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AN AGENDA, AN AGENDA, MY KINGDOM FOR AN AGENDA

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, January 20, 2020

Everyone has an agenda.  Some may be more earnest in supporting theirs than another.  Some are willing to go outside the law to obtain their goal.  Some will lie and deceive to reach theirs.  Even religious people have agendas.  If an individual holds to a specific doctrine denied by others, he will fight furiously for his.  Some are so dedicated to their agenda that they are willing to give their lives to uphold it.  An agenda may be ridiculed, and the owner ostracized, but such negative actions reinforce his faith rather than weakening it.

If a person believes he is doing God’s will, he will not be convinced otherwise.  Some are willing to defend their agenda by flying an airplane into a building or blowing themselves up.  If in the process they kill others, those victims deserved it because they did not accept his faith.  He is an instrument of God’s wrath upon infidels.   He will be richly rewarded for his martyrdom.

Those who claim to follow Jesus may not go to that extreme, but some do follow a different path in destroying others.  Innuendo is permitted.  Lies are justified.  Character assassination is allowed.  All such actions are justified in protecting that individual’s agenda.  He is God’s vengeance against those who will not remain on his path of conceived righteousness.   His followers see him as the defender of the faith.  He “tells it like it is.”

The problem inherent in this is that everyone has an agenda.  I have mine and you have yours.  An agenda may not kill anyone, but it can be destructive.  Saints in Corinth had theirs.  Four are introduced in the first four chapters.  Each agenda supported noble names.  Who would deny that Paul, Apollos, Cephas, or Jesus supported the truth?  All four did.  Yet, the congregation’s loyalties created the first “my favorite preacher” syndrome.  Even the one that touted itself as being “of Christ” was guilty (1 Corinthians 1:12).  Their paths followed neither the man nor his scriptural plan.   It was the beginning of “my agenda is better than yours.”

The devil is the master of deceit.  Didn’t he quote scripture to Jesus (Matthew 4:6)?   If he used God’s Word on the one who is God’s Word, do you think mankind would be a challenge to him?  If you doubt his abilities, look at the tremendous number of divisions that now exist among those who believe in Jesus.  Do you think God is the originator of our divisiveness?  Didn’t God show four ways were four too many (1 Corinthians 1:13)?

Satan uses man’s weaknesses to strengthen his kingdom and agenda.  So, why wouldn’t he use our agendas for his purposes?

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Are You A Hyphenated Christian?

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 01/16-2020

One person asks another, “Are you a Christian?”  The other responded, “Yes.”  The first person asked, “What kind are you?”  The person responded, “I’m a ______ Christian.”  If you wish, you may fill in the blank.  If you were living in the first century, what would that answer be?  Perhaps the hyphenation you wrote in the above line is not found in scripture.  Why?  No one was referred to by that hyphenation until centuries later.  It was an addition that resulted in the following:

1). It did not save anyone since the person enjoyed salvation prior to that and other hyphenations being created.

2). It did not improve a person’s standing with God because Yahweh saved them due to the blood of Jesus rather than them joining a hyphenated group.

3). Not one single apostle of Jesus Christ adopted or referred to themselves by a hyphenation.

4). The saved were organized as the body or church of God prior to the introduction of hyphenated bodies or churches.

5). Hyphenations did not improve the body of Jesus in organization, fellowship, worship, or work since God created that divine body before man created hyphenations.

Paul wrote to a congregation in the first century that made the mistake of introducing that kind of hyphenations.  The ones who introduced those new creations were already Christians because they were already in the one body of Jesus (1 Corinthians 12:27).  They were already the church of God (1 Corinthians 1:2).  Yes, the names of the ones they used to denominate themselves with were highly respected and honored men.  However, those personalities did not suggest nor encourage those brethren to do what they were introducing.  Neither Paul, Apollos, Cephas, or Jesus encouraged nor suggested that their names or teaching were to be used to create those hyphenated divisions or sects.

Each one of them was something in addition to being a Christian!  “What KIND of Christian are you?”  “I’m a Pauline Christian.”  “Oh, Well I’m a Cephasite Christian.”  “I’m neither one of those, I’m an Apollosian Christian.”  “All of you are wrong.  You need to be a Christ Christian like me.”  Paul’s rebuttal to all four was, “Is Christ divided?” (1:13).  No, four times No!

