Friday, December 31, 2010

What is the Bible? Where does it come from?

What we call the Bible contains the words of God. The word bible simply means book which is why the Bible is usually labeled as The Holy Bible, meaning the pure book, the book from God. The words of God were written by God's specific influence, spiritual direction, & sometimes dictation by His followers who were eye-witnesses of the events they wrote about. The Bible speaks about who God is and what God has done.

The Bible was originally written primarily in languages Hebrew, for the Old Testament, and Greek, for the New Testament. The text of the Bible has been preserved in what we are called manuscripts. Manuscripts are handwritten copies of a portion of text written by someone else. There are 5,686 Greek manuscripts for the New Testament and those manuscripts agree with each other 99.5% of the time. To put this in perspective, the New Testament was written in the first century. Shakespeare wrote his works in the 1600s and there is more variation in the surviving manuscripts of Shakespeare's works than in the Bible's manuscripts. Even if there were no manuscripts existing at all of the New Testament all but 11 verses from the entire New Testament can be reconstructed from material written within 150 to 200 years from the time of Christ. Based on the number of manuscripts, the date the manuscripts were written, and the agreement between the manuscripts, the Bible by far is the most reliable ancient text in existence. God has very much preserved His words through the many ancient manuscripts.

As the Bible spread throughout the world and new languages began to emerge the Bible has been translated many times into many languages. There are no perfect translations. Simply because of the difference between languages it cannot be so but many translations are largely accurate. Today we have a wealth of information regarding the languages of Greek and Hebrew to help us get the best understanding of what the Bible says even with our imperfect translations. Some translations today are more literal which means they take one word in the original language and translate it as one word into English and words are only added to help the English reader comprehend what has been written. A paraphrase is a translation that takes the meaning of a text of multiple words and rephrases it for an often clearer & simpler understanding. The benefit of the more literal translation is that there is less interpretation occurring from the translator. The NASB is an example of a more literal translation. The Message is an example of a paraphrase.

When reading an ordinary book it is not necessary to meet the author to benefit from the book. With the Bible, everything is different. It is necessary & vital to meet the Author if you are to understand the Bible. We can’t we expect to know the Bible of God without knowing the God of the Bible. One can never understand the message and intent of the Bible, unless you have a redeeming encounter with its Author.

The Holy Spirit of God is given to those who receive the free gift of eternal life that Jesus offers. It is the Holy Spirit of God who illuminates us to God’s word. By illuminates I mean that illumination makes the Bible understandable & clear, that the Holy Spirit of God shines light on the truth for us to see it. Jesus said in John 14:16, "The Helper, the Holy Spirit, will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you."

1 Corinthians 2:12-16 explains how the Holy Spirit of God is essential to learning the knowledge of God.
"We have received the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand the things freely given to us by God. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. "Who can know what the Lord is thinking?" We can understand these things because we have the mind of Christ.

In Psalm 43:3, the writer prayed this, “O God, Send out Your light and Your truth, and let them lead me.”
Note the combination of light and truth in his prayer. It is wise to pray to the Holy Spirit for His light before you expose yourself to His truth. It is not enough to have the Bible. Many people take up the Bible and read—and receive no benefit at all. Why? Because they had the truth, but had no light to detect it.

More On Manuscript Trustworthiness
Homer's Iliad is an ancient Greek writing. It is the second most reliable ancient text next to the Bible. It said to have been written around 900 B.C. but the oldest manuscript we have of the Iliad is from 400 B.C. That is 500 years between supposed writing and the oldest existing copy. Again the New Testament was written in the first century. The oldest existing manuscript containing a portion of the New Testament is from 125 A.D. a mere 25 years from the first century. The 5,686 manuscripts of the New Testament agree with each other 99.5% of the time. Homer's Iliad has 653 manuscripts which only agree with each other 95% of the time and it is the second best preserved ancient document. The oldest manuscripts of Plato's writings are from 1200 years after he was said to be alive.

Let's say my great grandpa wrote a letter for our family's future generations. I made a copy of the letter 25 years after he died to preserve it. Would you say it would be likely that the copy I made was really of my great grandpa's letter after only 25 years? Now let us say that in the future people claim I wrote a letter to you but the oldest know copy of that letter came over 1000 years after I died. How much less reliable is that letter if it came so long after my death?

More on Literal Translations vs. Paraphrases
If anyone supposes he knows something not yet to know as he ought know (1 Corinthians 8:2, Literal)
If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know (1 Corinthians 8:2, NASB)
The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. (1 Corinthians 8:2, NIV)
If someone thinks he knows something, he does not yet know to the degree that he needs to know. (1 Corinthians 8:2, NET)
Sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds. (1 Corinthians 8:2, The Message)

See how in The Message, which is a paraphrase, meaning is lost and changed from what the original author intended. It almost even implies that our proud minds can, at other times, help us more than our humble hearts. So it is good when reading a paraphrase to have a more literal translation on hand to look at as well. Still I have come across times where The Message or the New Living Translation (another paraphrase) gave the meaning to the original words much more outright than the more literal NASB and others.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Meaning of Life: Part 1, How to Know God

There is a God. This is His world. We live in His world. This God is totally good, totally trustworthy, and totally competent. He comes to us in Jesus Christ whom we can totally trust. He gives those who trust Him His Spirit which will lead us to all we need to know about Him and about us.

