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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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THE KISS

Monday, February 20, 2017

a-holy-kissSalute one another with a holy kiss(Romans 16:16a). 

Greet one another with a holy kiss(1 Corinthians 16:20).

Greet one another with a holy kiss(2 Corinthians 13:12).

Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss(1 Thessalonians 5:26).

Greet one another with a kiss of charity (love) (1 Peter 5:14).

Four times Paul commands “a holy kiss.”  Peter joins in with a “kiss of love.”  The first century church was made up of slave owners and slaves.  For a slave owner to greet a slave with a holy kiss erased the social distinction, the discrimination, and partiality!  They were brothers in Christ!  Each would greet the other without any attitude of condescending.  Can you imagine a slave owner doing that in an 1850 Sunday assembly with another brother’s slaves as well as his own?  When Paul wrote to Philemon about his run-away slave he said, “Onesimus is not really a slave anymore.  No, he is more than a slave; he is a dear brother – especially to me!  But, this is even more true for you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.  If you think of me as your partner, accept Onesimus as you would accept me.” (Philemon 1:16-17 IEB).

It is interesting how some translations miss this “kiss” and make a substitute.  The “holy” part is kept, but the “kiss” isn’t.  The Living Bible says what we practice,  “Shake hands warmly with each other,” leaving out both the “kiss” and the “holy” part!  The New Living Translation is more generic with, “Greet each other in Christian love”?  The Message changes it from “a holy kiss” to hugs with, “Holy embraces all around!”  From the KJV to the NIV, “a holy kiss” and “a kiss of love” remains!  Yet, have we lost the significance which is embedded in this command?

We think nothing of rewriting this passage to suit our cultural customs.  We honor The Living Bible translation rather than the Greek, KJV, or NIV!  We substitute “a holy hand shake” for “a holy kiss.”  Vine states that the commanded kiss was to be holy.  It was to be “free from anything inconsistent with their calling as saints . . . There was to be an absence of . . . disrespect.”  (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Words).  Is that what “a holy handshake” means today?

Romans 16:16a does not stand alone.  The second part of that verse is very familiar.  “The churches of Christ salute you.”  How?  With “a holy kiss!”  The first part of Romans 16:16 is a command, not once, but five times in the New Testament.  The second part is not a command, just a greeting statement.  Yet, we substitute “handshake” for “kiss” in the first part, but are upset if anything is changed in the second half.

Young’s Living Translation and Darby’s keep the kiss, but translate the second section as, “the assemblies of Christ.”  The International English Bible gives us, “All the groups that belong to Christ greet you.”  In emphasizing the second part of Romans 16:16, have we missed the lesson of the first seven words of that verse?

How would we feel about greeting a homeless person with a holy kiss at the Sunday assembly?  What about that person that is always avoided by most others?  How about that member that seems to major in being obnoxious?  What about the one you just don’t like?

Greet one another with a holy kiss”?  You’ve got to be kidding!?

GROW UP!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

grow-upTherefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfectionHebrews 6:1 (KJV).

In a 1947 lectureship at David Lipscomb College in Nashville, Tennessee, a well known brother stated, “But even the members of the church are to aim at perfection. (Heb. 6: 1.).”  It is true that the word “perfection” is found in the verse and is from the Greek word teleiotes (τελειότης) which is found twice in the Greek New Testament.   It is rendered once as found in Hebrews 6:1, but as “perfectness” in Colossians 3:14.  The NKJV is more consistent by rendering it as “perfection” in both passages.  Strong’s Greek-English Lexicon shows an alternate word, “completeness.”  The NASV, RSV, NIV, WEY, GW, NLT, TLB, IEB, and ESV render it as “maturity.”  The BBE and DARBY translates it as “full growth.”  If one interprets “perfection” in Hebrews 6:1 as sinless perfection, they come away with the wrong idea.  Jesus is the only one who was and is perfect!  Any effort on our part to reach that state is meaningless and ends in dismal and discouraging failure.  In fact, if we develop the idea that we can attain sinless perfection, we displace Jesus and his blood by substituting our works of righteousness (Titus 3:5)!

