The Friends of the Nazarene On-line Magazine

Volume 2 -- October 1998

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: The "Friends of the Nazarene" are a Bible research group for better Scriptural understanding. We are dedicated to the preservation and publishing of Christian writings which aid the Father’s Children to "follow the Lamb no matter where the Lamb goes." (Revelation 14:4) We are apologists dedicated to the defense of the truth that "God is One" and not three. The Bible is our credo. We wish to respect the views of our multitude of Christian brethren. (1 Peter 3:15) [Research associates: Mark Miller - ; Andrew Foss - ; Ralph Slaney - ; Andy Weeks - ; Greg Jones - ]

IN THIS ISSUE ---

1. Against Bishop Athansius

2. How to Conduct a Bible Discussion

3. Think Like Christ

4. Announcements

5. Faith Perspectives

6. Nazarene Commandments: The Negative Commandments

7. Thoughts on the Proverbs


AGAINST BISHOP ATHANASIUS

Early in the Fourth Century Roman catholic bishop Athanasius -- after whom the creed is named -- wrote Disposition Against Arius. Bishop Athanasius wrote his Disposition Against Arius to counter the North African bishop’s unitarian arguments which were creating considerable disturbance in the Catholic Church. We wish to examine the Catholic legate’s argument point by point.

First though, we note several matters regarding Bishop Athanasius’ argument:

1. The absence of the word "trinity"

2. The absence of the designation "holy spirit"

1. Athanasius asserts that the phrase from John 1:1 -- "In the beginning was the Word" -- that this contradicts the belief of Arius regarding the Son that "there was a time when He was not." Common sense tells us that if one is a father and another a son, then the former came before the other, and there was logically a time when the son did not exist because the father preceded him. The phrase from John is taken from Genesis 1:1 (and possibly also Proverbs 8:22, 23) in which "the beginning" deals only with the formation of the material universe (perhaps only the earth) and not all created things. For, surely those who were celestial or heavenly, that is the angels, existed before "the beginning" even as Job 38:4-6 assures.

2. Athananius wrongly asserts that if the Son be spoken of as "only-begotten" he must be the uncreated creator; whereas, a son of a father may be the only-begotten son of such, just as John declares: "So the Word became flesh and resided among us, and we had a view of his glory, a glory such as belongs to an only-begotten son from a father." (John 1:14) Quoting again from John (John 1:3) the bishop misses the point that the Son may be the agent by which creation occurred and not the source of the creation, for the Son himself declares, "The Son can do nothing of himself," making it impossible that he be the Prime Mover, or Creator. (John 5:19; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2, 3; Proverbs 8:22-30)

3. Athanasius wrongly asserts that because the Son is called "only-begotten" he cannot be a creature, ignoring that is what the word means. It is clear that if the Son is the agent or instrument of creation then he exists as a separate and special creation and may thus be easily called "only-begotten." Even so Proverbs 8.22-30 declares, "The Lord created me as the beginning of His ways, the first of His works of old ...He begets me."

That the Son is "counted as one of the rest" is shown when he says, "So the sanctifier and the sanctified all come from one Source and therefore he is not ashamed to call them ‘brothers’." (Hebrews 2:11) This is impossible for God to say.

4. Athanasius wrongly asserts the Son is of the same "substance" of the Father because the Son is the "image" [icon] of God, not thinking that the statue is not the model. Nor, is that which is bright by reflection the same as the source; for the mirror is not light itself. So, the moon is not the same substance as the sun though they both give illumination. The moon, like the Son, only reflects that Greater Light. (Hebrews 1:2, 3)

5. Athanasius offers partial and misquoted phrases which are nonsensical. For does he mean the Son is the Father when he quotes, "He that has seen me has seen the Father"? For the Lord makes clear he speaks nothing of his own. (John 14:9, 10) Is it not clear that if a mirror reflects an image it may be said, "If one sees the mirror one sees that which is reflected," and not at all meaning the mirror is the same as that Reflected One?

Bishop Athanasius also wrongly misapplies, "I am in the Father and the Father in Me," and, "I and the Father are one," for a bit later the Son also says of his apostles in prayer, "That they may be one even as we are one." (John 14:30; 17:21) Does the Lord include the apostles as part of God when he says, " ... just as you Father are in me and I in you, so that they may be also in us"? (John 17:21)

6. Lastly, we note the obscure argument of Athanasius drawn from Paul, "Everything was created through the Son and for the Son." (Colossians 1:16) Is it not obvious that if something was made for someone then it is another and not the maker? Is it not obvious that a father exists first of all, and then after a son? If the father determine to make something "for" the son and with the help of his son, then he teaches that son and may then use that son as his instrument. Even so, the Son is called "Master-worker" by the Proverbs 8:30.

In conclusion we note the absence of certain modern "proof-texts" which Athanasius does not include. Surely, the catholic bishop is among those Saint Peter describes, "The untaught and unsteady twist the Scriptures to their own destruction." (2 Peter 3:16) [Reprinted from the online publication (280 pages) De Trinitatis Erroribus - The Error of the Trinity)

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HOW TO CONDUCT A BIBLE DISCUSSION

Most serious disciples of the Nazarene are moved by their faith to speak to others about the Gospel. They feel like Paul, who wrote: "I believed, therefore, I spoke." (2 Corinthians 4:12, 13) Jesus himself told Nicodemas, "We speak what we know." (John 3:11) That each Christian ought to strive to become a "teacher" of Biblical truth is shown by Paul when he writes to a Jewish audience: "You ought to all be teachers." (Hebrews 5:12) The Book of Acts is filled with examples of the apostles and others teaching in a variety of situations -- some formal, some informal.

How can a friend of the Nazarene (John 15:14) go about conducting a regular weekly Bible discussion with an individual or a group of interested persons? There are certainly no rules how this should be done. A Bible discussion group may devote only fifteen minutes, while others may thoroughly enjoy an hour or two. Some use the Bible solely, reading a paragraph and then having a free form discussion of the subjects, examining footnotes, following cross references, or using a concordance on certain words. If all come prepared this type of verse by verse consideration of a Bible book can be most beneficial.

However, the following program used by a missionary has proved very successful over many decades, resulting in hundreds coming to consecrated Nazarene discipleship.

Using the publication Nazarene Principles as a Bible study primer on basic Scriptural teachings, particularly those of the Lord Jesus, a weekly program can be developed which will gradually lead a new Christian into a mature understanding of elemental Bible teachings. (Hebrews 6:1-3)

Since a blessed godly environment is best for meditating on God’s thoughts, it is wise to begin with a brief prayer. This may be followed by a two or three minute review of material considered the previous week. This review may take the form of a summary by the conductor, highlighting key Bible verses previously considered; or, it may be questions and answers allowing those gathered to focus on a few main thoughts.

An introduction to the main points to be considered in this current lesson may be covered in one or two minutes by the leader or chairperson of the discussion. Usually enough material may be selected under certain main headings so that sufficient subjects are covered in one hour. Others may prefer to just cover whatever the particular lesson allows in that hour. It may be only two or three paragraphs one week, and ten the next. Either way, the goal is a reasonable understanding of the material rather than just covering as many paragraphs as possible.

First a numbered paragraph in Nazarene Principles may be read by either the conductor or by a variety of volunteering members of the discussion group. This reading could be done by anyone present, including shorter paragraphs by children. The important thing is that the reader put meaning into the material. Before such a reading the conductor may wish to pose a brief question as a focus on the main point in the paragraph.

Consider the following example, using Nazarene Principles:

#142. WHERE ARE THE DEAD SAINTS? It would be most timely at this point to answer this question and related questions about the condition of the dead. Many have been raised to believe, or taught to believe, that each human being possesses a "soul" which escapes the body at death and goes to live in an after-life. They believed, therefore, that all good Christians were in heaven. Had the resurrection begun in Paul’s own day? He is severely critical of two heretics in his time with the words, ‘Their word will spread like gangrene . . . and they have deviated from the Truth saying the resurrection has already occurred and they are subverting the faith of some.’ (2 Timothy 2:17, 18 NWT)

As an introduction to the paragraph the conductor might ask before the paragraph is read: "Did Paul believe the dead were resurrected in his day?" The paragraph may be read and the same question posed to the group. After considering a few comments, the conductor may ask: "What have many been taught about the soul?" Some may have questions and these could either be entertained here or left to the conclusion of the discussion in a question and answer period. For these reasons the paragraphs are numbered so that all may follow in a unified manner.

