The Friends of the Nazarene On-line Magazine

VOLUME 1 ISSUE 5 OCTOBER 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. What is "Spirituality"?

  2. Announcements

  3. What is the first mention of the "resurrection" in the Bible?

  4. Question from Reader: The Only True Religion---Does the Bible teach it?

What is "Spirituality"?

Since God the Creator made human-kind in His own image, it is only natural we have been "hard-wired" to believe in God. Throughout the whole history of mankind, such a belief has manifest itself in every cult, sect, religion of every culture and every nation. There has never been an atheistic people. Even those who had atheism as a political ideology, returned to a public belief in God when given their freedom.

There seems a natural urge for "spirituality" and an inner need for God. As if an inner compass always wants to point toward God. It is no wonder, then, that many have a craving for "spirituality." But, what is "spirituality"? How does one become a "spiritual" person?

The word "spirituality" appears rarely in most Bible versions. However, the word "spiritual" and the idea occurs more often. It is the Nazarene who introduces the idea of a completely different "form of worship." One based on "truth" and ‘spirituality." Jesus does this in a striking setting: alone with a woman of another religion.

The Gospel account is recorded at John 4.19-27: ‘The woman said to Jesus: "Lord, I see you are a prophet. Our forefathers worshipped in this mountain but you Jews say we must worship in Jerusalem." Jesus said to her: "Trust me, woman, the time is coming when you will not worship the Father at this mountain or at Jerusalem. You people worship without knowing; we (Jews) worship knowingly, for (the idea of) salvation is of Jewish origin. But, the time is near when true worshippers will worship the Father spiritually and truthfully, for the Father seeks such worshippers. The God is spirit and so it is necessary to worship Him spiritually and truthfully." The woman said to Jesus: "I know Messiah, the one called Christ, is coming, and when he arrives he will make everything plain." Jesus said to her: "The one talking to you now is he." And when his disciples returned they marveled because he was talking to a woman.’

In spirit. This is a revolutionary idea because all the religions of the world enwrap themselves in magnificent buildings and diligently prescribed ceremonies which most occur at a precise time or location. What did the Nazarene have in mind when he teaches about worshipping God "in spirit"? It would seem he contrasts his remark with the general practice of worshipping either on the Mountain of Samaria or at Jerusalem’s great Temple. He proves this by the statement, "God is a spirit." It obviously follows that the worship He seeks is of a spiritual nature. With the destruction of Jerusalem’s Temple, that "form" of material worship ceased. However, that "form" of acceptable worship, which Jesus observed himself, ended some years before. How so?

Paul describes this new "worship" in his Letter to the Hebrews: ‘After these things had been constructed this way, the priests enter the first tent [compartment] at all times to perform the sacred services; but into the second [compartment] the high priest alone enters once a year, not without blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of ignorance of the people. Thus the holy spirit makes it plain that the way into the holy place had not yet been made manifest while the first tent was standing. This very [tent] is an illustration for the appointed time that is now here, and in keeping with it both gifts and sacrifices are offered. However, these are not able to make the [man] doing sacred service perfect as respects his conscience, but have to do only with foods and drinks and various baptisms. They were legal requirements pertaining to the flesh and were imposed until the appointed time to set things straight. However, when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come to pass, through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, he entered, no, not with the blood of goats and of young bulls, but with his own blood, once for all time into the holy place and obtained an everlasting deliverance [for us]. For if the blood of goats and of bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who have been defiled sanctifies to the extent of cleanness of the flesh, how much more will the blood of the Christ, who through an everlasting spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works that we may render sacred service to [the] living God?’ (He 9.6-14 NWT)

The new Temple becomes the body of Nazarene Saints themselves: ‘Do you not understand you are the Divine Habitat of God and the Spirit of The God dwells within you? ... For the Divine Habitat of God is holy, which you are.’ (1 Co 3.16, 17 NR) And, again: ‘You are no longer strangers and outsiders. You are fellow citizens of the Saints, members of The God’s own household built upon a apostolic and prophetic foundation, the cornerstone Christ Jesus. Incorporate with him the entire building is jointly-bonded, growing into a Holy and Divine Habitat in the Lord. Incorporate with him you also are under construction as a spiritual dwelling of The God.’ (Ep 2.20-22 NR) Paul ends this with a phrase similar to the Nazarene’s own. Rather than the worshippers attending a certain temple or place of worship, God is indwelling within that body of spiritual worshipers who have become the Temple itself. Wherever these temple-stones maybe scattered in the earth, God and Christ reside there.

