July 21, 2014
Lashon Hara is any derogatory or damaging statement against an individual. In Hilchot Deot 7:5, Maimonides supplies a litmus test for determining whether something is or isn’t Lashon Hara:
Anything which, if it would be publicized, would cause the subject physical or monetary damage, or would cause him anguish or fear, is Lashon Hara. Deuteronomy 24:9, “Zachor et asher asa H’ Elokeicha l’Miriam”
It’s Lashon Hara EVEN IF:
a listener pressures the speaker to tell
names are left out
it’s about the speaker’s family
the speaker includes himself in the derogatory description – http://torah.org/learning/halashon/review1.html
Col_4:6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
August was named for Caesar Augustus and while in some ways he was not an august person in his actions he did have a dignity and majesty about him as our word august means. I suspect that if someone in his court or entourage would not have acted dignified or stately that person would have lost his head. After all, he/she represented Caesar and he/she better present a good image.
How much more so should we who represent the King of Kings and Lord of Lords carry ourselves in a dignified way and most importantly in our speech, especially when referring to others? We are to let our speech be gracious even when the person(s) do not seem to deserve it. That is fitting as grace is never deserved. It is given. Knowing we are in desperate need of daily grace ourselves we should be very prone to extend it to others.
It is to be seasoned with salt. Salt can add a savory flavor to a meal that without the salt might be bland or even undesirable. The right amount matters as too much will make a person gag and not enough does not produce the desired result. Yes, salt heals wounds, but it also burns and sufficient salt can melt ice. We need to practice so that when we give an answer to every man about our faith or even our heritage or other beliefs we might create a thirst in them without overpowering them or throwing it in their eyes. There may be wounds to be healed, but still the right amount does make a difference.
Graceful words should be used to redeem and restore a person who may be way out of line and even hateful. As our Jewish friends teach about LaShon Hara, even if it is true, some things need not be said in public. Matt 18 should be applied if the issue needs addressed. Go to them in private and seek restoration of the person.
Tit_2:8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
As we go about sharing our faith, history and even political viewpoints, we should strive to be august and use speech that gives no room for our enemy to use it against us. Let them debate the issues not skirt the issues by having our speech and demeanor to attack and focus on thus swaying other people’s emotions. Remember, gallant Lee spoke well of a man who slandered him. Lee should be our example, not his critic. Maranatha!
July 12, 2014
Dear friends and colleagues, today I met with members of the board of Computers for the Blind. We had a very good conversation about this organization and its goals. I am very excited about this organization as one would expect for an IT person and minister. I firmly believe they are doing a marvelous work and are worthy of any support you can give them.
The need is increasing and thus so also is the need for resources. If you live in the area, consider volunteering your time and if you are not in the area consider a donation. Computer technology is changing rapidly so businesses and individuals refresh their equipment regularly. What is legacy or out of date equipment for you might well be the ideal thing a blind or low vision may need to give them access to a world they would not know without it. Many of these people are low income and the cost of equipment as well as the various software would be more than most could afford.
CFTB expands their vision by providing what they need to not be isolated due to their disability. Please consider donating your older equipment to them. Send this message to the IT department or the CFO of your organization asking them to consider CFTB during their next refresh. I am providing the link to their site below. Will you be eyes to the blind?
As always, thank you for your time and consideration!
Dr. Ronald Shultz, ThD, PC+
Job 29:15 I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. KJV
July 7, 2014
Faith Comes By Hearing—Is Anyone Listening? – Part Four
The last thing you need to know about the harvest is the Thresher. The harvest is all about the Lord and in this time He uses the Holy Spirit to bring about the fruit.
3 And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day.
4 For they are impudent children and stiffhearted. I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD.
5 And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them.
6 And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.
7 And thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear: for they are most rebellious.
8 But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee.
9 And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein;
10 And he spread it before me; and it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe. KJV
I am not a five point Calvinist, by any means, but we know that in the foreknowledge of God He knows who will hear and who will not be it unsaved or saved people. Your job is to be the prophet. You are to do the speaking and not the winning. They need to know that a prophet was among them and you cannot do that unless you know your place and duty and His. If you turn them around or mix them you will be frustrated and lose more than you will gain. Just do what He asks in faith and faithfulness and leave the rest to Him.
Matt 13:30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. KJV
He already knows that even in the Church there are going to be wheat and tares. Too many preachers want to tear up the tares and in the end often tear up the church and their ministry. Let them grow together. Preach the whole Word and the wheat will grow and the tares may leave your field and go to another willingly or they will expose themselves and will leave anyway though they are not as willing, but the shame will drive them out. If a few stay, consider them a means for your growth and no worse than Paul’s thorn that made him rely upon God and not his own skill sets or gifts.
Rom 10: 1-21
1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)
7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.
21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
You may want a person or group of persons saved as much as Paul did his fellow Israelites, but you cannot force it. When you were first saved you went to all your friends and relatives joyfully sharing and confident they would be saved. Some may have and many others may have rejected. That is not your fault and you have to turn it over to God or you will despair. You trust that the God of all the earth shall do right. Pray and witness when you can, but don’t try and shove it down their throats. They will just spew it out and turn and rend you like the pearls being cast before swine. You go, you preach, you pray and then commit the rest to God. It may take years to see some saved and some may not be saved until you go to glory or they may never be saved. You trust that to the owner of the vineyard and the one who will thresh he field.
1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:
7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.
8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.
10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.
11 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate,
12 And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.
13 But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.
Even in faithless, rebellious Israel, there would be a tenth that would be the Lord’s. If we look at the world’s population of seven billion and look at a tenth we only get seven hundred million of those living if we were Raptured this minute. Yet, I don’t don’t think we will get that many. Jesus asked if there would be any faith on the earth when He returned making it sound like a very small remnant and yet a remnant. Seven hundred million scattered around the world would make some very small remnants per country. We have a little over three hundred million in the US. I doubt we have half the remnant in our borders. Think of the size of your church and how many would go if only a tenth went. Mega-churches would be mini-churches when you look at the remnant.
I once interviewed with a church that had a split. They were looking for a man with experience in a three hundred and fifty member church though they were only at one hundred and seventy five after the split. The fellow said the great thing was that there was no change in the offering after the split. I told him there is no organization that loses half their membership and has no financial decrease. I said what you had was a church of one hundred and seventy five members and the same amount of visitors. He did not like that and that was the end of my trail in relation to pastoring that church, but I told him the truth. That is all you have to do whether you are preaching or witnessing. Just tell the truth of the Word. The Thresher will handle the rest.
The world and the Church are listening. They are hungry and will listen and will eat what is given them. If you know the Message, the Entreater, the Audience and the Thresher you will give them meat. The Holy Spirit will cook it, season it, serve it and nourish the ones who He knows wants it and He knows which ones will spit it out. Faith come by hearing and if you will speak it in power they will hear. Maranatha!
July 7, 2014
Faith Comes By Hearing—Is Anyone Listening? – Part Three
Once you know the message and the entreater you must know the audience. Those who are in evangelism and revival ministries understand this principle. When they stand up to speak to an audience they have never met before they have to make some basic choices based on the the pastor, if they know him, the doctrinal position of the church though that can still be tough as many church people today know little about doctrine and with six Baptists you can get thirteen opinions. Check the physical makeup of the church. Are they primarily young, old, well mixed, one culture, multi-cultured, etc. Are you in the North, South, East or West. All of these factors will determine what direction you need to take in your sermon, applicable stories or analogies if you are going to make any impact at all.
Many colloquialisms and historical references that would work well in Texas would be curiosities or confusions in Maine. Sometimes I will not realize that I am using terms or acronyms that are quite common at my job or my church but are only vaguely familiar or unknown to the people I am talking to at the time. When I see that glazed look or they say they have no clue as to what I just said that I know I have to back up and use a different approach. Having served in three military branches as well as working for the Veterans Administration I could use a great many acronyms that would confuse Socrates. or Einstein. People might think me quite intelligent, but there has been no real communication.
Keep It Simple, Saint is not enough because what is simple to you may not be to the group you are trying to convert or teach. I work in the computer field and I try very hard to keep the cookies on the bottom shelf so everyone can eat them when I try to explain things to my clients. Still even using simple language and down home humor and illustrations some folks still do not get it and just acquiesce to let me do what I need to do. Their minds are just not wired to understand that particular set of information.
2 Cor 4:3-4
3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. KJV
7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:
10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.
You are going to run into people who are not going to get the Gospel because of satanic blindness or because of the hardness of their heart, self-inflicted or God caused, as we see in these passages. No one is saved by clever speeches or being defeated in a debate. You may have vast intellectual knowledge of archeology and various science disciplines, excelled in debate club in college and read your Bible in the Koine Greek on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but in Aramaic on Tuesdays and Thursdays saving the Saturdays and Sundays for Hebrew, but there are people who will not be impressed. They are not ready to be saved or they are the ones that never will be saved. Accept that and pray that God will send someone to them when they are ready or weep for the fact that they are dead men walking.
When Peter gave his sermon on Pentecost and won three thousand souls he spoke to them from the background of Jews and tied them to current events of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. He did not speak to Greek poetry, politics or economic issues. He spoke to the reason for what the audience was seeing repudiating their accusation of drunkenness and taking them to the Scriptures speaking to it and then explaining how Christ caused it to happen then pointing to their guilt. As one man said, start with your text and make a beeline to the Cross. The result was conviction, repentance and salvation. He used the right material to the right crowd and yet we know that sheer man’s wisdom was not all involved in this.
There was a time in this country when you could preach to unbelievers and they understood what you were saying because they had been exposed to the Scripture as a child at home, school and even church. They may have been religious like the Jews in Acts or scoffers, but they understood because they heard the Bible in many places and scenarios so they were not ignorant. Many could have quoted Scripture for you. I have had many an interesting conversation with a person who grew up as a preacher’s kid or overheard some deep and even sound theology discussed by drunks. In a session of prison ministry I have heard men read poems or sing songs they wrote and even had one fellow break out in a sermon when we were somehow forgotten by the guard and were there three hours instead of one.
