What’s Happening?

As you can see, I haven’t been writing here much.  I have been personally stuggling with physical and spiritual issues over the past year that have made it difficult to narrow down what I actually know God is leading me to share.  I hope to have some things posted.  In the mean time, if you are reading this, remember God calls us from all backgrounds to his son Jesus Christ.  Please be tolerant to others who are differ from you both in personality and growth in the body of Christ.

The Synthetic Church – Part 1

Originally Titled: Set In Our Ways

 

A couple of years ago our youngest son was learning to type at home using a home study course. As he began to progress we had a difficult time making our son do the course because he had learned to type in a different way than the typing course was teaching him. He had learned to type playing games on the computer long before we began to use the typing course and he had become set in his ways. My wife and I had learned typing though typing courses in high school and had learned their way of typing was the only way and accepted way in the business world at the time. My wife especially felt frustrated because she wanted my son to learn typing as she learned it but he was resisting it. She felt she was personally failing because she was not doing well at getting him to learn the way the course taught it.

After some time, my wife became upset and came to me and tried to get me to make our son do it the way the typing program taught it. After a couple of trials at getting him to try and submit to the way the typing program taught it I realized we had a problem that wasn’t a result of disobedience. It wasn’t so much a problem with him resisting the typing program as it was having trouble re-training his fingers to do it a different way and how much of a stuggle that was for him.

After praying about it I came back to my wife and told her we should rethink the way we were doing it. I told her I wasn’t so inclined to force my son to do it a different way than he had learned, after all, learning typing wasn’t a real skill he would be doing on a daily basis in the way, perhaps, a secretary might use it. If he could type a resonable amount of words and punctuation correctly with an acceptable rate of error would it really make any difference whether or not he had learned a conventional way of doing it? Was our real goal to make him a professional typer or to just be able to use the skill to a reasonable extent for his own everyday use?

We sat our son down and made him do the typing test contained in the program which would test his typing speed and error rates. My wife’s and my ability is 50-60 words per minute with a reasonable rate of error. She has been typing for 30 years and I have been typing for 38. We felt our own ability, though not great, would be an acceptable amount to expect from him. Our oldest son, who learned to type using the program and with the program’s typing style, is able to do 70 words per minute so we hoped for at least our own amount of wpm but would be pleased if he typed as fast as his older brother.

After several tests, the outcome surprised us. Our youngest son was able to type between 65 and 73 wpm, and that was using a system he had learned using mostly 3 fingers per hand. He was also able to do it with a lower rate of error than I was and even typing numbers and symbols. I made the decision to scrap the typing program. My goal wasn’t to make him conform to the program’s standards or my own. It was for him to be able to produce things in writing and that was the best we could hope from the typing program to start with.

Somehow my son had done something on his own that sums up one of my thoughts on life itself and learning. God has made all of us different in so many ways. Each of us has our own gifts and talents. We often try to make others conform to our own way of thinking instead of appreciating the differences which God has put in any one of us. Because of conformity though, we are made to adapt to an environment that is man-made and artificial. This is true of the church too which tries to conform everyone to it’s own way of thinking instead of Christ’s.

I read a book several years ago on how to survive in the wilderness. It was a survival guide for catastrophe’s that might occur and was pretty much useless because the drawings and discriptions were so bad I don’t think anyone would be able to tell the difference between a poisonous plant and a edible one. What I did take away from the book though was this one idea: the environment we live in is not a natural one but an artificial one created by man. People trained to work in this environment often cannot adapt to a natural one. The writer stated people often die in catastrophes with food right next to them they could have eaten but they didn’t recognize it as food. The members of the Body Of Christ are dying today from the same old “milk” and not “meat” of God’s word because of the artificial environment created by man and not God, and the meat is right next to them and they can’t see it.

The problem is we take our mentality of conforming into the church. When we should conform to Jesus Christ, we in reality conform to the church as an institution. This is why we do not speak out when we see injustices, wrong doctrine, and out right lies in our church leaders and others, and why it becomes so difficult to leave when we do see it. Our church structure is such that one cannot question those in charge. Yet the apostle Paul calls us all part of Christ body and members in particular. We are not to be the arm of the body if we are called to be the feet. It is difficult for us to leave one particular environment because we are being forced to conform to a particular way of thinking and believing. Those who do not conform are ridiculed, ostracized, and criticised, and labeled as heretics.

