JohnSWilson3 Blog


Thoughts on Giving at Christmas
December 26, 2015, 2:14 pm
Filed under: 1A - Spiritual Notes

I appreciate those who love to give things that are practical and necessary, I do as well. Sadly sometimes it seems this “special” day is a tradition of giving for the sake of getting, getting to get the best and most “stuff” even at the cost of burdening ourselves with higher and greater debt monetarily and increasing the guilt of those who don’t have “stuff” or enough “stuff” to give.

Jesus says to the brothers and sisters, “not so among you.”

Christ came to give His life and His life given and received among the brothers and sisters are for our daily mutual edification and His glory, not for one day of the week or for a few “special” days a year based on man’s traditions, although these can be wonderful events.

His life, His “grace given to each of us,” looks differently in and through each of us: serving, sharing knowledge, encouraging and comforting, giving, caring, showing mercy, etc. Brothers and sisters in Christ are each members of His body. Christ’s body is not made up of “one part” (choose whichever gift you like/prefer the best, such as “giving”) “but of many.” Christ’s life of love is to be honored and cherished, no matter how He looks in His body



“…the worst of sinners.”
November 1, 2015, 4:24 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

God’s grace was poured out so abundantly on Paul that he is moved to not just confess it was because of having been a blasphemer, persecutor, or violent man but because he was a sinner, and not just a sinner but “the worst of sinners.” Why would God in Christ even consider Paul worth saving is perhaps what Paul was thinking. We probably think the same thing reflecting back on our past life. But “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Paul has used this word “sinners” in several forms throughout his writings to the ekklesias. He had mentioned earlier that the law was for the “sinful.” And technically, as Paul quoted from Psalms to the Roman ekklesia, every person is a sinner, for “there is none righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:10) We all have missed the mark of what God approves and are forfeit, without Christ we are already condemned. (1) And if we have not believed on Christ Jesus as Lord we are forfeit of His unending life, so that when we die physically we no longer will live, the finality of destruction awaits us, according to Jesus’s words. (John 3:16-18) The “other persons” at Ephesus had been primarily focused on this and the law but had forgotten that there is good news! There is hope! Christ Jesus came, died, rose again, and ascended so that He might save all who would believe on Him so that He might live in them, us, by His Spirit. Perhaps each of us at some time, and I have heard it from some believers, have felt that we were “the worst of sinners,” but now we have new eyes to see how wonderfully abundant God’s grace was poured out on us, and how we have been “shown mercy!” Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved! Christ is faithful! He is trustworthy to save us and help us and live His life in us. He really is faithful to save us completely. (2)

All of this abundant grace and mercy was so that “Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” No matter how bad or evil you think you are or what you have done to yourself or others there is hope for you. Paul is that example. For someone who actually sought out, persecuted, and had put to death those who were believers in Jesus like Paul, we also have hope of being saved by Christ. And this eternal life, is not just life that is forever and unending, but a new kind of life. A life that is new and real and true, that is “other” than our physical life. (3) It is about the quality of life that comes from God Himself, in fact it is His life we receive. This new life is Christ who now lives in us by the Holy Spirit. Christ wants to “display” His life in and through us to others, His life of patience, grace, mercy, love, hope, and faith. In his letter previously to the ekklesia in Ephesus Paul wrote that the ekklesia had been raised and seated “in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” to “display” “the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6-7) That was God’s purpose from the beginning! We are no longer to live on our own, by our own power, but on Him and His power that comes from His life. This brings about a wonderful exclamation by Paul as he reflects on this new life in him, Christ in him, in us: “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (4)

When we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and we learn to live by His life in us, life forever changes in our understanding of God. We begin to see Him as He really is. Our delusion induced self-life is replaced with the reality of His life. He is the real Ruler of the unending life, life both now and beyond this physical life. His life in us alone is indestructible and incorruptible. We can only see Him and understand Him through the spiritual eyes that He gives us. He alone is Supreme over all things and the sole sustainer of all things. It is He who should be respected and valued! It is He who should be given renown and splendor! Not just now but it will be so through the times unending to the unending times! This is truth, this is reality right now! In Christ life forever changes from seeing this life being about us to being about Him!

