Monday, April 30, 2007

What will YOU do?

I found this article Dated on Thursday, April 26 entitled, "A letter to the Global Church from The Protestant Church of Smyrna."

The City of Izmir (Smyrna) - The article begins by saying,

"Smyrna is an ancient city (today known as Izmir in Turkey) that was founded at a very early period at a central and strategic point on the Aegean coast of Anatolia. It was the second city to receive a letter from the apostle John in the book of Revelation. Acts 19:10 suggests that the church there was founded during Paul’s third missionary journey. Due to the fact that the port city of Izmir houses the second largest population in Turkey today, the site of ancient Smyrna has been little excavated. Excepting the agora, theater, and sections of the Roman aqueduct, little remains of the ancient city."

The tragedy - The article notes,

"On Wednesday morning, April 18, 2007, 46 year old German Christian and father of three Tilmann Geske prepared to go to his office, kissing his wife goodbye and taking a moment to hug his son and give him the priceless memory, “Goodbye, son. I love you.” Tilmann rented an office space from Zirve Publishing. Zirve was also the location of the Malatya Evangelist Church office. A ministry of the church, Zirve prints and distributes Christian literature to Malatya and nearby cities in Eastern Turkey. In another area of town, 35 year old Pastor Necati Aydin, father of two, said goodbye to his wife, leaving for the office as well. They had a morning Bible Study and prayer meeting that some other believers in town would also be attending. Ugur Yuksel likewise made his way to the Bible study. "

But, there were some Muslims who wanted to pay homage to Allah. Here's how:

"On the other side of town, ten young men all under 20 years old put into place final arrangements for their ultimate act of faith, living out their love for Allah and hatred of infidels who they felt undermined Islam. "

The outcome of the persecution-

"The young men got guns, bread knives, ropes and towels ready for their final act of service to Allah. They knew there would be a lot of blood. They arrived in time for the Bible Study, around 10 o’clock. They arrived, and apparently the Bible Study began. Reportedly, after Necati read a chapter from the Bible the assault began. The boys tied Ugur, Necati, and Tilmann’s hands and feet to chairs and as they videoed their work on their cellphones, they brutally tortured our brothers for almost three hours. "

To those who read this blog: I am convinced that this persecution is coming to us faster than we may expect. I am convinced that it will be severe, costly, and faith-testing. In fact, this must be no surprise to us because Jesus Himself said...

John 15:18-19 8 "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 "If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.


2 Timothy 3:12-13 12 And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

If there ever is a day (which I believe is soon to come) when those will enter our Bible Studies and seek to persecute and kill us, may we be those who are strong in our faith, standing on the promises that we have from the Word of God. To God be the Glory great things he has (and will) do!


Friday, April 27, 2007

I'm not joking. I was in Bank of America today and standing in line studying my Greek vocabulary cards. Then the lady in front of me said, "Next in line, please!" So I proceeded to her window and handed her my checks. I didn't really do anything abnormal and I wasn't acting any different than I usually do.

Then the lady said, "Do you live out here?" I answered, "Yes, I'm studying out here." She said, "Oh, at the Master's College." I responded with a smile and said, "I graduated from there but now I'm finishing up at the Master's Seminary and I work in a church."

I could tell almost instantly that she was intrigued that I went to Master's and that there was something different. I don't think these window tellers always get the friendliest people. So I preceded to tell her that I majored in biblical languages and told her that I love studying the Bible (transition into the Gospel conversation). She said, "Oh yes, I've tried to read parts before."

I then said, "What did you think?" She said, "I just don't understand it...Is there something special I have to do to understand it when I read." I wanted to respond very simply, so I then told her to "Pray and ask the Lord to open the eyes of your heart and mind, then just read the Scriptures." Then - no kidding - she asked about 10 questions as she was very very interested in what I was talking about. She told me the book is just "too big to read." I said, "I understand." Then I told her to pick up the fourth book in the New Testament called The Gospel of John. I told her to read just "ONE chapter a day and at the end of three weeks, she will have a summary of the life of Jesus, his sayings, his teachings, his miracles, his crucifixion, what is required of his followers, etc."

She said, "I will...but I don't have a Bible." I said, "Let me run to my car and bring one back for you." Then I bolted out of that bank and went to the car and got her a small: 1) New Testament bookmarked in the Gospel of John for her "easy-find" and 2) A "gospel tract" on repenting of sins and turning to Christ for full and complete salvation.

But here is the point - I walked into that bank with a big smile on my face. She recognized that there was something different. So that opened up a door for the Gospel.

Folks who read this post: Do what one of my heroes of old said: Share the Gospel, and THEN if necessary, use words! Are you living in such a way that people recognize that there is something different about you?

Praise God - Please pray for Alex - She needs to repent of her sin and trust in Christ!
As we continue our look at 1 Timothy 4, I would like to bring to your attention six verses this morning:

1 Timothy 4:11-16 1 Prescribe and teach these things. 12 Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. 13 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. 14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed upon you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. 15 Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

In this short section of verses there are 10 imperatives. That is amazing. Let me break them down for you and hopefully this will spur you on towards Godly living!

1) Prescribe- this word has the idea of "command." It is also found in 1:3 and 1:4 for "commanding ones..." It is a military term used here for young Pastor Timothy to prescribe the dogmatic truths from Scripture. This is his authority. The word of God IS sufficient.

2) Teach these things - again, this is a present active imperative, "you must make it your habit to constantly be teaching these things." This is also the word for doctrine. A Pastor/Teacher must be one who teaches doctrine. He must command certain ones how to live as well as teach them biblical doctrine from the Scriptures.

3) Let no one look down on your youth- This command is from Paul to young Timothy because, apparently, he was timid (2 Tim 1:7). No matter how old a Pastor is. He must not let others look down on his youth. How does he do this? He does this by being an example (Lit. a tupos) for them in: speech, conduct, love, faith and purity.

4) Be an example - If we as Pastors were to heed this and be an example for our flocks in these various ways, our flocks would respect us all the more and follow us more fervently as we seek to exemplify the true Shepherd. The sheep are longing to be led. They are eager to follow the shepherd. May be set for them this example in the way that we live life. May we truly be a "type" or an "example" of Christ (Eph 5:1-2).