The word heretic has often been used to mean a bad thing. Paul, I believe, uses it to mean a good thing. He says “heresies must arise so that they which are approved would be made manifest among you.” The leadership has always spoken of this as a way for them to judge and cast out those who disagree with their teachings. I do not think this is what Paul means although it could mean this too. Instead, I believe it could also mean that God is the one who is in charge, and these disagreements need to arise so God himself might put his seal of approval on those whom he chooses to manifest his own wisdom, and that might not be the pastor, because the paster can be wrong too. This idea that the pastor, or elders are always right is just not Biblical and I believe puts power in the person God never intended them to have. God did not appropriate all of his truth in the pastor in the original churches. The church at Corinth is an example. If he did, then why would he mention the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, and prophecy as though they were given to several people, (i.e. let the prophets speak one at a time). There is very little, if any, that even says a pastor should preach, let alone speak truth, unless they were given one of these gifts of the spirit. I just don’t see that kind of gift invested in the pastor, elders, deacons, or teachers alone. It especially does not exist in denominations which are nothing more than cookie manufacturers designed with the cookie cutting mentality to make all believers conform to them. What is really funny to watch is the fundamentalists who call the denominations wrong for doing this when they have the same mentality of criticizing those who won’t conform to them.

God planned to distribute his gifts, severally, as he willed. The cookie cutter mentality that exists in the body of Christ to conform to institutionalized doctrine and programs is an artificial environment that, unfortunately, exists for all the same reasons and the same purpose as worldly institutions, only with the supposed goal of conforming to Christ. But does any of us really know what that means? All of us are at different stages in the knowledge of Christ and we are members in particular, and we need to stop trying to conform everyone else to be like us. I personally believe God gave very little information about the real structure and discription of the early church because he didn’t want us to become cookie cut carbon copies of them, but rather of Christ. He wants to do something different with each member and each church in the body of Christ,and that should excite us. We should not be conforming to our environment; our environment should be conforming to us and we should be conforming to Christ. Although our doctrine should be the same as Paul’s teachings, we have great diversity within that environment,which is not artificial but created by Christ himself.

In short, what I am saying is the compartmentalized…programs, youth groups, outreaches, door-to-door ministries are all man-made and artificial; not God made. They are artificial in that they often copy worldly institutions ways of making the body conform to it’s structure and way of thinking, often through peer pressure, and not the Bible or Christ’s, [“Let us all wear the same school uniforms and march the same way to class” like kids in a Catholic school].

I once heard a Pastor who said the institution of the church has as much freedom it needs to create whatever structure it wants since God has left so many things open for the church to make it’s own decisions in this area of doctrine, but in doing this so many churches have become legalistic, with the pastor as high commander of ‘his ship’ and everything he says must be followed to the letter. If anyone of his followers turn to the right of left of what he says,either he or the elders of the church are ready to squash those who would oppose him. I say this is wrong. I believe God left so many things unexplained because he wanted the church to live freely in Christ without the abundance of rules and restraints, and the church should not restrain any more in it’s teachings than our own apostle Paul did in his letters. If they do more than that then they are disobedient to Christ because Christ himself makes no such restrictions. Things like church membership, for instance, in which you become members by specifically agreeing to a set of doctrines and being accepted to the roll call of a church is extending church control above and beyond what Christ himself has allowed. It makes for steady income to support a career path for the pastors and paying bills of the institutionalized church who has submitted itself to the corporate responsibilities of a business to the state, but it isn’t the church Christ started through the apostle Paul. If we make more demands of believers than what our apostle does then we are perverting the word of God and deceiving believers to follow our own man-made doctrines and not that of Christ. How will the building which these men have built stand in the day of Christ at his judgement seat when tried by fire? Is not such teaching adding to the word of God?