Notes:
(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/268.htm. “Hamartánō, means “to forfeit by missing the mark.”
(2) Interestingly Paul’s thoughts of being shown mercy is set before and after an interesting phrase. The phrase translated by most translators is “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance…” The Greek words in this phrase are very similar to the phrase he used in his second letter to the ekklesia in Corinth. “But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is…” Side by side these two verses in the Greek transliteration looks like this:
2 Cor. 1:18. pistos de ho Theos hoti ho logos hemon ho pros hymas… “faithful moreover is God that the logos of us to you..”
1 Tim. 1:15. pistos ho logos kai pases apodoches axios hoti… “faithful is the logos and full acceptance worthy that…”
In just a few years before writing to Timothy Paul had already previously used this phrase “God is faithful” and in the same sentence the “logos,” in his second letter to the ekklesia in Corinth. Paul now connects those words, now using only the Logos, which John in his gospel describes as our indwelling Lord. Paul did seem to use the Greek word logos in many of his letters, some with the translation “saying” but in other instances it could well be translated “Logos,” our indwelling Lord, such as in his later letter to the Colossians “Let the Word (Logos) of Christ richly dwell within you.” For many decades the Logos had been used to represent the indwelling Christ in His people and in some contexts is used to describe “saying” although in other instances it could be used for either, such as here in 1 Timothy. It wasn’t until John the apostle formalized in his gospel that “the Word (Logos) is God” did it perhaps became fully revealed. It is possible that Paul may have met up with John in Ephesus before writing 1 Timothy, as John was believed to have written his gospel to non-Jewish believers in Ephesus. This is based on the theory of an early writing of the gospel of John. From textual analysis some scholars believe the gospel of John was written sometime before the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, versus c. AD 90 as many other scholars claim.
Given this, 1 Timothy 1:15 could be written: “The Logos is faithful and worthy of full acceptance that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst.” This is perhaps to differentiate between the current activity of Christ in us as the Logos and Christ who came in human flesh, which Paul describes in the next few sentences. I do not believe it is that much of a stretch for Paul to use Logos with our indwelling Lord as John the apostle did in his gospel. If you believe otherwise then that is fine, I believe the phrase to describe Christ in us confirming with our conscience that He came to save sinners.
(3) T. Austin Sparks described God’s life as “altogether other” in his article “Horizoned by Life.” http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/001901.html.
(4) This could be written, using an amplification of the meanings of the words: “Now to the Ruler of the unending times, who cannot be destroyed and who cannot be corrupted, who cannot be seen with physical eyes, who alone is the Supreme owner over and sustainer of all things, be respect and value and renown and splendor to the times unending of the unending times. It is so.” At http://biblehub.com/interlinear/1_timothy/1-17.htm you can go to each word and see the meaning of each.



In Christ Alone
October 16, 2015, 10:41 am
Filed under: 1B Favorite Psalms

In Christ Alone

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
Our Comforter, our All in All
Here in the love of Christ we stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless Babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ we live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sins curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands our destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Could ever pluck me from His hand
Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I stand

(Original song written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend) Some words changed.



“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.”

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.” Matthew 13:44.

“But seek his kingdom…Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” Luke 12:31a,32,34, 13:18-19.

“God…was pleased to reveal his Son in me…Christ lives in me…I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 1:15-16, 2:20, 4:19, 5:25.

“…God, who tests our hearts…the Word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe…May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts…” 1 Thessalonians 2:4,13, 3:12,13.

“…that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11.

“…God has been making it grow…God…makes things grow…the Holy Spirit, who is in you…But God has put the body together…you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it…follow the way of love.” 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, 6:19, 12:24,27, 14:1.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7.

“…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus…it is God who works in you to will and act in order to fulfill his good purpose…the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…” Phlippians 1:6, 2:13, 3:8.

“…if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you…his Spirit who lives in you.” Romans 8:10-11.

“…that you may know him better…that you may know…the riches of his glorious inheritance in his people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe…God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ…he might show the incomparable riches of his grace…the boundless riches of Christ…I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…” Ephesians 1:17-19, 2:4,5,7, 3:8,16-17.

“…God has chosen to make known…the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory…in Christ you have been brought to fullness…Christ, who is your life” Colossians 1:27, 2:10, 3:4.

” ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.’…See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks…we have a clear conscience…” Hebrews 3:15, 12:25, 13:18.

“God’s work…is by faith. The goal…is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith…take hold of the life that is truly life.” 1 Timothy 1:4,5, 6:19.

Verses from Today’s New International Version.



Review of “Christ Alone” by Searching Together
October 10, 2015, 2:07 pm
Filed under: 2A - Book Reviews

Loved reading the new Searching Together booklet, “Christ Alone.” The title pretty much sums up the booklet. Jon Zens discusses five challenges every local ekklesia faces in keeping Christ alone together. A very timely word. The booklet then takes aim at one of those things we can often confuse, the equating of the Bible with Christ by Dennis J. Mulkey. “The Canon of Scripture and the Christ of Scripture are not synonyms!” The booklet then ends with a short chapter from T. Austin-Sparks of “All Things in Christ” where TAS illuminates the problem of how the church has taken the techniques and practices and orders and forms and teaching found in the Bible “and the Lord Jesus has just been missed and lost.” The ending of TAS excerpt is when on a conference in the USA the sad affair we see when brothers and sisters do not pursue Christ alone…”they were not interested in that.” Thought provoking and a stirring of the soul word for today. A great read!

http://www.amazon.com/Christ-Alone-Challenges-Every-Group/dp/099133454X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1444486017&sr=8-1&keywords=christ+alone+zens



“…but I obtained mercy…”
September 26, 2015, 1:59 pm
Filed under: R - First Letter to Timothy

As Paul reflects on the reality of being entrusted by God with His good news his thoughts turn immediately to his own story and gives thanks to the One “who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus, the Lord of us, because he considered me trustworthy, putting me into service…” (1) In truth every believer in Christ, who is God’s good news, has a story and as we reflect on what we were and what God has done for us causes us to give thanks! The reason Paul is so thankful is because Christ has been faithful to strengthen him ever since his conversion and that God would even find him, Paul who was once a “blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man,” trustworthy to serve Him. Imagine! Christ considered Paul trustworthy to serve, to speak for Him! And Paul exclaims: “but I obtained mercy!”

