unclean in and of itself [here talking about food- not things like adultery- which some of my friends think is ok- I can’t stress enough that when the bible says ‘nothing is unclean in and of itself’- it is NEVER TALKING ABOUT BREAKING THE 10 COMMANDMENTS].
So- in the end- if in areas of what we call Christian convictions- it’s simply a matter of choice-
If the bible is silent on an issue- then lean towards grace-
But- if your freedom hurts your brother- because he thinks it’s a bad thing- then be willing to abstain from it- like eating the meat that was sacrificed to the idol- at least while their around.
Some see a contradiction in Paul's teaching- at one point he says ‘meats ok- even if part of it was used as a sacrifice to idols’- yet he also says ‘don’t eat at THE TABLE with devils [demons]’.
Ok- one of the practices at the city of Corinth was you ate in a sort of ‘demonic’ Eucharist- those who worshiped false gods had a sort of meal like Christians celebrated- which we call Holy Communion.
These idol worshippers did sort of the same thing- they ate together at their own TABLE_ in a sort of celebration of their gods-
So- Paul did forbid this practice- he told the church at Corinth you cannot eat at the table of the Lord and the table of devils-
If you were actually participating at the Table- eating the meat there- in celebration of the false god- then it’s wrong.
But- if you simply bought some of the left over meat- at the local butcher- that was fine.
No contradiction at all.
KING CYRUS- DAVIVD KORESH?
Paul uses a quote from Isaiah 45 ‘every knee shall bow- tongue confess’ – talking about God using a pagan king- King Cyrus- to restore Israel to their land.
We read about him in the book of Ezra and Daniel-
He gave the famous decree for God’s people to return to their land [2nd Chronicles 36, Ezra 1].
Josephus the historian indicates that Cyrus was shown the prophecy about him [written by Isaiah about 150 years before].
It’s possible that Daniel himself showed this to Cyrus- being he held a high position in the Persian empire- at this time.
David Koresh- the infamous leader of the branch Davidians [a breakaway sect from the 7TH day Adventist church] took his name from Cyrus-
Koresh is the Persian name for Cyrus the Great.
.IS THIS ABOUT US GETTING STUFF?
.WHO ‘RAN’ THE CHURCH?
.WHAT WAS PAUL’S SERVICE TO THE CHURCH?
(871)ROMANS 15:1-7 ‘we then that are strong [more mature] ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not please ourselves’. In Philippians we have the ‘KENOSIS’ the act of Jesus, who being in the form of God, thought it not something to be used for his own advantage. He did not see his purpose in the kingdom as one of ‘let’s find out our rights in the covenant and posses what’s rightfully ours’. A few years back it was common to hear ‘God told me his people don’t have a problem with giving [oh really?] but they need to learn how to receive’. While there might be a ‘speck’ of truth in this, the overall ethos of the kingdom [according to Jesus and Paul] is ‘we are not here to please ourselves, but give up our rights and blessings for the purpose of pleasing others’ [building them up, edifying them]. Paul makes this statement right after the chapter on Christian convictions. He shows us that even if we are right on a particular issue, it is ‘more right’ to not offend or put a stumbling block in our brother’s path. It is possible to ‘be right’ in a particular doctrine or truth, and yet ‘be wrong’ in that we might have used it in a way that destroyed the purpose of God in building others up. Many in the church [at large!] have unwittingly ‘tore down’ the poor and oppressed by seeking ‘their own pleasure’. Many overseas countries have been hurt by the amount of pleasure seeking doctrines that went into their countries. Many 3rd world Pastors gave sacrificially out of their extreme poverty to rich American ‘pleasure seekers’ and their poor people suffered greatly when they did not get a literal 100 fold return as was promised. Paul said ‘we that are strong ought to help the weak, and not please ourselves’.
(872)ROMANS 15: 8-14 Paul freely quotes from Psalms and Isaiah [the 2 most quoted Old Testament books in the New Testament] and shows how God always had a future plan to include the Gentiles. In the first century mindset, ‘salvation’ was seen more in a nationalistic sense than an individual ‘me and Jesus’ type thing. The messianic promises were for the ‘commonwealth’ of Israel. As the gospel would expand into the Gentile nations, Peter would call us ‘a holy nation’. Still couching the purposes of God and his kingdom in a nationalistic way [not human ‘nations’ but Gods people]. So for Paul it is significant to show how King David [the greatest king Israel ever had] actually prophesied [Psalms] of the future inclusion of the Gentiles into the corporate ‘nation of God’. Also Paul says ‘you are able to admonish one another’. A theme in Paul's writings is the ability of the ‘local believers/church’ to have within them a corporate ability for self edification. He teaches an idea that says ‘you are all able members of Christ’s Body, therefore build each other up’. Notice how Paul is not speaking into the modern day concept of ‘the Pastor’ who is usually seen as the main ‘builder’. In all of Paul’s letters he addresses the entire body to carry out the function of the church. He tells the Corinthians ‘when you are all gathered together, commit the unrepentant believer over to satan for the destruction of the flesh’. He gave this very heavy charge to the church. He did not see it as something that was to be carried out by a singular office [Bishop or Pastor]. So here we see Paul admonish the local believers to build each other up.
