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.