Wednesday, December 30, 2015

1Peter 3: 8-17 comments: in the church and in the world

8 ¶  Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: 9  Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. 10  For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11  Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 12  For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. 13  And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14  But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15  But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

    16 ¶  Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 17  For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

It is a common thread throughout the New Testament for unity among the brethren. This is a hard thing to accomplish as the modern church is so different than the church of the first century. They met in people’s homes in small groups and lacked many of the organizational challenges facing a church that meets in a separate building that can number, in some instances, in the thousands; with monthly bills, bond issues, mortgages, and liability insurance. There is an additional problem with how quickly people are brought into a church, people who may have just uttered an A-B-C prayer they neither completely understood nor truly believed. There is little supervision of the new believer to see if a changed life is the result of a true conversion. This result can be a church organization that has people of varying levels of commitment or no faith at all running things. It is a very difficult situation today.

But, Peter tells them to be of one mind in that they love and have compassion for each other. He wants them not to return malice with malice but to hold themselves in low esteem and be courteous to each other, to give a blessing when evil is spoken against them so that they may receive a blessing. Obviously, this is not about vying for position or power within the church organization. This is in keeping with Jesus’ commandment.

John 13:34  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Paul clarified this idea in more detail.

Romans 12:1 ¶  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 3  For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 4  For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5  So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7  Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8  Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9  Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10  Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11  Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12  Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13  Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14  Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15  Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16  Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17  Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18  If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20  Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21  Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

1Thessalonians 5:11 ¶  Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. 12  And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13  And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves. 14  Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. 15  See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.

Christians cannot inherit the blessing that Christ has for us on this earth if we find ourselves unable and unwilling to follow His commandments through His Apostles.

Verses 10 and 11 present an interesting lesson in understanding the Bible for us. If you notice the not so archaic word eschew in verse 11 you can see the words let him and evil surround it. If you did not know the definition of eschew you could search in the nearby verses for what those same words surround. In the case of verse 10 they surround the words refrain his tongue from which then gives you the definition of eschew and its application in this context. Be alert to this as you read the Bible and you will find similar instances in other parts of the Bible. It is impossible to understand the Bible without not only reading it in context but comparing verses, cross-referencing.

Peter, in verses 10 and 11 makes another important point. If you want to have a good life keep your mouth from spouting malicious, mean-spirited, and deceitful words. Seek after peace, pursue it. See the cross-reference in Psalms.

Psalm 34:14  Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

James makes a point not unlike this.

James3:3  Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 4  Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. 5  Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 7  For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8  But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9  Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10  Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11  Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 12  Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

For a happier life, with less drama, more glorifying to God, control your mouth.

God looks over those who try to do what is right and glorifying to Him in our behavior and speech and hears their prayers. But, He is opposed to those who choose to do maliciously, to do evil. Who is a Christian’s enemy if he is doing right? It can only be Satan himself working through those he has deceived and uses.

When we suffer for righteousness’ sake we are not to be afraid or troubled. We are to set God apart in our hearts, always ready to give an answer to why we believe and have faith in whom we believe and in whom we have faith. We are to do this in meekness doing what is right in accepting God’s will for our lives and in the fear of the Lord, which is awe and reverence.

Psalm 45:4  And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.

Zephaniah 2:3  Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger.

 Psalm 33:8  Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.

Hebrews 12:28  Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

With a good conscience let others speak badly of you for no reason, when your good deeds are condemned because they are good. And, of course, it is much better for you and much more glorifying to God if you are slandered for doing right than for doing wrong.

Unfortunately, too many Christians in America are arrogant and self-serving because we have been prominent since long before the country’s founding. But God is turning that in a different direction now, so that we will be marginalized and forced to act as God would have us act rather than feeling so smug and self-righteous.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

1Peter 3:1-7 comments: husbands and wives

1 ¶  Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2  While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 3  Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4  But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 5  For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: 6  Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. 7  Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

Likewise, or as we are all to be in subjection to Christ so does Peter ask that the wife be in subjection to her own husband that if any husbands are not saved they may be won by the behavior and speech of their wives, living before them as an example. This will be achieved by the wives’ chaste conversation coupled with fear, not of the husband, but of God, as mentioned in 2:17. The wife is not a slave to the husband, a pack animal, or an object, a resource.