(873)ROMANS 15: 15-20 Paul appeals to his apostolic authority as ‘the apostle to the Gentiles’ in defense of his strong letter. He also says ‘I dare not use any thing that Christ has not wrought by me to make the Gentiles obedient’. Was Paul saying he would not speak about his past testimony and struggles with sin? I don’t think so. He already spoke of these struggles in this letter [chapter 7]. If you keep reading he says ‘thru mighty signs and wonders, by the power of Gods Spirit’. If you read Galatians, Paul says ‘how did you receive the Spirit, by the works of the law or the hearing of faith’ [P.S. for those still stuck on chapter 10 of Romans, see here how Paul saw the passive hearing as the only outward sign of receiving the Spirit- not calling!] here Paul appeals to the Galatians and says they received the Spirit and God wrought miracles among them [mighty signs and wonders] thru faith. In Acts we saw how the primary purpose of the charismatic signs and wonders was for the proclaiming of the gospel. The signs testify of Jesus being the Messiah. So here in Romans I think Paul is simply saying ‘I will not resort to the preaching of the law’, the main tool used by the Judaizers to try and gain ‘obedience’ among the Gentiles in order to make the Gentiles obedient [these are the things that Christ has not wrought by him. They represented Paul's past experience in Judaism]. But instead he will declare the gospel of God’s grace. He will lean on the Cross of Christ as the functional tool to ‘bring obedience to the Gentiles’.
(874)ROMANS 15: 20-33 ‘Now I go to
minister to the saints’ ‘my service to them’. Paul tells the Romans that he is
going to ‘minister’ and have ‘service’ towards the Jerusalem saints. How would you take it if I
said ‘I am going to New York
to minister, hold a ‘service’ in the church’. You would see me as saying I was
going to preach in a building, do my best to encourage the people. And before I
left I was going to receive an offering. Paul is saying nothing of the sort!
His ‘ministry and service’ are speaking of his charitable work among the poor.
He received gifts from the churches for the sole purpose of meeting the needs
of the poor. He even says ‘if you Gentiles have been made partakers of their
blessings, you should help them out financially’. We are familiar with this
terminology when Paul uses it to speak of meeting the needs of Elders, but we
very rarely apply it to the meeting of the needs of the poor. Paul had a ‘service’
for the saints, and he was not speaking in terms of going to some town and
preaching a message and taking an offering. Service in the first century
context was giving of your time and resources for the benefit of others. Doing
things at your own expense, not always receiving a recompense yourself. I
wonder where they got such an ‘unbiblical idea’. It reminds me of the time when
Jesus put on a towel and washed the disciples feet. Another one of those
strange passages that seem to teach that leadership is here to serve, not be
served. These kingdom precepts do not fit in with the modern idea of
.HOW DO WE UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE?
.DID THE EARLY CHURCH BELIEVE THE RAPTURE?
.SHOULD WE ‘PREACH’ AT ALL?
(875)ROMANS 16- Some debate the ‘canonicity’ of this chapter. They feel that all the personal greetings from Paul are too personal. Let’s talk a little about the Canon [inspiration of the scriptures]. First, I am a ‘bible believing Christian’ who holds to the historic doctrine of scripture. But you do have varying views on what the historic doctrine is. I hold to the idea that God never intended for the letters that were written in the first century, which have become our New Testament, to be writings that were pulled out of time. That is the writers had to have been writing with a contextual purpose in mind. The recipients of the letters had to have had some type of practical instructions that they could wrap their minds around. So for John to say something to the seven churches in Asia Minor [Revelation] it was just common sense that the actual recipients of the letters would expect something practical for their day. This of course does not mean there are no further applications or instructions for us today, but we need to have a more personal understanding of the give and take between the Apostles and the people they were writing to. So this is how I think we should view the personal stuff in the Canon. This also needs to be understood when interpreting scripture. I have made the argument before for the 1st century belief in Christ’s literal second coming. I have also taught how the early church had no concept of a Rapture that was separated from the return of Christ. The event spoken of by Paul in Thessalonians chapter 4 is a real thing that takes place at Christ’s return. We get ‘caught up to meet him in the air’. Now how confusing would it be for the first century readers of Paul's letters, to have one letter that speaks of a second coming, and another that spoke of a rapture? It would be next to impossible to have any coherent view of scripture if they did stuff like this. You could then make an argument for any doctrine. There would be no coherent thinking if you were living in Thessalonica and read a letter from Paul that used the same terminology about the return of Christ as he used in a letter to the Corinthians. And if you relocated to Corinth and said ‘Oh, yes. Paul wrote to us about the resurrection and return of Jesus. But when he wrote to us he was speaking of the rapture, but when he wrote to you he was talking about a different event called the second coming’. This type of thinking would have been disastrous for the early church. They were all receiving letters from Paul that contained basic truth. The fact that these letters were not included in an entire collection [as we have today] leads us to believe that the basic message had to stay the same in all of these letters, or else you would have had havoc in the early church.
