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My Thoughts

Adventures in Faith

Author

Ray

82, happily married for 58 years, 6 grandchildren and 3 great-grandson. I enjoy pistol competition, photography, and computers

UNWORTHY DISCERNMENT?

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, November 11, 2019

Misunderstandings may create unwanted fears.  How many Christians fearfully partake of the Lord’s supper?  Although Paul was correct in his statements, some pulpits may introduce those in the pew to a misunderstanding rather than the truth.   They may be honestly presented, but contain conclusions void of God’s message.

Paul stated, “He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” (1 Corinthians 11:29 KJV).  What does “discerning” mean?  The wrong kind may lead to trouble.

Parents attempt to keep two or three preschoolers quiet, seated, little hands off the bread and fruit of the vine, and partake without misunderstanding what Paul meant by that word.  An honest preacher may infer that one’s attention must be 100% on Jesus’ sacrifice during the partaking in order to fulfill Paul’s requirements.  In those Sunday wrestling matches, both parents are concerned whether or not they have met that requirement.  Were they completely focused on communion or distracted by a squirming child?  If distracted, have they brought damnation to themselves?  Would it be better to stay at home?  What about an older saint with arthritic fingers concentrating on not dropping anything while partaking?  Is that disciple guilty of a divided “discerning” between the physical and the spiritual?  What about the men who serve the audience?  They usually partake “on the go”!  Where is that kind of partaking found?

More than one minister has missed the context of this passage. Most of us desire perfection, whether in the pulpit or in the pew, but that desire is never rewarded, and the expectation is impractical.  Our human frailties attend those assemblies with us.  Misunderstandings can cause doubts which result in guilt, and reward one with grief.

Paul used three words in this passage which are “unworthily,” “damnation,” and “discerning.”  The Corinthian church had a divided loyalty to four teachers: Paul, Apollos, Cephas, and Christ (1:10-13).  This division was the foundation where most of the Corinthian’s faith was built.  As one reads 11:17-34 he sees how this thought process invaded the communion.  Some refused to wait on others.  Some would not share their bread or fruit of the vine.  This refusal caused some to leave the assembly hungry while others over indulged and lost their sobriety (v.21).  This attitude points to Paul’s use of the word “unworthily.”  That action resulted in the “damnation” leading to their failed “discerning.”  That attitude is not found in a couple wrestling with small children or an older saint concentrating upon his handling of the communion.

Today some disciples may read our culture and “expedients” into a passage.  When that is done, the first century action and purpose may be totally lost.  The individual may believe he is restoring New Testament Christianity by such insertions.  That is his mistake.  Believing something is true because we do it isn’t God’s standard.  Just because a practice can be traced back several generations does not make it truth.  When we believe the way we do something is biblical and must not be changed, we may be acting more like the Pharisees than we are as disciples of Jesus!

To have the right discernment, one must make sure that it originates from God rather than man.  Remember, we who are preachers aren’t infallible just because we stand and speak from the pulpit or sit and write in front of a computer monitor!

WHAT JESUS SAID!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Back in 1901 one of the publishing houses printed the King James Version with Jesus’ statements in red.  It was referred to as the “Red-Letter” edition.   It became a popular edition of the New Testament.  For reasons perhaps unknown, some began to claim that the only valid part of the New Testament, was the red-letter section.  What they meant was, “If Jesus said it, it is essential.  If Jesus didn’t say it, it wasn’t essential.”

It is true that Jesus used the expression “My words” ten times.  Two of those would be quoted to prove that Jesus’ words were all that was important.

For whosoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory” (Luke 9:26 NKJV) and “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him–the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:47).

Just because one recognizes the teaching of the apostles and prophets is essential, does not mean one is ashamed of what Jesus taught.  Neither does it mean that one has rejected the teachings of Jesus by approving of that which was done by the apostles and prophets.  If the first century Christians thought Jesus’ teaching was all that was essential, why did they continue stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine (Acts 2:42)?  Paul told Timothy that scripture (which was the Old Testament) was profitable for doctrine and referred to it as “instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16)?

