Archive for the 'Explanations' Category

Forgetting your sins have been purged

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011 at 1:04 am

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 2 Peter 1:5-9

I used to think the phrase in verse 9, “and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins,” meant that the person forgot he or she was saved, that the person forgot he or she was a Christian. However, recent events have opened my eyes to what I believe is the correct meaning of that phrase.

Notice that the one who forgets is also the one who lacks the things mentioned in the previous verses. The things lacking are charity, brotherly kindness, godliness, patience, temperance, and knowledge. A Christian lacking charity and brotherly kindness is one who mistreats others – even other Christians. This Christian thinks himself or herself to be better than the one he or she is mistreating. In other words, this Christian has forgotten that he or she is guilty of the same sins and needed to be saved just as the one being mistreated did.

A natural behavior of one who thinks too highly of himself or herself is to mistreat others who he or she feels are worse. If only those others were as good as him or her would those others be worthy of charity and brotherly kindness.

This Christian also cannot see afar off – or in other words, he or she cannot see the forest for the trees. He or she cannot step back and see how he or she is lacking these things because of being too close to the situation. He or she will deny anything is wrong with himself or herself because the problem cannot be seen up close. He or she will refuse to hear anyone who tries to open his or her eyes.

How does a Christian get into a position like this? Quite simply, it is because the gospel has been forgotten. Maybe it hasn’t been forgotten in the area of trying to reach the lost, but it most certainly has been forgotten in the area of reminding the Christian from where he or she was delivered. When we reduce the gospel to a formula whereby we initiate new members to the “club,” we do great harm to ourselves because the gospel is the power of God unto us which are saved. When we no longer remember that the gospel is the power behind our good works, we think we are the power. And then our pride grows to the point of forgetting we were/are wretches, and then we look down on others.

Let us not forget the gospel. We need to preach it to ourselves daily. It is the power of God in our lives. When we begin to grasp the gospel for what it is, we will add brotherly kindness and charity. We will begin to love others. We will begin to treat others as we want to be treated. We will begin to show grace to all that we meet.

by Gordy

Appearance of evil

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 at 8:07 pm

Abstain from all appearance of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:22

This verse is often used to discourage Christians from doing anything that might appear sinful to another person. For example, going to movies is discouraged because someone seeing you go into the movie house might assume you are going to watch the R-rated movie rather than the G-rated movie. Also, drinking root beer from a brown bottle tucked inside a paper bag is discouraged because someone might think you are drinking beer. These are some of the things I’ve heard this verse used to discourage.

I’ve also often heard there is a distinction between the words evil and wicked. Wicked is sin, but evil is sin with harm’s intent. In other words, all sin is wicked, but it is only evil when you intend to harm another. If I get angry and throw a plate against a wall, that is wicked. If I get angry and throw the plate at the person who raised my ire, that is evil. I’m not going to debate that distinction here, but I want to apply that distinction to the verse above. If evil really means sin with harm’s intent, then the verse above cannot be used to discourage movie house attendance or root beer drinking, because those activities are not done with the intent to harm someone. If we are to be consistent in our theology, then we cannot teach the distinction between wicked and evil and also use the verse above to discourage activities based on how someone may perceive them. That would be inconsistent and confusing.

For a better understanding of what the verse really means, read The Real Meaning of 1 Thessalonians 5:22.

Posted in Explanations
by Gordy

The house of God

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Many times, we misuse Old Testament terms. One of those is the “house of God.” Many people call the building where believers meet the house of God. But what does the Bible say about the house of God?

Judgment begins at the house of God which Peter goes on to explain is us, the believers.

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 1 Peter 4:17

Paul says the church is the house of God and we know that the church is the people, not the building.

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:15

Paul & Peter both describe the believers as God’s building.

For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:9

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22

Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5

The believers, the people, are the house of God. God dwells in us. His house is not built with hands. The house of God is not made of bricks and wood. We are God’s house.