For instance, in early America’s Puritan New England marriage was viewed as a covenant between husband and wife. Other relationships were viewed as covenants also, such as between God and the congregation or a political leader and the people. In these relationships one partner was subordinate to the other and acted upon the lead authority of the other. Within this framework the partners in a covenantal relationship had rights and they also had responsibilities. In human relationships, while the relationship was a hierarchy, the duty of the subordinate party to obey was conditional on the superior partner’s fulfillment of their part of the covenant. Divorce was technically permitted for abuse, neglect, and adultery. (7)

What Peter is calling for here, though, is a sacrificial attitude, one willing to be subjected to negative behavior in order to be a witness to the truth. Presumably, it would be up to the individual’s ability and personality just how much they would or should take, especially if children’s welfare was involved. Remember the conditional aspects of some New Testament admonitions.

Romans 12:3  For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.…18  If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Keeping in mind what Christ and Paul permitted;

Matthew 19:9  And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

Matthew 18:6  But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

1Corinthians 7:10 ¶  And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: 11  But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. 12  But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. 13  And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. 14  For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. 15  But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. 16  For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

    17 ¶  But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

The woman who stays with a hostile husband as an example of faith to save him is commended before God. But, only those ministers of Satan, a preacher of unrighteousness, would demand that to do so a woman must place herself in danger or place her children in danger. If your unbelieving husband has left you for another woman you are not bound to him any longer. You’ve done all you can do. Read again what Paul said above;

15a  But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases…

Peter calls these women, so much like the women in modern society, not to regard their worth by how they look, how they ornament themselves, but by their possession of a meek and quiet spirit. This is certainly not a boisterous and loud woman, always about someone else’s business, or trying to control, not only her own family, but others. Notice how Paul defines Christian womanhood, what it is and what it is not, in several places.

1Timothy 5:9  Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, 10  Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. 11  But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; 12  Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith. 13  And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. 14  I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. 15  For some are already turned aside after Satan. 16  If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.

Also, note the specific women that the Holy Spirit, speaking through the Bible writers, lifts up in the New Testament. First, there are those who have a specific ministry;

Acts 21:8 ¶  And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. 9  And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.

There are those who have the gift of hospitality.

Acts 16:14  And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. 15  And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us…40  And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.

There are those who are officials of the church from which they are sent, apostles, and fellow-workers.

Romans 16:1 ¶  I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: 2  That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also. 3  Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: 4  Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.[See Acts 18 to note that this husband and wife were tentmakers by occupation as was Paul.] 5  Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ. 6  Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us. 7  Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. [The traditional KJV notes that the letter to the Romans was sent to them at the hands of Phebe. For you Greekophiles, the word translated as servant in reference to Phebe is the same word translated for deacon and minister elsewhere and, indeed, history teaches us that there were female deacons in the early church as well as in the early Baptist churches of the 1600’s in England.]

Finally, note that God uses Sara as an example, as he is talking specifically to Jewish Christians and they are her daughters, so to speak, in her submission to her husband which is voluntary and not from fear of violence as in not afraid with any amazement.  They were to do right and not live in terror of their husbands. He added that as an important caveat. The lives of Christian women in the first century were very rich and they were important to God. They fulfilled functions in the church that no American fundamentalist today could tolerate. But, they were not to fight against the order that God put in place for the family, nor were they to depend on outward shows of ornamentation to show their beauty but were to display the true beauty that comes from the heart in obedience to Christ.

Likewise, or in the same manner, husbands were commanded to live with their wives with knowledge. Knowledge is a synonym of understanding and wisdom.

Proverbs 2:6  For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.

Isaiah 11:2  And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;

The husband is to show his wife honor and respect, which are Biblical synonyms,...

Leviticus19:15  Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.

…for two reasons. One, the wife is physically weaker, which is what the weaker vessel refers to…

Romans 9:21  Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

1Thessalonians 4:4  That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;

2Timothy 2:21  If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

[It is an absurdity to insist that women are weaker mentally or spiritually as women tend to score higher on IQ tests than men when educational opportunities for them are more level and most of the congregants in churches are women.  It is almost laughable to regard someone as weak who can endure multiple childbirths and has the patience to raise children and will pray for children by name for decades daily. Women are simply physically weaker than men on average.]

…and two, because the husband and wife are heirs together of the grace of life.

