There is Rest in Release

From the Repairer’s Fellowship Service Notes from 2011, seems pertinent right now:

One of the reasons that the people of His day missed/couldn’t receive Jesus was that they didn’t know where the Battlefield was, or who the real enemy was.  They were looking at Rome, they were looking at their freedom from Rome as true liberation.

Much like today, people are looking for whatever nonsense is forefront in the media, when the real battlefield is elsewhere.

But we know where the real battlefield is:

Ephesians 6:10-18 – Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; (Eph 6:10-18)

A Jewish colleague of mine asked me this week, how it could be that the people of Israel for the most part stayed together during the Exodus. I explained the concept of the ‘galvanizing them’ or ‘galvanizing other’

Often what unites a people is having a common enemy, a ‘them’. One of the reasons that our country is in such turmoil is that there is no galvanizing ‘them’. The pressure exerted from without, forces the compressed to become stronger, closer, more resilient, and unified. We see this in the natural with diamonds, in the Flesh with wars. We see this played out in our various arenas, (sports, politics, religion, family)

What do we understand? We have a ‘galvanizing them’.

I – Satan

1 Peter 5:6-11 – Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Revelation 12: 10-11 – And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (The blood is the substitutionary atonement, which makes us not guilty in the eyes of the Father, the sacrificial love, and word of our testimony is what identifies to one another and to the world)

(see John 13:34-35, Acts 2:42-47, etc)

II – Sin – Romans 7 (whole Chapter)

How do we overcome?

  1. The blood of the Lamb
  2. The word of our testimony
  3. The whole armor of God
  4. Putting the things of God above the things that we prize the most.

But the Bible is full of paradoxes like this:

*lose to gain*

Luke 9:18-27 – And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am? They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again. He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God. And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing; Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels. But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.

*I live, yet not I *

1st Corinthians 15: 9-10 –  For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  (10)  But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Galatians 2:19-21 – For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.  (20)  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.  (21)  I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

*The things which we do, which we believe are for the bettering of our lives,, often in actuality, are a waste of time and energy, and are spending our lives…

Luke 12:16-34

*When pain can’t be released it is shared and if it is not shared, it is spread.*

Romans 15:1-2 – We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.

*We are to share (bear one another’s burdens)*

Galatians 6:1-10 –  Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.  (2)  Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.  (3)  For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.  (4)  But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.  (5)  For every man shall bear his own burden.  (6)  Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.  (7)  Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  (8)  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.  (9)  And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.  (10)  As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

This is after all, the example of Christ

Isaiah 53:4-6 – Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  (5)  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  (6)  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

We have to let go, if we’re going to grow – and we cannot be the body of Christ until we are ready/willing to let go…

Fulfillment in life comes from the letting go, not the grabbing. 

In Closing, this:

Matthew 6:19-34

19 “Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness, how deep is that darkness!

24 “No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

The Cure for Anxiety

25 “Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? 27 Can any of you add one moment to his life-span by worrying? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Observe how the wildflowers of the field grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these. 30 If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t he do much more for you—you of little faith? 31 So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Jesus The Christ

A conversation with a brother about healing (and other issues)

I found a conversation between a brother and I which took place in 2011. I found it useful, and I pray that you will too.

SDG

  • Sun, May 15, 2011 at 12:36 PM

Subject: Just following up…

Hey Bro
As you asked, M and I did indeed pray for you and yours. We also lifted up your church search..
A suggestion that I can make is EPC, I am not sure if you have heard of them. (redacted) is the Pastor there.
I only know of them that they are Reformed, and he is an Author that I like. The church’s website is here:
(redacted) and Please know that you are ALWAYS welcome to join us via Skype or by phone for our time of Fellowship…
We start at 2:30 Every Sunday, and we also do a Bible Study by Phone
Mon-Wed at 9 pm
Much Love
C

 

  • Sun, May 15, 2011 at 5:28 PM

Thanks C. I did try EPC and while I loved the people, I did not join because they do not believe that healing is for all believers and they perceive natural disasters as punishment / judgment from God.
Thanks as well for your invite for church and Bible study. I am interested in the Bible study. Can I call in or do I need Skype?
Thanks

  •  Sun, May 15, 2011 at 6:11 PM

Hey Bro
I did not know that they flowed that way. I have a question for you…
How are they wrong? Is (physical) healing in fact for all believers?
Where is this in the scripture? Not trying at all to give you a hard time, but I would sincerely like to know.
re: The Bible Study, You do not need Skype,  the phone line is sufficient,
Peace
C

 

  • Sun, May 15, 2011 at 9:19 PM

C – You already know that the broken body is for our healing and the shed blood is for the remission of sins. We often part and parcel God’s promise because we don’t see it in our own lives. I may call in to a Bible study.
Thanks Bro
Love you

  • Sun, May 15, 2011 at 9:57 PM

J
I am asking a specific question, because I have a lady who is a part of our group who is quite ill, and she is ‘believing God’ for her healing. The trouble is that she is not getting better, and as such her faith has begun to wane. She now thinks that God has forsaken her, because she is not getting better, and that He no longer hears her prayers. What do I tell her, brother? That healing is promised to everyone but her? Or perhaps that she does not have enough faith to be healed? What do I say?

Personally, I am of the belief that Isaiah 53 is about the reconciliation between God and man, that is the healing that he writes of. It is not about physical healing.
I understand that the prevailing thought is that we are to ‘walk in divine health’ but the reality is that we die, Pastor JK. We get sick, we sometimes suffer and we all die.

Why would Paul say that God told him no? Why would He do that? Is it perhaps that His sovereignty is the main thing? He told him that his GRACE was sufficient for him…
Why would He tell Moses that He chooses who He will have mercy on? If healing is for EVERY believer?
There are those whom He heals instantly, those whom it is given to after a time of illness, and others for whom it is not His will that they be healed.
Romans 8 is clear that we are promised God’s presence in the midst of sickness and all other manner of trial. His presence, brother. He does not promise to take it away, He promises never to Leave us…
I have told her this, but she will not hear.