5) Give Heed - in verse 13 Paul commands Timothy to give heed to 1) The public reading of Scripture; 2) Exhortation; 3) Doctrine/Teaching. He is to make it his habit to give all his effort and energy to these things in the local church. Do we as Pastors and Shepherds give all of ourselves to the reading of God's Word, to Exhortation and to Doctrine?

6) Do not neglect - the spiritual gift which was given to Timothy through the laying on of the elder's hands is not to be neglected by young Timothy. All this means is that the elders of the church confirmed and validated the office of Pastor/Teacher to young Timothy there in Ephesus. Timothy is commanded to not neglect this gift. He must determine in his heart, soul and affections to always be exercising his gift of pastoring and shepherding his flock at all times.

7) Take pains with these things - The idea here is that with these things (namely, 12-13 - being an example and devoting himself to the public reading, exhortation and doctrine) he must take pains. It is in the negative form meaning that he must "not be unconcerned" with the things of the local church ministry.

8) Be in Them! - this is the positive flip side to the previous imperative. He must "BE in them!" Constantly make it his life goal to be in the Word of God, Exhorting the people of God, and teaching clearly, boldly, accurately and unashamedly the full counsel of God.

9) Give Heed to yourself - This imperative is for Pastor Timothy to never forget that he must always be watching HIMSELF closely. He is their shepherd. He is their leader. He must be careful how he lives, what he believes, how he teaches, what he teaches, etc. He must pay attention to his own life and to his own doctrine and make sure it is characterized by 2 Tim 2:15 - 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.

10) Abide in them - For in so doing these things, Timothy has saves his own soul and he will save the souls of others as the instrument by which God saves a person's soul out of the realm of Satan and into the realm of Light. May we be the shepherds that are constantly abiding in the Word of truth. For it is only the Word of God that can save a person's soul from hell.
I have been informed over the past few weeks that Southern California, specifically, a city in Los Angeles, is the headquarters for the pornographic media distributed throughout the whole world. I have heard this before and I've been told that these people are spoken of as if they were just a "normal business woman going into Bank of America."

Yesterday I was handed a map of this city in the L.A. area, and there were little black dots on the map representing each of the pornographic studios. There were over 130 in an area of no greater than a few blocks.

I have never noticed these studios, nor do I ever want to. However, I wanted to post about this so that we can pray for these people specifically, be awakened as to how really dark, wicked, immoral and "godless" our culture really is.

Sex the way God created it is beautiful! It is to be enjoyed only in the context of marriage. Every other way is absolutely forbidden and wicked in the sight of God. Let us soberly heed the words in Scripture:

1 Thessalonians 4:2-3 2 For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality;

Psalm 37:4 4 Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Instead of delighting in sexual immorality, let us determine to delight ourselves in our Lord. He is the ultimate One who gives eternal pleasure and reward!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Paul notes in this fabulous section in 1 Timothy:

1 Timothy 4:7-9 7 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8 for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance.

I know I will be repeating myself from posts that I have done in the past, but I want to focus on just a few aspects of this text this morning as we continue to crawl through 1 Timothy.

Notice the phrase "discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness" (v.7). Notice the very first two words, "discipline yourself." "Discipline" comes from the Greek word gumnazo from which we have derived our English word "gymnasium." This word gumnazo was used very often in ancient Greek secular writings. It is an athletic term. Specifically it refers to one who is practicing naked time and time again in intense and rigorous training for an athletic competition.

The same word (and concept) is used in Hebrews 12 when "auctor" [this is the beloved title I have given to the writer of Hebrews because I have no idea who it is. All I know is that it is not the Apostle Paul] writes:

Hebrews 12:11 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained (gegumnasiois) by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

Back to 1 Timothy 7. Notice the verb "Discipline yourself!" is in the singular. YOU must take the active form of disciplining yourself. Second of all, it is a present imperative. YOU must constantly, habitually, as a life-long practice be training yourself for Godliness.

In a 6th c. AD context, the word is used "to devote oneself to one's calling." Furthermore, here, specifically in this text, the idea demands concentration on what is inward instead of externally dualistic asceticism (TDNT, 1:775).

Well, what is the purpose of this rigorous and intense training? Verse eight gives the answer: "since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." We must discipline ourselves for godliness because only godliness holds the promise for the present life as well as the one to come. Do you want to be prepared for the life to come? Then be diligently "going to the gym baby!" Train your mind. Saturate your mind with the Word. Live constantly knowing that the eye of your Creator is watching your every move. Work at it! Work at it! Work at it!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

You may be surprised. Biblical forgiveness is absolutely foreign to our culture. What you may think of when you think of "forgiving" someone or someone asking you for "forgiveness" may be vastly different than the biblical concept of forgiveness. I would like to attempt to explain it simply this morning.

In so doing, I need help from my brother, Lou Priolo, who wrote a very fine work that I just finished entitled, The Complete Husband. This was a fabulous work. I recommend it to every single man out there. You can buy it on Amazon for $15 and it is definitely worth the read.

He notes that according to the Bible, when you forgive:

1. You are promising not to bring up the offense again to the forgiven person in the future
2. You are promising not to speak to others about the offense
3. You are promising not to dwell on the offense yourself

Think about it. When we often forgive, we are often quick to say "I forgive you." But often what we really mean is, "OK fine, just don't do it again!" Yet the Scripture makes clear that we never keep a record of wrongs (1 Cor 13:5). We must always be quick to forgive and quick to forget the offenses and NOT hold it against the person. I promise you, if we put these three promises of biblical forgiveness to action in our lives, it will RADICALLY change our relationships - for the better!

Along these same lines, Priolo goes on to quote Jay Adams in saying:

"Obviously, when God forgives us, he does not simply sit in the heavens and emote. So forgiveness is NOT a feeling. If it were, we would never know that we have been forgiven. No, when God forgives, he goes on record. He says so. He declares, “I will not remember your sins” (Isa 43:25; Jer 31:34). Isn’t that wonderful! When He forgives, God lets us know that He will no longer hold our sins against us. If forgiveness were merely an emotional experience, we would not know that we were forgiven. But praise God, we do, because forgiveness is a process at the end of which God declares that the matter of sin has been dealt with once for all. Now what is the declaration? What does God do when he goes on record saying that our sins are forgiven? God makes a promise. Forgiveness is NOT a feeling; forgiveness is a promise" (Priolo, Complete Husband, 108).