The Meaning of Life
You've probably heard of people asking "What is the meaning of life?" "Why are we here?" I believe I have found a scripture that puts it very clearly.

"This is eternal life, to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent" (Jesus as recorded in John 17:3).

The purpose of life is to know God. Since we are to know God we are here to find out who God is and what He is like.

Know God
We are to "know God." In order to know we must first learn.
What is the purpose of learning about God?

The purpose of learning about God is to know who He is, what He has done, and what He has said in order for us to establish a love relationship with Him and then grow in that relationship with Him more and more.
We are to learn of God, from God, for God, for others.
The purpose of life isn't for me to "be saved" and have a ticket to heaven it is for me to know God personally.

How can we know God?
How can we know God? Hebrews 11:6 says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who wants to approach God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." So to know God first we must believe that He exists. In order to do that we must have faith. Faith in its most basic form as it relates to God is that even though we cannot see God we are convinced that He really exists.

Second we must believe that, this God who truly exists, rewards those who seek Him. Belief is when your whole being is set to act as if something is so. Both faith and belief are best defined as trust. Trust is to be fully convinced about the truth of something to the point of confidently acting upon it. If I believe that when I sit in a chair it will hold me up and give me rest I will not shy away from sitting in that chair. If I am tired I will sit in the chair because I believe that not only will it hold me up but it is also good for me because it gives me rest. Belief is the same when applied to God. If I truly believe that He rewards those who seek Him I will not shy away from seeking Him. I will try to find out about God because I believe He will reward me for doing so. If I truly believe I will act on it and not just think about it to myself.

God rewards those who seek Him
Again Hebrews 11:6 says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who wants to approach God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." Now here is a true story that exemplifies this verse.

There was a man in China who longed for a God he did not know. One day he found on a mountain path a torn page that read "Are there more gods than One?"—"No, there is only One God." "Should we worship idols?"—"No..." And the rest was torn away.

The man went home and destroyed his altars to the idols he had been worshipping. Immediately his daughter became very ill and his neighbors taunted him for making the demons angry. The man thought if there was one true God perhaps he could reach that God with his voice. He climbed to the top of the highest peak in the vicinity—12 or 14 thousand feet high-and shouted out, "Oh, God, if You really are there and You are the One I am to worship, please make my little girl well again."

It took a long time to climb back down, but upon arriving home he found the little girl completely well, with no time of recuperation needed. She had recovered at the time he had prayed. That man went on to proclaim the gospel across the entire area.

You see this man believed that God exists and that God rewards those who seek Him. He truly believed because He acted upon it by climbing a mountain and calling out to God. "God searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts" (1 Chronicles 28:9). You see, God is always seeking those who seek Him so that He may reward them but God understands every intent of our thoughts so He is able to rightly discern when someone is truly seeking Him. Be careful to understand that God rewards those who seek Him, not those who seek to earn a reward.

When we seek God that assumes we realize and consider God as wiser, smarter, and more powerful than ourselves. We humbly realize that we are mere human beings who have little power and that God is the powerful & knowledgeable creator of the universe. The fact that God rewards those who seek Him means He loves us. Trusting that God exists and is loving is the requirement to know God.

This is Eternal Life
To know God we must be exposed to the truth about and the person of Jesus, the Son of God. Before God created the world He knew that mankind would sin (harm each other, disregard God) and that they would need a way to be able to know and have a relationship with God again. God decided that when the right time had come He would send His Son, Jesus, to become God in the flesh, born of a woman, born under the law of God
(see Galatians 4:4-5). Jesus perfectly obeyed all of the laws of God, provided the perfect example of how to live, and then even in His perfection chose to die a gruesome death on a cross to free the world from the power of sin. Then to prove He was sent by God & to break the power of death He rose to life again 3 days after His death. These facts about Jesus are called the gospel, the word gospel means good news. This is good news indeed that God has done everything necessary for us to know and have a relationship with Him. Because of Jesus sin no longer stands between us and being able to know God. Because of Jesus we can know God & enjoy Him forever. 

1 John 4:9-10 says, "By this the love of God is revealed: that God has sent his one and only Son into the world so that we may live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins."
Romans 5:8 says, "God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still helpless sinners, Jesus died for us."

Through Jesus we trust in God and because God raised Him from the dead we can confidently put our trust and hope in God (see 1 Peter 1:21). John 3:16 says, "This is the way God loved the world: God gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who trusts in his Son will not perish but have eternal life." Anyone who trusts that the good news about Jesus is true and thus trusts Jesus will have eternal life. Eternal life is that we get to know God & live in His love in this life and forevermore.

Jesus said in John 17:3, "This is eternal life, to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent."
1 John 5:20 says, "The Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. Those who trust Him are now in God because we are in his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life."

