Theology


Contend, Out of Love for Jesus!

Contend, Out of Love for Jesus!


Posted By on Jun 8, 2014

“Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” Jude 3   Jude was well aware of the infiltration of false teachers which threatened the church and realized he had to address this treacherous and rapidly spreading cancer by writing a warning to believers (Jude 1:1). He was first compelled to write believers regarding their “common salvation“. According to great theologian Martin Luther, Jude’s letter was purposed to be a letter of exhortation; 1”To hew a clear path for your feet in the faith that has once already been preached to you. To be on guard and continue on the right path.” But, because of a more dire necessity (the threat of false teachers), Jude changed the letters context to a stern admonishment; he urged believers to “earnestly contend” for the faith (Jude 3). What made these threats even more perilous was the fact that these false teachers were creeping into the church unnoticed (Jude 4). The word “unnoticed”, in the original Greek, pareisduo, is defined; to settle in alongside of“, this implies false teachers were gaining trust among church leaders and comfortably moving up the ranks to teaching positions. John Calvin wrote; 2“He (Jude), teaches us that it is an intestine evil; for Satan in this respect is also crafty, as he raises up those who are of the flock to do mischief, in order that they may more easily creep in.”   According to Calvin, it is the work of Satan and since his evil realm is a force to be reckoned with, Christians must adorn themselves with the armor of God and prepare for battle against his nefariousness. (Eph. 6:13-18). The Webster dictionary defines the word “contend”; to strive in combat; fight. In the original Greek; epagonizomai (ἑπαγωνιζομαι), defined; to conduct a strenuous defense of a belief. Jude was not riling Christians up to be inappropriately offensive or contentious toward others with their beliefs. But rather, he was warning believers to vehemently defend the very truth they had come to know and to refrain from the error that these false teachers attempted to corrupt the church. For Jude to change the epistles initial intent of the content, demonstrated just how pernicious he believed these threats truly were.   In fact, throughout the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, heresy and apostasy were a commonly repeated occurrence. The apostle Paul, for example, spent much of his time writing to various churches refuting the plethora of doctrinal...

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Elder’s Worthy of Double Honor

Elder’s Worthy of Double Honor


Posted By on Apr 30, 2014

Elders Worthy of Double Honor.     “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.  For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” (1 Tim. 5:17-18).   What type of elders are “worthy of double honor”? They are men who excel at serving a Body of believers in a local church, as superintended by the Holy Spirit. They are men who work diligently at studying and proclaiming the word of God for the edification and sanctification of their congregation. Not only are they required to teach God’s word accurately (1 Tim. 3:2, 2 Tim. 2:15, 24, Titus 1:9), but must also demonstrate, by example, lives reflecting integrity of what they teach (Phil. 3:17, 1 Tim. 1:16, 4:12).  Although the word “integrity” is not in the text of 1 Tim. 5:17, it is definitely implied by the stringent qualifications an elder must possess (1 Tim. 3:2-7, Ti 1:6-9): “…An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, uncontentious, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?); and not a new convert, lest he become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. 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. (1 Tim. 3:2-7 NASB). If a man is devoid of any one of these qualifications, he is disqualified from becoming an elder.  These austere qualifications are not required for an individual to possess secular employment, but according to God, they are absolutely imperative and mandatory to possess to be an elder. Very few men are truly called for eldership, for these men will have the onerous responsibility of shepherding Christ’s church. Therefore, we ought to thank God for such men and help them bear such serious obligations, by constantly praying for them, loving them, supporting them, submitting to them; and by willingly following their lead.   So there is not any confusion regarding the terms given to New Testament church leaders, an elderin the original Greek, presbuteros (an old man), is synonymous with: bishop episkope (overseer), overseer episkope (overseer, appoints, attend); all of these titles are interchangeable for the same person.  Furthermore, some elders...

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Disciple(s) Are All Believers!

Disciple(s) Are All Believers!