So I am asking you to provide for me scriptural proof that God promises physical healing to EVERY Christian.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  – (Rom 8:35-39)

I appreciate your thoughts on this, man. If I have it wrong, please correct your brother.
Thanks
C

 

  • Mon, May 16, 2011 at 9:25 AM

Hi C,

I perceive the pressure you feel as a shepherd to your flock. (I prayed for our Father to comfort and lead you in all truth).

Whenever I face questions like this I usually go back to the Gospels to look at what Christ modeled since Christ is ultimately what God wants us to become. Jesus has never turned anyone away who wanted healing but rather healed them all. Jesus said He did only what He saw the Father doing therefore we can conclude the Father is in the healing ministry. Also in the book of Deuteronomy sickness is a curse and health is a blessing. We also know that sickness is a result of sin and so is death. Well, Christ bore the sin and sickness since he was the last Adam and therefore we are free from the consequence of sin which is sickness and death. We know that we will experience the final victory over death upon His return.

I urge you to use this situation to press into the throne room of God and experience His face. If Jesus was there among you and your church members would she be still sick?….no! Therefore press into worship. You and the elders must lay hands on her and speak to the mountain to be removed and do it over and over and over and over and over again (like Elijah). Also tell this woman to speak to her mountain consistently and rebuke it and cast it out. Also there must not be any unforgiveness, jealousy, slander, bitterness or malice among you. Confess your sins to one another!

Heavenly Father, your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we know Father that there are no wheel chairs, medicine, or doctors in heaven because Jesus paid it  ALL. We thank you that we are healed by your stripes and we give you ALL the glory and ALL the honor. I know Lord that C’s heart is moved with compassion for Your flock just like You are. I pray that you anoint him with more power from on high to give You more glory in this earth. Holy Spirit help this local body to press in even more in worship for You delight in it and when presence is here there is healing in Your wings. Spur us on Holy Spirit…..
In the matchless name of Jesus we pray.

Amen

 

  • Tue, May 17, 2011 at 12:54 AM

J
First off, thank you for taking the time to write me back. I really appreciate it, and I appreciate your going to the throne on our behalf.

Regarding you comment that, “Christ is ultimately what God wants us to become”. I agree that we shall ultimately be like Him. The scripture is plain…

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.  – (1John 3:1-2)

Notice that it is future tense; we shall be, when He shall appear. Shall be, is not now.

I would also ask that you read John Chapter 5 in context, re: the comment that Jesus only did what He saw His Father do. You may come away with a different understanding as to what He was talking about. It wasn’t the healing, it was the perceived transgression of the Law. The Father transcends the Law, so does the Son, and I believe that was His point…

I looked up your assertion that according to Deuteronomy sickness is a curse. I found that according to Deuteronomy 28, it is indeed a curse, and it is YHWH that is letting Israel know that should they disobey him, they will be cursed by HIM with sickness, and a host of other calamities.
It begins with verse 15 which says:

But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:  – (Deu 28:15 KJV)

And it ends with this:

And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life: In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see. And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.  – (Deu 28:64-68 KJV)

Here is where I have a problem, bro. Actually a couple of problems

1) The curses described here are God’s promise to that people, and were quite specific. How do we handle then, verses 64-68 in context? Is this happening now? In fact, I would ask that you read the entire Chapter (and the preceding one) in context, and tell me if you can still draw the same conclusion..

2) If you can, then I must ask this: Using this reference then, and by extension the logic, I must glean from this that I am to tell this woman that she is in sin, and God is cursing her. This is the cause of her affliction unto death. How can she therefore ‘rebuke and cast out’ the very illness that YHWH Himself has afflicted her with because of her sin?
I should also tell my cousin who is in her 3rd bout with breast cancer, (which has also affected both lungs and her brain) that the God she loves, serves and worships faithfully is in fact afflicting her because of sin…
And what of Zac, whose video I have linked below, who went to be with the LORD a year ago today, leaving a young widow, and 3 young children… He is dead because he sinned.
http://www.godvine.com/Man-Dying-of-Cancer-Leaves-Behind-an-Unforgettable-Video-258.html

How then is this any different than EPC saying that natural disasters are punishment/judgment? It seems much the same to me…

3) Additionally, are you saying that God curses people, but we can, by obeying the Law get Him to lift the curse that HE has placed on us? That must be what you are saying, because if our cursing and disease and are the result of sin, then we must also accept the fact that it is our works of obedience that heal us. After all, verse 1 of the same Chapter says this:  And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:  – (Deu 28:1) A list of blessings follows.
If this is true, then there was no need for Jesus to come, because we can obey and keep the Law ourselves…

4) Why do believers die then brother? If sickness is the result of a curse from God, yet Jesus came to make us all well, then does it not make God a trifle arbitrary and capricious?

5) On that note, using Deut 28 as a launching pad, can we not also then make the assumption that Jesus was healing people to in fact, prove Himself to be the antidote, to in effect, reverse the curse? Could it be that the purpose of His healings was to prove His deity, Prove his power and His authority to the ones to whom He was sent? To show them that as He said, the Son of man was the Lord of the Sabbath and the Law (Matthew 12:8-13),
When He spoke to the people during the sermon on the mount and said this:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17-18).
On the excellent website www.gotquestions.org we find this re: the fulfillment of the law:
“Christ fulfilled the demands of the Mosaic law, which called for perfect obedience under threat of a “curse” (see Galatians 3:10, 13). In this sense, the law’s divine design will ever have an abiding effect. It will always accomplish the purpose for which it was given. If, however, the law of Moses bears the same relationship to men today, in terms of its binding status, then it was not fulfilled, and Jesus failed at what He came to do.”
Keep in mind bro, that EVERY one of the people that Jesus healed, died. I say that with almost complete certainty. Even Lazarus, and the little girl raised from the dead, died again. So unless Jesus failed in His mission, (and we know that He did not) , the death that He went to the cross to save us from was the Eternal death of separation from God. And the stripes that whereby we are healed were for our permanent (Spiritual) not temporary (temporal) healing.