(876)ROMANS 16- CONCLUSION Okay, lets try and finish up Romans. We do see some good stuff in this last chapter. We see Paul addressing women as functional ministers in the church. Phoebe is a deaconess, Junia an apostle! I still believe that Elders were only men, but women did function in the first century Ecclesia’s. Paul also says ‘mark those which cause divisions contrary to the doctrine you have learned and avoid them’. Now, I have heard the strict Baptists use this against the Pentecostals, and it did put the fear of God in you! But then I heard the Pentecostals use it against the strict Baptists, and it also put the fear of God in you! [maybe another fear?] The point being you could use this to defend any doctrine you ‘have been taught’ by well meaning men. Here Paul is warning against those who were early on departing from the faith [the basic elements of the gospel and Gods grace]. The apostle John addresses those who ‘went out from us, but were not of us’ ‘whoever rejects Christ as come in the flesh is anti christ’ [1st John]. You did have those who rejected the basic elements of the gospel and the incarnation of Jesus. Paul warned the Corinthians not to depart from the reality of Christ's resurrection [1st Corinthians 15]. And of course Paul openly rebuked the Judiazers for trying to put the gentile believers under the restrictions of the Mosaic law. So even though these types of verses seem to fit in to our present day controversies and differences among various denominational groups, yet in context they refer to those who were rejecting the basic tenets of the faith. Paul also encourages ‘God will crush satan under our feet shortly’ ‘God is able to establish us thru the gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ’. Let me defend the concept of ‘old fashioned preaching’ a little. While I and many others have publicly taught a type of new testament ecclesiology that is absent the ‘weekly pulpit Pastoral office’. Yet there is biblical precedent for the preaching of the Word. Paul taught in chapter 10 ‘how can they hear without a preacher, and how can they preach unless they are sent’? God strengthens believers thru the preaching of Gods Word. While it is wrong for the average believer to depend solely on this preaching to become educated in the things of God, yet there is a strengthening that God gives to the believer when he comes under the pure preaching of Christ. As we end Romans, I want to re emphasize the major doctrine of justification by faith. The reformation of the 16th century did not happen in a vacuum. God restored a very vital truth back to the people of God. All Christians should be grounded and well versed in the reality of God freely accepting us based on simple faith in Jesus Christ. Now, I realize that many are returning to a more 'sermon on the mount’ orientation of the Christian lifestyle. As I have taught before I think this is a good thing. A ‘re-focusing’ on the teachings and instruction of Jesus. But I think we also need to emphasize the many statements from Jesus himself on those who believe having everlasting life [John’s gospel]. Romans is a masterpiece letter from Paul, one of his main points was justification by faith. God wants believers to be grounded in this truth.
RETHINKING HOMELESS MINISTRY
SUNDAY- On the way to church I figured I would stop for gas at the station where I used to help with the halfway house.
I pulled into the Stripes off Laredo Street- kind of a bad area in our city- known for drug problems.
I saw 2 homeless guys at the coffee area-
I offered to buy them their coffee- they said thanks, but they had the money.
So I thought it might have sounded a bit strange for me to offer to buy- I said ‘I worked with the homeless for years- that’s why I offered’.
Sure enough- one guy said ‘Yeah- I know you from the mission’.
I didn’t even know these guys.
About a month ago the same thing happened when I went into a discount store- an older guy said ‘hi John’.
‘Do I know you’?
‘Yeah- I’m Paul- I know you from the streets’.
Jesus in his ‘end time’ judgment scenarios says he will say at the judgment to those who have done right- you get in.
How did he describe the righteous?
‘If you have done good to the least of these- you did it to me’.
As he tells the story- he says the righteous will say ‘when did we feed you- help you- visit you’.
He says when you did it to the least of these-you did it to me.
They didn’t even know- remember- that they did what he wanted.
In the video I talked about my last incident that happened last week at the mission.
Yeah- I have been struggling with moving on from the many years of street ministry- but it is time to move on for various reasons [not just what I shared in the video at the end].
Ministries that serve the homeless- they do a good thing- I’ve done it for 25 years or more.
Yet- these last few years I have told the guys- up and up- that the problem is they need to stop using drugs- drinking- stealing- all the criminal stuff they do- on a regular basis.
Now- Jesus and the New Testament speak a lot about the poor- and defend the poor.
But- the bible also says ‘If a man will not work- he should not eat’.
The poor that Jesus and the bible defend are those who are in need- not because they are committing crimes- or are too lazy to work-
But in need because of circumstances beyond their control.
In Paul’s pastoral letters [Timothy- Titus] criteria are given for the poor who are ‘worthy’ of assistance.
These are widows and children and those who are in poverty because of no fault of their own.
These are the poor that the bible teaches us to help.
But what I see in my 25 years of working with homeless ministries- is they are simply enabling these guys to keep on sinning- or enabling them to not work.
Many receive disability- and are In better shape than me!
Their checks go to drugs- out and out.
The bible does not have a type of ‘ministry’ that preaches to drug users- criminals- etc.- year after year after year- without also preaching repentance.