Posted By on Feb 28, 2014

Disciple(s), Are All believers! If you continuously “follow” Jesus Christ, you are a “disciple”!   After joyfully, yet meticulously studying the book of Acts, I interestingly discovered a different way in which today’s evangelicals use the word “disciple”, which is in contrast to the early church’ employment.  Over the years, I have attended many churches which taught that a “disciple” of Jesus Christ, connoting a different meaning or usage, other than the way God originally intended in the book of Acts, nearly 2,000 years ago. “Disciple” which once was used to identify all followers of Jesus Christ, is now being employed ambiguously or rarely to identify Christians.   Interestingly, even some churches that maintain staunch, austere doctrine, and, are fastidious to Biblical accuracy, have acquiesced to the tergiversation or scant way the word “disciple” is employed.  To them, a “disciple” typically references a special type of Christ follower; a unique individual; someone possessing zealous aspirations to follow Christ, thus requiring special “discipleship” training, and, not all believers are equipped for it.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  If you possess the Holy Spirit (which all believers do-1 Cor. 6:19), you are considered a true “disciple”; ALL believers of Jesus Christ and who persevere, are indeed “disciples”; no special training or instruction is required.  The only exception is leadership training and I will explain this later in more detail.   However, being a disciple of Jesus Christ does require obedience and willingness to submit to His Lordship and no believer is exempt.  It is not as simple as accepting His doctrine, or believing in His performed miraculous recorded in the four Gospels.  In the Great Commission for instance, we are exhorted, to “observe”; watch over; guard, ALL that Jesus commanded (Matt. 28:20).  The nascent and amelioration of Christ’s church depicted in Acts, is the quintessential paradigm for Christ followers i.e. disciples.  According to Acts, everyone who believed in Jesus Christ, followed Him, or those who were instructed and believed in Him, were called “disciple”.  The ISBE Bible Dictionary, defines the word disciple as; “A learner”, Grk; Mathete; “to learn”, Grk; Manthano;” a scholar” Latin, discipulus; “a pupil of someone, in contrast to the master or teacher”, Grk; didascalos.  Or, Easton’s Bible Dictionary: “A disciple of Christ is one who 1) believes his doctrine, 2) rests on his sacrifice,  3) imbibes his spirit, and  4) imitates his example”  Mt 10:24 Lu 14:26,27,33 John 6:69.  The original language of Greek, and a exceptionally concise definition of “disciple”, which brings one to understand how distinctive this label identifies Christ followers  of “disciple” –is the Greek word “archaios“, meaning “one from the beginning” [Pentecost], in Acts 21:16.  However,...

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Jesus Christ; God’s Gift to man!

Jesus Christ; God’s Gift to man!


Posted By on Dec 11, 2013

Jesus Christ; God’s Gift to man!   The “Christmas” season is already upon us and it appears to be commencing earlier and earlier each year; commercially, that is. I admit I enjoy the Christmas season. People typically are much more amiable, good-natured, and there is a tranquility and camaraderie present in the air during that time of year. However, it’s business as usual.  The United States economy depends greatly on the spending of the American people during the Christmas season (upwards of 30% of annual income). Tragically, the real reason of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ, is nebulous, obscured, or even eradicated all together; typically because of people’s avariciousness. On one hand, stores remain open longer, products are elaborately and strategically advertised, vast amounts of merchandise is stocked, and prices are desperately and drastically slashed by merchants hoping to allure spend-thrifty consumers into their stores. While on the other hand, people shop religiously and rigorously, amass things they do not need, exceed set budgets, and accrue financial debt which might take years to abolish.   This all culminates with the bandying back and forth of Christmas gifts on December twenty-fourth or twenty fifth.  Any repercussions that have resulted from extravagant spending leading up to the “Christmas day” crescendo are usually set aside until the New Year begins. Eggnog libations heavily infused with alcohol, aid in a temporary much-needed anesthetization from all the previous stress and anguish brought on by the required lengthy shopping sprees and accrued debt. Amazingly, this self-abusive behavior will be voluntarily repeated again the following year. For the most part, financially, the Christmas season does more harm than good to people. And spiritually, Jesus Christ is becoming less and less significant to the Christmas season, and sadly, even among many professing Christians.   Soon I fear Jesus Christ will completely disappear from the existence of this monumental and historical holiday. As I noted before, the birth of Jesus Christ, is the real meaning for celebrating Christmas, but soon it will become an archaic identifier of the “once was” meaning of Christmas. In many people’s vernacular, even Christ’s name is removed from the “Merry Christmas” designation. For example, many anti-Christian or atheist groups have removed all traces of Jesus Christ’s name in relation to the Christmas season, by referring to Christmas, as “X-Mas”. Sadly, even many professing Christians, are ignorantly and flippantly succumbing to this flagitious strategy, or, becoming desensitized to the subtlety of Satan’s strategic craftiness.  They’re willfully partaking in an anthropocentric Christmas, and even a Christ-less Christmas, by placing the emphasis on decorating, food, gift-giving, singing secular carols, entertaining, and even subjecting their children...

