The Friends of the Nazarene On-line Magazine

VOLUME 1 ISSUE 3 AUGUST 1997

Statement of Purpose:The "Friends of the Nazarene" are dedicated to the preservation and publishing of the teachings of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the spiritual feeding of "little lambs" in the Household of Faith, the protection of the Body of Christ from those foretold "false prophets" who would mislead The Elect, and assist the "chosen ones" to remain awake in expectation of the Parousia of the Son of Man.

Inside this Newsletter:

1. Announcements: New study materials

2. Question from Reader: Does John 14:19 prove the Return of Christ will be invisible?

3. The Manuel of Discipline for the Nazarene Community of Christian Saints

Announcements:

The work Mountain Teachings, a new translation with 200 footnotes of the Sermon on the Mount, is now available. It consists of a minimal, literal translation which uses as few English words as possible to convey the original meaning. The footnotes offer alternate renderings and commentaries on most aspects of history’s greatest sermon by the greatest man who ever lived, Jesus Christ the Nazarene. An expanded version called Song of Perfection will be available as a companion to Mountain Teachings.

Two more works will be available in late summer or fall: Apocalypse 2,000 AD! a complete commentary on the book of Revelation. The Seven Principles will appear in a new expanded version about this same time. Write our address if you wish either of these. They are free.

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Question from Reader: Does John 14:19 prove the Return of Christ will be invisible?

John 14:19 is before us: ‘Yet a little while and the world beholds me no more.’ It is suggested by some sincere Bible students that this remark by the Nazarene proves the Parousia of the Son of Man is invisible. Of course, we need to compare the context as well as other related verses dealing with the subject of the Return or Arrival of Christ. First, consider the context. The previous verses set the subject at hand: ‘Shortly you will behold me no longer; and again, shortly you will see me. . . I shall not leave you as orphans. I am returning to you.’ (Verses 16, 18) Is it possible, and fair to state, that Jesus may be referring to his appearance after his resurrection? Verse 21 infers the same: ‘I shall love him and manifest myself to him.’ This word "manifest" is the Greek εμφανιζω and is variously rendered: manifest, make apparent, disclose, show, reveal. This same word group occurs in the Gospel of John after the Nazarene is resurrected. Note John 21:1, ‘After all of this, Jesus manifested ( εφανερωσεν) himself to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He made the manifestation ( φανερωσις) in this way.’ Would this not seem to confirm that John 14:19 is talking about that period following the Resurrection and before the Ascension?

Peter reveals this truth at Acts 10:40, 41, ‘God raised up Jesus the third day and granted him to become manifest ( εμφανη) not to all the people but to witnesses previously appointed by vote.’ Paul agrees with this, for he writes to the Corinthians: ‘After he was seen by upward of five hundred brothers.’ (1 Corinthians 15:6) Thus, it seems fair to conclude that John 14:19 is talking about the appearances of Jesus between his resurrection and ascension.

Did the Nazarene ever appear to unbelievers in the world following his resurrection? Paul says, yes. 1 Corinthians 15:7 reports: ‘But last of all Jesus was also seen by me.’ Is it fair to ask: in what state was Paul when the Lord appeared to him? As part of the world? Judging from the three accounts of Paul’s experience on the Damascus road we would have to answer that someone in the world did see the glorified Lord after his ascension. Regarding this Paul reminds the Corinthians: ‘Have I not seen the Lord?’ (1 Corinthians 9:1) However, we ask our sincere Bible student: What did Jesus the Nazarene say elsewhere regarding his Parousia? Would it be visible or invisible?