When Paul says that Christ has strengthened him he means Christ Himself has been sharing His power, His ability with Paul. (2) The first time Paul uses this intensified form of the word for strength is immediately after his conversion in Damascus where he is said to have become increasingly strengthened by the Lord confounding the Jews. (Acts 9:22) He only uses the word once in his letter to the Philippians where Paul describes Christ who strengthens him, Romans where Paul describes how Abraham even at about the age of 100 “was strengthened in his faith,” and Ephesians where Paul calls on all brothers and sisters to be “empowered in the Lord.” When we are strengthened by Christ Jesus our Lord He shares Himself, His power from within. Whatever our life was before Christ, when we are living by our indwelling Lord, that life of flesh has no power, and the reality of His blood transforms our mind to Christ’s reality that in fact the old way of the flesh is gone and dead, taken away by Christ who now not only empowers us but lives in us and is our life. (3) What times of refreshing, times of thankfulness, times of gratefulness and empowering He gives us and continues to give us as we see things as Christ sees them!

Apart from Christ we see things totally different. We see the outward manifestations of the flesh, those who are profane, murderers of fathers, murderers of mothers, murderers, fornicators or prostitutes, homosexuals, slave traders, liars and for Paul a persecutor and insolent. Or those who are lawless, unruly, impious, sinners, unholy, profane and for Paul as a blasphemer. Of course Paul lists a whole host of other descriptions of the flesh in his other letters. When we are caught up into labels and the law we identify ourselves by the works of the flesh, what we do (whether good or bad by the way), our habits and addictions. The world loves to stick labels on behavior, especially for those who don’t follow their brand of culture or law. Religions do it all the time. If I act “Christian” then I am “Christian” some would naively say, no matter what we think “Christian” means. We also do it instinctively in business. If we do a kind of job we are identified by that job. I teach therefore I am a teacher. Or those who make things: I work with leather therefore I am a leatherworker. And so on. And it becomes our mold our box that others and ourselves build around each another. We love to label others. Psychologists do it when labeling personalities or disorders. And you become what they label. You name it. Aristotle once wrote: “we are what we repeatedly do.” That is how the world thinks. While there is “some” truth in our understanding of who we are in the flesh and why we say and do the things we say and do, it is not the final word. We need to consider a different way of thinking. Even though we use to be identified or identified ourselves by the works of the flesh we are now only identified by Christ in us and His work. How thankful we are because of what Christ has done for and in us! In Christ we have been freed from the world’s labels and laws, we have obtained mercy! Perhaps that is something of what Paul was feeling thankful about.

Interestingly, Paul describes how thankful he is that God considered him trustworthy to put him into service. Sadly, some translations take a perspective that institutionalizes this thought. Not surprisingly, the mistranslations of similar Greek words is riddled in many places in the New Testament, to its inappropriate application and in some places where there is no Greek word the root word “appoint” is added anyways. For these “certain persons” Paul was trustworthy to be appointed or ordained to the ministry, appointed to a position or profession above his fellow brothers and sisters. Jealousy becomes the hallmark of such. When we place ourselves above others, labels and law are not far behind. To use the word “appoint,” in today’s English means “to select officially for an office, position, etc.” (4) Appointing is about officially selecting someone or electing them into a professional office, to be a “leader” over others. Perhaps considering Christ’s perspective He did in fact select Paul, but we love to take things from our perspective, creating confusion, standing in the place of Christ. How totally contrary is this thought with what Paul was actually trying to convey. How contrary is this idea to that of a professional office.

Another word, taken totally away from its original context is this word “service.” I think I have written about this before. The Greek “diakonian” word means “waiting at a table” which comes from the word “diakonos” which means “thoroughly dust” or to “kick up dust” and can refer to either dusting the home, cleaning dust off of feet, or to move about in one’s work. (5) In a country where dust and sand is common place it was a very familiar task for household servants. The word means nothing of an “official position” except for those who would institutionalize the word to mean a position above one’s brothers and sisters which means the exact opposite. What is even more sad is for these “certain persons” to stand behind a podium above their brothers and sisters, “leading” “their” congregation and to boldly state how he or she and they are equal, what a sordid thing to say and how delusional for the “congregation” to accept this clergy-laity dichotomy. How sad that what Christ intended to be the actual living experience of brothers and sisters serving one another by His life to be made into a platform of professionalism by “certain persons.” Technically, we could say Paul was appointed by the Lord to be His servant. But how we love to change things to fit the world’s way of doing things. Institutional churches take this and run with it and it becomes something that God never intended, a progressive revelation of sorts “certain persons” would call it and now the church does things differently because of the “modern” world we live in. How sad that when God appoints His servants man changes it into a business and ceremony and performance deluding those who are called, deceiving and hurting the ekklesia’s organic nature of living by their indwelling Lord together. The father of lies is still prowling around looking at whom he may devour. We are so easily deceived. How ignorant man is in the ways of the Lord, institutionalizing what only God is called to do. How we need to be strengthened by the Lord from within.

Paul says that he obtained mercy because he was “ignorant and did it in unbelief.” I would venture to say most of what we do would be because of our ignorance, even though we think we know what we are doing. As Jesus proclaimed on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they no not what they do.” This is not just a call to those outside of Christ, but also to those in the ekklesia. Perhaps Paul is inferring something about the “certain persons” he mentioned earlier who were focusing more on the law instead of love. They were showing their ignorance of the Lord within them. When we begin to no longer walk by faith together, even in a gathering of brothers and sisters living organically by Christ, we are moving in ignorance of the Lord towards institutionalism and a dangerous precipice. We know ourselves and our Lord very little. Our capacity to live by the flesh knows no bounds and so it is with living by our indwelling Lord together. May we believe the Lord and His promises, He can do what He says. Paul was strengthened by the Lord for his entire life in Christ from the very beginning of his conversion. He understood that ignorance of and unbelief in the Lord was no longer acceptable. Everywhere Paul went he was looking for something of Christ and Him crucified both from within himself and within the brothers and sisters who believed on the Lord. Paul believed that the ekklesia was in reality one with Christ. To be with brothers and sisters was to be with Christ Himself. May we believe the same. Lord help me, help us in our unbelief we really are ignorant of ourselves and You.