It might feel good for the homeless/street preachers [of which I am/have been one for 25 years] to keep doing it.
Because it keeps us occupied- and feels good.
But- we have to re-evaluate if we are simply enabling the street guys to continue living criminal lives.
In the end- they too will have to give an account for their lives- and it would be wrong for us- the street preachers- to have not made a real effort to tell them that something needs to change- and fast.
On the video I mentioned a talk I had with a guy at the flea market- I quoted from this chapter below- thought I would paste it to this post-
It really gives a good balance for us today.
10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work , neither . 2nd Thes.3:101Timothy 6:1 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.
1Timothy 6:2 And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.
1Timothy 6:3 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;
1Timothy 6:4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
1Timothy 6:5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
1Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
1Timothy 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
1Timothy 6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
1Timothy 6:9 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.
1Timothy 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.
1Timothy 6:11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
1Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
1Timothy 6:13 I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;
1Timothy 6:14 That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:
1Timothy 6:15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
1Timothy 6:16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
1Timothy 6:17 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;
1Timothy 6:18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;
1Timothy 6:19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
1Timothy 6:20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:
1Timothy 6:21 Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.
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.#
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
[note- there’s much more on the video than the post]
.What effect did the Renaissance have on the Reformation?
.How did Erasmus differ from Luther?
.Do Catholics exalt Tradition over Scripture?
.Do Catholics believe in Justification by Faith?
.Catholic teaching on Civil Authorities [Romans 13].
.What does ‘AdFontes’ mean- and how does it relate to the Renaissance/Reformation?
.Was Paul a full time preacher- paid?
.Is he teaching universalism here?
.Elijah was not alone.
(861)Romans 11:13- ‘For I speak to you Gentiles, in as much as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify my office’. Let me just make a few comments today. How is Paul 'exercising’ his apostolic authority over the Gentiles in Rome? We know he hasn’t been there yet [since becoming a follower of Jesus]. He did not have some type of relationship with them where they contributed to him. He was holding no ‘church services’. He exercised it by speaking into their lives and caring for their welfare. He did this by WRITING THIS LETTER! Recently there has been some discussion on ‘Gods government’ and the apostles ‘bringing things into alignment’ [dealing with the mistakes at Lakeland]. Lots of talk that I am familiar with. What is Gods government? In the world we have 2 competing ‘world views’- systems or modes of operation. You have God’s kingdom, and then the worlds system. When the apostle John said ‘love not the world, neither the things that are in the world’ he was referring to this system of lies and pride and sin. In Gods kingdom you operate under his laws ‘love the Lord thy God with all thy heart… and your neighbor as yourself’. In this family [children of God] you have different types of ‘gifts’. Some are apostles, others prophets, etc. All these gifted ones are given for the singular purpose of building you up so you can have a mature faith grounded in Christ and be the ‘glorious temple’ of God in the earth. Paul was playing his part by communicating Jesus to these Roman Gentiles. He did not have some type of a corporate relationship with them where he said ‘commit to my authority over you. Either I will be your ‘covering’ or someone else!’ These are mans ideas. Now, we often say ‘Paul didn’t receive money from the Corinthians, but he did from the other churches’. I have said this myself. Paul did receive support from the Philippians, but that was support for his traveling ministry. To get him to the next place. If you read carefully you will see Paul telling the Thessalonians ‘when I was with you I did not eat, or take stuff for free. My hands ministered to both me and those that were with me’ I think he even said he worked night and day. When he spoke to the Ephesians elders in the book of Acts, he also said ‘I labored when I was with you, I did not take support from you when I was there. I did this to leave you ELDERS an example’. Now, the point I want to make is it seems as if Paul did not take money when he was actually living among the saints. It seems he took it only for traveling expenses [and of course for his ministry to the poor saints at Jerusalem]. Now, I believe and teach that it is scriptural to meet the needs, financially, of laboring elders. The reason I mention this is to show you that being an ‘apostle’ or any other gifted minister in the church simply means you bear extra responsibility to bring Gods people to maturity. It was not some type of office where you were a ‘professional minister’. When I hear all the talk of ‘Gods apostles are bringing Gods government back into alignment’ for the most part these are men’s ideas being applied to an American corporate 501c3 ministry. Gods ‘government’ operates along different lines. So in this example Paul said ‘I magnify my office’ he was simply imparting some truth to them for the purpose of their own edification. Paul did not see them coming under ‘his covering’.