I will conclude with a lengthy parable from Matthew 18, but it illustrates the point wonderfully:

Matthew 18:21-35 21 Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" 22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 "For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a certain king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 "And when he had begun to settle them, there was brought to him one who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 "But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 26 "The slave therefore falling down, prostrated himself before him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will repay you everything.' 27 "And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. 28 "But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, 'Pay back what you owe.' 29 "So his fellow slave fell down and began to entreat him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you.' 30 "He was unwilling however, but went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31 "So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 32 "Then summoning him, his lord said to him, 'You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you entreated me. 33 'Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on you?' 34 "And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 "So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart."

Monday, April 23, 2007

2 Thessalonians 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you;

It is in this text that Paul asks the Thessalonians for prayer that the word of the Lord may
spread rapidly. The word literally means "to run."

Let us pray for the following individuals that I know as they are ministering the Word of the Lord at Virginia Tech this week. They will be on campus to be available for biblical counseling. This is nouthetic counseling. It is biblical counseling. This is upholding the Word of God as the completely sufficient and inspired Word of God that is able to comfort us in our time of trials.
I would like to encourage you today as I myself have been encouraged from my study in 1 Timothy 4 this morning. It is in this marvelous section that Paul writes:

1 Timothy 4:6-8 6 In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. 7 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8 for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

I only want to focus on verse six this morning and do verses seven and eight tomorrow. In verse six Paul notes that in pointing out (Lit. "entrusting") these things to the brethren. What are these things? I take it to be referring to that which precedes this verse. Namely, it is referring to verses one through five for a few reasons, but the main one is because he contrasts good doctrine/teaching at the end of v.6 to the doctrine of demons found in v.1ff.

Notice what else Paul says. He says to young Pastor Timothy, if you entrust these truths to the brethren (his church in Ephesus), you will be a good deacon. The Greek word there is diakonos. It has the idea of "one who executes the commands of another," or semantically it literally means "raising dust by hastening." It has the idea of one who is a servant to the King. Isn't that what we really are as believers? We are simply those who serve our Great King! We are those who execute and hasten to obey the commands of another (i.e. "The King of kings). This is a job that does not puff up pride. Rather, it is a humiliating thing. Often the deacons or the servants do the work and yet others get the credit even for the work that we have accomplished. Andthat is okay. Remember what our Lord said:
Matthew 6:3-4 "But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing 4 that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

But what I mainly want to focus on is this phrase, in entrusting these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of faith." That word for "constantly nourished" is entrepho. It means "to constantly nourish or train someone in something." It has the idea of "educating" or "forming the mind."

In spending time in the words of faith, and sound doctrine we will be constantly nourished. Notice finally that it is a present passive participle meaning this nourishment comes constantly, habitually and repeatedly from another. That is, the source is outside of us. It is God's work which nourishes us. May we be the kind of minister of the gospel that is so constantly consumed with the words of faith and good doctrine (from the Scriptures) that we are being nourished daily to best serve the Lord as a diakonos for Christ Jesus our Lord!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

As of late, we have been going through the book of 1 Timothy at a fairly slow rate. I would like to speed this up so I could get through the rest of the Pastorals! :=)

This morning, we continue where we left off last time with Paul in the first verses of 1 Timothy four and his prediction that in the latter times (that is, the church age in which we now live) some will apostasize from the faith thus giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. This is what he says:

1 Timothy 4:1-2 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,

Now we must continue to the next few verses and hear how this plays out in these hypocrites and apostates:

1 Timothy 4:3-5 3 men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods, which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; 5 for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.

My purpose this morning is just to recall your attention to various articles that were brought forth at the end of last year (2006) regarding the fact that:

"The Vatican on Thursday reaffirmed the requirement of celibacy for priests after a summit led by Pope Benedict XVI that was spurred by a married African archbishop who has been excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church."

Now in my Bible - and in the text printed above - the Scriptures spoke of these deceivers saying that marriage is to be forbidden. The verbal participle here has the idea of continuous, habitual action. They will be constantly forbidding marriage. This is exactly what Romanism (i.e. Roman Catholicism) has done through the centuries - even to the present.

More from the article:

"The participants at the reunion were carefully briefed on the requests to receive dispensation from the obligation of celibacy that have been made in recent years and on the possibility of being readmitted to the exercise of the ministry of priests who now meet the conditions required by the church," the statement said.

It seems to me that the Scriptures teach that one ought to get married except for a select few who have the divine privilege of being celibate (Matt 19:10-12). But elsewhere in Scripture you have the clear imperatives that most people are to marry, love their wives/husbands and raise children in a way that honors and glorifies the Savior.

We must hold firm to the Word of God. We understand that from this text alone (1 Tim 4:3) that this specific teaching that "men are forbidden to marry" as a specific dogma is sourced in a deceiving spirit and a doctrine from demons.

We know that:

1 Timothy 4:4-5 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; 5 for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.

Marriage was an institution created by God.

Genesis 2:18 18, 23-25- Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him... 23 And the man said, "This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man." 24 For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

To God be all the glory!

Friday, April 20, 2007

John Wesley has directions for singing. Did you know that? His Directions for Singing are found in the front pages of most Methodist hymnals. It reads as follows:

1. Learn these tunes before you learn any others; afterwards learn as many as you please.

2. Sing them exactly as they are printed here, without altering or mending them at all; and if you have learned to sing them otherwise, unlearn it as soon as you can.

3. Sing all. See that you join with the congregation as frequently as you can. Let not a single degree of weakness or weariness hinder you. If it is a cross to you, take it up, and you will find it a blessing.

4. Sing lustily and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, then when you sung the songs of Satan.

5. Sing modestly. Do not bawl, so as to be heard above or distinct from the rest of the congregation, that you may not destroy the harmony; but strive to unite your voices together, so as to make one clear melodious sound.

