Sunday sermon [2nd Cor. 2]
Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God. 2nd Cor. 2:17 NIV
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Some of my studies-
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[TODAY’S POST BEGINS HERE]
Acts 20:33 I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel.
Acts 20:34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.
Acts 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Sunday sermon videos-
.Main theme- forgiveness
.Lonnie from New York City- the rest of the story
.Who was the sinning brother Paul was speaking about?
.What does he say about him now?
.How were some corrupting the Word of God?
.Did Paul only reject financial support from the church at Corinth?
.Who were the other 2 churches he did this with? [As recorded in the New Testament]
.Why was he doing this?
.When he teaches on support for leaders- why does he use a seemingly obscure verse- and not the more clear passages on the Levitical priesthood and the tithe?
.Socrates and the Sophists- how does this fit with today’s teaching?
.History of the Peloponnesian wars- Athens and Sparta Peloponnesian War - Wikipedia
.Many consider Athens the 1st democracy
.What were some of the names of their warships?
.Athens held about 4,000 legal proceedings a year
.Socrates felt that the Athenians who could be ‘judge for a day’ as well as the jury- needed to be more educated- lest they make wrong decisions and convict the innocent
.Not only would the innocent be wrongly convicted- but he felt the jurors would do more damage to their own ‘souls’ in the process
.What are some of lessons we could learn from the present Covid 19 crisis?
.We all have paradigms that effect us- the way we ‘see’ things
.Another homeless friends story
.Advice for my friends struggling with addiction
1Thessalonians 2:9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.
What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.
1 Cor. 9:18
PAST POSTS [These are links and parts of my past teachings that relate in some way to today’s post- verses below]
This is a Link to some of what I talked about on the video-
Though I did not teach on Recovery on the video- I asked my friends to read my teaching on Christian Recovery- so I added the link above.
2nd CORINTHIANS 2- Paul instructs the church to forgive the brother who was excommunicated earlier on [1st Corinthians] he tells them just as they were zealous to carry out the previous judgment, so now they should be willing to forgive. He says it’s possible for people to be overcome with too much sorrow. The other day I wrote a post on Obama’s green jobs czar, I felt [and still feel!] that he needed to resign, he resigned 2 days after I wrote the post. I have also seen some conservatives say good things about the man [Van Jones] that in essence he has also done some good things. But they feared that he will be tagged as this nut case who signed the 911 ‘truthers’ petition [well, he really should not have signed the thing]. The point was it’s possible to over do an attack on an individual like this, to not stop until all the czars fall type of a thing. Paul reminds us that there are times of being hard with people, but the purpose for it is too bring them to their senses. Here Paul warns against being unforgiving. He also says that when he shared Gods word with them he did not do it like others; he said they were ‘peddling/corrupting’ Gods word. This carries with it the idea that certain people/ministers were preaching for profit. Paul is not saying ‘too much profit’ he is simply saying those who were sharing the word and taking money in return. We already know that Paul’s mode of operation was to support himself when with the churches [see Acts 20] and at times he even paid the way for his fellow workers. Paul carried out the greatest apostolic ministry known to man [apart from Christ] and he did it free of charge at his own expense. Paul tells them that when he wrote to them he did it thru much affliction and difficulty. He previously spoke about God opening up great opportunities for him, but along with the gift came a great price. Let me share a little personal stuff with you guys. My wife went to the E.R. the other day with some serious problems; she has been admitted into the hospital. We do not have health care insurance. When I retired I couldn’t afford to keep it. I managed to get my kids insurance, but me and my wife are on our own. Out of the 2 of us I have a few more serious health problems than she does. Some have been self inflicted [past mistakes] others just happened. The way I ‘self-treat’ is I go on line and do ‘home cures’- this my friends is not good. Some have helped, others I am not sure of. But this past year I had some things that needed to be checked [like bleeding from places where you shouldn’t be] and frankly, I haven’t done it. But I needed my wife to stay healthy, so this has been pretty awful for me. At the same time we had some serious problems with one of our daughters, and we were/are in a real bind over this. During this whole time I started this new bible study [2nd Corinthians] and whenever I start a study I just do a chapter a day and it doesn’t take long at all to finish. But I wonder how many I’ll be able to do over the course of my life. I would like to do the whole bible, but I realize that it’s thru ‘much affliction and suffering’ that I have written to many of you. Paul said he had the ‘sentence of death within himself’ so he would learn not to trust in himself, but in God who raises the dead. As we read thru these letters, see the real problems and difficulties they were facing; hear Paul when he says ‘I am not peddling Gods word’ he was not taking offerings or collecting money for his own well being. He collected only for the poor saints at Jerusalem. Watch the give and take, the beliefs of the early church. We need an overhaul in our thinking and acting, ‘ministry/preaching/church’ all need to be re looked at, we need to teach/train the upcoming ‘crop’ of pastors in a new way. Don’t see these things as jobs, or opportunities for self advancement, see these things as opportunities to lay your life down for others, to cling to the death experiences and not run from them. Paul said we are the sweet fragrance of Christ to the nations; in both them who are dieing and those who are being saved. God reveals his knowledge thru us to all people groups, we die daily so this fragrance can go forth.
)1ST CORINTHIANS 5:1-7 Okay, now we get into some tough stuff. Paul tells them that he has heard about a situation where one of the brothers is sleeping with his step-mom [fathers wife, though probably not his mother]. And the rebuke is they are not repenting over it, but instead are kind of proud of the whole thing! Paul says to ‘deliver him to satan for the destruction of the flesh so the spirit may be saved’. Now I already showed you the way I view this verse. I tried to follow the other times where Paul speaks this way in this letter and when using this type of language I see him speaking of physical death [chapter 11- sleep-death as judgment to a believer who sins]. I often ‘day dream’ how bout you? I’m not sure if it’s the lord at times trying to tell me stuff. One of my noble fantasies is I can picture myself as the sole Christian preacher who has survived some nuclear holocaust and I am responsible to train the survivors. In this scenario [I am kinda ad libbing here, I don’t day dream this much!] I have both Catholic and Protestant believers. Although I am tempted to raise this new generation of people as Protestants, I instead teach the Catholics true Catholic doctrine [though I don’t fully agree with it all] and I teach the Protestants their stuff. Now, I think this little day dream in some way speaks to what I need to do at times on this blog. I need to honestly tell both sides! In this verse ‘commit to satan for the destruction of the flesh’ some do see it a little differently. You can read ‘flesh’ as meaning ‘fleshly nature’. Paul does use the word this way at times. You can’t really make the distinction by going to the Greek. Instead you have to simply look at the context. So this view would be saying ‘deliver this believer to the enemy, don’t allow him to remain ‘in the camp’ and continue to receive the benefits of the believing community. As you ostracize him he will feel the effect of not being with you, he will come to his senses and leave his sin’ [which in this scenario is ‘his fleshly nature’] so the ‘destruction of the flesh’ in this interpretation would fit in well with Arminians. Now, do I believe it this way? No, but I sure feel noble, sort of like the Protestant preacher in my ‘day dream’. [p.s. if you tell anybody about this day dream, I will deny it!]
(953)Yesterday I managed to catch a few TV shows that were good. National geographic did a special called ‘the first Christians’. It was excellent. They covered more historic truth in one hour than you would get from years of sermons. They basically taught the New Testament word for ‘church’ [Ecclesia] and showed how because the early Christians did not believe the ‘church’ was a building, that therefore they spread rapidly without lots of money. They then covered the historic development of the ‘church building’ and the effect this had on them. They also got into the ‘end times’ scenarios that are played out over and over again by today’s prophecy teachers. They interviewed true theologians who put Johns Revelation in historical context. Just an excellent job overall. I also caught the show ‘Journey Home’ on E.W.T.N. [the Catholic channel]. I do like the show, it often gives good historical stuff. Last night they were a little ‘too Catholic’ [I know, what should I expect]. They had a good brother on who left ‘non-denominational Christianity’ and became Catholic. Now, most of these brothers are very intelligent believers who make this choice out of sincerity. They usually study the early church fathers and realize the ‘Catholic tone’ of these early believers. I simply felt the brother who spoke last night was a little too critical of his former church experience [Willow Creek]. I then caught Scott Hahn [an excellent Catholic scholar and apologist], he always has stuff that interests me. He brought up an argument I have heard before on how the early church saw the ‘real presence of Christ’ as being in the Eucharist. Others have made this argument before from the Catholic perspective of Jesus being with us, as opposed to the detractors arguments that he misled the early followers to think that he would soon return and set up a literal earthly kingdom. I have heard and do understand this reasoning. In essence it defends Jesus and his followers by saying ‘Jesus didn’t let down the early church by not returning and ‘being with them’ he was with them all along thru the Eucharist’ good intentions. I would prefer to argue the same point thru the fulfilling of the Fathers promise and the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. Jesus says in John’s gospel ‘I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you’ it is understood by most theologians [Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant] that Jesus is speaking of the Holy Spirit. Jesus actually refers to the Spirit as ‘One just like unto myself’. The new testament very Cleary speaks of the Holy Spirit as Gods presence tabernacling among us in a real way. So in my thinking I would prefer to argue the real presence of Christ as being among the early believers as fulfilled thru the Comforter. Overall it was a good night of viewing some good teachers. I also couldn’t help but notice how I have been skipping over the ‘more popular’ preaching shows of the day. I did click on one of the prophecy guys, he was defending ‘the rapture’ and I couldn’t help but notice the difference between the good theological discussions from the earlier shows, and the ‘silliness’ of what this brother was teaching. I don’t want to demean you if you hold to the rapture theory, it was just such an obvious ‘step down’ from the level of theologian to the level of popular prophecy preaching. In our current study of Corinthians we just went thru the verse ‘though you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you have only one father’ [Paul referring to himself]. I couldn’t help but get this sense of the modern seen. You could flip thru all the religious broadcasting of our day and get every possible conceivable viewpoint on some subject, ten thousand of them! But there is a consistent voice of truth and wisdom that comes to us from both scripture and church history/tradition. I think we would be better off sticking with ‘the father[s]’.
