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RIGHTEOUS, BLESSED, AND WASHED

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Solomon stated, “Righteousness exaulteth a nation.” (Prov.14:34). If the nation I am a citizen in does righteous things, does that guarantee my salvation? No. When citizens of a nation do what is morally right, the individuals and nation as a whole enjoy the results. However, salvation is granted by God to individuals, not nations. Salvation takes place in the mind of God. Therefore, man cannot create his own way to be saved. A prophet stated, “The way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). Jesus is THE way, THE truth, and THE life (John 14:6). God gave us the way through His Son. Jesus died in our place for the sins you and I committed. When we place our trust in and follow Him, he takes away all our sins.

In Romans 4:7,8 we read, “Blessed and to be envied, are those whose sins are forgiven and put out of sight. Yes, what joy there is for anyone whose sins are no longer counted against him by the Lord.” When a Christian stands before Jesus in the judgment, guess how many sins he will have to answer for? None. That’s right. None. Why? Because all his sins have not only been forgiven but forgotten. That person will stand before God as though he had never sinned. He will be perfect because he is covered with the blood of Jesus Christ. That’s why we must put our trust in Jesus rather than in our accomplishments. Not our works, but his blood puts us in right standing with God.

We often ask in song, “What can wash away my sins?” The answer is also given, “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” That song is correct. We sing God’s truth which is called gospel or “Good News.” How can I bath myself in the blood of Jesus? He died 2,000 years ago. By faith I can die to sin and be buried with Christ into his death. Inspiration tells me that I get into this burial by immersion. What a beautiful picture Paul paints in Romans 6 of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. I can be blessed by what he did by being involved in his sacrifice through that immersion. As a sinner, I must die to the body of sin. I bury that body through a burial with Jesus in water and I am raised from that watery grave as a new or saved person because I became a partner with Jesus in his death. Free at last from the old creature and now revealed as the new man (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:3-4).

Regardless of which path my country takes, I can be right with God. When I am right with God, He removes all my sins. All of them. My trust is in Jesus whose blood keeps me in good standing with the Father. God has provided the way, the truth, and the life for us if we will accept it. God saves. Since He does, we can be saved by following his guide lines rather than ours.

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I FEAR!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

fearWhen I look at my righteous achievements, I fear. When I look at my perfection, I fear.  When I look at the quality of my prayers, I fear.  When I look at my life each day, I fear.  When I think about dying, I fear.  When I think about the judgment, I fear.  Am I paranoid?  Some might think so, but “No!”  Do I have panic attacks? No. How can I possess fear and not have negative results?  How can I own those fears and be a Christian?  I am one, but my shoulders are too small to bear fear’s burden alone!

My righteous achievements?  Laughable.  My perfection?  Nonexistent.  The quality of my prayers? Dismal. My daily life? Inadequate. My death? Frightening. The judgment? Questionable.

Yet, I don’t have panic attacks nor negative results.  I haven’t been defrocked.  My shoulders remain small.  I fall so short, if measured in inches, powerful microscopes would not see me. Paul may have been “chief” but I’m second.  My cry is the same as his, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”  (Romans 7:24 (NKJV).  His and my answer?  Jesus!  Jesus!  Jesus!!  What’s yours?

Without Jesus, fear would be my driver.  What can I do to pay for my sins or assist Jesus’ blood in my cleansing?  If perfection is required, failure is my companion.  Perfection was Jesus’ mission, not mine.  Belief in what He did for me is required, not “Look how much I have done for you, Jesus.”  I sin, but it drives me to the one who remits it.  If I thought my prayers paid for my forgiveness, I would be a fool.  My gospel would not be good news but one rewarded with damnation.  I don’t fear dying because I know who walks with me through that valley.  I am not afraid of judgment because I will not stand there to remind Jesus about how faithful I’ve been, but rather praise Him for how gracious He is.  I will not look at my achievements, but glory in His.  He takes away fears and gives peace! He is my focus, not me!

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  (2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV).

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A COMPLETE BIBLE; A BLESSING!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

In Luke 14: 15-24 Jesus tells about a man who had a banquet but the invited guest had excuses and could not attend.  The master sent hbible-scrollis servant out to invite people off the street.  The hall was still not filled, so the master told the servant to “Go out to the highways and country roads.  Make them come.  I want my house to be full!  I tell you, none of those men whom I invited first will get a taste of my banquet!

We are introduced to the same story in Matthew 22:1-10.  However, a lot of things are added and the purpose is different from the one in Luke.  In Matthew, the secondary invited folks, if not properly dressed, are bound and thrown out.  The story ends with, “Many are invited, but few are chosen” rather than “none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

In Luke’s account the “excuses” are more detailed than in Matthew.  Luke doesn’t mention that this is a wedding party.  Matthew does.  Luke is more descriptive about who the servant invites.  In Luke the guest are compelled to come, but not so in Matthew.  In Luke the host is “a certain man” whereas in Matthew he is “a king.”  In Matthew, how one is dressed is important, but Luke says nothing about it.

