The Friends of the Nazarene On-line Magazine

Volume 2 -- January 1999 (45 pages)

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: Nazarene Saints Publishing is a Bible research group for a better Scriptural understanding. We are dedicated to the preservation and publishing of Christian writings which aid Friends of the Nazarene to "follow the Lamb no matter where the Lamb goes." (John 15:14; 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 view this "God-breathed" book as inspired alone, while the thoughts of men about it are not. We wish to respect the views of our multitude of Christian brethren. (1 Peter 3:15)

 IN THIS ISSUE ---

1. The Biblical Woman -- Part Three (c 1,500 - 29 AD)

2. Christian Giving -- the Way to Spiritual Perfection

3. Announcements

4. Is Jesus the Alpha and Omega?

5. Thoughts on the Proverbs

6. Faith Perspectives:

"Misleading Organizations"

"Other Sheep"

"Gog of Magog"

"Wisdom of Youth"

"A FBS meeting"

"Time of the Gentiles"

"Wonderous is the Mystery of Our Worship!"

7. Unity Despite Different Functions

8. Who are the "Friends of the Nazarene"?

The Biblical Woman

PART THREE

Under the Law (c 1,500 - 29 AD)

WOMAN UNDER THE LAW

We ended Part Two with the Biblical woman Ruth during the period of the judges. We now pick up our study with another important Hebrew lady.

 

Hannah --- Mother of Samuel the Prophet

1 Samuel 1:1-2:11 records the history of a woman who had to share her husband with another wife. Hannah (meaning, "Grace") was barren and in her culture this must have placed much emotional stress on her. We find domestic conflict in her life and we feel great pain for her. (1 Samuel 1:6-8; NOTE: "Hannah" is to occur 14 times in 1 Samuel) We note the depth of her faith when we consider the following. We put ourselves in her sandals.

 

"And (Hannah) was bitter of soul, and she began to pray to Jehovah and to weep greatly. And she went on to make a vow and say: ‘O Jehovah of armies, if you will without fail look upon the affliction of your slave girl and actually remember me, and you will not forget your slave girl and actually give to your slave girl a male offspring, I will give him to Jehovah all the days of his life, and no razor will come upon his head.’" (1 Samuel 1:10-11 NW) Hannah vows that a son born to her will be a Nazirite with special vows of religious service.

As life would have it an honest heart is criticized by a self-righteous fellow worshipper. Eli the high priest (later to have his own problems) suspects dear Hannah of being a drunk. There is an enormous lesson here. Most persons accused of being drunk in such a spiritual environment would become rather incensed. Note Hannah’s respectful reaction to a man in authority who has erred:
"At this Han'nah answered and said: "No, MY LORD! A woman hard pressed in spirit I am; and wine and intoxicating liquor I have not drunk, but I pour out my soul before Jehovah. Do not make your slave girl like a good-for-nothing woman, for it is out of the abundance of my concern and my vexation that I have spoken until now." (1 Samuel 1:15, 16) Happily, the high priest takes this respectful and gentle request in a godly manner and blesses her that she be favored with the answer to her prayer. He does this not realizing the outcome. (1 Samuel 1:17)

We learn another lesson from Hannah: "What you vow, pay." (Ecclesiastes 5:4) What could be dearer to a mother than her only child? This vow Hannah keeps and the circumstances when she returns to Eli the high priest is most interesting also. Upon weaning her son she came to the Tabernacle. Of course, why should a busy priest remember a simple lady he had judged to be drunk? We wish we could be in Eli’s mind when he finally remembers his passing words to her: "May God grant your petition (whatever that was)." (1 Samuel 1:17) But, then, several years may have passed as children were weaned after considerable time compared to modern women. The account tells us (and we wonder what we may learn from this): "With that she said: "Excuse me, MY LORD! By the life of your soul, MY LORD, I am the woman that was standing with you in this place to pray to Jehovah. It was with reference to this boy that I prayed that Jehovah should grant me my petition that I asked of him. And I, in my turn, have lent him to Jehovah. All the days that he does happen to be, he is one requested for Jehovah." (1 Samuel 1:26-28) And, thus, Samuel the great prophet enters upon his life-long service to the God of Israel, Yahweh. There is no attitude in Hannah’s voice. She is respectful and addresses God’s representative as "lord."

Hannah now prays and this prayer is recorded. This is extraordinary for a couple of reasons. This is the first occurrence of the word "pray" in the Bible and it is that of a Biblical woman. Surely this was an inspired prayer befitting a godly woman who has displayed a loyal and faithful disposition as well as a respectful and submissive attitude. Her prayer is one of praise of her God Jehovah. Her prayer is also unique in that she may be the first person to mention the "Messiah" for in 1 Samuel 2:10 she prays, "That (Yahweh) may exalt the horn of his Messiah." The Hebrew is MESHI-CHOH or "Christ" in the Jewish Greek Bible. Though "anointed" is used earlier in regard to the high priest, here it is poetically paralleled with Jehovah’s "king" something that did not then exist. (Psalm 2:1, 6) It will only be a matter of years before her own son Samuel will indeed anoint the Messiah-type David, the king of Israel.

 

Abigail -- Beautiful and Submissive

There is another woman who grips our attention during the period of the kings of Israel -- Abigail (meaning, Father’s Joy). As a Biblical woman she is an example of a loyal wife and submissive woman who is both beautiful and discerning. The one particular account we wish to consider is during the time of David’s flight from King Saul. His troop is in material need and David sends men to a certain Nabal to acquire provisions. However, Nabal rebuffs them and sends them on their way. When his wife, Abigail, learns of this she immediately discerns her husband’s serious error. She also understands what might be the consequences, so she gathers provisions and sets off to intersect David and his band before her husband is done any harm. We pick up the account at 1 Samuel 25:23. By way of introduction we ask how many modern "beautiful" women of the 90s in the Western world would display this kind of loyalty to her unworthy husband as well as her deep respect for the man about to kill him?