Faith beyond our imagining is in Christ Jesus. Love beyond our imagining is in Christ Jesus. Strength beyond our imagining is in Christ Jesus. Grace beyond our imagining is in Christ Jesus. Paul was captured by our Lord and given truth, a new paradigm, a new reality or way of thinking. Christ overcame his ignorance and unbelief and Paul obtained mercy which he did not deserve and so Paul proclaims: “The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” We have obtained mercy!

Notes:
(1) See http://biblehub.com/greek/1743.htm.
(2) The Greek word for strengthened is “endynamōsanti” which means “in sharing power ability.” (1) It is not your typical word for power or strength that is often used in the Greek text. Most words used for power or strength are forms of the words dunamai and dunamis which are used 100s of times. Here Paul uses this word “endynamōsanti” only used once here and on a few other occasions’ similar forms of the same.
(3) Paul gives his testimony, his story of how he was saved by Christ after having persecuted the church. In Galatians 1:15-16a Paul says that “God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me…” and later in Galatians 2:20 states that “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
(4) Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, 67.
(5) See http://biblehub.com/greek/1248.htm and http://biblehub.com/greek/1249.htm.



“…any other thing that opposes healthy teaching…” (Part 2)
August 16, 2015, 1:51 pm
Filed under: R - First Letter to Timothy

In part 1 of “…any other thing that opposes healthy teaching” I introduced Paul’s list of behaviors that oppose “healthy teaching.” When one is living by Christ, they will be attentive to what is going on in them and around them. God’s work in us will be “in faith” that results in love from pure motives and a good conscience. This gives brothers and sisters a radar of sorts, a matter of discernment to that which is of the Spirit and that which is of the flesh. While we may not know all of the works of the flesh, a brother or sister who is hearing Christ can sense it by the Spirit within them and put it off, putting on Christ from within. The more we hear Him and follow Him, the more of Christ will be seen.

Additionally, the focus in Part 1 was on the first part of Paul’s list of things that the law was for, things which can be deceptively brought into the life of the body from within and the importance of faith, love, and conscience on these matters within the gathering. This last half of the list are those behaviors that can be brought into the life of the body from without. It is a direct assault on human life. Human life is precious to the Lord. While in the Old Covenant the Lord allowed and even commanded the nation of Israel to war against her enemies it was done so as a judgement. Today in the New Covenant God still judges but He alone avenges His people. (1) Each one of the extreme examples Paul lists describe those whose behavior are lawless, unruly, impious, sinful, unholy, and profane. They live without regard for authority and submission, without respect for others, namely human life. As a result Paul uses the noun form of the words for seven of the eight words, using the adjective form for the last word.

Often a societies laws typically will ban these horrendous forms of behaviors because they destroy a person’s or others physical and emotional life and bring spiritual devastation. The words that Paul now uses in this list can easily fit into the latter half of the Ten Commandments albeit of a more extreme nature. The words are not necessarily paired as in the previous six words, however there does seem to be a pattern. The first two words seem to be paired, the fourth and fifth words seem to be paired, and the seventh and eighth words seem to be paired while the third and sixth words are not. Here I have listed the words from the direct translation from Marshall’s Greek Interlinear (2) and connected the Law with each (3).

“…for parricides and matricides (fifth commandment)
for menkillers (sixth commandment)
for fornicators, for paederasts (seventh commandment)
for menstealers (eighth commandment)
for liars, for perjurers (ninth commandment)
and if any other thing the healthy teaching opposes…”

Parricides (4) and matricides describe those who murder fathers and mothers. In the Ten Commandments the fifth commandment states: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12, TNIV) Societies normally do not allow for children to murder their fathers or mothers. It is a direct assault against the familial nature of human life and God and His ecclesia specifically. One of the greatest forms of human relationship one could ever have can be with a father and mother. To murder one’s own father and mother is a total disregard for human authority and submission, let alone in matters of faith, love, and conscience.

Menkillers (5) describe those who are murderers (TNIV). Menkillers can fit easily with parricides and matricides; it is a general term meaning slayers of human life. The sixth commandment states: “You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:12, TNIV). Murder is typically one of the greatest crimes one could commit in society.

Fornicators (6) and paederasts (7) describe those whose offenses are sexual in nature and brings physical, emotional, and spiritual devastation upon themselves. The Greek words for both describe perverse sexual behavior, both related to adultery, or sexual behavior outside of marriage. The seventh commandment states: “You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14, TNIV) The word for fornicator, the root word for pornography, comes from the word meaning to sell, essentially to sell oneself to another’s sexual lusts, a prostitute. Prostitutes, both male and female, in the ancient world, dependent upon location were often associated with pagan temples, as pagan religion incorporated prostitution as a form of worship of the pagan god. Paederasts means a male in bed with another male to engage in sexual intercourse, homosexuality. This can also refer to female homosexuality. Paul used forms of both words in his letter to the Corinthian ecclesia. Paul is aghast that the believers have accepted “fornication” “among you” “and such fornication which is not among the nations,” “a man has his father’s wife. And you are proud!” (8) Many ancient Roman and Greek societies allowed prostitution and homosexuality, they were both acceptable forms of behavior as they were related to their pagan worship. However, in Christ, He has made the ekklesia a new creation. In the Corinthian letter Paul goes into great details of why this sexual behavior is not acceptable in the ekklesia, first and foremost it is fleshly and emotionally and spiritually destructive for all those involved in its behavior.