(954)NOW IT’S A PARALLEL/BUBBLE UNIVERSE! I watched the first TV special I ever saw on the multi-verse theory. I think it’s the first one of its kind by the history channel. It was very eye opening. It seems as if its defenders have been told ‘your initial argument is nonsensical’ and they have made some adjustments. As you read down thru the Evolution section you will see that one of the arguments against a multi-verse is that it is a ‘non physical’ argument. It is metaphysical. This meaning that you could never truly prove the existence of another universe thru the science of Physics. Why? Because the original definition of ‘the universe’ was every thing that exists in the time/space continuum. If by definition, all that can be seen or detected is ‘part of our universe’ then how in the world can you detect something outside of it? [they have some ideas on this, but its pure speculation as of right now] Once you detect it, it, by definition is in our universe! Well the brothers now realize that they fell into this obvious contradiction, so they seem to be moving the goal posts a little. In the special I just saw, they now seem to be saying that our universe is simply one ‘bubble of universes’ that’s floating around in space [before, space and the universe were synonymous!] so they seem to be simply shrinking down the definition of universe and making it mean ‘our closed existing time space continuum, which is simply one of many’ Ahh, you guys are cheating with his one! But hey, how many viewers realized this? That’s the problem with these theories, they come up with them for the purpose of having another explanation for existence, but they then get into more trouble trying to keep their theory alive. Remember, the reason this theory started in the first place was to come up with some type of explanation, apart from God, to explain the fine tuning of the Cosmos [read my sections on fine tuning under Evolution]. The unbelievable fine measurements that have been found to be exactly right to support life have no other real explanation apart from a creator. The multi-verse theory simply says ‘well, if you have millions and billions of unseen universes [pure speculation!] then the odds on one of them getting it right just went up’. So this theory was originally floated for this reason. Now, even if this theory were ever proved [according to the new definition of the universe!] it would simply mean that instead of trying to figure out how ‘our universe got here’ [the original question] now we have to figure out how they all got here! It really proves nothing. But I thought it interesting to see how these giants of Academia now realize that they were violating the basic laws of logic by espousing the theory in its original form! [In essence, all these so called floating, bubble like universes would have originally fallen under the heading of ‘the universe’. You wouldn’t have seen them as a bunch of separate universes. But they had to change the definition in order to keep their argument in the boundaries of logic and common sense]. They also borrowed from Einstein’s theory on worm holes. But Einstein surmised that worm holes might be these tunnels in space/time that one could travel thru and exit at another dimension, a different location of the universe. He did not use this idea as traveling from one ‘bubble universe’ into another, like the proponents of the multi-verse were doing. The show then got too silly to even give it a speck of serious thought. They then theorized that there are possible duplicates of us, and duplicates of other sports teams and presidents and all types of stuff. They thought it possible for the Giants to have won the super bowl in one universe, though losing it in ours [and you call this science!] they even said that this theory has moral implications. How did they come up with this? One of them explained that you could be ‘good’ in one universe, but if you realize that this holy altar image of yourself is doing good somewhere else, then this might effect your choice of being righteous in ‘this universe’ WOW! As we continue our study thru the book of Corinthians, keep in mind Paul’s teaching on the foolishness of men’s wisdom, I think we just saw a good example of it. There is this stature that we give in our modern day to any ‘Tom, Dick or Harry’ that comes down the pike with any nonsensical idea. We see them as a special class, the Academics can’t be wrong! After all it sounds intellectual. A few centuries before Christ you had the great philosopher ‘Philo- Betto’ [O wait, that was Clint Eastwood’s character in ‘every which way but lose!’] I mean Plato. Truly Plato and Aristotle and Socrates have had tremendous influence on Western thought. You would be hard pressed to find other later philosophers who have had the same influence [maybe Immanuel Kant]. Plato built this great school of learning in ancient Greece. He bought the land from a man by the name of ‘Academe’. Eventually we would call this pursuit of knowledge ‘the Academic world’ or Academia. Hey, don’t be intimidated by these guys.
(955)1st CORINTHIANS 5:6-8 Okay, lets get back to Corinthians. ‘Your glorying is not good, get rid of the old leaven. Don’t you know that a little yeast can affect the whole lump? Get rid of it, you are all unleavened, Christ is our new Passover Lamb who has been sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth’ [my own paraphrasing]. A few things. I want you to see something here, over the years I have read and studied lots of great theologians. It is common for these brothers to go back to the reality of the early church fathers belief in the ‘Real Presence’ of Christ in the Eucharist [Lords supper]. It is also becoming less common [in theological circles!] to defend the symbolic view of the Lords Supper. I believe Paul is presenting the idea of all believers spiritually sitting at the ‘table of life’ on a daily basis and receiving from Christ’s new life in a spiritual/symbolic way. He clearly says ‘let us keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth’ [clearly symbolic!] Peter writes of the new sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. Jesus speaks in an interesting way about this in John chapter 6. The Jews ask him ‘show us a sign, Moses gave us bread to eat from heaven. If you’re from God then prove it like Moses’. I find it interesting that in the key chapter of Jesus being the bread that comes down from heaven, the conversation turns to Moses. The beginning of the chapter does say the Passover feast was getting close, but the imagery is Moses and Manna. Moses represented the Old system of law and works, John’s gospel tells us that ‘the law came from Moses, but grace and truth from Jesus’. Jesus contrasts himself with Moses. He says ‘I am the real bread that has come down from heaven, if men eat my flesh and drink my blood they will live’. Now we must understand the tremendous offence this statement caused. The Jewish people had Levitical laws [commands in their law] that forbid the drinking of any type of blood, never mind the blood of a person! But yet Jesus would speak this way to them. In the conversation the hearers acknowledge the difficulty of the saying, Jesus will say ‘the flesh profits nothing, it is the Spirit that gives you life. The words I am speaking to you are Spirit and life’. At the last supper [which was the symbolic end of the Passover and the beginning of a new celebratory meal centered on the final sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God] Jesus seems to be saying ‘from now on, as long as you do this, you are showing my death until I come again’ [we get this from Paul later on in Corinthians]. As you put all of this imagery together, you get the sense of the New Covenant being one of an ongoing continual New Covenant meal from which all believers daily eat from and ‘keep the feast with the new leaven of truth and sincerity, not the old leaven of sin and wickedness’. You clearly see a symbolic element in this language. Now, I do not discount the importance of the actual ordinance of the Lords Table. I recently defended the Catholic idea to an ex Catholic who is now Protestant. They said ‘how can people believe something so silly’ I had to say that many serious intellectual believers accept the Real Presence doctrine by faith in the literal reading of Jesus words. Luther himself believed it, he made no bones about it when he slammed his fist on the table in his dispute with Zwingli and said ‘this IS MY BODY!’ [I think he slammed his fist, he might have carved it in the table?] Standing for the literal interpretation of the sacrament. John Wesley, the founder of the great Methodist movement, wrote many hymns speaking of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. So make no mistake about it, many good believers hold to the literal belief. I just wanted you to see that it is also in keeping with the scripture to see the entire Christian walk as one huge ongoing ‘feast’ that is kept with spiritual sacrifices and symbolic language. Jesus is the bead that came down from heaven, those who would stay with ‘Moses bread’ [law] would die, those who would eat from this new table would live forever.
(957)1ST CORINTHIANS 5:9-13 Now Paul clarifies what he meant when he said ‘don’t associate with those who sin sexually’. He wants to be clear that his instructions on ‘not being with sinners’ is not misunderstood. After all we are called salt and light, Jesus himself was accused of spending too much time with the lost. So Paul says ‘what I meant was don’t keep ongoing fellowship with a brother who is practicing unrepentant sin’. He also says ‘if you thought I meant all sinners in general, then heck you wouldn’t be able to live in society this way’. Some believers have taken a stand on ‘separation from the world’ in such a way that they have no unbelieving friends. Others seem to view the unbeliever as the enemy. Sort of like we are in this culture war and the enemy is YOU! I can’t even watch the O’Reilly factor [Fox news] too long, he says he’s fighting this culture war and then in the ads for upcoming shows he shows the raciest pictures on any news show. What’s up with that? I feel we need to make the distinction between separating from a sinning brother [for his own good] and having friendships with unbelievers. People you can influence down the road. Paul also says if we judge our own [by shunning them for their own good] that this is a type of ‘present chastening’ that believers do experience. But those who are ‘outside the camp’ [unbelievers] are left to be judged by God. We see this same theme in chapter 11 ‘when we are judged we are disciplined by the Lord so we will not be condemned with the world’ [at the final judgment]. I believe that this idea is one of the best arguments for eternal security [once saved, always saved. Though I don’t like this language, you get the hint]. The concept of believers being presently dealt with for sin, even to the possible point of physical death, seems to indicate that they will not face a future judgment like the lost [eternal damnation]. When we recently did one of our Old Testament studies, I overlooked a verse that said to King David ‘I will raise up one of your sons [Solomon/Jesus- dual Messianic prophecy] and he will build this new temple/people. The way I will deal with the people under this new covenant is, if they commit sins, I will chasten them, but I will not utterly take my mercy from them’ [my paraphrasing- it is said to the actual son, Solomon/Jesus, but in the New Covenant revelation of the church actually being part of the Body of Christ, this is how you could apply it]. You can also read this idea in a few other places. I think Jeremiah uses it ‘I will give them a new heart and I will put my Spirit in them’ and he also speaks about not being totally rejected if they commit sin under this new covenant. So the point is, if there is a mechanism under this new covenant whereby sin is dealt with in the present time, and if this is compared to the other choice which is ‘judgment at a later time’. This would seem to indicate a type of ‘in house discipline’ that says ‘if you openly sin now, God will judge you now. He does this for your own good, so you won’t face the judgment of the unbeliever at the end’. So the fact that some were sinning, even pretty badly! Did not mean that they were expelled completely from the benefits of the covenant. As a matter of fact, temporal excommunication itself was one of the benefits! I don’t want to be too dogmatic on this, I just want you to see a repeated theme in scripture that says God will deal with his kids in the here and now [no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous- Hebrews] but this in itself is a blessing that is designed to ‘produce the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby’ Hebrews.