6. Sing in time. Whatever time is sung be sure to keep with it. Do not run before nor stay
behind it; but attend close to the leading voices, and move therewith as exactly as you can; and take care not to sing to slow. This drawling way naturally steals on all who are lazy; and it is high time to drive it out from us, and sing all our tunes just as quick as we did at first.

7. Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to do this attend strictly to the sense of what you sing, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually; so shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve here, and reward you when he cometh in the clouds of heaven.
From John Wesley’s Select Hymns, 1761

Also, yesterday I was reading a blog from some excellent expositor's and there was a great post on Matthew 1:21:

The title of the blog was "Thoughts on His People from Matthew 1:21." I thought he did a very good job working through the text and with the historical context in mind. I agree with his conclusion. It is definitely worth the read.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Almost every major newspaper today leads with the news that the Supreme Court reversed course on abortion on Wednesday, upholding the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in a 5-to-4 decision that promises to reframe the abortion debate and define the young Roberts court.

Here is what the New York Times says:

The procedure that has been banned is known medically as “intact dilation and extraction,” involves removing the fetus in an intact condition rather than dismembering it in the uterus. Both methods are used to terminate pregnancies beginning at about 12 weeks, after the fetus has grown too big to be removed by the suction method commonly used in the first trimester, when 85 percent to 90 percent of all abortions take place.

Though the paper says, While the ruling will thus have a direct impact on only a relatively small subset of abortion practice, the decision has broader implications for abortion regulations generally, indicating a change in the court’s balancing of the various interests involved in the abortion debate.

Listen to what President Bush said:

“The Supreme Court’s decision is an affirmation of the progress we have made over the past six years in protecting human dignity and upholding the sanctity of life. We will continue to work for the day when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law.”

The article continues:

“Respect for human life finds an ultimate expression in the bond of love the mother has for her child,” he said, adding: “It is self-evident that a mother who comes to regret her choice to abort must struggle with grief more anguished and sorrow more profound when she learns, only after the event, what she once did not know: that she allowed a doctor to pierce the skull and vacuum the fast-developing brain of her unborn child, a child assuming the human form.”

And it is disheartening to hear the statement from Miss Lederman in saying:

One law professor, Martin S. Lederman of Georgetown University commented after reading Justice Ginsburg’s response on this point that Justice Kennedy’s opinion “was an attack on her entire life’s work.”

In her opinion, Justice Ginsburg said the majority had provided only “flimsy and transparent justifications” for upholding the law, which she noted “saves not a single fetus from destruction” by banning a single method of abortion. “One wonders how long a line that saves no fetus from destruction will hold in face of the court’s ‘moral concerns,’ ” she said.

This is a great thing that has happened. We as Christians must have respect for and a determined effort to preserve human life. For after all, every human being (including those in the fetus) are created in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27).

Every single abortion act is a flat out murder. There is no way around it. It is ending the life of a life inside the mother's womb (Matt 5:21; Rom 1:29; 13:9; James 2:11; 4:2). It will be profitable to look at the James 4 passage a little closer:

James 4:2 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.

The essence of abortion is simply self-worship and idolatry. One aborts a human life because the mother and/or father does not want to have the "burden" of a child. Thus, the parents lust for sexual pleasure through the act of intercourse. Then that produces (hard to believe, I know) a fertilized egg. Because this was not on the "desired list" for the parents while they were enjoying one another in bed, they want to murder the child. That fertilized egg has become an "inconvenience" to them.
Have we ever stopped to consider the "cross?" It at the cross that we were justified and declared righteous before a Holy God. There is a sanctity about human life. May we as Christians uphold this truth biblically and fight against abortion with all our might!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I was reminded once again today in my Exegesis of Zechariah class that God still has a plan for the nation of Israel. The ethnic, Jewish, descendants of Abraham are still in God's plan. Supercessionism (or replacement theology) is a faulty hermeneutic of the Scriptures. This concept is also found elsewhere in Scripture. Take these verses for example:

Jeremiah 31:33-36 33 "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 "And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." 35 Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day, And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name: 36 "If this fixed order departs From before Me," declares the LORD, "Then the offspring of Israel also shall cease From being a nation before Me forever."

Read v. 36 once more:

36 "If this fixed order departs From before Me," declares the LORD, "Then the offspring of Israel also shall cease From being a nation before Me forever."

That is to say, if the fixed order of creation - the moon and the stars - departs and fails before God Almighty. It literally reads, "if these things are removed out of my presence" which can never happen. We know that God is completely omniscient and knows all things. There is nothing that can really be removed "out of his presence."

From this verse alone there is sufficient evidence to prove that the nation of Israel still exists in God's plan of human history. God is faithful. All is about God. Not the Church. Not Israel, but rather, that God's glory be put on display for all to see.

Furthermore, these verses are immediately after v.31 which talk about the "New Covenant" made with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah. This covenant is made with God to the Jewish people.

The Jewish people are still around today and they are living proof that God is a faithful God - a covenant keeping God. He is loyal to all his promises:

2 Corinthians 1:20 20 For as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes; wherefore also by Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Last night I just finished one book that has been on my "to-read" list for quite some time (and unfortunately, my "to-read" list just gets higher and higher and higher). I have about four more books that I intend to read before the wedding day (May 12) in addition to all the seminary work but I think it can be done) and it was absolutely spectacular.

Stuart Scott in his book, The Exemplary Husband, clearly and biblically laid forth the mandate that Christian husbands have to God, to their wives, to their families and to holiness. By far, the most impactful thing to me in the book was that in nearly everything that he said (literally, almost every point), he had a Scripture verse to back it up. It was absolutely awesome. That is a practical example of the sufficiency of Scripture. The Word of God is truly sufficient for all aspects of life - whether it addresses an issue directly or indirectly, the Word of God is all-sufficient.

Hebrews 4:12 12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.


2 Timothy 3:16-17 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

This book really challenged me to rethink and re-evaluate my desires, priorities and heart as I approach marriage. Men, we must be a Godly man before God before we can ever think of being a Godly man to our wives and families. This is the most foundational and crucial truth that every husband needs to hear and understand. If we are not right in our "heart-motive" before God, then everything that we do will be some form of idolatry, that is, making something other than God the reason for doing certain activities.