When we had a nation filled with people like this it was much easier to get the message out because all that was needed was clarification of issues or conviction of sin. We were like the Jews at Pentecost. We are no longer that nation and yet we are trying to give the message as if we were and we wonder why we are not as effective as Peter. We are a nation of Pilates who ask what is truth.
The Jews had the Law and the history of God working in their nation. They at least outwardly gave lip service to God though their lives did not always match up. You did not have to convince them that Yahweh was God though at times in their history you had to remind them that He was the only God. If you quoted Scripture they would listen and often repent. They believed in a literal six day Creation. They believed in Adam and Eve, the Flood and on and on. Of course, they had the Sadducees who really did not believe in much of anything and probably should have been kicked out of the Sanhedrin, but the average Jew would have been far more in alignment with the Pharisees sans their hypocrisy.
The Greeks on the other hand did not have this background. They and other Gentiles had all sorts of interpretations of God and the origin and purpose of life as well as many gods in their organizational chart. You can find many stories in antiquity from many groups with similar stories as what is in the Bible, but this is to be expected. After all, only eight people got off the Ark. Those eight had the facts straight but as the earth was repopulated and people were scattered about the facts got blurry and somewhat enhanced like Eve adding do not touch to God’s command. Some details would be forgotten so someone would come up with something to fill in the gaps. Thus you have a world wide flood story in many cultures with even one that says only two brothers survived the flood. Why people did not question how the world got repopulated with that one is a good question, but then again many people accept many other tenets of religion and so-called science with obvious errors without question today.
To preach to them as Peter preached to the Jews that day would have been futile. They would have had no clue to much that was being said and thus Festus thinking Paul was mad or crazy from much study while King Agrippa was convicted and almost a Christian. We are in a day of Gentiles, not a day of Jews and we have start with a different premise when dealing with them. We do not change the message. We change the delivery. We start at square one as they have no clue what our church lingo means.
We are becoming more and more secular so we abound in atheists and agnostics. We are a pluralistic culture with people from all over the globe that come from a myriad of religions. Folks are into being spiritual though they often have no idea what that means but because they are open to a buffet of ideas where they pick and choose they think they are spiritual versus the dogmatic, narrow minded folks they perceive biblical Christians to be.
They don’t believe in Creation so to tell them Jesus died to save them from their sins means nothing since they don’t see a fall of evolved man. Sin is not being true to yourself and experiencing life to the fullest no matter what your desires might be as we are all part of the cosmic consciousness and indeed are all little gods. The Bible is not the Word of God for God is within them, not a divine Being to which they will answer, so they may accept Jesus as a god, but no more a god then you or they are. God is love and even a professing Christian author believes no one goes to Hell because love wins. I have a psychologist friend that was raised Catholic, but just can’t grasp the substitutionary atonement.
To walk up to these folks and give our standard presentation that we grew up with when there were still a substantial amount of Jews left would be useless. Hollywood, the media and Liberal theologians have so polluted the Gospel with their variations that you can use the same words with six people and have thirteen meanings. Catholics have been training their people to use our lingo, but the meanings are different. They are born again when they are sprinkled as infants and they receive Christ as their Savior when they receive the sacrament of the Eucharist for they are taking in the literal body and blood of Christ.
Many people in our own circles know the handshakes and lingo, but are not truly converted so even non-Catholics need to be thoroughly questioned even if they say everything right. Many pastors, deacons, teachers, musicians and members have been saved after being in a solid church for years. Since that is true, imagine how hard it is for someone with no background and has been taught secular humanism for many years or raised in an Eastern religion or some cult to grasp the message. You cannot win someone in thirty minutes at a doorstep as you might have done sixty years ago.
18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.
19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?
20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.
21(For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)
22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.
30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.
33 So Paul departed from among them.
34 Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them. KJV
The Epicureans were the atheistic eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die and if it feels good, do it crowd where the Stoics were more of the prideful suck it up and do it because it is right and what will be will be type. As opposite as they were they were still curious and thought it might be a good show to take Paul to where the gang hung out that just wanted to hear new things. I would venture most were the idle rich, who in their boredom, would listen to most anything.
Talk about a tough crowd. Indeed, we are only told of these two major philosophical schools that were present, but they were probably others else the debates would get old too quickly. Paul used their curiosity and fear of leaving out some god to gain his hearing. The unknown god to them was the only true God. They knew a myriad of false gods. They needed to know the true One.
He did not water down the message or even try to make it more appealing to them. They were seekers, but he did not go overboard to make it a seeker church kind of a thing. He did what all good teachers do. He took them from something they knew and led them to what they did not know. In the end, many laughed and mocked, but he did win some more time to explain with a group of people including a big wig named Dionysius whose name meant divinely touched, but really got divinely touched by Paul’s message and even though Damaris meant little woman she must have some influence in the city since she is called out by name.
12 One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.
13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; KJV
Sometimes you have to appeal to a person they respect and use what that person has said to gain an ear. Truth is truth and when a unbeliever speaks truth he is speaking God’s truth without giving Him credit. While some might see this prophet’s statement as a stereotype, there is usually some grain of truth to it which made it a stereotype. When I say kilt, what group do you think of automatically? The Scots and yet not all Scotsmen wear a kilt. If I say Lederhosen, you will say German and I am here to tell you I am one German you will most likely never see in that attire. When one of your own that speaks with authority says that you are something it is safe to say that you are what they say. That is why the movie, God’s Not Dead, uses many quotes from scientists and philosophers that show the folly of evolution.
I am not saying that you have to be fluent in every religion and philosophy. You will not live that long. The principle is to find something you can agree with or break the ice with to gain a hearing. Once they are paying attention you will start to see where you need to go to get them to where they need to be. Ask questions. Never assume they understand you even if they are nodding in assent.
You may have to go back to second grade Sunday School. If you do, no problem. Better to go back there and spend time making sure the person is saved then to have him say a prayer he does not understand to a God he really is not sure about so you can report back to someone your victory and the guy dies and goes to Hell the next night.
Matt 23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. KJV
I used to think this was just the cults and apostate groups, but I fear that some of us bible thumping, independent Baptists and others like us are just as guilty. You have to get a man lost before you can get Him saved and if he does not believe in Creation, Adam and Eve and the Fall, you are not going to get him lost in his mind though he is lost biblically.
Using the phrases we love so well, regeneration, sanctification, justification, born again and on and on will be as useful to most people today as my IT and military lingo would be to a civilian or a person who can barely turn a computer on. It will be Greek to them as it would be if I spoke some of the things I know in other languages would be to most of you in the class.
When you meet a stranger do not press him hard for a conversion unless you sense real conviction. He may just say the prayer to send you on your way or to be polite. In most cases, you are going to plant the seed and water it a bit, but it is unlikely you will go from seed, to water, to fertilize, to harvest in twenty minutes or less. Someone will have to water what you’ve sown and someone else may end up harvesting so don’t feel like it has to be you. You were put there for that time to accomplish nothing else, but to be faithful and present the Gospel. If you are truly sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit you will know if it is time to plant, water or harvest. If they walk away, you are not a failure.
July 7, 2014
Faith Comes By Hearing—Is Anyone Listening? Part Two
You must also know the entreater. While it is ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit to get people to listen and respond. We are the package for the message. This is why prosperity preachers must wear expensive suits, Rolexs and have jets and multi-million dollar homes. For them to hawk their message, they must look the part. Would you buy a stock tip or a book on “How I Achieved My Wealth” from a man dressed in rags standing in front of a cardboard box that is obviously his home?
If the world knows how to package junk in a box so pretty that you will buy it and then use media to even make you like the junk you bought we have to be careful how we package the message. Man does look on the outside while God looks on the heart. Yet, we do not have to do the slick packaging of Madison Avenue or the televangelists.
Our outward attire can be really quite simple. For many, many years a pastor wore a black suit and tie with a white shirt and black socks and shoes. I am not much of a clothes horse so that is a fine outfit for me. If I had my way, I would have twelve white Western shirts, twelve pair of black Western pants and no ties unless they were bolos. I would have two pairs of Cowboy boots and a pair of sneakers. Casual dress would be black jeans and a t-shirt or Western shirt of some color. I would live in a sweat suit around the house. I am a simple man.
Some of us require more of a variety, but simple should be the rule regardless of style. You want to have people’s attention focused on what you are saying, not your regalia. I have ministered to plenty of people who would have been turned off if I were in a suit. Old people would be turned off if I did not wear one. Come in all dressed to the nines and many will think you are flaunting your wealth or you are vain. Even rich corporate types have scaled down. Simple is always good.
Part of knowing yourself as the entreater is how you responded to that. If that raised your cockles a bit then you might be a bit vain or have a self-image that needs to be supported or bolstered by attire. You have to be less like the World and more like the Master if you are going to properly package the message.
Jesus would not have stood out in the crowd of His day. He would not have adopted the attire of a hippie, grunger, punker, or even the typical attire of a Rabbi though He was called one. He earned that title by His character and the content of the message. His appearance had little to do with it. Isaiah said there was nothing that would be very noticeable about Him so the pictures of the blue-eyed, light skinned, Nazarite who had not performed his vow are far off from the usual appearance of a Jewish man of the time. Paul became all things to all men that by all means he could win some, but he would not have put on black lipstick or wore a Mohawk. He spoke to the Jews from the Law and to the Gentiles without the Law. That is the point of his meaning. He spoke so they understood, not dress as they were dressed or immersed himself in their Gentile culture.
Below is a link to the lyrics of a modern song that asks which Jesus do you follow. He is a bit blunt, so be warned, but he has many good points. We have made many Jesus characters in the US and really the first world nations that no one in the rest of the world would know or recognize. We have made Him the Jesus of our side whether it is from a national or denominational perspective. We even have the God of the Cowboys because the sky is blue unless you are in North Carolina then He is a Tar Heels fan because the sky is Carolina blue. We have made Him the Jesus of the American dream with some maybe even thinking He wears the flag as His robe.