The next paragraph continues:

#143. In the introductory portion of Nazarene Principles, we had suggested the use of a concordance to research certain words. Here is a good place to use one. Those words for "soul," the Hebrew nephesh (Strongs # 5315) and the Greek psyche (Strongs # 5590), can be researched at your leisure, along with other words, such as: death, grave, hell (Sheol, Hades), or resurrection. What will such a study reveal? Some commentaries make these observations:

The conductor may ask: "How could a concordance help here?" Or, "What Bible words are involved in our consideration here?" The conductor may wish to actually demonstrate the use of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance or some similar language lexicon.

The next two paragraphs read:

#146. "The belief that the soul continues its existence after the dissolution of the body is a matter of philosophical or theological speculation rather than of simple faith, and is accordingly nowhere expressly taught in Holy Scripture." (The Jewish Encyclopedia (1910), Vol. VI, p. 564.)

#147. The Dictionary of New Testament Theology makes the following observations: (Vol 1, page 433, 435) "In OT thought death means the final end of man’s existence. . . The NT view of death is in direct continuity with the old Jewish view. . . (Vol 3, page 679) Plato provides us with the idea that the soul can be deprived of its body, that it does not come fully into its own until it has been separated from the body, and that it is immortal." Did the Bible teach this? [For details on this subject see the online publication, Where Are the Dead? According to the Bible]

The conductor may ask: "What do some commentators have to say on this subject of the soul?" Sometimes more consistency is realized by reading more than one paragraph. Now consider the next paragraph:

#148. In the Jewish Greek Septuagint the word normally translated "soul", psyche, occurs 900 times. A comparison of these occurrences will reveal over 100 which demonstrate the "soul" to be mortal and destructible. Not once is "soul" connected with immortality. The word "immortality" is used only by Paul and is an attribute of the glorified Christ and the resurrected Saints. (1 Corinthians 15:53, 54; 1 Timothy 6:16) This "immortality" may be attained only upon the resurrection at the Return of Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:23, 50-53)

The conductor may ask: "What might a consideration of the concordance reveal?" It may be necessary to ask brief auxiliary questions to bring out further points. Some may wish to write out these questions in advance, while others may be able to think on their feet and raise these questions as necessary. In this paragraph a number of Bible texts are cited but not quoted. It may be left to the conductor and the needs of the group whether all texts are looked up and read, or just one or two. Good conductors will familiarize themselves with the Bible texts so questions introducing the text may be asked. For example, before reading 1 Corinthians15:23, ask: "While sister Smith reads 1 Corinthians 15:23 find the answer to the question when the resurrection begins."

In paragraph #148 there are two footnotes. These may be used as the conductor feels the need, asking appropriate questions to highlight the points.

After sufficient paragraphs are considered, the conductor may wish to conclude with a question and answer period of ten minutes or so. Some questions raised may be considered more thoroughly in a footnote or another paragraph and these can be used in answering the questions. Other questions of a more difficult nature may find an answer in Nazarene Apocalypse or a Newsletter. If the conductor does not know the answer to some of these questions humility will move him to have the group research this subject for the next meeting. He may have to consult with a more mature Christian for details that will satisfy the group.

A concluding summary, either as a brief one or two minute talk or some review questions, should bring the Bible discussion to a close. The conductor may wish to whet the appetite for next week’s lesson by raising questions, problems, or Bible texts which will be considered. Of course, it is most appropriate to end with a prayer of gratitude.

Such Bible discussions or meetings which are held in "home churches" are often very encouraging if followed by some Christian hospitality for those who can remain. This, of course, ought to be done with respect for the household and with this in mind no doubt will conclude after a reasonable time.

Other subjects may be considered as there is a need. For example, perhaps a more thorough consideration of "soul" is necessary and this may be found in the publication Where are the Dead? or a specific newsletter article such as The Resurrection According to Paul. These may be inserted to give more thorough consideration to a question which presents a problem for some. Other publications may be Nazarene Community, Nazarene Commandments, Nazarene Apocalypse, Nazarene Mountain Teachings, or over a dozen newsletters with a variety of topics.

Using this simple format -- and with a little preparation and fore-thought -- anyone may conduct such a private Bible discussion or home church meeting using Nazarene Principles or other publications. Whatever method is used and whoever conducts such discussions and meetings -- may they be blessed by the God and Father of our Lord the Nazarene so that all may grow in love, faith, and spiritual comprehension.


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"THINK JUST AS CHRIST THOUGHT!"

CHRISTIAN THINKING AND THE "MIND OF CHRIST"

The very idea that disciples of the Nazarene ought to strive with all their energy to think like Christ is pause for anxiety. Most feel they fall so far short of the perfect mind of Christ as to be discouraged by any encouragement to think as he did. (Romans 7:13-24) However, more than once that is exactly what the Bible directs: Think Just As Christ Thought.

For example, Paul makes a loving appeal to the Philippian congregation to keep the mind of Christ: "Let this thinking [Greek = phroneite = minding] be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 2:5 UBS Interlinear; BECK: Think just as Christ Jesus thought) To the Corinthians, Paul wrote: "We have the mind [Greek = noun] of Christ. ... Become imitators of me as I also am of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:16; 11:1 UBS Interlinear) Indeed, when Paul felt he did not speak after Christ’s example he said so. (2 Corinthians 11:17)

Peter also points to Christ as a role-model: "Christ ... left you an example [model] so that you might follow closely in his footsteps." (1 Peter 2:21; Revelation 14:4) Peter uses the Greek word hypo-grammon which means under + writing. It originally carried the idea of a student writing underneath the penmanship of the teacher just as children still do in primary school. In this effort, students seek to copy as closely as possible the cursive strokes of the teacher. Just so, a disciple of the Nazarene was to follow the footsteps of the Master as closely as possible. (Revelation 14:4; Matthew 16:24) In order to do this such a follower of Christ must learn to think even as he did.

WHAT CHARACTERIZED THE THINKING OF CHRIST?

Think Just As Christ Thought? How would we summarize Christ’s model? What words would best describe his character? What was his thinking?

1. THE WILL OF THE FATHER

The Son of God was driven by one motivation: the approval of his Father. The Nazarene told his disciples: "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me. ... I always do the things pleasing to my Father." (John 4:34; 8:29)

Paul writes about this character when he encouraged the Philippians to "keep the mind of Christ." Philippians 2:5-7 outlines the thinking of Christ which we should learn to imitate: "Have the same attitude that Christ had. ... He emptied himself and consented to take on the nature of a slave. ... He humbled himself and became obedient unto death." (Modern Versions) The phrase "same attitude" is rendered variously: WEY: same disposition; MOF: same spirit; BECK: think just as Christ Jesus thought.

Several characteristics are prominent here: Jesus denied his own personal interests; he followed a humble course; and, he was obedient to that kind of death foretold by the prophet -- a sacrificial one which included suffering. (Isaiah chapter 53)

Jesus was the perfect role model for those persons who will inherit the promises of God. Paul concludes what kind of attitude all creatures will ultimately have to display in 1 Corinthians 15:28, " ... that God may be everything to everyone." (Moffatt) To Jesus God was "everything." The Father was the single focus of Christ’s life. This involved that quality of faith. At the end of his life, in one of his final prayers, he said to his Father: "I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do." (John 17:4 RSV) So, if we examine the life of Christ as recorded by the Gospels we will see what God’s will for him was and how he carried that out. This mind-set of Jesus, however, involved another important characteristic.