(862)ROMANS 11- let me make a note on the previous entry. Over the last few years, as well as many years of experience with ‘ministry/church’, I have seen how easy it is to fall into the well meaning mindset of ‘I am going into the ministry, this is my career choice. My responsibility is to do ‘Christian stuff’ and the people’s role is to support me’[ I am not taking a shot at well meaning Pastors, I am basically speaking of the many friends I have met over the years who seemed to think ministry was a way to get financial support]. In the previous entry I mentioned how Paul seemed to have a mode of operation that said ‘when I am residing with a community of believers, I refuse to allow them to support me. I will work with my own hands to give them an example, not only to the general saints, but also to the elders. I am showing you that leadership is not a means to get gain’. It does seem ‘strange’ for us to see this. Of course we know Paul also taught the churches that it was proper and right to support those who ‘labor among you’. I have taught all this in the past and I don’t want to ‘re-teach’ it all again. The point I want to make is we ‘in ministry’ really need to rethink what we do. How many web-sites have I gone to that actually have icons that say ‘pay me here’. The average person going to these sites must think ‘pay you for what’? Paul did not teach the mindset of ‘pay me here, now’. Also in this letter to the Romans we are reading Paul’s correspondence to the believers at Rome. He often used this mode of ‘authority’ [writing letters] to exercise his apostolic office. Of course he also traveled to these areas [Acts] and spent time with them. And as I just showed you he supported himself on purpose when he was with the saints. Basically Paul is carrying out the single most effective apostolic ministry of all time [except for Jesus] and he is doing it without all the modern techniques of getting paid. He actually is doing all this writing and laboring at his own expense. He told the Corinthians ‘the fathers [apostles] spend for the children, not the children for the fathers’. So in todays talk on ‘apostles’ being restored. God ‘bringing back into alignment apostolic government’ we need to tone down all the quoting of verses [even the things Paul said!] that seem to say to the average saint ‘how do you expect us to reach the world if you do not ‘bring all the tithes into the storehouse’! When we put this guilt trip on the people of God we are violating very fundamental principles of scripture. Now, let’s try and finish up chapter 11. Paul is basically telling Israel and the Gentiles that God’s dealings are beyond our understanding [last few verses]. God is using the ‘unbelief’ of Israel as an open door to the Gentiles. He is also using the mercy that he is showing to the Gentiles as an ‘open door’ to Israel! He will ‘provoke them to jealousy’. There are a few difficult verses that would be unfair for me to skip over. ‘All Israel shall be saved’. Paul uses this to show that God’s dealings with natural Israel as a nation are not finished. Who are ‘all Israel’? Some say ‘the Israel of God’ [the church]. I don’t think this fits the text. Some say ‘all Israel that will be alive at the second coming’ I think this is closer. To be honest I think this can simply mean ‘all Israel’ all those who are alive and also raised at the return of the Lord. Now, this would be a form of universalism [all people eventually being saved]. I am not a Universalist, but I don’t want any ‘preconceived’ mindset [even my own!] to taint the text. I think God has the ability to reveal himself to the whole nation of Israel in such a way that ‘they all will be saved’. If I were a Jewish person I wouldn’t wait for this to happen! Just like the Calvinists argument of ‘why witness’? Because God commands it. So even though you can make an argument here for a type of universal redemption at Christ’s revealing of himself to Israel at the second coming [which is in keeping with this chapter, as well as other areas in scripture; ‘they will look upon him whom they have pierced’ ‘God will pour out the spirit of mourning and supplication on Israel at his appearing’. Which by the way would fit in with ‘whoever calls on the Lord will be saved’ which I taught in chapter 10. This is a futurist text implying a time of future judgment and wrath’]. So God’s dealings with Israel are not finished. Paul also warns the Gentiles ‘don’t boast, if God cut out the true branches [Israel] to graft you in. He can just as quickly cut you out too’! It would be dishonest for me [a Calvinist] to simply not comment on this. You certainly can take this verse in an Arminian way. Or you can see Paul speaking in a ‘nationalistic sense’. Sort of like saying ‘if Germany walks away from the faith, they will be ‘cut out’. [France would have been a better example! Speaking of the so called ‘enlightenment’ and the French Revolution]. In essence ‘you Gentiles, don’t think “wow, look at us. God left Israel and we are now special!”’ Paul is saying ‘you Gentiles [as a whole group] stand by faith. God could just as quickly ‘cut you out’ and replace you with another group’. I also think the Arminians could use this type of argument for the previous predestination chapter . But to be honest I needed to give you my view. One more thing, Paul quotes Elijah ‘lord, I am the only one left’. He uses this in context of God having a remnant from Israel who remained faithful to the true God. God told Elijah ‘there are 7 thousand that have not bowed the knee to baal’. Paul uses this to show that even in his day there were a remnant Of Jews [himself included] who received the Messiah. An interesting side note. The prophetic ministry [Elijah] seems to function at a ‘popular level’. Now, I don’t mean ‘fame’, but Elijah was giving voice to a large undercurrent that was running thru the nation. If you read the story of Elijah you would have never known that there were ‘7 thousand’ who never bowed the knee! Often times God will use prophetic people to ‘give voice’ or popularize a general truth that is presently existing in the ‘underground church’ at large. Sort of like if Elijah had a web site, the 7 thousand would have been secretly reading it and saying ‘right on brother, that’s exactly what we believe too’!
.ARE SOME GIFTS BETTER THAN OTHERS?
.HOW SHOULD THEY FUNCTION IN THE ‘BODY’?
. HOW SHOUD WE GIVE OFFERINGS- DID PAUL TEAHC TITHING?
.HOT COALS ON THEIR HEADS- HUH?