Menstealers (9) describes those who steal people in order to sell them, i.e. “slave traders” (TNIV). The eighth commandment states: “You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15). Typically we see this as stealing something at the store, something we can hide easily without being noticed. But Paul goes to the extreme in describing a person who would steal a human being in order to sell them. They are not just stealing a person, they steal that person’s heart and soul, reducing them to an inanimate object without honor or respect. Sadly in today’s world there are those who forcibly steal children and youth in order to sell them as slaves in other countries, or to use them as sex slaves or prostitutes for personal gain, bringing physical, emotional, and spiritual devastation upon their victims. How destructive and contrary to what is good and right in any society, reducing persons to nothing more than cattle to be stolen, bought and sold.

Liars (10) and perjurers (11) describe those who lie or lie under oath respectively. The ninth commandment states: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16). (12) A liar is a person who deceives others by distorting or misleading what others say or do. The forms of this particular word are used primarily by John in his gospel specifically in John 8:44 where Jesus says “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Interestingly Jesus equates deception with murder. In truth we die spiritually, we murder, when we deceive. To deceive others, falsifying, distorting, misleading others about someone we are allowing spiritual murder to take place within ourselves and others, and fall under the deception of the father of lies. The ekklesia only lives by and for truth, however hard that word may be, for truth in reality is a Person, our Lord Jesus Christ. When one is caught in a lie, there is a tendency for them to lie even under oath, or perjury. Perhaps this is the reason Paul used the adjective form of the word for perjurers in this letter.

Keep in the mind that these are examples of some extreme and hurtful behaviors of the flesh and should not be considered the only behaviors, as Paul in his letters is never consistent in describing examples of the works of the flesh, as he finishes this list with “and if any other thing the healthy teaching opposes.” In almost every letter Paul wrote he often contrasted the works of the flesh with that of the Spirit. (13) It seems based on what the problem the ekklesia was going through he used terms that describe the flesh as it relates to what the gathering of the brothers and sisters was experiencing and contrasts that with living by their indewelling Christ, so it was a bit different for each ekklesia. What was not different was the gatherings life together, they are to live by Christ. He is our health, our healthy teaching. Every other thing that Christ’s life opposes is that of the flesh as Paul said in his first letter, to the ekklesia in Galatia: “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict (opposes) with each other…But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (14) In essence Paul to Timothy has just repeated what he spoke decades ago to the gathering of brothers and sisters in Galatia. The same applies to us today.

The problem that Paul asks Timothy to confront with “certain persons” in the ekklesia at Ephesus was that these persons seem to focus their conversations in their gatherings on the law. I don’t know about you, but just having gone through this list of those things the law was made for, determining their meaning and application can be heavy, weary and depressing because it’s conversations about the flesh, which brings only death. There are those who will nitpick and find some loop hole in word meanings in order to justify ungodly behavior. How taxing and lifeless that is. Our life together is about Christ in us! The gatherings, while they may have to confront issues related to putting off the flesh in its experience together it is for the purpose of putting on Christ. A good rule of thumb about these matters can be found in Paul’s earlier letter to the Corinthian ekklesia: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the ekklesia? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13a). Even today we have voices supposedly from the “ekklesia” who are judging “those outside,” wanting to be “teachers of the law” and trying to show out as if they were God’s prophets, “but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” They are “certain persons” who typically are from religious Christianity, just like in the ancient ekklesia in Ephesus, whose focus is sadly more about the law than Christ and our relationship with Him and one another. I have friends and co-workers who have some of these behaviors, namely being profane, homosexuality and lying, and many other things not on the list. For my friends and co-workers while I do not accept their behavior I still try to respect them as persons, as human beings who need Christ and pray that one day Christ will change their hearts and minds by how I live by Christ.

At this point Paul’s thoughts in his letter to Timothy move him to express praise to God saying “healthy teaching” is “according to the good news of the glory of the blessed God which I have been entrusted with.” How true Christ’s words are: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, TNIV) Christ is our healthy teaching, He is the good news, He is the glory of the blessed God! It is His teaching, His words, the good news by His Spirit in and to and through one another that brings rest and life and not weary and death. Anything else is “meaningless talk.” Paul knows this full well as he now reflects how this good news of Christ totally and completely changed his life from one living by the works of the flesh and the Law to one “entrusted” with God’s good news!