2. LOVING INTEREST IN OTHERS

The motivating factor in the coming of Christ in the person of Jesus the Nazarene was love for mankind. In Philippians, before Paul pointed to the example of Christ, he had made this appeal to that congregation: "So by the stimulus of Christ, by every incentive of love, by all your affectionate tenderness, make my best hopes for you come true by your mutual identity of purpose, united in mutual love, with harmony of feeling giving your minds to one and the same object: stop acting from motives of selfish strife or petty ambition, but with low thoughts of self, let each one of you regard one another as more important than himself. Stop looking after your own interests but practice looking out for the interests of others." (Philippians 2:1-4 Modern Versions; compare 1 Corinthians 10:24)

Paul then goes on to point to the example of Jesus Christ in these matters: thinking of others instead of self. He paints the image of the celestial being who became Jesus Christ the Nazarene as someone who existed in a divine form (likely his position as the divine Word -- John 1:1). When the time and opportunity came to fulfillment, the Son did not look after his own interests as second in relation to God. When thinking of this lofty position in the heavenly realms as God’s Spokesman -- and as the creative agency whose very "word upholds all things" -- the Son did not grab to his breast this privilege as if he were reluctant to give it up in order to travel to earth in expedite God’s will. (Hebrews 11:3; Proverbs 8:22-30)

That fondness was described of personified Wisdom in Proverbs 8:31: "I was with (Yahweh) as a confidant, a source of delight every day, rejoicing in His inhabited world, finding delight with mankind." (JPS; compare NWT, "I was fond of (mankind).") After all, the Son had been present and heard with rejoicing the words: "Let us make mankind in our image." (Genesis 1:26; Job 38:7) From the very start, the Son of God agreed with the creation of humans and was "fond" of mankind in general. No wonder when the time came for God’s "work" it required such a Son to sacrifice his celestial existence with all of its unimaginable glory. This Son did not hesitate with any self-centered or ego-centric thoughts. He jumped at the opportunity to do God’s will! It truly was just like "food" to him -- no matter what was required.

This was not a case of moving from the celestial to the terrestrial and then be a god-king here. No! He had to empty himself of all his rights and privileges -- and former experiences with God -- and be reduced to something "less than angels." (Hebrews 2:7) More, he would have to suffer as a human a death which for all observable purposes was a rejection by God as well as having all the appearances of being an apostate and criminal. No creature of God ever moved so far and so low in order to help others than the Son of God.

To what could we compare such a loving interest in others -- to his own injury and pain? What great religious leader of any contemporary sect or organization would be willing to sacrifice his office with all its perks -- leaving the comfort, for example, of a well-appointed hotel room with a Manhattan view (fully equipped with an ample liquor cabinet) and follow, say, in the footsteps of Mother Teresa in the AIDS-ridden slums of Calcutta? Or, to loose himself (or, herself) in the malaria ridden jungles of Africa with missionary doctor xxx xxxx? Also, beyond this, to receive no Nobel laureate applauds of peers, but to be rejected as a leprous apostate and then die a slow and agonizing death, abandoned by dearest friends? Surely, the prophet foretold the attitude of the Jews regarding Messiah, "He was despised, shunned by (Jewish) men, a man of suffering, familiar with disease. ... He was despised, we (Jews) held him of no account." (Isaiah 53:3 JPS) Despite all of this no man in history has personified love more than Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

The night before his death Jesus expressed his love for his disciples, whom he now calls "friends." He told them, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." (John 15:12, 13 RSV) Surely, not just his death, but his entire sacrificial life was an example of this great love. Jesus was a loving person characterized by thinking of others, and this in obedience to his Father’s will.

The beloved apostle John was present that evening and the words of the Nazarene here are echoed by this disciple in his general letter. John writes: "Whoever does not love abides in death. ... We know love by this, that hr laid down his life for us --- and we ought to lay down our lives for one another." (1 John 3:14-16 RSV) John explains how this love is manifest when he continues: "How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help?" (1 John 3:17 RSV) Certainly, John could think of his own Lord Jesus who had left the celestial realms and came to a lowly place on earth to teach mankind about love.

Indeed, this subject of love is to fill his ministry -- by teachings and example. A reading of the Sermon on the Mount will reveal how this heaven-sent theme. (See the publication Nazarene Mountain Teachings, a verse by verse commentary on Matthew chapters 5-7.)

So, two things motivated Jesus and caused his thinking to focus on -- not himself -- but, a) obedience to God; and, b) love of others. How can we learn to think this way? Why do we have so much trouble thinking of others before ourselves?

WHY WE ARE NOT MORE LOVING IN OUR THINKING?

Why do so many "Christians" -- those claiming to be disciples of Christ -- demonstrate exactly the opposite of what we have considered above? Where is this Christ-thinking among "Christians"? Why are we not more loving in our thinking? There are several factors working against us.

1. Hard-wired as ego-centric

When God said "let us make mankind in our image" He gave each individual something He possessed. -- individuality with a cosmic-center. (Genesis 1:26) In other words, each "image" of God has this feeling of being the center. We look out through our eyes -- as well as hearing, smelling, and feeling -- a world in which we seem to be the center. As if the entire universe revolves around us as individuals. This is a lovely thought viewed from one perspective. We are alone with our thoughts. No one can "read" or know them -- save God who made us -- and so we have a world view where it appears to us, indeed, that all things are intended for "me" and the ego takes on real meaning. (1 Corinthians 2:11)

Indeed, we were "hard-wired" by our Creator to share His own view -- as though we could see through God’s eyes to some extent and share His absolute sense of individuality. In this regard, we were also "hard-wired" to live forever as humans on an earth cultivated into a global paradise. In one sense we enjoy an inner conviction of our own immortality. (Ecclesiastes 3:11 ASV)

The idea we could die is completely alien to us and this is demonstrated first by most persons’ disinterest in discussing their mortality; and, next, in the extreme efforts many will go to in order to preserve their lives and those of others. (Psalm 49:7-9) This natural instinct of an immortality is demonstrated in the burial practices of virtually every culture who have even inhabited this earth. Surely, any child is unaware of their mortality until it is learned by experience or education. For many this comes as a shock. Many refuse to discuss the subject and ignore the inevitable completely. Thus, proving the creative "hard-wiring" of this carbon life form’s instinctive knowledge of everlasting biogenesis as placed in the bosom of every cosmic-center person. (Genesis 3:22) Of course, there is a problem.

2. An inherited gene and a DNA mutant

Those familiar with the Bible are aware of what went wrong in the Garden of Eden -- rebellion (the exact opposite of the Lord Jesus) against the Creator and Sovereign of the Universe. (See Genesis chapter 2 and 3) It is called "sin" by the Scriptures -- a failure to obey God’s law and to fall short of perfect obedience to the Almighty. (Compare Romans chapter 5)

Because our original parents failed by deliberate disobedience, fostered by personal greed, it was though God removed a single important factor from mankind’s genetic makeup and permitted a mutant influence to the original DNA of Adam and Eve -- sin and death. (Job 14:1-4; Ecclesiastes 7:29) The most far-reaching result was a disastrous impact on how we think -- it perverted our cosmic-centering and over-amplified it so that we all began to take ourselves too seriously -- as gods ourselves. (Genesis 3:5, 22) No one knows more, no one has more power, no one is a better judge than we are. Yet, there is another factor amplifying our arrogance and egotism.

3. Social environment and peer pressure

With thousands of years behind us, generation after generation -- each passing down this defect and that attitude -- we find ourselves surrounded by relatives, friends, and others who influence our own selfishness. It is no secret the 1980s were nicknamed the "Me Generation" which was also, at the same time, the "Pepsi Generation." This self-centeredness has become more and more evident as media observers publish their reports on the human condition. Soon people think, "I am worth it."

The word "self-esteem" has become part of the psycho-babble of this generation. The word has taken on a positive aspect and every kind of emotional illness has been blamed on a lack of "self-esteem" when "self-respect" is really meant. It is a subtle shift. Meanwhile the dictionary gives its second meaning: "undue pride in oneself." Two pages are taken up in the dictionary with hyphenated words beginning with "self" --- self-conceit, self-devotion, self-importance, self-indulgence, self-interest, self-opinionated, self-seeker, self-willed, etc. A generation of self-centered, egotistical men and women is the result with ruined relationships, families, communities, and countries.

More and more the cosmic-centeredness becomes over-inflated as each person becomes a personal island which must be defended at all costs -- the ego gone amuck. It has become nearly impossible for the average person to naturally think of others first and themselves second. None seem to think as Christ: What can I do for others? How may I seek the highest good of my neighbor? What else influences this world selfishness?