Written 04/07/14. Topic=Chistian Walk

Why We Are Not A Kingdom Of Priests

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”  -I Peter 2:9-10

It is often taught that we are a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, especially by those who  believe the gentiles who are saved by grace today are ‘spiritual Israel,’ in the belief that God has somehow replaced unbelieving Israel whom he has rejected.  This cannot be further from the truth.  Not only because God himself has retained a portion of believing Israel, or a remnant according to grace, as he has said in Romans 9:7 and 11:25, but also because this is a failure to see the truth of the scripture itself.

First of all, when Peter writes, he is not speaking from revelation, but instead he is quoting a scripture found in the Old Testament that specifically applies to the nation of Israel.  Moses is speaking and this is what he says.

“Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.”  -Exodus 19:5-6

Many believe, as it was once explained by a pastor I met, that we are grandfathered into the position of priests by Jesus death on the cross, but this cannot be true, as the fulfillment of the scripture has the requirement of keeping the Mosaic law, for he says, “if ye will keep my commandments,” and again, “Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel,” so it is clear it is Israel whom he is talking to and making the promise.  I submit to you, the Bible makes no such promise to gentiles who are saved in the age of grace.  Christ death on the cross was a fulfillment of the law of Moses which we are no longer required to keep.

Secondly, it is clear by scripture that Peter’s ministry was not to gentiles and his ministry to gentiles, according to scripture, did not extend further than the household of Corneilius.  It is apparent, by Paul’s confrontation with Peter, in Galatians, that Peter clearly was to go to circumcised Israel and Paul to the gentiles to whom God had sent him.  So why would Peter now be writing a special letter to the gentiles with whom he had no contact?  Besides this, the language of the opening sentence makes it clear he would have been writing to Jews in the ‘dispora,’ that is, those Jews who had been scattered abroad in other lands by the wars and judgement of God and who were no longer a ‘nation’ in that they were not directly part of Israel in dwelling there.  It is these Jews that would have been “stranger and pilgrims” in those lands in which they lived, not just pilgrims and strangers whose dwelling place was in heaven.  In fact, these Jews would have understood even better than anyone the use of the term ‘pilgrims and strangers’ because they were living it in their lives not having a land they could call their own.

Many assume because Peter mentions them as having their “conversation honest among the gentiles” that they are gentiles themselves, but this is a misinterpretation of scripture for which there is no evidence and a misconstruing of scripture.  In reality, the opening paragraph, which imitates that of James almost word for word, has more evidence that he is speaking to Jews here and not gentiles.  This is true not just because the tone sounds so similar to James’ “twelve tribes that are scattered abroad,” but because the term stranger here most often refers to one who is a Jew outside the nation of Israel.  The term ‘ger’ used for gentiles would be the word most likely used by Peter if it were written in Hebrew, referring to one who is a prostelyte.

Not only does the requirement of the verse as it was found in Exodus require us to follow the law of Moses, but was referenced in a letter most likely written to Jews.  But along with this, the requirement of being a priest is much more than being that of the ambassadorship we now retain for a priest had power to save and to kill, to and to forbid the offering of repentence to those who have sinned.  We do not have that power.  Even Jesus told the disciples, “whomsover sins ye retain are retained, and whosover sins ye remit are remitted.  This was a promise not to gentiles, but to Israel herself, if and only if she repented and believed the gospel of the coming kingdom and accepted her messiah.

So in short, being a royal priesthood brings us under the law of Moses from which we were set free.  It was giving to the nation of Israel to bring the nations to the God of Israel in the coming earthly kingdom.  Our calling is a heavenly one of which we wait for the king of heaven to redeem us.

THE RAISING OF LAZARUS

“I am glad for your sakes I was not there, to the intent that ye may believe-” John 11:15

At first glance this scripture may slip past as a simple thing to answer. Believe what? That he is the son of God? He had already stated that. To believe he could raise the dead? He had already done that. What then was left for them to believe. Well, for one, the full force of who he really was, not just to have a head knowledge, but a heart knowledge too. But more than that. Never before had Jesus raised someone from the dead who was in such a final state of death. It was now four days since Lazarus was buried. Not four days from when he got sick, or died, but four days in which he had already lain in the grave. How long had he been in a viewing state, and then the preparation state, before they even buried him? Is it too far fetched to think he may have even been dead six or even seven days?