What may be considered part of this new "form" of worship in spirit? Paul makes it clear what is involved in true spiritual worship: ‘By means of Jesus Christ offer sacrificial praise to The God all the time, that is, the fruitage of the lips, confessing (Christ’s) name. Forget not the doing of good to others for with these sacrifices God is pleased.’ (He 13.15, 16) This echoes very much the teachings of the Nazarene: ‘Love your enemies and do good to them, lending without expecting any repayment.’ (Lk 6.35) True spirituality reaches into that material world of charity.

Indeed, any "form of worship" lacking charity is defiled and unclean, as the disciple James writes: ‘The form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the view of God the Father is this: care for oppressed orphans and widows.’ (Js 1.27 NR) That this "care" was not only of a spiritual nature is shown further in James’ letter: ‘If a brother or sister were ever ill-clad or lacking in daily nourishment, and you should tell them: "Go in peace. Keep warm. Keep well-fed." But, you do not give them life’s necessities, of what (spiritual) benefit is this? So, too, faith without (these charitable) works is dead.’ (Js 2.16, 17 NR) So, true "spirituality" is characterized by thoughts of God as well as thoughts of others. But, there is another factor in this spiritual worship.

In Truth. The Nazarene adds the word "truth" as part of "true worship." This truth surely involves, a) Christ himself (Jn 1.14, 17; 14.6); God’s own word (Jn 17.17); and, c) teaching that is "in line with truth." (Mt 22.16; Mk 12.14, 32; Lk 20.21)

That spirituality involves "words taught by the Spirit of God" is shown by Paul: ‘God is revealed to us by the Spirit, for the Spirit makes a universal search into the depths of The God. ... We have not received a worldly spirit, but a spiritual one from The God so we might "know" His gracious gift. And we speak not words of human wisdom, but those taught spiritually -- judging the spiritual with spirituality. (1 Co 2.10, 12, 13) These spiritual "words" have one major focus: God. The result is the spiritual response in "speaking" and "judging" those matters of a spiritual nature.

Now the Soul-type, that is an earthly, physical person, sees all this as foolish nonsense because they are unable to make this spiritual appraisal, or judgment. The Spirit-type person, that is, the one possessed of spirituality, is moved to look at or examine matters from a spiritual stand-point. Paul puts it this way: ‘But, the Soul-type (psychikos: psychic; soulical; physical; natural) will not accept the spiritual things of The God. These are foolish to such a person, for it is not possible to "know" because these things are judged spiritually. The Spirit-type (pneumatikos: pneumatic; spiritual) judges everything but is judged by no one. For "who knows the mind of the LORD to instruct Him?" But, we do have the Mind of Christ.’ (1 Co 2.14-16; Is 40.13 NR) Clearly, the true spiritual person is possessed of the Christ-Mind and thus views everything in life from the perspective of one whose origin is God, whose destination is God, and who understands "the things of God," which include His "eternal purpose." (Ep 3.9, 10) These spiritual "truths" are the result of the speaking of "the spirit of the truth" given to the Nazarene’s Apostles as a spirit-guide, from which we have the inspired epistles. (Jn 16.13; 17.20)

In other words, the physical person (the Soul-type) concentrates on a materialistic outlook; while the spiritual person (the Spirit-type) concentrates on a spiritual outlook. Paul puts it this way: ‘For the fleshly-minded concentrate on the fleshly; but the spiritually-minded on spiritual things. Death results from a fleshly mind; life and peace from a spiritual mind. The fleshly-minded are at enmity with God. ... The fleshly are incapable of pleasing The God. But, you are not fleshly but spiritual if the Spirit of The God has taken up residence within you. Anyone lacking Christ’s "spirit" does not originate with him. If Christ is within the body is dead to habitual sin, but lives spiritually in righteousness.’ (Ro 8.5-10 NR)