ACTS 20 Acts 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. https://youtu.be/vc4qntHZqXo Acts 20 https://ccoutreach87.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/8-15-17-acts-20.zip https://ccoutreach87.com/8-15-17-acts-20/ http://www.kiiitv.com/news/local/17-shih-tzu-puppies-rescued-from-puppy-mill-in-ben-bolt-texas/465425096 http://www.kztv10.com/story/36170167/17-dogs-rescued-from-ben-bolt-home On the videos I have talked about my daughters starting their own pet rescue- on the local news they showed them doing a rescue- you can see my daughter Debbie on this news clip. ON VIDEO- .Troy [my puppy] almost electrocuted [Not on this video- but the story] .Paul preaches long .Boy fell asleep and fell out the window .Paul goes downstairs and raises him from the dead [yes- all true] .This is the only other recorded resurrection by one of the apostles in Act’s .The other was Peter raising Tabitha Acts 9:40 .Why was there an interest in some of the Gnostic writings? .Paul’s message to the elders .Communion meal celebrated .Paul also supported himself at Corinth and Thessalonica [1st Thes. 2:9- Acts 18:3] .Paul’s trials- .His purpose- finish the job .Warns against false teachers .The Cross and grace are a universal message .Avoid personality cult .Better to give than get- Jesus
PAST POSTS [verses below] ACTS- https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/01/18/acts-1/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/01/26/acts-2/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/02/02/acts-3/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/02/09/acts-4/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/03/23/acts-5/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/03/31/acts-6/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/04/06/acts-7/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/04/14/acts-8/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/04/18/acts-9/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/05/07/acts-10/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/05/16/acts-11/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/05/22/acts-12/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/06/01/acts-13/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/06/14/acts-14/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/07/03/acts-15/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/07/07/acts-16/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/07/27/acts-17/ http://corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com/2017/08/acts-18-acts-1828-for-he-mightily.html https://ccoutreach87.com/2017/08/09/acts-19/
My other past teachings that relate to today’s post- ACTS 20 https://ccoutreach87.com/galatians-links/ https://ccoutreach87.com/1st-2nd-corinthians/ https://ccoutreach87.com/romans-updated-2015/ (739)ACTS 20- Paul travels with some brothers on the journey. This mode of visiting different regions and bringing brothers with him is exciting! They are truly seeing the Kingdom of God becoming established in the earth. Scripture says ‘they broke bread on the first day of the week’ we read later in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians that when they met on the ‘first day of the week’ he asked them to take up a collection before he arrived [so he could take the money and meet the needs of the poor saints at Jerusalem]. Do we see here some type of Sunday Sabbath, that is the ‘church day to pay tithes’ so you don’t get cursed? Of course not. You are seeing the simple practical outworking of a people who are becoming the people of God. It’s fine to meet on a Sunday and to ‘break bread’. Hey, the group needs to know when to meet for the meal! But don’t develop liturgical/sacramental ideas out of this. You say ‘hooray for John [me], he is really giving it to those Catholics’ well, don’t say hooray yet. Now he calls for the Elders at Ephesus to come to Miletus so he can give them some instructions and a farewell. This address from Paul is one of the best in the New Testament. He covers the basics for leadership and church growth. Now, he tells them ‘all the time I was with you guys I was upright. I taught you publicly and from house to house. I showed you repentance toward God and faith towards Jesus Christ. I worked and did not covet your money. I did this to prove I was not there to gain financially from you. To give you an example as Elders yourselves, so you would not see the responsibility of oversight thru a covetous mindset. Beware! After I leave you there will be an attempt by the enemy to undo the work of the Cross. Some men, even from your own group will rise up and speak twisted doctrines. They will try to become preeminent in the group, drawing away disciples after themselves. Don’t become sidetracked and become followers of men! Guard the flock over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Feed them Gods good word’. Paul lays down strong guidelines here. He actually teaches the elders that he worked when he was among them to leave this example of leaders not seeing ministry as a means to get gain. In one of his future letters [Timothy or Thessalonians?] he actually says this ‘working’ that he did was a tradition for them to keep. He said this in context of those who refused to work. Very strong indeed. Peter also will teach the Elders to take oversight of Gods flock ‘not for money, but out of a pure motive’. In the wars that rage over ‘simple church’ versus the modern 501c3 model, both sides have shot at each other wrongfully at times. There are very intelligent brothers who will take this chapter and teach that the modern Pastor has fallen into the trap of ‘making disciples after themselves’. They see the development of the role of Pastor as becoming the fulfillment of this. Now, I do see some merit to this, but I see most pastors [all the ones I know and have known personally over the years] as Elders who are striving to help Gods People. I see a real need for all leadership to see that ministry is not a fulltime clergy type office that has developed over the centuries! Paul is simply addressing the Elders [more mature ones- in the gospel, not necessarily old!] and showing them that their purpose is to help the people of God grow in grace and make it to a place of self sufficiency in Christ. Paul is pretty much laying down the gauntlet that leadership is not some ticket of ‘now that I am in ministry, my income comes from the God ordained tithe’. This is never taught as a means of support for New testament ministers. These ideas have developed out of the Old Testament idea of the tithe supporting the Levitical Priests. In the New Covenant all are Priests and we don’t practice this type of thing. But Paul does teach that it’s good to support materially [financially] those who are feeding you spiritual food. He does teach ‘don’t muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn’ [he called us ox’s!] seriously, he lays down the biblical guideline of supporting those who minister the word. But it is important to see he was not establishing some type of clergy system, the fact that he was working while with these Ephesians and actually used this as an example for OTHER ELDERS as well as the believers shows you this. All in all the main point Paul is getting across is he wants the basic truth of the gospel to prevail and he does not want top heavy leadership to come in and draw away disciples after them. That is for strong gifted leaders to become the main focus of these Ephesian believers. So this chapter is important because we see Paul address these elders that he has been ‘ordaining’ in the churches [groups of believers]. We see the basic character and function of these men. We see the warning that cults will arise. In Paul’s day groups did come forth from the basic Christian communities [Gnostics and Docetists] that had a basic understanding of certain Christian things, but would deny the reality of Jesus. Paul bids them Farwell as they all embrace on the shoreline. The Elders were heartbroken over Paul’s words that he will probably see them no more. He wanted to keep the upcoming feast at Jerusalem and eventually preach at Rome. He was on this obsession to carry this gospel to the seat of the empire, even if it means his life.
[My past teaching on Gnosticism- which I mentioned on the post] PLATO
Plato was born in 427 BC- he was the most famous student of Socrates.
He is best known for his theory of Ideas/Forms.
He believed that the material world was an imperfect copy of the Idea world. That is he believed that Ideas exist apart from the construct of the human mind- that they were the perfect forms of the things we see in the material realm.
He could also be referred to as a Realist- because he believed these Ideas actually existed [for real]. Where did he get this from? As we study Philosophy- each one that comes down the line has been influenced in some way by those that preceded them.
There was a famous thinker- Pythagoras [his followers were the Pythagoreans] who taught a concept called the Transmigration of the Soul [a sort of Reincarnation]. They believed that the soul of man went thru various stages- and existed independently of the body.
In Greek thought the soul is immortal- it exists before the body. In Christian teaching the Soul [mind- Spirit] comes into existence when God creates man [the bible says ‘and man BECAME a living soul’- referring to the creation of Adam].
The Greeks saw the soul as preexisting before the natural life.
In the mind of Plato- the body was a receptacle- in this life we recollect the knowledge that comes from the Idea world.
He ascribed Ontological status to ideas themselves.
In Philosophy there are 2 basic ways knowledge comes [we study this in Epistemology- an offshoot of Philosophy- which deals with how we know things].
A Priori knowledge is knowledge obtained independent of experience. A Posteriori is knowledge obtained thru the senses- what we call Empirical evidence.
In Plato’s schema he believed that the knowledge that comes to us from the Formal world [ideas- forms] was A Priori knowledge- that the human mind recalls- and in the present material world- knowledge comes to us from the perfect idea world.
The Greeks believed that all matter was flawed- that the Body was an imperfect vessel- and after death we are released into the perfect world- and free from the material realm.
Christian Tradition does not hold to this view. The Church teaches that the created world is good- not evil. Among Christians there is some confusion about this- because the older versions of the bible [King James] seem to teach that matter [world, flesh] is evil.
Paul the apostle talks about no good thing being in The Flesh- he talks about the Carnal mind- the apostle John says ‘all that is in the World- the lust of the flesh- the pride of life- is not of the Father but is of the world’.
There are many references like this in the bible- but they are speaking about the sinful nature of man [the flesh] and not about the human body itself [For instance Paul says in Romans ‘present your BODIES as living sacrifices unto God- Holy and acceptable’ in Corinthians ‘your BODY is the temple of the Holy Spirit’- there are many references in scripture that speak of the Body as Holy.