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HARMONIZATION OF THE SALVATION PARADOX   As finite human beings we are only comfortable or satisfied when we have answers to all of our questions. If we receive an answer, we will accept it, even if the answer is unfavorable to our liking; at least we have an answer. But, when we are given two apparent contradictory answers, and yet both are truthful, it’s befuddling and disconcerting, and so many times we will reject one of the answers.  This conundrum is known as a paradox, and the Bible has many of them within its pages. The Random House Dictionary defines the word “paradox” as: “A statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.” However, a “Biblical paradox” has a different meaning; it is not just a “possible truth” as the secular dictionary defines; it’s an absolute truth! And, this, I believe, is why so many believers reject the Biblical doctrine of “election”.  It’s a very difficult truth to believe! The reader is asked, to believe two equal truths of Scripture, and both are essential tenants of the Christian faith.  To our infinitesimal, feeble, mortal minds; this doctrine does not make sense; it defies human logic. On one hand, God is absolutely sovereign in “choosing”, who He effectually draws to exercise saving faith to believe unto Jesus Christ. (John 6:44, 6:65, Eph. 2:8-9). On the other hand, man is entirely responsible and called to believe in Jesus Christ as Savior, otherwise he will perish in his iniquities. (Rom. 10:9-10, John 1:12, 3:18, 3:36, 8:24). What many people fail to accept is although this Biblical paradox is unfathomable to our limited minds, God who is infinite, perfectly harmonizes these apparent contrasting truths.  Many people, including evangelicals, argue that Biblical election is an “unfair” doctrine and claim God would never decree an unfair doctrine such as election. But, I would argue because all people are sinners, and God is perfectly just; He has the right to display unmerited mercy on whomever He deems. And, therefore, has chosen to elect some unto salvation, while passing over others. (Rom. 3:23, 9:15-18, 20-21).   Because of this difficult truth, election is probably the most controversial paradox in the Bible. And even though the Bible is fraught with verses illustrating God’s sovereignty in salvation, God’s election is still disregarded in many churches.  For example, God has chosen certain individuals for salvation, even before the foundation of the earth was created (Eph.1:4). He alone draws individuals to Himself (John 6:44). Only He is capable of changing the heart (Ezek.36:26). And, even the faith to believe in His Son Jesus Christ...

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Behold, My mother and My brothers!

Behold, My mother and My brothers!


Posted By on Nov 14, 2013

 And someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” But He answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”  And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold, My mother and My brothers!  “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.” (Matt. 13:46-50).   It is apparent from this Scripture citation that obedience to Jesus Christ and following Him, in many cases, will cause the fracturing of some or all of one’s earthly family. One of the most difficult challenges many Christians face is trying to maintain close family ties, while still being obedient to Jesus Christ and growing in the Word of God. In some cases, it just cannot be done. A Christian’s unbelieving family does not understand the things of God, nor are they able to (1 Cor. 2:14). Therefore, severing close relations may be a choice based on ignorance.   Being a true disciple of Jesus Christ can painfully and invariably separate Christian’s from non-believing family members, regardless of blood ties and initial closeness; Jesus Christ divides (Matt. 10:21-22, 35-36).  Many families have permanently fractured because of Jesus Christ, never again having unity or harmony. For some professing Christians, division from family members is extremely difficult or a virtually impossible experience to endure. And unfortunately, because of this reason some Christians will choose to elect family continuity, rather than allegiance to Jesus Christ and will repress association with Him.   Interestingly, many believers’ audaciously marvel when they read of how Christ’s disciple, Peter, denied Jesus three times in order to escape persecution (Matthew 26:69-74). Yet, every time a Christian marginalizes or denies Jesus Christ, so as to keep peace within his earthly family, is guilty of the same sin Peter committed.  Division may be necessary and required by God to accomplish His work, no matter how severe the pain. Read how Jesus challenged His potential followers.   …in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three…father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:52-53).      This must have been hard teaching for the ears of the multitude who listened to Jesus Christ, but this hard teaching is relevant for anyone seeking to be His follower. He admonished all potential disciples to seriously “count the costs” before choosing to follow Him (Luke 14:28).   Even if Christians try to avoid conflict and...

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