Posted in Explanations
by Gordy

Bodily Exercise

Friday, October 17th, 2008 at 10:23 pm

For bodily exercise profiteth little. 1 Timothy 4:8a

Have you heard this verse quoted when someone says that lifting weights, jogging, aerobics, etc. don’t do much good? I have. Many times I have heard that bodily exercise refers to some type of physical activity a person does to stay physically fit. However, it is clear from the context that bodily exercise refers to something else. Let’s back up and see some of the context:

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. 1 Timothy 4:1-8

We see the scripture talking about religious, physical practices such as celibacy and fasting. Also keep in mind that this was addressed to Timothy who was serving in Ephesus. Ephesus was where the temple of Diana was located. Because of this, the people of Ephesus were accustomed to many religious practices and customs. Bodily exercise refers to those physical things we do as part of our practicing our religion – the rituals we do, the things we will or won’t wear, the things we will or won’t do, etc. Now let me be clear: I am NOT saying what we wear/don’t wear and what we do/don’t do is not important. The scriptures do give us guidelines on clothing and behavior. However, we tend to major on the minors. We focus on our dress standards and right behavior more than we do on the words of faith and of good doctrine (v. 6). We can dress right, talk right, and act right, but if we have not godliness on the inside, it profits little. We do need to dress right, talk right, and act right, but more importantly, we need to be nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine. When the inside is right, the outside will be as well. We can clean the outside of the cup, but if the inside is not clean, it still is an unusable vessel. Godliness is profitable unto all things.

Posted in Explanations
by Gordy

If I be lifted up John 12:32

Saturday, January 26th, 2008 at 11:36 pm

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. John 12:32

This verse is frequently taken out of context. In fact, a popular upcoming conference is using the phrase as its main theme – and using it out of context. The theme of the conference is exalting and proclaiming the Lord Jesus Christ. While we are supposed to exalt and proclaim Christ, the context of this passage is not saying that. Let’s look at the context and the meaning will be made clear.

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die. John 12:32-33

Jesus is clearly talking about being lifted up on the cross to die. Jesus was not telling us to exalt him or to proclaim him in this passage.

So what’s the big deal? What does it matter if this passage is being misused to teach something that the Bible does teach in other places? The people holding the conference that misuses this passage also teach against the modern versions because they say the modern versions are changing what God had said. But taking a verse out of context and using it to teach something it doesn’t say is in fact doing the same thing they claim the modern versions are doing. When Jesus said “if I be lifted up” to describe the type of death he would suffer and then you use that verse to say Jesus told us to exalt him or proclaim him, you are changing what God said. You are no different than the crowd you criticize and condemn.

Taking verses out of context is a very serious problem. Changing what God says by taking a verse out of context is just as serious as changing the very words themselves. We’ve been told that we should separate from those who change God’s word – that those people are false teachers. Shouldn’t we then also separate from those who take verses out of context and have become false teachers?

Posted in Explanations
by Gordy

Abstain from all appearance of evil 1 Thessalonians 5:22

Thursday, January 24th, 2008 at 10:07 pm

Abstain from all appearance of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:22

Many times, I have heard this verse used to warn Christians to avoid doing those things that might cause others to think you are sinning – to avoid those things that might have the semblance of sin. For instance, we have been warned to not go to eat at places that serve alcohol because someone might see you and assume you were getting drunk. If this is what the verse means, a Christian could hardly function in this world. So many of the places we go and the things we do could be mistakenly interpreted as sin. Even the Lord Jesus Christ did things that made others accuse him of sinning. He healed on the sabbath. He hung out with all kinds of sinners: winebibbers, prostitutes, publicans. He went to their homes and ate with them. Who knows what was going on in there?

We need to remember the context to understand what it means to abstain from all appearance of evil. Let’s look at the two preceding verses as well:

Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22

The preceding context is that of prophesying – or the preaching of what “thus saith the Lord.” Then we are told to prove all things and hold fast that which is good. In other words, don’t just blindly accept the words when someone claims to be speaking for God. We are to test (prove) what was said – like the Bereans. Then after we have tested the spoken words by the written word, we are to hold fast or keep that which is good or that which is line with the scriptures. This is where the abstaining from all appearance of evil fits. After we test the spoken word, if we find it does not fit with the scriptures, we are to abstain from it – to keep away from it. God warns us not to add to or take away from his word. When someone claims to be speaking for God and it does not agree with the scriptures, then that is evil and we should stay away from that – to abstain from what that man has said.

We are commanded in many places to beware of false teachers, to earnestly contend for the faith, to keep the word of God. We must not blindly follow any man. We must prove what he says by the truth – by the word of God.