There is a God. This is His world. We live in His world. This God is totally good, totally trustworthy, and totally competent. He comes to us in Jesus Christ whom we can totally trust. He gives those who trust Him His Spirit which will lead us to all we need to know about Him and about us. The purpose of life is to Know God, Jesus Christ.

How can we know God?

  1. We must be fully convinced that God exists.
  2. We must seek God while being fully convinced that God is loving by rewarding those who seek Him.
  3. We must trust the truth about and the person of Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus made relationship with God available to us by death on a cross and rising again to life. Because of Him we are able to have an everlasting personal relationship with God that is free from any barriers.
Once again here is 1 John 5:20, a key verse, "The Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we are in God because we are in his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life."

This was Part 1 of 2. Read Part 2, Understanding the Relationship

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Proper Translation of Hebrews 13:17

Hebrews 13:17
Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive (NKJV)
Obey your spiritual leaders and do what they say. (NLT)
Obey your leaders and submit to them (NASB)
Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. (NIV)
   The NIV adds the word "authority" to the text where there is no word to represent it in the Greek.

Three words are mistranslated in Hebrews 13:17. First I will give the definition of the English word then I will give the definition of the Greek word that is actually in the text.

English word: Obey- To carry out or fulfill the command, order, or instruction of.
Greek word: peitho- to persuade; to be persuaded

English word: Leader(s)- A person who leads; One occupying the first or foremost position.
Greek word: hegeomai-those who lead/guide. It is a verb while leader is a noun. The verb translated properly can be defined as a person/those who lead(s) but the noun leader can and does also give the idea of "One occupying the first or foremost position." I prefer the word guide as opposed to lead because lead has an inherent authoritarian perception coupled with it.

English word: Submit- To give in to the authority, power, or desires of another
Greek word: hupeiko- to yield, to give in to. This Greek word only appears once in the NT. The word hupotasso is the primary word for submit in the NT and is not used here.

Proper translation:
Be persuaded by those guiding you, and be yielding; for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them watch over you with joy and not with grumbling, for this would be unprofitable for you.

This is essentially saying to be persuadable, to not be prideful but to be yielding. Allow those with wisdom to guide you to truth. Listen to the trustworthy. Those who watch over & guide others are to do so joyfully and willfully not with grumbling. We are not to cause them to grumble by our unwillingness to yield.

This verse DOES NOT say that there are leaders in positions or offices who we must obey on the basis of their authority. There is ONE LORD, JESUS CHRIST!

There is no "man of God" who has legitimate authority over other people. There is no guiding or guarding without relationship. If someone is not actually guiding you personally, if that person is not alert to the condition of your life, then that person is not keeping watch over your soul!

Be responsive to those who guide you. Listen to their counsel. They are those who are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the supervision of God and His truth.

For more on Hebrews 13:17 as well as a look at every place the word "leaders" is used in the New Testament (all 4!) read this teaching:  The Word Leaders in the New Testament

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


We've replaced obedience with "special calling."
Instead of "obeying everything Jesus has commanded" we "wait on God" for Him to reveal a "special calling." But why would He reveal anything "special" to us if we won't even obey the commands He has clearly laid out in scripture? They are things all of His children are supposed to do!

We've replaced teaching and discipling with preaching and performance.
Nowhere in scripture are God's children preached to. The gospel was preached to the lost but the saved were taught and discipled! Teaching that resulted in obedience not telling that resulted in information held as trivial.

We've replaced people with a place.
God's ekklesia, His assembly, are His people not a place, not a church building. In the New Testament there is no such thing as a place, an institution, an organization that God's people attend as spectators!

We've replaced servants with leaders.
The Greek word translated minister means servant not leader!

We've replaced Jesus with men.
There is no hired professional man of God in the New Testament. "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5). All of His children are to be His obedient servants and disciples. There are no titles, special names, given to set someone apart from the rest regardless of if they obey God or actually lead anyone. No one was called Pastor Paul, Reverend Peter, Minister John, or Priest James.

What did the writers of the New Testament call themselves if they did not use the titles we have today?
  • Paul, a bond-slave of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle (delegate) (Romans 1:1)
  • James, a bond-slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ (James 1:1)
  • Simon Peter, a bond-slave and apostle of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:1)
  • Jude, a bond-slave of Jesus Christ (Jude 1:1)
  • The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-slaves, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-slave John (Revelation 1:1)

Jesus said to the Pharisees "You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men. You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition." (Mark 7:8-9)

Job was "blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil" (Job 1:1) but God still said to Him later on "Would you declare me guilty so that you might be right?" (Job 40:8)

Search the scriptures and lexicons and find the truth. Once you find it what will you do with it?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Life itself is Jesus

"For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Christ is your life" (Colossians 3:3-4).

We think that being a Christian is a "life-style" or that Jesus is "a part of my life." Our idea of "the Christian life" is short sighted. The Christian life is Christ! We were spiritually dead until Jesus gives us HIS eternal life!

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by trust in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).

"Life itself was in Jesus" (John 1:4).