When the bible says ‘satan is the god of this world’ it is not speaking of the earth- which God created- and calls GOOD- but it is speaking of the ‘world’ system- an age of wickedness.
So- at times Christians have confused this- and have held a sort of Dualistic view of matter- that is not the biblical view- but a Gnostic view- that all matter is evil.
Plato saw the unseen world of Ideas as the perfect- pure world.
He taught that in this life we obtain the knowledge of the pure- by reason of recollection- that these pure ideas come to us ‘are recalled’ in this life.
He is famous for founding the first Philosophical school- it was called The Academy- named after a man by the name of Academus.
The land was donated for the school- it was previously used as an Olive Grove- and in honor of the donation- Plato named the school after the donor.
This is why we use the phrase ‘The Groves of Academia’ today.
Plato was actually a nick name- he wrestled in Athens- in a sort of precursor to what would later become the Olympic games- and he was broad shouldered- that’s where his name comes from- Plato means broad shouldered.
So- to sum up- Plato believed that Forms [ideas] were eternal, the cause of all that is. He believed we are born with innate ideas- these are not learned thru sense experience- but exist independently of the mind- and in this bodily life we retrieve [the body is a receptacle] these ideas.
Does the bible teach anything along these lines?
Christians believe that God himself is infinite- without beginning or end. That wisdom- ideas- ‘forms’ of things do indeed exist- prior to our own life.
But these ideas are not without a Mind- God is Spirit- and he is everywhere [Omnipresent] he knows all tings [Omniscient] – so- in a way- there are indeed ideas- forms- but they come from the ultimate Mind of God.
A good example would be the building of the Tabernacle- and later the Temple- under Moses and King David [his son Solomon actually built it].
God told Moses ‘see that you build it after the Pattern shown to thee in the mount’. In the book of Hebrews we read that the earthly Tabernacle [Temple] was simply an image- a symbol- of heavenly realities.
That God himself had the ‘form’ in his mind- indeed- like Plato taught- the heavenly form is perfect- the earthly expression imperfect.
But these patterns- forms- ideas- are from the Mind of God- they are not Innate in the soul of man- nor does the soul of man exist before his birth. In the past few months I have had several Christian friends tell me that they feel like they existed before this life- a type of reincarnation.
I explained to them that in the Christian faith we do not hold to this view.
But- the bible does tell us that God had a purpose for us- Predetermined- before the ‘foundation of the world’.
Meaning that yes- in the Mind of God- in a way- we did exist- but we did not have actual being [called Ontological status in the field of Philosophy] until we were created by God.
God’s purpose for us was already in the Mind of God before our birth.
The bible says that Christ is made unto us wisdom- we are not Receptacles in the sense that Plato taught.
But yes- in time God reveals to us this Hidden Wisdom- about his love and purpose for us.
And in this life we act out- we fulfil this eternal purpose.
Man [or woman] can never find true happiness- true meaning- until they tap into this purpose. We were created by the hand of God- to bring glory and honor to him- and we in this life can ever find true fulfilment- until we make it back to God. [parts] (1204) There was this man stuck on a deserted island, he was there for 30 years. Finally one day he saw a ship pass by and he started a fire to signal it. When they came to his rescue they saw that he had made 3 huts. They asked him what they were for; the first one was his house, the second was his church. What about the third one? Oh, that’s the church I used to go to [you have to be a Pastor/ex-Pastor to get his one]. I am about 1/3rd thru with the book ‘why we love the church’ [Deyoung, Kluck]. While it’s too soon to review it, let me make a few comments. First, I really like these guys a lot, I read their first book [why we’re not emergent] and will stick with their journey for now. They write from an informed historical perspective. Unashamedly Calvinist [like myself] but yet cool enough to challenge the other cool guys [emergent cool]. I don’t know if they did a chapter on ‘ecclesiology’ [their view of local church] but it would be helpful if they did/do one. They do a great job defending the historic gospel, they defend the ‘church’ and all of the great things the old traditional ‘churches’ have done over the years. They rightfully take the emergent crowd to the woodshed on their willingness to reject certain historic claims of Christianity. But I think they do not really see the legitimate challenge to the church as community versus the people who ‘go to the church on Sunday’. I think their voices are important to hear, and everyone who is reading the organic church stuff should read these guys, but I am not sure they fully see the biblical idea/concept of church as community in the New Testament. In their noble efforts to refute those who have gone too far in other areas, they might be missing the truth of the Ecclesia as defined in scripture. Okay, enough said. Jesus is eating the Passover with the disciples, he tells them he will not eat/drink with them again until the Kingdom of God comes. Was he speaking of a future restoration of nationalistic Israel and his eating the restored Passover/Communion meal at that time? I don’t think so. After Jesus rose from the dead it was important for the ‘witnesses’ [disciples] to have seen testimony that Jesus rose bodily from the grave. He tells Thomas ‘thrust your hand into my side’ he eats with them on a few occasions. He was showing them he was really alive. John’s gospel is the only one [I think] that mentions the blood and water coming from Jesus side after being pierced on the Cross. In John’s letters he speaks of the blood and water as a testimony. John also says that they were testifying of the Son, who they saw and whose hands have handled. John was combating the soon to rise Gnostic/Docetist heresies that would doubt the physical resurrection of Christ. They would say he was ‘a phantom’ [spirit]. So, why did Jesus emphasize his eating with them ‘when the Kingdom came’ [after his death and resurrection]? I think he was giving them a sign/truth that he was physically coming back. They still did not fully grasp what he was going to do, there would be some who would doubt that he really died and rose [see 1st Corinthians 15]. He was telling them that he was really going to die and really come back from the dead. The whole Christian faith stands or falls on this single reality, Paul said ‘if Christ be not risen then we are of all men most miserable’. Jesus said ‘don’t worry guys, when I come back we will eat again’.
[parts] Ok- the ruling empire at the time of Christ was Rome- just prior to the appearance of Jesus- the Roman Emperor- Caesar Augustus- consolidated the Roman Empire under his rule- Rome was ruled by a senate- some famous names from history were in it- Cicero being one. Caesar Augustus was the nephew of Julius Caesar- his real name was Octavian [Octavius]. After the death of Julius Caesar- there were some power struggles that took place- between some other famous people. Marc Antony being one of them [Cleopatra too- he was in love with the girl for sure]. Now- we read about Augustus in the New Testament- and we read in the book of Revelation about the Mark of the Beast- and that those who don’t worship- give homage to the Beast- they will be killed. So- Many Christians would be killed because they would refuse to give homage to Caesar Augustus [meaning son of the Divine]. ‘Wow- how did he get a name like that’ [there was more than one Caesar by the way- as well as more than one Herod- who did play a part in these power struggles- it can get confusing- even to me]. When Octavian defeated Marc Antony at Actium [32 BC]. Herod [The Great] had a problem- he had previously sided with Antony and found himself on the losing side. Yet he was smart- did some ‘brown nosing’ as we say-and patched things up. Herod had 3 sons- who would eventually take positions of authority in the Roman government at the time of Christ. Herod Antipas was over the region that we read about in the New Testament where Jesus did most of his ministry- Galilee. Ok- Octavian claimed deity because of a heavenly sign associated with his rise to power- and this is how he became called ‘Caesar Augustus’. He sort of saw himself as a ‘re-incarnate’- of his great uncle Julius Caesar. ‘John- what in the heck does this have to do with the Dead Sea Scrolls’. Ok- good question. The Jews had various responses to the empires that ruled over them during various times. Alexander the Great instituted Hellenization- a sort of cultural compromise over the people he conquered. They could keep their religious/cultural roots- but would be subservient to Alexander and Greek rule. Some Jewish people rejected any compromise- we call them the Essenes- they moved out of town- so to speak, and lived in what we refer to as the Qumran community. This was a few centuries before the time of Christ- and this was where the Dead Seas Scrolls were found in the 20th century. A Bedouin boy was looking for his goats- threw a rock in a cave right off the Dead Sea- and that’s how we found the scrolls. The scrolls might have been hidden there by the Essenes- Now- when my friends asked me about them- I told them that it’s been a while since I read up on any of this- but to the best of my memory the thing that made them significant was the fact that they were very old manuscripts- from the bible- and they backed up what we had had all along. I did read up this week- and basically had it right. The earliest Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament we had previously dated back to around 900- 1000 A.D. These manuscripts went back about 1000 years earlier- and they contained portions from almost every book of the Old testament- and some complete books. The only book missing was Esther. So- this was indeed a very significant find for scholars. But the Scrolls also contain some of the writings from the Essenes themselves- things we never had before- so this too was significant. There were Jews at the time of the first century who tried to ‘get along’ with Rome- and with the person in charge of their region [one of the sons of Herod the Great at the time of Christ]. These are referred to as Herodian’s in the bible. Some wanted a revolution to rid Rome from Jerusalem- these were the Zealots [one of Jesus disciples was in this group]. Some thought if they returned to a legalistic obeisance of the law- that this would bring in a deliverer- like the stories we read about in the Old testament- these were the Pharisees. And some took more of a political compromise- these were the Sadducees. Eventually a war with Rome would be fought [By the way- Josephus- the famous 1st century historian- fought on the side of the Jews in the war- and after Jerusalem was sacked in A.D. 70- he went to Rome and wrote his great works- thinking he would make a case for the Jewish people with the Romans. This is why we have his works today- which are very valuable to scholars]. NOTE- In time I’ll try and cover how we ‘got our bibles’ [called the Canon- meaning Rule/ Measurement]. Frankly- there is a lot of confusion in the general public about conspiracies [like the Catholic Church had some type of plot to keep certain books out]. Or stories about how the Church taught Mary Magdalene was a prostitute so they could discredit her. Actually- we read in the gospels that Jesus cast out ‘spirits’ from a woman who was probably living this type of life- And Jesus had a ministry to the down and out- it is indeed possible that Mary was one of these women- And if true- it would not demean her in any way- That’s how this tradition more than likely developed- But- we don’t know for sure. So a few years back the Church officially said ‘we don’t know’. Ok- Plot? No- just being careful. So there are other misguided beliefs like this- that sincere people have- and over time I hope to get to them. I’ll do one more in keeping with this post. I mentioned above that Caesar Augustus did indeed take the title of ‘son of God’. And some critics of the Church say ‘see- there were all types of religions that had Sons of God’. I watched one show a few years back- and it stated that these religions had ’12 disciples- a leader named Lord and Savior- and he healed and claimed to be God’s Son- and rose from the dead’. Ok- that show was ‘fibbing’ to put it lightly- they went too far [historically speaking] in trying to diminish the Christians claim of Christ by doing this. Now- is there some truth to this at all? Yes- like I just mentioned above- Octavian did indeed claim deity- a ‘son of god’. So- how do we explain this? In the book of Galatians the bible says ‘in the FULLNESS of times God sent forth his Son’. Jesus came at a set time in history- in fulfilment of the Jewish Prophets- to be who he was- and to do what he did. Now- this is not special pleading here- but I find it a masterpiece that God’s Son came at a time when the Roman Empire had one sitting on the throne- who too claimed deity. Yet Jesus was in a region of the lower class- his men were not highly educated- and his followers were people under oppression. Augustus lived in the wealthy and influential capital of ‘the world’- he had all you could ever ask for- he was worshiped as a god. Yet in 3 short centuries- one of the heirs of the empire- Constantine- would have an experience – not with a former Caesar- but with a vison of a Cross- He would convert to Christianity- and declare Christianity to be the religion of the realm. [parts] https://ccoutreach87.com/hebrews-updated-2015/ https://ccoutreach87.com/1st-2nd-samuel/ https://ccoutreach87.com/nehemiah-isaiah/