 

"When Ab'i·gail caught sight of David, she at once hastened and got down off the ass and FELL UPON HER FACE before David and BOWED to the earth. She then FELL AT HIS FEET and said: "Upon me myself, O MY LORD, be the error; and, PLEASE, let your slave girl speak in your ears, and listen to the words of YOUR SLAVE GIRL. Please, do not let MY LORD set his heart upon this good-for-nothing man Na'bal, for, as his name is, so is he. Na'bal is his name, and senselessness is with (my husband). As for me YOUR SLAVE GIRL, I did not see MY LORD’S young men that you had sent. And now, MY LORD, as Jehovah is living and as your soul is living, Jehovah has held you back from entering into bloodguilt and having your own hand come to your salvation. And now let your enemies and those seeking injury to MY LORD become like Na'bal. And now as regards this gift blessing that your maidservant has brought to my LORD, it must be given to the young men that are walking about in the steps of my LORD. Pardon, PLEASE, the transgression of your slave girl, because Jehovah will without fail make for my LORD a lasting house, because the wars of Jehovah are what my LORD is fighting; and as for badness, it will not be found in you throughout your days. When man rises up to pursue you and look for your soul, the soul of my LORD will certainly prove to be wrapped up in the bag of life with Jehovah your God; but, as for the soul of your enemies, he will sling it forth as from inside the hollow of the sling. And it must occur that, because Jehovah will do to my LORD the good toward you according to all that he has spoken, he certainly will commission you as leader over Israel. And let this not become to you a cause for staggering or a stumbling block to the heart of my LORD, both by the shedding of blood without cause and by having [the hand of] my LORD [itself] come to his salvation. And Jehovah will certainly do good to my LORD, and you must remember your slave girl." (1 Samuel 25:23-31)

Abigail has addressed David as "lord" over a dozen times. She has asked the blame fall to her. She has begged saying, "please." She has politely and respectfully saved David from great "staggering" sin causing him to "stumble" before his God Jehovah. It is no wonder -- as events turn out -- that when free David is quick to spot a beautiful woman of discernment and takes her as his wife.

The entire lesson is one which highlights a godly woman’s responsibility to take matters of this nature into her own hands in order to protect her husband -- even one she knows to be "stupid." She acts on her own without her husband’s knowledge for the greater good. The account continues to show Abigail did not hide this from her husband but revealed what she had done. Nabal was so tight-fisted and selfish the very idea of her charity to David caused him to die.

 

Esther -- Beautiful and Loyal

There is another Biblical woman whose name graces a Bible book, Esther. Her name in Hebrew is Hadassah (meaning "Myrtle"). She is introduced in the Biblical scene because of another woman, Vashti, of opposite disposition from Esther, the Jewess. The Persian king’s wife is called to appear before a banquet. The king’s motive is to show his guests her "loveliness." (Esther 1:11) Here is the classic "trophy" wife. Vashti refuses to make an appearance and this leads to a highly charged situation -- a question of a husband’s headship and a wife’s subjection to him. If Vashti will not do as her husband demands, how will it go with other husbands in the Persian empire?

The official record reports what the Persian princes said: "For the affair of the queen (Vashti) will go out to all the wives so that they will despise their owners (husbands) in their own eyes, when they say, 'King A·has·u·e'rus himself said to bring in Vash'ti the queen before him, and she did not come in.' And this day the princesses of Persia and Me'di·a, who have heard the affair of the queen, will talk to all the princes of the king, and there will be plenty of contempt and indignation. If to the king it does seem good, let a royal word go out from his person, and let it be written among the laws of Persia and Me'di·a, that it may not pass away, that Vash'ti may not come in before King A·has·u·e'rus; and her royal dignity let the king give to a companion of hers, a woman better (more beautiful and more submissive) than she is. And the decree of the king that he will make must be heard in all his realm (for it is vast), and all the wives themselves will give honor to their owners (husbands), the great as well as the small." (Esther 1:17-20)

Thus, the Jewess Esther enters the picture, not just to settle this Persian problem with male leadership in the family, but, as it turns out, a much loftier reason, one dealing with heaven and God’s own people. A nation-wide search for the most beautiful of women leads to Esther who finally becomes Queen. Esther 2:17 records: "And the king came to love Esther more than all the other women, so that she gained more favor and loving-kindness before him than all the other virgins. And he proceeded to put the royal headdress upon her head and make her queen instead of Vash'ti." In all of this the Persian king is unaware his queen is a Jewess.

In the meantime there is a plot afoot to exterminate the Jews in a holocaust. As it turns out Esther becomes the prime instrument by which this evil plan is thwarted. This results in the Jewish feast of Purim celebrated to this day. The very law and basis for this feast is credited to the godly Biblical woman: "And the very saying of Esther confirmed these matters of Pu'rim, and it was written down in a book." (Esther 9:32)

 

The Capable Wife

There is another unnamed woman stylized by the poetic voice of a king’s mother. It is recorded in Proverbs 31:10-31. Let us consider this perfect Biblical woman with brief commentary.

 

10 A capable wife who can find? Her value is far more than that of corals.

The rhetorical question uses the same word used of Ruth, "excellent woman." (Ruth 3:11) This is the Hebrew ליח (chayil) which Strong’s (#2428) states comes from a root (#2342 chiyl) with a meaning which includes "writhe in pain (of childbirth)." Additionally, Strong’s explains that ליח is a military word used of men (able-bodied man) and is associated with, force, army, valor, virtuous. This is the only place where this word is used to describe a named woman. The other rare occurrence in a female context is that description of the "capable ( ליח )" woman/wife of Proverbs 30:10. This word ליח in Proverbs 31:10 is variously translated: KJV: virtuous; ASV: worthy; BER: strength of character; NWT: capable. The power of this word ליח indicates a strong woman, one possessed of all those characteristics a man might look for in a godly woman: virtue, loyalty, hard-working, humble, charitable and respectful.