The Holy Spirit inspired both Matthew and Luke.  So, why are their stories different?  Both are stories or “parables.”  Matthew is writing to a different audience than Luke.  Matthew fills in some details of Jesus’ story not covered by Luke.  Luke is writing to a Gentile readership.  Luke picks out a lesson that fits the audience he is writing to whereas Matthew uses what will best fit his readers.

Preachers are often approached after a service and told what the individual got from the sermon.  Most preachers are surprised because the point they were making is different from the point that person heard.  Sometimes an audience with different needs receives help to deal with that need from a sermon that wasn’t designed by the speaker to address it.  Sometimes a person is feeling guilty about a secret sin and imagines the preacher is exposing it, whereas the minister is totally innocent of the charges.  It is the power of God’s word (Hebrews 4:12)!

Matthew is not contradicting Luke.  Both are giving the essence of Jesus’ story, but dealing with different points from the story which fits their respective readers.  In the first century, most people would not have both Matthew’s account and Luke’s.  We have the advantage of possessing both so we may gain the lessons delivered to both audiences.

In studying Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, one needs to research the parallels of each to gain all that is being said.  Our studies are enriched by this advantageous blessing.

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WHAT’S YOUR ASSURANCE?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A few Sundays ago one of our songs was, “Lord, I Need You,” written by Matt Maher in 2013.  Some of the words are:

assuranceLord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart.

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You.

As the congregation sang that song I wondered how well those words were sinking into our consciousness?  How many believe God will save them because of their righteousness, performed to co-host His?  One faith teaches that we must have more “good” works than bad ones if we are going to heaven.  In other words, you are on a “point system” and must work to produce “x” number in order to save yourself!  If that is our religious foundation, we have no business singing Matt’s song!

In discussing the righteousness of Jesus as compared to ours, an individual asked if his obedience didn’t amount to something in procuring his salvation.  Is “obedience” necessary?  Yes (2 John 1:9 NIV).  If one loves the Lord, he will willingly obey Him (John 14:15, 23; 15:10).  However, that is altogether different than saying, “My righteousness is worth __% in paying for my salvation.”  Actually, “our righteousness” is like a dirty rag, that if you touched it, you would want to immediately wash your hands (Isaiah 64:6)!

At the judgment, one will not remind Jesus about how well his works measured up to Jesus’ actions upon the cross and expectantly state, “You owe me something for what I’ve done!”  Those who do such have missed the Good News completely.  In fact, it could be another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).

If my trust in going to heaven is based upon how obedient I am, my failure to “do enough” will leave me frustrated, ridden with guilt, depressed, and with a fear that will consume me.  Why?  Because our obedience will never be sufficient to make a down payment on our sin debt.  However, I can with assurance say that Jesus is my Savior and I trust that He paid it all for me!

“Lord, I need You, oh, I need You, Every hour I need You, My one defense, my righteousness, Oh God, how I need you.”

Jesus paid it all!!  I am not capable of adding even 1%.  Jesus is not a 99% Savior.  He is my 100% Lord and Savior!  He is the one who saves, not me (Hebrews 5:1)!  I obey Him, not to make points, but because He made the points for me.  I can never repay Him.  My obedience does not supplement the full price he paid for me (1 Corinthians 6:20)!  Why do men demote what Jesus did in order to glorify what we think we’ve done?

What is your assurance built on?  You??

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Monday, December 26, 2016

This family got up together.  The boy dressed and went to milk the cow.  The father cut and retrieved wood for the cook stove and started the fire.  The mother prepared breakfast for going-to-church-2everyone after she got the youngest child dressed.

The father fed the livestock.  The mother gathered the eggs and fed the chickens.  The boy strained the milk, separating the cream, and put the milk where it would stay cool.  Everyone finished breakfast, got the Bible, and finished getting ready to go to church.  The mule was harnessed and each member mounted it.  Snow was still on the ground, but the weather had warmed causing the yard and road to be soft and muddy.  They rode five miles to the church building in town, arriving fifteen minutes early.  The year was 1895.

The alarm goes off.  An arm manages to swings out from under the covers and hit the snooze button.  Fifteen minutes later, the scene repeats itself.  He and his wife finally drag out of bed.  He retrieves the Sunday paper and sits to read the funnies.  The wife yells at the two boys to get up, “IT’S SUNDAY”!  There is no response.  A second, third, and fourth warning is called out, each getting louder.  Grumbling is heard.  Arguments begin.  It signals that both are up!