6) Is not physical death the natural ordered result of physical life? Am I not to expect that no matter how I pray, praise, and worship, I will  (unless the rapture comes) have to experience physical death in order to experience eternal life?

7) Do I believe that God heals? Of Course. I am aware however, that it is not my prayers, decrees or declaration, but his will, and His Mercy. Paul who asked and was told no, says this in his letter to the church at Phillippi: Phil 2:  25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 

Paul says that  God had mercy on him, brother

8) I have to reiterate, bro, that by your logic, there is no need for Romans 8:35-39. In theory we should all live in perfect health forever. We both know that this is not the case. We age, we change, this mortal coil wears down, and we go. But maybe I see it a little more clearly than you do, as I can see 50  just few months away, and am discovering new aches and pains as I go… LOL!

Please read Romans 8 completely bro, and notice that Paul is writing to believers, and he is not speaking of sin, or to sinners. Remember that the chapter begins with this wonderful declaration:

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  – (Rom 8:1-4 KJV)    

So since this is true, if sickness is a curse, and a curse from God because of sin and disobedience, why can this promise be made?
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  – (Rom 8:35-39)

I am most happy for this discussion, and look forward to your reply.
Peace & Love
C

The conversation ended there… Your thoughts/opinions are welcomed, fam.

What sayest thou?

Why post about Eddie Long after his death?

A brother asked me this week, the following questions:

“… you have been posting a lot of stuff about Eddie Long. Why and what is the reason? The man is dead and buried now.”

I responded:

Sorry that it took me so long to respond bro. I was not ignoring your comment/query.

Though seemingly a simple question, it is a layered one. As such it requires a tiered response. My attempt follows:

  • We are required to walk in Truth, and there is a paucity of that in the modern ‘church’, especially when it comes to our ‘leaders’. The man may be dead and buried, but his legacy (positive and negative) live on. As such, I am resistant to the idea that because he is dead, we must ignore the carnage that the man left, and focus solely on the good that he did. It does a HUGE disservice to those who have been harmed, and to that which calls itself ‘church’.
  • I am a Pastor, and I am always painfully aware of my shortcomings and failures. It is clear always to me that I am a recipient of a great GRACE. That said, we tend to in the ‘church’, especially in the organizations that employ what is called ‘The Great man Model’, elevate our pastors to near sainthood if not outright deification. That is IDOLATRY plain and simple.
  • The Bible is clear that there is only ONE man who lived His entire life without sin. The rest, even the great ones, achieved despite or in the face of, their sin, and we are told about their sin as a reminder and an encouragement. How dare we discuss people today as though they have no sin?
  • I knew the man. We were a part of the same organization for several years, in fact we for a time, referred to the same man as spiritual father. The man that I knew was humble, self-effacing, and willing to be clear about the pain of his childhood, and the scars that he bore. But it was clear even then, that there was an underlying issue when it came to the question of sexual sin. The truth is that; issues which are not addressed, not resolved, though they may reside below the surface or in a closet, will erupt, or the door will open. When they do, especially in these type or organizational systems that focus on ‘The Great man’ as the engine, measures of deceit or cover up must be employed in order to keep the machine rolling. This involves other people in the sin.
  • For us who are, as the Bible says, Elders, Pastors, we are to be beyond reproach (1Tim 3:2) this does not mean without sin, but it does mean that repetitive, consistent, habitual sin is a disqualifier. The Bishop because of this behavior, and because of the errant doctrines that he was teaching (which we can discuss at another time) was disqualified.

I hope that this was not too long… God Bless you bro.

SDG

The Transitional Importance of The Lord’s Table

Good Morning Family. I am so grateful to be here with you again. God is indeed merciful.

Intro and Example

It is important, when studying any passage of scripture, to seek to know what the original writer meant, what the context of the passage was, the history and the time, and what the original hearers would have heard. Knowing these things leads to greater understanding, and minimizes the misuse of a passage.

It has been said quite that ‘Text without context, is pretext’. Not having context, and authorial intent can be deadly. Literally. History has shown us that.

This has been particularly meaningful, as I have been for the past 14 months, teaching through The Revelation.  Line by line, verse by verse, we have worked our way through it.  In fact, we are going to be finishing Chapter 13 in our gathering later this afternoon…

One of the things that we have learned, to a person, is that our understanding of this letter, which was framed in the rubric of Dispensational American Evangelicalism, is almost completely wrong. It has been sobering, to say the least.

Why you may ask, has it been wrong? Well, because we are taught John’s words, interpreted outside of John’s time and context.

A quick example: Chapters 2 and 3 are individual letters to 7 churches in Asia Minor. Each of them had issues that plague many churches today. That alone is a great reason to read them. In Chapter 3, which contains the Letter to the church at Laodicea, we find two oft-misquoted passages, occurring in verses, 15, 16, and 20:

Verses 15 & 16 say: 15  I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. 16  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth.

I have heard that passages taught many times that Jesus was telling us to decisive, to be hot or cold towards him, and that indecisiveness would cause you to be, (and I am quoting King James here) ‘Spewed out’.  When I was younger, I used to wonder just how far God could ‘spew’?

Was it one of those deals where, if he spit you out, 1000 years later, you’d still be hurtling through the galaxy  at Warp 8, doomed to travel from here to the other side of forever…?

What used to bother me, and I never seemed to get a sufficient answer was, why would God want anyone to be cold towards Him? It made no sense, and I understand today that it made no sense because I had no context.

The statement is most like a reference that the church at Laodicea would have easily understand as an ironic chastisement, specific to their time and place. You see Hieropolis, with its invigorating , medicinal hot springs was a few miles to the north, and Colossae, with its refreshing cold springs was just south.