VERSES- Malachi 4:1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root [parts]
VERSES- [These are the verses I taught- or quoted from on today’s post- ACTS 20] 2 Timothy 3:16 [Full Chapter] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
John 20:30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. John 21:24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. John 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen. Acts 18:1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; Acts 18:2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. Acts 18:3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. 1Thessalonians 2:9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. Acts 20:1 And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia. Acts 20:2 And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, Acts 20:3 And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia. Acts 20:4 And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus. Acts 20:5 These going before tarried for us at Troas. Acts 20:6 And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days. Acts 20:7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. Acts 20:8 And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. Acts 20:9 And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. Acts 20:10 And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. Acts 20:11 When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. Acts 20:12 And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted. Acts 20:13 And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot. Acts 20:14 And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene. Acts 20:15 And we sailed thence, and came the next day over against Chios; and the next day we arrived at Samos, and tarried at Trogyllium; and the next day we came to Miletus. Acts 20:16 For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost. Acts 20:17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. Acts 20:18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, Acts 20:19 Serving the LORD with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: Acts 20:20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 20:22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Acts 20:23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Acts 20:26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. Acts 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. Acts 20:29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Acts 20:30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Acts 20:31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. Acts 20:32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. Acts 20:33 I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Acts 20:34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. Acts 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:36 And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. Acts 20:37 And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him, Acts 20:38 Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.
Acts 20:1 And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia. Acts 20:2 And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, Acts 20:3 And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia. Acts 20:4 And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus. Acts 20:5 These going before tarried for us at Troas. Acts 20:6 And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days. Acts 20:7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. Acts 20:8 And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. Acts 20:9 And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. Acts 20:10 And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. Acts 20:11 When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. Acts 20:12 And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted. Acts 20:13 And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot. Acts 20:14 And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene. Acts 20:15 And we sailed thence, and came the next day over against Chios; and the next day we arrived at Samos, and tarried at Trogyllium; and the next day we came to Miletus. Acts 20:16 For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost. Acts 20:17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. Acts 20:18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, Acts 20:19 Serving the LORD with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: Acts 20:20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 20:22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Acts 20:23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Acts 20:26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. Acts 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. Acts 20:29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Acts 20:30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Acts 20:31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. Acts 20:32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. Acts 20:33 I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Acts 20:34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. Acts 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:36 And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. Acts 20:37 And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him, Acts 20:38 Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.
MODERNISM- okay- need to take a break from politics [current!] and news! Let’s do some history/philosophy. Modernism [modernity] refers to the time period between the mid 17th century to the mid 20th century [loosely]. During the scientific revolution, coming off the heels of the Reformation- there were many challenges to past ways of thinking about religion, knowledge, politics and existence in general. Many new thinkers felt the old forms of thought were outdated- and as man advances he needs to ground his existence in rationality as opposed to religion [Descartes’]. Not all thinkers rejected religion- John Locke and Immanuel Kant tried to show that religion could be rational- not all religion had to be ‘blind faith’. Others rejected that idea [David Hume] and said if you wanted society to be rational- you had to reject religion as a foundation for thought. Modern atheists- like Sam Harris- would say the same thing. In Harris’ 2004 book- The End of Faith- he teaches that all true religion is radical in nature- that those who believe you can be moderate in religion are wrong- that the religious texts themselves [Koran- Bible] call for radicalism and violence and therefore the only hope for peace in the world is to eliminate religion. Basically I think Harris should stick to atheism and not delve too deep into Christian philosophy. The Christian ‘religion/ethic’, while possessing scriptures [Old testament] that certainty do advocate violence- yet the central historical event in Christianity is the event of the Cross and the person of Christ- whose message said ‘Moses said- but I say’. Christianity contains within her texts the mandate to reject the old forms of violence and to embrace a new way of love- so Harris missed the boat on this one. But you have had thinkers [past and present] who have said ‘we need to eradicate the world of all traces of religion in order for man to reach his highest good’. The thinker Nietzsche would pronounce ‘God is dead’ in his 1882 book called The Gay Science [I’ll leave it alone]. Both Marx and Freud would join him in their rejection of God in the last half of the 19th century. So many felt the rise of modernism- along with the descent of religion was mans ultimate goal- as man advances he would mature from this ‘psychological’ weakness and accept a world without God. Than in the 20th century you had some major events that questioned whether or not modern man could survive without true religious morality. We had the world wars and the most violent century in our history as ‘moderns’. The election of Jimmy Carter- the first self professed ‘Born Again’ Christian to become president- and the Iranian revolution in 1979- the rise of an Islamic state based on radical interpretations of Islam. These events challenged the ‘hope ‘of those who felt like religion was waning and mans rationality was winning the day. So that’s why you had the rise of the new atheists who began a campaign to revive the ‘death of God’ movement and to advocate for what they felt was necessary for man to advance along the modern path. Today we are actually living in what’s called ‘the Postmodern Era’ but for the purpose of this short note we don’t want to go down that road at this time. Has man advanced- ‘modernized’ to the point where he does not need ‘God’ anymore? Can man simply build a Utopian society without God? All those who advocated for a society without God- ultimately failed in coming up with a rational basis for law and order- for who has the right to ‘make the rules’ in this new society- in essence those who tried the Freudian way could never come up with a system of govt. and law without having to borrow from the Christian world view- man cannot simply govern himself based on some atheistic principle of ‘reason’ apart from God [who decides whose reason is right?]. The atheist’s charge that all religion at its core is radical and dangerous- without reason- has been proven false. True religion can very much be reasonable- that is being rational and religious can go hand in hand- all religious adherents do not have to be ‘Fundamentalists’ as Harris claims- and the Modern experiment has not shown us that mans ultimate destiny is to rise above religious belief and attain some type of society without God and faith- that experiment has been tried- and found wanting. [Parts]
REALISTS-NOMINALISTS- Let me do a little more on the development of philosophy and how Christians played a major role in new ways of thinking and ‘knowing’ [epistemology]. I mentioned Rene Descartes the other day- Descartes challenged the Christina thinkers of his day to approach apologetics [arguments for God’s existence] from rational grounds; instead of saying ‘God exists because the bible/tradition teach it’ he showed we can argue from the ground of reason. Descartes was a ‘realist’ that is a thinker who believed in Universal principles- the ancient philosophers [Aristotle, Plato- etc.] taught that there were universal ideas that existed- the example was if you think of a Horse- or a Chair- that in the mind of people we all have this concept of what these things are- but the reality of the universal idea of horse/chair exist outside of us- they are not only thoughts in our minds. The Nominalists rejected this idea- they taught that we interact with our 5 senses with things in the world- and thru this interaction our minds passively receive this knowledge and we come up with ideas- not because these ideas are universal ideas that already exist- but because our minds have ‘discovered’ them thru the senses. These thinkers were also called Empiricists. Men like David Hume would take this approach. Then in the 18th century you had the German philosopher Immanuel Kant challenge the skepticism of the Empiricists and he would become one of the most influential thinkers for our time. You would be hard pressed to find another philosopher who has had more influence on western thought than Kant. Kant too believed that man could not prove God absolutely thru natural means- but he did teach that it was rational/reasonable for man to believe in the existence of God- though he said you can’t totally prove him thru natural means. This was a different approach from the pure Empiricists- they taught that God/religion were irrational. Kant put a twist on Empiricism- he said that man does interact with the world thru his 5 senses, but instead of ideas/knowledge being a product of the mind of man passively receiving this knowledge- mans mind categorizes these interactions and it is thru this function of mans mind that we have knowledge. He carried the idea a little further than Hume. In the end of the day Immanuel Kant believed that not only is it rational to believe in God- but it is necessary. For society to ever function properly man needed to believe that his soul was immortal, that an eternal being existed that would someday judge man [or reward him] for his actions in this life. Though Kant did not accept the Realists view that we could prove God by rational means- yet he did believe in the necessity of man to believe in God. It has been said that Kant kicked God out the front door- but snuck him in thru the back. Okay- know some of this gets dry at times, but I think it is important for Christians to have some idea of the development of thought and philosophy thru the ages- many atheistic philosophers have argued against the existence of God- but many Christian thinkers have made just as strong [if not stronger] arguments on the other side- we need to know both sides. [Parts]