If you serve any of those types of Jesus or some other variation that I missed instead of the true Jesus then you will not be a good entreater because you will be packing the message wrongly. Leave your campaign buttons off of His message. As King, He did not come to run for office. You should use biblical truths as the primary reason to choose your candidates, but He is not affiliated with any party. Indeed, He slapped every group that existed at the time for none were sinless and so it is today. Thus you look for the person/party or whatever that supports the most biblical truth and vote that way, but when you are on the street or in the pulpit you are to be representing the King and building His kingdom not yours or any other kingdom.
You must know yourself if you are going to be able to deliver the correct message. If your motivation for service is about having more in your pews or for your glory and profit instead of for His glory then you are doing it all wrong. People do ministry for many reasons and many of those reasons are wrong.
A top psychiatry professor once said that many enter the career field seeking to cure to their own problems. That could be said of ministers as well. Some enter for penitence to make up for some sin or a sinful life. Some do it to appease God or in hopes God will forgive or love them more. Some find it to be a great ego pleaser or booster because it is a respectable career field. Some enter to attempt to make easy money and many succeed at that. Others want to control people and it is much easier when you can claim God told you what to tell people to do. Many women are led astray because their pastor convinced them to have an affair with them. Some are Momma called and Daddy sent. Some cannot find or maintain a good job so they get a call to ministry. Indeed, in the South if you wake lazy and hungry for chicken some see that as a call to ministry. It would be interesting to study how many more people get called to ministry during a recession compared to boom times. There are many wrong reasons to enter ministry.
We have turned the ministry into a career field instead of a calling and that is wrong. Back in the day when men seeking ministry trained under a godly pastor who could pray for and watch the growth of a man you had a better chance to get a better minister. Our colleges today have too large of classes and do not weed out folks that are obviously not called for with such large amounts of students it is easy to hide your weaknesses and get through a degree program. Jesus only had a class of twelve for three years, not six sessions of thirty per semester.
The intentions may have been good, but we have created far more ministers liked Demas, Judas and Simon of Samaria than Peter, Paul and John because we cannot have the time with them to discern their character and pray for God’s guidance. It is true that the colleges only provide training and not ordinations. The churches do the ordaining, but after a person has graduated from bible college or seminary it is far easier to be ordained because the church feels like you are obviously called by God or you would not have gone or finished if you were not. After all, you now know the right words and handshakes and no one would fake those things to advance an ulterior motive or agenda, right? Wrong. Many of the charlatans have graduated from a school and some major schools have graduates they wish did not have a degree from them.
You may think that you know yourself and that your motives are pretty good, if not perfectly pure. Is your motivation for more in the pew or for God’s glory? Most of God’s men never truly knew who they were until after they failed miserably. Moses tried to deliver Israel in his own logic and spent forty years on the backside of the desert before he knew who he was and how dependent he needed to be upon God. Even after his failure to speak to the rock cost him entering into the Promised Land, he still ends up on the mount of transfiguration to speak with Jesus. He would have never have thought he would have such a blessing. God is merciful.
David was a man who panted after God like a thirsty animal, yet he did not truly know himself or he would have never slept with Bathsheba or killed Uriah. He thought he was a pretty righteous man. After that, he prayed for purging, cleansing, a clean heart and to renew the right spirit he had until he drifted from where he had been with God. Wealth and power can cause you to drift and even shipwreck.
Peter is my soul brother. I have too many of his bad characteristics. When I was first saved, I wanted to be like Peter and Paul, but I had no idea what that entailed. I was only looking their victories and not their failures. Peter had some strong suits, but they were often trumped by his braggadocio or self-confidence. He knew who he was when Jesus looked at him after the third cock crow.
“It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.” ― A. W. Tozer
Jesus had His Judas. Paul had his Alexander the Coppersmith and even a church full of his converts who questioned his apostleship as well as a Demas. John had his Diotrephes. You will have yours, if you stay in ministry any length of time. Sometimes bad is good for you. These betrayers will make you know yourself because you can see the next one coming by analyzing how you misjudged them. They will also make you more immune to flattery or apparent success because you will trust more in God than in yourself or the favor of men. It will hurt and it will hurt deeply, but it will prepare your for future service and blessing. It will make you more discerning.
23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.
24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,
25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man. KJV
Sometimes God will hurt you in other ways. We are so good at self-deception and justification of our sins, especially the secret ones only we and God know. Because there is so much crazy stuff going on today in both the church and culture we can compare our sins with others and feel pretty good about ourselves. We minimize our sins by aggrandizing our accomplishments so that we convince ourselves that we are on a really high and tight road when we are sidetracked and even in a ditch. We accept a dry, mundane, religious routine as normal and not even desire a more dynamic walk with Christ.
Dr. Tozer gives us some good checkpoints to see how we are really doing in our walk and that give us a chance to make adjustments in areas we may not have ever even given consideration.
“Rules for Self Discovery:
1. What we want most;
2. What we think about most;
3. How we use our money;
4. What we do with our leisure time;
5. The company we enjoy;
6. Who and what we admire;
7. What we laugh at.”
- A. W. Tozer
Rom 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
July 7, 2014
Faith Comes By Hearing—Is Anyone Listening? Part One
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. KJV
To say that our world has changed drastically since my birth in 1952 is a major understatement. The advances of technologies more than fulfill the prophecies of Joel concerning knowledge as well as the mobility of the masses. We have gone from nearly toy like satellites in earth’s orbit to sending immensely complex research vehicles past Mars. Jules Verne would be ecstatic.
Many changes have also taken place in the culture. Some have been good such as movements for racial equality, but many more have been disastrous for the culture and this country. The breakdown of the home, easy divorce, abortion, easy access to pornography, excessive and explicit violence in games and movies as well as dark demonic themes in video games and comic books have spiraled us into a pit from which we may not return unless the mercy of God grants a revival like that of the Great Awakening or the revivals of the early twentieth century.
The Church also has gone through many changes and I would have to say most are questionable as to their value as a boon to the cause of Christ. We have become Christian existentialists. We base our Christianity more on our feelings or experiences than doctrine or we have gone the other way to a dead and dry orthodoxy. What we need is a balance between orthodoxy and piety Because we have dumped doctrine many of our churches have become entertainment centers or concert halls with a dash of Bible. There are indoor mountain climbs and Wiis for the kids and Starbucks and Wi-Fi for the adults.
We have helped create generation gaps and even age and gender pride. We have Sunday School classes for adult age groups when Jesus and the Apostles had audiences for all ages in one spot. Peer groups often make the same mistake as Rehoboam because they don’t want anything to do with old people when the Bible teaches that the elder should teach the younger. Hard to do when they do not even want to sit in the same room as the elders. Birds of a feather flock together, but the flock should be about Christ not age, gender, career field, etc. I am looking for a class for right handed people who eat with their left hand and are bald, hazel-eyed and married. Am I exaggerating? Maybe, but I am not far off in some places.
Technology has been a boon to getting the message out, but it has also been a boon for false prophets, con men and entertainers/motivational speakers instead of pastors. We have turned the Church from a Body to a corporation making the pastor more of a CEO than a pastor. While it has provided a means to minister to the homebound and people where no church exists at the same time it has caused more people to become members of the invisible church disobeying the commandment to assemble locally, not digitally. I am an IT person and yet I attend a church physically, not metaphysically or digitally. I can shake my pastor’s hand and hug a person. They can see my smile and I theirs. That beats being a type of voyeur watching a man preach we will never know and will not be available for our funeral or to pray with us before we get to that point.
Thus we see Paul was correct when he said, “There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.” (1Co 14:10) As our topic says, faith comes by hearing but with all the voices clamoring for attention you have to wonder if anyone is listening. I am convinced that they are but we need to make sure our voice is heard. I believe that there are four ways to make the truth be heard.
First, we have to know the message. You can ask most people in America if they are a Christian and they will say yes. We do have increasing numbers of other groups including atheists but many will affirm the name of Christ even if they are not sure who He is or what is His significance in the culture outside of a curse word or the founder of the club called the church where people hang out listening to boring old songs and dry messages from an ancient book called the Bible. Others may use His name like a fad having jewelry and tattoos with His name or Christian symbols, but have no clue what makes that bling and apparel different than the latest fashions from Gucci, Furstenberg or Versace other than a certain group of people like it more than other groups.
Christ means many things to many people. What He means to you will determine what your message will be to them. If you start out with a wrong picture of who He is in your mind/heart you cannot give the right message. If Christ is the great slot machine in the sky by which you get God, the Father, to grant you all the wealth you want you will misrepresent the message. If Christ is the hammer of an angry God that will save you if you never get out of line then the message is wrong. If Christ is the needy Savior that needs the help of your works, rituals and even prayers of good people to get you saved and keep you saved then you have the wrong message because you have the wrong Christ. If you have a whimsical Christ who changes His mind to fit the culture, personal desires or fads you have a very social Christ, but not the Christ that is the same today, yesterday and forever.
Sadly, there are many apostatized groups that once had at least the basic message though they may have had some other doctrines that were not correct. They could have led a person to Christ. If the founders of these groups were able to come back they would not recognize them and it is highly unlikely that they would be welcomed by the current leadership. I once asked a very old Baptist church if their founder would be welcome and I received a very cloudy reply that indicated he would be very out of place there. Thus, we cannot be sure that because a person says they are a Christian and belongs to some group that they are indeed a recipient of the right message. My wife and I were both raised in groups that once were used to win many souls to Christ, but have gone by the wayside though there are a few remnants here and there.
There are many cults who create all sorts of Christs and gospels making even their leaders equal to Christ or in blasphemy making them His successor because He did not complete the mission. These are often very authoritative groups who will capture the hearts of people and basically make them captive either physically in compounds or emotionally to where they cannot doubt their leader or leave because of extreme fear. The good news becomes a noose of terror rather than breaking the shackles of fear and freeing from sin. This is why it is IMPERATIVE that you know the message because someone will listen but there will be no saving faith in the message. I have shared some well-known verses that clearly lay out the message of Christ and His Gospel.