 

11 In her the heart of her owner has put trust, and there is no gain lacking.

She is "owned" by her husband and this is no embarrassment or dishonor to her.

 

12 She has rewarded him with good, and not bad, all the days of her life.

Her entire marriage results in nothing but good to her husband.

 

13 She has sought wool and linen, and she works at whatever is the delight of her hands.

She is a worker and takes delight in her art as a seamstress and weaver.

 

14 She has proved to be like the ships of a merchant. From far away she brings in her food.

She has great liberty to handle household commerce and is trusted to travel widely to secure what is needed to maintain her family.

 

15 She also gets up while it is still night, and gives food to her household and the prescribed portion to her young women.

She is an early riser, a "morning person," arriving before dawn to prepare food for the day and supervise the household help.

 

16 She has considered a field and proceeded to obtain it; from the fruitage of her hands she has planted a vineyard.

Her liberty extends to the freedom to be involved in real estate and not only does she purchase a field but she plants a vineyard to make it profitable.

 

17 She has girded her hips with strength, and she invigorates her arms.

She is a strong woman, not a physical weakling due to the lack of work and exercise.

 

18 She has sensed that her trading is good; her lamp does not go out at night.

She is a good trader and knows a deal when she sees one. It seems as though she works night and day and late into the night her lamp shines over her working fingers.

 

19 Her hands she has thrust out to the distaff, and her own hands take hold of the spindle.

This late night work involves her work as a weaver and seamstress. Her hands are strong and perhaps even callused from honest work.

 

20 Her palm she has stretched out to the afflicted one, and her hands she has thrust out to the poor one.

She is charitable and is not so materialistic or selfish to forget the less fortunate.

 

21 She does not fear for her household because of the snow, for all her household are clothed with double garments.

She does not fret over the coming cold because she has already thought ahead for these unfavorable conditions. Her family is warm in winter because of her late night efforts.

 

22 Coverlets she has made for herself. Her clothing is of linen and wool dyed reddish purple.

She does not ignore her own appearance and surely appears modest and attractive to her husband.

 

23 Her owner is someone known in the gates, when he sits down with the older men of the land.

Because of her good reputation in the neighborhood evidenced by her charity, hand work, well-kept family, her husband (her "owner") is held in high esteem among the elderly judges at the city gates. It must be often said of him, "He is the husband of that capable lady."

 

24 She has made even undergarments and proceeded to sell [them], and belts she has given to the tradesmen.

She works so hard she even generates income for herself and her family.

 

25 Strength and splendor are her clothing, and she laughs at a future day.

However, though dressed in finery she has made and earned, her real garment is one of power and honor.

 

26 Her mouth she has opened in wisdom, and the law of loving-kindness is upon her tongue.

She is not a town gossip with a loose mouth but when she speaks it is wisely. She controls her tongue and when she speaks it is always in trust and loyalty.

 

27 She is watching over the goings-on of her household, and the bread of laziness she does not eat.

As if this needed to be mentioned despite the above. She is the overseer of her house. It is her realm. She need not seek her owner’s approval to carry on her family obligations because her husband knows she is not a lazy woman.

 

28 Her sons have risen up and proceeded to pronounce her happy; her owner [rises up], and he praises her.

As a result of her hard work and pleasant disposition her children and husband speak highly of her.

 

29 There are many daughters that have shown capableness, but you-you have ascended above them all.

This godly lady is the perfect example for others to imitate.

 

30 Charm may be false, and prettiness may be vain; [but] the woman that fears Jehovah is the one that procures praise for herself.

Here lies her motivation -- her fear of God. It is not just her husband and family she wants to please. She wants God’s approval. She knows some women may use their charm as a ploy to get out of the hard work described above. She knows make-up and hair-styles and jewelry may be pure vanity -- so her true garments are those of a spiritual nature.

 

31 GIVE her of the fruitage of her hands, and let her works praise her even in the gates.

The king’s mother concludes with the advice to allow this kind of wife the fruitage of her hard work and not take selfish advantage of it. Allow others to praise her, even the judges who meet at the city gates. What a Biblical woman! No wonder the opening question, "A capable wife -- who can find?"

 

Summary

We have journeyed over four thousand years in our search for the Biblical woman. Though walking in the shadow of her male counterpart we have seen her as a servant of God, inspired on occasions, key to the development of God’s eternal purpose, often instrumental at critical moments. We have seen her discerning and intelligent, and yet submissive and supportive of her male counterpart.

We come now to one of the most historical moments in the development of the Biblical woman: the coming of Messiah. How will Jesus of Nazareth treat and view women? What role will women play in his ministry and the future of his Church?

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Back to the Top

CHRISTIAN GIVING --

the Way to Spiritual Perfection


Jesus: "There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving."

(Acts 20:35)

 

God is the greatest of all givers.

The Bible is a Book about Giving. The words giving, gift, gives, and give occur over 1,700 times in the Scriptures. The first record of giving in the Bible is that of God. Note God’s first gift to humankind: And God added: "This is the sign of the covenant that I am giving between me and you and every living soul that is with you, for the generations to time indefinite. My rainbow I do give in the cloud, and it must serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth." (Genesis 9:12, 13 NW) God gives without consideration of ethnicity, cultural or social background, sex, or even whether one is good or bad, thankful or unthankful.