Laodicea, right in the middle, had neither… In fact, some scholars believe that the water in Laodicea was literally tepid, lukewarm… neither hot nor cold.  As such, it was neither invigorating nor refreshing.

Think about that for a moment: A CHURCH, representatives of the Most High GOD, Bearers of HIS SPIRIT and HIS WORD. SALT AND LIGHT in the world, and Jesus calls them Useless…  It is a terrifying thought, both individually and corporately.

How would we, could we understand that today, without knowing the context.  Doesn’t that make a lot more sense now?

And it is this loving albeit harsh admonition that leads to the Grace-filled offer of verse 20, which we all know…

Revelation 3:20 – Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

How have you heard that used? In my experience, it was usually in an altar call situation, imploring unsaved people to come to Jesus. Presenting the knocking, waiting, patient, Jesus… Things of that sort…

But now that we know the subject, object and context of the letter it is clear to see that this is not a general offer or invitation of communion, or salvation. It is specific to the church, the people of God, those with whom there already exists a covenant, an oath: Born of Love, sealed in precious, redeeming BLOOD. It is to US that this offer of communion is made…

Gathered to Celebrate

We have gathered today to celebrate one of the most important events, not only in Christendom, but in the history of the world. The Lord’s Table, The Eucharist, Communion…

In fact the word Eucharist itself is based on the Greek word meaning to celebrate.

The Lord’s table then, is a celebration.  A celebration of what?

A celebration of transaction, transition and transformation…

What do I mean?

Listen to this passage in Luke Chapter 22. Starting from verse 14: Reading from the HCSB

 14 When the hour came, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

17  Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. For I tell you, from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”  And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

20  In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you.

He says to them that for Him, it would be the Last Until… Yet for them, by telling them to repeat this process in remembrance of Him, for them this was a First.

It was Last for Him, first for them, transition for both of them…

You see, He knew what they didn’t know or understand, even though He had said it numerous times… The son of man must be given over, and be killed… He knew what was coming, and that things would never be the same. The table became symbolic then, not only of what had passed, but of what was to come.

As such, it could be argued (and is argued by some) that the Last Supper, was in fact the First Communion and the Last Passover. We’ll get to that in a minute.

From our vantage point we know now what those who first heard it would understand later:

The Communion was preparation for a transaction that would take place a few hours later on the cross.  The Lord’s Table was symbolic of The Process of transition for Jesus, and the Promise of transformation  for the disciples (and for us).

The First Passover

The first Passover itself was a transaction that was both transitional and transformational.

Think about it. The Book of Exodus records that Israel had been in Egypt in bondage for over 400 years. They had been oppressed and enslaved, and God delivered them by the leadership of Moses through a series of plagues.

The final plague was the death of the firstborn. The angel of death came and killed the firstborn in every family, the firstborn of man and animal unless you had sacrificed a lamb and splattered the blood on the doorposts and the side beams. If there was blood shed, then the angel of death passed that house by.

To be delivered then, requires the shedding of blood. In particular, the blood of a spotless lamb…

In short, there is a principle which is: To be delivered from judgment requires death.

But by Jesus’ time judging by the behaviors recorded in scripture, Passover was for many a mere formality. It was a thing that the people did on a ritual basis that commemorated a long done event, too far removed from the people’s understanding to have any real meaning.

Sadly, it is the same now. The Lord’s table is, for many, merely a ritual exercise, a ritual devoid of meaning. We do not fully grasp that the elements are symbols of Great Love, great cost, great weight, great promise and great value. Let us never forget that.

Jesus Elevates the Passover

So what do we know about The Last Supper? It was a Passover dinner. But what else do we know?

Luke and Paul both speak of Bread being broken, and ‘The Cup’ being drunk. Can we get some more context on this? I believe so… What does current scholarship have to say?

“Near the beginning of a traditional Passover Seder, a piece of matzah is broken in half. The larger of the two pieces is hidden away in linen cloth until the end of the meal. When it is brought back from concealment it is shared by everyone at the table as their final morsel. This broken and hidden piece of matzah is called the afikoman.

None of it is explained in the Haggadah for Passover. Nor is it mentioned in Scripture. The term afikoman appears first in the Mishnah (the earliest collection of rabbinic legal rulings, codified around 200 CE/AD) Although afikoman is written in Hebrew letters, it is actually a Greek word…

Jewish historians disagree why a Greek term entered the Passover liturgical tradition or what it means.

In 1925 an Austrian scholar named Robert Eisler argued that at the time of Jesus,  the afikoman was originally part of an established messianic ritual observed during the Passover. He said the whole piece of matzah held up at the beginning of the meal represented all Israel, while the broken-off portion stood for the longed-for Messiah. When the hidden afikoman emerged from concealment at the end of the Seder, it symbolized the coming of the Messiah in the midst of his people.”

Could it be that it is THIS piece of Bread that Jesus gave to His disciples declaring that this was His Body?

As for ‘The Cup’. What cup is this?

“The Mishnah states that there are 4 cups of wine drunk during the Passover feast. Each time the cup is filled, it has a different name. Opinions vary as to what certain cups actually symbolize. Most agree that the first cup is the Kiddush, which means sanctification. With this cup, the Passover seder begins.

The second cup is called the cup of plagues. The third cup is referred to as either the cup of redemption or the cup of blessing. The fourth cup is often called hallel which means praise, though some traditions call it the cup of acceptance while still others use it as the cup of Elijah.

The New Testament names one of the cups—the cup taken after supper, which is traditionally the third cup. Jesus calls this cup “the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20). The Apostle Paul calls it, “the cup of blessing which we bless,” as well as “the cup of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 10:16,21).