4. Enemies Arousing Our Selfish Thinking

We have demonic enemies who have an obsessive disease to become like God. (2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 5:19; Revelation 12:9) Our generation is as though satanic forces have been released from an evil abyss with but one goal -- influence us to become more and more self-centered, the very opposite of Christ-thinking. It is the conviction of many Bible believers that the "god of this world" breathes a foul, death-dealing influencia among earth’s inhabitants -- including professed Christians -- which turns a 90-pound woman surrounded by two tons of steel into a demon on the freeways and auto-bahns of the world. Something that turns a fundamentally good child -- from his mother’s perspective -- into a "drive-by" shooter or suicide bomber. A son loved by a father into a sniper above a school-yard.

Our generation is well described like others before it: "There is a generation that calls down evil even upon its father and that does not bless even its mother. There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes but that has not been washed from its own excrement. There is a generation whose eyes have become O how lofty! and whose beaming eyes are lifted up. There is a generation whose teeth are swords and whose jawbones are slaughtering knives, to eat up the afflicted ones off the earth and the poor ones from among mankind." (Proverbs 30:11-14 NWT)

Many believe this other-worldly influence -- as if aliens from another universe -- has brought the entire planet to a low level of self-thinking so that it is rare to find a Mother Teresa who must be awarded a Nobel prize for her Christianity. Just as Satan tempted Christ with greed and self-doubt so he is engaged in a "war" with Christian saints to destroy their faith and spirituality by corrosive materialistic selfishness. (Matthew 4:1-11; 2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:10-18)

Jesus taught a parable which illustrate how the Devil was at work against the Nazarene’s disciples. Mark 4:14-20 records his words: "The Sower plants the Message. ... As soon as they have heard (the Message) Satan comes and takes away the Word that was planted in them." Satan uses fear in an environment of oppression and persecution. He also seduces by riches as well as its associated anxieties. Mark 4:18, 19 continue the parable: "These are the ones who hear the Message, but the anxieties of the period, and the deceiving pleasures of being rich, as well as greed for material things, work their way in and choke the Message and it becomes unproductive."

CHRIST’S THINKING

Though this is the work of the Devil, there is a large degree of selfish greed on the part of those deceived. They have thought more of themselves and their own comforts and pleasures rather than the needs of others. The Nazarene gives a timely parable showing the extent of this ego-centricity in the illustration of the self-centered farmer. This is found in Luke 12:16-21 and the teaching is prompted by a member of the audience who insisted Jesus settle a matter regarding his inheritance. Jesus caution the whole crowd: "Take care! You must be on your guard against every form of greed for even when a person has more than enough, his wealth does not give him life." (Luke 12:15 GDSP, NEB)

THE RICH, SELF-ABSORBED FARMER

With that in mind, examine the parable. Note the farmer is already well off and prosperous but this does not satisfy him. He plans to expand his agri-business for his own satisfaction. Note how often in this parable the farmer uses the personal pronoun a dozen times. He is thinking only of himself. No where in the parable does the farmer have any plans to care for the needy or share his riches with the poor. Before the farmer can realize his dreams, before he can even begin his selfish expansions, he dies!

Jesus concludes the parable with the moral: "Thus the one saving for himself but not being rich regarding God." (Luke 12:21) How does on become "rich regarding God"? What is it God wants from us in order to become rich from His standpoint? It is interesting how often the Nazarene uses the word "credit" or "reward" when it comes to giving and charitably sharing with others. (Matthew 5:46; 6:1, 2; 10:41, 42; Luke 6:32-35)

This idea of becoming rich in God-things by thinking of others rather than self was not new with the Nazarene. The principle was well established in the Law of Moses and repeated in the Proverbs of Solomon. Moses commands: "In case some one of your brothers becomes poor among you in one of your cities, in your land that Jehovah your God is giving you, you must not harden your heart or be closefisted toward your poor brother. For you should generously open your hand to him and by all means lend him on pledge as much as he needs, which he is in want of. Watch out for yourself for fear a base word should come to be in your heart, saying, 'The seventh year, the year of the release, has come close,' and your eye should indeed become ungenerous toward your poor brother, and you should give him nothing, and he has to call out to Jehovah against you, and it has become a sin on your part. You should by all means give to him, and your heart should not be stingy in your giving to him, because on this account Jehovah your God will bless you in every deed of yours and in every undertaking of yours. For someone poor will never cease to be in the midst of the land. That is why I am commanding you, saying, 'You should generously open up your hand to your afflicted and poor brother in your land.'" (Deuteronomy 15:7-11 NWT)

The Proverbs echo the Law: "He that is defrauding the lowly one has reproached his Maker, but the one showing favor to the poor one is glorifying Him." (Proverbs 14:31) "He that is holding the one of little means in derision has reproached his Maker." (Proverbs 17:5) "He that is showing favor to the lowly one is lending to Jehovah, and his treatment He will repay to him." (Proverbs 19:7 NWT)

AN EGOTISTIC KING

In his own historical period king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon thought too highly of himself and showed himself to be an egomaniac. Daniel 4:27 records: "While strolling on the roof of the royal palace in Babylon, the king was saying, ‘ Great Babylon! Was it not built by me as a royal residence, b y the force of my might and for the majesty of my glory?’" Instantly what was foretold earlier in the same chapter befell him from Heaven.

A SATANIC EGOIST

Isaiah 14:13, 14 reports on a satanic king who’s actions were like a fallen angel, Lucifer: "You used to think to yourself: ‘I shall scale the heavens; higher than the stars of God I shall set me throne. I shall sit on the Mount of Assembly far away to the north. I shall climb high above the clouds, I shall rival the Most High.’" (NJB)

Paul, in listing the qualifications of elders and deacons, includes the Devil in his warning regarding pride: " ... not a newly converted man, for fear that he might get puffed up [with pride] and fall into the judgment passed upon the Devil." (1 Timothy 3:6 NWT) Paul suggests pride -- exaggerated self-esteem -- was the reason the Devil came into judgment by God.

A PRIDEFUL CAPITALIST WHO FORGETS GOD

Something not necessarily wrong in itself, but which leaves God out of the equation, can lead to an excessive belief in one’s own merits. James 4:13-17 reads in part: "Come now, you who boast, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into this city and spend a year there engaging in business and making profits. ... Rather you should say, ‘If the Lord wills we will do this or that.’ But now you boast in your self-assumptions. Such boasting is wicked. Therefore, if one knows what is right but fails to do it -- it is a sin to him."

The Book of Proverbs makes several warnings about pride and haughtiness. God states: "I hate pride and arrogance." (Proverbs 8:13) What materialistic property gained by such godless egotism will prove no security at all: "The Lord will destroy the house of the proud." (Proverbs 15:25) The better choice is given in Proverbs 16:18, 19: "Pride comes before disaster, and arrogance before a fall! Better sit humbly with those in need than divide spoil with the proud." (NEB) Echoing the words of James above, Proverbs 27:1 counsels: "Do not flatter yourself about tomorrow." (YLT)

THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST

Over and over in the Gospels we find examples of this Christ-thinking. We see Jesus highly conscious of the needs of others; and most often their physical well-being but also in their standing with God. The Nazarene shows his interest in social outcasts like lepers and occupying Roman army officers, as well as the sickness of a woman. (Matthew 8:1-17) He is accused of associating with sinners and tax-collectors. (Matthew 9:9-13) An "unclean" woman is healed by a touch. (Matthew 9:19-22) Even a demonize person, whose behavior must have been something highly objectionable by Jewish society, does not escape the loving interest of Jesus. (Matthew 9:32-34)

Jesus even shows his interest in a non-Jewish woman to whom he admits he was not sent. Despite doing what he had said was "wrong" he heals this woman. (Matthew 15:21-28) The Nazarene is keenly aware -- or, interested -- in the hunger of a crowd of thousands, and then feeds them all by a miracle. (Matthew 15:32-39) His own disciples are shocked to find him teaching a woman in private, let alone a person considered a demonized apostate by the Jews in general. (John 4:7-30; 8:48)

CHRIST-THINKING: LOVE OF GOD AND NEIGHBOR

When his religious opponents tried to trap Jesus in his speech they asked a loaded question: what is the greatest commandment? The Nazarene’s answer was two-fold: a) to love God with all one’s entire heart, soul, strength and mind; and, b) to love one’s neighbor as your own self. (Luke 10:25-28) However, the trick question was propounded, "Who is my ‘neighbor’?" Jesus then went on to give the famous parable of the Good Samaritan. (Luke 10:29-37) Today many countries have what is called or amounts to "Good Samaritan Law."