The divisiveness promoted by all four was wrong.   Did a person have to hear Paul rather than Peter to become a Christian?  No.  Were those who had heard Christ the only real Christians?  No. Were those who were immersed by Apollos rather than Cephas the actual Christians?  No.  Paul points out that some had heard him preach but were immersed by someone else.  God adds to the saved those who have received and responded to His word.  Who teaches you and who immerses you is not the important factor?  Philip immersed the eunuch rather than Paul, Apollos, Peter, or Jesus doing it.  Was he added to the saved by God Almighty?  Yes, he was.  It may give a person bragging rights, but God did not save them because they were immersed by Paul rather than by Philip.  What hyphenated group was the eunuch in after his immersion?  Did the eunuch see any reason to be hyphenated as “of Paul,” “of Apollos,” “of Cephas,” “of Christ” or “or Philip?

Those hyphenated saved folks in Corinth were divided into four “of” groups.  They were saved before they divided.  They were saved before they named themselves.   Most, if not all of the problems they were drowning in was a results of those four divisions.  Such divisiveness owes its allegiance to Satan rather than Jesus.   Those Corinthians and others who had been added to the saved by the Father were complete in Christ Jesus without those hyphenations.  Hyphenation isn’t necessary to one’s salvation.  It isn’t necessary as an addition because it divides those who believe in Jesus!

If one wishes to be scripturally hyphenated, the best way is to be a faithful saved one!

347 MORE DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS?

My Thoughts . . .
Monday, 01-13-2020

The Christmas or Holiday Tree has been removed and is now waiting 347 more days to be resurrection again. Around Thanksgiving or shortly thereafter, several groups begin arming themselves to change very few minds. It is the yearly festival of blowing off steam to anyone that will listen. This article is either too late or too early but fits in that category. Take it with a grain of Sea salt.

One group is offended because someone says “Merry Christmas” to them. This puts them in a dilemma of whether to set that individual straight or let him remain in his ignorance. They are thankful that they understand December 25th is NOT the actual birthday of Jesus. They will neither parrot the greeting nor accept it. They want everyone to know that no Bible character celebrated Jesus’ birthday on December 25th.

Some in that belief are divided into at least two categories. There are those who not only know the truth about Jesus’ birth, but that it was never celebrated on December 25th by Joseph, Mary, the angels, the shepherds, the Eastern elite, nor God. Each December it is their duty to teach others the truth on how this practice began. Their position never wavers and is held as “the faith once delivered to the saints.” It is their right to teach what they believe.

The other category knows December 25th may not be Jesus’ birth date but are happy that people think about his birth even if they may be wrong on the month and day. Most treat the season as a Catholic/Protestant tradition. Some will not give the “Merry Christmas” greeting while others will. Those who refuse to say “Merry Christmas” will usually substitute it with “Season’s Greetings.” They see no contradiction in doing so. They don’t turn down getting off work with pay on that day. They enjoy their Christmas bonus without objections. They don’t protests the gifts given by friends and family. They go with the flow!

Since no New Testament author identifies any specific day as the birth date of Jesus, nor first century saints celebrating it individually or collectively, an alternate doctrine is produced. One is, “We celebrate Jesus’ birth 365 days of the year.” Another is, “We celebrate his birth on Sunday each week as we partake of the communion.” They never seem to understand that neither substitution is given in the Bible. They are as guilty of believing something that is not stated in the Bible as those who recognize that birth on one specific day. At least those who celebrate the 25th know it may not be the actual birth date. If that fact is known by those who make those two substitutions, why do they do something when the Bible is silent. Would all three categories not be passengers in the same boat?

Is it wrong to tell others that Jesus’ birthday is not mentioned in the Bible as being on December 25th? No. That is a true statement. In fact, during this past December a Catholic priest told a national television audience that no one knows the specific day Jesus was born on. He spoke the truth. A Methodist Church in Memphis for years displayed a sign on their lawn that Jesus’ birth was in June! Perhaps, but who knows? Does that Bible omission mean we may celebrate his birth, just not on any specific day? How would that be possible? Does that Bible omission mean we may observe his birth while partaking of communion, just don’t tell anyone? If Christians are bound to not observe Jesus’ birth on any specific day, would that not make atheists happy? If silence is our master, wouldn’t the safe course be to teach and preach that saints are not to celebrate his birth on any specific day? What specific Sunday would we be authorized to read Matthew 1:18-25 to 2:12 and Luke 2:1-20? Since Sunday would be a specific day, may we do that reading ONLY if we prefaced it with, “We are reading these scriptures about Jesus birth, but the audience must understand that this is not the specific day on which he was born”?