The Apostle John addresses this when he says:

1 John 5:21 21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols.

May we be men who are firmly committed 1) To God; 2) To our Wives; 3) To our families; and then 4) To our ministries/jobs, etc

To God be the glory. May we learn to love our wives as Christ truly, sacrificially, genuinely, faithfully, uncompromisingly, unilaterally, unequivocally and patiently loved the church!

Monday, April 16, 2007

I am looking in my closet right now and I have only three articles of clothing there. I have one pair of dark gray dress pants, one white collared dress-shirt and one pair of blue-jeans.

That's kind of sad eh? I am moving and I am so "discombobulated" (is that a word?) with all my stuff being scattered in two different apartments.

I am departing from Villa La Paz #211 - with Tyler, Sean and Chris. What a bunch of goofy fellaz. This picture gives you a good idea as to what goes on here

I am departing to Villa La Paz #101 - with my new wife, Elizabeth - well... May 12 is our date. I will be getting situated there and getting the rest of my semester coursework done at this new apartment these last few weeks that I have before marriage :=)
This is a good idea of what I'll be like these last few weeks before marriage as I crank out Aramaic, Zechariah homework, sermons for homiletics class and book reviews for Historical Theology:

Genesis 2:18 18 Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." :=)
1 Timothy 4:1-2 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,

In this text, Paul writes that the latter times some will aposteisontai from the faith. The idea chronologically is that the "latter times" refers to the period from the ascension of our Lord continuing through the present until that future day when the Lord Jesus returns again to receive His church. The terms "last days" (Heb 1:2) and the "latter times" (1 Tim 4:1) are those marking the present "church age."

The Spirit says that some during these last days will "fall away" (NASB); "depart" (KJV, ESV); "desert" (NET); "abandon" (NIV) from the faith. The Gk verb here aposteisontai has the root idea of "withdrawing," "to depart," "to fall away." Significantly, the verb is in the middle tense (thus giving more emphasis to the reflexive nuance to the verb). That is, some will 'withdrawal themselves completely out of.'

Why would some do this? Well it is plain that if some ever fall away from the faith, it is good indication that they were first of all never in the faith. Paul continues by saying that as they are apostasizing from the faith, they are "giving heed to" (present participle signifying the ongoing, habitual, constant nature of this verbal adjective) evil spirits and doctrines of demons. As far as what these "evil spirits are and the doctrines of demons" Paul will further explicate this in the next few verses.

Verse two gives a brief list as to what these apostates will do:

1 Timothy 4:2 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,

They will be 1) hypocrites putting on a show that they are religious but really they are "just acting" or putting on another "face;" 2) speaking falsely/liars; and 3) seared by their own (evil) consciences. They will have been hardened to the truth for quite some time that to apostasize and leave the faith does nothing to their conscience. In essence, their consciences have not been trained - according to the Scriptures. Thus, when they are living a life of hypocrisy, habitually speaking lies and other evils their consciences will not alert them that something is wrong because they did NOT train their minds for godliness.

It is during the church age (in which we now live) that is synonymous with "the latter days." We are seeing this reality come to fruition before our very eyes in today's contemporary evangelical world. Many 'churchgoers,' 'religious leaders,' 'pastors,' 'elders,' etc. are apostasizing from the faith because they are convinced that holding fast to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons is more appealing.

When you see leaders of national evangelical organizations fall because of habitual sexual sin, when you see good friends "convert" from biblical Christianity to Roman Catholicism, when you observe a family fall apart who has been in ministry for a decade serving together, you wonder...why do these things happen?

Though we must not be shocked that the Scriptures are being fulfilled because this is exactly what the Apostle Paul said would happen.

May we be those - this day - who are unhypocritical, speaking truth to one another and training our consciences with the true, inspired, inerrant and authoritative Word of God so that when hard times come in life, we do NOT fall away/apostasize, but rather we stand firm knowing that we have all the Divine power of the Godhead to help us in temptation (James 1:2-5; 1 Cor 10:13).

Friday, April 13, 2007

If you happened to see "Julie" (that is, the honorable name given to my 1997 White Honda Civic with 140,000 miles on it) driving down the 5 freeway with all the boxes, mattresses, couches, desks, bookcases, blah blah blah swaying in the wind and you were a little nervous - let me assure you, it all made it there safely :=)
So this is the blessed representation of what we went through yesterday. God bless Julie. She is a trooper :-)

P.S. This is all just for fun. We had two trucks and one large minivan to carry all the cargo from one apartment to the other. No worries. Julie is safe. She is healthy. She is still moving!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Today, G-poppa is moving all the big stuff to our new apartment. It is a very nice apartment. It is a two-bedroom, two-bath with a big living room. Of course, it has a kitchen, which I am very excited about :=)
This will be me by the end of the day - but I'm in no way boasting... ;-)

So I hope that today I get a good workout moving the couches, the bed, the tables, the bookshelves, the dressers, the patio furniture and whatever else is on Elizabeth's list that I must move ;-)....I love you babe :=)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

One of the greatest hymns in all of the Bible is this one found in the New Testament in Paul's letter to Timothy:

1 Timothy 3:16 16 And by common confession great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Beheld by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.

Before we get into the actual hymn, the introductory line states that "by common confession." This word in the Greek, homologoumenos, is from the verb homologeo meaning "to confess" or "profess." Here the adverb, homologoumenos means "by the common consent of all," "confessedly," or perhaps even best, "without controversy." That is to say, what Paul is about to write regarding the mystery of godliness is absolutely without controversy.

The genitive euseibios ("godliness") is a subjective genitive giving it the connotation that it is the mystery that produces godliness/piety. In other words, it is this great confession that Paul is about to write that brings forth godliness. Why? If one truly understands this hymn, believes in it, clings to it, lives by it and confesses to it, then one's life will radically change to the ultimate honor and glory of God.

Let us look briefly at these six short and pithy statements regarding the life of Christ:

1) He who was manifested in the flesh. This statement first begins with the relative pronoun hos meaning "he". Some manuscripts have theos (God) which would be a tremendous verse supporting the Deity of Christ (among a myriad of others), but the textual support for this reading is not as strong. This phrase simply means that Jesus Christ was fully and completely human. He was as much of a "man" as You and I are. He was manifested in human flesh, with human limitations (cf. Phil 2:5-11; Heb 2:17-18; 4:15).