In this parable we see what Christ-thinking is: unselfish interest in another’s welfare manifest by considerable charity. However, Jesus amplifies the whole matter by including the illustration of two cultural-religious enemies who had demonstrated a long history of mutual hatred. (Ezra 4:1, 2) The Jews considered the Samaritans demonized apostates and had no dealings with them. (John 4:9; 8:48) What must, therefore, have been to their surprise, the unloving in the parable were Jews -- and temple religionists at that -- and the loving one was a Samaritan! The Samaritan demonstrates Christ-thinking: an interest in others rejected by society with any hidden agenda or greedy motivations. The Samaritan -- "moved with pity" -- stops what his own journey must have been, attends to the wounds of the injured Jew, takes him to an inn, and gives the inn-keeper what amounts to two days wages. Further, the loving Samaritan assures the inn-keeper that he will cover any additional expenses upon his return.

This parable is as timely today as it was two thousand years ago. Today many religionists are quite willing to "love" those members of their own organization or church, but have all kinds of excuses for avoiding charitable kindness to modern "Samaritans" -- demonized religious apostates. These forget that the Nazarene taught there was no "credit" in "loving those who love you." (Matthew 5:46-48) No such "love" -- which may have its hidden agendas -- would perk God’s own interest in such people. However, God does note in His book of accounts those charitable acts toward the "unrighteous" as well as the "wicked and unthankful." (Matthew 5:45; Luke 6:35)

LEARNING TO THINK LIKE CHRIST

How can each disciple of the Nazarene learn to think of others first and only after to think of self? Paul gives one of the finest summaries when he lists those characteristics of the transformed mind. In Romans 12:2 Paul makes this appeal: "Do not conform to this present time period. Rather, metamorphose by the renewing of your mind." He then goes on to list those attributes of the renewed mind: Love unhypocritically. ... Stick to the good. In brotherly love by tenderly affectionate to one another. Take the lead in showing respect. ... Share with the saints in their need. Pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute. Do not curse them. Rejoice with the joyful. Weep with those crying. Think of others as you would yourselves. Do not think too highly of yourself but be willing to associate with the lowly. Do not be conceited. Never return evil with evil. With others watching, think well of others first. As far as possible be peaceable with everyone. Do not avenge yourselves, beloved. Rather, yield to wrath. ... Do not let the bad conquer you but rather conquer the bad by your good." (Romans 12:9-21)

A new disciple, just embarking on the Christine footpath, may find the above daunting. This "metamorphosis" of the renewed mind takes time and continues throughout the Christian life. However, after a person has been following the Nazarene for some years, these characteristics ought to become more and more pronounced. Others who observe these progressive changes in your life and attitude ought to discern how much your thinking has become more and more Christ-like. In time, given strong discipline on your part, the Christ-thinking will become natural. Your first and initial reactions to any given situation will always be: How can I love this person? What do I need to do to seek their highest good?

One of the most important factors in this new Christ-thinking is to allow a pause -- enough time for you to make the simple decision to seek the highest good of your fellow. Usually quick and rash thoughts, speech, and actions are self-serving, not self-less. Time and your determination to walk after Christ will help you to struggle to conquer those tendencies to see and judge every circumstance as to how it benefits you. One must training the mind to think less of ME and more of YOU.

Consider a few examples where just the single quality of patience will manifest Christ-thinking. You are in a line (or que) and the clerk is having difficulty and is slow, or the customer is taking an unusual amount of time. Others in the que become irritable and unsettled. How do you feel or react? Do you say something unkind and whisper frustrations under your breath? Why not relax and be patient? An ego-centric person who believes the whole world revolves around him is convinced the whole process is there just for him and no one else is important.

On the highway (freeway, parkway) some one merges dangerously, cutting off others to get into the flow of traffic. Another driver needs to merge but no one will pause to allow this. How do you respond? Are you honking your horn and pounding the steering wheel, perhaps uttering coarse suggestions your mother would disapprove?

Someone among your peers is exalted with special praise and privileges. How do you react? Do you share their joy and honor? Or, do you find yourself speaking negatively about your associate? Picture yourself in an orchestra about ready to support an famous opera singer. You play the piccolo and have only a few prominenct bars. The spot lights are focused on this soloist. Do you resent the spotlight being on this individual? Or, do you realize you are part of an entire orchestra which is necessary to provide the symphonic melodies in harmony with the singer? Finding our place in the fulfillment of God’s will is often one of the most difficult things for all of us to appreciate.

One of the most graphic manifestations of self-absorption or ego-centricity is the use of the tongue. Consider: three people are talking and one of them leaves. Do you find yourself saying something negative about the person in their absence? Why? Is it because you wish to exalt yourself over another human being? Or, a friend comes to you with a bit of gossip (news-mongering) which tends to place another in a poor light? How do you respond to this? Do you make excuses for the subject of the gossip if you believe what has been said to be true, though damaging? Can you find it in yourself to treat others as you would be treated?

Slander -- spreading an untruth which is derogatory to another’s reputation -- is highly condemned in the Bible. Indeed, Jesus says everyone of else will be judged by how we spoke about others. You are with a group of people and someone praises another who is absent. Do you find yourself saying something to undermine this praise -- perhaps something untrue or exaggerated? Why? Is it because you cannot stand seeing the spotlight taken off yourself? Do you go so far as to spread a rumor -- or start one -- which down-grades a person and damages their reputation? Do you wish to be spoken of in this manner? Why do it to others? If one persists in this kind of slander the Golden Rule has been thrown to the ground and trampled on. One is in severe danger of being parted from Christ.

There is a weighty thought that may result in thinking less of oneself and more of others. No doubt it was something Christ thought of daily: his ultimate judgment before the God of the universe. When we realize there is to be only one trip through this journey called life and that this experience is to be judged by the Almighty -- it is a sobering thought. (Hebrews 9:27) Additionally, if we realize this judgment will be largely based on how we treated others, there ought to be a strong impetus to begin each day with that thought in mind: How can I treat others today the way I would be treated? It might be the last entry into that record the Judge of all the earth is keeping on your personal life. (Matthew 12:36, 37; Romans 2:16; Matthew 25:31-46)

VICTORY OVER SELF!

The problem of our self-view might be reflected in what was an ongoing point of dissension among Jesus’ own apostles: who was the greatest among them? (Luke 9:46-48; 22:24-27; compare Matthew 18:1-4; 23:11) Consider the following submission about Gaining Victory over Self.

When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation, or to record your own good works, or itch after commendation, when you can truly love to be unknown...That is VICTORY OVER SELF!

When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart or even defend yourself, but take it all in patient loving silence...That is VICTORY OVER SELF!

When you are content with any food, any offering, any raiment, any climate, any society, any solitude, any interruption by the will of God....That is VICTORY OVER SELF!

When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, any impunctuality, or any annoyance; when you can stand face to face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensibility...and endure it as Jesus endured it...That is VICTORY OVER SELF!

When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself, and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart...That is VICTORY OVER SELF!

When you can see your brother prosper and have his needs met, and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and in desperate circumstances...That is VICTORY OVER SELF!

When you are forgotten, or neglected, or purposely set at naught, and you don't sting and hurt with the insult, or the oversight, but your heart is happy, being counted worthy to suffer for Christ...That is VICTORY OVER SELF! (Author Unknown)

Just as so many people post notes to themselves, or place magnetic "inspirations" on the refrigerator door, to one’s everlasting good it would be wise to memorize: "Seek not your own good, but that of others." (1 Corinthians 10:24) And, then, strive your best to do this each and every day: Think Just As Christ Thought!

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"The English word ‘tribulation’ was derived from the Latin tribulum, which was the threshing instrument, ... which separated the corn from the husks and tribulation’s primary significance was the act of this separation. But some Latin writer of the Christian Church appropriated the work and image for the setting forth of a higher truth." (On the Study of Words - F Fenton 1861)


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NAZARENE Commandments

Email version published by Anonymous Nazarene Saints.

(c) Copyright. 1997. All Rights Reserved.

