JohnSWilson3 Blog


“…in the Lord”
February 13, 2011, 3:02 pm
Filed under: P Letter to the Ephesians

As I continue to meditate and experience what Paul has been describing in the latter part of his letter to the church in Ephesus I am continually seeing how too often we look at people on the surface, after the flesh. My brother Peter whom God sent to His ekklesia here in the west metro Houston area told us a story one morning while at another brother and sister’s home. Here is the gist of the story:

A Chinese Christian who while in prison for sharing Christ expressed Christ’s wonderful love to the worst prisoner in the prison. He said that others could not believe why he would do so. The brother told them that to love as Christ loved is to love others as if they were already in Christ, to love others as yourself is to love others the same as you would another brother or sister in the Lord.

This had a profound impact upon the brothers and sisters who were gathered together. It really made us take a look at how we are treating one another, are we really expressing the love of Christ to all that we meet or do we love in degrees based on how they treat us?

I mention this because as I look at Paul’s letter and his description of how Christ’s love is expressed through children, parents, fathers, workers, and business leaders how we express Christ, His love should always be “full of grace and seasoned with salt” as Paul told the church in Colosse, as “in the Lord.” Paul has spent a good portion before this section on describing what the life of Christ is expressed by His body looks like: complete humility, gentleness, with patience bearing with one another in love, service, speaking the truth in love, forgiving one another, living a life of sacrificial love, living as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth), living wisely, submitting to one another, etc. Then Paul showed using the wife and husband analogy to a wonderful picture of the love of Christ to His bride and vice versa. When we live by the life of Christ He will always express love, sacrificial love.

Children, you obey your parents because you are to see them as in Christ, “in the Lord, for this is right.” Paul to the church in Colosse added “in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” And here to the church in Ephesus he tells the children who are gathered with the brothers and sisters in each others homes to do so because of a special promise from the Old Covenant: “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Even I, as an adult, with parents and in-laws who are now older, I still am called to see my parents and in-laws as being in Christ and in so doing I love them sacrificially, it is an expression that organically occurs by the spiritual life of Christ in me.

As a father or parent with children, I am to see my children as if they are in Christ and in so doing I will not “exasperate” or “provoke to wrath” my children. As Paul told the church in Corinth: “love is not easily provoked.” In the time of Paul fathers were known to be very hard and unloving towards their children, treating them and beating them as if they were slaves as ancient writers have noted, especially the male children. I believe some cultures even today still adhere to this form of treatment of children. How much of Christ’s life would be expressed to an unbelieving world to see a father loving his children as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her! But instead of provoking their children the Christ in them will “nurture them in the discipline and admonition of the Lord.” This has the thought of “training and instruction” which would occur not just in the gatherings of the believers together from house to house but most especially at their home where the father and mother would show Christ’s love to them helping their children to hear Christ and be taught by Him, as Paul told the brothers and sisters earlier in the letter. How quick we can trample under the cross of Christ our children by being ill tempered and heavy handed with them. Let us love our children as if they were in Christ, as we love one another. For they will see Christ for who He is and want that same life and call upon the Lord and be saved, receiving Christ Jesus as Lord, being one with Him and being a part of the body of Christ, members of one body.

Paul then describes within the body those who are slaves, or workers of that time, and the lords or masters, the business leaders of that day, who are sitting next to each other in each others homes with the brothers and sisters. While Paul describes more of how Christ is to be expressed by the slave, Paul tells the masters, and those who are business leaders in the world: “treat your slaves in the same way.” Workers and business leaders of today we express Christ to the world when we together see each other as in Christ, brothers and sisters and submit to one another, denying ourselves and seeing others better than ourselves. Workers submitting to business leaders, business leaders submitting to workers. Workers and business leaders are expressing Christ when they both “obey” and “submit to one another” “with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ…like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.” In so doing we will see more of our lives expressing the goodness that is Christ, more of His life living through us is the reward!

In the whole process of seeing others as in Christ we are taking the focus away from ourselves, our flesh, our desires, and considering “others better than” ourselves, looking “not only to” our “own interests, but also to the interests of others,” having the same attitude “as that of Christ Jesus” as Paul told the church in Philippi. This rubs against the flesh, this is not the way of the world, it is the narrow road of living by the life of Christ. As we learn to hear Christ and be taught by Him we will learn to see the flesh as dead and our life is truly Christ’s. Seeing others as in Christ takes dependence on the Lord to help us see with His eyes. There are so many who are unloving, even brothers and sisters who are living after the flesh, or like ourselves in process, and so we really do not know the heart of a person only Christ does, and so the importance of seeing others as in Christ. So we love all as if they are in Christ, not after the flesh. I do not take this as a form of universalism, a doctrine that believes everyone will be saved or is saved, but Christ did die for the whole world, so that whoever believed in Him might have eternal life, Christ! There is room for all in the body of Christ! May others see Christ lived through us so that they also may call upon the Lord and be saved. May we have spiritual sight to see others as Christ sees all, someone whom He died for and rose again and desires to give them His life, to become a part of His body, “in the Lord.”