2) Was vindicated (Lit. "Justified) in the Spirit. This statement refers, of course, to the Holy Spirit coming upon Jesus Christ at his baptism (Matt 4 and Luke 4) for the empowering, strength and power that He would need to fulfill his earthly ministry. Furthermore, it was immediately after his baptism that Jesus was cast into the wilderness being tempted by Satan for forty days. It was during this time that the Holy Spirit strengthened Jesus.

3) Was seen by angels. Of course, the angels attended him and observed him during his earthly ministry. They announced his birth to Joseph and the Shepherds in the gospel narratives. They ministered to him at His temptation as well as strengthened Him during those hours of prayer in the Garden of Gethsamane the night before his death.

4) Was preached among the nations. This is referring to the fact that Jesus Christ is the only Savior of the whole world (every nation; John 14:6). Before his ascension, Jesus gave the disciples the great commission and told them to take the Gospel message to all nations (Matt 28:18-20). The same occurred in Acts 1:8: "but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."

5) Was believed in the world. Many have come to believe in this Savior as their Redeemer and substitutionary atonement for their sins. In fact, after the first public preaching of the Gospel after our Lord was ascended into heaven, over 3,000 souls believed in this Risen Jesus (Acts 2:41).

6) Was taken up in glory. Listen to the account in Acts 1:9-10:

Acts 1:9-10 9 And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them;

Again in Hebrews 1:3:

Hebrews 1:3 When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high;

It is this Savior who was taken up into glory after his forty year presentation after being raised from the dead.

MacArthur concludes with this comment:

"In six short stanzas, this hymn summarizes the gospel. God became man, died for our sins, triumphed over death, was honored by angels and feared by demons, and ascended into heaven. This message was preached all over the world and many believed and were saved. That is the heart of the message it is our mission to proclaim to the world." (1 Timothy, 143).

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Here we come in our study in 1 Timothy to the purpose of the book. Paul states it outright in chapter three:

1 Timothy 3:14-15 14 I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; 15 but in case I am delayed, I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.
There are a few elements that I want to highlight this morning. The first is that Paul is writing to young Pastor Timothy in the church at Ephesus (1:3) in telling him how to practically do church ministry in the local assembly. He states his purpose in verse 15.
The purpose of the letter is so that "you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God..." (v14). The household of God is further explicated by Paul. Namely, it is the church of the living God. Not only this, Paul elaborates once more by saying that the local church is the "pillar and support of the truth."
Let's take these two words and seek to understand them in their historical context:
First, the Pillar. The Greek word here is stulos which has the idea of a large column or a massive pillar. It is used in many secular writings and everyone in that time would have known what a stulos was for in many cities, there were large pagan temples to various deities, emperors, or gods and most often they were surrounded with massive pillars. Here is an example of a picture giving the perspective of myself next to a large pillar at the Temple of Zeus in ancient Corinth.

So these large pillars were what the original audience would have had in mind when Paul talked of the church being the stulos which is grounded on the truth.
Second, the Support. The idea here is really that of a buttress. The Greek word is a edraioma. It means "something that is made stable," or "something settles firmly in the ground." It could be a prop, support, or a foundation. It is related to the adjective edraios which is used in 1 Cor 15:58; Col 1:23; and 1 Cor 7:37 in referring to one who is "steadfast," "immovable," or "firm." The church is this support and foundation upon the truth.
Notice, finally, that we serve a God who is True (John 17:3; Rom 3:4; 1 John 5:20; Rev 16:7; 22:6) and the Gospel which is truth (Gal 2:5; Col 1:5). Be encouraged that our hope does not rest on some shakable ideology that changes as the seasons change. No. Rather the household of God is the church of God. And it is that local assembly of believers that is the pillar and the support for the truth.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Of course this whole concept of "biblical husbanding" has been on my mind as of late, for I'm getting married in 33 days :=)

As I'm working my way through Stuart Scott's book, The Exemplary Husband, I came across a great quote last night that I want to share with you:

Here, Scott is speaking in regards to leadership in the home and he says the more the husband knows the Scriptures, the more direction that husband will have not only in his own life, but for his wife and for their marriage together. Then Scott quotes J.C. Ryle, the Bishop of Liverpool in 1880 who gives a great quote on "decision-making:"

The Bible must be our standard. Whenever we are confronted with a question about Christian practice, we must apply the teaching of the Bible. Sometimes the Bible will deal with it directly, and we must go by its direct teaching. Often the Bible will not deal with it directly, and then we must look for general principles to guide us. It does not matter what other people think. Their behavior is not a standard for us. But the Bible is a standard for us, and it is by the Bible that we must live (quoted in Scott, Exemplary Husband, 140).

May this be true not only of husbands and the way that we make decisions, but may this also be true of all believers. Every single believer must have the Word of God as the standard. I like that word "standard." Furthermore, Ryle makes an excellent note when he says that it does not matter what other people think. For in the culture that we live in, most everything that we do as Christians will be nonsensical to the watching, secular, postmodern, hedonistic world. It is imperative that we remember that it is NOT their approval that we are seeking. We are mindful that the inspired, inerrant, authoritative and infallible Word of God is our standard.

May we live that way today.

Friday, April 6, 2007

In writing to young Pastor Timothy in Ephesus, Paul tells him that an elder must not be:

1 Timothy 3:6-7 6 and not a new convert, lest he become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. 7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he may not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

It is amazing to do word studies on these words and the wealth of information that can be gathered when studying these characteristics. What I want to focus on today is the sin of pride.

Paul commands Timothy that an elder must not be a neophutos (that is, a "new convert" or a "new sprout; newly planted one"). Timothy must abstain from this because this elder then may be tempted to become conceited (Gk. tuphotheis - from the Greek tuphoo meaning "to be filled with smoke;" thus meaning metaphorically to be "clouded with pride"). Then Paul notes that this one may then fall into the condemnation incurred tou diabalou (of the Devil).