[Text equals about 28 printed pages or 13, 616 words.]

The Nazarene Saints permit the reproduction of "Nazarene Commandments" as free gifts to friends and relatives. The manuscript may not be altered in any manner. [All quotes are from the New World Translation.]

INTRODUCTION

Jesus Christ the Nazarene spoke with love to his private disciples on that Passover night: "If you love me, you will observe my commandments. you are my friends if you do what I am commanding you." (John 14:15; 15:14) Surely, they understood the need to be familiar with what their Lord had taught during the past three years. They remember their Lord had on many occasions told them, "Do not" do this, or, "Stop" doing that. They also knew he had stated many "commandments" in a positive tone by saying "do this" or "become that." Thus they knew they could prepare a list of the Nazarene Commandments in both their positive and negative forms. They knew also there were certain fundamental principles or basic truths which were not precisely "commandments" but mere statements of fact which carried the idea of a "commandment."

Showing the need to put into action what Jesus teaches is the conclusion to the Mountain Teachings (or, Plain Teachings): "Why, then, do you call me 'Lord! Lord!' but do not do the things I say? Everyone that comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug and went down deep and laid a foundation upon the rock-mass. Consequently, when a flood arose, the river dashed against that house, but was not strong enough to shake it, because of its being well built. On the other hand, he who hears and does not do, is like a man who built a house upon the ground without a foundation. Against it the river dashed, and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house became great." (Luke 6:46-49) Those who would claim Jesus is their Lord are charged to actually live what the Nazarene taught.

The Nazarene expresses this need to keep his commandments in numerous places. Compare some of these. "Happy are those hearing the word of God and keeping it!" (Luke 11:28) "When you have done all the things assigned to you, say, 'We are good-for-nothing slaves. What we have done is what we ought to have done.'" (Luke 17:10)

Some Christians make much of the details of their formalism or religiosity but ignore the weightier matters, as Jesus puts it to those in his day: "But woe to you Pharisees, because you give the tenth of the mint and the rue and of every [other] vegetable, but you pass by the justice and the love of God! These things you were under obligation to do, but those other things not to omit." (Luke 11:42)

When a disciple of the Nazarene publicly confesses "Jesus Christ is Lord" he acknowledges his need to be obedient to his King. (Romans 10:9, 10) The Nazarene’s beloved apostle John teaches obedience must accompany conviction: "For (the) God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. ... And, this is the judgment, that the Light has has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the Light and do not come to the Light so their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the Light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God. ... Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath." (John 3:16, 19-21 , 36 RSV) Jesus also made it clear that obedience is necessary.

Paul makes the same comment in the Letter to the Hebrews: "Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what Hebrews suffered; and having been made perfect, Hebrews became Hebrews source of eternal salvation for all who obey him." (Hebrews 5:8, 9 RSV) Salvation is dependent on obedience to the Lord.

The Nazarene warns that on the judgment day of his own Household some will claim to have performed grand religious works. However, note the response of the King: "Not everyone saying to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. Many will say to me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?' And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness." (Matthew 7:21-23) The same is illustrated in the parable of the sheep and goats. (Matthew 25:31-46)

Commandments which apply to certain individuals are not necessarily meant as a rule for all persons. The Nazarene commands his personal apostles to sell everything and give it to charity. (Luke 12:33) This may not necessarily be a rule for others. In one case he speaks directly to one individual, but the principle may be one to think about. "Next he proceeded to say also to the man that invited him: "When you spread a dinner or evening meal, do not call your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors. Perhaps sometime they might also invite you in return and it would become a repayment to you. But when you spread a feast, invite poor people, crippled, lame, blind; and you will be happy, because they have nothing with which to repay you. For you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous ones." (Luke 14:12-14) This is seen also in the Nazarene’s specific instructions to his apostles -- and then the Seventy -- on how to carry out their ministry. Much of what he says may not apply to modern disciples, though one could apply to themselves certain principles.

How many "commandments" are included in the teachings of the Nazarene? Though these figures may vary according to translation and personal views it is interesting to note these. There are about a dozen negative commandments. There are 32 positive commandments. There are 19 principles which can identify the Christian character. The Nazarene "commandments" total about 63 which is one-tenth of the Mosaic Law.

What categories do they cover? What is omitted? The following work, NAZARENE COMMANDMENTS, is a compilation of the teachings of Jesus which involve the Christian character in the form of principles, as well as negative and positive commandments. We have prepared these by drawing from the four Gospels and putting them under several headings with a brief commentary. Not all verses are cited but these may be found by cross-referencing. There are also longer parables which may be part of the teachings involved below. [For details on Matthew 5-7 see the work NAZARENE MOUNTAIN TEACHINGS.]

I. NEGATIVE COMMANDMENTS

These are specific commands that usually begin, "Stop," or, "Do not." These words occur upwards of 200 times in the Gospels.

#1 -- DO NOT STUMBLE OTHERS

There is a very serious danger that a Christian never do anything to stumble others. (Romans 14:13, 30; 16:17; 1 Corinthians 8:9) The Nazarene warned: "Woe to the world due to the stumbling blocks! Of course, the stumbling blocks must of necessity come, but woe to the man through whom the stumbling block comes! If, then, your hand or your foot is making you stumble, cut it off and throw it away from you; it is finer for you to enter into life maimed or lame than to be thrown with two hands or two feet into the everlasting fire. Also, if your eye is making you stumble, tear it out and throw it away from you; it is finer for you to enter one-eyed into life than to be thrown with two eyes into the fiery Ge·hen'na. See to it that you men do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that their angels in heaven always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 18:7-12) The Nazarene teaches his own angels will remove from his kingdom all those who caused stumbling during their life-times at the harvest-judgment. (Matthew 13:41)

#2 -- DO NOT TEST GOD

Jesus warns of this when responding to the Devil’s temptation. "You must not put Jehovah your God to the test." (Matthew 4:7; Exodus 16:8; Psalm 78:18; 106:14) This could include some action which would test God’s willingness to save. Or, it can mean something like: "Do not push God too far in testing His tolerance, testing his mercies and justice."

#3 -- DO NOT RESIST THE WICKED

The Nazarene commands a peaceful and law-abiding disposition when it comes to oppressive authority. "Do not resist him that is wicked; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other also to him. And if a person wants to go to court with you and get possession of your inner garment, let your outer garment also go to him; and if someone under authority impresses you into service for a mile, go with him two miles." (Matthew 5:39-41) From this comes the familiar, "go the extra mile." The Nazarene teaches his disciples to comply with the civil authorities and thus many civil rights movements have been patterned after this civil non-resistance. (Romans 13:1-7)

#4 -- DO NOT MAKE RELIGIOUS DISPLAYS

A problem with seriously religious people is their egotistic drive to make a show of it. The Nazarene clearly commands against this kind of hypocrisy and self-righteousness. "Take good care not to practice your righteousness in front of men in order to be observed by them. Hence when you go making gifts of mercy, do not blow a trumpet ahead of you, just as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be glorified by men. Truly I say to you, They are having their reward in full." (Matthew 6:1-3) The Nazarene lists righteous displays, charity, fasting and prayers in this category. "When you pray, you must not be as the hypocrites ... to be visible to men. when you pray, go into your private room and, after shutting your door, pray to your Father who is in secret; but when praying, do not say the same things over and over again using of many words." (Matthew 6:5-8) "When fasting, stop becoming sad-faced like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Truly I say to you, They are having their reward in full. But you, when fasting, grease your head and wash your face, that you may appear to be fasting, not to men, but to your Father who is in secrecy; then your Father who is looking on in secrecy will repay you." (Matthew 6:16-18)

#5 -- DO NOT STORE UP TREASURES

Even a casual reading of the Mountain Teachings (Matthew 5-7) or the Gospel of Luke will reveal what the Nazarene taught on the subject of riches, material things, or possessions. Jesus commanded: "Stop storing up for yourselves treasures upon the earth." (Matthew 6:19)

Paul uses this same word translated "storing up" (THESAURIZON) in 1 Corinthians 16:2 where it deals with setting aside or saving a surplus to be able to give to others in charity. (Compare also Ephesians 4:28) These are the only places in the Christian Bible where saving is encouraged; and, the motivation is charity in both cases.