"This is eternal life, that they may know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent" (John 17:3).

Jesus Himself is Life. Without Him our spirit is dead. It is dead in the sense that we can do nothing to bring them to life, just as a dead man can't rise out of the grave by his own choice. When the Father draws us to Jesus and we trust Him the life of Jesus is given to us forever.

"When we became Christians and were baptized to become one with Christ Jesus, we died with him. Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life" (Romans 6:3-4).

"Having been buried with him in baptism, you also have been raised with him through your trust in the power of God who raised him from the dead. Even though you were dead in your sins .. he nevertheless made you alive with him, having forgiven all your sins" (Colossians 2:12-13).

"If Christ is in you .. the spirit is alive because of righteousness" (Romans 8:10).

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and THE LIFE" (John 14:6).
If Jesus is anything less to you than The Way, The Truth, & The Life you have the wrong perception of God or have lost sight of His love. Following Christ is not a lifestyle, it is life, His life living in and through His people.

Renewing the mind

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2)
 The result of your mind renewal is being able to prove what God's will is. This proving is done by experiential examination of who God is, in other words it is done in a relationship with God.

"You were taught with reference to your former way of life to lay aside the old man who is being corrupted in accordance with deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and to put on the new man who has been created in God’s image – in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth. Therefore, having laid aside falsehood, each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another." (Ephesians 4:22-25)
Once the old man/falsehood is laid aside we are to "speak the truth with our neighbors." This means that I learn of & submit to Christ so He can renew my mind in order to have me help renew the mind of someone else.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


This post is from me discipling my wife over Facebook chat, first I am helping her in her trial and then I explain how helping and teaching her is "discipling." It has been revised 11/2/11.

We rejoice in the hope of God’s glory. Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:2-5)
"We rejoice in the hope of God's glory" so the hope that is produced in trials is the hope of God's glory. The hope isn't only for ourselves, though it does benefit us, it is for God to have glory brought to Him, still God shares His glory with us. God pours His love out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit!

We love God not only because He deserves it but because He knows that it is the most beneficial thing for us to do. And because He is love everything we need is found IN Him.

Because Jesus himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 12:18)
Our trials most often bring temptations because our impurities (faults) are brought to the surface. God sends us trials but does not tempt us. This means that He intends for us to get help from Him concerning the temptations that come from the trials.

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. So even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.  (Hebrews 5:7-8)
I believe this mystery of Jesus learning obedience means that He learned it by experience. This, what He asks us to do, He did also. It is not as if the all knowing God needed to do this to learn but He did it for our sake and for His greater glory. God not only has the wisdom and knowledge to help us but also the experience. His experience is the example He set for us as Jesus Christ being an obedient disciple and Son of His Father. He also has thousands of years of experience in making His people into His likeness. This gives us no room for doubting Him! He not only told us but He also showed us! He lived and died for us so we would live and die for Him and know precisely how to do so!

This is what it means to disciple. I see YOUR need. I go to HIM. HIS Spirit teaches me what to teach YOU.
I hold one hand out to God and the other hand out to you so I can take and pass along whatever He gives me. This is just like the multiplying of the loaves and the bread is Him. Jesus is the bread of life.
God isn't just MY supply as often thought. If I submit to Him, & thus follow Him, He will give me enough to give to others. I stand between Him and them not as an authority (a minister as often thought of) but as a servant (the true meaning of the word translated minister). The purpose of me being in Him is so that HE may show up in THEM! Doing this makes me selfless and satisfied because I have HIS righteousness and am ready for HIS living water (Spirit) to flow through me so that others may drink of HIM. The only other option is to be selfish and supply-less, no benefit to myself or others and of course not to God.

So then, what is YOUR need? GOD is always your need and He is the sole giver of all good things. Discipling then is God giving Himself to me. Me giving myself to God, which is submission (trusting Him enough to choose to follow Him as I know Him and He reveals Himself to me). Then God gives Himself to You through me. This results in you giving yourself to God to have Him give Himself to another through you and the process continues on & on from there. This very thing is what Jesus meant when He commanded us to MAKE DISCIPLES. "Teach them to keep all the commands I have given you" (Matthew 28:20). And this includes the command to love others as He has loved you. His love for you causes the keeping because you are walking with Him in a relationship aware of His desires as He reveals them to you.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Trusting and Faithful

The Greek word pistos is a word that is translated into English as faithful, trustworthy, or believer. Pistos is similar to the verb pisteuo which means “to consider something to be true and therefore worthy of one’s trust, to believe.” Faith does mean belief and trust. Today someone who is a believer isn't always thought to be faithful or trustworthy. By use of this word (pistos) God defines what we translate as "a believer" one in the same as someone who is faithful or trustworthy.
"He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful." (Revelation 17:14)

The word pistos is an adjective. An adjective is a word that expresses an attribute of something. The words faithful & trustworthy are adjectives while the word believer is a noun.
One definition of pistos is used "of someone proven to be reliable and trustworthy in and by the execution of a given action." So someone who is faithful has not only confessed their faith in Jesus, but their life is also characterized as “faithful” to what God has declared.