What is God’s "eternal purpose"? It is summarize by Paul at 1 Corinthians 15.28: ‘So The God may be everything to everyone.’ (NR) This God-centered Universe will be filled with only spiritual beings, whether living on earth on residing in the celestialum. &

Announcements

The first general meeting of Nazarene Saints is being held October 5 in Idyllwild, California. It is a two hour Bible discussion with question and answer periods.

Back issues of the Nazarene Saints Newsletter are available. You may want to make copies of the ones you have and send them to others who would be interested.

We are working on a "witnessing tool" in the form of a 32 page brochure or booklet: "Are We Really in the Last Days?"

A new 250 page publication will soon be available. messianic CONFESSIONS is the life story of someone who came to the realization of his own religious error. It relates the actual process of discovery which revealed his error and what he did about it.

Current publications available free of charge: The Seven Principles is a 58,965-word, (185 pages with 388 footnotes) on what Hebrews 6.1 calls ‘The first principles of the Christ.’ (ASV) There are hundreds of Bible citations and scores of references on the subject of the seven elements to the Lord’s Prayer. The work on a complete commentary of Revelation, Apocalypse 2,000, runs to 130,000 words, 400 pages, with over 1,000 footnotes, and many thousands of Bible citations. It includes a new rendering of Revelation along with a running commentary on the subject of the so-called "end-times" or "last days." This includes a new rendering of Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 in a compound paraphrase of all three accounts into one. The study on the Sermon on the Mount, a 19,106 word booklet entitled The Nazarene’s Mountain Teachings, includes a new rendering of Matthew chapters 5 to 7 with 45 pages of commentary in 199 footnotes. &

What is the first mention of the "resurrection" in the Bible?

The English word "resurrection" means a re + standing, or standing (rising) again. The Greek is anastasis (αναστασις) and occurs first in Matthew 22.23 for a total of 40x in the Christian Bible. The first occurrence of the word in the Jewish Greek Bible (LXX) is in the negative at Job 14.12, "and man that has lain down (in death) shall certainly not rise again." Or, "will not be resurrected." That a resurrection is possible is inferred in verse 13, 14.

There are two other occurrences of forms of αναστασις in some versions of the LXX at Job 42.17, ‘And Job died, an old man and full of days: and it is written that he will rise again (αναστησεσθαι) with those whom the Lord raises up (ανιστησιν).’ This could be rendered: "that he will be resurrected with those the Lord resurrects." So, the first occurrence of "resurrect," or "resurrection" is in the Book of Job which is thought to record events from the Sixteenth Century BC between Joseph and Moses.

The next occurrence of this form anastasis is 1,300 years later in the Book of Isaiah again in the negative much as in the case in Job at Is 26.14, ‘But the dead shall not see life, neither shall physicians by any means raise them (αναστησωσιν).’ Then in the positive at 26.19, ‘The dead shall rise (αναστησονται) and they in the tombs shall be raised.’ This verse in the LXX is precisely quoted by Jesus at John 5.28.

Lastly, the resurrection is directly mentioned 200 years later in Daniel 12.13, ‘and thou shall stand (αναστηση) in thy lot at the end of the days.’ Though the resurrection is inferred by the metaphor of "awaken" in 12.2.

There is another occurrence of the form anastasis at Hosea 6.2, ‘in the third day we shall arise (αναστησομεθα, ex-ana-stesometha) and live before Him.’ Re 11.12 is an echo of it.