Genesis 2:24  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Regarding each other as inferior, having that competitive aspect that some marriages have, bitterness, envy, domestic abuse, and other negative aspects of marriage are hindrances to prayer.

Galatians 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

(7)Ann Taves, ed., Religion and Domestic Violence in Early New England: The Memoirs of Abigail Abbot Bailey (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1989), 11.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

1Peter 2:13-25 comments: follow his steps

13 ¶  Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14  Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15  For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16  As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 17  Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. 18  Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. 19  For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20  For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21  For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22  Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23  Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24  Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 25  For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

Christians are to be law-abiding and peaceful citizens of any country in which they live. We are not to be brigands and violent revolutionaries attempting to operate outside of lawful means to effect change. Of course there are two principles to keep in mind here. One, that civil government has a specific sanction from God, that is to punish evildoers, criminals. Government should be our collective to protect the common man and woman from predation by criminals. Paul made this point in Romans.

Romans 13:1 ¶  Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4  For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5  Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6  For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

    7 ¶  Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. 8  Owe no man any thing, but to love one another; for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9  For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10  Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

However, we must not obey government when it requires us to go against God.

Acts 5:26 ¶  Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. 27  And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, 28  Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. 29  Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

By doing the right thing we are not using our liberty as God’s people as a cloak for malicious and violent behavior. But as servants of God we can silence the foolish detractors who insist we are against social order and good sense. And by refusing to disobey God in this we are showing our trust in God’s hand in the affairs of man. Government, though, the civil magistrate, has no right to say anything about our duty to God or our expression of religious faith as long as we are not acting in a criminal manner. There is the balance in being a Christian and it is a fine line we walk in an increasingly oppressive atmosphere where government intrudes on every aspect of our lives, no matter how personal.

Unfortunately, many of the depredations made by government are our own fault. For instance, it would seem to be inconsistent to protest gay marriage when Christians gave government the right to define marriage in the first place by giving them the right to license it when Christianity was dominant in American life. A Christian marriage before God has nothing to do with the marriage in which you accept a license from the state nor should Christians even participate in that oppression by requesting a license.

Peter tells Christians to honor all men. Be polite and respectful. Love your brothers and sisters in Christ. Fear God, understanding that He is the source of all physical reality, even the stuff that is unpleasant as there is nothing that will happen that He doesn’t either directly cause or permit to happen.  Honor your rulers, remembering that they were all pagan and possibly hostile to the faith when this was first written.

Servants, and we can extend this to employers today, are to be honored, and not just the good ones but the bad ones as well. You should be thankful that you can move from one job to another if the conditions are unbearable now and that employers are under specific regulations that protect you from the most egregious behavior. It was not so at the time this was written. A servant or a slave was not free to quit their job and go somewhere else, making these admonitions even more difficult.

There is a great deal of approval before God if you suffer for the evil of other people and not for your own, suffering patiently wrongs done to you due to the wickedness of a person in authority. God will avenge. We don’t like these statements because we are proud and don’t really trust God. Often, the Christian who wants the people under his authority to follow these commands will not follow them himself when applied to governmental authority. We say we are obedient to God and then deny that obedience in our speech and behavior when we refer to the government that is supposed to represent the people.

Our example is Christ. He did not sin and was not clever or deceitful in His speech. He did not revile when reviled, nor did He threaten when forced to suffer. He submitted to God the Father’s judgment for sins He Himself did not commit. He died for us so that we being dead to sin could live righteously. We have all strayed from God but it is not too late to return to the Shepherd and Bishop (what we call today a Pastor) of our souls, Jesus Christ.

Peter seems to be telling these Jewish Christians to repent and turn fully to Christ, following His example of suffering and humility avoiding sin, to live a life in Christ. This is very difficult for the proud American believer today in whose hands the church has become nothing more than a conservative or liberal social club with no spiritual power. We are proud, demanding our ‘rahts’ (rights), as the Laodicean church, lao-dicea, or the people judge or the people’s rights.

Monday, December 21, 2015

1Peter 2:4-12 comments: setting an example

4 ¶  To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5  Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6  Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7  Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8  And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9  But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10  Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 11  Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12  Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Christians of both Jewish and Gentile extraction are called living stones, built as a house of the spirit, a priesthood set apart by God for His use, made acceptable to God the Father by the Lord Jesus Christ.