It is impossible for human beings to obtain sinless perfection through our works.  However, it is possible for Christians to mature.  Peter states, “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby (1 Peter 2:2 (NKJV).  Being sinless is an impossibility, but not maturity!  The Hebrew writer stated, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.(Hebrews 5:12 (NKJV).  Therefore, they needed to grow up and be mature.  Spiritual maturity is still needed today and possible!  A majority of that spiritual growth is in recognizing that Jesus and only Jesus can save you.  Why not put your trust in what he did for you upon the cross?    It’s the grown up thing to do!

WHO PAYS FOR THE FREE STUFF?

Monday, February 13, 2017

no-wallSome big hearted folks shout,

“No wall!  We welcome all, even those who hate us.  Free housing.  Free food stamps.  Free schooling.  Free transportation.  Free medical care.  It’s the Christian thing to do.”

Slogans written or shouted don’t cost much when the bill is paid by someone else.  However the shout of, “Let all of the immigrants come in!” quickly fades when the government says, “We will put a family of 6 to 8 in your home and you will be responsible for feeding, clothing, transporting, and paying for their needs, even medical care.”  Then the rewritten slogan becomes, “It’s okay if someone else does it, but NOT me!”  Doesn’t Jesus tell us that if someone takes your coat, give him your cloak also? (Matthew 5:40; Luke 6:29)?  If someone asks you for something, aren’t you supposed to hand it over (Matthew 5:42)?  Isn’t that the Christian thing to do!  But, we don’t do it, do we?  We want someone else to pay for the Christian thing to do!

As thousands come across the Rio Grande, shouldn’t you and I be there to welcome them each day with prepared food, ice tea, and medical assistance, all out of our pocket?  Is such a request crazy?  Isn’t it the Christian thing to do?  Don’t we believe in practicing what we preach?  Slogans written or shouted are cheap until it upsets OUR home, SPENDS our money, TAKES UP OUR time, and RUINS OUR plans!  We are very generous when we put the burden on the rich, pontificating, “Let them pay for it!”  That’s how we relieve ourselves  of all responsibility!  Read all those instructions given by Jesus and see if he gives an exemption to special people.  He doesn’t, does he?

Some preachers eloquently inform their audiences that “We need to save the world”!  However, few see that need as did Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderain when they went to convert the Huaorani people in Ecuador in 1956.  Few Christian women would consider doing what Elisabeth, Jim’s widow, or Rachel, Nate’s sister did after their loved one was murdered.  We criticize Mother Teresa’s faith, but we excuse ourselves from serving the poor and diseased as she did for 47 years.  Wasn’t she doing “the Christian thing”?

If one reads the slogans and hears the shouts and compares them with the action, too often it is the very few who are active while the majority wave their signs and make their noise.  Is that really the Christian thing?

It isn’t wrong to want to help people.  It isn’t wrong to encourage the congregation to teach the Good News to the lost.  It is true that one person cannot do it all.  It is true that one person may be blessed with abilities that another does not possess.  But, some have a tendency to go to extremes in what they expect of others, while lowering the standard of what is expected of themselves.

Back in the early eighties, we had two attempted break-ins at our home.  One attempt was made while my wife and youngest son were there.  When he went off to college and I was going to be out of town, a pacifist friend, living next door, told my wife to call him if someone tried breaking in.  My wife thanked him for his concern and help, then asked, “What would you do, quote the Bible to him?”  When someone is intent on molesting and murdering, you don’t turn the other cheek.  Jesus told the apostles to buy a sword!  Not as a souvenir, but to defend themselves (Luke 22:36).  You don’t invite someone to live in your home who is an escaped murderer!  You don’t go out and invite people off the street to come live with you and you will pay all their bills.  People may be poor and need help, but not even Jesus healed everyone (John 5:1-9).  When an expensive perfume was used, Jesus didn’t rebuke Mary for wasting it on him when it could have been sold to help the poor (John 12:3-8).