The resurrection is inferred in several other cases. For example, ‘(Abraham) reckoned that God was able to raise him up even from the dead; and from there he did receive him also in an illustrative way.’ (He 11.19) Paul does not tell us how he knows this and it may be reached by normal deduction regarding God’s power. (Ro 4.17) Or, the natural interpretation of Genesis 3.15. Judging from Paul, then, this would be the earliest record of hope in a resurrection. Peter does something similar with Psalm 16.8 and the foretold resurrection of the Nazarene: ‘Therefore, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath that he would seat one from the fruitage of his loins upon his throne, he saw beforehand and spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he forsaken in Ha'des nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God resurrected, of which fact we are all witnesses.’ (Ac 2.30-32 NWT)

The Nazarene himself uses an artful argument with the resurrection-denying Sadducees who only accepted the five books of Moses. He quotes to them Exodus 6.3, ‘I am the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. He is the God, not of the dead, but of the living.’ (Mt 22.32; Lk 20.37, 38) Since Moses phrase identifies Jehovah as God of these dead patriarchies, the Nazarene adeptly uses this to establish these men are in some way still "living" from the standpoint of God. Luke’s Gospel records this Nazarene deduction as: ‘They are living to Him.’ (Lk 20.38 NR) If they are "living" to God it is inferred they will one day be resurrected, the subject before Jesus. The idea echoes Job and his request to be "remembered" by God for that day when he would be "re-created." (Job 14.14, 15) Indeed, the Nazarene borrows this word "re-created," which is παλιν γενωμαι in the Greek LXX, in his words: ‘in the re-creation (παλιγγενεσαι) ... (Mt 19.28)

Question from Reader: The Only True Religion---Does the Bible teach it?

The general understanding of the word "religion" conveys characteristics of "form" and "control." It is identified by a lengthy list of ceremony, holy orders, titles and designations, and rules of conduct. Websters Dictionary conveys this: " ... religio; bind together ... from ligare, to bind ... to pay heed. .... specific system ... religious observances, rites ... "

The meaning of the Greek word sometimes rendered "religion" is explained by The Oxford Companion to the Bible (Metzger, Coogan), page 645: "Narrowly understood, religion means actions, especially cultic or ceremonial. ... Threskeia is also rare in the NT. .... James speaks of "pure religion" (1.27 KJV), perhaps implying a contrast between the expression of religion in cultic forms and its expression in acts of charity and self-control. ... More broadly, religion involves a complex of faith and conduct. For this the common Greek term is eusebeia, ‘piety,’ that is, reverence for the gods. ... The relative rarity of words for ‘religion’ in the Bible, and the confining of the broader terms to what are generally considered the latest writings of the NT, has been used to argue ‘religion,’ with its connotations of outward activity or generalized piety, is inappropriate language to use of ancient Israel or of earliest Christianity."

Another explanation is in the Dictionary of New Testament Theolgy, Vol 3, pages 549-551: "threskeia . . . service of God, religion. ... latron, wages ... cultic service ... at a later stage it had a cultic use, honouring of the gods. (Heb) abad rendering the LXX by douleuo ( -> Slave) . . . It is, however characteristic of the OT that it is not the meticulously performed cultus which is the true worship of God, but obedience to the voice of the Lord. ... All 21 cases of latreuo in the NT are used in a religious sense. ... We see that latreuo had largely lost its cultic connotation in favor of that of the inner worship of the heart by faith. ... Both passages give clear expression to Jesus’ statement that true and genuine worship as God wills it must be in Spirit and through the Spirit, for God himself is Spirit. (Jn 4.23 f) ... Such worship is freed from all the restrictions of cultic rules . . . and the struggle to attain righteousness through works."

The difference between "religion" (a ceremonial "form") and "worship" (service to God) may be illustrated between that "worship" associated with Jerusalem (Jn 4.20-24) and that characterized by the early disciples. The former was marked by impressive buildings with exact locations for regular ceremony, a thousand regulations, a feared and obeyed hierarchy of elders, judges and scribes. It was large and impressive. Contrasted with the liberated worship of the Nazarenes. They had no buildings for worship. They met in private homes in small groups. They had no lengthy list of organizational rules and procedures, for God’s law was in their hearts. Christ operated within and the result was their love and kindness was their worship. (Js 1.27-29) Someone, some where, once said: "Religion is a snare and a racket." This is probably true today. &

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