A study of stones and rocks finds that they are very important in the Bible and they represent different things from the stones set in the priests’ ephod in Exodus 25 to the stones of like kind that were Satan’s covering, mentioned in Ezekiel 28, before his betrayal of God by tempting Adam and Eve to doubt God’s word in the Garden of Eden, to the cornerstone of the church and a stone of stumbling to unbelievers, which is Christ.

Christians are a spiritual building for God’s Spirit to dwell in here on earth.

1Corinthians 3:9  For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

Ephesians 2:21  In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:

In fact, the Christian’s body is God’s temple, as there are no sacred spaces on earth apart from your body, as God’s temple and dwelling place.

1Corinthians 6:19  What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

We are a priesthood who is to offer up spiritual, not physical, sacrifices to God, those sacrifices made acceptable because of Christ.

Psalms 141:2  Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

Christ is the cornerstone of that temple.

Ephesians 2:19  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21  In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22  In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Isaiah 28:16  Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.

Isaiah 45:17  But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.

Not to be confounded is not to be confused which is in contrast to what is said about the disobedient next.

Psalm 35:4  Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt.

For we who believe and trust in Him Christ is precious, of great value, like a precious gem or stone. But to those who do not believe Christ, whom the Jewish religious leadership rejected, is also the cornerstone, a stone they stumbled over, and a rock caused them to fall. Because they were disobedient to God He ordained them to lose their balance, trip, and topple over.

Isaiah 8:14  And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.     15  And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.

Romans 9:31  But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32  Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33  As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Peter says that the Christians are a chosen generation, using the phrase a royal priesthood this time, an holy nation, a peculiar, unique, people; made such so that we can praise the one who called us out of the darkness into His wonderful light. We were not a people of God but now are; as we were not the objects of God’s mercy before but are now.

In the Psalm that Christ began quoting from the cross, Psalm 22, in a prophetic reference to Christ’s suffering and resurrection, it is said;

Psalm 22:30  A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. 31  They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.

Paul and James spoke of Christ’s choosing of His people from those who would believe, as Peter has done here.

Ephesians 1:4  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

2Thessalonians 2:13  But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

2Timothy 2:4  No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

James 2:5  Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

As God set out to carve Himself a royal priesthood, an holy nation from among the devil-worshipping ethnic groups, tribes, clans, and peoples of the ancient world in the Hebrews so He has done so with the Christians, extending His vision to all people everywhere, not in a visible, temporal kingdom but in an invisible, spiritual kingdom. [Nation is not a reference to a country as we think today but to an ethnic group, tribe, or a kingdom, a people].

Exodus 19:6  And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

Psalm 33:12 ¶  Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

Revelation 1:6  And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Revelation 20:6  Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

Christians are to be different from the rest of the earth’s people as were the people of Israel supposed to be.

The ancient Hebrews;

Deuteronomy 14:2  For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.

Deuternomy 26:18  And the LORD hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments;

The Christian;

Titus 2:14  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Why then, do we, like the Jews, insist on copying the world’s standards?

Being thankful and praising the one who delivered us shows others who we believe in.

Then Peter issues a warning, pleading with these Jewish Christians, as foreigners and aliens just passing through their earthly existence, to abstain from the lusts of the flesh, as these are the very lusts that war against one’s soul.

He wants the unbeliever to see the good works of the Christian and although the unbeliever hates them now he will know that they were right when God’s judgment comes, the day of God’s visitation.

Isaiah 10:3  And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory?

Jeremiah 8:12  Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.

It may not be until that fateful day comes that the world realizes this, but they will. The Christian is to be an example right now. Fleshly lusts include  

1John 2:15  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

It was not any easier then than it is now. Using our bodies, our vessels, in an honorable fashion before God was a key component of Christianity in the beginning as the saints were warned about participating in the religious prostitution so prevalent in ancient religion as well as other forms of idol worship, which only a thorough reading of the Bible will  reveal. Temple prostitution was not only common in ancient Near Eastern religion but also in the Greek and Roman religion of Paul and Peter’s time.

Acts 15:29  That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

Marital infidelity and the heartache and confusion and wrath that resulted from adultery was, as it is now, a problem for men and women of that day.

