JohnSWilson3 Blog


“…looking at the final expression of their manner of life…”
October 28, 2012, 1:58 pm
Filed under: Q - Letter to Hebrews

In this last section of the Letter to Hebrews, after encouraging the brothers and sisters to keep on loving one another, ways that express the fullness of Christ the author points to those who help with the body in expressing Christ. Sadly this verse and others similar to it have been mistranslated to focus on “leaders” or “rulers” in the “church,” to form a systematic doctrine of hierarchy in the body of Christ instead of its’ original meaning. How quick the flesh is in changing the subject from Christ, our Leader, to those who would usurp His Headship of His body.

Chapter 13 and verses 7 and 8 translated by F.F. Bruce is: “Remember your guides, those who declared the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their manner of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, yes, and for ever.” (1)

Some thoughts about the translation: Almost every translator will comment that “hēgoumenōn” means either leaders, rulers or guides, but will always translate the word as leaders or rulers not guides because only bishops, preachers and apostles speak the word of God and have a ministerial office. (2) The word “declared” or “spoke” means to communicate. Communication is more than just speaking as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13. How we communicate speaks volumes. “The word of God” uses the singular masculine form of “logos” for “word” and can mean “the Word of God” describing our indwelling Christ. “Consider” has the sense of beholding or “looking at” something intently. (3) “Result” or “outcome” has the sense of a final expression of something. “The way of life” or “manner of life” is also translated “conduct.” Because the context is “the word of God” is in relation to a ministerial office, according to institutional bias, the KJV translates “conduct” as “conversation” but it means the outward expression or life of something. Perhaps the thought the author intended was to remember those who communicated the life of Christ to the brothers and sisters, looking at the final expression of their manner of life?

These brothers and sisters, when they first gathered together to learn Christ, to live by Him, were founded only on Christ, just like every New Testament ekklesia. They were called to live together by faith with love for one another with Christ alone as Head. These brothers and sisters have been through some tough times, times that have caused some of them to forget their focus and fall back to Judaism, to cultural religious traditions. It is the thought throughout the letter. Often, especially in a culture where religion is the culture, to live by Christ whose life is not about religion would bring persecution and ostracism and one would be tempted to fall back to it. But the author has continuously, throughout this letter, reminded them to not forget, to remember, to think back to their foundation, to fix their eyes on Jesus even in the midst of these terrible times.

In the great chapter of faith, Chapter 11, the author encouraged them to remember God’s people who through faith withstood the assaults of the enemy. Then in Chapter 12, the author encourages them to fix their eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. God’s people have always had to trust in the Lord in difficult circumstances, for some reason it is often how we learn Christ. It is easy to love those who agree with us, but how difficult it is to love those who we disagree with, even those who would hate and persecute us, even from family members. That is God’s kind of love, that’s the love He desires to be expressed, a love that is learned together in community and expressed to our family, friends, and neighbors. A faith that is actually authored and perfected by Christ Himself! It has been rightly been said that the gospels show us the physical life of Christ, when He physically lived on this earth, but as pointed out by Frank Viola and many others, it is also the kind of life we will live together as His body. To look at the gospels is to look at how the life of the body will be expressed, because Christ is our life. The gospels show the fullness of the Godhead expressed to the world, can we think our life together would be any different?

Because Jesus Christ of the gospels, and the One pictured in the entirety of the Old Testament, is the same Jesus Christ who dwells in us by His Spirit and will always be the same Jesus Christ in the future, for in Him dwells the Godhead bodily, then He is the One we are to fix our eyes on, the One we are to live by together. These brothers and sisters saw the faith, the life of Christ expressed by those before them in their gatherings, what they went through and the final expression of Christ in them. How today we need brothers and sisters who have lived this kind of life, those whom God uses to help guide the body to live by Him. Perhaps that is you and me, perhaps we are all meant to be helping guide the body as we live by Him. How easy it can be to fall back to the flesh, to bring in the cultural and religious traditions or expectations around us into our gathering together, various things and perhaps even strange things. The author points out that only grace can make firm our hearts. (4) And just like faith, grace comes from the One who is full of grace and truth.

(1) F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews (Revised), The New International Commentary on the New Testament, 1990, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 374.
(2) “Parallel Commentaries” at http://bible.cc/hebrews/13-7.htm.
(3) Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 669.
(4) W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 121.

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The Love of the Body of Christ
October 28, 2012, 2:16 am
Filed under: A Gospel According to Matthew

The love of the body of Christ is like a rainbow of many colors. Just as the rainbow has many colors and each from the same light so too the love of the body of Christ looks different by each member but each is an expression of the One life of the Spirit of Christ who lives within them.

If we were to take just the gospel of Matthew and look at how Jesus loved others it could give us a glimpse at how the body of Christ, living organically by Christ, loves others today. But this love is corporate and multifaceted, just like a perfectly formed diamond, each member expressing a beautiful facet of the life of Christ to one another, their family, friends, co-workers, and those they meet along the way. As you read these brief glimpses from the gospel of Matthew think of it as the body of Christ today living by His life, loving by faith in the various circumstances of life:

“Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John…he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him…led by the Spirit…he was hungry…Jesus answered him…he withdrew…Jesus began to preach…was walking beside the Sea…he saw…Jesus called them…teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people…Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man…he was amazed…Jesus came into Peter’s house…He touched her hand…he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick…he got into the boat…Jesus was sleeping…he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves…Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town…Jesus saw their faith…Jesus went on from there, he saw a man…Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him…Jesus got up and went with him…Jesus turned and saw her…Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house…he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up…he touched their eyes…Jesus warned them sternly… Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd…he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns…Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent…Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath…Jesus withdrew from that place…he healed all who were ill. He warned them not to tell others about him…Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see…Jesus was still talking to the crowd…Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake…he got into a boat and sat in it…he told them many things in parables…he left the crowd and went into the house…When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue…When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place…he had compassion on them and healed their sick…After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone…Jesus reached out his hand and caught him…Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon….Jesus did not answer a word…Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down…He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. They all ate and were satisfied…he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan…Jesus then left them and went away….he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees…From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life…Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment…Jesus was the first to speak…He called a little child, whom he placed among them…When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there…Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem…Jesus called them together and said…Jesus stopped and called them…Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him…The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them…he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night…Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry…while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him…Jesus spoke to them again in parables…Jesus had silenced the Sadducees…Jesus left the temple and was walking away…Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives…Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper…When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table…while they were eating, he said…While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples…Then he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them…When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives…he began to be sorrowful and troubled…Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed…They bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor…Jesus stood before the governor…Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge…They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him…They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him…they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it…Jesus cried out in a loud voice…when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit…Suddenly Jesus met them…”

This love of the body of Christ can be seen in the other three gospels, the acts, and the letters of the New Testament. Christ is continuing to build His body here and now until His body is fully expressed, where He is seen as Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd, Teacher. May we live by Him, loving by faith as He leads us as our Head.



Gathering in the Garden
October 12, 2012, 1:53 am
Filed under: 1- Discovering Organic Church Life Testimony

I thought I would post a blog related to a wonderful gathering the young brothers and sisters had this morning before school. It seemed to be more of a time of guiding the brothers and sisters to learn how to participate. I think that God did something wonderful in each heart as they learned to share and hear Christ.

I had been asking Father about how the young brothers and sisters could “break the ice” as they gathered together this morning. The idea of asking the brothers and sisters how they feel when they are in garden came to mind. The Spirit had impressed me earlier with the thought of His people gathering in the garden. I have been thinking of this for sometime, something that has impressed me quite a lot as a result of reading “Jesus: A Theography” by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola.

We had a wonderful group of young people show up, as a result many were not sure how to “interact” with one another. Everyone shared their name and what grade each were in. I asked what they thought was the reason for gathering together. Not many wanted to share. I pointed out how brothers and sisters gathered to be encouraged and strengthened by one another. I noted that when brothers and sisters gathered in the New Testament they brought something of Christ to share, a testimony, a song, expressing love to one another.

I have come to realize that even at an early age the institutional church teaches our youngest brothers and sisters to be nonparticipants in the “one anothers.” But just like the students, adults too, those in Christ, can have difficulty relating to one another because of not having learned to participate in Christ with one another (and I’m still learning).

One of the other facilitators arrived and brought some juice and so we helped serve juice to everyone as we all found our way back to our circle of chairs.

I mentioned to the group that I was going to increase their faith, that is Christ in me. I asked them to think about how they feel or what they like to do when they are in a garden or a forest. Then asked each person to share their thought one at a time. Each brother and sister shared a wonderful thought! Words such as peaceful, smelling flowers, exploring, rest, laying in the grass, climbing a tree, looking for animals, were some of what was shared.

Midway through the sharing a young girl arrived at about this time, her name is Angel. I mentioned to the group that our angel had arrived, :). She was eager to participate with the rest and shared what she felt when she was in a garden.

I then pointed out to the brothers and sisters how each of them said something uniquely different about how they felt or what they like to do in a garden or forest. This is in fact the meaning of gathering together, we each have a measure of faith and gift of Christ to share with one another. If we did not share our measure of Christ we would not have learned something of Christ from you. I then shared how in the beginning God had a garden with Adam and Eve and that God likes gardens and at the end of the ages there will also be a garden. He walked in the midst of the garden. Together we are the garden of God and He is even now walking in our midst. He loves His garden.

I mentioned to the new brothers and sisters how during our time together we often sing songs, either as a group or if you want to sing to the group that would be cool also. The brothers and sisters spent a couple minutes or so looking through the pages of our song book.

One of the brothers asked to sing “Living in the Body of the Lord.” This was funny as the song first begins with the sisters singing the first chorus of the song, and mentioned how in our home church when we meet from house to house that almost always when someone asks to sing this song it is a brother, :). I mentioned the tune was to “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” and guided the sisters in starting the song. It is truly a great song for the ekklesia. In the song are the words “we face unafraid the plans that He’s made.” The thought came to mind and shared with the brothers and sisters that when ever God showed up, or his representative in the Bible the words “don’t be afraid” were almost always mentioned. I pointed out that we should not be afraid of what others will think about we say or do. We love by faith.

Another asked to lead “Here I Am to Worship” and was a wonderful song to sing together. Then another asked to sing “The Revelation Song (Holy, Holy, Holy).” I so love to sing this with the brothers and sisters and was encouraged as well I am sure the other brothers and sisters! I thought about the words “Him who sits on Heaven’s mercy seat.” God prompted me to share to the brothers and sisters after we finished singing that the “mercy seat” was on the ark of the covenant inside the Holy of Holies and that the Holy of Holies was surrounded by a beautiful tapestry embroidered with images of a garden. I then shared with the brothers and sisters that we are the Holy of Holies, the garden where Christ dwells.

It was about this time that we all had to get to out 1st period classes. I asked the brothers and sisters to be ready to share something of Christ when we meet again and to remember that they are God’s garden.