Mom heats up some Pop-Tarts for breakfast.  Three times “Breakfast is ready” bounces off the walls before anyone appears.  There is bantering between the boys but breakfast is soon consumed.  Instructions again about it being Sunday and the boys are admonished to “quit messing around and get dressed.”  Dad is included in the instruction!  He shaves and combs his hair.  He and she get dressed.  A few more admonitions and the boys look half way decent.  It takes a few more warnings to get everyone in the family vehicle.  Off they go.  They live four block from the church building.  The speed limit is 40, but dad fudges 5 miles more.  This morning they hit all the green lights.  They arrive but parking near the entrance is taken.  Four part grumbling fills the car.  They are in the seventh row of parked cars and down about 300 feet.  All four doors open and the family exits, heading for the church entrance.  The wind is brisk and cold.  More grumbling. They are ten minutes late rather than the usual fifteen.  They congratulate themselves on being five minutes earlier!  The father is the great grandson of the youngest brother pictured on the mule.  The year is 2016.

The wife sees that picture every Sunday and wonders if their ride was on a mule rather than in a Ford Bronco, would they arrive at church fifteen minutes early?

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GRAMMAR CAN BE CONFUSING?

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 04/02/2020

If the word “churches” includes a singular assembly that would be “a church.” If the expression “of” shows possession, then the expression “churches of” or “church of” should scripturally be followed with the owner of who that “church” or “churches” belong to. That is usually the rules of grammar given from some pulpits. However, there may be an inconsistency in that rule.

Since Jesus promised to build “his” church, that church would belong to him because he is the founder. Therefore, it would be grammatically correct to say, “Jesus Christ’s church, “Jesus’ church,” “church of Jesus,” or “the Lord’s church.” However, for some reason, none of those descriptions are used by God! But our grammar is correct, isn’t it? Just because something is grammatically correct doesn’t mean inspired writers wrote to satisfied our grammatical additions! It also doesn’t mean that the silence of the scriptures negates our additions due to that biblical silence. If there is a scriptural rule which allows us to believe and practice something that the scriptures are silent about, we need to see those detail in writing rather than assume it. Otherwise, would it not be sinful to speak of “Jesus’ church,” “the church of Jesus,” or “the Lord’s church”? Of course, if there is a “silence rule” in scripture, we need to see it spelled out to us. That desire is found within the parameters of giving book, chapter, and verse for what we believe, teach, and practice.

Since 1 Corinthians 14:33 speaks of “the churches of the saints” and these grammatical rules are applied, then “of” would show that “saints” are the owners of those “churches.” Grammar would also allow the singular from the plural which would give us “the church of the saints.” Therefore, it would be scriptural for those saints to speak of “our church.” Since “saints” are Christians, and an expression may be switched, then 1 Corinthians 14:33 speaks of the churches of the Christians, or Christians’ churches.

If an expression in the plural allows one to assume all assemblies wore that plural designation as a singular one, then that rule would apply just as biblically to 1 Corinthians 14:33 as it does to any plural statement about the church. Of course, the assumption that all first century assemblies nailed a sign on the place where they assembled is probably more of an assumption than a biblical truth. Greek Grammar may have different grammatical rules than does the English usage. If we are going to base a belief and practice upon English grammar, we need to know whether English and Greek are always alike. We should also be consistent in using those rules. When assumptions are morphed into scripture, there is the possibility of deception creeping in.

If “the silence of the scriptures” is a valid, ironclad guide, then we must limit our designations to what scripture actually gives. This would mean no additions, no subtractions, just the biblical facts!

The most used designation of the assembly of Jesus is “church.” It is translated from the Greek word ekklesia and found 115 times in the King James Version rendered as “church” and 3 times as “assembly.” The word “church of God” is found eight times, “church of Galatia,” “church of the Laodiceans,” and “church of Thessalonica twice for each. It is used once to describe the church in Ephesus, “church of the firstborn,” and “church of the living God.” The expression “churches of the Gentiles,” “churches of Christ,” “churches of the saints,” “churches of Macedonia,” “churches of Asia,” and “churches of Judaea” are each found once. The expression “churches of Galatia” is found twice. Although Jesus told his disciples that he would build “his church” it strangely is never referred to as “Jesus’ church.” (Matthew 16:18). It is referred to by his title “Christ” once. The KJV and following English translations seldom if ever translate the word “Christ.” It is the Greek word “Christos” from the Hebrew word “Messiah.” The word “Messiah” means “anointed one.” In the Old Testament the Hebrew word is translated in every passage it is found in as “anointed.” However, two times the KJV spells it out as Messiah rather than translating it. Those two times are in Daniel 9:25-26 referring to Jesus. What is interesting, there is no biblical rule telling the KJV translators to anglicize the word rather than translate it. If the KJV had translated the word, we would be reading and saying, “Jesus the anointed one.” The one time the word “Christ” is used in a descriptive name of the church, it is in Romans 16:16. If translated it would read “assemblies of the anointed one.” The word “Christ” is a 1611 gift to the world by the Anglican Church. The ASV, NASV, RSV, and NIV simply followed their lead by refusing to translate it. So, we were shouldered with an Anglican belief.