[NOTE: The first human to give a "gift" is Jacob’s present to his brother Isau of flocks. (Genesis 32:13)] However, God’s great gift was yet future.

Our Lord’s "indescribable free gift"

2 Corinthians 9:15 describes the greatest gift of all: "Thanks be to God for his indescribable free gift." (Romans 3:24; 5:15) This proved to be the sending of His Son to redeem mankind and prepare a congregational bride for His own Son -- the Church Triumphant.

Paul describes the willing sacrifice of God’s own Son in providing this "indescribable free gift": "Keep this mental attitude in you that was also in Christ Jesus, who, although he was existing in God's form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God. No, but he emptied himself and took a slave's form and came to be in the likeness of men. More than that, when he found himself in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake." (Philippians 2:5-8)

 

Paul puts it another way at 2 Corinthians 8:9, "For you know the undeserved kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich he became poor for your sakes, that you might become rich through his poverty." Yes, Christ’s life and death as a perfect human was a perfect sacrifice -- his own gift to all having faith and acknowledging him as Lord.

And, what was our spiritual state or condition when this gift was given? Paul answers: "God recommends his own love to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) And the beloved apostle echoes this: "The love is in this respect, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent forth his Son as a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins." (1 John 4:10) So, the Giving-God does not practice charity (grace or undeserved kindness) toward only those who love Him, or only toward those who will demonstrate they are grateful (thankful), but also toward those who have not yet come to know Him. His own Son mirrors the character of his Father, Jesus Christ.

Nazarene giving -- part of "pure religion"

Like his Father, Jesus Christ the Nazarene was a giving person. Charity was part of his character. Hospitality was in his nature. First, as Paul wrote above in Philippians, our Lord was willing to become "bread from heaven." (John 6:33, 35) Like his Father he showed a giving spirit, not just to those who were his followers, but also toward those who had not come to know him, including the ungrateful.

Observe the Nazarene’s cure of the man born blind who did not know who healed him. (John 9:24-37) Or, the case of the ten lepers cleansed of their public loathing. Of the ten only one returned to express his gratitude. (Luke 17:12-19) While most persons under intense agony and torture think only of their personal pain, we discover our Lord thought charitably of his mother and almost with his dying breath he commends her care to his beloved apostle John. (John 19:26, 27) His very nature -- his character -- was one of giving.

The Nazarene had much to say on this matter of giving. What kind of giving characterizes Nazarene giving? What he taught was reflected later in an epistle written by a close relative, James. James 1:27 reports: "The ‘pure religion’ from God the Father’s own view includes caring for orphans and widows in their afflictions." Consider some seven principles behind Nazarene giving.

1. Divine Credit in Giving to Whom?

Jesus taught much about giving. He taught there is no "credit" or "reward" in one form of giving; and, in another form of giving there was "credit" or "reward." What type of giving and to whom? Below we combine in a compound paraphrase both Matthew and Luke on this subject of giving.

"You heard that it was said, 'You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' However, I say to you: Continue to love your enemies, to do good to those hating you and to pray for those insulting and persecuting you; that you may prove yourselves sons of your Father who is in the heavens, since he makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous. Give to everyone asking you, and from the one taking your things away do not ask them back. Also, just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them. For if you love those loving you, what reward or credit do you have? Are not also the tax collectors doing the same thing? And if you do good to those doing good to you, really of what credit is it to you? Even the sinners do the same. Also, if you loan money to those from whom you hope to receive, of what credit is it to you? Even sinners loan money to sinners that they may get back as much. To the contrary, continue to love your enemies and to do good and to loan money, not hoping for anything back; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind toward the unthankful and wicked. Continue becoming charitable, just as your Father is charitable. You must accordingly be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 6:27-36) [For details on the Sermon on the Mount see the publication NAZARENE MOUNTAIN TEACHINGS.]

How many "Christians" do you know who have such "credit" with the Father? Do you know "Christians" who give to any asking them -- whether righteous or unrighteous, whether good or wicked, whether enemies or friends, whether thankful or unthankful? If we as "Christians" are credited for this kind of Nazarene giving, what would our account with God look like?

2. Give without an agenda

a. Giving for show

Jesus encouraged giving without a wrong motive or with a political agenda. Matthew 6:1-4 records the Nazarene’s teachings: "Take good care not to practice you righteousness in front of men in order to be observed by them; otherwise you will have no reward with you Father who is in the heavens. Hence when you go making gifts of charity, 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. But you, when making gifts of charity, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, that your gifts of charity may be in secret; then your Father who is looking on in secret will repay you."

Thus, to have any credit or reward with God in the matter of giving one must be charitable without wanting any honor or glory from others. Thus, our giving is done secretly, as secretly as the left (unknowing hemisphere) ignorant of what the right (knowing hemisphere) hand is actually doing. Only then can we expect a secret reward from the Father.

 

b. Giving as simony (political ambition)

Some give with the agenda of wanting to gain something by it, usually authority. They avoid giving as described above, for their very purpose is to let the receiver know who is giving. By this they expect some reciprocation. In other words: they buy some future favor by their gift. Their kind of gift has conditions attached to it, be it friendship, corporate ladder climbing, or something in return. The man Simon (after whom "simony" is named) in the record at Acts 8:8-24 attempted to do this and only his genuine repentance could save him from a disastrous fate. Persons in the habit of doing this may refer to their "markers" -- favors in the past for which they now expect a return on their investment.

3. Giving as a sacrifice in worship

Giving is part of our worship of God and obedience to His King Christ. Notice this in Hebrews 10:34 and 13:15, 16, "For you both expressed sympathy for those in prison and joyfully took the plundering of you belongings, knowing you yourselves have a better and an abiding possession. ... Through Jesus let us always offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to his name. Moreover, do not forget the doing of good and the sharing of things with others, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."