1 John 5:11-13
11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that
ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Act 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
June 17, 2014
I was reading an article and the author was lamenting that he pastored two churches that ultimately closed. There are times when closing a church is a good thing. Growing up we had a phrase about being dead and too dumb to drop over. Many churches, especially in large cities have declined to the point where all funds and energies are tied to a building. It is best for them to close and merge with a larger church to be better stewards of their gifts and money. Many refuse because of building worship or living off of past glories. They are in essence docents of the mausoleum. Many rural churches could merge as well since we are far past the days of horses and buggies so a church 10 to 15 miles away that is growing is better than four that are three miles away and are just barely maintaining. In unity there is strength and if ever there was a time for unity in the Body now is the time. Quit calling pastors only to discourage them and drive them from ministry.
I am a Baptist and sadly we are more known for splits than merges and having numerous camps. If there are 13 Baptist churches in a town, but none of them are of our camp we will start one because there is just not a good church in town. Balderdash and poppycock that theory is but we practice it just the same.
Other groups are not immune to this either. I live in a town fo 30,000 and we have two AOG churches and another one trying to get started. We have two UMC churches. One has a woman pastor and that may be the issue that separated them at one point. Lets not talk about how many Baptists we have representing three stripes of the group.
However, if you have four churches in a ten mile area preaching the same doctrine three are redundant. I once found eight churches that could have merged into one, but knowing that would have been the impossible dream I did pairs. I wrote to each pair of churches, none of the eight had pastors, and suggested that they figure out which had the better building and then merge selling the other property using the money to secure a pastor so they could grow. All flatly rejected the prospect.
One pair had 30 members between them and though I never met them I would be very confident in saying that nearly all of them were over 70 thus in 5-10 years the churches would be closed due to death and dotage. I suggested one such church might merge with the one where I was Associate Pastor and another church in the area got mad at me and read my pastor the riot act. When I spoke with someone from that church and suggested that they merge with them that church did not want them. They did not want to see a building close that had 12 members and all but one lady over 70.
If all you are doing is keeping doors open, you are not wise. Many of these churches have gone through one pastor every year or every two because the church is dead and too dumb to drop over. That sounds harsh, but we need to get past building worship and living in the past so that we can be truly fulfilling our calling. Heal rifts and dump costly buildings that may be lost one day anyway due to death, eminent domain or the loss of tax-exempt status. 100 people in one church can do far more than 20 people in five. A split that is not over doctrinal issues has a 99% chance of being a split in the flesh and caused or at least used by the devil. He enjoys divide and conquer. It is all about God, so unite as He has come to create one Body not millions of loose cells. If all the major doctrines are the same then put the petty bickering and camp idolatry aside and grow up in Christ so that His kingdom grows not yours.
One day, I’ll be more open and tell you how I really feel about it.
June 13, 2014
2 Thessalonians 2:2-2:2
Many folks wonder why I am still using the KJV when there are a multitude of versions out there that are so much “easier” to read. Indeed, they are amazed that I am a KJV only man. Many would say that while the KJV is a great translation there is no reason to oppose the others since they allow the reader to better understand the Word. After all, should not a preacher want people to read and understand the Word? Why then pick on the newer versions?
If it were only a matter of simplifying the English, I would not be so adamant in my stance. Unfortunately, the problems go far deeper than that. I do not hold to the belief that the King James translators were inspired like the Apostles and Prophets or that there is no longer any reason to study the Greek or Hebrew now that we have the KJV. Double Inspiration folks are way off balance and probably do far more harm to the KJV only position by their extreme stance and their demeanor than some of their Liberal opponents. While they and I may share some similar convictions on some issues, I could not fellowship with him nor would we use the same paths in logic or theology to get to any similar conclusions. Bottom line is that I count him a hindrance rather than a help to the truth.
As a matter of background, I was not raised in a KJV only church. I was raised in or at least exposed to the United Methodist Church. I received a RSV for perfect attendance at a Vacation Bible School back in elementary school. It saw little light and when I pulled it out of its box after I was saved in 1975 at age 22, it still had the new book smell to it. The Gideons issued me a KJV New Testament in 1970 when I was in Air Force boot camp. My only other exposure to the KJV was through Oliver B. Greene and other tracts that I found in the Laundromat while in High School. It appears that these tracts stuck with me. When the friend that witnessed to me asked how I would know something was in the Bible, I said that if it had thees, thous and hasts in it I would think that it was probably in the Bible. Of course, that means that someone could have quoted an obscure Shakespearean line to me and I might have assumed it was in Scripture. Nonetheless, I equated KJV English with the Bible at that time.
The man responsible for getting me to church and ultimately saved was afraid that the KJV would turn me off so he gave me a NASB as a gift and I read that for awhile. However, I went back to the KJV when I came across John 7:8-10 in the NASB. Jesus tells His brethren to go up to the feast, but he is not going up to it in verse 8, but He does go up in verse 10. This was rather disconcerting because it appeared that Jesus has just lied to His brethren. As a new convert, I wondered how Christ could lie to those folks like that. I don’t know why I did, but I pulled the KJV off the shelf and it said, “I go not up yet…” It is a big difference between not going up at all and not going up until later. The word yet was not italicized. Italicization indicates that it is not in the text, but rather supplied by the translators to allow flow of reading or to allow proper context and intent of the Greek to be viewed in “modern” English. The word yet was in the Greek text. All it took was the word yet to change the whole tenor of the passage and remove any doubt about Jesus’ intent or character. With that I put the NASB on the shelf. Had it not been a gift, I would have thrown it away. I have read tha even one of the men on that revision board has since recanted his position and has asked for God to forgive him for what he did.
Remember I was only a new convert. I had never heard of any textual issues. If my pastor then was a KJV only man he never preached his position only the Word. I had no external pressure to go either way. I had tossed my RSV because I questioned an evangelist about Hell and he asked me what version I was using and told me that I was not using a very good one. Later I learned that he was right, but I took his word on it then. The NASB went away from my own “research” and choice. I never did like “The Living Bible”, which is what the lad that led me to Lord used. It is a paraphrase and not a true translation. Then it was a preference, now it is a conviction that the King James Version or the Authorized Version is the best translation because it comes from the Textus Receptus or Received Text. The New KJV does as well, but they muddied up some passages that I understood in the Old KJV. Maybe they tried too hard. They also brought the false scholarship into it via the footnotes thus discrediting it as a proper version if it condones the errors of the other manuscripts.
Everyone fusses about the archaic words, but I do not ever remember having a problem reading them. Now and then I might get tongue-tied saying them, but I have had that happen with Modern English as well. Also, the NIV uses plenty of words that I would consider archaic and would need to look up. (See http://www.av1611.org/kjv/vanceniv.html) I have read lots of books where I have had to use a dictionary to look up words that I did not know. Why would that be such a problem to do the same for the Bible? I have never had a good answer to that. In a land once noted for its high quality of education is it not educational to learn new words? Call it a history lesson even if we do not use them in everyday use. In a book the size of the Bible, I would imagine that there is only a small percentage of the words that could not be easily understood by an eighth-grader. At least a Christian School eighth grader as public schools have declined. Ever try to read a legal document or a government regulation? They have not made any strides in making those more readable for the layperson.
Once you get accustomed to the thees, thous, and hasts it is not all that bad. The uniqueness actually makes it easier to memorize and most people still equate that language to being biblical since the KJV is still the largest selling version. It can’t be that hard to understand if it is still outselling the others. According to one supplier of Bibles it is also the version of choice in Africa. If it can be understood in a third world country where English may not be the primary language then why is it so hard for us?
Ok, for the most part you might be saying that all I have given you is some statistics and personal experiences or preferences. Is there something fundamentally wrong with having an up to date English version. No, there is not, but there is something fundamentally wrong with the versions that are being touted as only trying to make the Bible easier to read or that they are better translations than the KJV.
It is always best to start at the beginning. The mother of all the current translations came about in 1881. I am going to deal with three areas concerning this first version and then deal with the results of it and its offspring. First, let’s look at the climate of its birth. It was an age of rationalism. Everything was being challenged, but especially God.
Karl Marx (d. 1883) had already written his works on Communism, which took God out of the economy. Indeed, he said that religion was an opiate of the masses. In our society, we have replaced God with drugs. People seek peace, courage and answers from true opiates. Followers of Karl’s philosophies have enslaved and murdered millions. If that is the result of freedom from the God’s “opium” then I have no desire to be drug free. Yes, I know there have been murders and war in the name of the Judeo-Christian God, but the numbers of the last century alone by the non-religionists far outnumber the total of any religious wars in recorded history. In the last century atheists killed 172 million whereas only thousands perished in the Inquisition, which was perpetrated by heretics not true Christians. Marx liked a fellow named Darwin and dedicated his “Das Kapital” to him.
Charles Darwin (d. 1882) had published his theories of evolution, which took God out of His creation. Evolution reduced man to a cousin of an ape that had by astronomical odds been conceived in primordial ooze and fought by trial and error or mutation to the top of the food chain. It is reported that Darwin later recanted his theory either by becoming a Christian or returning to his upbringing. I do not know if that is true or not. The truth is the damage he has caused has hindered many souls in being saved and has been instrumental in the chaos and degeneracy in our current society. If man is nothing but an accident of evolution and has no intelligent Creator to whom he is responsible is it no wonder that men go ape today and live by the callous precept of the survival of the fittest? Why not kill those whose territory or property you desire? It is even being put forth that rape is just the result of the natural tendency of the dominant male. There is no soul therefore abort and practice euthanasia at will. Why let the handicapped or weak survive to degrade the race? Why shouldn’t my ethics be tied to my situation since I am the master of my own destiny? Why are your morals better then mine? The theory of evolution of man has resorted in the moral devolution of man. It is racist and was part of what brought Hitler to his concept of a master race. http://www.icr.org/pubs/imp/imp-007.htm
Higher Criticism sought to take God out of His Word. The Bible was not approached as a divinely preserved work of Holy Spirit inspired men, but rather as just a piece of literature and thus to be edited at will. This is much like the political analysts that come on after the President’s speech to tell us what he really meant to say or what was meant by what he did not say. This is a far cry from the attitudes of all previous transcribers or translators of the majority of the ancient Hebrew or Greek texts and revisers of the KJV as well. Though the theory has been abandoned by most scholars the damage this caused in 1881continues today not only in the pollution of the text, but is a cause of hindrance in ministries to Islamic nations as those theories and dogmas became a basis for a new chapter in Islamic apologetics. (See http://contra-mundum.org/schirrmacher/rationalism.html)
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) is the father of modern psychoanalysis. Though born into a Jewish family, he grew up in this age of theological dissent and devotion to science. He became an atheist. He is the root cause of one of the most dangerous enemies to Christianity. Indeed, in the name of mental health many Christians as well as people of other faiths have been imprisoned in Communist countries. Role-play was designed to take God out of man’s mind showing that man can solve all his problems without the need of God.