Let’s also look at the last part of that “Red-Letter” conclusion and test it.  “If Jesus didn’t say it, it isn’t essential.”  Does anyone really believe Jesus made that statement in the quotes?  If so, where?  Second, Jesus never said the following: “______________, you will be saved and spend eternity with me in heaven.”  Put your name in the blank space and then start looking in Matthew through John to see if Jesus made that statement!  He doesn’t, does he?  He also never stated, “Everyone who believes in me and lives in the twentieth and twenty-first century will be saved and go to heaven.”   If there is any validity to the statement, “If Jesus didn’t say it, it isn’t essential,” then no one living today in saved.  So, eat, drink, and be merry because you can’t go to heaven since Jesus never said you would!

Jesus never said a lot of things.  Does that mean we may engage in those activities that our Lord never verbally stated?  Jesus never condemned slavery.  Shouldn’t the person who believes only the Red-Letter Section freely submit himself to that bondage?  Jesus never said one could work at ______________.  Fill the blank with your specific profession.  Since he never said one could work in that specific profession, why would any believer want to engage in it?   If one believes we must follow only what Jesus specifically said or authorized, why practice our culture?

The purpose of Matthew through John was to prove Jesus was God’s Messiah, Anointed One, or Christ, who would be our sin sacrifice.  Jesus fulfilled all those prophecies.

Jesus warned that false Christ would arise.  We may show what Jesus actually said as well as what those who were inspired by the Spirit said and wrote.  Acts through Revelation shows who that was.  As long as we repeat what they taught, we are simply fulfilling Paul’s instruction to Timothy “These things command and teach” (1 Timothy 4:11); “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).  John also stated, “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.  If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds” (2 John 1:9-11).  The teaching of Christ and the apostles’ doctrine or teaching are the same (John 14:26; 16:13).

If no one before 1901 had a Red-Letter edition of the Bible, no one before that date knew that only Jesus’ words were to be exclusively followed.  The Red-Letter view came after 1901, much too late to be a first century doctrine.

 

THE “COP OUT” CURSE OF REVELATION 22:18-19!

My Thoughts. . .
Monday, November 4, 2019

The New Testament is a collection of twenty-seven letters to churches and individuals. Each book is written to a specific congregation, individual, or group in the first century (Acts 1:1; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1-2; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4; Philemon 1:1; Hebrews 1:1-13:25; James 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; 1 John 1:5; 2 John 1:; 3 John 1:1; and Jude 1:3). Matthew writes to Jews in his day, Luke to Theophilus, Mark to Romans, and John to Jews and Gentiles. That leaves the twenty-seventh book called Revelation. Who was it written to?

Every generation since the first century has believed the book was going to be fulfilled in their day. This generation is no different. John wrote the book (Revelation 1:1). It is directed to “the seven churches in the province of Asia” (1:4). Are we who are living in Madison County Tennessee in the province of Asia? The seven congregations in Asia are named in chapters 2 and 3: Ephesus (2:1-7), Smyrna (2:8-11), Peragum (2:12-17), Thyatira (2: 18-28), Sardis (3:1-6), Philadelphia (3:7-13), and Laodicea (3:14-22). From Revelation 1:1 to 22:21, John is addressing those seven assemblies.

Some scholars believe the book started its fulfillment process when John finished writing and that fulfillment procedure continues down to our day. John uses phrases, as does Jesus and the angel, which are interpreted to happen, NOT IN THE FIRST CENTURY, but in some mystic last century in our future. I will give several passages with a modern insertion so the reader may ask if we today had received that book from John, would we believe John was telling us that the things mentioned would not be fulfilled for at least another twenty to twenty-one centuries?

The First Chapter Statements
To The Seven Churches in Madison County Tennessee

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants: North Jackson, South Jackson, Campbell Street, Skyline, East Jackson, Pleasant Plains, and East Madison County, THINGS WHICH MUST SHORTLY COME TO PASS; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: . . . Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: FOR THE TIME IS AT HAND. Revelation 1:1, 3

1. “Repent, Campbell Street, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly.” (Revelation 2:5). Would we think the word “quickly” was meant for folks in 4019 rather than us?