Paul writes in the same view in Philippians 4:18, "However, I have all things in full and have an abundance. I am filled, now that I have received from E·paph·ro·di'tus the things from you, a sweet-smelling odor, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God."

 

4. Giving as Proof of Faith

The Bible teaches that genuine giving is actually proof of one’s faith. Indeed, it is this "work" which proves one’s faith is alive and well. James 2:14 reads: "Of what benefit is it, my brothers, if a certain one says he has faith but he does not have works? That faith cannot save him, can it? If a brother or a sister is in a naked state and lacking the food sufficient for the day, yet a certain one of you says to them: "Go in peace, keep warm and well fed," but you do not give them the necessities for [their] body, of what benefit is it? Thus, too, faith, if it does not have works, is dead in itself." While many point to "spiritual" giving in the form of attending church or preaching to others, such "works" are not what James identifies as proof of faith.

 

5. God’s love dependent on our giving

Will God love us no matter what we do or do not do? Does God loves us whether we are charitable or not? Note how the beloved apostle puts it in 1 John 3:15-18,
"Everyone who hates his brother is a manslayer, and you know that no manslayer has everlasting life remaining in him. By this we have come to know love, because that one surrendered his soul for us; and we are under obligation to surrender [our] souls for [our] brothers. But whoever has this world's means for supporting life and beholds his brother having need and yet shuts the door of his tender compassions upon him, in what way does the love of God remain in him? Little children, let us love, neither in word nor with the tongue, but in deed and truth."
Two things grip our attention: first, hatred is defined as refusal to help a fellow in need; and, God’s love does not exist where one fails to respond to a need.

6. Everlasting Life and Charity

Our Lord emphasized the basis for his own judgment when he returned in his foretold Parousia. One vital matter rings off the page: charity! Matthew 25:40-46 records the Nazarene’s parable of the sheep and goats: "And in reply the king will say to them, 'Truly I say to you, To the extent that you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' Then Christ will say, in turn, to those on his left, 'Be on your way from me, you who have been cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. For I became hungry, but you gave me nothing to eat, and I got thirsty, but you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger, but YOU did not receive me hospitably; naked, but you did not clothe me; sick and in prison, but you did not look after me.' Then they also will answer with the words, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them with the words, 'Truly I say to you, To the extent that you did not do it to one of these least ones, you did not do it to me.' And these will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life."

Is it fair to conclude from this that charity is a life and death matter, particularly when it comes to caring for the needs of fellow worshippers? Paul echoes this principle in Galatians 6:7-10. Note that his use of the word "sowing" is in the context of "good toward all." Paul writes, "Don’t be under any illusion: you cannot make a fool of God! A man’s harvest in life will depend entirely on what he sows. The man who now sows for his own flesh shall reap there from a harvest doomed to perish; but he who sows for the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap the harvest of eternal life. Let us not grow tired of doing good, for, unless we throw in our hand, the ultimate harvest is assured. Let us practice generosity to all, while the opportunity is ours; and above all, to those who are of one family with us in the faith." (PME, CON, KNX) To Paul "sowing" here is that which does good in charity to others, particularly those within the Household of Faith, even as the Nazarene has it in his parable of the sheep and goats.

7. Giving to "workers"

In harmony with the above, Jesus taught it was only right and proper to give charitably to those who are "workers" in the great Harvest of God. Our Lord told his apostles when sending them out: "The worker deserves his food." (Matthew 10:10; Luke 9:3)

This statement of the Nazarene is the only direct quotation the apostle Paul uses as proof that "workers" deserve such help from those who benefit from their preaching and teaching. The first is in the case before the Corinthians: "In this way, too, the Lord ordained for those proclaiming the good news to live by means of the good news." (1 Corinthians 9:14. Consider the context from 1 Corinthians 9:1-13). And the second is to the missionary Timothy: Let the older men who preside in a fine way be reckoned worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard in speaking and teaching. For the scripture says: "You must not muzzle a bull when it threshes out the grain"; also: "The workman is worthy of his wages." (1Timothy 5:17-18)

Echoing the Nazarene’s words, Paul sets his own principle in harmony with our Lord: "The man under Christian instruction should be willing to contribute toward the livelihood of his teacher." (Galatians 6:6 PME) He also writes about those who just so assisted him: "Not that I am speaking with regard to being in want, for I have learned, in whatever circumstances I am, to be self-sufficient. I know indeed how to be low on provisions, I know indeed how to have an abundance. In everything and in all circumstances I have learned the secret of both how to be full and how to hunger, both how to have an abundance and how to suffer want. For all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me.

Nevertheless, you acted well in becoming sharers with me in my tribulation. In fact, you Phi·lip'pi·ans, also know that at the start of declaring the good news, when I departed from Mac·e·do'ni·a, not a congregation took a share with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you alone; because, even in Thes·sa·lo·ni'ca, you sent something to me both once and a second time for my need. Not that I am earnestly seeking the gift, but that I am earnestly seeking the fruitage that brings more credit to your account." (Philippians 4:11-17) To a disciple who was the fruitage of his work, Paul wrote: "Moreover, if he did you any wrong or owes you anything, keep this charged to my account. I Paul am writing with my own hand: I will pay it back-not to be telling you that, besides, you owe me even yourself. Yes, brother, may I derive profit from you in connection with the Lord: refresh my tender affections in connection with Christ." (Philemon 18-20)

In what kind of life-style did Paul’s fellow Christians maintain him? Did he enjoy what amounts to a high-rise Manhattan view apartment with the amenities of a five-star hotel complete with meals, a full liquor cabinet, medical and dental care, an automobile and chauffeur, as well as a rural apartment? Not hardly, for Paul writes, "Down to this very hour we continue to hunger and also to thirst and to be scantily clothed and to be knocked about and to be homeless." (1 Corinthians 4:11) Despite the help of some congregations and individuals Paul was what amounts to a homeless person who must depend on others for the necessities of life. In no way did he take advantage by becoming an "expensive burden" on any single person. (1Corinthians 9:5; 2 Corinthians 11:9; 1 Thessalonians 2:6, 9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8)

How Much to Give?