Both Jesus and Paul draw on something from Jewish tradition to provide insights not previously understood. By calling the cup “the new covenant in my blood,” Jesus makes a direct reference to the promise of Jeremiah 31. God had declared that He would make a new covenant because the previous covenant had become “broken” (Jeremiah 31:32). To violate a covenant agreement with God would surely incur His wrath and judgment—a terrible cup! But instead, God promised a new covenant of grace and salvation.” – source jews for jesus

Think about how this must have sounded to those at the Table…

It is apparent then, that Jesus was fundamentally and eternally elevating the nature and purpose of this meal. By elevating the Passover, Jesus makes it clear that it is the blood of the lamb that seals one’s destiny, and not by anyone’s planning, skill or merit, neither by tradition or remembrance, but by grace. What is the principle again? To be delivered from judgment requires death.

 The Communion table then, is a reminder that to be a Christian is:

  • Transactional (there was a cost, the shedding of innocent blood), That it is
  • Transitional (that as John said, we have been given power to become the children of God. Contrary to popular preaching today, everyone is NOT God’s child, and John 1 is clear about that. If you have to become something, then you are not that thing until you become it) and it is
  • Transformational (John later describes the fact that though we have become the children of God , it does not yet appear what we shall be. Shall is future, it is not now. For those of you who are Christians, take a moment to look back over your life… Can you see that you have changed? Right, you are in the midst of a transformation, a process that will continue until He calls you home.

 

Hymns

The Revelation has several hymns in it, and I’d like to quickly share a passage where a couple of them can be found. Chapter Five starting at verse 8, again from the HCSB

8  When He took the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song:

You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slaughtered, and You redeemed people for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth.

11  Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels around the throne, and also of the living creatures and of the elders. Their number was countless thousands, plus thousands of thousands. They said with a loud voice:

The Lamb who was slaughtered is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!

13  I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them say: Blessing and honor and glory and dominion to the One seated on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever! The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

THE LAMB (The spotless, sinless, sacrificed One) is the Only One worthy to open the scrolls of judgment (the events contained in the scrolls mark transition points) , His Blood redeemed a people for God, (to redeem something is a transaction) and these people, by having become God’s people have undergone a transformation.

When the people of God drink the cup and eat the bread, we understand , just as the earliest followers though culturally Jewish, understood,  that by interaction with the Messiah we are transformed, individually and corporately into something different.

 

Only for the believer

This is why Communion is not for everyone. It is only for those who believe.

Consider the Apostle Paul’s words again: from 1 Corinthians 11:26-29  

Verse 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

The Apostle is saying what? That this event, this supper, this communion, is a proclamation,  a statement.

A statement of what? The truth of Jesus’ claims, His Death, His Resurrection, His substitutionary atonement, and much more. It is a proclamation of the reality of your Faith.

He continues, in verse 27:

27  Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy way will be guilty of sin against the body and blood of the Lord. 28  So a man should examine himself; in this way he should eat the bread and drink from the cup.

In what way? In a self examining, humble way. In a way that is aware of yourself, your relationship with God, and your place in the community of believers.

Think back to the parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee… What did Jesus say? He said that the Pharisee who came boldly to pray, trusting in his own righteousness… ‘I thank you that I am not like other men, etc.’  went away just as he approached; unchanged, unjustified, far away from God.

But the tax collector, despised among the people, the man who stood afar off, clearly aware of his own sin and unrighteousness, and begging for mercy, went away justified. It is the same here.  And here is the Apostle’s warning…

29  For whoever eats and drinks without recognizing the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.

Growing up around the way, we used to say, ‘Check yourself, before you Wreck yourself.’

Examine Yourself

So today family, as we prepare to partake of this table; this symbol of transaction, take a moment to examine yourself.

As we come to celebrate this transformational event, especially on this day, that is symbolic  of transition and for transformation, for this Pastor, for this church, for each of us individually, and as a corporate body;  Take the time to examine yourself, honestly, truthfully.

Take time to contemplate, to consider, to look back, to look forward. Take a hard look at you, right now. Consider what you see…

Take time as we sing the Hymn ‘Be Thou My Vision’,  to ask God by His Spirit to show you what you need to see, what needs to change, what needs to be transformed in you, and ask Him for the strength and courage to allow Him to do what He wills be done.

To God Be the Glory. Amen.

3 Questions from a seeking youth…

A young sister sent me three questions after spending time with family members who are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Here are her questions, and my responses…

1) If Jesus is God why did he call God his father when he was on the cross?

Let us be clear, Jesus (Yeshuah is his Jewish name, and this will be important in a few moments) consistently referred to YHWH (GOD) as his Father. Throughout the Gospels, we see this. What we have to seek to do first in order to properly understand any time we read the Bible, is to try to hear what the original hearers heard. This is important here, since to the Jews, Fathers and Sons had the same attributes. Here is an example: Read Matthew 13:54-56, and its parallel passage Mark 6:1-5. Note that in Matthew’s account, he (Jesus/Yeshuah) is referred to as ‘The Carpenter’s son’. That is his identity in the community, and that is why they could not hear him or receive from him. Carpenters were just that carpenters, and nothing else. Mark parallels this, referring to him in this same event as ‘the carpenter’. Two things to note here: 1) You are identified with your Father, and 2) You do what your Father does.

I hope you’re with me so far. Here’s why: Jesus identifies himself as being ‘one’ with God in John Chapter 10. Please read verses 22-39, focusing on verses 30-33 in particular. Did you notice WHY they are picking up stones to stone him? Then look at what he says to them in verses 37-38. Whose works is he doing?

Now thinking back on what we read earlier in Matthew, knowing that for the Jew, you did the works of , and had equality with, your Father, what is he then saying to them? He is identifying Himself by His Works, to the ONLY one who could do those works, YHWH (GOD). Better yet, what did they understand? That He was proclaiming Himself to be equal with God. Knowing that to the Jew, GOD has no equal , the implication here is clear. Jesus is calling Himself GOD.