Jesus fed 5,000 men and later 4,000.  Yet, he didn’t invite them to follow him because their stomachs growled with hunger, nor because his way was minus any walls (Matthew 14:21; 15:38).  Jesus’ kingdom is opened to everyone, but not everyone is qualified to enter.  There are specific requirements for citizenship.  There is a lifestyle required.  There are limits to be respected.  Some do not gladly receive his teachings.  They don’t consider his doctrine to be Good News.  God loves them and Jesus died for them, but they prefer to be gods themselves rather than bow to Him.  Yet, in spite of being rejected, cursed, belittled, and blasphemed, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  He freely gave himself that we might be free!  His way is the Christian thing to do!

BREAD OR LOAF?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Matthew 26:26 (NKJV)

And as they weMatzosre eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Mark 14:22 (NKJV)

And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”  Luke 22:19 (NKJV)

Sometimes folks get hung up on the smallest things.  Grandmother used to say, “Some people make mountains out of mole hills.”  During the time of the Passover, Jews did not have leavened bread in their homes, replacing it with the unleavened kind.  This bread was usually made in a round shape about 12 to 14″ wide and about an inch thick.   There is a good article on unleavened bread in http://truthofyah.net/studies/unleavenedbread.html.

In that link, it states that the word “bread” is not found in the Hebrew text, only the word “unleavened.”  In Greek, bread is translated from the word artos (άρτος).  The King James Version renders this word as “bread” seventy-two times, “loaf” twenty-three times, and “shewbread” twice.  Some have argued that Jesus and Paul used “bread” in the communion rather than a “loaf” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24).  Yet, the word artos means bread or loaf.  We would stretch it out in our culture by including both with the expression, “loaf of bread.”  In Greek that would be redundant.  The King James committee decided which English word to use in each text, although both are from the same Greek word!

Mark uses both English words in the same verse, yet both are translated from that one Greek word artos.

Now the disciples had forgotten to take (artos) bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one (artos) loaf.(Mark 8:14).

Most congregations today use Matzah Bread in the Lord’s Supper.  Although it may be unleavened, it is a “cracker” rather than artos (loaf of bread).  There was a time when most churches had an individual who made unleavened bread for the Lord’s supper.  We find “packaged” is easier and more convenient today.  But we have gone from “loaf” to a box of crackers.  Some churches have reduced the cracker to a bite size wafer.  Those who argue for “loaf” rather than “bread,” or “bread” rather than “loaf,” need to realize that Matzah bread is a cracker or wafer and artos meant loaf of bread!  Size isn’t important.  Shape isn’t important.  Homemade or store bought isn’t important.  It is unleavened.  It is what it represents that matters.  It symbolizes  the body of Jesus, the one who sacrificed his life to pay our sin debt, because we could never pay it ourselves!  That is what is important about artos (άρτος)!

FEAR OR JOY?

Monday, February 6, 2017

fear-or-joyYou’re young and wanting to be a teenager, but lack a year or so.  Mom and dad have “dragged” you to another revival. The preacher is spouted a “hell, fire, and brimstone” sermon.  Men and women are responding. Teens are filling the aisles. Your heart is racing. You can almost feel the flames of hell licking your feet. Fear grips you.  You don’t want to be lost. Your desire for salvation outweighs your fear of stepping into the aisle. You  fearfully receive the preacher’s words.  You make your confession.  You exchange your clothes for a baptismal garment.  After a few words from the preacher, you are immersed.  There is a feeling of exhilaration that follows your baptism.  Congratulations are given with a slap on your shoulders or a hug, or both.  These actions intensify your feelings.  All your past sins are gone!  God has forgiven you because you have been washed in the blood of Jesus!  If you died right now, heaven would be your home.  The excitement of the evening is hard to wear off, making sleep tardy in arriving.