#6 -- DO NOT BE OVERLY CONCERNED

Or, "Stop being anxious." The Nazarene had much to say on this subject of daily anxieties and concern over daily needs. The life-style of Jesus, his disciples, including later the apostle Paul, demonstrates what the Christ meant by these instructions. Consider some of these. "Stop being anxious about your souls as to what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your bodies as to what you will wear." (Matthew 6:25) "So never be anxious and say, 'What are we to eat?' or, 'What are we to drink?' or, 'What are we to put on?'" (Matthew 6:31) "Have no fear; you are worth more than many sparrows." (Luke 12:7) "So, never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties. Sufficient for each day is its own badness." (Matthew 6:34)

"Quit being anxious about your souls as to what you will eat or about your bodies as to what you will wear. For the soul is worth more than food and the body than clothing. Mark well that the ravens neither sow seed nor reap, and they have neither barn nor storehouse, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more worth are you than birds? Who of you by being anxious can add a cubit to his life span? If, therefore, you cannot do the least thing, why be anxious about the remaining things? Mark well how the lilies grow; they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, Not even Sol'o·mon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these. If, now, God thus clothes the vegetation in the field that today exists and tomorrow is cast into an oven, how much rather will he clothe you, you with little faith! So quit seeking what you might eat and what you might drink, and quit being in anxious suspense; for all these are the things the nations of the world are eagerly pursuing, but your Father knows you need these things. Nevertheless, seek continually his kingdom, and these things will be added to you." (Luke 12:22-31) "Do not let your hearts be troubled." (John 14:1)

# 7 -- DO NOT JUDGE OTHERS

The human tendency to be critical or judgmental of others is amplified by a self-righteous religious environment. Some not only wrongly judge "those outside" (1 Corinthians 5:12, 13) but begin to judge one another with the result of mutual annihilation. (Galatians 5:15) Paul devotes much space to this subject of judging others. (Romans chs 2, 14) It is a sub-theme in the Letter of James. (James 2:4, 12; 4:11, 12; 5:9) Consider the Nazarene’s commandments on avoiding the judgmental attitude. "Stop judging that you may not be judged; for with what judgment you are judging, you will be judged." (Matthew 7:1, 2) "Moreover, stop judging, and you will by no means be judged; and stop condemning, and you will by no means be condemned. Keep on releasing, and you will be released." (Luke 6:37) "Why, then, do you look at the straw that is in your brother's eye, but do not observe the rafter that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, allow me to extract the straw that is in your eye,' while you yourself are not looking at the rafter in that eye of yours? Hypocrite! First extract the rafter from your own eye, and then you will see clearly how to extract the straw that is in your brother's eye." (Luke 6:41-42) "Stop judging from the outward appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." (John 7:24)

#8 -- DO NOT FEAR MEN

Peer pressure can easily evolve into fear of man. Fear is one of the Devil’s most effective methods. Most people crave the approval of their associates and depending on the social and cultural environment will strive to mold into a person acceptable to the majority. Jesus commanded: "Do not become fearful of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; but rather be in fear of him that can destroy both soul and body in Ge·hen'na." (Matthew 10:28)

#9 -- DO NOT DIVORCE SAVE FOR ADULTERY

The subject of divorce came up among Jewish men during the ministry of the Nazarene. The Law and Jewish culture provide a wide range of reasons for male divorce and none for female divorce. The Nazarene limits the reason for divorce, both male and female, to one ground: adultery or sexual infidelity. "I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except on the ground of fornication, and marries another commits adultery." (Matthew 19:9) "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if ever a woman, after divorcing her husband, marries another, she commits adultery." (Mark 10:11, 12) Paul did not permit a man married more than once to become an "overseer." (1 Timothy 3:2)

#10 -- DO NOT HINDER CHILDREN

The Nazarene was tender in his treatment of children and he is often seen touching them or using them as examples of humility and faith. "Let the young children alone, and stop hindering them from coming to me, for the kingdom of the heavens belongs to suchlike ones." (Matthew 19:14) Very young children are generally non-judgmental, sensitive to fairness, and above all, trusting.

#11 -- DO NOT ACCEPT TITLES

All cultures and religions have a hierarchy which receive certain designations of honor or identification: doctor, master, reverend, father. The Nazarene taught there was to be only one rabbi, teacher, leader, or spiritual father. Rather, all should view one another as brothers or servants of the others. "But you, do not you be called Rabbi, for one is your teacher, whereas all you are brothers. Moreover, do not call anyone your father on earth, for one is your Father, the heavenly One. Neither be called 'leaders,' for your Leader is one, the Christ. But the greatest one among you must be your minister. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Matthew 23:8-12)

#12 -- DO NOT MAKE OATHS

Some see this as prohibiting business "contracts" other than over a hand shake. Others do not. The later phrase shows the seriousness with which the Nazarene held the matter of oaths. "Do not swear at all (but) let your word Yes mean Yes, your No, No; for what is in excess of these is from the wicked one." (Matthew 5:34, 37)

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THOUGHTS ON THE PROVERBS

["Thoughts on the Proverbs" is a new feature of the newsletter. It is a consideration of various verses in the Book of Proverbs. Beginning with chapter 13 each verse has a summary. Each verse includes a translation comparison, cross references, a brief note, and on some verses word studies.]

PROVERBS 1:1-4 -- THE PURPOSE OF PROVERBS

Proverbs 1:1 -- The proverbs of Sol'o·mon the son of David, the king of Israel,

CROSS REF: 1 Kings 4:32 = proverbs; Ecclesiastes 12:9 = words

FTN: The Hebrew title after the opening word Mish-leh’ (see Numbers 23:7)

NOTE: "For one to know wisdom and discipline, to discern the sayings of understanding, to receive the discipline that gives insight, righteousness and judgment and uprightness, to give to the inexperienced ones shrewdness, to a young man knowledge and thinking ability." (Proverbs 1:2-4) "The purpose is that you may walk in the way of good people and that the paths of the righteous ones you may keep." (Proverbs 2:20)

Proverbs 1:2 -- for one to know wisdom and discipline, to discern the sayings of understanding,

TRANS: JB: understanding words of deep meaning

CROSS REF: 2 Timothy 3:16 = inspired; Hebrews 12:7 = discipline

NOTE Not a mere collection of facts to impress others but wise sayings to guide a life.

Proverbs 1:3 -- to receive the discipline that gives insight, righteousness and judgment and uprightness,

TRANS: NEB: gain a well-instructed intelligence

NOTE: Four results and factors in true discipline. "There is no relation in life which has not its appropriate instruction, no good or evil tendency without its proper incentive or correction. The human consciousness is everywhere brought into immediate relation with the Divine, . . . and man walks as in the presence of his Maker and Judge . . . Every type of humanity is found in this ancient book; and though sketched three thousand years ago, is still as true to nature as if now drawn from its living representative." (Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, 1890, Vol. III, page 2616)

Proverbs 1:4 -- to give to the inexperienced ones shrewdness, to a young man knowledge and thinking ability.

NOTE: How is any young person to learn the correct and godly way to conduct oneself and thus be recognized by others to be wise, discerning, shrewd, insightful, righteous, upright, and a thoughtful person?

 

Proverbs 2:1-5 -- HOW TO KNOW GOD AND HIS WISDOM

Proverbs 2:1 -- My son, if you will receive my sayings and treasure up my own commandments with yourself,

TRANS: SPRL: accept my words; MOF: take to heart; BAS: take my words to your heart, storing up my laws in your mind

CROSS REF: Job 23:12 = treasure sayings

NOTE: With verse 1 begin eight steps or exhortations to attain wisdom and the knowledge of God. The word "treasure" is used 3x in vss 1, 4, 7 and it is a word Jesus used often regarding the heart. (6x in Matthew; 6x in Luke) "Treasure" occurs 41x with first at Genesis 43:23. "Treasure up" occurs 4x, also at Proverbs 7:1 and Proverbs 10:14. Interestingly the word for "treasure" in Greek is the English word thesaurus. The LXX uses krypses (cryptic).