Romans 14 covers these different opinions.

LOST OPPORTUNITIES

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, January 6, 2020

When the men from the high priest came to arrest Jesus, Matthew and Mark tell us the disciples fled.  Both were referring to the apostles and friends who made that choice.  Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us that Peter followed Jesus “afar off.”  John’s account is different.  He informs us that Peter followed Jesus but doesn’t mention whether it was “afar” or “nearer” that the others (John 18:15).  Neither Matthew, Mark nor Luke tell us that “another disciple” was with Peter.  Neither of those three inform us as to how Peter gained entrance to the court of the high priest.  John is the only one who gives that information (John 18:16).  That disciple was known to the high priest (John 18:15).  John informs us that this particular disciple “went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest” (v. 15).  According to verse 16, the high priest knew that disciple.  Who was he?  It was the apostle John.  Peter could not get past the gate into the court.  The female attendant knew John and upon his word, Peter was allowed to enter.  The text may indicate that John was allowed into the presence of the high priest when he interrogated Jesus.

When the young woman accepted John’s instructions to allow Peter through the gate, John apparently returned to where Jesus was held.  Peter was asked by the girl, “Are not you also one of this man’s disciples?”  Apparently, she knew John was or the question would not have been asked.  However, Peter’s reply was, “I am not” (v. 17).   Opportunity Number One lost!  Sometimes it is who you know that makes the difference on how you respond.  John knew and was known by the high priest.  That gave Peter the right to enter.  It also set in motion his opportunity to witness or wither.

Peter warmed himself by the fire where the servants and officers of the high priest were.   He wanted to see how things would go for Jesus (Matthew 26:58b).  Some in that group were in the crowd that arrested Jesus.  If Jesus friends fled to keep from being arrested, why would they think Peter had enough courage to be in their midst (v. 25)?  His answer to their question indicates he lost another Opportunity.  Then a relative of Malchus, the one lost and regained his right ear, asked a question.  “Didn’t I see you with him in the olive grove?” (John 18:26).  Response?  “Peter denied it.”  Opportunity number three.

When the rooster crowed Peter realized his bragging for what it was (Matthew 26:33-35; Luke 22:33).  He understood that he had denied Jesus, not once, but three times.  He was mortified over his actions and Matthew and Luke tell us he “wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75; Luke 22:62).  Despite that, when Jesus rose and met with the apostles, he never reminded Peter about those lost opportunities.  He never demanded Peter to make a public confession.  Instead he told Peter, “Feed my lambs” (John 21:15), “Feed my sheep” (v. 16-17, and “Follow me” (v. 19).

Regardless of what your past looks like, Jesus say, “Follow me.”

AT HOME?

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, December 30, 2019

Sometimes a truth may reveal itself when a different statement is substituted.  The substitution is not made to change God’s word, only to direct the student to see God’s actual statement.  When twenty-first century prejudices, traditions, or culture substitutes expressions that are foreign to first century events, it creates misunderstandings.  Notice what Paul actually said in the following passage.

“Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.  And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands AT HOME; for it is shameful for women to speak in church” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35).

Who are these women?  Some believe they are the prophetesses in 1 Corinthians 11:5. Some believe they are the wives of the prophets.  Some believe they are all females in the assembly.  Some believe this passage applies to any woman regardless of her location.  She is to be silent when men are present.  The Greek word “sigao,” translated “silence” in verse 34 is also used in correcting the prophets and tongue speakers (v.28 and v.30 “hold his peace”).

The Corinthian prophets were engaged in confusion not edification (v. 26).  Tongue speakers were adding their part by not have an interpreter to translate (v. 28).  They were to speak one at a time rather than at the same time.  Whoever these women were, they were guilty of adding to that confusion with their questions.  All three are told to be silent or hold their peace.  Prophets and tongue speakers were commanded to speak one at a time, with no more than three in their category speaking in that assembly.  If a tongue speaker did not have an interpreter, he must remain silent (sigao).  If a prophet received a new prophecy, the new one became the speaker and whoever was speaking was to remain silent as the new prophecy was given.  Those specific women were to ask their questions at home, NOT in the assembly!