(864)ROMANS 12:1-8 ‘I beseech you by the mercies of God to present your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service [spiritual worship]’. Most times we see ‘by the mercies of God’ as a recap of all that Paul has taught from chapters 1 thru 12. This is true to a degree. I think Paul is honing in on the previous chapters that dealt with the purpose of God specifically seen in the resurrection of the body. As we read earlier ‘for we are saved by hope’ [the hope of the resurrection]. Basically I see Paul saying ‘because of what I showed you concerning Gods redemptive purpose for your body, therefore present your body now, in anticipation of it’s future glorious purpose, as a living sacrifice ‘holy and acceptable unto God’. Why? Because you are going to have that thing [body] forever! [in a new glorified state] Paul exhorts us to be changed by the renewing of our mind, the way we think. I have mentioned in the past that this renewing is not some type of legalistic function of ‘memorizing, muttering the do’s and don’ts all day long’. But a reorganizing of our thoughts according to this new covenant of grace. Seeing things thru this ‘new world’ perspective. A kingdom view based upon grace and the resurrection of Jesus. This resurrection that is assured to us because we have the deposit of the Spirit which is our guarantee that God will complete the work that he has begun in us. And Paul will jump into one of his ‘Body of Christ’ analogies which he uses often to describe the people of God. Because we are all one body, we should think soberly about our different gifts and purposes. God gave some ‘better’ [or more noticeable] gifts for the overall edifying of the body. So don’t boast about it. All have varying gifts, freely given. Administrate them with much grace. Do it with humility and cheerfulness. We are simply children thru whom Gods Spirit manifests himself in different ways. Don’t boast that ‘Wow, daddy gave me a bike’. Or look, I got a more expensive Christmas present than you. Daddy distributes the gifts freely as he wills. They are for everyone’s benefit. Don’t use this grace gift as a means of self importance or prestige. It would be like ‘prostituting’ a gift for self-aggrandizement. People have done it, but it displeases the giver of the gift.
(865)ROMANS 12: 13 Paul continues to give some basic guidelines on practical Christian living. Notice his teaching on financial giving ‘distribute to the necessity of the saints’. This basic Christian doctrine from Jesus teachings has become the premier act of giving for the New Testament saint. The reason I have stressed this teaching as opposed to the more popular view of tithing, is because the scriptures place such a high priority on Christian charity. As I have mentioned before, Jesus even uses this basic description to describe those who ‘are righteous’ or ‘unrighteous’. He teaches the final judgment will be based on this outward identifier of ‘what we did to the least of these’. If you read carefully the New Testament epistles you will see a picture of ‘local church’ as a caring community of people who show their love for one another thru these acts of kindness and compassion. None of the New Testament letters teach a type of financial giving that focuses on ‘support the ministry/institution’ as being ‘the new testament church’ that replaced the ‘old testament temple’. For example a tithe system that supports the ‘pastor/priest’ in the same way the Levitical priests were supported under the law. It’s so vital for us to see and understand this. Because the average believer is taught thru out his life that his primary expression of giving is to ‘bring the tithe into the storehouse’ in such a way that it violates the actual primacy of giving as taught in the New Testament. Which is to regularly give to meet the needs of those around you. The fact that there were instances in the book of Acts or the letter to the Corinthians where believers gave an offering in a corporate way [the collection for the poor saints- 1st Cor. 15, or the laying of the money at the apostles feet in Acts] does not excuse the believer from the teaching that we should all regularly give to meet the needs of those around us. This is flatly taught as a regular part of the Christian experience. The other fact that Paul never once teaches the tithe as a function of giving for the Gentile churches should cause us all to take another look at the way we teach giving in the church today.
(866)ROMANS 12:14-21 Notice how Paul puts such a high priority on the principles of Jesus. He exhorts the saints to live by the precepts of the great ‘sermon on the mount’. Often times believers try and make a division between Paul’s revelation of justification by faith and the ‘liberal moral teachings of Jesus’. I see no division here. Paul actually quotes Jesus ‘if you’re treated badly, respond in love. By not getting even you heap “coals of fire on your enemies head”’. Actually, I remember how a few years back, when everybody was coming up with their ‘new revelation knowledge’ ideas on scripture. Things like ‘the camel going thru the eye of the needle’. Some taught Jesus was not really rebuking wealth, he was simply talking about a ‘low gate’ thru the wall of the city that was called the ‘eye of the needle’ and the camels had to crouch a little to get thru, true silliness! This verse ‘coals on the head’ was taught as saying Jesus was simply saying you were helping your enemy on cold nights by ‘keeping his head warm’! Sad. Jesus said don’t avenge yourselves, God will avenge you. Doesn’t sound like the lord is talking about ‘head warmers’! Look at these verses carefully. Paul incorporates the teachings of Christ as having a very high priority for the believer. We are often inundated with modern concepts of ministry. How to raise funds [or amass wealth]. Paul ‘locates’ the important thing as being centered on Christ. He knew if the churches [believing communities] of the first few centuries would follow this idea, that they would truly turn their world upside down for the cause.
.SHOULD WE OBEY WICKED RULERS?