Many of the therapies are “crazy” like “primal scream” where they place the adult patient in a diaper and give him a bottle and allow him to cry out his infantile trauma. Some have an evolutionary twist to them like having a group of people mill around on the floor like tadpoles. Over the years, we have been told by these “professionals” that the best person to introduce a 12 year old girl to sex is her father because whom does she trust more? Then we heard that the Father was not that important to a family. Recently we heard that the father is actually harmful to the family because he consumes most of the resources and puts little back into the family. People with those types of beliefs are hardly sane enough to counsel anyone else. People who have been divorced six times profess to be good marriage counselors. Regression therapy takes you into your past life or lives. This is not science but reincarnation, which is a religious belief. Pop psychiatry is the opiate for the masses that do not take drugs.
Infiltration of an organization is one of the best ways to take it over and stop any negative position it may have on your lifestyle or goals. Hence the takeover of colleges and churches by Liberals and the infiltration of Conservative churches by pro-psychiatry people who mock the faith of our fathers and rewrite the Book to justify their actions.
While I was in the Air Force, I took advantage of a program called College Level Entry Program (CLEP). This program allows you to take what is basically a final exam for selected courses. Depending on the course, the exam and your score you may receive from three to six semester hours of college credit. I took quite a few of those tests and received many hours of credit. I took two psychology exams. I was a new Christian at the time, but knew enough about the “psych” world that if a question had an answer that was about sex or was derogatory to religion in general I chose that answer. One I passed with a fairly good grade. I missed passing one by a point or two because I needed to know a few more names and dates. I had the philosophy down pat if I did not know all the players and their statistics.
There are people who sincerely want to help others with their problems. They are just in the wrong field using wrong hypotheses. In fact, many enter the field to solve their own problems and are like people with malaria seeking to treat people with a cold or flu. Some have tried to “redeem” the hypotheses by throwing some Scripture in their practices and trying to find the theories in the Word. Indeed, there may be a few things psychiatrists say that are true and that truth may be expressed in the Word. That then becomes an issue of plagiarism as they do not give Him proper credit, but assume that it is their invention or genius rather than His revelation.
There is such a thing as biblical counseling and that is to be supported. When you car is broken you take it to a man who has read the manuals and knows how it is supposed to work and has the tools to repair it. The Bible is our owner’s manual and the tools to fix us are clearly within its pages. Go to a man that believes that manual and uses it as it was meant to be and you can be fixed as well. Get a physical to be sure your problem is not a true medical problem and then go see a man of God. I would also strongly recommend the book “Competent to Counsel” by Dr. Jay Adams. While I do not agree with his TULIP theology, I believe his concept of biblical counseling to be sound as it is grounded in Scripture. (http://hallchristians.com/clergy/63.shtml)
As you can see, this was not a healthy environment to try and birth a new translation of the Bible. Indeed, with the abundant manure of infidelity on the ground no true seed would have anything to grow in. The humanist seed abounded in the two of the committee members and found fruit in the weakness of the others. Unfortunately there was not a crop failure or still birth of this work. But then, the children of the flesh always outnumber the children of faith. However, praise His name, He did have men declaring the truth and winning souls. There was still light overcoming darkness. Men like Dean Burgon (1813-1888). You should read his writings. (http://www.alibris.com/)
Let us now look at this committee and their commission. The Revision Committee of 1881 was only commissioned to do what all revision committees before them had been commissioned to do. They were to update the English and look for typos in the English. The KJV detractors like to say that you could not read a 1611 version of the KJV. That is true as spellings and words change. If that were all that the 1881 crew had done there would be no honest complaint to be found in their revision or would there be any flood of revisions needed later.
Hast without the “t” means the same thing. Taking the “eth” off of giveth or liveth would not change anything. Changing colour to color or favour to favor would not have caused a problem. It would just be what they were supposed to do. Even with our great digital age I read books all the time that have “typos” in them and printing was far more difficult in those days. They were to clean anything like that up in the new revision such as the use of “their” when it should be “there”. Things like transpositions of letters like raeson instead of reason. If they would have stuck to their commission, many may have stayed with the “archaic” KJV for various reasons, but the 1881 Version would have been an accurate and proper version, which would be hard to contest.
The problem is that they went way beyond that call or commission. They were by their own admission not qualified to do any more than what they were commissioned to do. No one was qualified to do either intense translation work or any major textual studies. In essence there were no real scholars on the committee. What they ended up doing would be equal to you needing delicate neurosurgery and deciding to let your general practitioner or a first year medical student perform it. What they did to the Bible is as much of a butcher job as you would have had in the OR. If you lived you would most likely be severely crippled and only a shadow of your former self and hence the crippled editions of the inspired and preserved Word of God. What would cause them to go so far beyond their commission?
This brings us to the conspiracy or committed intent of Westcott-Hort. Brook Foss Westcott and John Anthony Fenton Hort are the premier promoters of the manuscripts and philosophy used by the 1881 Revision Committee. Indeed, from the accounts that I have read they bullied their opinions upon the rest of the committee. The committee initially resisted going outside the realm of what they were commissioned to do, but this not so dynamic duo wore them down by their persistence.
The committee was formed by the Church of England/Anglican Church, which was founded to be a middle ground between Catholicism and Puritanism. (http://188.8.131.52/religion/denom1.html) There is a lot of Catholic ritual within that group. In America, we know these folks as Episcopalians. Even one of their priests told me that they were considered “Catholic Lite.” They have branches within them that would be more Evangelical (Low Church) and others that would be more Roman Catholic (High Church). During the time of the committee the high church or Roman Catholic supporters of the Anglican Church ran most of the seminaries. This is not exactly an organization that I would heavily trust to revise the Protestant Bible when many of these High Church lads eventually defected to the Roman Catholic Institution. The KJV folks were also Anglican, but the philosophical and theological differences between the two groups of men are sufficent enough but add to it that the KJV lads were eminently qualified to do the work whereas the 1881 folks admitted that they were not qualified squelches any arguments from that perspective.
In reading the writings of both Westcott and Hort, it is clear that they favored the High Church format and wrote glowingly of their admiration of the Roman Catholic Institution, but very little of Christ. In fact, they were more involved with politics, animal rights, and botany than what that which would be considered standard duties of a pastor.
Westcott expressed great doubt that he was even a believer. Again, not a man that I would expect to reverence the text as the Word of God and he did not believe in the infallibility of the Scriptures but did reverence the Pope. Is it any wonder then that a future version of Westcott’s labor, the NIV would rate an “imprimatur” by the Pope meaning there was nothing in it that was contrary to Catholic doctrine? Check your KJV. You will not see an imprimatur on it and I bet you can easily find some things contrary to Catholic doctrine within its pages.
Hort was no better. He went to hear D. L. Moody but did not want to hear him again because he was conventional and commonplace and thought Sankey was an inferior song leader. After a great sermon by Spurgeon on a national day of fasting, Dr. Hort’s first letter to a friend spoke about squirrels, roses, gooseberries and the death of a cat. While Spurgeon had trouble deciding which sermon to use, Dr. Hort found it difficult to even write one.
These two lads are the great theological wizards that had immense influence on the versions we see abounding today. Our “scholars” rave about the great work done by these men and love all the versions that are coming out. The first two men were no scholars and most likely unsaved. I worry about men who praise them and the fruit of their labors.
Westcott and Hort used bogus texts to contrive bogus interpretations hence they practiced what I call pseudo-scholasticism. In that day anything old was considered to be very significant. Thus when manuscripts that were four hundred years older than what was used by the King James translators were found it was like finding gold in California to those “scholars.”
All that has glitter is not gold and old is not necessarily better. If I wanted to find out what revivals were like in the 1930s and their effect on the Churches would I go to a 103 year old atheist or a ninety three year old believer? I would get appraisals from both, but how credible would be an unbeliever’s account? Sometimes the reverse is true. If I want to see a master at a video game I would go to a ten year old rather than a fifty year old. What if I found a 113-year-old believer that agreed with the ninety three year old and not the 103-year-old lad? Are two witnesses in agreement better than one that disagrees? Usually, but not always, but even in a court case if both agreeing witnesses were credible their testimony would weigh heavier than the other one. It certainly was that way in the Bible times. (Matt 18:16; 2 Cor 13:1; 1 Tim 5:19; Heb 10:28)
Much ado is made about these older manuscripts because they do not agree with the Textus Receptus used to translate the King James. The folks who fuss about this fail to tell people that the only thing these older manuscripts agree on is that they disagree with each other on almost everything. It is said that it was unfortunate that the KJV translators did not have these texts. I do not believe it would have mattered because they would have thrown them out. The reason that the Textus Receptus is also called the Majority Texts is that they had texts that were not consistent with the majority of the texts and they excluded them. These “ancient” texts so loved by the 1881 folks and our modern scholars would have been laughed at and tossed aside by the KJV translators. Indeed one of the ancient texts was found in a trash bin and should have stayed there.
Back to my analogy of age, there are far more ancient writings of the early Church fathers, manuscripts, lectionaries and even translations that agree with the Textus Receptus. All the verses “challenged” by the Westcott-Hort manuscripts are present or alluded to in those older references. Some date back to the 1st Century. So, do I believe in the manuscripts from the 17th century that agree with writings from the 1st Century or with something from the 4th Century that disagrees with both? By sheer volume the 4th Century manuscripts are outnumbered, which is what you would expect if these were variants not accepted by the Church at large as valid copies of the Scriptures.