There are many other times that this type of thing occurs, another good one is when He declares to them EGO EIMI (I AM)

Most Jews is Jesus’ time read their Bibles (The Old Testament, as at the time there was no New Testament) in Greek, the document was called ‘The Septuagint’

(… from the Latin word septuaginta (meaning seventy). It is a translation of the Hebrew Bible and some related texts into Koine Greek. The title and its Roman numeral acronym LXX refer to the legendary seventy Jewish scholars who completed the translation as early as the late 2nd century BCE. As the primary Greek translation of the Old Testament, it is also called the Greek Old Testament (Ἡ μετάφρασις τῶν Ἑβδομήκοντα). This translation is quoted in the New Testament, particularly in the Pauline epistles, and also by the Apostolic Fathers and later Greek Church Fathers.. – source Wikipedia)

In the Septuagint, when Moses asks God Who should he say is sending him, God responds ‘I Am’ – Exodus 3:14 –  “And God spoke to Moses, saying, I AM (ego eimi); and he said, Thus shall ye say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM’(ego eimi) has sent me to you.”

Now turn to John Chapter 8, and read from verse 48 to 59. Note that he says, before Abraham was ‘I AM’, and can you guess what Greek phrase is used there? You got it, EGO EIME the same name that GOD/YHWH uses with Moses.

Do you see what happened next? They picked up stones (to try to kill him) Why? Because of WHO he was saying that He was/is…

With the preceding point in mind now, (that for Jews, there was equality between Father and Son) let’s take a look specifically at Luke 23:33-3433 When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified Him there, along with the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. [34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” ] And they divided His clothes and cast lots.

Knowing what you now know about the context in which Jesus spoke, what is so unusual about this? Nothing. He was doing as He always had, declaring Himself one with/equal to, GOD

Please note that the disciples identified him as God as well. Here are a couple of examples:

2 Peter 1:1  – “Simon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:”

He is not, as some might claim, referring to two beings, He is referring to only ONE Jesus Christ (Yeshuah Ha Maschiach) who he calls ‘our God and Savior.’ As in one being both attributes… How do we know this? It is a reference to the doctrine of imputation. The righteousness of the Messiah, was imputed to men, and their sin was imputed to him.  Imputation means to replace missing data/information/elements with substituted values. It is what the Jews clearly understood from Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The sin of the family is imputed to the animal that is to be sacrificed, and that animal’s blood is then shed in atonement of sin. The animal in effect, becomes/takes on the sin of the person, and the animal pays the price for the sin, with its blood (its life). Sound familiar? It should, It is the point of the cross. As Paul said: ‘He who did not have any sin, became sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God.’  – 2 Corinthians 5:21

That is imputation.

Paul says of the Jews (his brothers ethnically), in his letter to the Roman church:

Romans 9:1  I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience is testifying to me with the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have intense sorrow and continual anguish in my heart. 3 For I could almost wish to be cursed and cut off from the  Messiah for the benefit of my  brothers , my own flesh and blood. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple service, and the promises. 5 The ancestors are theirs, and from them, by physical descent, came the Messiah, who is God over all, praised forever.  Amen .

2) Was Jesus an Arch Angel?

No, Jesus is not a created being, He is the Creator. This is especially hard for people who are Unitarians (as Jehovah’s witnesses are). To grasp the idea that one being can exist in three persons is unfathomable, and yet the Bible clearly maintains this truth.

Here is what the Apostle Paul says to the church at Colossae (where a similar debate was going on as to whether or not Jesus was deity or a created being.)

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together. 18 He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything.– Colossians 1:15-18

If he is the image of that which is invisible, he is that thing in representation. For example, if you look in the mirror, the reflection that you see is who? You. If everything was created by him, (that includes angels) He cannot have created himself, as such he is THE CREATOR, HE is GOD. All things have been created through and for Him. He is before ALL things, as such if he was a created being something/someone would have to have been before him, and by him all things (notice it says ALL THINGS) hold together. All clearly means ALL so there is nothing before Him, as such he MUST be GOD.

Compare this to: “Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, “I, the Lord, am the maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by Myself, and spreading out the earth all alone.“ – Isaiah 44:24

The Apostle John, at the beginning of his Gospel, declares:

The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15  John (the Baptist)  testified concerning Him and exclaimed, “This was the One of whom I said, ‘The One coming after me has surpassed me, because He existed before me.’”) 16 Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness, 17 for the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. The One and Only Son— the One who is at the Father’s side— He has revealed Him. – John 1:14-18

Notice that John the Baptist is quoted as saying that Yeshuah is pre-existent. Chronologically, John was older than his cousin Jesus/Yeshuah (see Luke 1:26-45) yet he says that Yeshuah existed before him… This comment from John lends weight to the contention made at the beginning of the Gospel of John which we will discuss later in this tome.

See also Revelation 3:14-22 written to the church at Laodicea, a city quite close to Colossae,  in fact mentioned 3 times in the letter to the Colossian church, and a place where clearly the same heresy concerning Yeshuah’s Deity was active,  wherein Yeshuah identifies Himself as: ““The  Amen , the faithful and true Witness, the Originator of God’s creation” – Rev. 3:14

This is a very big issue, and here is one reason why I prefer that you not use the NWT.

Consider what EVERY OTHER BIBLE EVER TRANSLATED has to say re: John 1:1-3: 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created.

Now this is what the NWT says: In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. This one was in [the] beginning with God. All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence (John 1:1–3 NWT).

Not only is this translation inaccurate, it is deceitful, and dishonest, because it seeks to intentionally change the writer’s statement re: the Deity of Christ (Yeshuah) by calling him a ‘god’ (note the small g’)

3) Is Jesus’ name Jehovah?

In a Word NO. But GOD’s name is not ‘Jehovah’ either. Why do I say that? First off, because there is no ‘J’ or j sound in Hebrew. So Jesus’ name isn’t Jesus either. So where did ‘Jehovah’ come from?

“The word “Jehovah is a hybrid, arising from a misunderstanding. The word “Yahweh,” which more nearly corresponds to the original Hebrew name, is preferable;” –  Bade The Old Testament in the Light of Today (Boston, 1915), pp. 313 f.