I have referred to a “rule” advocated by a number of ministers and church scholars who refer to it as “the silence of the Scriptures.” Basically, that doctrine states that if something is not mention in the New Testament, it is without scriptural authority. One would be shocked to learn of the number of additional practices engaged in by all that were introduced by man in the different English translations. Sometimes Grammar can be confusing.

WRONG SEEMS SO RIGHT

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 03-30-2020

If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right” (Matthew 5:23-24).

This is a passage that few care to practice. Excuses are used by the injuring party to sidestep this teaching to justify his substitution. I have chosen The Message translation due to one of those excuses.

EXCUSES:

1). This passage is not bound upon us today because the KJV and “reliable” translations say “bring thy gift to the altar.” It is talking about a Jew worshiping at the Temple (TLB, NLT). We are not under that system of worship today.

The location may be true because Jesus was talking to folks like himself who worshiped at the Temple altar. The principle is true regardless of covenant because in both systems, one worships God in each scenario by giving or making an offering.

The most common excuses and additions offered to offset that teaching is:

2) The offended person would not accept my apology if I went to him, so why bother?

3) The offended person doesn’t like me, so regardless of what I do, his only reaction would just make matters worse. Then I would be the offended party and he certainly would not come to me.

4) It is not my fault. He shouldn’t be so sensitive. He’s just trying to make it into a bigger issue than it is.

5) I don’t see why this should affect my worship just because he took offense to what I said and did? He made me do it!

6) Why should this affect my worship to God? I partake of the Lord’s supper just like the Bible teaches, so I’m following scripture. He doesn’t attend faithfully like I do.

Since the Lord gave this teaching, but the offending party offers alternate action, isn’t that individual subtracting the Lord’s solution and adding his own manmade one? Isn’t that “another gospel”?

Rather than go to the offended party to talk things out, some will go to others, give enough information to make himself the offended one, which leaves the impression that the innocent person is the disobedient. This “switch” portrays Jesus as an ignoramus whose teaching produces more conflict than peace in solving a disagreement.

The problem is that as sinful human beings, what is “right” has a tendency to look so wrong to us who make our substitutions to stay “right” with the Lord.

AUNT CORRINE’S THIRD HUSBAND’S SECOND COUSIN . . . !

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 03/26/2020

Strange heading, huh?  Maybe it caught your attention?  Perhaps you will read this strange way of seeing what I see.  Who thought up the term, “Social Distancing”?  What is it, 6 feet?  A friend of ours says he is making it 60.  That’s good.  Hopefully it is more than safe.  But, what about cheaters?  Do you know what I’m talking about?  It’s that individual that pops a piece of gum in his mouth while throwing its wrapper on the street.  That person believes he is exempt from all littering laws.  Why?  “Because it’s a stupid law.”

An older couple didn’t consider themselves to be in that category until that virus went into high gear, jumped an ocean, and started spreading itself across our nation in a couple of weeks.   One week no one in this state was affected.  Then, the news media announced that an under 40 individual died from the virus.  That death got our attention!  It was our “wake-up call.”  Let’s get back to that “older couple.”  They let grandchildren or great-grandchildren run errands for them while they stayed in the safety of their home.  Old friends also stayed away.  It was the safe thing to do.  Folks became very diligent about protecting themselves from anyone who might be carrying the virus.  Well, almost everyone!

The next-door neighbor, friends, and church members might be off limits, but not family!  It won’t hurt if the granddaughter receives a visit from Aunt Corrine and her daughter.   They will make it a short visit.  Aunt Corrine and daughter are healthier than a horse.  They are not coughing, running a fever, bothered with shortness of breath or suffering from aches and pains.  So, no problem with them making that visit. The granddaughter and baby?  Grandchildren and great grandchildren are exempt from the virus.  Everyone knows that.  The visit was kept short, the baby was prettier than everyone else’s baby, and no one had to worry about that pesky virus.  Everything was A-OK!

However, two days before that, Aunt Corrine had her hair fixed.  Her third husband’s second cousin did the fixing at her home because the beauty parlor was closed due to the virus.  No one did anything on purpose.  In fact, no one was knowledgeable about the way it happened.    They both had a wonderful visit with mom and baby.  The only problem, the third husband’s second cousin’s brother’s son’s girlfriend was infected, but no one knew.  The husband’s second cousin’s brother’s son was too busy enjoying those delightful kisses to think “virus.”  Must I say more?  The girlfriend shared more with the brother’s son than just kisses.  He wasn’t stingy, so without knowing it, he shared the virus with the husband’s second cousin’s brother, who was his father.  That sharing took place right on up the line.  Aunt Corrine got her share.  Aunt Corrine visited with the new mom and baby!  All innocently shared it and passed it on.  Not one family member thought they had the virus or were sharing it with others.  Ignorance can be blissful until it is no longer ignorant.  Everyone infected suffered a different degree of the fallout.  Aunt Corrine and the baby’s mom didn’t make it.