“…baptized for the dead?”
February 6, 2011, 2:04 pm
Filed under: J First Letter to the Corinthians

This is an amazing verse by Paul to the church in Corinth because just reading the verse makes you wonder what he was talking about since it grammatically is difficult to understand (not that others have difficulty understanding my grammar, lol). The passage is: “Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?” Here are my thoughts that I shared with a sister on facebook who was trying to find out about what others thought it meant:
___________________________________________

it is a confusing passage like many have stated already as any reading of it shows, in it’s context Paul is arguing that “Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” 1 Cor. 15:29 then has something to do with a practice of the church and his argument and then in verse 30 and continuing Paul points to his own practice of why they endanger themselves for the gospel. It is my opinion it has something to do with why we practice baptism, it being an example that shows that in Christ our flesh is dead and that we are now alive in Christ, and in fact is our life.

David E. Garland in his commentary (1) on the subject provides many views that some have taken and believes the more biblical view, versus a magical rite, is that the term dead refers to “a metaphor for the condition of believers who receive baptism. The recipients are, in effect, dead bodies when they are baptized. “On behalf of the dead” refers to not a third party but “those who are being baptized.” A paraphrase he gives is: “Otherwise what do those hope to achieve who are baptized for their dying bodies? If completely dead are not raised, why then are they baptized for themselves as corpses?” Think this makes sense. “Baptism assumes death and resurrection. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then baptism becomes a pointless rite that falsely represents something that will not happen. The dead will not rise.”

Think this offers the most reasonable interpretation.

(1) David E. Garland, Baker Exegetical Commentary On The New Testament: 1 Corinthians, Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, 716-719.



“There is now no condemnation for the ones in Christ Jesus.”
February 5, 2011, 2:22 pm
Filed under: 1A - Spiritual Notes, L Letter to Romans

I had a dialogue with a brother on facebook related to whether or not a follower of Christ can be condemned, e.g. due to learning to put off the flesh and putting on Christ. I believe the answer is yes and no. It depends. Pretty wishy washy, yes, I know. :). This also included a review of the text of Romans 8:1 and the textual difference from various manuscripts. The following blog was used to support keeping the added text used in the KJV translation, that condemnation can be shown to occur against Christians (http://av1611.com/kjbp/faq/holland_ro8_1.html). I did not think the author of the text in the blog, Dr. Thomas Holland’s, did a reasonable job to describe the differences in word usage in Scripture and left it open to condemning others, which I could never leave open to doing. Have I not had a clear conscience because of learning to see my flesh as dead, absolutely. But praise God for Jesus Christ who shows me the flesh for what it is, dead, and so to depend on Him who lives in me and is my life! So here is the word study and my conclusion. Blessings brothers and sisters. Here is the edited version from facebook. I wanted to provide me link of the review to Dr. Holland’s thoughts but the link does not allow me to provide comments, oh well.

________________________________________________

I have to say brother that while I understand the textual criticism involved and can accept that it interprets what follows, the author’s last two paragraphs does not hold very well. I did a word study and this is what I found. So this is where I am at with the whole matter. Open to how Christ changes my opinion, lol.

I looked up the passages and words the author of the blog used and he focuses on the translation’s use of the word “condemn” when the original has many different words that do not all mean the same thing, similar yes, but not the same.

The specific word “katakrima” for condemnation in Rom 8:1 is only found in Rom 5:16 and 18 (referring to Christ’s work on the cross) and refers to “the sentence pronounced.”

Another similar word “kataginosko” for blaming, refers to Paul in his blaming Peter for his bigotry in Galatians 2:11 and blaming of the conscience of a body of believers in 1 John 3:20-21.

Another variation of the word, “katadikazo” is used in James 5:6 which warns against condemning others.

Another variation of the word “katakrino” meaning “passing judgment” in Rom 2:1, 14:23 refers to self condemnation due to judging others or not respecting others.

The other references of this variation of the word, such as “katakrino” is for condemning the world such as at Sodom and Gomorrah and during the flood.