2.“Repent Campbell Street; or else I will come unto thee quickly” (Revelation 2:16). Would we start making preparations right now because that word “quickly” would mean “at hand” or “soon”?

3. “But that which ye Campbell Street have already, hold fast till I come Campbell Street” (Revelation 2:25). Would Jesus be telling us to hold something for another 2,000 years?

4. “Hold fast, and repent Campbell Street. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee, as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” (Revelation 3:3). Would we shrug off that warning because we knew Jesus wasn’t talking about us, but about someone living 2,000 years later?

5. “Behold, I come quickly Campbell Street” (Revelation 3:11). Does “quickly” mean in my lifetime, or does it mean in the lifetime of folks who will live 2,000 later?

The Last Chapter Statements
To the Seven Churches in Madison County Tennessee

“These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants, North Jackson, South Jackson, Campbell Street, Skyline, East Jackson, Pleasant Plains, and East Madison County, the things which must shortly be done. Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.” (Revelation 22:6-7). Does “shortly” and “quickly” mean we have 2,000 more years to keep the saying in the book of Revelation?

“And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” (Revelation 22:10-12).

He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly North Jackson, South Jackson, Campbell Street, Skyline, East Jackson, Pleasant Plains, and East Madison County. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Revelation 22:20 Was John saying, “come, Lord Jesus” in 2,000 or more years? Or, was he telling Jesus come NOW in his time?

“For I testify unto every man at North Jackson, South Jackson, Campbell Street, Skyline, East Jackson, Pleasant Plains, and East Madison County, that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man at North Jackson, South Jackson, Campbell Street, Skyline, East Jackson, Pleasant Plains, and East Madison County, shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man at North Jackson, South Jackson, Campbell Street, Skyline, East Jackson, Pleasant Plains, and East Madison County, shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Revelation 22:18-19

6. Was John addressing the seven churches in Asia in the first century or was he addressing the seven congregations in Madison County Tennessee in 2019?

7. Did John understand what Jesus meant when he used the words SHORTLY, QUICKLY, and TIME IS AT HAND? Or, are those who live today the ones who do not understand the significance of those words written to folks who lived 2,000 years ago in Ephesus (2:1-7), Smyrna (2:8-11), Peragum (2:12-17), Thyatira (2: 18-28), Sardis (3:1-6), Philadelphia (3:7-13), and Laodicea?

ASSUMED ASSUMPTIONS!?

My Thought. . .

 Thursday, 10/31/2019

A reader commenting on Monday’s article asked, “What false assumptions do you see in us today?”  Good question.  Please keep in mind that I am not saying all assumptions are false.  The dictionary states: “a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, WITHOUT PROOF.”  The reader will notice the two bolder words that I have marked in this definition.  If there is definite proof, then you do not have a false assumption.  What must that PROOF contain in order to render a person’s belief true rather than false?

For some it may be a simple requirement of trust.  A person may state, “I hold my preacher in high esteem and know he would not say anything that is not biblical.”  He may be honest in that statement, but is his esteem sufficient proof?  Is it possible for an individual to be biblical without maintaining that lofty goal 100%?  All humans, no matter how intelligent, honest, or trustworthy have a serious flaw.  We are sinners!  Paul was one.  Peter was another.  So are you and I.  We do not have perfect knowledge nor understanding.  We are susceptible to believing something is truth that may not have that 100% ring.

The prophets in the assembly in Corinth had the gift of inspiration, but did that gift mean they would always use it correctly?  If so, why did Paul need to write two letters to correct their error?  Why didn’t those who were inspired come to Paul’s defense when some doubted his apostolic authority (1 Corinthians 9:1-2)?  Why did those prophets and tongue speakers need instruction from Paul about speaking one at a time and no more than three in an assembly?  Weren’t they inspired?  If the Corinthian church did not have a copy of the New Testament, how would they know when a prophet was speaking by inspiration or not?  Paul told the prophets to judge (1 Corinthians 14:29, 32).  Judging those in one of the other divisions wasn’t going to be well accepted.  After all, they had prophets too!  No wonder it took Paul two letters to get things started back on track.  However, in his second one he had to warn them that he was coming because they still had problems.

