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Introduction to Personal Bible Study - Videos (2007)

4 short introductory video studies First recorded in 2007, posted to GodTube in 2010  These short videos were made nearly 14 years ago. ...

Saturday, October 29, 2022

The Believer's Duty to Those in Authority - Part 2

 Let's look quickly at the two passages before us in Paul's epistles. Let us rightly divide them. The oft-referenced passage in Romans 13 needs to be carefully dissected.  


Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.


We read these directions in light of the Acts Age. The Apostles had the authority to subject believers under their authority (1 Cor 4:21). There is an assumption in this passage that the rulers that are addressed are ruling righteously. Whether temporal or spiritual, leaders are subject to God's standards. 

Believers are given a clear command in Acts 5:29, "Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men." There is no ambiguity here. Even in an earthly context, the spiritual (that which comes from God) holds both civil authority and believer in submission to the will of God. When the civil authority acts in accordance with the will of God, such action is to be recognized and honored.

If I commit a robbery, the state is the vessel charged with administering some form of justice. In doing so, they act in accordance with the will of God. The spiritual powers should also act accordingly in their sphere. In both instances, to be in the will of God, the punishment must be consistent with justice (not too harsh, not too lenient). 

The Apostles did not carry the sword. They did not mete out the death penalty, etc. Paul is telling the Romans that their faith is no excuse for wicked actions and does not annul the right of the state to mete out justice, even the penalty of death if it is warranted. As we will see, Paul refers back to the earthly law of God in the Ten Commandments as a guide. 

To emphasize the place of civil government as a tool of the Lord, we again look to God's expectation of the state in the carrying out of its duties:

'By Me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By Me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth' 
-Prov. 8:15-16
Let's take a quick look at this passage in the Far Above All translation:

By me, kings reign,
And potentates legislate justice.
By me princes rule, and leaders
All those who administer justice.

Civil authorities are to "legislate" and "administer" JUSTICE, Hebrew "tsedeq," often translated righteousness in regard to the Lord. We also note that the powers on the earth are connected to the principalities and powers in the heavens. They can be tools of injustice as well as tools of justice. This is an important distinction we must make when speaking of obeying authorities.


'The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia'. 'And now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come ... there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince'

-Daniel 10:13,20,21


I'll pause here and defer to a mind much wiser than my own:


'The idea of sinister world powers and their subjugation by Christ, is built into the very fabric of Paul's thought, and some mention of them is found in every epistle except Philemon. There is the Satan who is constantly frustrating Paul's missionary work (1 Thess. 2:18; 2 Cor. 12:7). There is the mystery of lawlessness which Paul at one time believed to be on the point of open rebellion against God (2 Thess. 2:7). There are the elemental spirits of the world by which both Jew and Gentile were held in bondage, and which appear to have close links with the law on the one hand and with astrology on the other (Gal. 4:3; Col. 2:8,20). There is the god of this age who "has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not behold the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ" (2 Cor. 4:4). There is the ruler of the authority of the air who is also described as the spirit now at work among the sons of disobedience (Eph. 2:2). There are the rulers of this age who crucified the Lord of Glory and thereby compassed their own downfall (1 Cor. 2:6). There are the principalities and authorities over which Christ celebrated His triumph on the Cross (Col. 2:15). In spite of this defeat, the world-rulers of this darkness are still operative, and the Christian must wrestle with them (Eph. 6:12); they still hold the whole creation in bondage to futility, though they cannot separate the Christian from the love of God (Rom. 8:20,38). But the day must come when every principality and every authority and power will yield to Christ, since "He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet" (1 Cor. 15:25). This, however, is not Paul's last word concerning the destiny of the powers, for he came to believe that they were created beings, created in and for Christ, whether thrones or lordships or principalities or authorities (Col. 1:16; 2:10), and that it was God's purpose that they should be reconciled to Him by the blood of the Cross (Col. 1:20), that angelic as well as human tongues should confess Jesus as Lord, that to the principalities and authorities in the heavenly places there might now be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God' (Eph. 3:10). 
-Principalities and Powers by G. B. Baird

We have enemies who rule from high places. There are powers of darkness among us. There are wicked rulers who make themselves the enemies of God. These must be taken into account when deciding to what degree we are to obey any earthly authority. Cicil authorities may be ordained of God, but they may still act unjustly and may be influenced by principalities and powers in the heavenly places. We must obey God rather than man when there is a conflict. 

For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand...

-Romans 13:6-12a

Just as I am not above abuse of God's grace or a failure to uphold the calling to which I have been called, so too can the authorities raised up by God fail to uphold righteous judgment. Sometimes, God allows us the ruler we want (as he did with Saul and with the Northern Kingdom) to reveal what unjust rule is like. 