In fact, there are over 5,000 manuscripts availiable today. 99% of them agree with the KJV. 1% of them disagree with the KJV and as I said with each other so why are the newer versions better when they use the variant readings from the 1%? They aren’t and can’t be. These variations were already in the Vaticanus texts and rejected by the KJV folks. The 4th Century manuscripts mirror the Vaticanus so what light would they have shed or diefference made to the KJV translators? None. http://www.av1611.com/kjbp/faq/since1611.html
Even one of their touted manuscripts is written in such a way as to leave room for all the so-called missing verses and is an obvious falsification of the manuscript that it was copied from. Red lights should have gone off all around the room when this manuscript was submitted. My theory is some rich heretic commissioned the copy, but the copyist had too much integrity and would only do it if he could leave space to show that he saw the correct text but did was he was paid to do to protect his reputation as a copyist. It is only a theory, but better than the stuff Westcott and Hort came up with.
To counter sheer logic, the Westcott-Hort proponents come up with explanations that have no historical proof. They invent councils and philosophies that prove their point but have no proof they existed. Evolutionists do much of the same thing and though there is sufficient proof against their positions they still hold to them. The evidence weighs against the manuscripts used by the 1881 revision committee and the modern version people, but they still hold on and argue that they are valid and valuable. That is much like the girl who took the huge diamond her boyfriend bought her to an appraiser who informed her that it was not a real diamond. She called the appraiser a liar and a cheat because her boyfriend would not buy her a fake. Her love and faith was wonderful but not based on any fact. The loyalty of these folks to their corrupt manuscripts is much the same kind of love affair. There is much loyalty, but little fact and boisterous rejection of the facts when presented. Indeed, only recently one of those folks called me a heretic and offered to pray for my “putrid soul.” I declined the offer, as I did not feel such a prayer would even be heard.
II Thess 2:2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. (KJV)
It does not appear that it ever entered the minds of the scholars that these manuscripts may have been altered for evil purposes. Paul alludes to the fact that someone was sending out letters (epistles) mimicking Paul’s style and claiming to be Paul, but teaching false doctrine thus troubling the believers. Others made personal appearances speaking things they ought not to and either claiming to be sent from Jerusalem or to be a messenger of Paul and maybe some so bold as to claim to be actual angels. (Acts 15:1; Gal 1:6-9) With some of the crazy things we see and hear today this kind of heretical nonsense is more than plausible. So why would they not tamper with the manuscripts and put out bogus ones that proved their point?
People who did not have a copy of the true epistles would be deceived and those who had them would be confused if they were babes in Christ having no discernment or until they were able to contact someone who had a proper copy. This kind of plagiarism happens today. The Book of Mormon is so much a ripped off copy of the KJV that even a 10 year old could spot it and yet people still consider that book to be “scripture.” Judge Russell could not even read the Greek alphabet so his New World Translation is nothing but a KJV rewritten/paraphrased to his liking and people are still deceived by this fraud. And thus, the fraudulent manuscripts from 1881/4th century still deceive people in the name of easier reading.
Some of these false prophets did not like the resurrection or taught that it had passed already and others wanted to keep the law and demand circumcision. Some of them were so good in their presentation that they confused the Galatians, troubled the Thessalonians and even convinced the Corinthians that Paul was not a real apostle but rather that they were the true apostles. Paul had to argue with his own converts and tell them to check their salvation since they did not consider him to be an apostle or at the least on the same level as the lads they liked.
It is naïve to believe that they did not put out writings to preach their error and a few lies in the midst of the truth is easier to sell then an outright lie. So changing a few words and leaving out a couple of passages would be easier to deceive people than with a total rewrite of the Scriptures and denying them totally. That way you could still look and sound Orthodox while poisoning the well.
I John 2:
18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. (KJV)
Folks went out from the true Church. Did they just return to paganism or Judaism? Some did, but others formed other sects and could have easily copied manuscripts their way. Most of these sects obviously did not grow large and hence their writings and copies would be among the minority of texts while the accepted texts would multiply as the Church grew. While many of the cults themselves did not survive their ideas would revive themselves over the centuries and many exist today just under new names.
I John 2:22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. (KJV)
I John 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
II John 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. (KJV)
One group of bogus texts was found in Alexandria, Egypt, Origen’s hometown. Origen was a lad and a half. He had seven plans of salvation and is considered the theological father of modern day Jehovah Witnesses. He did not believe that Christ came in the flesh.
What are the realistic chances that a good clean copy of the Scriptures would come out of this hotbed of heresy? The statistical probability of evolution being true is better than the chances of unaltered manuscripts being found here. Yet, they are old and they must be good in the eyes of some scholars. We always say you are whom you hang around. Well, these texts hung around heretics of the first order and cannot rationally be considered anything but perverted and heretical.
Another group came out of the Vatican. Nothing good comes out of the Vatican. These are the folks that put Europe in the Dark Ages and murdered thousands of Jews, Anabaptists, and even Catholics if the Catholics had something the Bishop or Pope wanted. They converted by the sword and stake, not the Gospel’s Cross of reconciliation.
In a recent article in the Dallas Morning News, a priest speaking about the molestation of children and hiding the priests that did it said that it was not necessary to tell the truth. This is nothing but centuries old Jesuit heresy. Much of Catholic doctrine is contrary to the Bible and they hold writings of men higher than the Bible. Why do you think a manuscript coming out of this theologically adulterous institution would be unadulterated? Read Foxes Book of Martyrs and tell me that this group would protect the manuscripts if they disagreed with their dogma? Indeed, much is missing from their copy. Is this because of intentional editing or just an accident of time? I vote for the editing.
Please understand that I am criticizing the Institution, not folks who sincerely follow Catholicism. Many are Catholic by culture or birth. They are not really Catholics anymore than I was a Methodist or my wife was a Lutheran. We had a name and knew a few rituals, but we knew very little about the theology or position of either denomination. I knew nothing of Wesley and my wife knew nothing of Luther until I went to Bible College.
Indeed, I once met a lady that said she was Lutheran and when I asked her if she believed what Martin Luther taught about sola fida and sola scriptura she asked if I was referring to Martin Luther King, Jr. Many Catholics know little about the history or major doctrines of their church so they are in the same boat that lady and I were in. A great many of the congregation where I now serve are former Catholics including the father of the current Senior Pastor whom pastored the church before he died. I believe if more would study the Word, they also would leave Catholicism.
For a more detailed description of the errors and origins of the various manuscripts read, Final Authority by Dr. William Grady http://www.biblebelievers.com/Grady/Final_Authority.html or New Age Bible Versions by
G. A. Riplinger. There are others, but these two are thick enough to keep you busy for some time.
1 John 4:1-3
1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
Again, we have John proclaiming that even in his lifetime false prophets were already running amuck and we have seen them throughout Church history. Did we suppose that none of these guys would dare tamper with the Scripture? That would be ludicrous. We have plenty in our recent history who either rewrote the Bible to their liking or wrote books that supposedly added to the Bible, which is condemned by the Scripture. Is it unrealistic to think that there would be some who would take away from Scripture? No, and I believe that we see their work in these 4th Century manuscripts that resurfaced at a time of apostasy to try and destroy the foundations for the righteous. (Psalm 11:3) The Word is our foundation. From the beginning, it has been “Yea, hath God said?” It shall be the same until the new heaven and new earth for satan will use the same lie to deceive people at the last battle at the end of the Millennium.
If the Word that we have is not the infallible, inerrant and preserved to the last jot and tittle what shall we do? We are without hope for the very promise we rest upon may not be in the “older” manuscripts or at least “some of the ancient texts” may omit it. We come to full knowledge of the Word after salvation through the aid of the Holy Spirit. The Word is foundational to our initial faith and to our continuing education of God and His plan.
Either John 8:1-11 is His word or it is not and if it is not than maybe John 3:16 and Romans 10:9-14 were also just marginal notes and we cannot rest upon those promises. Indeed, all is called into question and maybe we better return to Judaism, but then we have the JEPD theory that condemns the veracity of the Pentateuch and there is the theory that two different men wrote Isaiah. Much more is at stake here than just easier reading and eliminating thees and thous. If God can give us inerrant originals can He not preserve His Word for all generations? If not, is He less than omnipotent and did His omniscience not know those originals were pretty flimsy and would not last? How did His foreknowledge miss that point? Is He so weak that He had to wait for the 1881 translators to finally find the true manuscripts and straighten out the errors of centuries? He said that Heaven and earth would pass away but not His Word? Did He lie or just overstate His abilities? That might be somebody’s God, but not mine!
God is not the author of confusion and either He has preserved His Word or He did not. Either I am right when I preach the “questionable” passages as the Word of God or I am not and thus adding to His Word and in heresy. If I am right then those who go by the “scholarship” and explain them away are taking away from His Word and in heresy. It cannot be both ways. One position is truth and the other error. There is no gray here.
II Thess 2:7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. (KJV)
The mystery of or conspiracy of iniquity was already at work in Paul’s time. Iniquity is lawlessness or transgression. The law of God as revealed in the Scripture is what is transgressed. Why is it transgressed? Because like the doctrine of the Pharisees it is replaced by the traditions of men and questioned as it was in Eden. The Sadducees took away from His Word by denying portions of it. The record is not believed because the record says that God will preserve His Word. (Matt 5:18; 24:35) God does not like His Word added to or diminished. (Deut 4:2; Rev 22:19) The argument that no major doctrines are changed is not mentioned in those Scriptures as a valid reason to accept the corrupt manuscripts. When you remove blood, Christ, Lord Jesus and the like you may not have changed the doctrine but you have diminished the emphasis that God meant for these subjects. Diminish is not an acceptable action.
Because of this adulteration of the Word of God we have the consequence and that is apostasy. If you trace the history of every denomination that has departed from the KJV/AV/TR, you will find a downhill slide to apostasy. While there are still remnant pockets here and there most every denomination has left the theological position of their founders. Some are into perversion. Some are throwing big kisses at the Roman Catholic Institution.
Rev 17:5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. (KJV)
Even the vilest of harlots was once pure and the Roman Institution may have been a part of the true Church at one time, but she polluted herself by bringing in pagan rituals and strange doctrines yea, damnable heresies thus becoming the mother of harlots. Those who came out of her loins during the Reformation were pure as touching the Gospel though they carried too much of her tradition and error with them. Now, they too have cast off their purity and are returning to Momma. Their founders called the Pope an AntiChrist and now their descendants kiss his ring. The blessing is that their apostasy indicates the time of His return is near. Maranatha!