We have all twenty-seven books of the New Testament today.  Yet, look at the religious divisions that shame us.  Each division was created because someone assumed he was remaining true to God’s word while others were guilty of apostasy.  Corinth’s division proved they possessed false assumptions even though they had inspired teachers.  When the eunuch asked Philip a question from his reading in Isaiah, Philip did not pull out the Jewish Talmud to answer that question.  He began at the same scripture to reply.  That may be our goal, but we don’t always accomplish it.

It is amazing at how heavily Acts 2:1 to Acts 8:1 have been burden with assumptions.  Keep in mind that assumptions are often peddled as truth.  Being true, makes it necessary for others to believe that truth.  False assumptions are created to explain what is not actually written in a passage.  It fills in that missing information and is elevated to the position of “logical truth.”  If that “truth” is questioned, the effort is dismissed as foolish and without the proper evidence to overturn what has been accepted for generations.   After all, so many, for so long, could not have been so blind, as to accept and practice something that is so false!

So, what do I personally see in us that is assumed to be true when in reality it is false?  If you have to assume it is in the Bible, but isn’t detailed therein, then . . .!

ASSUMPTIONS

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, October 28, 2019

Assumptions?  The dictionary states: “a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.”  Assumptions may be a dime a dozen, but most are given away without charge.  Assumptions may be free, but not always acceptable.  Assumptions may be good or bad.  There is a possibility that an assumption may be true, but it could be embarrassing or costly!  A passage in scripture may receive multiple assumptions, with none being correct.  Some assumption possessors believe theirs is true and you need to possess that truth in order to please God!

John was immersing people in the Jordan at Aenon near Salim.  One might assume that the “they” who came to John were Samaritans.  Although that area appears to be in Samaria, it is not, but under Scythopolise.  The apostle John informs us “After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them and baptized” (John 3:22).  If one did not read 4:1-2, he might assume that Jesus was the one doing the immersing.  We are told that the “disciples” performed that duty, but does that include only the twelve, some but not all, or others who also followed Jesus (Luke 8:1-3; 23:27, 49, 55)?  Assumptions usually supply the answer!

There are twenty-seven New Testament books.  Matthew wrote to Jews, Mark to Romans, Luke to Gentiles, and John to both.  Acts was written to Theophilus (Acts 1:1), Romans to Roman saints (1:7), 1 & 2 Corinthians to the church of God in Corinth (1:2 & 1:1), Galatians to the churches in Galatia (1:1), Ephesians to saints in Ephesus (1:1), Philippians to saints in Philippi (1:1), Colossians to the brothers in Colosse (1:2), to the church in Thessalonica (1:1 & 1:1), to Timothy (1:2 & 1:2), Titus (1:4), Philemon (1:1) to the Hebrew saints, Pete wrote to the elect in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia (1 & 2 Peter 1:1 & 1:1), 1 John 1:5 is written to the first century “you” in John’s day, to the chosen lady (2 John 1:1), to Gaius (3 John 1:1), Jude to his friends (1:3), and Revelation to the seven churches in “the Provence of Asia” (1:4).

My name is not mentioned as a receiver.  Jackson nor Tennessee or the churches therein are mentioned as destinations being corrected or encouraged.  The twenty-first century is not referred to in any of the twenty-seven letters.  My generation nor yours is specified.  Yet, most believe that certain parts must be applied to our societies.  That assumption also assumes which parts are essential and which are not.  The error involved in those assumptions is that not everyone agrees to what is or is not being bound by those expectations.  Assumptions are plentiful when determining if a command is tied with culture or not.  If so, does that authorize substitutions or not?