Paul had called such charity and giving as part of a worshipful sacrifice. The very word infers giving until it was indeed a sacrifice and not just some token out of a "surplus." (Mark 12:44; Luke 21:4; 2 Corinthians 8:14) How much to give is a struggle with one’s conscience and honesty before God. There are those "Christians" who strive hard to hide their wealth lest some needy person beg their charity. Or, they have "treasured up" certain "savings" which can be touched no matter the dire straits which may befall a fellow. Or, riches and wealth is hidden in property. (Proverbs 13:7) Sometimes a "Christian" gives but never enough to do any good -- only enough to rationalize an "evil eye."

The term "evil eye" is one drawn from the words of the Nazarene. Words most often misunderstood. In his Mountain Teachings our Lord taught, (Matthew 6:22, 23) --

The lamp of the body is the eye.

So, if your eye is focused right

your whole body will know the Way.

The Greek involved here is aplous and is variously translated "simple, sincere, generous, single, unclouded." The word occurs in various forms in contexts of simplicity and generosity (Romans 12:8; 2 Corinthians 8:2), sound or sincere (Mathew 6:22; Luke 11:34), and, liberal. (James 1:5) It seems to us the Nazarene’s subject is how we view matters and if our eye is healthy, and therefore focuses well, we will look properly on things and persons. The simple eye is generous in giving because it does not fret or worry about tomorrow’s anxieties, and so the view or focus on the morrow is bright with gleaming hopes of that "real life" only God can give. (Compare 1 Timothy 6:19 and the real life)

But, if your eye is focused wrong

your whole body will be blind.

So, if the ‘Light’ in you is ‘Dark’ ---

O, how much darkness!

This "evil eye" is variously rendered: KJ: evil; TCNT: diseased; MOF: if your eye is selfish; NOR: if you have poor eyesight. The wicked eye which is wrongly focused is the envious one who cannot be satisfied with those things already possessed but must have more than his neighbor. Or, it is evil in the sense of wanting not to be charitable toward the needy. This kind of eye can think of all kinds of reasons not to help the poor or homeless. Such a wrongly focused eye is covetous. The Nazarene warns at Luke 12:15: ‘With eyes wide open, guard against covetousness, because Life does not come from possessions.’ The "evil eye" is greedy and desires more of what his neighbor has and is stingy when it comes to showing love to his neighbor.

In his much loved work Mere Christianity Oxford professor C. S. Lewis, wrote: "I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them. ... For many of us the great obstacle to charity lies not in our luxurious living or desire for more money, but in our fear --- fear of insecurity." (page 82)

In other words if the cost of that luxury cruise far exceeds your true charity, you have serious need to pause and weigh your everlasting life in view of the parable of the sheep and goats. (Matthew 25:31-46) Paul does not command the rich (those with a surplus) to divest themselves of their wealth but he does give "orders" to use their blessings: "Charge the rich in this Period not to be arrogant, and not to rest the weight of their confidence on the transitory power of wealth, but on the God, who richly provides us with all the joys of life. Charge them to practice benevolence, to be rich in good deeds, open-handed and generous-hearted, saving for themselves real security, a genuine foundation for the future, so that they may get a firm grip on true Reality." (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

 

Summary

Christianity and charity are virtual synonyms. The close-fisted and stingy have parted from Christ long ago. Genuine disciples -- friends of the Nazarene -- who truly obey their Lord are identified, characterized by their giving, charity, hospitality after the model of their self-sacrificing Lord. (1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 3:16)

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ANNOUNCEMENTS

SPRING FBS CONFERENCE: The 2nd Western Christian Believers Conference will be held on April 2-5. 1999 at the Arrowhead Springs Christian Conference Center in San Bernadino, CA which is near the Ontario International Airport. The theme will be "The Power of His Resurrection." For more information contact David Karavas .

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IS JESUS "THE ALPHA AND OMEGA"?

Alpha & Omega, The Father or the Son?

Jesus Christ's Revelation "which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place, and which he sent by his angel and indicated to his servant John, who testified to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, all that he saw." (Revelation 1: 1, 2)

Here is the key to the "alpha and omega" question -- "Jesus Christ's Revelation which God gave him." At no point does John equate Christ with God, rather he shows a rather definite distinction between the two. [NOTE: Revelation 4:8; 5:6, 7] Therefore, in Revelation 1:8, Jesus is speaking the words of God and not himself when he says, "I am the alpha and the omega, says the Lord God (Yahweh); the one who Is and Was and is Coming; the Almighty." So, unless it is specifically stated otherwise, anything that the angel accompanying John says is originally spoken by "Lord God", or, the Father. [NOTE: Who is really speaking in Revelation 22:8-20?]

Let us proceed to Revelation 11: 15 "... the empire of the world has come to be our Lord's and his Christ's, and he shall reign forever and ever." Again, notice the distinction between Lord (Yahweh) and Christ. Now, on to Revelation 11:16, 17, "And the twenty-four aged men that were sitting on their thrones before God threw themselves down on their faces and did reverence to God, saying ‘We thank thee, Lord God Almighty, who Is and Was, because thou hast taken thy great power and begun to reign..." Again, the Lord God Almighty is the one being worshipped and in no way can be portrayed as Jesus Christ.