Notes:

(1) Romans 12:17-21 states “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” When we are living by Christ, this is what He will look like in us.
(2) Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 613.
(3) Gordon D. Fee; 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus: New International Biblical Commentary; Hendrickson Publishers, 1988, 46.
(4) The Greek word “patrolōais” comes from two Greek words for father and murderer and “mētrolōais” comes from two Greek words for mother and murderer. Both words are only used here by Paul in the New Testament, possibly because of the extreme nature of the behavior, although the root words are used numerous times. See: http://biblehub.com/greek/3964.htm, http://biblehub.com/greek/3389.htm.
(5) The Greek word “androphonois” is only used once by Paul and is the only time it is used in the New Testament. The root words however are used several times: male and murder. In essence the word means a male murderer. See http://biblehub.com/greek/409.htm. It is interesting that Paul would choose the male form of the word instead of just “phonos” for murderer as used in the Ten Commandments found in the Greek version of the Septuagint “φονευσεις”. (http://bibledatabase.net/html/septuagint/02_020.htm, 20:15) As we will see it seems these “male” terms are often used elsewhere to refer to any person.
(6) The word used for fornicators is “pornois,” the root word for pornography. The word used here means a male prostitute, although it can be used generically to describe any person who sells themselves to others sexual lusts. See: http://biblehub.com/greek/4205.htm.
(7) The word for paederasts is “arsenokoitais” and comes from two words “male” and “marriage bed,” both roots being used many times throughout the Bible. See http://biblehub.com/greek/733.htm.
(8) 1 Corinthians 5:1. Paul uses the feminine form of the word “porneia” to describe the sexual deviant behavior occurring in the ekklesia, in this case a form of incest. Paul seems to use the word for any form of sexual deviant behavior, not just male or female prostitution, other than homosexuality. In 1 Corinthians 6:9 Paul uses both words as he reminds the ekklesia of other various forms of sexual deviant behavior, if they didn’t quite get it the first time, and lists not just “pornoi,” but also idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, and “arsenokoitai.”
(9) The Greek word “andrapodistais” means “one who forcibly enslaves.” This is the first and only time the word is used in the New Testament. In the ancient world while one might be born into slavery, which was then the world’s main labor force, this word means “one who unjustly reduces free men to slavery, as one who steals the slaves of others and sells them.” See http://biblehub.com/greek/405.htm.
(10) The Greek word “pseustais” comes from the word meaning one who falsifies or lies. See http://biblehub.com/greek/5583.htm.
(11) The Greek word “epiorkois” means against an oath, so to swear falsely. See http://biblehub.com/greek/1965.htm.
(12) Both “pseustais” and “epiorkois” together best represent the meaning of the ninth commandment based on the Greek word used in the Septuagint “ψευδομαρτυρησεις.” http://bibledatabase.net/html/septuagint/02_020.htm.
(13) See Gal. 5:16-26; 1 Thess. 4:3-10; 1 Thess. 3:2; 1 Corinthians is nothing but contrasts; etc.
(14) Galatians 5:16-18. The Greek word “opposes” in 1 Timothy is “antikeitai” and is the same word Paul used in Galatians. It means to place fully against, and is completely and irreconcilably opposite of each other. Without Christ we are “without hope” and “far away,” but we “have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace.” Ephesians 2:12-14.



“…any other thing that opposes healthy teaching…” (Part 1)
March 29, 2015, 1:49 pm
Filed under: R - First Letter to Timothy