1Thessalonians 4:3  For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4  That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; 5  Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 6  That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. 7  For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. 8  He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.

The example the Christian was to set before the world was not one of ‘shacking up’ without a marital commitment for life, trying on a person like you would a pair of shoes you were thinking of buying. It was not one of serial fornication going from one boyfriend or girlfriend to another, doing that which pleased you momentarily, and it was not one of planning and plotting on how you could commit sin against your spouse and God thinking of how you were going to get away with it.

Proverbs 6:32  But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.

Matthew 5:28  But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

We don’t have temples of Aphrodite near us as they did in Corinth, tempting the men with religious fornication but we do have a culture awash in sexual imagery in advertising and entertainment. It is no less difficult to day and no less important today for Christians to set an example of order, fidelity, and Godliness with regards to their sexual impulses.

We do not serve God well by acting as hypocrites, condemning a wicked world while we try to maintain our secret sins of pornography and worldly lust. We are no example if we have no self-control and mock our own self-profession of faith in God.

Children who are sexualized early with unclean images and self-worship of the human body will be implanted with a spirit of sensuality that will consume many and consign themselves and their innocent offspring to lifetimes of poverty, stress, and abuse. The very things that the ‘sexual revolution’ of the 1960’s was supposed to free the culture from have actually enslaved the culture in a slightly different way than that patriarchal, misogynistic culture previous to that did, but enslaved it is, nonetheless. Many Christians live in misery because of this slavery to self and we are so much less than what we could be because of it.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Revelation 2:8-11 comments for Tuesday night Bible study

8 ¶  And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; 9  I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. 10  Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. 11  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

Smyrna was another wealthy city in the Roman province of Asia, now the country of Turkey. The church, at this time, was poor in the context of the great wealth around it. Persecution against Christians was rampant. The reference to, “them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan,” has been used to refer to the strong Jewish population that fought the growth of Christianity there. Polycarp, student of John, and bishop of Smyrna was burnt to death there and supposedly the Jews’ fury was so great they violated the Sabbath to gather wood to burn him.(2)

However, there is another explanation that concerns we Christians directly. All throughout Christian history there have been major church organizations that have declared that all of the promises to the Jews have been transferred to them and that God is done with the Jews. This is called Replacement Theology and has the Christian church populated with false Apostles, Nicolaitan priests, and churchmen declaring that the church is indeed, “the Israel of God,” of Galatians 6:16, but not in the affirmation of a label that confirms what makes us God’s people, as in Galatians, but in an institutional transfer that strips the Jews of any future redemption and grants the church organization with physical properties that go against other statements in the Bible. For instance, the weapons of our warfare are not physical or carnal (2Corinthians 10:4) and that the Kingdom of God is invisible and within us (Luke 17:20,21).

The reference to, “tribulation ten days,” could be a reference to the ten great persecutions of Christians or the references in history to ten great persecutions might be reading back into this verse ten of the persecutions against Christians. There were at least ten great persecutions and many more, localized ones before the church and state were united under the Emperor Constantine, at which point the institutional church became a persecutor itself, which is always the case with state-churches.

If they did not renounce their faith, they would receive a crown of life, which goes to the persecuted who die in their faith, never rejecting Christ, as many Christians in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa are faced with even today.

The second death is defined as;

Revelation 20:6  Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

Re velation 20:14  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

Revelation 21:8  But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

When we are born again we can only die one time, in our flesh. When we reject Christ we will die a second time when we are cast into the lake of fire into which death and hell are thrown.

Christ commends these churches’ works, labor, patience, poverty, and rejection of evil.

(2) Merrill F. Unger, Archaeology and the New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1962), 281-2.

Friday, December 18, 2015

1Peter 2:1-3 comments: the church destroyers

1 ¶  Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2  As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3  If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

Peter tells these Christians to put aside all malice, guile, hypocrisies, envies, and all evil speaking. The context is the spoken word.  Malice is the maliciousness, holding hostile feelings in your heart and words for other Christians, meaning them no good. Paul told the Gentile Christians over which he ministered;

1Corinthians 5:8  Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

1Corinthians 14:20  Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.

Ephesians 4:31  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

Colossians 3:8  But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

Titus 3:3  For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

Malice is the context of the evil spoken of following in 1Thessalonians 5 as the passage is on how we are to act as a church toward each other from our bishop or presiding elder who we call a pastor today, through teachers who are pastors in the Bible, and toward each other.