Again, we see the same in Revelation 22:6-15, which says in part, "These words are true and trustworthy, and the Lord, the God of the prophet's spirits (Yahweh), has sent His angel...." and, "...I am the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."

How can one not draw the conclusion that the "alpha and the omega" is in fact the Father, not to be confused with the Son? We can even use these verses to understand the cryptic statements in John 1:1 that Trinitarians have used as a "proof text," regarding that doctrine of orthodox Christianity. Here we have a clarification of Jesus' nature in respect to "God the Father." If John had meant that Christ was one and the same as "Almighty God," the verses here would have been clear in indicating this! They seem to say the opposite here.

 

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, saith the Lord God" - Alpha is the first, Omega, the last, letter in the Greek alphabet. Let his enemies boast and rage ever so much in the intermediate time, yet the Lord God (Yahweh) is both the Alpha, or beginning, and the Omega, or end, of all things. God is the beginning, as he is the Author and Creator of all things, and as he proposes, declares, and promises great things: he is the end, as he brings all the things which are here revealed to a complete and glorious conclusion. Again, the beginning and end of a thing is in scripture styled the whole thing. Therefore God is the Alpha and the Omega, the
beginning and the end; that is, one who is all things, and always the same.

"I am the Alpha and the Omega..." All that has been revealed to John is true and will take place because God has put his signature on it. God the Father is the total summary of life; the A-W, or the A-Z. All of life is contained in him. He always was, is, and will be. He is the ruler of the past, present, and future (see Isaiah 44:6-8). If we do not have a personal relationship with him through his Son Jesus, we have nothing that is of eternal value (and in time we will enter into an
interminable existence of utter isolation).
[Contributed: RB]

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THOUGHTS ON THE PROVERBS

[The Homemaker and Home-wrecker]

PROVERBS 14:1 -- "The truly wise woman has built up her house, but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands."

TRANS: NEB: the wisest women build up their homes; the foolish pull them down with their own hands

CROSS REF: Proverbs 9:13; 24:3; 31:10, 26 = wife

NOTE: This is the only occurrence of the expression "wise woman" in Proverbs. The phrase does occur twice at 2 Samuel 14:2 and 20:16. This proverb demonstrates the influence -- good or bad -- a wife has within the household. A "wise woman" increases family prosperity as Proverbs chapter 31 illustrates. This kind of woman’s center of interest is on the house proper as well as meals and clothing for the children. Additionally, no stronger force for good can be found save in that "wise woman" who is also a mother, teaching her children the law of God and the commandments of the Nazarene.

On the other hand, the opposite woman, a "foolish one" who is egocentric and materialistic, will destroy all the hard work of her husband for she will squander time and money. Such a woman may be identified by her household: a dirty and disordered house and children known in the neighborhood for their bad manners. With her own hands she has destroyed her home and will likely loose her husband in time. Any young man seeking a wife will choose wisely in order to build a Christian home. Of course, wisely, a young woman also looks for godly qualities of wisdom in her intended mate.

 

[Not Only With Lips]

Proverbs 14:2 -- "The one walking in his uprightness is fearing Jehovah, but the one crooked in his ways is despising Him."

TRANS: NEB: a straightforward man fears the Lord; the double-dealer scorns him

CROSS REF: Job 1:1 = upright; Acts10:35 = every nation; Deuteronomy 32:15 = despised; Luke 10:16 = disregard

NOTE: See above for discussions on "upright" and "fear of Jehovah." "Upright" is a another way of saying "righteous" and stands in contrast to the "crooked" or twisted way, the contorted way, of the one who actually despises God. By his actions the "crooked" -- whether they say so or not -- demonstrate their hatred of God. The "crook" may deceive hapless individuals but Another is watching and will remember on Judgment Day.

 

[Words Come to Roost]

Proverbs 14:3 -- "The rod of haughtiness is in the mouth of the foolish one, but the very lips of the wise ones will guard them."

TRANS: NEB: the speech of a fool is a rod for his back

CROSS REF: Proverbs 12:6

NOTE: Any discipline or rebuke uttered by the haughty has a hidden agenda with pride as its motivation but the wise watch carefully what they speak that no words are out of envy or rivalry, harshness or contention. The haughty freely speak whatever is on their minds as they are sure their opinions are golden. The wise by contrast realize most of the time is it best to remain silent and thus guard arrogant speech.

 

[Neat but Negative]

Proverbs 14:4 -- "Where there are no cattle the manger is clean, but the crop is abundant because of the power of a bull."

TRANS: MOF: no oxen, no corn; good crops come from work done by the ox; JB: no oxen, no cattle-feed: stout ox, rich crop

NOTE: The verse may be taken two ways as various translations show: a) of course one may brag of the cleanliness of his barn when he has no cattle but then he produces nothing of value. Thus: "Orderliness can reach the point of sterility"; or, "a creative mess is better than tidy idleness." b) On the other hand, the need for a bull to make for productivity is an obvious truth. There are men whose desks are clean, tidy and proper but who produce little; and there are men whose desk is a mess, like a barn, but are very productive.

 

 

[Witnesses True and False]

Proverbs 14:5 -- "A faithful witness is one that will not lie, but a false witness launches forth mere lies."

TRANS: The verse is so terse and clean few translations offer an alternative.

CROSS REF: Proverbs 6:19; 12:17; 14:25; 19:5,9; 21:28; 24:28; 25:15 = witness (Compare Leviticus 5:1)

NOTE: Judicial or courtroom testimony. It must not be supposed that all testimonial evidence is truthful. It was dangerous under the law to be a false witness for the punishment that was to be meted out on the innocent befell the lying witness. A person who is known to be loyal and trustworthy is also known never to lie even if his testimony injury him or a dear one.