If a man’s preaching does not agree with scripture, then abstain from him.

Posted in Explanations
by Gordy

The cloud of witnesses

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008 at 4:51 pm

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

This passage is oftentimes misunderstood. Many times I have heard people use this verse to say that those who have gone on before us are up in Heaven looking down upon us and witnessing what we are doing. I’ve even heard this passage misused in attempts to influence or control people’s behavior. A guilt trip is placed upon the hearer by saying something along the lines of “what do you think so and so thinks of you when they look down from Heaven and see you doing that?” If those in Heaven are in fact watching what we do, this passage does not describe that.

This verse comes on the heals of Hebrews 11, the Hall of Faith and Works, where many saints from the Old Testament are listed and we are told about their great faith, the works their faith produced, and the good report they obtained. Hebrews 12:1-2 then encourages us to run the race that is set before us. Are we to run this race because all these Old Testament saints are watching us – witnessing what we do – and we should be motivated by our desire to not disappoint them? No. We are to run the race because the testimony of these Old Testaments saints witnesses to us that living by faith will result in a good report – and in fact some better thing for us (Hebrews 11:39-40).

The great cloud of witnesses do not witness what we do, but rather their testimony is a witness to us of the value and benefit of living by faith.

Posted in Explanations
by Gordy

Matthew 18:20 where two or three are gathered together in my name

Monday, July 9th, 2007 at 1:08 pm

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matthew 18:20

This verse is frequently taken out of context and misapplied. I think I have only heard this verse correctly preached in its context one time out of the hundreds of times I have heard it. Most of the time, this verse is used in the context of believers meeting together in a church service. You’ve heard it, I’m sure: when you come to church, Jesus is in the midst of the service because there are at least two or three gathered together. While Jesus is certainly in the midst of any gathering of believers, the context of this verse is not dealing with a normal church service and therefore, this verse is incorrectly used if applied that way. The context of the passage is church discipline. When the Lord Jesus Christ says that if two or three are gathered together in his name, that he would be in the midst thereof, he is saying that when church discipline has been carried to its final step (the unrepentant church member has been brought before the church and fellowship has been withdrawn) and the members have agreed to withdraw fellowship, that Jesus supports that action – his being in the midst means that he is in agreement that when someone refuses to hear the church, that person should be treated as a heathen and a publican.

If you think about it, if this verse really meant that Jesus is in the midst when two or three are gathered together, what about when a believer is by himself? Is not Jesus there also? Does not Christ dwell in every believer?

Don’t misuse this verse and apply it to normal church services. We should get the meaning from the context.

Posted in Explanations
by Gordy

If I be lifted up John 12:32

Friday, June 22nd, 2007 at 8:45 pm

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. John 12:32

Many will quote this verse when explaining that we need to preach Christ to draw men rather than some of the other (oftentimes silly) promotions people use to get people to come through the church doors. They imply that “lifted up” means “proclaimed.” While I agree that we don’t need to use promotions to get people in the doors (let the Lord add to the church, we are to go and preach the gospel) and I agree that we should proclaim Christ in the church (Paul said he preached only Christ and him crucified), this verse should not be used to support that because it is taking it out of context. Read the next verse to see what Jesus meant by “lifted up:”

This he said, signifying what death he should die. John 12:33

Jesus said he must be lifted up on the cross and die to reconcile the world unto himself. Don’t misuse this verse to say we should only preach Christ in church.

Posted in Explanations
by Gordy

Psalm 119:165 Great peace… nothing shall offend

Thursday, May 24th, 2007 at 3:37 pm

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. Psalms 119:165

Many times, we are told this verse means that we should not let anything bother, irritate, or upset us, for if something does bother, irritate, or upset us, then we must not love God’s law. That is not what is conveyed by the word offend however. This verse is meant to be an encouragement to those who love God’s law. It tells us that if we love God’s law, nothing will cause us to stumble from keeping God’s law – no temptation will cause disobedience – nothing will get in our way of serving God.

This verse does not say that loving God’s law is a guarantee that we will never be bothered, irritated, or upset.

To see how offend is used in the sense of breaking God’s law or sinning, see James 2:10 and 1 Corinthians 8:13.

Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. 1 Corinthians 8:13

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. James 2:10

Posted in Explanations
by Gordy