In some ways, that is how sin makes its rounds.  “Oh, I know it’s wrong, but everyone else is doing it.”  “Oh, the Bible is always making pleasurable things sinful.  Maybe for folks back then, but we’re more up-to-date now.”  “The Bible was written by a bunch of men and they treated women like slaves.  Who in his right mind would put much worth in what those men wrote?”  “It’s OK for me to go out with these friends, I know they wouldn’t try to influence me to do anything wrong.”  “The Bible?  That’s so out of date that no one in his right mind would pay much attention to it today.”

Truth spoken two thousand years ago is still truth.  Truth transcends customs, traditions, opinions, and man-made laws.  Satan still deceives people today.  The forbidden fruit in Eve’s day continues to grow and looks good to each generation (Matthew 13:22; Romans 6:12).

Jesus warned his disciples, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41).

One of those disciples also admonished, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”  (1 Peter 5:8).

Stay safe!  Physically and spiritually.

THE FOYER CHURCH!

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 03/23/2020

The foyer fills up prior to the beginning of the assembly service. Numerous discussions are in progress. People are smiling, talking, and enjoying the fellowship. Someone notices the time and makes the first move with others following into the auditorium. The opening prayer signals that worship has officially begun. An hour later the closing prayer signals the official end of the “in spirit and in truth” worship. The foyer again fills up. People begin talking, short bursts of laughter are heard, smiles beam from many faces, and foyer fellowship cements and continues to seal friendships and appreciation for one another. Slowly the foyer empties with some continuing that fellowship at one of the local restaurants.

Foyer fellowship places people in face to face contact with each other. Eye contact is made and held. Auditorium time is spent viewing the back of someone’s head. We come to know one another through his backside haircut or her hair style. Foyer fellowship allows each to know the other through discussions about the concerns and joys of life. Auditorium time is culturally silent once the opening prayer begins and continues until the “Amen” of the closing prayer is heard. Some mistakenly believe they have fulfilled their “5 acts of worship” obligation to correctly worship “in spirit and in truth.” The “closing” prayer frees them to reenter actual life outside the auditorium.

Foyer fellowship is more personal, relaxed, and informal. Auditorium time is formal and regimented to conform to the understanding by some of Paul’s statement of “decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). Appearance is important and cultural traditions are foundational. In the first century, the Passover meal was accomplished around the table where they were seated and eating. It was the worship Jesus and the apostles knew and observed from scripture. Conversations were started, questions expected, information given, food and fellowship enjoyed, and the lesson of humility and service introduced by Jesus. The exodus from that table setting to today’s habitual seating and serving is accepted by most to be an authorized scriptural process. If substitutions were authorized, there would be no problem. However, that shift led to other changes until the original institution of the communion developed into something else. During the second century a special priesthood was developed to legitimize scriptural worship. It diminished the biblical fact that all Christians are priest (Revelation 1:5-6; 5:10). About the same time disciples moved from sitting at a table to commune, to going to an altar to be fed by a special priest or clergyman. The laity class came to receive the bread, but the wine was consumed by the priest in special clothing. Although Jesus is God, for him to walk into a modern assembly today might surprise him? What we identify as auditorium fellowship would probably be a foreign concept to first century saints.

Someone opines, “Oh, no.” They continue with, “The first century church did everything like we do it today!” Hmm, so they copied us? When was the last time you and your spouse were questioned by the preacher about your contribution? When did you ever walk up to the preacher and lay your contribution at his feet? When was the last time you saw a husband and wife die “in church” for lying? Do you have a burial committee which keeps shovels handy, just in case other liars give (Acts 5:1-11)? Is it scriptural for a tat burial committee to forsake the assembly twice to bury a couple of liars (Hebrews 10:25)? When do they partake or approach the preacher to give? Do we have come-and-go services that last three hours or more (Acts 5:7)? When you meet, do you break bread after midnight (Acts 20:7, 11)? Do you end an auditorium prayer with “and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus” rather than saying, “in the name of Jesus”? (Acts 4:30)? Where did a first century congregation end any prayer with our five words? Why didn’t the church at Troas have a midweek services for Paul and company to attend? They were there seven days (Acts 20:6). Did they forsake the Wednesday night meeting? Don’t we dismiss first century practices that don’t fit our culture or tradition? Do we make those changes because scripture dictates it? If scripture does not identify those changes, which century’s practices are we complying with? Do we receive a blessing more from foyer fellowship than the auditorium kind? Actually, the Bible never identifies “foyer” nor “auditorium” fellowship. It is silent about “opening prayer” or “closing prayer” to begin worship or end it. New Testament scripture does not identify what we do or do not do in the “auditorium” as “worship in spirit and in truth.” Our standard of identifying biblical things originates more from what we have become comfortable with rather than inspiration.