The question here with this phrase is what kind of genitive is this? Is it an objective or subjective?
1) Objective - the condemnation received by the devil
2) Subjective - the condemnation produced by or incurred by the devil.

In other words, is this the kind of condemnation that Satan brings about or is this the kind of condemnation by which Satan himself was condemned?

To answer this, some feel the need to go to verse seven and show that the exact same phrase occurs as a subjective genitive (that is, that the elder may not fall into the reproach and snare produced by the devil). So if this is a subjective genitive, then it would make sense for it to be the same construction one verse earlier. However we must not be so quick to come to this conclusion.

I am to the persuasion that the genitive in verse six is an objective genitive (that is, the condemnation received by the devil). Permit me to quote Hendricksen to help me with the explanation:

The idea that diabalou (devil) when in verse six it is used in the expression "condemnation of the devil" must be a subjective genitive because this same word when in verse seven it occurs in the phrase "snare of the devil" is a subjective genitive, impress me as being superficial. In determining the nature of these genitives, one question is paramount. It is this: What is the Scriptural Usage? Is it more scriptural to represent the devil as pronouncing a sentence of condemnation, or to represent him as being condemned? Of course, the latter! See the following passages for support: Gen 3:15; Isa 14:12 (by implication); Zech 3:2; Matt 4:10; 12:29; Luke 10:18; John 12:31; Rom 16:20; Eph 6:11; James 4:7; 2 Pet 2:4; Jude 6; Rev 12:7-9; 20:10. Hence, "the condemnation of the devil" means "the condemnation pronounced (and executed upon the devil" (objective genitive) (Thessalonians, The Pastorals and Hebrews, p.127, n.63).

Therefore, what happened to Satan could easily happen to an immature Christian elevated to eldership. For that matter, it could happen to anyone. The antidote to pride is humility, which is the mark of a spiritually mature leader. May we be those who are humble:

1 Peter 5:6 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God

1 John 3:1-2 See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.

Excerpt from FF Bruce “1 John”

“These first two verses of 1 John 3 [3:1-2] celebrate the accomplishment of God’s eternal purpose concerning man. This purpose finds expression in Gen. 1:26, where God, about to bring into being the crown of creation, says: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” In other words, he declares his intention of bringing into existence beings like himself as it is possible for creatures to be like their Creator. In words which echo the language of Genesis 1, the status and function of man in the purpose of God are celebrated in Psalm 8:5ff: “thou hast made him little less than God, and dost crown him with glory and honor. Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.” But Genesis 3 tells how man, not content with the true likeness to God which was his by creation, grasped at the counterfeit likeness held out as the tempter’s bait: “you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” In consequence, things most unlike God manifested themselves in human life: hatred, darkness and death in place of love, light and life. The image of God in man was sadly defaced. Yet God’s purpose was not frustrated; instead, the fall itself, with its entail of sin and death, was overruled by God and compelled to become an instrument in the furtherance of his purpose.

In the fullness of time the image of God, undefaced by disobedience to his will, reappeared on earth in the person of His Son. IN Jesus, the love, light and life of God were manifested in opposition to hatred, darkness and death. With his crucifixion it seemed that hatred, darkness and death had won the day, and that God’s purpose, which had survived the fall, was now effectively thwarted. But instead, the cross of Jesus proved to be God’s chosen instrument for the fulfillment of his purpose…this purpose is stated by Paul in terms which go back far beyond the act of creation in Genesis 1: “those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29). The children of God, who enter his family through faith in his Son, display their Father’s likeness, because of their conformity to Him who is the perfect image of the invisible God”

Thursday, April 5, 2007

I am going to deviate from my 1 Timothy devotional just this morning because I want to share with you what I recognized this morning in my study in the book of Acts. I have been reading through the book of Acts and trying to focus on the preaching of the Apostles. That is, how did Peter, Paul, Stephen and the rest preach? What was their method? Did they have one?

So I read Acts 13-14 this morning- the record of the first missionary journey of Paul, Barnabas and John Mark (though he later abandoned them).

In reading this text in the original, I noticed a phrase being repeated over and over, ton logon tou theou. Translated into English it is: "The Word of God." This phrase is found 7x in chapter 13 alone (13:5, 7, 12, 44, 46, 48 and 49). There is one place when an equivalent phrase is mentioned, te didache tou kuriou. Translated into English it is: "The teaching about the Lord."

This was the overarching message of the Apostles. They preached the Word about Christ! They proclaimed the Living Word of God.

One brief section greatly encouraged me. Doctor Luke writes...

Acts 13:36-39 36 "For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers, and underwent decay; 37 but He whom God raised did not undergo decay. 38 "Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.

Think about it. The Jews are waiting for the Messiah. They knew that from Psalm 16:10, the Messiah would not undergo decay. Well, Paul makes the point here that David died and his body has decayed. However, Jesus Christ (The Word of God) has NOT decayed in the grave. Rather, he is Risen!

I pray that this Easter season we proclaim boldly and shamelessly the Glory of the Resurrection!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

By way of introduction, Paul tells Timothy that:

1 Timothy 3:1 It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.

If there is a man who aspires to be an overseer (Lit. episkopos), it is a good work he desires to do. The word for 'aspires' is orego which means "to stretch oneself out in order to touch or grasp something." Furthermore, this verb form is in the present middle. Thus, the present indicates that it is a constant, habitual desire. The middle indicates that he longs for this position for himself (a reflexive nuance). In fact, the Homerian Greek, orego was used for "exerting oneself or stretching oneself forth" with all his might. If a man desires to be in the office of leadership in the local church with this kind of stretching oneself out to the point of exhaustion - desire, then it is a good work that he desires (epithumei - "to desire, long for, lust").

Now, it will not be possible for me to lay out every characteristic and qualification that Paul mentions both here and in Titus 1 (or else we'd be here all day and I wouldn't get any seminary work done). So over the next few blogs, I will choose one or two significant ones and dwell on them.