Why do some readers change several expressions in the text?  One is changed from “SPEAK” to “PREACH.”  “LEARN” is changed to the word “TEACH.”  “ASK” is changed to “PREACH” or “TEACH” and the third expression, “AT HOME” is changed to “WHEN TEACHING WOMEN.”  The passage is made to say the following:

“Let ALL your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to PREACH; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.  And if they want to PREACH, let them PREACH TO WOMEN; for it is shameful for women to PREACH to men in church.”

Check it out!  These women are ASKING, NOT preaching.  Their ASKING is disrupting the assembly just as much as the erring prophets and tongue speakers are.  They are ASKING their husbands, who apparently are the speaking prophets or tongue speakers.  Paul commands them to ASK at HOME, not ASK in CHURCH.

If the fault of those women was PREACHING, then Paul commands them to PREACH at HOME.  Some will disagree, but if so, they disagree with what Paul wrote.  Paul commanded these women to “shut up” (sigao) rather than ask their questions of their husbands IN CHURCH.  They are commanded to ASK at HOME in order to learn.  What they cannot do IN CHURCH, they are COMMANDED to do AT HOME.  If several couples go home with them nothing is changed and she may ask her husband at home what she cannot ask at church.  She is not violating scripture when she obeys Paul’s command.  She is simply following God’s instruction.

Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 has been abused, misinterpreted, and taken out of context.  If we follow the usual interpretation taught by some, wouldn’t that path cause the practitioners to be 1) guilty of ADDING to God’s word, 2) of going beyond what is written, 3) taking the passage out of its context, and 4) teaching another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9)?

If Paul’s instruction in this passage silences SPEAKING for ALL women in that assembly, then no female has the authority to SPEAK in song or confession.  Scripture is silent about a woman making here confession or singing in the 1 Corinthians 14 assembly.  Paul’s sigao in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 would restrict her in doing so in Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16, and Romans 10:9-10.  She would be required to do those actions AT HOME.

What does 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 actually say?

PERFECTION SAVING THE IMPERFECT!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Do you have any relatives that have a bad reputation?  Were they guilty of breaking the law?  I got into the ancestor search a few years back.  Originally, my maternal family came from England and settled in Virginia in 1609.  The family spread in two directions from Virginia.  One son remained in Virginia.  Another son went to North Carolina and the third one moved to Sevierville, Tennessee.  Then some moved from East Tennessee to East Madison County near Brownsville.  My great-grandfather and his immediate family left Brownsville and traveled to middle Arkansas.  He was murdered during a card game.  Was he cheating or was it another player?  One thing is clear, my great-grandfather wasn’t quick enough on the draw.   I know that my aunt Vida Chandler Watts never would allow spots cards in her house because of that incident.  After that incident, my grandfather and family left Arkansas, traveled West and settled in Stratford, Oklahoma.  This move was shortly after Oklahoma became a State.  I grew up and lived in Oklahoma until I traveled East to study in Memphis, Tennessee in 1958.

Although there were some rascals in the Chandler lineage, their stories are interesting.  There are also businessmen, landowners, some who fought in the Civil War, World War I and II, law officers, lawyers, teachers, farmers, college professors, and preachers.  Some were recognized by society because they “came from good stock.”  Those who stayed in trouble with the law may have come from good families, they just didn’t stay with their raising.

Jesus was born in a manger or what we would call a barn.  That birth spot wasn’t because Joseph was poor, but because the inns were full.  Back then the early arrivals usually got the best rooms.  Mary was pregnant. Perhaps her condition meant more rest stops.  When a family has their first baby, most will take a lot of pictures.  Jesus’ baby book was located in Mary’s memory (Luke 2:19, 51).  On one occasion during Jesus ministry, Mark informs us about an unusual family event.  Jesus’ brothers and their mother attempted to take him home and restrict his public appearances.  They thought he was “out of his mind” (Mark 3:21 RSV, NIV, ESV).