"The night is far spent, the day is at hand" gives us the theme of the Acts Age: the soon-coming tribulation and then return of the Lord to receive his earthly rulership and Kingdom. Paul appeals to the Law of Israel. He is thus stating that suffering for defying these commands is to be expected (whether brought upon him by the Apostolic leadership or by the state). Paul refers to the overarching command of the Lord in his summation of the Law, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." If this is followed, the believer need not fear condemnation from any authority. 

We are to act justly in any age. The state will be judged if it acts unjustly. In the Acts Age, they saw Herod drop over dead immediately. In this age, we live in the silence of God. But even in his silence, the Lord still judges by his standards. That is, a Herod may not drop dead before us today, but we are still to recognize an unjust ruler if he/she simply does not give God the glory (according to God's standards)

And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.

-Acts 12:21-23

This further clarifies the command to obey the civil authorities. If a civil authority refuses to acknowledge God, we may be subject to their system of justice, we we can be assured that God has already judged them to have failed as the ordained of God.

Peter reminds us of some of the sins possible for a believer (adding to Paul's multiple lists):

If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a wrongdoer, or a mischief-maker; yet if one suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but under that name let him glorify God.

-1 Peter 4:14-16

The state is just to punish the believer who is guilty of murder, thievery, etc. (note that these sins do not make one "not a believer,"  just not a good servant).  But if one suffers as a believer, should he believe the civil authority is just in doling out the punishment? Of course not. If a government acts unjustly, it is no longer in God' will.


Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior...

-1 Timothy 2:1-3


As Paul directed me, I pray for those in the authority for the expressed purpose that I might live a quiet and peaceable life. That in no way requires me to submit to their wicked decrees. Obey the speed limit? Sure. No problem. Turn in my neighbor for having a Bible or a gun (that day will come), nope. Not gonna obey that. 

"Have you any dissenters in your basement? The law requires you tell us!"

"Nope. Nobody here but us peasants, sir."


Part of my prayer should be that God guide them despite their own hearts. 

We should be ready to die in defense of the will of God. I'm not suggesting you disagree with that. I'm just summing up the position that defiance is often the will of God. Serving the state is easier than serving God. Delayed reward is harder to seek than immediate relief. We must focus on things above and seek to please the Lord first. Just as we do all things before his eyes (Col 3:22-23), we will be judged for our obedience to him above obedience to the state. 

Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.

-Exodus 14:12 


This is short-sighted, carnal thinking. It was the better choice for the children of Israel that they did not submit to Pharaoh's army and commands and instead trusted in the stated will of God. Fortunately, the faithful followed Moses as God had commanded. We stop only to encourage the reader to seek out the word "better" in the Book of Hebrews. Often getting "better" things comes with patience and a focus on the will of God despite what is happening around us. Delayed blessings, as it were.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Grace Alone that Purifies Now And Later

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

-Titus 2:11-14


When we think of the grace of God, we need to pull the lens back and realize the tremendous breadth of this word.  God's grace has always been the only way for a sinner to be reconciled to a thrice holy God. God's holiness is so great, we cannot comprehend its full glory. Our sin is so offensive to God's holiness that inconceivably great grace is the only possible remedy to reconcile inconceivably great holiness.

The Law was given to make sin (which already existed) even more sinful. The Law being holy and good serves to expose the wickedness in even the chosen children of Abraham to who it was given.


Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

-Romans 7:12-14

 

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

-Romans 8:2-4


Yet so many men (even many who take the name of Christ) believe somehow trough the works of their own hands they can approach God's holiness or add to what Christ accomplished on our behalf. They actually believe they can put God in their debt and through their own efforts they can force God to grant them forgiveness and resurrection life for the ages to come.

This is the pride of men from which we must rise if we want to start to understand grace. 

The idea men have of a "saint" is one whose works are so tremendous and numerous that God is obligated to take care of that one forever. In fact, the Roman doctrine teaches that some have such an overabundance of good works that he/she can put those works onto my account. So, God is then obligated to take care of me forever based not only the work of Christ, not only the works of my hands, but on account of the works of others. 

The Roman doctrine of Purgatory teaches that Christ's work is not able to deliver from the flames, but the works of "Saints" and even my family and friends can. Christ and the cross are robbed of the glory. Men have sought since the foundation of the ages to rob God of His glory. May it never be said of us!

According to the doctrines of visible and ecclesiastical Christendom (as far as our fate and hope are concerned), we owe our blessings in the heavens not only to the work of Christ on Calvary, but also to our own works, and to the works of others (via sacraments, blessings, etc.). They may have an outward appearance of piety, but just as with the whited sepulchres who opposed the Lord's earthly ministry, religious men in our age exalt their own works.