MY RADIO LINKS-
http://wp.me/a4V5qQ-7R Kant, Hume, Sartre
http://wp.me/a4V5qQ-6E Apologetics- Kant, Hume
http://wp.me/a4V5qQ-6F DaVinci code
http://wp.me/a4V5qQ-7Q Something from nothing- Quantum Leap
Sartre is one of the most famous 20th century philosophers- also described as the father of existentialism. I say ‘also’ because when we covered Kierkegaard- I said the same of him. How can this be? Well- Kierkegaard was a Christian- Sartre an atheist. So you can divide existentialism between ‘Christian existentialists- and atheistic’. Ok- it would be a lot to try and cover all of his ideas- but what I want to do is sort of contrast the thinkers who trended away from God with those who continued to believe in a creator- while at the same time engage in the intellectual world [many I could name- Descartes- Kant- etc.]. Though Sartre- like Camus- was indeed an intelligent man- when they tried to develop philosophies- ways to explain man- his purpose- what ‘it’s’ all about. They have difficulty giving any real purpose or meaning to man. Why? Because if you believe [and teach] that man is really some sort of a cosmic accident- with no creator who made him- then how do you teach ‘that man’ that he has a purpose? This would apply to all the great thinkers- who rejected God. In the end- if you were born without a preceding purpose [which Christians teach is to glorify God] and when you die- there is no after life- then it’s common sense to see your life ‘without purpose’. Sartre’s most famous work ‘being and nothingness’ says it all in the title. Some of his most famous ideas are ‘no essence before existence’. Now- Christians usually criticize him for this [which I just did in a way]. But he sort of tried to apply this idea- and say ‘because we are not predetermined- then we are indeed responsible for our actions- we are ‘left alone- without excuse’. When you study Philosophy- along with Theology [the study of God]. A big thing that is debated is predestination. Many misunderstand the historic reformation doctrine of Predestination –and they see it as a form of fatalism- meaning ‘whatever will be- was meant to be’. You can do a whole debate on this subject- in studying theology alone. Yet it also ‘bleeds’ into philosophy- because many thinkers were trying to figure out the problems of man- and some thought the doctrine of original sin taught a form of fatalism. Actually- it does not. But that’s why you see these ideas pop up – that we can act without our past having power over us. So- in a sense- though Sartre was an atheist- this was an attempt [I think] to try and give man the ‘freedom’ to act on his own will. But without belief in God- there really is no grounding authority to values- ethics. Where would they come from? [that’s a long debate- but if in effect ethics- right and wrong- were simply some sort of value system that was majority rule- then when the majority gets it wrong- slavery- abortion- etc.- then these values do not really ‘mean’ anything]. From the Christian view [they do debate between predestination by the way] Values- worth- purpose- do indeed ‘precede’ existence. God had a purpose for us before we were born- and values are the revealed ‘rules’ that God gave to man. The Nihilistic thinkers [those who admit that there really is no purpose] in the end have a hard time teaching their ideas- and at the same time instilling self-worth in people. Camus summed it up when he said-“There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide” (MS, 3).Oct 27, 2011 Sartre [like Kierkegaard] wrote plays- poetry- etc. One of Sartre’s dramas was called ‘NO EXIT’ He depicted Hell as a place where people are forever ‘observing’ one another- with no way out [obviously he did not really believe in Hell]. But why would he see it this way? Sartre had a unique insight [though an atheist- he was indeed smart]. One of the things that Sartre believed- was subjectivity- he taught that if man were to be truly Free- he could not be an Object [lots has been said in the last few years on objectifying people- seeing them as objects degrades them]. So in Sartre’s mind- belief in God objectifies people. How? If there is an ‘all seeing’ creator who is always looking/seeing into people’s lives [and intents- hearts] then they are not truly free. All the thinkers who rejected God- did not do so for the same reasons. Freud- and those who taught Hedonism- said it was the moral constraints on man [from God and the church] that was the problem. So in Freud’s mind- we should deny God- and man should live out all of his most base desires. It was a failed idea for sure- but that was the Hedonists view. Sartre did not espouse unrestrained passion- actually even though he was an atheist- he believed that men should live with some type of ethic. So his rejection of God was based on the idea that God is always ‘watching you’ and a man cannot truly be free- if someone is always watching him. It was an interesting idea [and yes- God is always watching- but from the Christian view he is not watching as some type of cosmic voyeur- but as a Father watches over his children. Or- as the bible says ‘as a mother hen watches over her chicks’. So Sartre was right about God always seeing us- but he disagreed with the Christian view of omniscience [all knowing God] and said this ‘constant watching’ makes us an object- and to Sartre- the basic attribute of human character is subjectivity- if he is not a subject- with no previous ‘essence’ [remember- his other famous idea was ‘existence precedes essence’] he is not truly free. So to Sartre- man and reality are simply things- and we develop life from this materialistic view. He rejected universals- there is not a universal category of ‘mankind’ but simply individual people. Another famous atheist thinker was Camus [‘there is only one really serious question left- suicide’]. Even though some of the atheistic thinkers ‘meant well’ yet- in the end- as Kant said- if there is no God- then society cannot function without the basic understanding that we are all accountable- and will someday give an account. In Kant’s view- he rejected the classical idea that you could ‘prove God’ from reason and nature. But some said he ‘let God in the back door’. Because for Kant- if you reject God outright- then society cannot function. For instance- if there is some type of injustice- maybe framed for murder and you sit in jail your whole life- never being vindicated. For Kant- the person can survive- because he knows- in the end- the truth will come out [if there is a God]. And not only will it come out- but those who wronged the man will give an account. So Kant saw the need for there not only to be an ‘all seeing God/judge’. But that Judge had to also have all power- so he could carry out justice in the end. But for Sartre- and Camus- and the other atheists- they grappled with the problem of where moral laws come from [or if there is even such a thing]. How can we really define ethics if there is no real meaning to our existence? If ‘nothing matters’ [no essence before existence] then in the end- WE don’t matter. And you come to the same conclusion as Camus. The question of suicide has been pondered for centuries- it has made it into the plays of Shakespeare [below] Many are familiar with this famous line- but read it carefully- it’s Hamlet’s struggle- whether it’s nobler to ‘go thru stuff’ or- end it. That’s why I think the Camus’ and Sartres of the world don’t help- in the end.
To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles And by opposing end them. To die—to sleep, No more; and by a sleep to say we end The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to: ’tis a consummation Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep; To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub: For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Must give us pause—there’s the respect That makes calamity of so long life. For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, Th’oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, The pangs of dispriz’d love, the law’s delay, The insolence of office, and the spurns That patient merit of th’unworthy takes, When he himself might his quietus make With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear, To grunt and sweat under a weary life, But that the dread of something after death, The undiscovere’d country, from whose bourn No traveller returns, puzzles the will, And makes us rather bear those ills we have Than fly to others that we know not of? Thus conscience does make cowards of us all, And thus the native hue of resolution Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, And enterprises of great pitch and moment With this regard their currents turn awry And lose the name of action. Hamlet
SAVE THY PEOPLE AND BLESS THINE INHERITANCE. FEED THEM ALSO AND LIFT THEM UP FOREVER- Psalms 28:9 I guess I will hit a few scattered Psalms, these last few weeks I have been reading the Psalms and trying to add a verse to memory every day or so. Sort of praying/meditating on them like the famous ‘Jesus prayer’. The Jesus prayer is an ancient simple prayer that says ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner’ but you actually say it all day long until it becomes part of your psyche. So these single Psalms can be used in this way. Okay, God wants to feed his people and bless them, Jesus told Peter ‘if you love me, feed my sheep’. In the 20th century you had the famous existentialist/atheist philosophers like John Paul Sartre and Albert Camou, these guys sought for purpose and meaning thru philosophy but wound up as nihilists [no hope] because of their rejection of God. Sartre would say ‘man is a useless passion’, Camou would say the only question left for philosophy to answer was the viability of suicide. The famous atheist Antony [Anthony] Flew, who has now become a believer in God [Theist], used to use a parable about a garden to challenge belief in God. He said man and his religious quest is like men who are journeying thru a forest and all of a sudden they come upon a garden; it is manicured and detailed in every way, it ‘appears’ to be a product of a designer. But then flew said as the men look around for the gardener they can’t see him, they then espouse all types of ideas about the master gardener. They come to various conclusions; he must be all knowing, very talented, transcendent- they develop views about this gardener/God that in Flews mind were just as silly as saying you might as well have no gardener at all! Flew thought if believers came to all these ideas about God, what’s the difference whether you believe in a God or not? The obvious answer is ‘then where in the world did the garden come from’. The challenges to Christianity, Theism, Deism try and convince people that there really is no purpose to your existence, you are a ‘useless passion’ you came from nowhere and are heading nowhere. Initially, this philosophy sounded liberating to those who embraced it. Sort of like telling the kids that schools out and you have no more teachers to listen to. But when you embrace this form of meaninglessness, you can not then try and instill purpose and meaning into people. Sartre and Camou rejected the foundational basis for man to have meaning in life, they tried to tell man ‘look, here is the purposeful garden, but it came from nowhere’. After many years of Anthony Flews insistence that there was no gardener, the evidence that caused him to change his mind was the evidence of design. He kept telling himself ‘there is no gardener’ and realized he was trying to convince himself of a lie, he knew he was logically wrong. He has since joined the ranks of those who now seek to know more about the master gardener.