Did Jesus clearly state that his Parousia would be visible or invisible? Read the following and ask yourself how the Nazarene could make it any clearer: ‘And people will tell you: "See there!" and "See here!" Do not follow them! For as lightning flashes from under heaven to another part under heaven, so the Son of Man will be. . . So, it will be when the Son of man is unveiled. ... I tell you: in that night two will be on one bed; one will be received home and the other abandoned. There will be two grinding at the same mill; one will be received home and the other abandoned. ... For just as lightning arrives from the East and shines until the West, so the Parousia of the Son of Man will be... And then will appear in the atmosphere the Sign of the Son of Man and all the tribes of the earth will lament in grief. They will see the Son of man arriving on the clouds of the atmosphere.’ (Luke 17:23, 24, 3, 34, 35; Matthew 24:27, 30) How does this seem to read to you? In all fairness, reading the prophecy as it is presented without severe manipulation? Will mankind on the globe at the time of the Parousia not "see" this foretold Return? Do not all tribes lament in grief at the same time because they do "see" something? The Nazarene’s example of two cases alive at his Coming, one at sleep and one at work, would seem to argue this Appearing occurs within a single day when its day on one side of the earth and night on the other. Compare Mark 13:35 where this time may be within any of four time periods: late afternoon, midnight, cockcrowing, or sunrise. This would compress the possibilities within a twelve hour period!

For these reasons we cannot view John 14:19 as proof of an invisible Return of Christ.

The above should offer a strong bias that the Parousia is visible to the world in general and that John 14:19 does not prove an invisible Return but rather is dealing with those private appearances of the Lord following his resurrection and before his ascension. &

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The Manuel of Discipline for the Nazarene Community of Christian Saints

As part of an ongoing series dealing with the Christian Character and how each Nazarene Saint ought to walk within the Household of God (1 Timothy 3:15), we present a verse by verse, word for word, discussion of Romans chapter 12, Contained in this one chapter are two dozen individual attributes or characteristics of those who would ‘follow the Lamb no matter where he goes.’ (Re 14:4 NW) No where else in the entire Bible can so much be found dealing with the Transformed Mind. (Romans 12:2) It is wise for the serious disciple of Christ to review these from time to time.

Romans 12:1, 2: ‘So, I plead with you, brothers, by the compassions of The God as part of your logical worship, to offer your bodies a living and holy sacrifice. Do not be fashioned after this Age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so you may discern the good, perfect, and acceptable Will of God.’ Is it clear that a real change must come about when one becomes a Nazarene Saint? What are those new characteristics which ought to identify the true disciple of Jesus Christ the Nazarene? We move to a partial discussion of two dozen attributes within verses 9 to 21.

1. Unhypocritical Love. (verse 9a) Fittingly this is at the top of Paul’s list in harmony with those teachings of the Nazarene. But, it is a special kind of agape: it is not hypocritical or two-faced. Others render this: sincere, unfeigned, genuine. True, Christian Agape must be lacking any agenda other than the desire to see the very best take place for our neighbors.

Paul’s words show that agape or "love" can be hypocritical. This word "hypocrisy" occurs often in the Christian Bible. It is the combination of "under" + "judge" and is drawn from those fake faces actors wore which have become symbols for the theater itself: the one sad, the other happy. People lacking the Transformed Mind often wear two-faces and it becomes difficult to tell who they really are.

The Nazarene is described as "guileless" (Hebrews 7:26) and this is the way the Nazarene Saint ought to be. (Romans 16:18; 1 Corinthians 13:4; 1 Timothy 1:5; James 3:17; 1 Peter 1:22) True and pure agape thinks only of another’s interest in seeking the highest good of both neighbor and enemy. Paul describes this love without ever using the word: ‘Seek not for self, but for others. ... Not looking after your own interests but those of others.’ (1 Corinthians 10:24; Phillipians 2:4) This must lack a selfish motive or hiden agendas.

2. Abhor wickedness. (verse 9b) Others render this: WEY: regard evil with horror; GDSP: hate what is wrong. Wickedness is not defined here and it can mean different things to a variety of persons. The only way to truly judge it is by using a Divine Standard, that is God’s view. The Nazarene made a list of those things which could defile a person: ‘wicked reasonings, murders, adulteries, fornications, thieveries, false testimonies, blasphemies.’ (Matthew 15:19 NW) Mark gives a similar list with a few additions: ‘fornications, thieveries, murders, adulteries, covetings, acts of wickedness, deceit, loose conduct, an envious eye, blasphemy, haughtiness, unreasonableness. All these wicked things issue forth from within and defile a man.’ (Mark 7:21-23 NW) This should provide a considerable list of those things which the Nazarene Saint ought to abhor while remembering the King "hates lawlessness." (Hebrews 1:9) However, abhorrence of wickedness is not enough.