And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

-2 Cor 11:14-15


The religious institutions of our day, as that in the time of the Lord's earthly ministry, demand we give them titles, demand we look to the for blessings and even for the forgiveness of sins. They demand of us our money with the promise of the forgiveness of sin. The Catholic Church is not alone in this exaltation of a clergy class, to some degree, so do all organized "churches" in our day.   

The Orthodox look to their priests for blessings. This is brief summation in their own words:

 

It is important to show respect and reverence to Orthodox priests and bishops when greeting them. After all, they are not just “one of the boys.” They serve as your spiritual fathers, your guides. They are icons of Christ we should all seek to emulate. When you kiss their hands, you show respect for their office — they are the ones who “bless and sanctify” you and who offer the holy gifts on your behalf. So, next time you greet your priest or bishop, do not shake his hand. Instead, ask for his blessing.


They stand between the believer and Christ. Blessings and sanctification are sought through them. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, but alone this is offensive to the work of the Savior and to his overabundance of inconceivable grace. It has the markings of holiness as it denies the true ugliness of sin, by diminishing Christ and exalting sinful men. 


Bishops and priests are bearers of grace. They are called to guide and sanctify the faithful and to call down upon them God’s blessing... In bestowing a blessing, a priest makes the sign of the Cross, holding his fingers in such a way that they represent the initial letters of the Lord’s name, Jesus Christ. In order to receive a blessing upon meeting a bishop or a priest, one joins his hands, right over left, palms upward, and says, "Bless me, Father," to a priest, or "Bless me, Vladyka (Master)," to a bishop. The blessing should then be received with faith that one will receive God’s grace. On receiving a blessing, one kisses the hand that gives the blessing, as if kissing the invisible hand of the Savior.


Glory and Never-Ending Life can be attributed to, under the understanding of most of Christendom, to:

  • Christ
  • Plus My works
  • Plus the blessings of a clergy
  • Plus The works of others who have fully redeemed themselves 
  • Plus the intervention of an earthly "church" 

In some corners, faith in Christ isn't even necessary. John Paul II taught (and the Catholic Catechism teaches) that Muslims may attain salvation, albeit imperfectly, via Islam. 

“But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place among whom are the Muslims: these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”

-Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium 16, November 21, 1964 
(repeated in the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church)


Note the inclusion of "in the first place" which places the Muslim ahead of even the Jew. Now, the Jew and the Muslim are in the same boat, as it were. Without faith in Christ Alone, both are lost, neither has hope. This would reflect the historic condemnation of the Jews by the Roman Church clearly stated by Pope IV is "Cum nimis absurdum." In that papal decree, Jews had to live in Roman ghettoes, wear yellow markers on their clothing, and were forbidden from holding professional jobs. Sound familiar?

The word "absurdum" is based on this in the opening. It was deemed "absurd" to deny the condemnation of Jews to eternal slavery. 

 

"Since it is absurd and utterly inconvenient that the Jews, who through their own fault were condemned by God to eternal slavery..."


This idea of condemnation is applied to all those outside of Romanism by previous ad later Popes and Councils. This idea was not isolated to Paul IV. We choose just one example.


It firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart “into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels," unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is so strong that only to those remaining in it are the sacraments of the Church of benefit for salvation, and do fastings, almsgiving, and other functions of piety and exercises of Christian service produce eternal reward, and that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.

-Pope Eugene IV ("Cantate Domino" AD1441)


 This entry is not an exhaustive defense of the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice nor the sufficiency of grace alone and faith alone. Those arguments can be found elsewhere. I just want to focus on the power of grace before and after one comes to rest in Christ. The quotes above reflect the teaching from the largest entity in Christendom and the denial of the sufficiency of Christ (which reflects itself in its contradictory understanding of grace).

In our passage from Titus 2, we see the reason for living a Godly life and the source of the power to live a Godly life. We do not do this to obtain or maintain a free gift, we seek to liv righteously because we have been redeemed.

We were redeemed by Christ alone so He could call a people unto Himself. He gave Himself as a sufficient sacrifice so we could redeem us from iniquity. 

 

our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good work


He finds us where we are and His gift creates in us a new nature. From that moment the war has begun. As a redeemed people we   are zealous of good works in the new nature as our old nature rebels against the new order. We "should" seek to live soberly for two reasons.