The next day at school you find yourself in a critical situation and lie your way out of it.  Afterwards you feel the fires of hell licking at your feet again!  What happened?  You’ve been buried and raised with Jesus.  You’re a Christian.  You’re not supposed to lie anymore.  You’re not supposed to sin.  The fear of being lost surges up and refills your thoughts.  Saved, but lost again!  You repent, pray, and ask God for strength to not sin again.  But, as the days, weeks, months, and years pass, you find yourself on a slick slide, slipping back into sin every day.  Your inner self screams, “Why can’t I be sinless?”  Sometimes you feel like throwing up your hands in surrender.  That voice in your head shouts, “I may as well eat, drink, and be merry, because I’m going to hell anyway”!  You were lost because that first sin in your boyhood condemned you.  You were forgiven, but now as an adult, that “first” has multiplied and the weight is unbearable!  Each time you go to church, the preacher reinforces your negative feelings by exhorting everyone in the audience “to go on unto perfection” (Hebrew 6:1).  You leave discouraged, knowing you can’t be saved because “perfection” divorced you soon after you were baptized!  In church, discouragement replaces encouragement.  Everyone must be perfect, except you!

How many have that concept of Christianity?  They believe salvation is limited only to those who have a perfect record of crossing every “t” and dotting every “i.”  They also believe that salvation is  restricted to those who are members of a congregation that has everything right and nothing wrong.  If there is a hint of something being wrong and one remains if it is not quickly corrected, they will lose their soul!  If they can’t find one that is perfect, they are obligated to establish one!  Yet, when they follow that guideline, if they don’t find a “t” that hasn’t been crossed or an “i” that hasn’t been dotted, they will still be lost no matter how correct they are as individuals!  Those discoveries take their toll.  Assurance becomes a foreign word.  Passages such as “perfect love casteth out fear” refers to someone else.  They try to convince themselves that they and their congregation are almost perfect, only a small stretch from reaching it.  They attempt to justify that small gap of imperfections by believing they are more correct than other congregations or their members.  But, their efforts are always rewarded with failure.  Jesus spoke of such individuals in John 5:39 and Luke 18:9-14.

It is true that we sin before and after becoming a Christian.  The reason we sin is because we have the law of sin within us (Romans 7:23, 25).  The King James refers to it as “the flesh” (Matthew 26:41; John 8:15; Romans 7:25, 8:1, 3-4).  Prior to the good news we were slaves of sin and the wages of that servitude was death or separation from God (Romans 6:23).  Yet, God sent His Word to become flesh and keep the law perfectly so he could be our sin payment (John 1:1, 14; Romans 4:23-25; 5:1-2, 6, 8-10; 9:28; 10:9-10, 12, 18).  He took all our sins and then bestowed upon us His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Although we are not sinless, we are washed in Jesus’ blood and he continues to cleanse us as we continue to recognize that we are sinners in need of his cleansing (1 John 1:8-10).  We don’t excuse our sins.  We don’t pretend we are sinless.  We don’t fool ourselves into believing we can attain perfection through our efforts.  We allow our sins to drive us to Jesus.  We confess our sinfulness and ask for His forgiveness.  We do our best, but our best cannot purchase our sin eraser.  Only Jesus’ blood does that!  We are slaves of righteousness and are dead to sin, but alive to Jesus (Romans 6:2; 8:1).  We are slaves of righteousness and will receive eternal life (Romans 6:15-18, 23).  When one is “in” Christ, he enjoys “all spiritual blessings” (Ephesians 1:3).  So, rejoice!

And so, dear brothers, now we may walk right into the very Holy of Holies, where God is, because of the blood of Jesus.   This is the fresh, new, life-giving way that Christ has opened up for us by tearing the curtain—his human body—to let us into the holy presence of God.  And since this great High Priest of ours rules over God’s household, let us go right in to God himself, with true hearts fully trusting him to receive us because we have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean and because our bodies have been washed with pure water.  Now we can look forward to the salvation God has promised us.  There is no longer any room for doubt, and we can tell others that salvation is ours, for there is no question that he will do what he says.”  (Hebrews 10:19-23 (TLB).