These are only my rambling thoughts. They may harmonize with scripture or they may not. Probably not worth your time nor mine. You be the judge. Don’t take my word for anything. However, if you are a Bible student, take the familiar language which we use to describe worship and see if our terminology is from the first century, or from a much later one. We assume much and believe it as truth. Our successes have resulted in the same need for correction as first century assemblies received. From one sinner to another, the old challenge of “book, chapter, and verse” is still needed.

WRONG SEEMS SO RIGHT

My Thoughts. . .

03-20-2020

If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right” (Matthew 5:23-24).

This is a passage that few care to practice. Excuses are used by the injuring party to sidestep this teaching to justify his substitution. I have chosen The Message translation due to one of those excuses.

EXCUSES:

1). This passage is not bound upon us today because the KJV and “reliable” translations say, “bring thy gift to the altar.” It is talking about a Jew worshiping at the Temple (TLB, NLT). We are not under that system of worship today.

The location may be true because Jesus was talking to folks like himself who worshiped at the Temple altar. The principle is true regardless of covenant because in both systems, one worships God in each scenario by giving or making an offering.

The most common excuses and additions offered to offset that teaching are:

2) The offended person would not accept my apology if I went to him, so why bother?

3) The offended person doesn’t like me, so regardless of what I do, his only reaction would just make matters worse. Then I would be the offended party and he certainly would not come to me.

4) It is not my fault. He shouldn’t be so sensitive. He’s just trying to make it into a bigger issue than it is.

5) I don’t see why this should affect my worship just because he took offense to what I said and did? He made me do it!

6) Why should this affect my worship to God? I partake of the Lord’s supper just like the Bible teaches, so I’m following scripture. He doesn’t attend faithfully like I do.

Since the Lord gave this teaching, but the one who is offensive offers alternate action, isn’t that individual subtracting the Lord’s solution and adding his own manmade one? Isn’t that “another gospel”?

Rather than go to the offended party to talk things out, some will go to others, give enough information to make himself the offended one, which leaves the impression that the innocent person is the one who is disobedient. This “switch” portrays Jesus as an ignoramus whose teaching produces more conflict than peace in solving a disagreement.

The problem is that as sinful human beings, what is “right” has a tendency to look so wrong to us who make our substitutions to stay “right” with the Lord.

WHAT ARE WE RESTORING?

My Thoughts

Monday, 03/16/2020

Due to the rapid spread of the Corona-virus, warnings have gone out from Local, State and Federal government instructing churches to take steps to protect the welfare of older members.  Basically, the over 65 and up group were asked to stay at home.  On a church forum one person asked if it would be biblical to miss services if he was in that older group.  One lady replied with a form “no.”  Apparently, the lady considered her reply biblical and it was her duty to discourage folks from disobeying God’s command to assemble.

 

Hebrews 10:25 is often quoted making any absence from the assembly a sin regardless of the reason.  The idea is also advanced that one sin will immediately send you back to the devil’s darkness.  Regretfully some take that passage out of its context.  It is not addressing absentees who are under a major life robbing pandemic.  Neither does it condemn someone fleeing from persecution.  It does not condemn someone staying home due to sickness whether adult or tending a child.  It does not command withdrawing from someone called in to work.  What it does do is direct one’s attention to the actual party that is forsaking the assembly.  They are:

  • Those who were a) once enlightened, b) have tasted the heavenly gift, c) become partakers of the Holy Spirit, d) tasted the good Word of God, e) tasted the powers of the age to come, f) But have fallen way, g) they crucify again the Son of God, h) and they put Jesus to an open shame (Hebrews 6:4-6).
  • 2. They willfully sis by setting aside God’s new covenant and have returned to the Old one for salvation.
  • 3. They trample on the Son of God.
  • 4. They consider Jesus’ blood unclean.
  • 5. And they also insult the Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:26-29).

The sick, persecuted, the called into work, or someone taking a medical emergency serious are not the ones being addressed.  When we separate a passage from its context, we are successful in changing God’s Good News.

The Pharisees asked Jesus if it was lawful to heal a man on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:10).  Jesus asked if one of them on the Sabbath would not rescue his sheep that had fallen in the ditch (v.11).  Jesus told his crowd that the Sabbath was made for man, man wasn’t made for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27).  I’m sure someone thought Jesus’ answer made him more concerned for a singular sheep than in faithfully keeping God’s word!  For some, law keeping is their gospel.  Phariseeism did not cease to exist in the first century.  It is doing quite well in this one.