I have found that the word faithful can be used to replace the word believer in the contexts of pistos being used but believer cannot replace the word faithful. Those who are faithful do place their faith in Christ but they are more than simply "believers." A believer trusts and has faith in what they believe is true. While a faithful person not only has trust and faith in what they believe is true but is also trustworthy and faithful to live by their beliefs. “Faithfulness” is a near synonym for “obedience.” The faithful accept God's truth and live in accordance with His commands (Want to know what God's will is? His commands are His will). Faithfulness to God is wrapped up in doing what He commands—that which pleases Him.

In 1 Corinthians 1:9 & 2 Corinthians 1:18 this same word (pistos) is used to declare that "God is faithful." As God makes us into His own character we become more and more faithful just as He is faithful.
"Now may the God of peace himself make you completely holy and may your spirit and soul and body be kept entirely blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who calls you, is faithful and He also will bring it to pass." (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

In closing we return to the verb pisteuo which again means "to believe, to trust, to have faith in." We return because this word is sometimes translated as the noun believer(s) also. When translated as believer(s) it should instead say "those who believe" or "those who trust." This may seem small but is worthy of note that scripture does not use a noun that means "believer." We have a verb, pisteuo, which focuses on the action of faith, trust, or belief. We have an adjective, pistos, which is used to describe someone who as trustworthy or faithful.

God does not use the word believer for His children. God says His children believe, trust, & have faith in Him. God calls those same children faithful and trustworthy because of their obedience to Him. Why is this significant? Because in terms of faith God does not give us a name to rest in (believer). Instead God wants us to actively have faith and for our character to be described as faithful. Our faith/belief/trust is not determined by a name we call ourselves but by our character that results from obeying Christ's commands. Truly faith without works is dead.


Detailed Grammatical Description
Greek adjectives can be substantive, meaning they they can function as a noun. The word believer is always a noun but the word faithful can be an adjective or a noun.
I have found that the word faithful can be used to replace the word believer in the contexts of pistos being used but believer cannot replace the word faithful. Yes the faithful are "those who believe", "those who have faith," that meaning is inclusive within faithful. Believer is not a title or name God has given us. Faithful (one who has faith or one who is trustworthy) is the proper meaning of pistos & can be used with clarity as it's translation in all cases.

Greek verbs in the participle mood can also be substantive, meaning they they can function as a noun. An example would be if the Greek verb pisteuo, meaning trust or believe, were in the participle mood it would mean "one who believes/trusts" or "those who believe/trust." This is why some Greek verbs are translated into English nouns. The problem with translating the Greek verbs as English nouns is that the verbs denote action & have a tense and a voice. [The voice indicates whether the subject is the performer of the action of the verb (active voice), the recipient of the action (passive voice), or ther performer and receiver of the action (middle voice)].

Let us take the English word driver, referring to one who drives a vehicle, as an example. As a noun driver is a name or a title. A person who is employed as a truck driver doesn't have to be driving a truck right now to be called a driver. If we use the verb drive as a participle meaning "one who drives" it can refer to a driver but the focus is on the action of driving. The tense indicates when the action of driving occurs. The tense could refer to the "one who drove" (past tense) or the "one who drives" (present tense), etc.

When the word believer is used as a title or name (a pure noun as it would appear to those reading the bible) one doesn't have to be presently believing or trusting to be identified. When the word believe/trust is in the participle mood & present tense it refers to "one who believes/trusts." In this case the one who believes/trusts is identified by present belief/trust and not by the name or title of "believer." The Greek verb pisteuo (believe/trust) is translated as believer(s) 4 times in many translations (Acts 4:32, Acts 5:14, 1 Thessalonians 1:7, 1 Thessalonians 2:10) in every case the verb's mood is participle.

See also my two looks at the term faith: One Two

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Letter of the Law, The Life of Love -1 Peter 2:11-17

Dear friends, I urge you as foreigners and exiles to keep away from fleshly desires that do battle against the soul, and maintain good conduct among the unbelieving, so that though they now speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when he appears. Be subject to every human creation for the Lord’s sake, whether to a king as being superior or to governors as those he commissions to punish evildoers and praise those who do good. For God wants you to silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. Live as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the family of God, fear God, honor the king. (1 Peter 2:11-17)

Misleading Translations
Verse 13 is often translated as "Be subject to every human institution" or "every ordinance of man" the word translated as institution or ordinance is the Greek word "ktisis" which is used literally to refer to creation. An example is Matthew 10:6 "But from the beginning of creation he made them male and female." This is always the translation elsewhere in scripture. The word ktisis is modified by the Greek adjective "anthropinos" which means of man, man's, or human (as an adjective). So the scripture is telling us to "Be subject to every human creation for the Lord’s sake." Nowhere does ktisis refer to an ordinance, decree, or law. Neither does ktisis refer to an institution such as an organization, system, or building.