Who would believe Jesus was God’s anointed one or Messiah?  Even his lineage contains some “shady” individuals.  There is a possible Canaanite woman whose name was Tamar.  She became pregnant through deception (Genesis 38).  She presented herself as a prostitute so her father-in-law would get her pregnant.  The second woman is also a prostitute and pagan whose name is Rahab (Joshua 2:1-14).  The third woman is a Moabite Gentile named Ruth.  Her son would be David’s grandfather (Ruth 4:17).  The fourth woman willingly commits fornication with David.  To cover his sin, David ultimately has her husband killed in battle and then marries her.  Solomon is their second son.  Solomon starts well but decides to try different things to see how each scenario plays out.  Living quarters for his wives and concubines must have been huge since he had 700 wives and 300 extra in-house women!  Solomon’s son Rehoboam was also a disappointment.  “Train up a child” didn’t help that royal kid.  However, from these imperfect individuals a prophesied Savior comes into the family.

God uses man where he is to accomplish His will.  God manifested Himself in the form of an imperfect man to save wayward mankind.  Some powerful men rejected him then and they still do.  His name is Jesus (Joshua in Hebrew), meaning “Yahweh or Jehovah saves.”

The angel told Mary about the child she would have.  Angels announced his birth.  Men from the East traveled to their rented house to worship him.  They brought expensive gifts and presented them to the baby.  Jesus as a youth astonished his mother with his knowledge and speech.  As a teen, his interests were different from others.  As a man, his wisdom and teaching continued to astonish and mystify her.  His miracles were mind boggling and crowds followed him to share in their benefits.  Yet, human misunderstanding stepped in and his divine actions were interpreted as an embarrassment to the family.  He was raised to be a carpenter but recognized as one having authority.  His lessons were not easy to accept.  His family thought their actions were right.  Mary’s son could not be right when so many preachers claimed he was so wrong.  So, they went to get him off the streets.

The prophets foretold of the Messiah’s coming.  Details were given that would be fulfilled by God’s Anointed One.  Mary was visited by an angel.  That was not a daily occurrence.  The signs and instructions were overwhelming to one so young.  She had never had sexual relations with a man, yet she was pregnant.  Explaining that condition to family, neighbors, and a future husband in that culture was impossible.  God spoke to her appointed husband.  The events surrounding her son’s birth were not ordinary.  Even as a boy, his actions and reputation were overwhelming.  As she heard about Jesus’ teachings and miracles, her awe and questions grew.  Yet, there she was, with her sons, to take Jesus, by force if necessary, back home.  They wanted to get him off the streets and away from the crowds.  Even a mother can have doubts.  The sons were not helpful in recognizing Jesus as the person he actually was.  Human inconsistency being what it is, the jealousy of Jesus’ brothers was alive and active.  One may also see Satan alive and active in their actions.

Despite the negative feelings Mary and the sons manifested, Jesus was not detoured in his mission.  We are not told when those brothers realized their error.  However, two stand out as believers after Acts 2.  James is referred to as “the Lord’s brother” (Galatians 1:19).  He is mentioned in Acts 12:17; 21:18; Galatians 1:19; 2:9, 12.  He is also the author of the book of James.  The other brother is the author of the book of Jude (1:1).  James also stands out as a leader in the Jerusalem congregation (Acts 15:13-21).  The KJV uses the word “my sentence” to translate the Greek word krino in verse 19.  However, the ASV, NASV, RSV, and NIV use the expression “my judgment.”  The NKJV has “Therefore I judge.”  Some passages appear to describe James’ position in the church based primarily upon his family relationship to Jesus.

God stepped into man’s history, saving the imperfect through His perfection.  Yahweh is continuing that role today in your life and mine.  Doubt continues to flourish, but faith continues to save despite our imperfections (Acts 4:12; 16:30-33; Romans 5:9-10; 10:9; Ephesians 2:5, 8; 2 Thessalonians 2:10; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5).

DO CULTURAL CHANGES AFFECT BIBLICAL COMMANDS?

My Thoughts . . .

Monday, December 23, 2019

Have you ever heard someone claim, “If it was good enough for Peter and Paul, it is good enough for us”?  Not everything that was right for Peter and Paul to practice is right for us.  That may sound contradictory, but it isn’t.  What most people don’t take into consideration is that the culture and tradition Peter and Paul lived under was not the same as ours.  Culture and traditions have a way of changing through the years.  Sometimes that change is right and at other times it may be wrong.  Sometimes it may not be right or wrong due to circumstances!