The problem with an assumption is that the specifics needed for it to be true, are not usually stated in the material those assumptions are referencing.  Assumption may appear to be true, but appearances are not the proper standard to build one’s faith.  Some believe and claim that their assumptions are based upon logic but whose?  Scripture itself declares,

Yahweh says: ‘Indeed, your thoughts are not like My thoughts.  Your ways are not like My ways.  Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher that your ways.  And, my thoughts are higher that your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

People read things into the Bible that are not there.  They assume a passage is saying something which the verse or chapter does not contain.  These assumptions are ingrained in their thinking by former teaching, beliefs of their associates, peer pressure, or other external factors.  One may think that he believes the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible.  However, much of what he believes was handed down to him rather than actually being in the scriptures.  Jesus warned his disciples, “Take heed” (Matthew 24:4).  Paul did the same (1 Corinthians 10:12; 1 Timothy 4:16).  So, what assumptions are your faith built on?

NOTHING NEW!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, October 21, 2019

A few years ago, the first male member shocked everyone when he entered the assembly with a gold earring in one ear.  It didn’t take long for this fad to catch on and soon earrings began showing up on boys and men each week.  Long ago Solomon wrote, “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).  It’s hard to believe, but he was correct.  In Exodus 32:24 Aaron asked Israel to give him the earrings from “your wives, your sons, and your daughters.”  So, when the US male population decided to wear one, it wasn’t as novel as they thought.

Why did Aaron want gold earrings?  Moses had been on the mountain too long.  Some thought he wasn’t coming back.  That number also felt that Moses had brought them into the wilderness to die.  They wanted to return to Egypt, and they desired to be led back with a gold god.  God told Moses what Israel was doing.  Notice how God phrases the reason!  “Go down!  Because YOUR people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves” (Exodus 32:7).  God does not refer to them as “MY people.”  Why?  They “have corrupted themselves.”

They were not “corrupted” because the males were wearing earrings.  They sinned because they wanted a golden image to lead them rather than Yahweh!  They wanted to follow that idol back to Egypt rather than be led by Almighty God to the Promised Land.  Do you remember the condescending remarks made when the first male appeared wearing an earring?  The same was true when hair covered a young man’s ears and the back of his collar.  New rules were created concerning who could “wait” on the table.  Remember the first time a young woman wore slacks to the assembly?  This change in culture drove some crazy and preachers suddenly began quoting Old Testament scriptures to justify their New Testament objections.  We never considered such protests being inconsistent.  In a sense, our former cultural objections may have ended up being our golden calf!  Even our history should have been a clue but wasn’t.

In the sixties we were asked to keep a couple’s three-year-old daughter for an hour or so.  Being curious she reached for a small box containing some bobby pins.  For those who may not be familiar with that term, women of that day used them to pin their hair in place.  When she pulled the box off the dresser, it fell and scattered pins all over the floor.  When we asked her what happened, she said, “That box just hopped up all by itself and fell on the floor!”  Remember Solomon’s statement about nothing new?  That three-year old’s explanation was illogical, but she was not the first to use that type of excuse.

When Moses asked his brother Aaron about the golden calf, Aaron’s reply was,

You know how these people are.  They are evil!  They told me: ‘Make a god for us to lead us! . . . And I said to them: ‘Whosoever has any gold, let him take it off.’  So, they gave it to me.  Then I threw it into the fire, . . . and out came this calf!” (Exodus 32:22-24).

Aaron’s type of justification would later be a three-year old’s alibi of innocence!  Do you and I offer that kind of justification for our sins?  Remember Solomon’s “nothing new” statement?

JUSTICE OR MERCY?

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, October 21, 2019

Most of us see one side of a scenario, but seldom examine the other.  The way we see an event may be influenced by our cultural background, belief system, prejudices, misunderstandings, peer pressures, or past experiences.  A recent example is Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick.  Both are NFL quarterbacks.  Most of us know Tim as the Christian who bows his head and prays openly.   In a game, he often has the expression “John 3:16″ with white letters on a dark blue or black background painted just below his eyes.  We admire his courage and are upset when coaches or anyone else objects.  Colin Kaepernick?  For most, he is the poster boy to illustrate anti-Americanism and being anti-patriotic because he refuses to stand during the pledge of allegiance.  He goes down on one knee to illustrate that protest.  The first time one witnesses that action he might think that if Colin is so anti-American, why doesn’t he go and live in some other country?  Why doesn’t he find a job in that other country that will make him as much money as he has earned in this one that he seems to hate so much?  What most do not see and may not wish to know is that Colin is also a Christian.  Does that surprise you?  He sees the injustices that play out against his race that are perpetrated by some policeman.  Little or nothing is done to correct that situation.  Is he against those policemen that are fair, honest, and helpful?  No.  Does he hate the USA?  No.  He hates the injustices that are carried out and not solved.  The news information we have been exposed to doesn’t look at that side nor answer that question.