.IS IT EVER RIGHT TO ‘NOT OBEY’ [Civil Disobedience].
.TAXES AND THE TITHE.
(867)ROMANS 13:1-6 Paul teaches that believers should ‘be subject’ unto human government. He shows us that ‘the powers that be are ordained of God’. All human leaders are given their position of authority, ultimately, from God. What about Hitler? Or evil Pharaoh? Did God ‘put them there’? If God is sovereign [which he is!] then he permits all things to transpire, that actually transpire! He does not ‘ordain evil’ in the sense that he initiates unrighteous things. But because he has the power to prevent anything from happening, if ‘it happens’ that a wicked ruler is in authority, then he in that sense ‘ordained it’. Understand Paul is writing this at a time in Roman history where the leaders were quite wicked. They worshipped false gods, and even claimed to themselves the title of ‘a god’. For Paul to use this language in this chapter, he even says ‘they are the ministers [servants] of God to thee for good’ is strong. Paul is also not teaching that there is never a cause for civil disobedience, in the sense of ‘whatever the government says, we will do’. In the New Testament we have Peter resisting the order to ‘not teach or preach in Jesus name’ [Acts]. He even says ‘should we obey God or man’ in his defense. Of course today we have legalized abortion, and in the case of later term abortions, the practice is equal to infanticide. We should do all that is in our legal power to stop the murder of unborn children. This law violates Gods law, from whom all human government is derived.
(868)ROMANS 13:7-14 ‘For this cause pay your taxes also, for they are Gods ministers’ I noted earlier how Paul taught ‘give to those around you that are in need’ [chapter 12] and here he teaches the importance of ‘paying taxes’. Where is the exhortation to ‘pay tithes’? In the ecclesiology of Paul, the ‘corporate community of people’ are the ‘new testament temple of God’. Therefore you see the need to ‘pay tribute’ to only two ‘institutions’. One being the ‘local church’ [as seen in simple giving to the needs of the community around you] and the other being ‘the government’. Paul sees no 3rd ‘institution’ that is called ‘the local church’ to which the tribute of the tithe belongs. To correctly apply the verse in Malachi [if you were going to use it at all. It is obvious that the prophet is directing the rebuke towards natural Israel] you would simply see the ‘bring all the tithes into the storehouse’ as ‘give to meet the needs of the community [Gods new testament storehouse] around you’. Now Paul teaches the primacy of the law of love for the believer. If we walk in Jesus command to love, we fulfill the law. And again Paul uses the language of ‘fluent soteriology’ [salvation]. He says ‘now is our salvation nearer than when we believed’. Paul comfortably jumps in and out of ‘being saved’ and ‘will be saved’. It is this free use of the term that we need to become familiar with. The New Testament clearly teaches a future salvation. And it is not as simple as ‘My spirit is saved, my mind [soul- which is really a very weak translation for soul. The soul is much more than the mind, emotions and intellect!] is ‘being saved’ and my body will be saved’. It is not this cut and dry. Your spirit is saved, your spirit will be saved and is being saved [he ever lives to make intercession to God for us- this ongoing intercession deals with all aspects of the humans salvation. Not just the body!]. All 3 modes of salvation [past, present and future] can apply to ‘all of you’ [spirit, soul and body]. Don’t think future salvation only deals with the ‘salvation of the body’.
END NOTES- I’m adding portions of the Catechism at the bottom to show my Catholic [and Protestant] friends the official teaching of the church.
Some of my Catholic readers who are following along in this study- I want you to know that these doctrines are indeed in line with your faith.
RENAISSANCE STUFF -
The renaissance was the 13-14th century revival of culture and learning that was lost for centuries- It began in Florence Italy.
The catch phrase for it was ‘Ad Fontes’ meaning ‘back to the sources’- both in philosophy- as well as in Christian learning.
This began a revival of studying the Greek New testament again from its original language.
The Catholic Humanist- Desiderius Erasmus [15-16th century] - re introduced the New Testament in the Greek version [He was referred to as a Dutch renaissance Humanist- as well as a Catholic Priest and scholar]
Now- Erasmus was a critic of the Church- like Luther- but chose a ‘middle road’- he did not join the breakaway Protestant Reformers- but chose to stay within the fold of Rome- while speaking out against the abuses he saw.
But his first Greek translation of the New Testament did indeed set a spark- because it allowed the Priests to see the bible in its original language.
And Luther was actually teaching this book of Romans to his students in Germany when the Reformation began.
Today the Catholic Church [as you can see in the official Catechism that I have been posting] does indeed teach the bible as God’s Word.
The divisions between Protestants and Catholics are many- but they did agree that the bible was the Word of God.
Some Protestants do not know this- they think the church holds Tradition higher than the bible.
No- the church does believe that God speaks both thru tradition- and scripture.
They see the tradition of the church as simply another means by which God uses the church [Magisterium] to explain scripture- but the Catholic Church does not elevate tradition over the bible.
And indeed- it was a catholic scholar- Erasmus- who introduced the first Geek version of the New Testament.