“The law does not apply for the innocent but for the lawless…” The law was also meant to curb the flesh. As Paul told the Roman believers “through the law we become conscious of our sin.” (Romans 3:20) The law is for those who live by the flesh. In every letter Paul says something about the works of the flesh in contrast to living by the Spirit, it is part of learning Christ together, the tension between that which is of the flesh and that which is of the spirit and how the gathering moves forward through it in love. Even Jesus said that “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.” (John 6:63) So in like manner Paul gives an interesting list of the entropy of the flesh in pairs in his first letter to Timothy. (1) Interestingly a case could be made that this list looks very similar to the abominations that described Samaria and Jerusalem, the capitols of the northern and southern tribes of Israel respectively, before their downfall by the Assyrians and Babylonians in the Book of Ezekiel, specifically chapter 22. Even the same Greek words used by Paul can be found in the Greek version of Ezekiel from the Septuagint. Perhaps all delve a bit into this in another blog. Perhaps Paul is inferring a concern of a possible similar judgment could fall upon the ecclesias as that which befell Israel if we live with a law/lawless mindset versus an innocent mindset. I have intentionally listed the writing in pairs below to hopefully see some connections. “…but for lawless and for unruly, for impious and for sinful, for unholy and for profane, for parricides and matricides, for menkillers, for fornicators, for paederasts, for menstealers, for liars, for perjurers, and if any other thing the healthy teaching opposes…” (2) Fee notes that the first three pairs seem to be “general classifications” while the other pairs have “a remarkable coincidence with the Ten Commandments (the fifth through the ninth), often giving more grotesque expressions of these sins.” (3) N. T. Wright in his little booklet says similarly. (4) The descriptions of these Greek words are pretty clear. The first three pairs are adjectives and other than the last word the other pairs are all nouns. This blog will look at the first three pairs of adjectives. (5) Lawless (6) and unruly (7) describe those who live without regard for authority and submission respectively. As Paul noted to the Roman brothers and sisters “let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established…For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong…Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.” (Romans 13:1-5) Society operates by law, ecclesias operate by grace. In Christ authority describes Christ’s headship and submission. You cannot have one without the other. Brothers and sisters who are following the Lord together are under the authority of Christ, under His headship and will follow His law, a law of selfless sacrificial love. And this agape love, Christ’s life, will demonstrate itself in submission to one another, mutual submission. To live without headship to Christ or submission to others in the body is to be lawless and unruly. If there is one thing that will steal, kill, and destroy the fellowship of a gathering of brothers and sisters it is this. Additionally, if any one or more persons in the body attempt to usurp Christ’s authority, His headship, whether personally or through some set of procedures or agenda, they have become lawless and unruly to Christ. We are to live under His authority, His headship in submissive sacrifice to one another. Impious (8) and sinful (9) describe those who live without respect for others and without approval of God respectively. Brothers and sisters who are following the Lord together will be respectful and honorable towards one another, this demonstrates approval of God. There is much written in the scriptures that describe the importance of honoring God and one another. As Paul told the Roman brothers and sisters: “Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10) We are called to live honorably, never disrespecting others. To do so would be to disrespect Christ, His Body and His Spirit will show His disapproval by our conscious not approving. The Lord gave some remarkable words to Isaiah and is often quoted by Jesus: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.” (Isaiah 29:13) Wow! Sadly, how much of our religious institutions have fallen to such dishonorable status with our Lord. As an archer if my arrows fall short of the target I am forfeit, I have missed the purpose in shooting the arrows. Without Christ I fall short of what God approves. We will be tempted to stray, to miss the mark of God’s purpose, there will be conflict. Let us be attuned to what our conscience tells us as His Spirit works in us in order to follow Him, His path for us, by faith with love. In Christ we are no longer “sinful.” Paul told the Roman ecclesia “Christ died for the ‘impious’” or the ungodly and cleansed us from all sin! (10) In Him, who is sinless, we have been cleansed of all that fell short of what God approved. In Christ the arrow hits the bulls-eye every time. To live with a clear conscience, innocent before one another is to manifest Christ. We live together as those who have been forgiven and now live approved by God by our respect towards one-another. Unholy (11) and profane (12) describe those who live without respect for the things of God and for God Himself respectively. Christ’s literal body was described as holy and the literal temple in Jerusalem was never to be profaned. The character of the physical Christ and physical temple are now applied to the ecclesias, because they are one with Christ. Paul articulates in great detail to the Roman ecclesia in the first part of his letter how those who are in Christ are now to “live a new life.” (13) This life is none other than Christ’s life and His life is holy! In the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible “holy” is a key word that is used to describe “an object or place or day.” (14) Also, from the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint, these two words often appear together. Perhaps Paul, a former teacher of the law, speaking of the “babble” of these certain persons has thoughts from Ezekiel in mind? (Ezekiel 22) Profane can also have the idea of unauthorized entrance into a building. If we gather together for the sake of forcing our agenda onto the brothers and sisters than to live by the life of Christ together, but making a pretense of such we have become a thief, entering the Home without the permission of the Home Owner. Jesus had some poignant words for the Pharisees in this regard: “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.” (John 10:1-2) Those who enter the gate, or the building without His authority Jesus calls a thief, a robber, a hired hand, and a wolf. We are a new creation and we now live by His new life, His holy life and we are learning to hear Christ together, Our Shepherd. May we truly hear our Lord’s words and live by His life of love together, “love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” We gratefully gather together and submit to His headship, we show respect to Christ and His body honoring Him and one another above ourselves, and we are learning to live by His holy life and hearing Him and following Him together. (1) Fee noted that he was amazed that from among the Pauline letters that “no single sin is specifically repeated in them all….They seem in each case to be ad hoc catalogues, although they also seem to be somewhat adapted to contexts.” Gordon D. Fee; 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus: New International Biblical Commentary; Hendrickson Publishers, 1988, 45. (2) Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 613. (3) Fee, 45-46. (4) Nicholas Thomas Wright, Paul for Everyone: The Pastoral Letters, Second Edition, Westminster John Knox Press, 2004, 9-10. (5) See the Greek Interlinear at http://biblehub.com/interlinear/1_timothy/1-9.htm. (6) Paul, when describing those the law was meant for, uses the word “lawless” to begin the list. It could in fact generalize the rest of the descriptions. The Greek word translated “lawless” is “anomois” and means “without law,” a complete disregard for any authority. http://biblehub.com/greek/459.htm. This word is used in the letter to the ecclesias in Corinth and later to Rome to describe those who are non Jewish or Gentile. To his first letter to the ecclesia in Corinth, Paul describes how he relates to both Jew and Gentile for their salvation: “I became to the Jews as a Jew, in order that I might gain Jews; to the ones under law as under law, not being myself under law, in order that I might gain the ones under law; to the ones ‘anomois’ (lawless or without the law) as ‘anomos,’ not being without law of God but under the law of Christ, in order that I might gain the ones ‘anomous’…” (1 Corinthians 9:20-21) So lawless in this regard would mean, for example those who are not Jew and do not follow the Law of Moses. Paul also said something similar to the ecclesia in Rome where he described that a person can fail to be approved of God whether one is ‘anomos’ (without the law) or under the law. (Romans 2:12) In Luke and Acts the word is used to describe those who crucified Christ Jesus. Only Luke uses this word in his gospel and in the letter of Acts. In the gospel by Luke the word is used from the Greek translation for the Hebrew ‘pō•šə•‘îm’ from Isaiah 53:12 that means to rebel against God where the author describes the Jesus fulfilling Old Testament prophecy. http://biblehub.com/hebrew/6586.htm) Some manuscripts also use the word in Mark 15:28. And in Acts Luke uses the word to describe those who crucified Christ Jesus. (Acts 2:23) It seems in the letters where a future description of the word is used and letters written later it typically refers to a state of complete rebellion against God such as Paul’s second letter to the ecclesia in Thessalonica. 2 Thessalonians 2:8. See http://biblehub.com/greek/459.htm for a summary of the definition of the word. Based on the context of Paul’s letter to Timothy this is how the word is being used. (7) The Greek word translated as “unruly” is “anypotaktois.” The forms of this word only occur in the letter to the Hebrews and Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus. It literally means “not under arrangement,” without submission, and therefore means not submissive or disobedient. http://biblehub.com/greek/506.htm. One form of the word is also used in Hebrews 2:8. To not be mutually submissive to one another is to be “anypotaktois” to be unsubmissive to our brothers and sisters in Christ, and because we are His body to be “anypotakois” is to be disobedient to Christ Himself. (8) The Greek word translated as “impious” or “ungodly” is “asebesi.” This word means the opposite of “respect,” without respect, and means lack of reverence and dishonorable. http://biblehub.com/greek/765.htm. Paul wrote to the ecclesia in Rome that “Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6. (9) The Greek word translated as “sinful” or “sinners” is “hamartōlois.” This word is used often in the gospels and on occasion in the New Testament letters. The word literally means “to forfeit by missing the mark.” (11) http://biblehub.com/greek/268.htm. (10) Romans 5:6. (11) The Greek word translated as “unholy” is “anosiois,” or without holy. The adjective form of the word holy, “hosios,” is only used a few times in the New Testament and typically describes Christ, often where Christ has fulfilled prophecy from the Old Testament. http://biblehub.com/greek/3741.htm. Typically meaning respect for the things of God. Paul is the only New Testament writer to use the word “anosiois” and only in his letters to Timothy. “Anosiois” means without respect or without regard for the things of God, a disregard or disrespect for the things of God. http://biblehub.com/greek/462.htm. (12) Profane. The Greek word translated as “profane” is “bebēlois,” which means “crossing threshold” or “improper or unauthorized entrance into a building.” http://biblehub.com/greek/952.htm. Like the previous word for “unholy” the word variants of this adjective are only used in his letters to Timothy and once in Hebrews describing Esau in the Old Testament. There are two verb forms of this adjective, Jesus says of the Pharisees “on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent” and the accusation of Tertullus against Paul saying “and even tried to desecrate the temple.” Much could be said of Jesus and Tertullus statements alone, one a truth the other a lie. Matthew 12:5 and Acts 24:6. Perhaps the idea here is attempting to follow Christ apart from love and faith, perhaps Paul is reflecting back to the foolish Galatians and now these certain persons in Ephesus? (13) Romans 6:1-4. Paul argues “what shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” To do so would be to profane His Body, His Temple. Pau then describes to the Romans the importance of seeing ourselves in both Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection “so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with….no longer…slaves to sin.” We are to “count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:5-14. (14) Vine’s, Nelson’s Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament, 113.