Why did they remove the stone? Did they think maybe Jesus wanted just one last look at his friend, even if it might be a little too late for that? Did they even understand what Jesus meant by his saying, “said I not unto thee that if thou wouldest believe thou shouldest see the glory of God?”

What then did Jesus want them to believe? Was it not for the Glory of God to do the impossible; that nothing is too hard for him; that God can take the most impossible and final thing we know in this life, that is, death, and can make it life again! Is it not that if God can do this, then he can do all the other impossible things we can possibly think of? And is it not also this, that there are no limits that we can place on God’s ability, only the limits of our own unbelief?

“ I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” – Ecclesiastes 1:14

Something Solomon never understood was the importance of just enjoying life. Wisdom is a heavy burden. It is a burden to understand all the troubles in life and not also see any way out of them. Even wisdom, as Solomon came to know, is insufficient as an antidote for all of life’s problems. Yes, it is true that all that we create is temporary and does not last, so in Solomon’s sense, all is vain. Why do that which does not last?

The answer to this dilemma is to understand the principle of ‘Manna’ that the Israelites collected in the wilderness journey to their promised land. To some extent we are all just gathering manna. If our life’s journey is about collecting and holding onto things then it will be insufficient to satisfy all of our longings. The reason for this is that everything is temporary and to spend so many hours of our lives to gather and fulfill our purpose with these things is therefore vain in it’s purpose. Even if we do manage to pass some of our things on to our children, and they can actually use them, their children may not or even care for the things we have collected in our lives.

Just like food, God intends for everything in this life to be temporary, yet we still find ourselves enjoying food, yet, even food can be boring at times. It is foolish to spend all of our lives collecting and holding onto things is the sum of the matter. It cost’s so much time, energy, and money to do so, especially when it doesn’t bring us ultimate happiness and sometimes only happiness till we get the item home and find out it is broken and we have to return to the store to get a new one that works.

Part of the ‘fun’ some people feel is the challenge of the struggle in seeking the item, whether it be a item or an idea, like improving our education, improving our bodies, creating something. All of these things will eventually end or wear out. So what is worth seeking?

I submit to you that learning to live in the joy of the moment, the simple time that God allows each minute of each day in thankfulness, looking forward to the next big challenge, or trial he brings your way. Learning to trust Christ in the very breath one takes when he is by himself or with others he has brought across our paths is one way of overcoming the despair of the temporary. There were those who complained in the gathering of manna in the wilderness, and there were those who gathered with a simple yet thankful heart while looking forward to what God would do for them once they came to the promised land.

Perhaps the expectation of good things from the hand of God is more fulfilling than what we can achieve alone ourselves, if we work with him for his desires for us. In these thoughts I have learned, as Paul says, to “be content in whatsover state I am in.” With this being the case, all is manna to us and life becomes whatever God brings into it. As a loving father, God wants good things so we can trust that whatever he brings will be for our joy and our benefit. He will feed us what we need to live the life he intended. As Jesus said, “these things have I written that your joy may be full.” Further study of this verse reveals the joy he is speaking of is bound to time spent knowing him and his father, as shown in the previous verses, “I go to prepare a place for you….In my father’s house are many mansions….abide in his love, etc. So real joy is found in us abiding in Christ and the father. That is what we must do.

SO YOU WANT A KING?

The Bible tells us Israel wanted a king. God had promised them a king. Now they demanded it of Samuel. God warned them any king other than himself would be detrimental to the nation. Nevertheless, he gave them one because they kept demanding it. It was not Samuel, his prophet they had rejected, but God himself.

Be careful what you wish for is a cliche used over and over again in the movies and real life. America wanted a president that would cater to all of it’s small factions and groups. They wanted a president that would be against Biblical truth. The wanted one that would meet their own selfish needs instead of one who would honor the God of the Bible and his principles. They got it!