What is a "Human Creation"?
I believe the context explains what a "human creation" is. It does this by giving two examples "whether to the king.. or to governors." 
Kings and governors are the creation of man. The human creations that are being referred to are the positions of kings, presidents, emperors, governors, police officers, judges, and the like. They are those who have the ability to punish evildoers. Those who claim authority by giving themselves a title of authority yet have no actual dominion (unlike a king who has a kingdom) are not to be considered authority.

Relational Intent
Kings and governors are persons. This is relational. We are to be subject to actual people. The mindset is always to be that of love. Love fulfills God's law and fulfilling the law is summarized in "love does no wrong to one's neighbor" (Romans 13:10). This isn't telling you to be in fear of breaking a law. It is about honoring & being subject to actual people where other actual people may see our good deeds and glorify God.

"Dear friends, I urge you as foreigners and exiles to keep away from fleshly desires that do battle against the soul, and maintain good conduct among the unbelieving, so that though they now speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when he appears" (1 Peter 2:11-12). "For God wants you to silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good" (1 Peter 2:15).
Should we observe the laws of the land in front of others? Yes.
Would running a stop sign when no one is around be a sin? No, if we believe that then we believe that unsaved men can, with their own pen, create law that is bound in heaven without God's input.
Would it be better to maintain a habit of obeying the law of the land so we may be more disciplined in the presence of others (such as stopping at the stop sign when no one is around)? Yes.

Subjection is the same as submission, it is a willful act that uses discretion. The word obey was not used here. The scriptures also say to "submit to one another" (Ephesians 5:21). This does not mean we obey everyone as master but that we, while using discretion & out of love, "do what is good for the building up of others" (Romans 15:2). If subjection is interpreted as total obedience I would have to obey everything someone would tell me right or wrong. God did not command that, He was wise in choosing His words.

The entire point of subjection is love for others & for God. We love others by doing good, following God, and not doing harm physically, mentally, or spiritually (emotional harm is often related to taking an offense which sometimes cannot be avoided but ultimately we should try not to harm others at all).

"Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfilling of the law" (Romans 13:10). God's law is about loving God and loving others thus it is beneficial to all involved. Arbitrary rules given by men, even those in authority, are not laws from God. Jesus did not observe the rules that the Pharisees tacked onto God's law despite the fact that those who wrote those extra rules had authority among the people.

Most would commentate on this passage in 2 Peter saying "obey the laws of the land unless they conflict with God's laws." Adding laws that God did not command, I believe conflicts with God's law. "There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and to destroy" (James 4:12).

Submission and love must meet. The reason I would obey laws of the land should not be because "United States law states.." but because "God's law states, Love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18). Most obey laws out of fear but children of God should obey them out of love, a consideration of others. As in the case of all actions think to yourself "How will what I do affect others? Will it be beneficial? Will it be detrimental?" 1 John 4:18 states "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment." If our motivation as children of God for obeying a law is fear of getting caught or punished our motivation is void of love. May God give us His vision that we may see through our selfishness and have us show "love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere trust" (1 Timothy 1:5).

1 Peter 2:16-17 provides an excellent summary of verses 11-15.
"Live as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the family of God, fear God, honor the king."

"Live as free men" denotes willful submission.
"Do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God" speaks to the motivation of your submission which is to be love for God.
"Honor all people, love
the family of God, .. honor the king." To honor is to give value to, don't count anyone as unworthy of love and consideration but "Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law" (Romans 13:8).
We must fear God, but we are not required to fear the king. The king is below God. In terms of honor we should honor the king, but no more than we would honor any one else. I think Peter wrote "honor the king" because people would not be inclined to thinking of honoring the king when reading "honor all people."
"Fear God" points back to the point of what you are doing is "for the Lord’s sake." "We love because God loved us first" (1 John 4:19).

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other" (1 John 4:10-11)"

Related Posts
Judges in the Assembly Part 1: Why Romans 13 is not about Secular Government
Judges in the Assembly Part 2

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Literal Example of Discipling

Here is a completely literal picture of discipling straight from scripture.

John was standing with two of his disciples, Gazing at Jesus as he walked by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When John’s two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus (John 1:35-37).

John (the baptist) as a discipler literally pointed His disciples to Jesus and they literally followed Him. This is what we are to do in the spirit. As a disciple we willingly follow Jesus. As a discipler we point others to Christ so that they may follow Him.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Letter to God 8/21/2010

Lord I thank you for all you have given me. Your favor is inexplicable. You have given me life eternal and abundantly so. You've grown me in your likeness through the years. You give me the desire and obedience to love you. You gave me my wife, who is the prime ideal and so much more to me. You've given me friends, illumination, and godly teachers who know your strategy. You give me encouragement.
I pray that you give me courage where I need it. I pray you keep my perspective correct so I may not fail to obey you and that I may rejoice in the fruit you produce in me.
Give me diligence. Provide like I know you can and in that provision increase my family's trust in you. Make me who you want me to be and deliver me from sin, make me dead to it.
Thank you for being my God and the God of my loved ones and a God who is love. Teach me your ways so I may follow you closely all of my days.