And this from the 1911 – Encyclopedia Britannica: “JEHOVAH (YAHWEH 2), in the Bible, the God of Israel.

“Jehovah” is a modern mispronunciation of the Hebrew name, resulting from combining the consonants of that name, Jhvh, with the vowels of the word Adonay, ” Lord,” which the Jews substituted for the proper name in reading the scriptures. In such cases of substitution the vowels of the word which is to be read are written in the Hebrew text with the consonants of the word which is not to be read.”

BritannicaJehovah

 

As such the better question is: Is Jesus/Yeshuah YHWH (Yahweh)?

The answer is YES! Let’s look at Philippians 2:9-11— The Apostle Paul says: Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Once again, we have to, when reading the Bible try to understand what the original hearers/readers would have understood. Paul’s readers (remember there was no new testament at the time of this letter’s writing) would have immediately identified that Paul was calling Jesus GOD, specifically YHWH. Why? Because he is drawing directly from Isaiah 45:20-25 –

20 “Come, gather together, and draw near, you fugitives of the nations. Those who carry their wooden idols, and pray to a god who cannot save, have no knowledge. 21 Speak up and present your case— yes, let them take counsel together. Who predicted this long ago? Who announced it from ancient times? Was it not I, Yahweh?* There is no other God but Me, a righteous God and Savior; there is no one except Me. 22 Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is no other. 23 By Myself I have sworn; Truth has gone from My mouth, a word that will not be revoked: Every knee will bow to Me, every tongue will swear allegiance. 24 It will be said to Me: Righteousness and strength is only in the Lord.” All who are enraged against Him will come to Him and be put to shame. 25 All the descendants of Israel will be justified and find glory through the Lord .

*If the translation that you are using says ‘The LORD’ or something close, here is why:

Whenever the name LORD is printed in small caps in some English translation, it means the NAME: YAHWEH. For ancient Jews (and conservative modern ones), YAHWEH was the Name of names; so sacred that they would not speak it nor would they write it in full (they left out the vowels: YHWH). YAHWEH was the Holy One of Israel. Here is what it looks like:

yhwh-in-english

 

So let’s consider this:

As a Pharisee, (one of the most learned and trained Jews) Paul knew this text very well. He knew exactly what he was saying: Jesus of Nazareth is YAHWEH.

In The Psalms, we find this: “Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Yahweh, faithful God.” Psalm 31:5

The Apostle Stephen as he was being killed, said what? – Acts 7:59-60 “And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep.’”  What did Stephen believe abiout Jesus/Yeshuah, even to his death? That He is YAHWEH

The Prophet Joel says: “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as Yahweh has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom Yahweh calls.” Joel 2:32

The Apostle Paul says:

8  On the contrary, what does it say? ‘The message is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (he is quoting Deuteronomy 30:14). This is the message of faith that we proclaim: 9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. 11 Now the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame, 12 for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – Romans 10:8-13

The Lord who? Who does Paul say is Lord? What scripture is he clearly referencing? So what is He saying about Jesus/Yeshuah? Right, that HE IS YAHWEH

I hope that at least gets you started.

God Bless You, sister.

Please let me know what other questions you have

Much Love to you,

Pastor J

A ‘lose lose’ situation…

Several years ago, I was in negotiations to become the ‘worship pastor’ of a local denominational church. I had served there previously in several capacities (choir director, worship leader, and more) in two previous spans.

The situation seemed really good; The church,suffering numerically and financially, was seeing dwindling numbers especially in the key 25-40, and 40-59 demographics, (Key of course since these are the two groups who normally bring both energy and steady income to the church)  and was looking for a way to turn the situation around…

Per the negotiations that I had with the pastor, I would work directly with him on worship planning, service structure, and have responsibility over the music and arts ministries. In that capacity, I was to:

1) Implement training (Biblical, Musical, Theological) for both the adults and children, re: Worship, the use of music, etc.

2) Create/develop a band and choir from among existing membership so that the church would not have to hire outside musicians, (especially those of a different faith as they were doing, which is another post in itself).

Additionally, the pastor told me that he was looking to build what amounted to a ‘two-winged’ system (aka the cell-celebration model) where leaders were trained and empowered, and the cells met and sought to experience/manifest their faith in a much more intimate way, and that he needed my help to do it. I was hooked…

I even agreed to commit to the work for less than one half of what I knew the work was worth in terms of time, effort and value.

Keep in mind that I was going to take this on in addition to my other duties, including pastoring/teaching the Repairer’s Fellowship. (What was I thinking? In retrospect, I’m not sure)

As we went into the process however, things began to change subtly. After a while it became clear that the pastor’s aims/goals and mine were not in alignment.

He wanted Immediate results, performance and pomp, (especially since he was aware of my prior work with a very large ministry of which he is enamored), while I was looking for steady growth, community development, and long-term success.

Additionally, I began to see during meetings that what we had discussed privately was clearly not being communicated to the board members of the church, in particular those whose support would be key, if the endeavor would be successful.

Most importantly  however, I began to see (in these same meetings) that the Theological positions which we seemed to share on key issues must have been figments of my imagination. In short, we were at an impasse.

The last straw was a meeting which I was invited to, which took place a mere 3 days before my scheduled ‘official’ start date. I had been attending events, getting familiar with the people with whom I’d be working closely, some of whom were new to me, some were not. Several things took place at the meeting which did nothing to assuage my growing discomfort with the formerly idyllic enterprise, in fact it was looking more and more like an elaborate gimmick-filled program designed to bolster/rally support for the pastor, at the expense of the people… Then, the coup de grace. I was asked to stay behind after the meeting, and I was told by the pastor and a key board member, that they then wanted me to come in and work for the first couple of months gratis, and then at the beginning of the third month, they would ‘by faith’ be able to pay me…

I told them that I would pray and think about it, and what emerged was the following (edited for names etc.)