Is Tim Tebow perfect?  I’m sure he would answer “No.”  Actually, none of us are.  The apostle Paul stated, “All have sinned” (Romans 3:10, 23).  I’m sure Tim, you, me, and all others are included in that statement.  That’s why we need a divine Savior!  That’s why Tim prays in public and expresses his belief in several other ways.  Would it surprise you to know that Colin is doing the same thing by protesting societal injustices?

Colin deserves just as much of God’s mercy as Tim does.  Since you and I are sinners, we are included in that basic “need.”  We need Jesus Christ as our Savior.  I’ll admit that I did not know Colin was a Christian.  I thought he was a US citizen that had turned his back upon his country.  Like others, I failed to look at the other side of the coin.  My background beliefs, prejudices, misunderstandings, peer pressure, and past experiences painted me into a corner of misunderstanding.  The real problem is that my patriotism used different brushes which kept me from recognizing what picture Colin was actually painting.  I would hope that any follower of Christ would protest any injustice that takes place anywhere in the world.

Sometimes we cannot see our faults (sins) because another’s seems worse than ours.  We often use this imbalance to belittle our sins.  If we had been present when Jesus dealt with the adulterous woman, his failure to mete out justice would have shocked us.  It is interesting how much worse adultery, thievery, divorce, lying, or homosexuality seems to be than the “little” sins we are guilty of.  That woman in John 8 deserved justice, but we believe our sins merit mercy.  Right?  Everyone speeds a few miles over the posted limits or throws out a gum wrapper now-and-then.  We take a few paper clips home from work.  No harm in that, right?  We aren’t guilty of rape, incest, arson, kidnapping, sex slavery, or murder.  Our shortcomings are the little offenses that hurt no one, right?  Those others cause harm and destroy life.  This allows us to dismiss our mistakes without suffering guilt because, “everyone does it.”  Right?

Continuing in sin means eternal separation from God.  Whether it’s “white lies” or wholesale ones, we need Jesus.  Whether it’s doing 31 in a 30 mile per hour zone or recklessly driving it at 85, we need Savior Jesus.  One might accuse Tim of displaying his faith as some did that Jesus spoke of (Matthew 6:1-8).  That person’s judgment might be the kind Jesus warned about (Matthew 7:1-5).  That might also be possible when judging Colin’s motives.  Colin knew he was putting his position with the NFL on the line, but he was willing to do it, just as Tim puts his.  No one is perfect and we all make mistakes, don’t we?  Jesus said, “Judge not” (Matthew 7:1).  Sometimes we do base our information upon the wrong side of the coin.  We often seek justice and a society that follows righteousness.  Do we want Justice when we go a few miles over the speed limit?  Do we want justice when we make a wrong judgment?  No, we want mercy.

THE NATURE OF CULTURE

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Change culture and you change law.  What was wrong fifty years ago is lawful now.  Since the New Testament was written by men who lived in first century culture, may we change, alter, or ignore some commands tied in with that culture?  Is that allowance granted by plain scriptural statements or by our wish to justify our cultural substitutions?  Whether those changes are made based upon expediency, inference, or a fluid culture, are those choices made with God’s approval?  If our changes are based upon our societal whims, are they actually valid?  When such changes are practiced as biblical, does God acquiesce and allow it even though it negates what He has revealed in scripture?  If so, where is that divine compliance given in detail?

Paul wrote to the Corinthians stating, “Since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2).  Moses mentioned a man leaving his parents and being joined to one woman (Genesis 2:25).  Yet, despite their failure to follow those scriptural guidelines, some like Jacob and David were described as faithful.  Both are mentioned in God’s Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11:9, 20-21, 32).  Divine history informs us that both had multiple wives or bed partners.  Did culture have anything to do with it?  In our culture, such practice is unlawful.  Yet God states concerning them, “These were all commended for their faith” (Hebrews 11:39 NIV).