I should note that Plato [one of the 3 titans that arose after Heraclitus- from the city/state of Athens] disagreed with Heraclitus on all things being in a state of constant change.
When [if?] we get to Socrates- Plato and Aristotle- I’ll try and cover the ways they advanced- built upon- the thought of the pre Socratic thinkers.
As a side note- the most famous student of Aristotle- who was the most famous student of Plato- who was the most famous student of Socrates- was Alexander the Great.
This goes to show you how great an influence Greek philosophy had on the ancient world.
A few nuggets from Heraclitus- ‘all things come to pass in accordance with this Logos’ ‘follow the common’ ‘not having their own judgment’.
Recently I covered Acts chapter 2- and we see some of these ideas in the early Christian movement.
The first Christians did ‘follow the common’ they sold their goods- and had ‘all things common’ [communal lifestyle].
The apostle Paul teaches the early church to all ‘speak the same thing- that there be no divisions among you’.
And the New Testament also says the scripture should not be given to Private Interpretation- meaning- ‘not having your own personal judgment’.
All in all- we do indeed see a sort of pre Christian thought in the pre Socratic thinkers- they did indeed speak of the Divine- God- though there understanding of him was not the same as the Christian church.
In a sense- Heraclitus idea that in life- the only ‘constant’ is the fact that there is no constant- that life itself is made up of an ongoing journey- we live day by day- not ever knowing what ‘the next day will bring forth’- Jesus.
Yeah- the man had some good points- the later Stoics would consider Heraclitus as the father of their movement.
And in the study of Philosophy- the Stoics- who had a good run from a few years before the Common Era- were overtaken in the 4th century [as the main influential philosophy of the time] by some new and lasting philosophy- started by a man named Jesus Christ- who his followers claimed rose from the dead.
Yeah- this New Way was called Christianity- and this philosophy has endured now for over 2 thousand years.
Socrates was born around 469-470 BCE.
He is famous for introducing a way of learning that engaged the students in a dialogue- the question would be put on the table- and thru rigorous debate- you would come to an understanding thru the process of questioning.
This is referred to as the Socratic Method.
Socrates came on the scene during the famous Spartan wars.
The other day I watched the movie 300- which depicts the battle between the city state of Athens against the city/state of Sparta.
As you know- the Athenians suffered a great defeat at the hands of the Spartans.
The Spartans were outmanned by the Athenians- but their motto was ‘come back with your shields- or on them’.
They were a true warrior nation- trained to fight from their youth- and this defeat sent the people of Athens into a time of disillusionment.
They questioned the power of their gods- and a sort of malaise fell over Athens after the defeat.
This was when Socrates entered the fray- when the people had many questions about life.
He was called the Gadfly of Athens- a title that would also be given to the 19th century Danish father of existentialism- Soren Kierkegaard.
They were called Gadfly’s- because they were like flies that would pester you- and elicit a response.
The leadership of Athens saw Socrates as one that was stirring up the youth of his day- and creating discontent among the populace.
He rejected the many god’s of the day- but did have a belief in a single deity- he- like the Christians 4 centuries later- would be accused of atheism- because of his rejection of multiple god’s.
He was sentenced to death in 399 BCE- and his form of execution was drinking Hemlock.
His most famous student- Plato- spoke with him before his death.
Many were surprised at how willingly Socrates faced his demise- and this willingness had a great impact on those who witnessed it.
Socrates never wrote anything- but most of what we do know about him comes from the writing of others- most notably from Plato’s Dialogues.
Plato wrote down what Socrates taught- In his writings we see Socrates engaging in this method with various people- thus the name of Plato’s works- Dialogues.
There is a debate about how much of what was written about him was actually true- Plato did add his own ideas into these debates- and the controversy about this is so strong that we actually have a name for it- the ‘Socratic Problem’.
During the time of the disillusionment of the Athenians- there were a group of philosophers known as the Sophists.
The word comes from Sophia- meaning wisdom.
Philosophy itself means The Love of Wisdom.
In our day the words Sophomore- Sophistry and Sophisticated are derived from this root word.
The Sophists were the original Pragmatists.
Pragmatism is a form of belief that says ‘do what works- regardless of the ethical implications’.
We will get to Pragmatism at the end of this whole series on Philosophy.
But for now- we see the division between what Socrates taught- and the Sophists.
Socrates did indeed teach a form of Ethics- which contrasted with the Sophists.
He said that the pursuit of virtue was better than the pursuit of wealth- much like the words of Jesus ‘what does it profit a man if he gain the world- and lose his soul’.
His most famous saying is ‘The unexamined life is not worth living’.
He emphasized the importance of mind over body- which inspired Plato’s philosophy of dividing reality into 2 separate realms- the world of senses and the world of ideas.
Socrates actually challenged the Democratic process- he believed it better for the wise men- the Philosopher Kings- to run the show.
Athens did have a form of Democracy at the time- and because of the rise of the Sophists- and the itinerant teachers- you had sort of an election process- much like in our day- where those who would attain office were those who spoke the best- and made the best public argument.
We elect judges and stuff in our day- and even presidents- not because they are the most capable- but because they ran the best campaign.
So- in a way I agree with Socrates- at times I think we need a better process of electing those to higher office- then the one we have now.
It’s important to note that even though we started this study with Thales- and in the study of Western philosophy it’s commonly understood to have started with Thales.
Yet- Socrates seems to be the Father of philosophy in many ways.
He probably has had the most influence in the field philosophy- and the 2 great philosophers that we’ll get to next come right out from the heels of Socrates [Plato and Aristotle].
Why is this important to note?
As we progress in this study- and get closer to the 19th/20th century philosophers- we will see a trend- away from the idea that there are actually any ethical values- moral virtues- or ‘right or wrong’.
These philosophers dabbled with the idea that values themselves are the cause of man’s problems [Freud].
So- keep in mind- one of the main streams of thought in the early stages of philosophy was that values were indeed the main thing- Socrates challenged the Sophists of his day- he said that moral virtue was very important- that to live life with the values of courage- honesty- self-denial- these were the things that made men good- noble.
The bible says ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ ‘those that seek the Lord understand all things’.
Christian tradition would agree with Socrates in many ways- Jesus showed us that the virtue of service to others- to love your fellow man- to honor God- that these were indeed the heart of the matter.
Socrates feared the loss of virtue in society- that if we simply lived for the present time- with no higher values [a form of hedonism] then the foundations of society will erode.
He also believed that it was good to question things- not to simply believe a thing for the sake of believing.
Over time- thru debate and the discourse of other people- he believed you would get to the truth.
The bible says ‘in the multitude of counselors there is safety’.
Yeah- as people have a conversation- as they dialogue- often times they themselves come up with the answer to the question.
The apostle Paul penned the letter to young Timothy- he said ‘preach the word- in doing this you will save yourself- and those that hear you’.
Yeah- when you engage- and even try and teach others- this will have an effect on you too- the actual act of engaging- of teaching- often brings more insight to the one doing the communicating- then the ones who hear.
Yeah- I like Socrates- he believed in what he taught- he drank the Hemlock- knowing full well that his life would pass- but he had belief- faith- that after death man would pass over into another realm- a much better one.
No- he was not ‘Christian’ in the traditional sense of the word- but he was about as close as you could get- for his time.
.Alexander the Great
.The 2 ‘Gadflies’
.Socrates and Kierkegaard
.Greek city state of Athens
.My encounter with the Berkeley professor
(966)1ST CORINTHIANS 9:1-14 Paul defends his apostleship and gives a strong defense for the New Testament doctrine of financially supporting Christian leaders. Now, I never want to be one of those types of teachers who skews or bypasses scriptures that seem to contradict previous teachings. It’s common for good men to do this, all leaders need to avoid doing it. Recently I added my comments to a debate that raged in the blogasphere. You had Frank Viola put out the book ‘Pagan Christianity’ [good book, I read and do recommend it] and another good theologian, Ben Witherington, gave a good critique [I also recommend Bens site, you can find both Frank and Ben’s sites on my blog roll]. Part of the debate hinged on the financial support of elders/ministers. I must admit I fell on Ben’s side in this argument, though I probably would agree with Frank around 90 % of the time on all the other stuff. Ben argued for the biblical mandate to support elders, frank seems to teach the support of apostles [itinerant workers] is okay, but does not leave room for the support of elders who live in the community. Now, you really need to read all I have written under the ‘what in the world is the church’ section of this blog to get my full view on all of this stuff, but this section of Corinthians makes this stuff pretty clear. Paul says ‘I have the right not to work and only live off of the offerings of the people’. So Paul defends this practice, but he also says ‘I choose not to use it’. He also uses two interesting examples from ‘the law’ [Old Testament] to defend the financial support of leaders. ‘The Ox who is treading out the corn shouldn’t be muzzled’ and ‘the priests who serve at the altar get to eat the meat from the sacrifices’. What is the most obvious example that he does not use? The tithe! I would say this is one of the best proofs for the tithe not being a normative practice of the early church. But Paul does use the other examples to say its right to financially support those who labor among you. But Paul has also given examples to elders [read my Acts 20 commentary] to show them that they are not in this for the money! Paul will actually defend the practice of working and not taking money from the believers. So we see a wide range of freedom in this area. I feel the biblical example is it is fine to financially support Christian leadership who are dedicating their lives to teaching and ministering the word. It is also fine to not use these ‘rights’ as a Christian leader. But nowhere are we taught a type of Levitical tithe system for the support of Christian leaders. Why? Paul’s main message was one of grace and coming out from the requirements of the law. To have used the tithe as an example to give financially would have been counterproductive to his whole message. Eventually believers would come to view ‘the church’ and ‘the priest/pastor’ as the single head of ‘the church building’ who would be supported like a Levite who served as a priest under the old covenant [bring all the tithes into the storehouse type concept]. This legalistic view of ‘the church’ is prevalent today in much of Christendom, both Catholics and Protestants seem to cling to this limited view of the church. The modern house church movement is giving the old view quite a run for its money! But let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water. Paul said its okay to financially support Christian leadership among you, just don’t see it as a tithe that is supporting some type of Christian New Testament Levitical priest!