Paul wrote to the Ephesian and Colossian brethren addressing both Christian “masters” and “slaves” (Ephesians 6:5-8; 6:9; Colossians 3:22-25; 4:1; Titus 2:9; Philemon 1).  Slavery wasn’t outlawed in the United States until 1865.  Prior to 1861, when the Civil War began, slave owners argued that slavery was “scriptural.”  It was in the first century when Christianity began.  Paul did not condemn slave ownership.  No matter how much that topic rubs us the wrong way, scripture reveals the practice was lawful in apostolic days.  Although slavery was abolished in the United States 154 years ago, it continues to be a sore spot in our history.  We have National Parks that contain some 620,000 graves of Northern and Southern soldiers who died due to conflicting belief systems.

Our history is a testimony of how culture and traditions in one generation may be acceptable, while being frowned upon by another.  Abraham was called “the friend of God” (James 2:23), Jacob wrestled with an angel (Genesis 32:24-30), and David stood tall as the slayer of Goliath (1 Samuel 17; 16:13; 2 Samuel 2:4).  All three men are found in God’s Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11).  Yet, what was right in their culture would not be in ours.  Abraham slept with his wife Sarah and her slave girl Hagar (Genesis 16:4).  He had a son by both women.   Jacob married sisters.  David had eight wives.  Time changes culture.

Some believers today fail to see that the Jewish church continued to be zealous in keeping Jewish (Old Testament) law with its religious days, priesthood, sacrifices, and worship (Acts 21:17-26).  Paul kept that law and its worship to prove to Jewish members that he “walked orderly, keeping the law” (Acts 21:24).  The Gentile churches were not required to observe Hebrew Law nor to engage in Old Testament worship (Acts 15:6-29).  Gentile worship changed, traveling in a different direction from what the Jerusalem and other Jewish assemblies observed.

First century saints obeyed Paul and Peter’s command to “greet one another with a holy kiss” (Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26).  Western culture changed that command and substituted a handshake.  Culture changed and the Western church followed.

Culture often creates its cults causing tradition to reign as God’s word.  This is a pit that conservatism may fall prey to.  Although a tradition may have an innocent beginning, time erodes that stage and justifies itself with “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”  Liberalism takes a different path which contains its own potholes.  Culture is hypnotic in convincing saints living in one century that all Christians before them “did church” exactly as they are practicing it.  If their practice is difference from what the Bible literally states, their justification for that change is because the biblical action was based upon first century culture, not theirs.  The doctrine advanced is that changes in a society’s culture allows changes in a biblical practice!  However, this can develop into a problem.  The Bible is void of instruction which gives a person the authority to change certain biblical commands to harmonize with his change in culture.

When newer translations of the Bible challenged the 1611 King James language, some deified that 290-year-old version.  Some believed the words “thee, thou, and thine’ were divine language.  Most popular church songs contained those words.  Prayers were filled with them.  The first person who addressed God as “you” was viewed as a heretic.  If one read from any version other than the KJV, he was reading from a false translation.  Human rules flourished allowing only the KJV as the translation that must be used in classrooms and pulpit.  Some at first allowed the ASV second place, but that privilege contained a questioning “if.”  118 years have passed since the ASV was introduced, but there are individuals who continue to view the KJV as God’s only authorized version.  Culture may create an idol that imprisons its subjects to accept a lie as truth.

Sometimes a belief will blossom due to a practice being accepted and practiced for a few hundred years.  There is a contradictory position that has become an unwritten law for some.  That law is, “Introducing anything new is not authorized by scripture.”  Yet, we are top heavy with things that have been introduced since the first century!  They were new at the time of their introduction.  Why have we accepted those practices?  “Because a trusted preacher of yesteryear said it was okay” or “Because we have practiced it for several generations, and it has to be right or we would not have practicing it.”

Culture and traditions have a way of changing through the years.  Sometimes that change is right and at other times it can be wrong.  In the first century, if a non-Jew didn’t submit to circumcision, Jewish believers would not accept him as a true Christian (Acts 15:1).  When Paul was with a Gentile audience, he did things the Gentile way.  When he was with a Jewish assembly, he did things the Jewish way (1 Corinthians 9:20-23).  This caused a rumor to reach Jerusalem that Paul was telling Jewish believers they no longer needed to circumcise their sons or follow the Law of Moses (Acts 21:21).  When Paul wrote to the Roman church, that Jewish/Gentile problem appears to be causing problems there (Romans 14).  Christians still have a problem with that passage and its principles today.