Just this morning I was reading of some new policies coming our way. Evidently, our president wants to confiscate all of the retirement accounts in America. As with most truth, it is often covered up with lies and deceit until such time as it is implemented into the system. Then it will be covered with more deceit to make it palatable. You can find some of it here and here.

What this means is that along with furthering the redistribution of wealth that was planned by the Democrats, people who might have been able to retire at an early age will no longer be able to for two reasons. First, they will no longer have the money in their accounts at the level they had before and therefore must work more years. Second, if the Dems have their way they will be raising the retirement age from it’s current age to be 70 or 72 years of age before being able to draw retirement from a national retirement plan like social security.

From a Biblical standpoint, God has always taken care of those who trust him. We cannot trust the government or a man to do what only God can do. Stop trusting other things and turn your eyes to the one and true savior of man, Jesus. There is no other answer to a fallen and ungodly world.

WHAT IS GRACE?

Most Christians, (evangelical & fundamental), group all Christians under grace to be free from the law, (the Torah of Moses). The Bible does not do this. Peter talks about “the grace that is to come unto you,” (1 Peter 1:10), and the “grace that is to is to be brought unto you at the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Peter 1:3). Unto the gentile Christians Paul talks about the grace that now is ours and already available to us because of the cross of Christ which already exists in the fullness of him, apart from the works of the law.

The confusion is understandable seeing there are several hundred years of false doctrine and church traditions to confuse us. The truth is that the grace revealed to the Jew was somewhat like that of the gentile Christian in that eventually all would be saved by grace alone without the works of the law, yet it was different in that it also contained special promises made only to the nation of Israel for her millennial kingdom, but did not immediately do away with the law entirely as it did with the gentile believers. I say it would eventually do away with the law because for the Jew under the kingdom gospel, that is, under teaching of the twelve, it did not do away with the law and even now has not yet done away with it. Those apostles that labored under the “great commission” to the nation of Israel lived their whole lives still bound by the Torah, the law given to Moses, of which the gentile was free and never bound to. This is a fact anchored to scripture.

Those of us who have labored under the ‘kingdom gospel’ and the ‘great commission’ have tried to force our own beliefs about grace apart from the works of the law upon a generation of believing Jews, (in our reading and interpreting scripture); first those beginning with John the baptist on through to Christ earthly ministry, and onto the twelve who went about to carry on that commission to the nation of Israel and Jews scattered abroad throughout the then known world.

If we impose our belief that all men brought to Christ are free from the works of the law, then we have a contradiction in that scripture shows us the twelve men who carried that great commission to the believing Jew also lived under the commands and confines of the Torah, (the law), and even the elements of the Talmud, (which I will not in this writing attempt to explain). This is made plain in scripture. Acts 21:20-24 shows us plainly that the apostles not only kept the law, but taught their disciples to do so. Acts 15 makes clear the Holy Ghost himself approved only the gentiles to be free from the law of Torah and in so doing confines the Jew to still be obligated to it.

Acts, chapter 10 tells us that Peter had been keeping the law even then and did not do away with it in practice or belief. Had it not been for God himself commanding Peter to go to Corneilius’ house he would never have stepped foot upon it’s threshold, as Peter himself says,

“-Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me not to call any man common or unclean.”

Notice that it is not just the coming into the house of a gentile that was forbidden but also to keep company with one of another nation. This scripture alone should be enough to destroy the false doctrine that gentiles were saved on the day of Pentecost or before because this means they would not have gone “house to house” with gentiles, or fellowshipped in the “breaking of bread” with gentiles, or that they would have “had all things common” with gentiles under the teaching of the apostles at this point in time, as falsely taught by the church. That day of fellowship is clearly defined in scripture as the time in which Peter first steps into the house of Corneilius and it is this point in time in which gentiles are being grafted into the vine the book of Romans speaks of.