3. Cling to the Good. (verse 9c) The Greek is literally, "Glue yourselves to good things." Others render this: KJ: cleave to; TCNT: cling to right; WMS: keep on holding to what is right. Righteousness may be defined as obedience to law, while goodness, or moral excellence, goes beyond the letter of the law. The Righteous Person may be illustrated by a driver obeying the speed limit; while the Good Person is the one who obeys the law but seeing a driver with a flat tire alongside the road stops to offer help. Compare the Nazarene’s parable of the "good" Samaritan. (Luke 10:29-37) Note Paul’s contrast between the good and righteous person. (Romans 5:7)

The Beloved Apostle John uses a similar thought in his first epistle. In discussing how to know one who is God-born he lists not only the practice of righteousness (obeying law) but also refraining from being a habitual sinner. (1 Jn 3:4-18) So, it is not enough to obey law as a righteous person, but the inner person, that Transformed Mind, must cling, or grab to one’s breast, what is morally excellent. The hatred of evil may cause one to refrain from certain conduct or attitudes; while clinging to the good requires a positive action which generally involves kindness to others.

This is demonstrated in the following texts. Matthew 25:35-40: Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, YOU who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for YOU from the founding of the world. For I became hungry and YOU gave me something to eat; I got thirsty and YOU gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and YOU received me hospitably; naked, and YOU clothed me. I fell sick and YOU looked after me. I was in prison and YOU came to me.' Then the righteous ones will answer him with the words, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty, and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and receive you hospitably, or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to you?' And in reply the king will say to them, 'Truly I say to YOU, To the extent that YOU did it to one of the least of these my brothers, YOU did it to me.'

"Then he will say, in turn, to those on his left, 'Be on YOUR way from me, YOU who have been cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. For I became hungry, but YOU gave me nothing to eat, and I got thirsty, but YOU gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger, but YOU did not receive me hospitably; naked, but YOU did not clothe me; sick and in prison, but YOU did not look after me.' Then they also will answer with the words, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them with the words, 'Truly I say to YOU, To the extent that YOU did not do it to one of these least ones, YOU did not do it to me.' And these will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life. (NW)

James 2:15-17 asks: ‘Of what benefit is it, my brothers, if a certain one says he has faith but he does not have works? That faith cannot save him, can it? If a brother or a sister is in a naked state and lacking the food sufficient for the day, yet a certain one of YOU says to them: "Go in peace, keep warm and well fed," but YOU do not give them the necessities for [their] body, of what benefit is it? Thus, too, faith, if it does not have works, is dead in itself.’ When James defines "pure religion" (KJV) it is interesting to note what he includes and what he omits: ‘If any man seems to himself to be a formal worshiper and yet does not bridle his tongue, but goes on deceiving his own heart, this man's form of worship is futile. The form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself without spot from the world.’ The person who professes discipleship of Jesus Christ and refrains from humane care of a neighbor is practicing a religion which is a complete exercise in futility. With this John agrees: But whoever has this world's means for supporting life and beholds his brother having need and yet shuts the door of his tender compassions upon him, in what way does the love of God remain in him? (1 Jn 3:17 NW) The Nazarene Saint who does not "cling to the good" is worshipping God in vain! (Matthew 15:3-11)

4. Brotherly affection. (verse 10a) The above harmonizes with this phrase, for clinging to good involves a deep care for one’s fellows. Others render this phrase: ASV: in love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned to one another; GDSP: be affectionate in your love for the brotherhood; KNX: be affectionate towards each other, as the love of brothers demands; NASB: be devoted to one another in love; BECK: love one another tenderly as fellow Christians. Some would limit this to those within one’s own cult, sect, church, or religion. But this would contradict the spirit of the Nazarene’s words in the Mountain Teachings: ‘Love your enemies ... and show yourselves real sons of your Father in heaven. ... For if you only love your friends, what reward do you have?’ (Matthew 5:43-48) The Nazarene Saint must view all those who confess "Jesus is Lord" to be within the Master’s "field." (Matthew 13:37) So, the true disciple, not only demonstrates that quality of agape toward others, but also philadelphia in true philostorgoi toward all "those who are related in the Faith." (Galations 6:10) To be continued . . .

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