Cultural changes may be seen today in the view our country holds on abortion.  It was illegal until the Supreme Court case in 1973.  Abortion was limited to about 20 weeks into the pregnancy.  However, with time, that limit was increased until just before birth.  Now it is being sought in some states that if the baby survives all efforts to abort it, it may be allowed to die from exposure.  About 650,000 are aborted each year in the USA.  Body parts are being sold for profit from those babies.  The pre or newborn have no legal rights even though healthy at birth IF they are unwanted.  Over the next fifty years our cultural laws may be written that will allow euthanasia for any individual who is judged to be of little or no benefit to society.  Will these changing cultural practices be viewed as biblical?

Allowing culture to justify our changes in how biblical commands are to be performed is not new.  Jacob and David stand out in the Old Testament.  Samson is aligned with the faithful in Hebrew 11:32. His history is given in Judges 13:24 to 16:30.  There is one action that stands out as an illustration of his “faith.”  He killed over four thousand Philistine infidels.  His largest number slain was by taking his own life which would now be labeled suicide.  He was successful and faithful in killing the enemies of Yahweh.  Would one be considered faithful today if he killed one individual in the name of Yahweh or Jesus?  He lived in a different culture and the law he lived under was the Old Testament.

The Jews substituted the synagogue system for the Temple when they were in Babylonian captivity.  When they returned, they brought that man-made creation with them.  Jesus accepted that tradition without controversy.  The Jews added four cups of wine to be consumed at different times during the Passover meal.  This tradition was also accepted by Jesus without any negative rebuttal.

Western Culture changed the holy kiss to a welcoming handshake.  It changed a table, seating all twelve apostles and Jesus, to a small one whose only purpose is to display the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine.  Yet we refer to IT as “the Lord’s table” and speak of gathering around it to partake!  Culture mentally changed the word “slave” to “servant” or employee, and the word “master” to employer while reading Ephesians 6:1, 5-6, 9; Colossians 4:1; and 1 Timothy 6:2.  It changed “house to house” assemblies to “church buildings” with rules and attitudes while in that sanctuary or auditorium.  Culture took sandal wearing men out of the pulpit and dressed them in suits, shirts, and ties with shining shoes.   Then in the twenty-first century it is regressing back to the sandals.

Luke reveals the Jewish culture of using four cups of wine during the Passover feast by mentioning the last two of the four in the partaking of the Lord’s supper (Luke 22:17, 20).  Matthew and Mark bypass Luke’s first cup and combine its dialogue with the last one (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:23-25).  Culture plays a part in how an event is understood and believed.

These cultural events are a thorn for those who refuse to understand that the New Testament was written by men who lived in first century for people living in that culture.  When one reads our culture into the Bible, as if Paul and others were living in the twenty-first century, that tendency is an effort to harmonize in the wrong direction.  If one rejects first century culture in favor of ours, he may end up binding what God has not bound and loosing what God has not loosed (Matthew 16:19; 18:18).

THE LIST!

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, October 14, 2019

Have you ever made a list of what you believe must be included in a congregation for it to be the New Testament church?  Will your list have the same things as mine?  Will you include things that I haven’t?  With each statement, is there a passage in the New Testament that explicitly outlines what you have?  When finished, will any congregation in the New Testament live up to your finished product?  The two worst ones are Laodicea and Corinth.  I’ll refer only to Corinth to keep this short.  Paul established this assembly around 49-50.  He was with them for about eighteen months (Acts 18:1-18).  In 3-4 years after that, they have developed the error Paul writes to correct!  The Chloe family brought Corinth’s many problems to Paul’s attention (1 Corinthians 1:11).   That information was not treated as gossip by Paul.  Most who gossip don’t want their name attached as part of “everyone is concerned”!