When culture changes, does that require Christians to change biblical commands to harmonize with the new culture?  We still have that problem today.  Sometimes we are no better at solving it than first century brethren were.

SHALLOW SALVATION

My Thoughts . . .

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Saved-Lost-Saved

As Christians, we sing, “There is Power in the Blood.”  However, some believe that Jesus’ blood is a partial payment that is insufficient, without our human efforts, to complete what his sacrifice did not accomplish.  Jesus blood removes past sins of the alien but is incapable of removing the present sins of the redeemed.  As long as a saved one in Christ remains sinless, he has no need of the blood of Jesus.  His righteous efforts are his saving power.  His righteousness makes him his savior!

When the saint sins, we are told that his defilement demands dismissal from the saved state.  Since God is Holy, He cannot have fellowship with those tainted with non-forgiven sins.  Sin takes one who is a temple which God dwells in, to being defrocked and returned to an unholy tabernacle indwelt by Satan.  He is removed from the saved.  Whether those who believe this teaching understood it or not, this view removes that former saint from the body of Christ, which is the church of God, and returns him to being a synagogue of Satan (1 Corinthians 12:27; 1:2).  The individual no longer belongs to Christ and is no longer a Christian.  He is a child of Satan and no longer a child of God.  His one-time sin destroyed that former relationship.   To be restored to what he no longer is, his righteousness must be produced.  Since he is a child of the devil, we are told he must repent and pray (Acts 2:38).  He is not required to be immersed in water again since his former relationship leaves him with certain privileges which other children of Satan do not have.  His past sin is forgiven, and he is now cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.  He becomes a child of God, a member of the body of Christ, a Christian, and a saint until his next one-time sin.  It doesn’t usually take long to occur.

According to that theory, the blood of Christ is applied only to those who desire to become Christians.  They desire salvation and when they follow good news instruction, those past sins are cleansed by the blood of Christ.  After being added to the body of Christ, the blood is no longer available to them as a child of God.  Its use is to cleanse the alien sinner.  As a Christian, any sin committed removes him from the body or church of Jesus.  The only time the blood of Jesus is active, according to that theory, is when the former saints repents and prays to become a saint again.  It is a cleansing agent for PAST sins, not PRESENT ones.  A sinning saint is immediately removed from that saved state and returned to his former lost dominion.  Now, as a renewed alien sinner he may repent and ask for restoration.  Jesus’ blood is reserved for the alien, not the child of God.

There is another song which saints sing titled, “He Paid It All.”  Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 to an error practicing body of saved people in Corinth.  To those error practicing members, he said they were God’s Temple even though they were engaged in that error.  How was it possible for God to indwell those sinful members since they were engaged in such practices?  Paul wrote to correct them, but that correction had not yet been accomplished.  How can God dwell with sin?  He doesn’t.  Yet, he addresses them in that letter as being indwelt by Him.  They continue to enjoy the Holy Spirit and His miraculous gifts.  How?  He calls them “the body of Christ.”  How is that possible?  Is He not counting their sins against them?   Is He continuing to cleanse them from their sins?   If not, then why is God continuing to dwell in them?  Why is He not removing His Spirit from them?

Did they repent and ask for forgiveness?  Yes, later.  Yet, before doing so, they have not been removed from God’s fellowship.  They were not in the kingdom of Satan, nor has the Holy Spirit been taken from them.  God was not in fellowship with sin.  Could that be so because the blood of Christ was continually removing those sins so God could continue to dwell in His Holy Temple?

1 and 2 Corinthians show God’s love, patience, grace, and mercy upon an error-ridden group of people.  They were still His church.  God’s Spirit still resided and was active among them.  God continued to indwell them.  The Corinthian letter, among others, shows God’s patience and love.  Surely there is a lesson here that has been ignored.  No doubt it would solve the division found among those who are Jesus believers!

FROM THE TABLE TO THE PEW!

My Thoughts. . .
Monday, December 16, 2019

We live with traditions every day. We even create a few ourselves. The Pharisees had some which caused Jesus to warn, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9).

Paul corrects the church in Corinth because they failed to recognize the differences between partaking at the Lord’s table and doing so at the table of demons (1 Corinthians 10:15-21). He is writing to members who have the gift of prophesy and are inspired by the Holy Spirit but were following the wrong influence. Is it possible for us to walk in their footsteps today? When we accept tradition as the way something must be done because we claim that it is God’s way, we restore the path they took!