1Thessalonians 5:11 ¶  Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. 12  And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13  And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves. 14  Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. 15  See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.

    16 ¶  Rejoice evermore. 17  Pray without ceasing. 18  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 19  Quench not the Spirit. 20  Despise not prophesyings. [don’t hold preaching in contempt] 21  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.[check what you hear by the Bible, chew the meat, and spit out the bones] 22  Abstain from all appearance of evil.

Malice doesn’t have to be a desire to hit someone, get them fired from their job, ruin their marriage, damage their reputation, key their car, or let the air out of their tires. Malice can be expressed in seemingly harmless ways. This can be anything from mean-spirited gossip behind a person’s back to snide comments made just so the person can hear. For instance, someone has made a cake for an event with the church and you say just so they can hear, “I don’t see how anyone could eat that,” and then you smile so sweetly as you walk away. Come on, you’re being a jerk and you know it. You need to get right with God. There is the, “your sermons are getting better!” as if that was a compliment when what you are saying is that you thought the sermons before this one were trash. You’re being a jerk. Another one might be telling a child from unfortunate circumstances that you need to buy him some clothes, thereby cutting his parents to the quick because they can’t afford new clothes for him or themselves.  Maybe you tell a child whose parents have told them to say, “Yes, sir,” and, “No, Ma’am,” that the child doesn’t have to say that to you, thereby downgrading the authority of his or her parents. That can also be done by ‘taking someone under your wing,’ so to speak, and trying to replace a parent’s authority and affections, which you hold in contempt, with your own.  Malice can take many forms. You know what you’re doing or you’re being thoughtless, which is worse.

You want to drive someone from the congregation, act like their authority over their own children is garbage in your eyes, act like their responsibilities and family ties are trivial, call their job an idol, their fashion sense worldly, and make it clear that their precious time and energy should be there for you to spend in any way you see fit. Do it all in the name of the Lord, and smile sweetly and say plenty of, “praise God.” You’re malicious. Put it aside.

Then, there is the bitterness you feel because someone else was made a deacon and you weren’t or the pastor visited someone but not you, or during a church meeting that you didn’t attend because your favorite football team was playing something was discussed that you had an opinion about and the whole church function wasn’t placed on hold so they could consult you and you are angry and you’re going to teach someone a lesson. You know who you are. Get right with God now.

Guile is deceitful speaking, not saying what you mean, not telling the truth, but trying to maneuver someone to a position where you want them. It can be emotional manipulation to get someone to do something or even just misrepresenting yourself in some way. Telling someone you will pray for them when you have no intention of doing so to express concern is one piece of guile and deceit. You’re sly, you’re cunning, and you use psychology to get what you want. Preachers use guile when they hold an ‘altar call’ so long that someone breaks down from the emotional pressure and ‘gets saved all over again,’ a person certain old-time twentieth century preachers called a retread. Another example might be using someone’s guilt to get them to do something like, “I know since the church helped you when…that you’ll want to come out this Friday and help so and so,” instead of just offering them the opportunity and trusting that if they can make it they will.

Hypocrisies? Like when you say, “I don’t like to gossip but…,” just before you talk about someone. When you complain about another Christian being worldly and carnal because he takes a weekend off to go hunting with family members but you aren’t when you go on vacation to visit your family. Hypocrisies? Like when you criticize a brother because maybe he seemed to appreciate feminine beauty a bit too long with his eyes for your taste while you have that website on your computer you like to click on that has those beautiful air-brushed girls. You know the one that came up when you hit the search function and were trying to show your wife or brother Billy Bob another website and you just exclaimed innocently, “I don’t understand why that showed up.”

Envy is a bitter curse among Christians.

Proverbs 27:4  Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?

For you women you see a girl in the congregation and she’s very pretty. You make snide comments to others about how worldly she is and how you don’t even know if she’s saved. It is clear you don’t like her. But, in reality you are jealous and envious of her youth and beauty and the attention she gets because of it. Or you men, there is someone in the congregation who started a business with his savings of less than a thousand dollars and built it to a nice little business for himself and his family. But, well, you comment about how he doesn’t know what it’s like to worry about paying his bills when the truth is he worries about paying his bills and his employees paying theirs. You have envy, and you are jealous. Christ was killed because of envy.