Paul wrote to “the church of God.”  He does not write to a group of people who, due to their error, are no longer recognized as “the true church.”  The church has not been withdrawn from by an apostle, prophet, congregation, nor God.  The letter is void of any action of withdrawal being contemplated by anyone.

In three years, four personality groups have been created.  1) Paul, 2) Apollos, 3) Cephas, and 4) Christ.  All four of those individuals were excellent teachers.  None would have agreed to Corinth’s denominating.  Unity was Jesus’ prayer (John 17:20-21).  Division is disruptive and causes disbelief (v.21).  This Corinthian pattern continues to prevail in the 21st century, although neither Jesus nor Paul are condoning such divisiveness as scriptural.

The assembly tolerates a man who is in an incestuous relationship.  They refuse to discipline that individual.  Not even pagans are engaged in such debauchery (5:1-13).  They shame the name of Jesus by going to law against one another rather than settling their differences “in house” (6:1-8).  They have allowed themselves to be infected with their former way of life (6:9-20).

They are having marital problems and not fulfilling their responsibilities one toward the other (7:1-16).  There is a problem between those who are circumcised and those who are not (vv.17-24).  He gives his judgment to virgins and suggests it would be best, due to persecution, to not marry.  But if one does, it is not wrong (vv.25-40).

Those who are strong in the faith should not offend those who are weak in theirs (8:1-13).  It might be hard for us to classify anyone at Corinth as “strong” in the faith.  Yet, Paul’s letter found it despite our blindness.  Paul had to defend his apostleship since some were denying it (9:1-27).

Some were apparently fellowshipping idolatry and confusing the table of the Lord with the table of Satan (vv.1-22).  He encourages them to follow what is right (vv.23-33).

Women are refusing to present themselves properly when they pray and prophesy.  So are some men (11:1-16).  They refuse to partake together.  Some eating too much of the communion while others going hungry.  Some are drinking too much and getting drunk.  Some are making the Lord’s supper into an act of condemnation (vv.17-34).

Chapter 13 is a solution to all of their problems.  Loving one another is God’s answer, but divisiveness has blinded them, even as it continues to do today (13:1-13).

Paul has to reiterate the correct use of spiritual gifts (12:1-31).  He continues by regulating how many prophets and tongue speakers may be active during an assembly.  He also tells them when to shut and open their mouths to speak.  He tells some women they cannot speak to “ask” “in church,” but must do so “at home.”  Paul warns that all things are to be done without confusion (14:1-40).

Paul saves his correction of their unbelief in the resurrection for the last part of his letter (chapter 15).  This disbelief was also divisive, pitting the rejectors against those who believed in the resurrection of the dead.

Paul ends by giving them a command and encouragement to provide for the needs in Jerusalem.  He speaks of Timothy’s work.  He closes out with greetings from other assemblies (16:1-24).

SUMMING UP

Paul rallies the entire assembly to withdraw from ONLY one individual (5:1-13).  He refers to the congregation as “the body of Christ” (12:27).  He speaks of them as “brethren” 25 times.  He tells them that they are “the temple of God” and that the Spirit dwells IN them (3:16).  The Holy Spirit continues to work through the prophets, language speakers, and interpreters (12 and 14).  The congregation is not spoken of as an apostate, a former “church of Christ,” or a false church.  If their errors would remove them from our modern lists today as a true church, why does Paul refuse to identify them as such?  Is Paul’s refusal an indictment of spiritual weakness?

Does Corinth match the list you have created of what a true New Testament church must be in order to wear the label “church of God”?  If a congregation falls short of your list, wouldn’t that prove that it is not now nor can ever be the “Temple of God” in that imperfect condition?  Since Corinth fails in meeting such lists, isn’t Paul being presumptuous in recognizing them as “the church of God”?  If our lists would not include Corinth without them correcting all their errors, wouldn’t Paul’s recognition be erroneous too?  The first letter did not return them to being “the church.”  A second letter with its warning was needed (2 Corinthians 13:2).  Until they perfected everything, would your list allow them to be restored as “true” without it?  If you haven’t made that list, now is a good time to do so.  When you do, you might find your present membership isn’t valid!  Would that not be so because of your lack of perfection?

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