Of course, all the church will defend it’s false doctrine to the ends of the earth as being right and twist scripture to accommodate it’s beliefs. Some will say Peter didn’t mean what he said about not eating or fellowshipping with those of other nations or they will show supposed proof that gentiles were saved even under the earthly ministry of Christ using examples such as the Syrophenician woman, or the centurion who’s servant was healed, or the strangers spoken of on the day of Pentecost, being ignorant of what salvation meant to the Jew or how a gentile could be saved according to Jewish law. We being ignorant of the Noamide laws and the ‘righteous gentile’ who following the basic law and doing good works to the nation of Israel found in the centurian who’s servant was sick, or in Corneilius who’s alms were brought before the Lord as a testimony unto him, or the years it might have taken for one such as the Syrophenician woman to become a Jew or generations to even be accepted into the congregation of Israel, or anyone else to become a Jew and thus being guaranteed salvation, (as they believed), is for the most part ignored. And yet, Christ himself said to the woman at the well, “ we know what we believe, for salvation is of the Jews.” And we have also ignored for the most part his own words that he was “not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” or that he came to his own first, that is, the nation of Israel, but “his own received him not.” We also forget Jesus “was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers.” -Romans 15:8.  What we have is our own ideas of what it meant to be saved under the kingdom gospel which neither lines up with historically as taught under Jewish law as the apostles would have understood it.  In other words, the Kingdom Gospel was not a gospel of inclusion, but rather, exclusion of every nation or gentile who did take not their place to bow to Israel accepting her place as God’s chosen, quite the opposite of what is taught.

We want to read more into that. We want to read ‘gentile believer’ because he is called ‘a light to the gentiles,’ ignoring the fact that he was a light to point the way to becoming a Jew first under the kingdom gospel, because they were still under the law and following the law. Grace apart from the law that Paul speaks of came only through the revelation of Jesus Christ through the apostle Paul and him alone. The mystery that Paul speaks of, (Ephesians 3:6), hidden in the mind of God since before the world began, (Ephesians 3:9), in which gentiles were to be ‘fellow heirs’ was unheard of by the Jewish apostles. Grace apart from the works of the law was not known to them or understood by them until Paul himself explained it to them and it was confirmed by the Holy Ghost in Acts chapter 21. Even later, in Galatians, Peter still could not fully grasp the truth of this concept. It is Paul who must set him right in confronting him that not eating with gentiles now violated the truth that men are not saved by the works of the law but by the hearing of faith.’ Yet, this knowledge did not excuse the twelve from still being under the law itself.

Those who want to still labor under the great commission do so under the confines of the law and are placing their hearers under the law because it was given under the law, not under grace apart from the works of the law.  This is made true by the facts that the twelve were still under the law as late as Acts chapter 21, and they all died under the law because Israel was still under the law to whom they were sent. We are clearly shown this and yet we want to excuse it away. We want to justify them falsely as living under grace apart from the law to ourselves and in doing so twist scripture to show the twelve as living under the same grace as Paul taught to the gentiles. Israel herself will be under the law until God himself takes away that veil. Jesus stated that the law, (for Israel), would not be done away with for “not one jot or tittle shall in no ways pass from the law, until all be fulfilled”. Scripture tells us clearly when that day will be. It is when Israel shall turn to her lord, (2 Corinthians 3:16). It will also be when the time of the gentiles is full, (Romans 11:25). Last, it is when she shall look upon her Lord, Jesus Christ at his appearing, (Zechariah 12:10). Therefore, the Apostles and Jews that come to Christ under that gospel would not experience the full grace of God as we know it, apart from the works of the law, until the appearing of her Messiah in his return. Therefore, if grace is “God’s unmerited favor” as preached by most preachers, then the favor of God to the Jew under the great commission and the Kingdom Gospel to the nation of Israel, and as taught by the twelve, is similar to but not the same as the grace taught to gentiles by Paul, that is, grace apart from the works of the law.

What is the natural questions that arise out of this discussion? First, what about the fact that Paul labored under the great commission doing the miracles and works of it while preaching it himself, and second, what of there being “no difference between the Jew and the Gentile? That will be answered in a later post. Until then, know that the twelve who labored under the great commission did so under the law and died under it while still experiencing, in part, God’s favor, (or grace), that would only be complete at the second coming of Christ. We on the other hand who have come to Christ through the gospel taught by Paul experience all of God’s grace apart from the law or it’s works and are accepted in the beloved now.