Follow Up from March 9, 2012
 This is a prayer written to God after watching the movie "Letters to God" and being encouraged to write one myself by the group I met with at the time. Here are ways He has answered my prayer since then:

I asked God to "give me courage where I need it."
God gave me courage. I moved to a city I had never been to before and He helped me to be myself and be unafraid when meeting new people. Great relationships resulted from this.

I asked God to "keep my perspective correct."
My perspective has been reshaped in innumerous ways and I greatly rejoice over His work on the cross and His work in me.

I asked God to "Provide like I know you can and in that provision increase my family's trust in you."
I was jobless late January to Early April 2011. God greatly increased my family's trust in Him in regards to His provision. He broke our false perceptions and drew us closer to Him.

I asked God to "deliver me from sin" & "make me dead to it."
Oh how true this became. He gave me the revelation of my sinless identity in His eyes as explained in my Sin? Forgetaboutit! teachings. At the time of writing the first of those (God's View on Sin, Inseparable & Unforsakable, Fellowship Never Broken, Sin? Forgetaboutit!) I had heard no one teach on it. God revealed it to me firsthand through study and contemplation (contemplation is one great way the Spirit teaches us) and He gave me the joy to go with it! He answered this prayer in 2011 literally beyond all I would have asked or imagined! My life with God explodes with joy every day!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why use the word "Assembly" instead of "Church"

Words are important. The Holy Spirit chose the exact words for the writers of scripture to use. God did not leave anything to chance.
"Every word of God is purified; he is like a shield for those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he reprove you, and prove you to be a liar." (Proverbs 30:5-6)
When God's word is translated it should be kept pure, using accurate words to represent the meanings of the original words. We wouldn't want the word meaning life to be translated as house. We wouldn't want a word meaning eye to be translated as head. We shall focus on one such word which is translated so inaccurately.

The Meaning of Ekklesia
English translations of the bible continue to translate the Greek word ekklesia as the English word church. Church is a word that means "a building designed for public forms of worship; the practices or doctrines of the Church of England and similar denominations." Ekklesia is in fact a word which means assembly. An assembly is a group of people gathered together. (The word congregation can also be used to translate ekklesia but I do not prefer it because it currently refers to a group of attendees in a church building).
The word ekklesia is not a word with exclusive spiritual or religious meaning on its own (unlike the word church). Ekklesia was used of secular assemblies in scripture (see Acts 19:32,39,41, where it is properly translated as assembly). It was also used outside of scripture pertaining to a political assembly in ancient Athens.
The first time ekklesia is used in scripture is by Jesus in Matthew 16:18 where He says "I will build my assembly (ekklesia)." After this ekklesia in scripture usually refers to the assembly of God, the assembly of Christ, His assembly that He has built. We can read the appropriate context to discern this meaning.

God's Assembly in the Old and New Covenant
In the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures, the word ekklesia is used to translate the Hebrew word qahal. Qahal, in English translations, is usually translated as assembly. 1 Chronicles 28:8 says "all Israel" is "the assembly (qahal) of the LORD." So just as the assembly (ekklesia) of God refers to people in the New Testament so does the assembly (qahal) of God refer to people in the Old Testament.
To further drive this point here are two scriptures making it clear that assembly refers to a people rather than a place (unlike the word church).
Romans 16:5 says, "Greet the assembly that is in their house."
2 Chronicles 1:3 says, "Then Solomon and all the assembly with him went to the high place which was at Gibeon, for God’s tent of meeting was there, which Moses the servant of the LORD had made in the wilderness."
These two scriptures talk about the assembly being in or going to a place not the assembly being a place as the word church would make us think.
The connection between the Old Testament assembly and the New Testament assembly is completely lost when the word church is used.
Just as the high priest on the day of atonement "made atonement for all the people of the assembly" (Leviticus 16:33), "Jesus became a merciful and faithful high priest in things relating to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people." (Hebrews 2:17)
So when Jesus, the king of kings, said, "I will build my assembly" He was not introducing a completely new word or concept. Jews of His time would have surely realized a connection and even a continuation of His assembly, His people, now under a new covenant with Christ in which the unbelieving Jews are broken off and the believing gentiles are grafted in (see Romans 11).

The Origins of the Word Church
There is some uncertainty on the exact development of the word "church." The Compact Oxford English Dictionary says its origin is "from Greek kuriakon doma ‘Lord’s house’." According to The Online Etymology Dictionary, it is from the Old English cirice, from West Germanic kirika, and from Greek kyriake, meaning Lord’s, and the Greek adjective kyriakon, of the Lord. The inspired writings do not use the Greek word kyriakon. In every passage where the word “church” appears, the manuscripts from which we get our English translations read ekklesia. There is no etymological connection whatsoever between kyriakon / kyriaka (church) and ekklesia (assembly). E
kklesia and church  should have the same or similar meanings if we are going to use the word church to translate ekklesia but they do not.