If we are restoring the New Testament church, which congregation are we using as our pattern?  Would it be the Jerusalem church that met daily with a membership of about 3,000 and soon added another 5,000 priest?  Perhaps our divine pattern would be the Troas church?  Luke shows they met on the first day of the week and ad preaching with the breaking of bread being after midnight.  Are we less spiritual because we don’t follow either pattern?  When Jerusalem decided to not meet every day, were they losing their spirituality?  Were they forsaking the assembling of themselves together by not meeting every day?  Was Troas engaged in sin by not meeting on Wednesday as we do?  Luke only records them attending the first day of the week assembly.  Yet, Paul, Luke, and company were there for seven days.  Why didn’t they attend Wednesday night?  We measure other saints by what we do and whether or not they mimic our activities.  We assume our way of doing things is God’s way.  Sadly, man has a habit of making his own religious laws, binds them on others, and pridefully elevates his religious piety.

Sadly, we are more successful in restoring Phariseeism in today’s society than living New Testament Christianity.

WHEN BLOOD LOSES ITS CLEANSING POWER?

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 03-12-2020

The expression “blood of Christ” is found six times in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 10:16; Ephesians 2:13; Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 1:2, 19; and 1 John 1:7).  Three times it is expressed as “the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:19; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 John 1:7).  In most of those passages it speaks of being cleansed or washed in Jesus’ blood when we are added to the saved.

The problem with those passages is our misunderstanding of the cleansing nature of that blood.  How powerful is it?  Is that power limited only to when a person enters into the body of the saved?  Isn’t it powerful enough to keep one in that saved state by covering that sin so he remains a holy Temple of God?

Some read it as a temporary cleansing that is lost each time a saint sins.  His sin condemns him until he emits a repentance statement to God.  In other words, the faucet’s supply of forgiveness is turned off when the saint is involved in a sin and the cut off continues until he repents in prayer.  Only then is it turned on again to remit that sin until the next episode.  Others believe the hydrant remains open and keeps on cleansing whether that repentance follows five seconds, five minutes, or five hours later.  In the Old Testament, God waited for David’s repentance for about a year without withdrawing from him.  In the New Testament God did not withdraw from the Corinthian church even though they were deeply involved in disobedience.  The first letter did not correct all wrongs, so a warning came in the last of the second letter.  They were still in fellowship with God.

If one loses his status in the saved state with each committed sin, whether known or not, what all does he lose?  Some refuse to accept the full consequences of that teaching. If he loses his salvation due to that one act of sin, what all is lost?  Some believe that act of sin removes him from the saved state and returns him to the kingdom of darkness.  He remains in that darkness until he repents, prays, and ends it with “Amen.”  Once that “Amen” exits his lips, forgiveness is given, blood is applied, he is cleansed and returned to the sinless body or church of Christ.  From the moment he sins until his “Amen” what has he lost and where has his spiritual status?

WHAT HE LOSES WHEN HE SINS AND CANNOT REGAIN UNTIL HIS “AMEN”!

  1. He loses his citizenship in Christ Jesus.
  2. He loses his membership in the body of Christ.
  3. He loses his salvation.
  4. He loses all of his spiritual blessings.
  5. He is no longer a “Christian.”
  6. He is no longer a “saint.”
  7. He loses his blood bought status.
  8. He is no longer a child of God.
  9. He is no longer a “a member of the church of Christ.”
  10. He loses his privilege of being heard IF God does not hear the prayers of sinners?
  11. He loses his promise of heaven.
  12. He loses his relationship with God the Father, Son, and Spirit.
  13. He loses his fellowship with the obedient.
  14. He loses his fellowship with the obedient faithful.
  15. He loses his hope.
  16. He loses his assurance.
  17. He is a child of the devil.
  18. He is lost in his sin.
  19. He is without hope.
  20. His citizenship is in hell.
  21. He is separated from God.
  22. He is under God’s wrath.
  23. He will receive God’s judgment.
  24. His state is worse than it was before he became a Christian and committed that sin.
  25. The blood of Jesus is powerless to cleanse him until he utters that final “Amen.” That cleansing blood is not available again until the next sin and wants back into the Lord’s saved body of believers.

In the other view, the person continually acknowledges he is a sinner and always needs Jesus.  He remains holy, not because he is perfect, but because the blood of Jesus keeps him cleansed (1 John 1:5-10).  Because of what Jesus did for him, he like other children of God, finds himself among those mentioned in Hebrews 11.