For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age


The grace of God teaches us that we "should live" righteously. Now, the second reason has to do with "this present age." Would we dare conclude that, in other ages, believers had no call on their lives to live righteously? Of course not. But in this present age we are looking for what they knew not: the sudden appearing (Gk: epipháneia) of the Lord Jesus Christ. 


looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ


We close this short study with a reminder from Titus 3:3-8:


For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.


We are saved according to God's mercy made possible in Christ, and because of this wonderful gift, we should be careful to maintain good works. But grace never wavers.

The servant has a choice. The consequences of his choice will determine his judgment of works in an age to come. But he will never face the damnation of death as that debt has been fully paid. Choose to walk in the new nature.


For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?


In the Acts age, those under grace could commit terrible sins (as they can to this day, even in the present age), but they would always remain in that body. 1 Corinthians 5 and 6 list many terrible sins possible for the believer who walks in the flesh and not according to the new nature, but we will point out just one which illustrates our point.

 

Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.

In the current age, as in Titus. we are similarly encouraged by our Apostle in Ephesians.


I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the calling wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love...


After receiving the Lord's gracious gift of Life through his name by faith, we have a choice as to how we will walk. We can walk in the new nature or in the old nature. One is the way of peace and blessing and the other way is the way of misery and loss (perdition).

But despite all these warnings and admonitions, grace never wavers. Never.

Christ's work was absolute, pure, sufficient, holy, and perfect. Suggest even the slightest doubt of its ability to save to the uttermost is to blaspheme the only Savior and the Father who accepted His work of salvation. 

 

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Should We Follow the Pattern of the "Early Church?"

I have heard often from many believers how we need to follow the pattern of the "early church" (The Acts church and/or the church before Constantine). But what is the pattern of the early church that we see in the Acts age? Is anyone actually following the pattern? Should we even be trying?


These are just a few of the patterns of that church:

  • · They raised people from the dead and drank deadly things unharmed (Mark 16)
  • · They were waiting for the Kingdom to be restored in Israel (Acts 1)
  • · They promised that if Israel repented, God would send Jesus to restore all things (Acts 3)
  • · They sold everything they had, gave proceeds to the Apostles, lived communally (Acts 2, 4)
  • · Lying to the Holy Spirit brought immediate death (Acts 4)
  • · Some were called to preach to Jews only (Acts 11, Gal 2)
  • · Apostles to the circumcision wrote to believing Israel (James 1; 1 Peter 1)
  • · Jewish believers still met in synagogues (James 2; Acts 15)
  • · They had separate rules for Jewish and Gentile Believers (Acts 15, 21; Rom 11)
  • · Gentile believers came under Leviticus 17 - Eating kosher, etc. (Acts 15, 21)
  • · Gentile believers could be cut off from the root which was Israel (Rom 11)
  • · Gentile believers were not get haughty against Israel
  • · Gentile believers had a duty to support Jewish believers (Rom 15)
  • · They preached the fulfilment of the promises made to the fathers (Rom 9; Rom 15)
  • · Evangelists went to Jewish synagogues to preach to Jews first in every city with Jews (Acts 17)
  • · They observed the Jewish feasts (Acts 18)
  • · Taught Jewish believers to circumcise their sons (Acts 21)
  • · They taught nothing that was not taught by Moses and the Prophets (Acts 26, 28)
  • · They looked for the Hope of Israel (Acts 28)
  • · Paul was bound in chains for the Hope of Israel (Acts 28)
  • · It is better that very few marry (1 Cor 7)
  • · Widows should not remarry (1 Cor 7)
  • · They had instant knowledge and performed miracles (1 Cor 12, etc.)

If we want to go back before the cross (in the gospels):

  • · John the Baptist and the Lord preached "the Gospel of the Kingdom" (Matt 4, 9; Mark 1)
  • · That gospel had no cross, no resurrection, and required repentance.
  • · The structure had a Sanhedrin and a death penalty for use of certain words (Matt 5)
  • · They healed the sick and raised the dead (Matt 10)

· Entrance into that Kingdom is by faith, then by works and faithfulness and the message was to the Jew only until Acts 10 and then to the Jew first until the end of the Acts age:

  • · The 12 were forbidden to  preach to Gentiles or outside of Israel (Matt 10)
  • · They didn't give that which was for Israel to little dog Gentiles (Matt 15)
  • · They told no man Jesus was the Christ, they were commanded so by the Lord (Matt 16)

After the Acts:

  • · Paul was in chains for Gentiles (Eph 3)
  • · He revealed a truth hidden from Moses and the Prophets and revealed only to him (Eph 3)
  • · The middle wall of partition between Jew and Greek seen in the Acts age was taken down
  • · The hope no longer was the restoration of the kingdom in Israel, but "unsearchable riches" in the far above the heavens where Christ sits at the right hand of the Father
  • · This truth was hidden from "BEFORE" the foundation of the ages. Before Adam. Before Eden. Before Abraham. Before the Law and not subject to it. It has no earthly hope
  • · All the latter (Law, Israel, Kingdom, Acts) were revealed "SINCE" or "FROM" the foundation of the ages
  • · We have to study, take medications, etc., because there are no longer Kingdom gifts.