THAT is Good News!

WORD FOR WORD?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

translation-2A few years ago the Christian world went through a period where the “tried and true” King James Version was touted as the standard text for all others.  Its value was based upon its years of existence and its popularity among the English speaking.  Its wording of “thee,” “thou,” “thine,” and other 17th century  usage was deified.  Prayers and most songs were based upon that archaic verbiage as if it was given from heaven.    Claims were attributed to the KJV which were false but accepted as truth.  One of those claims was that it is a “word for word” translation from the original languages.

Actually, no translation is a “word for word” rendering of either the Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic.  A “word for word” translation means one Greek word equals one English word.   In the KJV there are several examples which show that thinking is false.  In Mark 5:41, Jesus is approached by Jairus.  Jesus goes to his house to heal his 12 year old daughter.  When they arrive, she is dead.  Jesus takes three of his apostles, with the parents, and enters the room where the body is.  Jesus stated two Aramaic words.  Two!  They are “Talitha cumi.”  Yet, the King James renders these two words into six – “Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.”  That’s two words multiplied by 3!  That is not word for word.  It’s multiplication.  The New King James Version is accepted by many King James owners as a preferable substitute.  Yet, it renders those two words into seven!  “Little girl, I say to you, arise.”  That is two words multiplied by 3 plus 1.  That is not word for word!  The translations using less words are the New Revised Standard Version, the New Living Bible, the New Living Translation, and the Message with “Little girl, get up.”   None of them are word for word translations!  If less is better, then these modern translations did a better job of translation than the older versions!

In Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the same events in the others contain descriptions that are not word for word!  In fact some used different words altogether!  Yet, each was inspired by the Holy Spirit (John 14:26)!  For example, in Matthew 8:26, Jesus says, “You of little faith why are you so afraid?”  However, Mark 4:40 states, “Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?”  There is a difference between “little faith” and “no faith.”  One puts the word “afraid” after “faith,” the other switches them.  If someone thinks this is only a scribal error, there are thirty-nine more.  Such examples destroy the false idea that the KJV or any translation is word for word.

When Jesus spoke in Hebrew and Aramaic, with Mark giving us an illustration of that in 8:41, then the translation will not always be word for word.  Sometimes a translation is more, sometimes less than the language it is being translated from.  Such is necessary to make the thought understandable in the language it is being translated into.  Some words in one language cannot be adequately translated with one or even two words in another.  Therefore, five, six, or seven words may be necessary!

The next time someone tells you that their favorite translation is the only one that is valid because it is a word for word translation, be gentle!

FINITE OR INFINITE?

Monday, January 30, 2017

old-car-2Have you ever had a hobby that you couldn’t wait to get to the place or find the time to do it?  Then, one morning that desire was gone.  Perhaps you developed another hobby, or you woke up and wondered why you had engaged in the old one?  We buy new automobiles, not because the old one developed problems or had too many miles, but because the new one has one or more features that were missing in the old one.  We are constantly renewing things around us because we live in a finite world.

Things wear out.  Things break or quit.  Even light bulbs with a ten year guarantee burn out.  You graduate from high school and ten years later at a class reunion you don’t recognize anyone.   The beautiful people have put on 40 pounds and exchanged beauty for weight. You get your first job and then dream of retiring.  The place where you grew up shrinks with time.  The face of the neighborhood changes.  We live in a finite world where nothing stays the same.

You’re young and the world lies at your feet.  Too soon the rug of youth is jerked from under your feet as age stares back from the mirror.  Your hair turns gray or disappears.  Stairs once taken easily in twos, wear you out one at a time.  Friends your age are getting sick and dying.  You see a quarter on the ground, but a bad hip or faltering knees send you pass it.  We live in a finite world where nothing stays the same.