Mark 15:9  But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? 10  For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.

All evil or malicious speaking will destroy a fellowship, split up a church, and drive people from the congregation.

Peter implores that these Christians, like infants, desire the sincere milk of the word and to grow by it, having tasted it and experiencing firsthand the graciousness of Christ. It is more important that they grow in grace through God’s feeding of them by the word than in numbers with just more butts in the pew who are cultural Christians just there because it makes them feel justified. Perhaps they are Super Bowl Christians just there for an emotional high or political Christians just there because the preacher justifies their political bigotry.  What Peter is hoping for is that real Christians will feed on God’s word, not their own evil desires, poisoning the fellowship with their own evil speaking.

As Paul said in Ephesians;

Ephesians 4:29  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30  And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Revelation 2:1-7 comments for Tuesday night Bible study

1 ¶  Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2  I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3  And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4  Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5  Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 6  But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

John is told to write a letter to Ephesus and immediately their works, labor, and patience are commended. Also, though, it is acknowledged that they hate counterfeit apostles. Is there evidence of complaining about counterfeit apostles in the Bible?

2Peter 2:1 ¶  But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

2Corinthians 2:17  For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

Philippians 3:18  (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19  Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

Romans 16:17 ¶  Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18  For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches [sermons, maybe?] deceive the hearts of the simple.

Remember what Jesus said about these kinds.

Matthew 7:21 ¶  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?23  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

The Ephesians are commendable but they have left their first love. It is important to read Ephesians to understand the dangers and pitfalls spiritually that the rich church of Ephesus faced, the things that Paul was clearly concerned about. Rather than post the entire letter here we need to read it as a letter to get the feel of what he was concerned about and clearly what happened. Also read about Paul’s experiences in Ephesus in Acts. Please stop and do this now.

This warning to Ephesus, and to us by extension is about getting back to first things, the foundation and fundamentals of our faith as charged by Christ through Paul.

Christ speaks of His hatred of Nicolaitanism, in Greek victory over the laity. In the Roman church it is the priest as the actual representation of Christ on earth rather than the individual Christian. The priest is a separate class of individual closer to God than the laity. In the Independent Baptist church it is the preacher as the, ‘man o’ God,” who cannot be questioned and is often followed even if he is guilty of crimes to which he confesses. I listened to news interviews with the congregation of an Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) preacher in Virginia who had confessed to criminal behavior and they said they would follow him no matter what because he was the, “man o’ God.” In more modernistic churches it could be the educated clergy who has been to seminary and, well, he’s not going to argue with the likes of  you because he has a degree, don’t ya know.

Sometimes this evil manifests itself in a celebrity preacher’s opinions becoming dogma that must be true simply because he said it. There are a small number of such preachers in the IFB church in America who literally can say whatever pops into their head and it is as if God Himself spoke it. This is the essence of Nicolaitanism, which Christ hates. A preacher is held to the same standard or tougher than everyone else. He is not God walking in the flesh and if what he says does not line up with Scripture in context you should discard it. In every sermon, remember to chew up the meat and spit out the bones. You can learn from almost anyone and almost anyone will have some error in what they say. God does not dictate letters to preachers as if they were His secretaries. He gives them wisdom and understanding to preach His word.

Job 32:8  But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.

2Peter 1:21  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

2Peter 3:15  And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

Beware of Nicolaitanism. It can destroy a congregation and render it spiritually powerless.

What does it mean to overcome or to endure to the end?

1John 5:4  For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5  Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

We now know where the tree of life is. It is in paradise which is in heaven.

See Luke 23:43; 2Corinthians 12:4; and 1Peter 3:19.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

1Peter 1:24, 25 comments: do you have it?

24 ¶  For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25  But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

Our bodies are so temporary it is stunning to think about. We are young and fit for such a short time. Youthful beauty and strength are fleeting and temporary. Health and vitality last for a few short decades, if that. Our body is a building, a vehicle that houses our soul. This one is temporary but one is being prepared for us which is eternal, a building of God.

2Corinthians 5: 1 ¶  For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2  For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3  If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4  For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

Here, the Holy Spirit, using Peter, who is writing from his own thinking and in his own style, but guided by the Spirit of God, links the Old Testament passage quoted in the opening of Matthew and Mark to herald John the Baptist’s presentation of Christ.