Many Baptists are falling into that nonsense as well. The Southern Baptist Convention once considered by non-Baptist groups as being more hard core Fundamentalist than the Fundamentalists have shifted away from the KJV and are seeing the fruits of Liberalism in their seminaries. In Texas and in other states as well, we have the Liberal convention and the Conservative convention in battle. The Conservatives are not nearly as Conservative as they once were but are far more so than the other side. The other side are so “cooperative” that they seem to cooperate with anyone or anything but God and His Scriptures.
I have read many surveys where most of the mainline denomination pastors no longer believe in Hell, the Virgin Birth, inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures, etc. The numbers are higher for those under fifty than over fifty because we see the ripening fruit of the seminaries. In essence, these church leaders are not even Christians. They believe little or nothing of what saints have died for over the centuries. What can they be but blind leaders of the blind? Again this is creeping into even Independent Baptist schools.
Some might say that if the apostasy was prophesied then why fight it? To borrow a principle from another passage, if you stand on the other side in apathy or even passive support you become as one of them. (Obadiah 11) You hear cursing and bewrayeth it not. (Prov 29:24)
Does that mean that all users and supporters of the other versions are lost? No, some have just been duped by their seminary or the easy English and have not studied the root problems. I once worked five years with an NIV man and I still count him as a friend. I believe him to be saved and that his heart is in the right place. We had numerous discussions on this issue. I told him that I would have many things that I will have to apologize to God for when I get there and that his use of the NIV will be one of his.
Yet, I learned from this that we could never work in the same field again as it causes much confusion when I point to 1 John 5:7,8 as a proof text of the Trinity when the NIV either deletes it or the footnote calls it into question. Do they listen to the Senior Pastor or the Associate? What do I tell a brother whose faith is shaken by the contradiction? Should I say that it doesn’t matter and just believe? Believe what, a Book that even scholars debate on whether it is the Word or not? Just believe in a foundation that may not be secure because God allowed man to mess it up? Again, God is not the author of confusion.
1 Cor 1:19-21
19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. (KJV)
The lad that called me a heretic said he could give me a long list of his scholars that disagreed with me and deemed me no scholar at all. Webster gives one definition of a scholar as any student or pupil. I indeed seek to be a student of Christ and His Word so in that respect I am a scholar. Do I have all the accolades of man and a noteworthy member of his societies? No, and I do not seek them.
One need only survey the Old Testament and find many references to when the Kings, Priests/Doctors of the day were out of the will of God and God sent unnamed prophets, pickers of sycamore fruits or other socially unacceptable people to rebuke them. In the New Testament, while the Pharisees and Sadducees mocked Christ it was the harlots and publicans who heard Him. Indeed, most of the men that He used were unlearned by that society’s standards. Jesus even once thanked the Father that he revealed His truth unto babes and not to the wise and prudent. During the Inquisition it was the Doctors that oppressed the people and kept the Gospel from the masses substituting tradition instead. The Reformation tore many away from that darkness, but now we have a breed of Nicolaitanes that force the common man to look to them since it is nearly impossible to know the Word without them. Many who deny the Lord that bought them have degrees and titles. Honestly, I am not even sure I can find a group of men that I would want to revise the KJV today because too many have axes to grind and halos to shine.
Am I against education? No, not at all, but we have placed too much emphasis on the teachings of man and too little on the Holy Spirit. If a person has the Holy Spirit and is in obedience to what Word that has already been taught him then the Spirit can and will teach that person all things even if the person has never seen a Greek or Hebrew word. If you put all your trust in men with degrees you will never trust in the leading of the Holy Spirit that might disagree with that man and you are thus headed for cultism.
Too many suffer from the errors of the Corinthians because they rally around their camps or seminaries and say I am of this one or that one and parrot men more than imitate Christ. When I taught the Sunday evening Bible studies at my previous church I wrote out every lesson and challenged them to study the Scriptures to verify what I was saying and not to accept the quotes of Chairman Ron. A true heretic and cultist would not issue such a challenge.
Two of the best men that I have ever served with are not scholars by the world’s standards. One called himself just a second-class tract passer and yet God called him to win souls and start churches. The other is my current pastor who has a secular degree from Stephen F. Austin but has not attended any seminary. Yet, it would be tough to find a better pastor or student of Christ. Truth is not defined by degrees. Truth is that it is. I have quoted and given some Internet references for some scholars. You can find those who disagree. When you have two scholars on opposite sides of a question you have to rely on something other than degrees.
I have tried to provide you with history, Scripture and other things to help you make a decision. Actually, I have several hundred years of history on my side and counting the first century proofs a couple of thousand years. The other folks have one clump of 4th century manuscripts and less than a hundred years of “scholarly” debates. Still, I urge you to study the Word and sincerely seek guidance from the Holy Spirit. I believe that you will come to the conclusion that the Textus Receptus is the preserved Word of God and that the best translation we have today of those texts is the KJV/AV. I have been challenged because I appear to be being dogmatic and then tell you to pray about the matter. I believe strongly that I am correct in my assertions, but I have no desire to be a Pope so I urge you as Paul told Timothy to study that you may be approved of God and not of men. That practice in no way diminishes my belief or conviction. In any case, keep looking up for our redemption draweth nigh! Maranatha!!
June 8, 2014
Having been in ministry of some form since 1975 I have seen a few things. Some have been great and others not so great. I have had some victories and fallen on my face. Yet, I have always had the desire to serve the Lord and have pressed on looking for His grace and wisdom to lead me on though many times I thought maybe I could do it on my own.
Having found that I cannot do it on my own I wonder how we got to where we are where so many things are considered for a person to serve that have nothing to do with Scripture. The process tends to place people in a position where they have to depend on themselves and the system to find a place of service rather than the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, if you look at the qualifications of a pastor and deacon in 1 Timothy 3 and then look at some of the “job descriptions” churches and organizations use to select people you will find a vast difference between them.
Oddly enough, the Apostle Paul had the 1st Century version of the credentials desired today and he counted them as dung and nothing to hang on to very tightly. He had the education, the references, the positions, titles and power that would make many a ministry salivate and yet after he was saved they were useless. He now had real wisdom and power. Yes, he used his background in ministry as all people do. I come from a variegated background to say the least and while I can use that to gain an audience once I get an ear it is not going to help me much. After that, God better be doing something or I am wasting my time building wood, hay and stubble as well as possibly preventing someone from being saved or committed to Christ if they are saved.
However, the flip side of Paul would keep him from serving in any large or famous ministry in America. He has been incarcerated several times so many a prison ministry may interview him. He has caused instances of community unrest even to the point of riot. He does not have a great oratory style or voice and he does use it to insult people from time to time. He will not look good even in an Armani suit because the scars from his stonings and whippings as well as the damage from being ship wrecked do not give him a great TV presence and with that voice radio is out as well.
He does good written communication work, but so much would have to be edited because of name calling and politically incorrect speech. He is so backward because he deals with peripheral issues like hair and how to behave at a church supper where communion is also offered that are non-essential to salvation so we must not be dogmatic about such things. After all, in essentials unity and in non-essentials, charity is a biblical mandate or is it?
What? He says women are to be submissive and cannot be pastors? Oh, if we ever published that in the Jerusalem Apostolic Times we would be sued and have massive protests outside our door! What is this nonsense of him wanting his young apprentice, Timothy, pastoring a church? Why, the lad is only 21! Paul knows that you cannot even be a member of the Sanhedrin until you are thirty and then only if you are married. Single and 21, what is Paul thinking?
If Paul would have a hard time finding a ministry what would the fishermen in the group do? Rough edged, burley, minimally educated fishermen would be out the door if they even got an interview. Yea, even Jesus based on His earthly background would have a hard time. I mean, a carpenter with a controversial heritage that creates unrest in the community. He takes on the PhDs of the Sanhedrin and says so many disparaging things about these pillars of the community and spiritual leaders. He would not be a boon to our donations as He started out with thousands of followers and then He ran most of them off with His deep theology so that only a relative handful remain. There is a rumor that He was under the scrutiny of the government as well. After all, His cousin challenged the government to the point of losing his head!
Did Jesus have a proven track record for His three years of ministry? Yes, He fed thousands, but in the end was deserted by nearly everyone. One of His own inner circle denied Him three times. He had no home or steady income so you cannot run a background check to see if He was fiscally responsible. He had no formal education yet He silenced the intelligentsia much like Amos did to the royal priesthood of his day.
Paul said that God has chosen the weak, the base and the foolish and very few of the people the world would consider good candidates were among them. Yet, we push men who might be the next Amos, Peter, Phillip or even Johns out the door because they do not meet men’s criteria and thus we hinder the power of God, sap the strength of the Body and may even damn some to Hell that those men were called to bring to Christ because they cannot relate to the Christian upper crust, but need someone on their level or background. We have made most of our ministers fit the characteristics of the minority not the majority of who God used to turn the world upside down.
We have also made it so expensive to be “prepared” for ministry that if man makes it through the maze and gets his cheese degrees and pedigree then it is tough for him to find a place that can afford him. Not that he is greedy of filthy lucre, but he has debts and oddly enough he got into debt to serve the God who said to avoid debt as the borrower is servant/slave to the lender. Imagine that!
Ultimately, if they find their position and achieve some modicum of success they are on a tightrope trying not to fall to the left because of pride or fall off to the right because of discouragement. That brings me to the main thrust of my message. And someone said, “Finally! I wondered where he was going.” To understand a problem you sometimes have to go back a good piece or notice the twists and turns on the road that gets you there.
The temptation affects not only the “professional” ministers, but also the volunteer ministers in the churches. After a person serves for a time they look at their ministry and if they are well compensated either in “packages” with retirement plans, book allowances, travel expenses, etc. they may think they have succeeded and the pride thing starts to kick in.
If the person is a volunteer, but he gets his rewards from the respect of the congregation, many mentions of his name from the pulpit and awards at yearly banquets then he/she is also in danger of pride and having to suffer with the other people who are not as high up on the rung as they are getting a stick neck by having their nose stuck up in the air.