NOTE- Erasmus disagreed with Luther on the doctrine of Predestination- which I covered in the last video. Luther was for it- Erasmus was what we would call ‘Free Will’.
In his writings- which were very influential- he wrote in Greek and Latin- the language of the elites.
He did this on purpose- for his target was the influential leaders of the Church.
He rejected offers of money- because he did not want to align himself with any particular movement- so he could be an independent writer with no strings attached.
He had many criticisms of the Catholic Church- and was very influential for the later reforms- those we see at the Council of Trent [Though the church criticized him- they said he ‘Laid the egg that hatched the Reformation’].
He taught that the church/priests/popes should be the servants of the people-
He rejected the idea that the Priests/leaders made up the ‘whole of the church’- but he believed all believers made up the true church.
Erasmus was a firebrand in his own way- rejecting the language that Luther and some of the reformers used [they were vulgar at times]-
Luther respected the works of Erasmus- he thanked Erasmus for debating with him on the nature of Justification by Faith-
He disagreed in the end- but said this debate was at the heart of the gospel- and was glad that Erasmus was willing to engage.
The famous renaissance artists- DaVinci- Michelangelo- Raphael- used their artwork as a form of knowledge- the images taught things- they were not just paintings.
DaVinci’s most famous work was his painting on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel in the Vatican.
It took him 4 years to complete.
The renaissance period- from about the 13/14th century to the 17th- [though there was a sort of Renaissance that took place- yes- in the Islamic world before the European Renaissance] was marked by what we term Humanism.
Today we associate this term with ‘secular Humanism’ which often has a bad connotation- especially among Christians.
But it meant something different back then.
It was a new focus on breaking the limits off of man- and for man to excel in knowledge and skill- and to see man as having value.
There was somewhat of a break away from the church in a sense- in that the church and its teachings were not the only source of wisdom for man.
But- Jesus himself taught that ‘the Sabbath was made for man- not man for the Sabbath’- so- the Humanist spirit- elevating the value of man- does have a Christian basis in my view.
Leonardo daVinci [15/16th century] was what we refer to as a true Renaissance man- meaning his knowledge was in many fields- not just art.
He actually considered himself a sculptor first- then an artist- though he is most famous for his Fresco mentioned above.
1990 Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God, and purifies his heart of sin. Justification follows upon God’s merciful initiative of offering forgiveness. It reconciles man with God. It frees from the enslavement to sin, and it heals. (1446, 1733)
1991 Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness (or “justice”) here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us. (1812)
1992 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life:40 (617, 1266, 294)
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus.41
1993 Justification establishes cooperation between God’s grace and man’s freedom. On man’s part it is expressed by the assent of faith to the Word of God, which invites him to conversion, and in the cooperation of charity with the prompting of the Holy Spirit who precedes and preserves his assent: (2008, 2068)
When God touches man’s heart through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, man himself is not inactive while receiving that inspiration, since he could reject it; and yet, without God’s grace, he cannot by his own free will move himself toward justice in God’s sight.42
1994 Justification is the most excellent work of God’s love made manifest in Christ Jesus and granted by the Holy Spirit. It is the opinion of St. Augustine that “the justification of the wicked is a greater work than the creation of heaven and earth,” because “heaven and earth will pass away but the salvation and justification of the elect... will not pass away.”43 He holds also that the justification of sinners surpasses the creation of the angels in justice, in that it bears witness to a greater mercy. (312, 412)
1995 The Holy Spirit is the master of the interior life. By giving birth to the “inner man,”44 justification entails the sanctification of his whole being: (741)
Just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification.... But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life.45
1996 Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.46 (153)
1997 Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body. As an “adopted son” he can henceforth call God “Father,” in union with the only Son. He receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church. (375, 260)
1998 This vocation to eternal life is supernatural. It depends entirely on God’s gratuitous initiative, for he alone can reveal and give himself. It surpasses the power of human intellect and will, as that of every other creature.47 (1719)
I added these below for commentary on Romans 13- Civil authorities. In our world today- there are many governmental authorities- and some are changing ‘overnight’- with much instability in the world. So you have cases where one group- government- is in charge- to be ‘obeyed’- but yet- that group is ousted some times in a day. Then do you view the new government- and all the new courts- judges- etc. - as illegitimate? Because they did not submit to the former group?
I find lots of confusion among Christians about our right relationship to civil government- many do not seem to understand that when we in the U.S. rebelled against British/English rule- we too were not ‘obeying’ the authority. We formed a new government- with courts- judges- etc.
So- this portion below shows us that there are indeed times when government loses the authority to govern- given to them by God.
1902 Authority does not derive its moral legitimacy from itself. It must not behave in a despotic manner, but must act for the common good as a “moral force based on freedom and a sense of responsibility”:21
A human law has the character of law to the extent that it accords with right reason, and thus derives from the eternal law. Insofar as it falls short of right reason it is said to be an unjust law, and thus has not so much the nature of law as of a kind of violence.22
1903 Authority is exercised legitimately only when it seeks the common good of the group concerned and if it employs morally licit means to attain it. If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience. In such a case, “authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse.”23
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.#