The Mistranslation of Ekklesia into English
Why do translators choose to use the word church and not translate ekklesia properly as assembly?
King James of England “authorized” and funded a translation of the Scriptures which he and Archbishop Richard Bancroft gave certain rules for the translators to follow. The third rule states, "The Old Ecclesiastical Words to be kept, viz. the Word Church not to be translated Congregation &c." This third rule deliberately says to use the word church instead of congregation (which was a proper translation of ekklesia). This rule also meant the translators had to use commonly accepted religious terms in contexts that pertain to God's people, hence the use of words like [note proper translation is in parenthesis] church (assembly), pastor (shepherd), bishop (overseer), minister (servant), ministry (service), ordain (appoint), deacon (servant), baptize (this is a transliteration of baptizo, meaning immerse or submerge), & presbytery (elders). Modern translations have corrected the use of bishop and presbytery because of their catholic connotations but still retain the words that have protestant connotations such as church, pastor, minister, ministry, ordain, & deacon.

Here is an example that you can open you King James bible to that proves the bias of the translation for the word church. The New Testament, at Hebrews 2:12, quotes the Old Testament, at Psalms 22:22, word for word. Remember King James forbade translating ekklesia as "congregation."
Psalms 22:22, "I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee."
Hebrews 2:12, "I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee."

When this King James version was done, it was very important for it to retain the word "church" because the King had jurisdiction over the church. That was his specific edict. He has no religious jurisdiction over the congregation (people), but he does over the church (the organization and its physical buildings). He knew the correct translation, obviously, but he didn't want it in there, that way they retain control over "the church."

While the King James version was not the first English translation to use the word church it was clearly bias for the use and the word church clearly does not translate ekklesia. Because of its influence as a translation and the institutionalized church system still persisting to this day the word church has been used in virtually every English translation since. Because
of the word church being incorrectly put into our bibles we have read the modern idea of the modern church (it being a place, a building, or a denomination) back into the New Testament causing ekklesia not only to lose its meaning but to have its meaning almost utterly replaced.

The Church is not The Assembly
Because the translators used the word “church,” meaning a building, instead of a more accurate word reflecting a functioning body, it has affected our whole approach to the meaning of body of Christ. The original intent of ekklesia was relational and not institutional. Christ never created an institution, commanded an institution, or condoned an institution. He told His people to make disciples which is what He Himself did. He did not tell anyone to build buildings, attend buildings, or fund buildings. Jesus wants us to build exploding individuals not imploding institutions.
Because of thousands of years of man made tradition churches today bare little to no resemblance to the assembly as they were described in the New Testament. Autonomy is replaced by authority. Open relationships are replaced by leadership, preaching, and rigidly defined meetings. Yes true Christians can attend churches but looking at the church system and equating it as a whole to the people of God is an error. The collective attendees of church institutions world wide do not equate to the bride of Christ. The spirits, hearts, and fruits will tell you who God's children are not a list of "members," a church directory, or even the many titles we give ourselves.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

God is the Source of All Good

God is the Source of All Good
  • Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. (James 1:17)
  • A man is unable to have anything if it is not given to him from heaven. (John 3:27)
  • Indeed, everything comes from God (1 Chronicles 29:14)
God is the Source of Salvation & Freedom from Sin
  • God has bound all people to disobedience so that he may show mercy to them all. (Romans 11:32)
  • The payoff of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
  • This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. (1 John 4:10-11)
  • We love because God loved us first. (1 John 4:19)
  • No one can come to me (Jesus Christ) unless the Father has allowed him to come. (John 6:65)
  • For God, who said “Let light shine out of darkness,” is the one who shined in our hearts to give us the light of the glorious knowledge of God in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
  • For we too were once foolish, disobedient, misled, enslaved to various passions and desires, spending our lives in evil and envy, hateful and hating one another. But “when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior. And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life. (Titus 3:3-7)
  • But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you are saved! (Ephesians 2:4-5)
  • For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
  • God is the one who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not based on our works but on his own purpose and grace, granted to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but now made visible through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus. He has broken the power of death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel! (2 Timothy 1:9-10)
  • Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you. God, in his mighty power, will protect you until you receive this salvation, because you are trusting him. This salvation is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)
God is the Source of All the Good His Children Do
  • It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13, NIV)
    • The one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort – for the sake of his good pleasure – is God. (Philippians 2:13, NET)
  • Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Corinthians 1:21)
  • Jesus said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who reside in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)
  • O Lord, you make us secure & establish peace for us, for even all we have accomplished, you have done for us. (Isaiah 26:12)
  • It is not that we think we can do anything of lasting value by ourselves. Our only power and success come from God. (2 Corinthians 3:5)
  • In Judah the hand of God was on the people to give to them one heart to do the command of the king and the officials by the word of the Lord. (2 Chronicles 30:12)
  • For I (Paul) am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the assembly of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been in vain. In fact, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God with me. (1 Corinthians 15:1-10)
  • For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6)
  • If anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)

  • What makes you better than anyone else? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if all you have is from God, why boast as though you have accomplished something on your own? (1 Corinthians 4:7)
  • From the fullness of his grace we have all received one gracious blessing after another. (John 1:16)
Praise the Lord! Praise, you servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord! (Psalm 113:1)