The other end of the spectrum is the despair and burn out where there is no “personnel packet” and the accolades are not coming in as frequently as desired or not at all. If most ministers are honest, this is the norm and the other situation is rare. No one likes to be in such a position, but it is probably the place where we will become more dependent upon God’s power and not ours. We base too much on current trends rather than biblical example.
The author and finisher of our faith was deserted when, from a human perspective, at the time He could have used more friends. Paul followed the same pattern. Demas and others forsook him and indeed he was alone at his first hearing at Caesar’s court. He had to defend his apostleship to the Corinthians and he led them to Christ. If you look at his defense in 2 Corinthians 11 you will not only see the irony of the conflict but also a list of things he endured that are not on anyone’s pastoral bucket list.
Ministry is often thankless, unappreciated, under compensated or not all, hard, tiring and while you joy in the Lord and are thankful to be able to serve you will not always be happy. Joy and happiness are two different things. Read church history and especially Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and it is easy to see the error of prosperity preaching, Indeed, that may also reflect on the condition of the modern church when Menno Simons said that the true church will always be persecuted. We have it far too easy, but that is changing.
The cure for the pride factor and the discouragement factor can be found in the following passage.
7 But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?
8 And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?
9 Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.
10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. KJV
Because we are so independent, competitive and needing affirmations, accolades, etc, we develop a wrong view of many things but especially Christian service. It is, after all, not about you. You cannot demand your rights because you are bought with a price you are not your own. That makes you a servant and hence the relevance of the passage. You may say, this lad was a slave and that is true but so are you. Yes, we wear many hats. We are sons, joint-heirs, ambassadors, witnesses, saints and sometimes martyrs, but we are also slaves/servants.
Note in the passage, not one word of praise comes from the master to the servant. Everything the servant did was expected. We want praise because we showed up for work and did what we contracted for when we accepted the salary and benefits. After that, the company does not have to do anything else after that. The deal was cut. They do not have to give you raises, bonuses or enhance your benefits. They offered you A, B and C and you said you would take it. That is the end of story. You are no longer happy with that then get another job not a picket sign or union steward.
This lad was one hard working fellow. It seems he is the only servant so he does the field work and is the chef and kitchen crew. That makes me tired just thinking about it, but then I am spoiled by a forty hour work week from Monday to Friday. I try to avoid overtime as really most of it goes to taxes and at my age, my time is more important to me than the little bit extra I may get.
This fellow did not have such luxuries. He worked from sun up until sun down six days a week with only the Sabbath off, but he had to work harder on Friday so that there would be no need for manual labor on Saturday. They did not have refrigeration or microwaves so that would have been a grand challenge. As far as we can tell, this lad got no real perks. The master did not even say, “Hey, take the night off we’ll call for take out.” He busted his hump in the hot fields plowing and herding cattle to come in and do the meal, dishes and whatever else the master desired before he went to bed. I picture him finishing up the dishes and having a start on breakfast about 2300 and maybe falling into his rack by midnight only to have to be back up by 0 Dark 30 to start all over again. Y’all want to apply for his job? I doubt it.
After all of this, Jesus said that when you have done all that you do say that you are an unprofitable servant. So, even if God really wanted you to spend all the time and money to get numerous degrees you have nothing to be proud of because you only did what you were supposed to do so what thanks do you have coming? According to this passage, none. You are not to lord it over God’s flock so don’t strut in expecting them to sweep and bow. Some will be impressed, but many others will be looking at other things about you and will not give two cents for your papers. If that will hurt your ego you may need another calling to business or something else because you are missing the point. The congregation owes you nothing and are not required to feed your ego.
I worked once with a fellow that went to bible college and came back ordained and his home church members treated him no differently and it ate his lunch. He forgot the passage where Jesus says that a prophet is not without honor save in his own country and in his own house. All the titles in front of your name and alphabets after your name are to be used like Paul used his Roman citizenship or his Jewish resume. They get you a hearing with folks who would not hear you without them. Other than that, you should forget them if you can. Use them sparingly, if you must, but do not be infatuated with them. That infatuation will bring you down. After you have used them all that you need to use them you are still an unprofitable servant for you only did what you were required to do. There is nothing above and beyond the call of duty for your duty is all you can do so expect nothing and you will not be surprised.
For the brethren who get depressed, the answer is really the same for you. The master in the parable did not thank the servant so do what you are supposed to do and let it go. Some may want to protest and say that Christ gives rewards and blessings. Indeed, He does. However, many of the people you will minister to will not be Christians and even those who are will not necessarily act like Him. Besides, much of what we will receive we get when we get to glory. You may get some awards and thank yous. It is fine if you do, but don’t let them be your focus. He is the focus and His mission is the focus. All else is trivial.
In Mark, Jesus said we would get a hundredfold of what we give up for His sake, but that return is not always in the way we wish or think. I am an only child and yet, I have plenty of mothers, fathers, etc in Christ. I have two biological children, but I have some kids that would think of me as an uncle, if not a father. My son once said I was the coolest Dad in the church according to his friends so some of them might have let me adopt them. ;-) I can think of some houses in various places where I would be welcome for at least three days. If a prophet stayed more then three he was a false prophet, but a few folks might even want me to hang around for a few more days.
You may have a great resume, but so what? Do not expect any accolades or even blessings from God as you think you should receive. You may be wanting something far less than He wants to give you or even something that you would find out later is not a blessing should He give it you. Whatever gifts He has given you use them to your fullest extent as the day is coming when no man can work and it is your duty to all that can do and be thankful that Jesus loves even the unprofitable servant. That is who He uses the one who abandons himself to do the will and work of Christ expecting nothing and being humble enough to know without Christ, he is nothing. Maranatha!
May 9, 2014
1Co 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
Erwin Lutzer was speaking about D. L. Moody and mentioned that it was said of Moody that he had a combined persona of Peter, Paul and John. That is quite a mixture. He also did things that made people call him “Crazy Moody”. Describing Moody’s pulpit and chair we can see that he was short and as Erwin put it “rotund”. Moody had a fifth grade education and his first converts and ministry were to the poor and outcasts, but in his ministry he spoke in colleges like Cambridge and started four schools. It has been estimated that he won 1.5 million people to Christ. Ironically, his associate would be Dr. R. A. Torrey who studied at some of the finest German universties. Imagine a highly trained theologian being the associate of a fifth grade dropout.
Today Moody would have had to do ministry much as he did it then if he were to achieve what he did. He was not accepted, at first, by the respectable church and theologians. He would have neve been called to a church as he was not well trained nor good looking or height weight proportionate. He would hve had to fund his own Sunday School and ultimately start his own church. He would have never met the requirements of current job descriptions for pastors and staff that we find today. Even if he could have met them as Charles Spurgeon might have had a shot at them both he and Spurgeon would have been turned away by some because of their beards and others because they both weighed 350 pounds. Indeed, many of the people God has used greatly over the years would not have been able to serve in most churches today because they were not eloquent, highly trained and some would even be considered too plain or flat out ugly by current standards.
I once was being offered a position of Minister of Christian Education in a church where the pastor proudly chastised Baptists as being too legalistic. I had gone with the kids to a winter camp. I was told on the bus ride to the camp that I needed to have a short ten minute devotion every hour and preach a half hour message at lunch both Saturday and Sunday. I hate snow, but I was out playing with the kids anyway. A few days later I was asked to meet with the pastor at Burger King. He bought me lunch and praised me highly for the way I handled the weekend and wanted me to come serve on one condition. He wanted me to lose weight. I have struggled with weight most of my life even when I was in the military as I come from a long line of short, fat Germans so I knew I was “rotund”. I laughed and said something like why not bring me to a salad bar instead of Burger King if my weight concerns you. Also, for a man who despises legalism is it not odd that your bible must say, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ wieght 130 pounds and thou shalt be saved and be able to serve. I was unemployed and desperately needed the money, but I told him that I did not want my ability to serve God determined by what I weighed and my tenure determined by the scales.
Isn’t it interesting that 1 Timothy 3 and Ephesians 4 do not speak to physical attributes of those gifted for various places in the Body? Doesn’t even speak to education, eloqution or barely any of the things that are required by churches and other ministries today? Indeed, how could the Bible speak to those things when the passage we have before us indicates that the bulk of the saved would not have such backgrounds to have those qualities? Paul was well trained, but not very eloquent. He was nothing to look upon in his natural state, but being nearly blind and at some point severely scarred by stonings and scourgings it might have even been hard to look at him. How in the world did God use such a fellow? Once had a fellow tell me that a church that was asking him to come and preach asked him if he wore glasses becaue they did not want a pastor with glasses. Trying to find a place to minister can feel like Goldilocks and the three bears.
What if Moody would have accepted the criticisms of his day? He was a successful shoe salesmen. We might be still be wearing Moody shoes for your mood. Instead, he overcame all that nonsense and trusted God. There are at least 1.5 million people in Heaven that are really glad that he did! We are in a sad state of affairs and it is time to put away nonsense and seek God when we are looking for someone to minister in whatever capacity. We have to put down our business world criterias and stop looking at externals. You may be turning away the next Moody and Spurgeon. Indeed, if you caused them to stumble and fail because of your petty preferences you will have to answer for that one day. We are to encourage people to serve Christ, not shoot them dow because of some elitest concept.
My brothers, if you are called to preach/teach then get on your computer and start a blog, a website, use resources like www.sermoncentral.com, etc. Go to the jails, nursing homes, rescue missions. Knock on doors and win people to Christ. You can serve God no matter what people may say about you. That is not to say that you should not be in a church. Just because they may have some not so biblical standards for service doesn’t mean they are completely off kilter. You may be the one called to that Body to change their mind when they see what God is doing through you. There came a time when the people who called Moody, Crazy Moody, switched and called him Brother Moody.
See your calling! If you are weak, foolish and base you have three grand items on your spiritual resume. Give yourself to God and watch Him use you to confound the world and maybe even your church and denomination. You might even get a PhD as an assistant. Glory in the Lord and see what He can do through you that man said could not be done! Maranatha!