Notice Paul says:

1 Timothy 3:2 2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,

These are the positives in the list. The next verse (v.3) gives the 'negatives' in the qualifications. The first one is most important, for it is first in Paul's mind as he writes this. It is the word for "above reproach" (Gk. anapimpleiton) which means, "not being laid hold of;" or when used with moral conduct, "blameless, above criticism; above fault." In other words, the overseer is first of all - and most generally - to be one with whom there can be no accusation taking a hold of him. He must be so above reproach that all accusations against him fail. In his morality, in his family, in his marriage, in his devotional life, in his speech, in his conduct, in his purity, in his mentality...whatever. Above Reproach!

The second characteristic is "the husband of one wife." Literally this reads in the Gk. a one woman man. I do not believe that this mandates an elder to be a married man. However, what I do believe is that this verse so clearly commands that every single elder - who is married - must have ONE WOMAN in his life. There must not even be anyone contending for second place. There must be NO OTHER WOMEN involved in the minister's life. Period. Why? Remember the first characteristic, an elder is to be "above reproach!" Give no occasion for an accusation.

One more (since I'm enjoying this study so much) and that is "able to teach." It is the Gk word didacticon which can be translated "apt, skillful, competent in teaching" or it could mean "teachable."

I take the view, first of all, that this is not referring to one who is teachable. Though an elder and one in leadership MUST have a teachable spirit (which comes from humility and a gentle and selfless spirit), but this cannot be gathered from this word. But what I do see this word to mean is that the person seeking the office of overseer must be one who: 1) Is capable in the Scriptures with a knowledge of the Gospel and sound theology; but also 2) Has the ability to teach in a thought-provoking, intelligent and captivating way. He must not be so dull that he causes all his hearers to fall asleep every time he speaks.

Hope this is of help...more tomorrow :=)

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Joe Thorn's blog is worthy of a good, slow and contemplative read...

Read it HERE.
Did you know that in the Passion week of our Lord, that Monday and Tuesday he was controlling the Temple area? It was only on Sunday when people hailed him as King as he approached and entered Jerusalem on a donkey that they shouted "Hosanna, Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD." It is these same people that will cry out "Crucify, Crucify! in a matter of days to put him on a cross.

Why the sudden change from hailing him as the majestic King on Sunday to shouting Crucify! later in the week?

The answer is the events that transpire during Monday and Tuesday. It is during these days that Jesus is showing his authority over the Jewish leadership of that day. He is approached by all of the Jewish "sects" (for lack of a better term) of the day with questions seeking to trap him and test him - Chief priest and elders (Matt 21:23ff), the Pharisees and Herodians (Matt 22:15-22); the Sadducees (Matt 22:23-33), and the Pharisees again (Matt 22:34-45).

Listen to the last verse of Matthew's account:

Matthew 22:46 46 And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question.

They were shocked at his answers. They were astonished. They were trapped! He was controlling their turf. Jesus had the people's attention (rather than on the Pharisees) and he was undeniably showing his authority over the Temple area (that is, the home turf of the Sadducees).

On top of all this, Jesus then pronounced eight woes upon the Pharisees and other religious leaders in Matthew's account:

1) You shut off the Kingdom of heaven from people - you do not enter yourselves and you do not allow those who are entering to go in (23:13).
2) They devour widow's houses and for a pretense you make a long prayer and thus you will receive greater condemnation (23:14).
3) They travel on sea and land to make one proselyte; but when they do, he comes twice as much a son of hell as they are (23:15)
4) They are blind guides who are fools who miss the whole point of the Temple (23:16-22).
5) They tithe mint and dill and cummin but they neglect the weightier provisions of the law - justice, mercy and faithfulness (23:23-24).
6) They clean the outside of the cup but the inside is full of robbery and self-indulgence (23:25-26).
7) They are whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but on the inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness (23:27-28).
8) They are building tombs of the prophets and claiming that if they were living then, the wicked things would not have happened to the prophets (23:29-33).

It is because of these events that transpire on the Temple area that the Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians and all the religious leaders are finally determined to destroy the man before the Passover feast (which is later that week).

Just some thoughts that I've been pondering this week as I remember my Savior...

Monday, April 2, 2007

In this section, Paul gives specific attention to the role of women in the public worship service, that is, the corporate assembly of believers (cf 1 Tim 3:14-15).

Here is what Paul says:

1 Timothy 2:9-10 9 Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments; 10 but rather by means of good works, as befits women making a claim to godliness.

In the same way that men are to lead in prayer in the public worship setting, so also (likewise), the women are to adorn themselves (Gk. "cosmeo" from which we get our English "cosmetic") with all of these traits.

Notice, the point is not that these are inherently wrong in and of themselves, but rather these can be abused with the wrong motivation when gathering together for public worship. In other words, if a woman comes to the public setting of worship NOT exercising:

1) Modesty - this is the idea of preceding and preventing a shameful act. Thus it is objective in its reference to others, not giving any hint at all to shame.

2) Discreetly - this is the idea of self-control, sober judgment. It is the same word used a few verses later in 1 Tim 3:2 when the elder is to be "prudent." It is the same idea.

3) Not seeking to flatter with outward appearance - braided hair, gold, pearls, or costly garments. Interesting note, the word costly here actually means "rare." Thus, the woman is not to come to the public service with some rare, expensive garment with the motivation of drawing attention to herself by means of "her clothing." The word "rare" (Gk. poluteleis) is also found in 1 Pet 3:4 when Peter writes concerning women:

1 Peter 3:4 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious (Gk. poluteleis) in the sight of God.

The second part of the section today speaks of women's leadership in the local church. Listen to what Paul writes:

1 Timothy 2:11-12 11 Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.

2 simple unmistakably clear statements:

1) A woman is to be quiet and submissive in the public setting.
2) A woman is NOT to teach or have authority over a man in the public setting.

2 simple proofs as to why men are to have leadership in the local church:

1) The Created Order - v.13 - for Adam was created first and then Eve.
2) The Fall - v.14 - It was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman was.

Thus, the Scripture is overwhelmingly clear. A woman is not to teach or exercise authority in the public gathering of believers (cf. 3:14-15). That is Paul's point. It is clear. This is not saying that women are inferior or unimportant to the local body of believers. In fact, in 1 Cor 12-14, it is just the opposite. So, we find that Men are to step up to the plate!

1 Corinthians 16:13 13 Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
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