Date: —-

To: Rev. ——, and committee

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I am writing to you because there is much that needs to be said, and it is my desire to be thorough and concise, neither do I wish to be misunderstood, therefore, I ask that you read completely what follows, and then if you’d like to discuss any part of it, I will be happy to at a time that is mutually convenient.

I came out of the meeting that I attended on March xxth, conflicted and concerned for several reasons which I will, if you will indulge me, make clear below. I will first lay out the various situations as I see them, followed by a conclusion…

The liturgical situation:

Clearly we are on different trajectories in terms or our understanding of what it means to be, and function as the church.  As we are all aware, I am not (denomination), and there are many reasons for that. I thought however,  that we could surmount those differences and try to come to a middle ground, but I am now no longer so sure that this can happen successfully.

By nature, due to experience and years of study, I am antagonistic towards doctrines and practices foisted on the church (the people of God) that I do not see Biblical support for. Things that are in my view, destructive to the simple clarity of the Gospel and what it means to be the Ekklesia. Things like Paedo-Baptism, tithing, and consubstantiation to name a few.

I realize also that we have very different ideas about, and definitions of, words like ‘Worship’,’ church’, and ‘service’. I was in error because I thought that we could find a place of agreement, especially when in conversation with Rev. —, I was told that he envisioned eventually the (cell groups) functioning almost like individual house churches. As a house church Pastor, trainer and planter, this appealed to me greatly. But this, like a few other things that we have discussed during this process, I heard (I realize now) through the filter of my definitions and therefore did not hear what was really being said. Again, this is my error.  

That said, I am very concerned about the shape that the (leadership training unit) is taking. I see now that I did not understand the purpose as it has been defined. I thought, (better yet, I assumed) from our discussions that you (church name) were seeking to develop a group of servant leaders, who would, as the Aposle Peter commanded, shepherd the flock which is ‘among them’ (1 Peter 5:2). What I saw the other night instead, was the institution of another level of religious bureaucracy and separation. Another level set in place between the congregation and God, and I am not in agreement with this at all.

Using Exodus 28, Rev. — set up the premise of a level of priests among priests. While this is clearly the way that Israel functioned, it is clear that we are not Israel, we are the body of Christ, a body fitly joined together, where everyone is equally important, with differing gifts which edify the whole. As I say to our group consistently, Pastor is my gift, not my rank.

The spiritual situation:

The essential message of Jesus’ interactions with the Pharisees was that they had put so many things (practices, systems, dogmas, doctrines) in between the people and the Lord that the people’s vision of the true God was obscured, and they were being destroyed because of it.

The ultimate end of what I teach regarding Worship is paradoxical:

  1. The truth that the blood bought believer is a slave. Completely captive to Christ, His will and desire. This understanding shapes everything else in life.
  2. That there is freedom in Christ of the individual, who having come to a place of true liberty can function freely, fully and passionately in the community of believers.

In short, in Christ we are both slave and free simultaneously.

That is what I see in the New Testament, people being set free, as they come into the knowledge of the truth. Simply and sincerely. And those same people becoming willing slaves to the will and purpose of their Master. Utterly and completely…

Instead, in churches all over, we add pomp and circumstance, extra-biblical rituals and forms, and the clever plans of men, which now as then, obscure God from the people, this is why members that I have spoken to recently, identify themselves as (denomination) before they are Christian, if they identify in a meaningful way as Christian at all.

The solution to most all of the issues in the body of Christ (including factionalism, church growth struggles, marital issues, the so-called ‘worship wars’, etc) is quite simple. “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus”.  Not on our terms but on His. It is not about professional presentation, more complexity in our rituals, new levels of hierarchical structure or worship planning that focuses on entertainment or experience. Rather it is about education and edification.

In John 4, Jesus makes clear that true worship is accomplished not in location, ritual, or tradition, but rather in spirit and truth. Teaching before practice, and holiness unto the Lord which comes from within…

Regarding my ‘rigidity’: I have been at various and sundry times been called that and much worse, because I regard the Worship and things of God as holy, and His people as precious. It is clear that the holiness of God is the primary focus of our Worship, it is clear that worship is for God’s glory and for our benefit. I regard Worship (and its associated events) the same why that you, brother (Rev—) , guard the pulpit.Why? Because God does.

This is the same God who killed his own priests, denied his own chosen man the promised land, killed people in the church gathering, and will deny many who profess belief, access to heaven and his throne. Why? Because He is Holy.

This is the same God who admonishes the shepherds to follow His example and lay down their lives for the sheep, the same one who says that a fate worse than death awaits those who Abuse his children, and promises a harsher judgment for those who claim this gift of Pastor/Teacher. Why? Because His people are precious.. His Bride is precious.

As Paul Washer says, ‘If I knew that someone had assaulted my wife, and that people had seen it but did not help, I would first hunt down and destroy the ones who had assaulted my Bride, but then I would hunt down the ones who saw and did nothing. How do you think that Jesus will deal with those who abuse His bride, and those who see and do nothing?’

I refuse to be on either list…

You see brothers and sisters, for us to think that it is ok to bring people in, or put people up to minister who are at best unregenerate, have doctrinal positions which are not Biblically supported, or at worse, do not follow Christ at all, is dangerously errant, and is ‘strange fire’ (see Leviticus 10) .  For us to have ecumenical services with those who follow different gods or hold heretical beliefs about Christ, claiming that they are ‘brothers’ is ‘strange fire’.

This seems not to be an issue for the folks at (church name), and though I am concerned, I understand why. They have not been taught, and many do not have a clear understanding of the depth of it. Clear Biblical teaching will easily fix that, and those who are given grace to hear, will. That is your task, brother (Rev—), and I pray that you will be up to the challenge by God’s grace.

(discussion of the financial situation redacted)

As such, I hereby remove my name from consideration for the position or Worship Pastor/Director of Worship Arts at (Church name) . It is my prayer that in the coming months,  the Lord will guide you towards the best candidate, even as He prepares you in every way to accommodate he or she at that time

In His Service, by His Grace,

Pastor CT. Jermin