Proverbs 2:2 -- so as to pay attention to wisdom with your ear, that you may incline your heart to discernment;

TRANS: JPS: make thine ear attend; AAT: applying your mind to reason; JB: tuning your ear; KNX: ear attentive ... mind eager to attain

CROSS REF: Proverbs 1:5 = wisdom; Hebrews 5:14 = use

NOTE: It is the "ear" which hears oral teaching, the main method of learning in God’s nation of Israel. (See Acts 18:25) But, the motive or inclination must be present first as a driving force to actuate interest -- an awareness of the need for spirituality and a reverence for God.

WORDS: Wisdom occurs 285x in the Bible, 49x in Proverbs, 19x 1 Corinthians; Ear occurs 154x in the Bible, 12x in Proverbs, 29x in Psalms, 8x in Revelation; Heart occurs 1,019x in the Bible; 98x in Proverbs; 136x in Psalms; 16x in Acts.

 

Proverbs 2:3 -- if, moreover, you call out for understanding itself and you give forth your voice for discernment itself,

TRANS: MOF: cry to intelligence

CROSS REF: 1 Kings 3:11 = request; Philippians 1:9 = discernment

NOTE: One must ask with a certain vigor of voice to be heard. Professor R. C. Dentan, writing in The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible (edited by G. Buttrick, 1962, Vol. 4, p. 733), says: "The root bin means primarily 'to discern with the senses,' 'to perceive distinctions,' then 'to give close attention to,' and finally-particularly in the derived stems-'to gain comprehension' or 'give' it to others." Hebrew scholar Gesenius gives the basic sense as "to separate, to distinguish; . . . hence to discern, to mark, to understand, all [of] which depend on the power of separating, distinguishing, discriminating." (A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, translated by E. Robinson, 1836, p. 140)

WORDS: Understanding occurs 131x in the Bible; 26x in Proverbs; 17x in Job; Discernment occurs 37x in the Bible and 19x in Proverbs.

 

Proverbs 2:4 -- if you keep seeking for it as for silver, and as for hid treasures you keep searching for it,

TRANS: KJ: her; NEB: dig

MARG: Psalm 19:10 = desire

NOTE: If anything "inclines" or motivates men it is wealth, or the promise of riches, and here the degree of effort is in the metaphor of digging or mining for silver.

Proverbs 2:5 -- in that case you will understand the fear of Jehovah, and you will find the very knowledge of God.

TRANS: SPRL: comprehend; RHM: reverence of Yahweh; LAM: understand how to worship the LORD

MARG: 1 John 5:20 = intellectual capacity; understanding

NOTE: If one is to "find the very knowledge of God" it is clear how much effort the Father expects of a worshipper.

WORDS: Knowledge occurs 240x in the Bible and 45x in Proverbs; most often in the Christian Bible 14x in 1 Corinthians. The phrase "knowledge of God" occurs 10x in the Bible.

 

THIRTEEN: FATHER’S DISCIPLINE AND COUNSEL

[Home Truths]

Proverbs 13:1 -- A son is wise where there is a father's discipline, but the ridiculer is one that has not heard rebuke.

TRANS: LB: a wise youth accepts his father’s rebuke

CROSS REF: Proverbs 15:5 and Hebrews12:7 = teachability

NOTE: "If you cannot stand home truths from your own father you are well on your way to becoming insufferable." (Kidner p100) Here is more counsel from a loving father to a son who would be wise. The "ridiculer" here is one who talks back to his father.

 

[Words Pass, Fruitage Remains]

[Guard Mouth, Guard Life]

Proverbs 13:2 -- From the fruitage of his mouth a man will eat good, but the very soul of those dealing treacherously is violence.

TRANS: BAS: a man will get good from the fruit of his lips; KNX: fair words yield a crop to content a man’s heart; LB: the good man wins his case by careful argument

CROSS REF: Proverbs 12:14 and Proverbs 18:20 = mouth

NOTE: Translations vary widely on this verse but it appears to mean that the man who speaks well, or remains discreetly silent, will reap a good crop in his social dealings with others; whereas the person who deals treacherously with his tongue will find himself in great difficulty. The next verse may be viewed as a commentary on this one.

[Ammunition For Your Enemy]

Proverbs 13:3 -- The one guarding his mouth is keeping his soul. The one opening wide his lips-he will have ruin.

TRANS: BER: he who guards his mouth controls himself; LB: Self-control means controlling the tongue! A quick retort can ruin everything.

CROSS REF: Proverbs 21:23 and James 1:26; 3.9 = tongue

 

[Sloth Leaves You Dissatisfied]

Proverbs 13:4 -- The lazy one is showing himself desirous, but his soul [has] nothing. However, the very soul of the diligent ones will be made fat.

TRANS: NEB: a lazy man is torn by appetite unsatisfied but the diligent grow fat and prosperous

CROSS REF: Proverbs 10:4, 11:25, 12:24, 26:13

NOTE: Lazy Emptiness versus Diligent Prosperity; the lazy are lean and the industrious fat.

[Words Fair and Foul]

Proverbs 13:5 -- A false word is what the righteous hates, but the wicked ones act shamefully and cause disgrace for themselves.

TRANS: JB: the virtuous man hates lying words but the wicked man slanders and defames; SPRL: the righteous hate the lying word for the liar is odious and causeth shame

CROSS REF: Proverbs 8:13 and 30.8

NOTE: The wicked’s shamefulness is in his lying which brings disgrace upon him and his own. The righteous detest even a single "false word." The LXX has this "unjust word" which puts it in the category of unfair slander.

[Honesty is Safety]

Proverbs 13:6 -- Righteousness itself safeguards the one who is harmless in his way, but wickedness is what subverts the sinner.

TRANS: NEB: to do right is the protection of an honest man; KNX: guilt trips the heel of the wrongdoer

CROSS REF: Proverbs 12:21, 28 and 25:21

FTN: wickedness is what distorts a sin offering

NOTE: No amount of religious sacrifice, self-denial, or outward show of piety will protect the hypocrite from God. The harmless are safeguarded by law-abiding conduct but in contrast evil conduct and speech backfire on the law-breaker.

[Don’t Take a Man at his Own Valuation]

Proverbs 13:7-- There exists the one that is pretending to be rich and yet he has nothing at all; there is the one that is pretending to be of little means and yet [he has] many valuable things.

TRANS: LAM: there are some who pretend to be rich yet have nothing; there are others who pretend to be poor yet have great riches; BER: There is one who considers himself rich yet has nothing and one who considers himself poor yet possess great wealth

CROSS REF: Proverbs 12:9 = self-glory

NOTE: An interesting study in two different natures: pride motivates the phony rich and fear inhibits the fake poverty. It is terribly deceitful for a "rich" Christian to hide his wealth and pretend to be poor so none of his poor and needy brothers will approach him in want. It is hypocrisy of a serious kind when a brother is in need and the one possessing the wherewithal to assist hides this from his fellow pretending -- and lying in the process -- to have nothing. Compare 1John 3:17 where this amounts to hate and the love of God does not reside in such a person.

"I have met many very rich men in my half century of journalism," says Malcom W. Bingay, past editorial director of the Detroit Free Press, "and I have never known one of them whose millions brought him inner peace and happiness."

 

[Poverty has its own Compensations]

Proverbs 13:8 -- The ransom for a man's soul is his riches, but the one of little means has not heard rebuke.

TRANS: NEB: a rich man must buy himself off but a poor man is immune from threats

CROSS REF: Psalm 49:6-11 = the rich

NOTE: The rich -- those with a surplus -- must always fear the loss of their mistaken security, while the poor are freed from this anxiety.

 

[Bright Prospects]

Proverbs 13:9 - The very light of the righteous ones will rejoice; but the lamp of the wicked ones -- it will be extinguished.

TRANS: SPRL: the light of the righteous shall shine with splendour; ABPS: the light of the righteous shall be joyous; NAB: shine gaily; MOF: the light of good men shines out

CROSS REF: Matthew 5:14-16 = bright light

 

[Products of Pride]

Proverbs 13:10 -- By presumptuousness one only causes a struggle, but with those consulting together there is wisdom.

TRANS: LB: pride leads to arguments; be humble, take advice and become wise

CROSS REF: Proverbs 11:2; 21:4; 24:6 = pride

NOTE: Apparently this presumptuousness comes from a failure to consult with others and therefore results in a struggle either with the problem at hand or with those who might be involved.

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