(969)1ST CORINTHIANS 9:15-27 I have a letter sitting here from some northern radio station. I guess these guys hear us some how? It’s a great offer to be on 140 stations for next to nothing [$140.00 a month]. I have had radio stations write us before. I choose to stay small so I can be consistent in not taking offerings. I am sure if I took offerings I could easily expand like this, but I think I need to set the example for others. This fits in with the following.
Now Paul will say ‘I would rather die than take money from you’ [and you guys think I’m an over reactor!] and also ‘I don’t take money from you because I want to make the gospel free of charge’. Remember, this is in the same chapter where he says it’s okay to support leaders financially. But yet he also makes these strong statements. Does Paul contradict himself? Some have tried to harmonize these statements by either saying Paul wasn’t really teaching the financial support of elders, or by saying Paul only restricted taking money from the Corinthians. Both of these are not true [Read my Acts 20 study]. Paul was hard on whatever group he was addressing. If he is speaking directly to the local saints, he says ‘you should make sacrifice and support those who labor among you’ but to the elders/leaders he says ‘I worked with my own hands while among you [elders!] to give you an example not to expect the people to support you’ [Acts 20]. He appeals to both sides to lay down their rights and give themselves away freely! He also says he adapts to every type of situation, he ‘becomes all things to all men, that he might save them’. He also brings his body under discipline so that after preaching to others, he himself will not be ‘cast away’. In my Proverbs reading I just came across ‘he that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls’. God wants you to succeed and accomplish things, the enemy wants to sidetrack you. Allow God to have the upper hand, let the fruit of ‘self control’ [one of the fruits of the Spirit] abide in you. Now remember, Paul says ‘they do it to obtain a corruptible crown’ [material, temporary stuff. Money included] but we do it [discipline ourselves] for an ‘incorruptible crown’. The scripture is filled with examples that contrast money [material rewards] with true spiritual riches. In these examples the scripture teaches us to expend our time and efforts in building a spiritual heritage as opposed to a financial one. Yet some will even use this scripture ‘running the race’ and apply it to stuff! Ahh, when we do stuff like this we are ‘reading/quoting scripture’ without truly knowing it. Jesus told the religious leaders ‘you search the scriptures because by doing this you think you have eternal life, but you will not come to me that you might have life’. It’s possible to spend your whole life searching scripture [for what you want] and still miss the chief cornerstone! [the main point]
(970) CORINTHIANS ‘woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel’ ‘they which preach the gospel should live by the gospel’. Let me do a quick review before we jump into chapter 10. Over the years of re-learning the style and function of the New Testament church, it took time to read these scriptures without superimposing my preconceived ideas upon the text. For instance, you could easily read these verses and simply fit them into the ‘church building’ [as the church!] mindset. I know of, and have partaken of, the excitement that preachers experience when they ‘preach the gospel’. It’s a fulfilling thing. But the problem is much of the present day church follows a program where one main person becomes the attraction of the community. We live and hear and vicariously learn thru the growth experiences of a single individual. Now, we don’t realize that this is not the main intent of meeting together as a community. God originally intended for his people to share as a community of grace. There are specific warnings in the New Testament to avoid the Christian community’s penchant to identify around an individuals giftings [we actually just covered some of these in this study]. But when we simply read ‘they which preach the gospel should live of it’ we think this is justifying the present day context. It really simply meant that those in the community with the ability to read and teach should be taken care of while they are giving themselves for the benefit of others. The first century believer’s could not all read, the majority probably were illiterate. This created a need for those who were literate to actually read Paul’s letters out loud in the assembly. These sincere men were not modern day full time Pastors! This is why it’s important to read the scripture with historical context in mind. When I meet with the brothers, or travel to another town. I usually simply ask the guys ‘what’s the Lord been saying, do you have a word to share’? And sure enough, by the time our fellowship is over most everyone feels edified because they gave of themselves for others. One of my homeless friends is an excellent teacher. Believe me, he knows more scripture than many Pastors. He excels in this environment. There is really no need for one person [like myself!] to dominate the conversation, or to think that my calling entails me being the primary voice of the community. Sometimes when I find myself at some Christian function, I can tell that when people find out that you speak on the radio, that they kinda want you to preach. I always [yes always!] avoid it. Not because it would be wrong to teach, but the modern church has made such a profession out of it, that the average saint never really expresses himself on a regular basis. God never intended the church to be a place where people learn and grow and experience most of their Christian lives thru the experiences and gifts of one person. I just wanted to challenge you today with these few verses. When you just read them did you see them thru the old mindset? Don’t feel bad about it, just allow the Lord to ‘re-wire’ your brain as we continue to teach thru the New Testament. We find stuff like this all the way thru.
ARE WE SUPPOSED TO BE DUMMIES? Still in Luke 18, the disciples forbid the young children from coming to Jesus; Jesus rebukes the disciples and tells them that the Kingdom of God is made up of little children. There is a theme in the New Testament that goes like this ‘become childlike in your faith and trust in me, but be mature in your thinking and understanding’. Often times these two things are confused. Why? In the letter to the Corinthians Paul will rebuke the wisdom of the world, he states that when he was among them he did not use men’s wisdom to convince them of the message of the Cross. Paul also encourages believers to be ‘child like’ as well. Many confuse Paul’s teaching with an idea that says Christians should not be engaged in the development of the mind. Paul was not rebuking all wisdom and forms of knowledge, but a specific kind of wisdom. In Acts 17 we read of Paul at Athens, the Greek intellectual city of his day [Alexandria was the philosophical center in Egypt]. As Paul disputes with the philosophers of his day he actually quotes their own poets/philosophers in his sermon, he does not quote from the Old Testament, but uses the sources that they are familiar with. Right after Athens Paul goes to Corinth, the cites are very close geographically. There was a form of philosophy at Corinth that was very popular, you had the Sophists and the professional speakers [Rhetoric] operating out of Corinth. The Sophists were the philosophers that came right before Socrates in the Greek cultural world, around 6 centuries or so before Christ. Their form of philosophy was what you would describe as the first Relativists [or post modern thinkers who appeal to subjective knowledge as opposed to objective] they taught that philosophy and arguing were simply things you do ‘just for the heck of it’. Sort of like a hobby of simply disputing things while never being able to arrive at truth, something Paul will rebuke in the New Testament by saying some people were ‘always learning and never being able to come to the knowledge of the truth’ Paul himself tells the Corinthians ‘where is the disputer of this world’. So the Sophists were famous for this type of thing. Now the great philosopher Socrates disagreed with the Sophists, Socrates taught that thru the practice of thorough debate and the art of constantly asking questions, that you could arrive at truth [seek and ye shall find type of a system]. He believed real knowledge could be found thru seeking after it. Socrates stirred the waters too much, he was put to death by being made to drink the famous hemlock, the city where this happened was Athens. So Paul more than likely is disputing the system of thought that said you could not arrive at objective truth. It’s no secret that his letter to the Corinthians has one of the strongest statements of factual [objective] belief found in the New Testament. The great chapter 15 reads like an early creed to the church ‘Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures…’ It’s very probable that this chapter was used as a sort of creed in the early Pauline churches. So, what exactly was Paul saying [and Jesus] when they taught us to be like children, to reject the wisdom of the world for the wisdom of Christ? Simply that our approach to God and the things of God should be done in a humble manner, being childlike and open to God all throughout our lives. Paul was not teaching us that the following ages of great Christian thinkers was wrong; men like Anselm, Aquinas, C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton. It is perfectly acceptable for the believer to become well versed in the field of philosophy, to argue the Christian worldview from a biblical perspective. While it is true that no church was founded by Paul after his Athens visit, and some feel he abandoned his use of ‘worldly wisdom’ at Corinth because of this failure, but I think Paul continued to appeal to the intellectual world thru his great wisdom [God given] thru out his life [read Galatians and Romans!]. Ultimately it is the wisdom of the Cross that saves people, a wisdom that Paul said he communicated not in the words of mans intellect, but in the direct ability of the Spirit to speak. Sometimes that ability came thru a sermon that quoted the philosophers of old [Athens] sometimes thru the simple sharing of the message of Christ. Jesus grew in wisdom and stature with God and man, he knew the ideas of his day, so did Paul. Do you?
VERSES [These are the verses I either quoted or taught from on today’s post- Other videos below]
2Corinthians 2:1 But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.
2Corinthians 2:2 For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me?
2Corinthians 2:3 And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.
2Corinthians 2:4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.
2Corinthians 2:5 But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all.
2Corinthians 2:6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.
2Corinthians 2:7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.
2Corinthians 2:8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.
2Corinthians 2:9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.
2Corinthians 2:10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;
2Corinthians 2:11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
2Corinthians 2:12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,