Isaiah 40: 3 ¶  The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4  Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: 5  And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. 6  The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: 7  The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. 8  The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

The words of God endure forever and these are the words spoken to us by the gospel which we have read and which have been preached to us. The word is eternal. There is no question of what they are, what manuscripts are genuine, who wrote them, or what Bible version is authentic.

Psalm 119:89  LAMED. For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.

God’s word was preserved for us by the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 12:6  The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. 7  Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

It is not important that we are not sure what the original autographs said because of the Holy Spirit working through faithful Christians; copyists and translators, to produce what God wanted us to have in our language.

Jeremiah 36:27  Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, after that the king had burned the roll, and the words which Baruch wrote at the mouth of Jeremiah, saying, 28  Take thee again another roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned.  29  And thou shalt say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, Thus saith the LORD; Thou hast burned this roll, saying, Why hast thou written therein, saying, The king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and beast? 30  Therefore thus saith the LORD of Jehoiakim king of Judah; He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David: and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost. 31  And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them; but they hearkened not. 32  Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire: and there were added besides unto them many like words.

If you remove the Holy Spirit from the preservation of God’s word you have no Bible, just an old book of questionable origin and authenticity. It is impossible to understand the history of Bible translation without faith in what God has said.

2Timothy 3:16  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Job 32:8  But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.

In the late 16th and 17th centuries a new way of thinking came about for Western civilization. Historians call it The Enlightenment. Through it the intelligentsia began to think in terms of God, not as the cause of all things, but as only the First Cause, if there was a God at all and all things just didn’t happen by random chance or the self-organizing properties of the material world. Man began to see smaller and smaller entities in existence and then he got down to the point where he could not see anything but the effects of invisible things, not the things themselves. So, he postulated and imagined and fantasized about what the things he couldn’t see were composed of. He created abstract, mathematical models to explain his theories and his own arguments began to be about the model and not about the reality. Once he continued in this direction he stopped questioning his basic assumptions,  that all things came about by random, natural processes without any God in the picture. Man’s reasoning ability became his god and there was nothing greater.

Christians, too, began to absorb this view. It didn’t matter what manuscripts or Bibles Christians had used for over a thousand years. What mattered was breaking it down into component pieces, manuscripts, the effects of a process we could not see. They took the Holy Spirit out of the process. The Bible was created then by men. They imagined these men as affected only by their own intellect, their own faith, their own reasoning, and they graded these manuscripts on reliability and authenticity as required by their own minds. God was honored as a First Cause only, in the creation of the original autographs. The same God who could answer their prayers could not preserve His words. They were lost for 1300 years and found again by men named Westcott and Hort and given to a world that did not have God’s word until they arrived on the scene. Man’s reasoning ability became his god and there was nothing greater.

The Bible I am quoting was the last Bible, the last major Bible version, translated before this era, by committees of dozens of the finest minds of their time, the most devout, the most accomplished, praying for light, not to be deceived or to deceive others, in their humility. God’s word is settled. All antagonisms or arguments against it are mere opinion. Authoritative Catholic Bibles like the Challoner Douay-Rheims and the Jewish Bibles in America until 1917  were profoundly influenced by it, adopting its phrasing in places. Words and phrases commonly used in English came from it like making a difference from Jude, verse 22, and the skin of my teeth from Job 19:20. It shed light on Western civilization ushering in the greatest missionary effort, the greatest scientific advancements, the greatest voyages of exploration and discovery, and became the Common Version for the first colony of a great power to throw off the yoke of its master and begin a new country founded on freedom of conscience. Its importance was so profound that even scholar, historian, and modern version translator, Philip Schaff, admitted that most of the Protestant world considered it to be inspired by God.

And now, we have chaos, confusion, and you will be hard pressed to meet even one modern Christian who believes in the modern versions who has read the Bible through even once when non-Christian philosophers in the 1600’s complained that even boys and girls believed the Bible literally and thought God spoke to them through it, and Bible reading until now was a common thread throughout Christian history. Paul said to Timothy and the Lord might say to us;

1Timothy 4:13  Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

God’s word endures forever. Do you have it?