In Paul's last book (2 Timothy) he notes:

This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me


Paul was abandoned. We see this starting in the Book of Philippians.


Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains


The "early church" (Post Acts, before Constantine) was in bad shape by the end of Paul's life. Many had turned back to Jewish ordinances and doctrines (Phil 3, Col 2-3, etc). Many had rejected what Paul had revealed as the current hope in the Book of Ephesians, continuing in his Post-Acts epistles. 

We must avoid going back.

For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace (Eph 2)
For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. (Phil 3)

Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances (Col 2)

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Tim 2)


Some good news, widows, you can get married again in this age! In fact, you SHOULD remarry! (1 Tim 5). Why the change? Because we're waiting neither for Tribulation nor a City from God nor an Earthly Kingdom. Paul advised the believers in Corinth to not bother to marry, unless they just couldn't control themselves (1 Cor 7). The calling of that age was abstinence. Is that being taught today?

While we're in the early church, hopefully this should spread some light on the supposed "authority" of the so-called "early church fathers."  Post Acts, error was rampant and most had abandoned Paul. The ECF are no more authoritative than you or I.  

Summation: we see nothing like the "early church" today and, apart from things like compassion, they are not our pattern. Those claiming to follow the pattern of the earl church and/or yield to the supposed "authority" of "church fathers" are like those in Asia during Paul's life. We must not abandon Paul, the great Apostle of this age.


Related:


Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Which Generation Is the Lord Referencing in Luke 17

But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.

-Luke 17:25

 

Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.

-Luke 21:32

Just a short study on how to understand "this generation." Of what generation does the Lord speak in these verses and passages?

There are two settings answering two sets of questions in the return of the Lord passages. As with certain things spoken in the Acts age, some things were conditional (e.g. Peter's offer to Israel in Acts 3). We also see in these return verses the Lord's appearance in the clouds:

"They shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." 

-Luke 21:27

If the first part is treated as literal, so must the last.

"And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."

-Matthew 24:31

This is suggestive that the prior is conditional. That is, there are other things in this passage that have not come to pass. That is, if the condition is "all be fulfilled," clearly we are not there, this the generation in sight is not in sight. Had Israel repented, perhaps it would have been that generation listening to the Lord, but clearly not all has been fulfilled and the Lord has not returned in the clouds.

"geneá" [translated generation] is used 13x in Matthew. The general understanding is a reference to a specific people group. You can look up the references if you wish. A "40-year group" doesn't quite fit. 

Just one example, Matt 11. The group addressed is the specific group in his presence, not a 40-year window of people, 

"But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented." 

He then goes on to condemn them for the rejection of John the Baptist and accusing the Lord of having a devil. The "they" in those verses refers to those people, not a 40-year window of people. "This generation" is to be understood in its context. 

There is word left untranslated in the KJV, Luke 21:32. It is the Greek word "ἄν." Some KJV bibles put asterisks there to show its absence since they weren't sure what to do with it. Strong's defines its use: "usually untranslatable, but generally denoting supposition, wish, possibility or uncertainty" [emphasis mine].

More from Strong's: ἄν (1), a particle indicating that something can or could occur on certain conditions, or by the combination of certain fortuitous causes.

The HELPS Word Study notes, "not easily translatable, it always conveys important meaning. (The KJV sometimes translates an as "perchance," "haply"). It further adds, "ἄν is used about 300 times in the NT, introducing statements that have conditional or hypothetical meaning."

So we have this insertion by the Holy Spirit of an uncertainty. Certainly not an uncertainty as to the fulfillment of prophecy, but an uncertainty (from our perspective) as to when, and therefore, as to whom that "generation" who witnesses those things will be. 

Let's look at the greater context of Luke 21:32

Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away ἄν till all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

Clearly this is a conditional statement. The listeners cannot know of which generation the Lord speaks. Whatever generation is represented, it must be the generation witnessing the "things happening" from the sermon in the chapter. We have the conditional ἄν inserted by the Holy Spirit.

We should not miss another clue: the Kingdom of heaven will be near. The Kingdom of Heaven did not come to fruition to the generation the Lord was addressing in Luke. We can thus conclude there is a yet a a generation to come that will witness the Lord's prophetic words coming to pass and it will be they who will not pas away until all things come to pass.


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