“I am the vine; you are the branches…”
February 22, 2015, 5:24 pm
Filed under: 1A - Spiritual Notes

At a new organic fellowship last night while listening to the sharing of one another in the midst of the sharing I noticed the room had a very ornate clock on the mantle of the fireplace and to its left was what looked like limbs from a tree with long leaves. I was reminded that as humans we are very inclined to make what is simple complex. All of our institutions and organizations are perfected so that they run like clockwork and in so doing become more and more complex and we become enslaved in a system void of relationships as it is more about the system, keeping it running with all of its deadlines and productivity, and the egos that run it, instead of how well we relate to one another. The church, the organized way it has become institutionalized is very much like this, it is about running a machine that works like clockwork fueled by the passions of those who think they know what’s best for everyone, no matter who gets knocked over in the process.

clock 1

Christ Jesus had a different way, a different reality of how His body shared life together. Jesus during his last moments on Earth said “I am the vine; you are the branches…”

As I looked at this tree and thought about trees in general, I remembered this morning while working on the front lawn that branches of a tree tended to veer about in seemingly random ways but always outward and upward because of the Sun. The brothers and sisters in Christ are like this. When we gather Christ in us is giving us His life to share with one another, sometimes it may seem kind of random, but as we see more of Him and allow Christ to be Head of His body, what appeared to be random gives shape to something quite beautiful, Christ Himself, His life to us through one another. Sometimes our soul life gets in the way and we hurt one another, Christ is our healer and as we learn to hear Him we follow Him by forgiving or asking for forgiveness and making amends.  Love, truth, and faith always builds up the body and Christ in us continues our upward and forward growth in Him together.

20150222_080525

This life together just like with various trees can look quite differently from one another, and hence not make clockwork or set a precedent on what happens as we gather together. Christ is too creative than that! There are also seasons to consider. No matter the season it is still about allowing Christ as Head together and being sustained by Him as He lives through one another. The world often judges the poor seasons of life. We should  see it differently. If we see the brothers and sisters in one place being broken and hurt by the world around them be careful in your judgements, for even a myrtle tree only grows unless it’s branches are cut completely, but it’s roots are ever growing deeper.

130327_0000



“I have installed my King on Zion…”
February 15, 2015, 3:34 pm
Filed under: 1A - Spiritual Notes

“I have installed my King on Zion…The LORD is King for ever and ever…Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty-he is the King of glory…For the LORD Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth…For God is King of all the earth…above all gods.” Psalms

“…I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted…my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” Isaiah

“But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King…God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.” Jeremiah

See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation…” Zechariah

“But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you…” Jesus

If you are the Messiah…tell us.
Jesus answered “…the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”
They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”
He replied, “You say that I am.”

So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

Luke

“…be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” Peter

“But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” Hebrews

“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Paul