Things may not stay the same, but there is a person who does.  The Hebrew writer stated, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever(Hebrews 13:8).  Jesus came to offer us something that is infinite.  Something that will never fade nor grow old.  Something that is not restricted to time nor its ravages.  It is difficult for finite beings to understand eternity, but Jesus made receiving it possible.  Why not seek him?  He is not far away (Acts 17:27).  He offers that marvelous abundant life (John 10:10; 3:15-16).  When Peter proclaimed him to the multitude on Pentecost, about three thousand gladly received his message, believed it, and were baptized (Acts 2:41).  Are you in that crowd that is  interested only in the finite or do you desire the infinite?

USURPING AUTHORITY?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.  But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” 1 Timothy 2:11-12 (KJV)

womans-mouth-sewed-upWhat does Paul mean by “nor usurp authority over the man”?  God’s definition of the phrase forbids a woman to do it!  The problem is, whose “interpretation” of Paul’s statement is correct?  Several are offered.

(1) Some believe a woman is not biblically allowed to teach a man the word of God except by example.   (2) Some believe a woman may not open her mouth to teach or speak in the public assembly.  (3) Most believe a woman may teach God’s word in the public assembly, but she is limited to two very restricted guidelines.  (4) Others believe there are no limitations and a woman may do everything in the public assembly that a man can do.  Number #3 believes women are limited in their speaking or teaching by universal biblical law (1 Corinthians 14:34b).  That limited way does not violate I Timothy 2:11-12 or 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.  This means she may join in on congregational singing and make the Good Confession.  The question is, “Whose rule harmonizes with Paul’s statement?”

Most Bible students believe number (3) is the scriptural one.  The passages cited to validate these actions, are Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; Matthew 10:32; and Romans 10:10.  This speaking or teaching is not the same kind of speaking or teaching restricted by those two passages.

In our culture, no one questions a woman singing in the public assembly.  This is because four part singing is a well established tradition.  Yet such did not exist prior to the 17th century.  It was a “shame” for a woman to speak in the synagogues frequented by Jesus, Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Paul.  The Jewish Talmud stated that it was a shame for a woman to let her voice be heard among men.  Some would say that Paul borrowed this Talmud law and applied it to the public assembly when writing to the Corinthians.  Others point us back to Genesis 3:16. If “the law” of 1 Corinthians 14:34 refers to Genesis or some other biblical passage, does it allow a woman to speak in singing and confession without usurping authority or bringing shame?  Apparently that law does allow such because most believe the “kind” of speaking a woman is involved in by those two actions is not “the kind” Paul condemned!  If it did, then she could not perform those two actions in the public assembly.

With the development of the Roman Catholic Church, priesthood duties were occupied by men.  It appears that our practice of singing four part harmony stems from the Protestant Reformation rather than the church in the first century.  When Paul wrote Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, he could not be describing an action being performed in his day, which wasn’t practiced until churches introduced it seventeen hundred years later.

Although no one objects to a woman’s right to make the good confession standing before seated men and women in the public assembly, there is a question.  How does a woman, without violating 1 Timothy 2 or 1 Corinthians 14, make an oral statement in an assembly where she is commanded to be silent?  Our answer has been, “‘The kind’ of speaking she does when singing and confessing is a different ‘kind’ than that which Paul restricts in those two passages.”

Since this is our practice, this truth gives us two kinds of speaking and teaching.  A woman can do one of those two in the public assembly without violating either 1 Timothy 2:11-12 or 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.  If she practices the other kind, she brings shame upon herself and is commanded to keep her mouth shut.

Since this is the case, how do we scripturally identify that kind which is allowed as opposed to that kind which is not?  Those two practices prove that all teaching or speaking on the part of women in the public assembly is not restricted by Paul.  We must make sure that we are neither going beyond what God’s word teaches, nor falling short of what has been delivered.

Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 1:9 (NASB).

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