When Jesus instituted the Lord’s supper, it was referred to as “breaking of bread” (Acts 2:42; 20:7). They sat and supped at the table where they were in the process of eating the Passover meal. In that supper, instructions were given by Jesus, questions were asked, and dialogue took place among all who participated. Today, we sit in pews, not around a table. We view the back of someone’s head. Silent prayer, scripture reading, or internal reflection is the unwritten code of respect. In some assemblies a few appointed men, will stand behind what is labeled “the Lord’s Table.” The specific table Jesus and the apostles occupied was never referred to by that expression. Jesus introduced the bread, prayed over it, distributed it to the next man and it was passed around to the rest by his seated neighbor. Our tradition for distributing the communion is totally different from the descriptions of its institution or practice in the first century. How did we move from their way to what we do today?

Most Catholic, Protestant, and Churches of Christ partake upon the first day of the week, but seldom mimic the activities of that first introduced meal. The Catholic tradition had a male priest placing a bread-like wafer upon the participant’s tongue while they stood at the altar before him. The table was to one side or behind the priest. No one was seated at that table. No one partook at that table. It held the bread and wine. Their “table” was the altar. Ours is the pew. Protestantism made some changes, primarily in labeling. The priest became the pastor or minister. Some Protestant churches introduced several men to serve a seated audience. One of that number would preside or lead in offering comments and prayer before the elements were served. Protestantism allowed the participants to drink the fruit of the vine which Catholicism restricted to only the priest. Campbell and other restorationists adopted the Protestant tradition rather than the Catholic procedure. Like the Protestants, we refer to the table holding the bread and fruit of the vine as “the Lord’s Table.” We speak of eating “around that table.” That expression is figurative rather than actual. Protestantism borrowed the church building/sanctuary scenario from Catholicism, which influenced some of the traditions that grew out of that culture and time frame. Sanctuaries have pews rather than tables. The purpose of “the Lord’s Table” evolved into a piece of furniture that held the emblems and we symbolically gathered around that small table by sitting in our pews. Culture has its evolution. Is our way of doing the Lord’s supper sinful? That is not the point. We must understand that the way we do it is not required by scripture. It is our tradition and nothing more. Traditions are not God’s word. Traditions may be changed. They are man-made. To engrave a table with Jesus’ words, “This do in remembrance of me,” does not make that piece of furniture holy, nor its use mandatory. First century saints brought their own bread and fruit of the vine and shared. No special seating arrangement nor specific furniture was mentioned to enhance that participation.

In the first century the Jerusalem church met from house to house. 8,000 plus members were distributed among multiple homes. The bread and fruit of the vine were shared. Nothing is said about an individual presiding in Jesus’ place. Nothing is said about men “serving on the table” nor the distributing of the bread or wine being a “male role only” activity. No rules are outlined describing how each participant must express reverence or respect. Our culture and traditions may have implemented those details, but not scripture. All such rules are based upon human concepts originating from a period’s culture and its changeable human standards. Is a suit wrong if worn on Sunday? No. But neither does God require one to wear a suit and tie in order for that individual to show Yahweh respect. Catholicism and Protestantism may cite the reader to the priestly dress of Aaron and family, but we are not Hebrews nor bound by Levitical standards. To bind that concept builds upon an Old Testament foundation rather than the New covenant’s precepts.

Catholics limited the priesthood to males and those males presided over spiritual functions to validate them. Protestantism borrowed the Catholic idea and redefined it into their clergy/laity system. Churches of Christ borrowed the concept but redefined it as “male role only” activities. First century house assemblies were not validated with such regulations. Traditions created today’s concepts and wrapped them in a “thus saith the Lord” for some. Most of our traditions are built from the foundation of worshiping in a church building. A valid serving of the Lord’s supper depends upon those precepts that originated several hundred years after the first century. No matter how well a modern-day service may proceed under those man-made rules, we must never forget their origin nor claimed them as our authority.

Is there anything wrong with this nineteenth to twenty-first century practice? Yes and No. No, the practice is not wrong within itself. However, if and when a congregation believes that the way they serve the communion is THE way they and all other assemblies of Christ must do it in order to please God, then yes, they have become the meal at Satan’s table.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8-9 KJV).

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