I guess what I am learning is that in Christ there is literally no condemnation, sin has been judged by Christ. And as we learn to walk by the life of Christ it is our heart that can condemn us when we do things after the flesh, not having a clear conscience. It is not Christ condemning us it is the flesh that does so, it is the world that does so, and it is the spiritual forces of evil that do so. Blaming by one brother or sister against another is shown only in the case of an apostle against another apostle and done with gentleness and respect. Blessings brother!

_____________________

Word meanings from “Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.”



An Opinion of Two Views of Organic Church

Below is an edited opinion I shared with another brother who asked about the difference between Neil Cole’s organic church focused on Life Transformation Groups (LTGs) and Frank Viola’s organic church focused on being built together.

I’ve read Neil Cole’s books and they almost always focus on the LTGs, with lots of stories of their success. The LTGs appear to be more or less an accountability group with similar kinds of questions from Promise Keepers or a cell church groups accountability groups. (I know, I did both, lol.) One side of the LTG card lists questions you ask each other, e.g. reading the Bible, sharing your testimony, loving others, etc and the other side is a list of different ways to pray for one another, e.g. identifying lost friends to pray for, etc. In fact I find little if nothing at all written by Neil about the fitting of the body of Christ together.

What Neil has generally done is taken away the hierarchy of a church structure and essentially made the cell group or home group a house church. If you read “Cultivating a Life for God” and his updated version “Search & Rescue” you can see his transition from a cell church philosophy to a network organic philosophy. I even messaged Neil about this some time ago on facebook and had a constructive conversation on the topic.

Neil’s approach is essentially the reverse to Frank’s in that Neil believes we should focus on mainly the 2-3 person accountability groups that reproduce to form more 2-3 person groups in order to disciple the nations and build the Kingdom of God. This lends itself to appearing works focused. I guess with the focus on “making disciples” the organic church life will handle itself. Neil’s philosophy is that every believer is a church planter, who is called to make disciples. I do not agree with that statement.

I’ve read all of Frank Viola’s books. Frank Viola’s focus is more on learning to allow the Spirit to fit the body of Christ together and allowing Christ to express Himself through the full functioning of the body to build up the body and then that expression grows to neighbors/friends/coworkers forming churches organically. Then the Spirit calls out those with apostolic functioning to share the message and form churches where He calls. Frank tends to focus on body life with the philosophy that in body life making disciples is done by the community together enabling Christ to express Himself through each person as He desires.

In my opinion, I’m more inclined to see Frank’s view of organic church life is more wholly organic than Neil’s. Frank’s view is one where the Spirit does the building of the body together with focus on Christ alone and not a system to focus on. As a result it tends to be messier, enables Christ to show the flesh as dead, which isn’t pretty in community, and to put on Christ together, and see His life expressed in a way that actually is shown in the New Testament letters of the apostles.

Neil comes from a cell church background and for those from that form of church LTGs would seem to be a good fit. This might be a good fit for some leaving the institutional church to more freely function in the body of Christ but still enjoy the accountability focus of the cell church. For me, I’ve got no taste for institutionalism in any form. I do have to admit that Neil does bring up some excellent strategies regarding expressing Christ in the work place, the Luke 10 type that Tony & Felicity Dale promote in “The Rabbit and the Elephant” who are the advocates for “simple church.” I have used some of his strategies related to expressing Christ at the middle school that I work at and facilitate/initiate a more organic form of gathering among students. I do not believe God has called me to an apostolic functioning but only to provide a place to enable students to learn to gather freely and to learn Christ together. With Frank’s books I have seen a vision of the body of Christ and the importance of relating to one another by the life of Christ with a focus on relationships, since our God is all about relationships.

The bottom line is that while I prefer the understanding of organic church life and the learning to express Christ through the building of the body of Christ together in close community described by Frank Viola, the stories shared by others such as Neil Cole and Tony & Felicity Dale have merit when expressing Christ with neighbors/friends/co-workers. My hope is that we do not condemn one another for our perspective or opinions of organic church life, or divide the body of Christ in our minds, but to learn from each other, not supposing someone is more right than another, but let us be “fully convinced in his own mind.” At least this is how I see it from my perspective.

Some time ago an excellent interview was conducted by Keith Giles (http://subversive1.blogspot.com/) between Neil Cole’s and Frank Viola’s organic church thoughts. It is a long interview but provides some excellent insight in understanding the nature of the body of Christ and living by the life of Christ organically and some differing opinions. Here is a link to that interview: http://frankviola.wordpress.com/2010/09/07/missional-organic-church-an-interview-with-neil-cole-frank-viola/