            “Now the just shall live by faith:

but if any man draw back, my

soul shall have no pleasure in

him.  But we are not of

them who draw back unto

perdition; but of them that believe

to the saving of the soul”

(Hebrews 10:38-39).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHURCH CULTURE!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 03/09/2020

It is interesting how much the shackles of culture have enslaved us so we cannot enjoy the freedom of truth.  Right or wrong, culture has influenced the twenty-first to the first century church more than some wish to admit.

The standard accepted by today’s believers is what they and their relatives have done for the past seventy years or more.  According to those individuals, in order for a congregation to be right, it has to be perfect in teaching and practice.  That usually translates to, “If we haven’t done it for the last generation or so it isn’t scriptural.”  The problem with that view is that today’s membership believes the first century congregations were perfect.  The truth is, most of today’s members would not be comfortable in a first century congregation.  Why?  Their standard of comfort was different from ours.

How can one expect a congregation to be perfect when none have existed?  At some point, today’s individual will be forced to accept the fact that his congregation lacks perfection and if he decides to stay with it, he will have to compromise.  That compromise will depend upon his comfort zone.  How much error will he be content to live with?  He will have to swallow some since perfection is impossible to gain or maintain.  Some will redefine error as “damnable error” and non-damnable.  Their error is in the latter category.  Unless you believe and practice as they do, yours is the damnable kind.

The usual standard that a person’s foundation is built on is “comfort.”  One person’s idea of “comfort” is different from another’s.  If the congregation’s standard is close enough to his, it is acceptable until it moves further than his comfort zone will stretch.  Due to our imperfections, this condition exists in all memberships in one degree or another.  This is one of the differences between the culture of the twenty-first century church and the first century one.

Few of today’s believers would think “comfortable” as members of the church in Corinth.  Yet, despite Corinth’s many errors in doctrine and practice, they were still in fellowship with God the Father.  Today’s believers would have a hard time accepting God’s continued fellowship with them.  God continued to dwell in the Corinthian body of Christ and inspired their prophets, language speakers, and interpreters (1 Corinthians 12 & 14).  There was no such thing as a Corinthian North, South, East, or Westside congregation.  Despite Christ calling the Sardis church “dead,” the solution was not given to them to establish a “sound” assembly so the members could be comfortable (Revelation 3:1-6).  This is another difference between the twenty-first century church’s culture and the first century one.

Today, believers continue to search for an assembly that makes them comfortable.  It is a compromise that most believers drink from.  Wouldn’t it be best for us to copy the first century example of having one assembly in each town which is God’s choice rather than what our comfort creates?  Wouldn’t it be best to follow the New Testament example by conforming to Jesus’ oneness, rather than being cultural (John 17:20-21)?  Nope!  Our divisions teach that God’s system never works.

OUR CHOICE!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 03-05-2020

Several years ago, one of our church members asked a question.  Others might not ask, but will think it.  She had suffered a number of setbacks in life and another one was not lightly kicking her backside.  Her statement was, “I know God tests us in order to teach us a lesson.  I understand.  I really do understand.  So why don’t the tests stop?”

Israel spent four hundred and thirty years in Egyptian slavery (Exodus 12:40).  This period of time saw them crying out to God for deliverance (Exodus 2:23-25).  The RSV translates verse 25 as “God knew their condition.”  Four hundred and thirty years is a long period of time to be praying for deliverance.  About eleven generations did not have the pleasure of their pleas being rewarded.  Does that mean they had not learned their lesson?  Did that mean those who were true believers in Yahweh were not of sufficient numbers for their plea to be granted?  If pagan gods could not answer the prayers of their subjects because they were not true deities, would four hundred and thirty years of silence not scream that same message to Yahweh’s children?  Perhaps.

In the book of Isaiah, God states,

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.  ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’.”  (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Peter reminds us that “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8).

We attempt to describe eternity with finite words due to our finite experiences.  We cannot visualize an endless period that isn’t a period.  Neither can we comprehend Yahweh without reducing Him to our limited conceptions.  Our vision is restricted to the time we spend here, and the world often revolves around our desires.

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and the prophesy of Genesis 3:15 was made, how many generations passed before it was fulfilled with the advent of Jesus into man’s history?

Moses stated,

“You speak, and man turns back to dust.  A thousand years are but as yesterday to you! They are like a single hour!  We glide along the tides of time as swiftly as a racing river and vanish as quickly as a dream. We are like grass that is green in the morning but mowed down and withered before the evening shadows fall. . . All our days are filled with sighing.   Seventy years are given us! And some may even live to eighty.  But even the best of these years are often emptiness and pain; soon they disappear, and we are gone” (Psalm 90:3-10 TLB).

Bad things happen to good people.  Fairness is not how “Life” is spelled.  Sometimes bad people receive the breaks not the good folks.  Positive thoughts often go negative.  Ready or not, death visits all ages.  The lesson taught is that this world is not our home.  Jesus invites all to “come” (Matthew 11:28-29).  The choice is ours.

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