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FAITH PERSPECTIVES

[This is a forum for the free expression of faith and conviction no matter the view or opinion. You are welcome to submit anything in good taste, respectful, and mannerly.]

 

How "Christian" Organizations Have Misled Humanity


"Indeed, the knights of Christ fight the battles of their lord in safety, by no means fearing to have sinned in slaying the foe, nor fearing the peril of their own deaths, seeing that either dealing out death or dying, when for Christ's sake, contains nothing criminal but rather merits glorious reward. On this account, then: for Christ! hence Christ is attained. He who, forsooth! freely takes the death of his foe as an act of vengeance, the more willingly finds consolation in his status as a soldier of Christ. The soldier of Christ kills safely; he dies the more safely. He serves his own interests in dying, and Christ's interests in killing!" (Saint Bernard)

"A Cistercian thinks of cutting down a tree as prayer, given the right conditions, and the Templar had a similar attitude towards a Moslem. In St Bernard's words 'killing for Christ' was 'malecide not homicide', the extermination of injustice rather than the unjust, and therefor desirable; indeed 'to kill a pagan is to win glory for it gives glory to Christ'.... Death in battle meant consecration as a martyr, a road
traveled by 20,000 Templars, knights and sergeants in two hundred years
of war."

"Bernard's genius had transformed a Germanic warrior cult into a religious vocation just as pagan gods had been metamorphosed into saints and fertility rites into Christian festivals. Christ had ousted Woden." (Desmond Seward, The Monks of War) Does the orthodoxy bear massive blood guilt for the slaughter of
innocents over the ages? If they could transform the two loving commands that Christ gave to humanity into this depraved killing, why should we believe them on matters of faith?

The facts of history show that millions of human beings have died over the last two thousand years due to the wickedness of Christendom. Yet how can men who claim to be Christians encourage such an obvious violation of Jesus' commands? They do not have the same God that 'true Christians' have! Have not the majority of the religions in Christendom clearly supported political ideals over scriptural counsel? Who do they actually worship? [Contributed: RB]

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Who are the "other sheep"?

"I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd." (John 10:16)

Who was Jesus referring to here when he said that he had "other sheep"? Of what "fold" were these sheep not part of? And what did he mean when he said that they would become "one flock"? Consider who Jesus was speaking to: "A division occurred again among the Jews because of these words." (John 10:19)

Jesus preached salvation only to the Jewish race: "But he answered and said, 'I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'" (Matthew 15:24)

And he instructed his disciples to do the same: "These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: 'Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'" (Matthew 10:5, 6)

This situation was due to change as was prophesied by Isaiah: "The Lord [Yahweh], who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares, 'Yet others I will gather to them, to those already gathered.'" (Isaiah 56:8)

Who were these "others" that were to also be gathered to Israel? Paul identifies them as the Gentiles, who were once separated from Christ and Israel. Then quoting and applying the prophecy in Isaiah 57:19, Paul show that the Gentiles who were far away were brought near and that the two groups were now made into one:

 

"Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called 'Uncircumcision' by the so-called 'Circumcision,' which is performed in the flesh by human hands-remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who wear near." (Ephesians 2:11-17)

Thus, the Nazarene would have meant: "I have other [Gentile] sheep, which are not of this [Jewish] fold; I must bring them [near by my blood] also, and [those far off] will hear My voice [and be gathered]; and they will become one flock [and one body to God] with one shepherd [the Christ]." (John 10:16 NASB) [Contributed]

 

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Who was "Gog" and the "land of Magog"?

According to Josephus those who lived in the land of Magog were called
Scythians: "Now they were the grandchildren of Noah, in honor of whom names were imposed on the nations by those that first seized upon them. Japhet, the son of Noah, had seven sons: they inhabited so, that, beginning at the mountains Taurus and Amanus, they proceeded along Asia, as far as the river Tansis, and along Europe to Cadiz, (Spain); and settling themselves on the lands which they light upon, which none had inhabited before, they called the nations by their own names. For Gomer founded those whom the Greeks now call Galatians, [Galls,] but were then called Gomerites. Magog founded those that from him were named Magogites, but who are by the Greeks called Scythians." (Antiquities of the Jews, i. 6, 1, Josephus)

Ezekiel was told to "set his face against the land of Magog," where the Scythians lived. (Ezekiel 38:2) Gog is called "the head chieftain of Meshech and Tubal" because he came to rule over those lands. Gog is probably a title not unlike Pharaoh. Some even think that Moscow and Tobolsk derived their names from these ancient lands, which were situated near the Caucasus in the region of the Black Sea. Additionally, Herodotus claimed that the Scythians made an attack on Egypt, which occurred before the beginning of Egypt's 40 years of exile and sometime late in the 7th century. (Ezekiel 29:8-14) In addition to the attack on Egypt, the Scythians hordes had invaded Lydia and Persia, and the Scythians continued to be a threat even after the Jews had returned from exile.

Late in the 6th century, with the rise of Cyrus to power in Persia, the Lydians, Babylonians, Egyptians, and the Spartans in Greece, formed an alliance against Cyrus. Cyrus crushed the alliance by first defeating the Lydians, then the Babylonians. It was at this time that the Jews "were brought back from the sword" and "gathered out of many peoples" to return to the land of Israel by the decree of Cyrus. (Ezekiel 38:8; Ezra 1:1-4; 3:1) Cyrus is said to have died in battle sometime about 530 BCE. It was during this time that the land of Israel had come under attack by the Scythians hordes.

The text in Ezekiel does not say that Gog would be the ruler of all the peoples that were to come against the land of Israel. It only calls him "the head chieftain of Meshech and Tubal." Nevertheless, nothing prevented the Egyptians and Libyans from coming in on the land of Israel for plunder. Thus, there were those from other nations who came "with Gog" in his assault upon the land of Israel. (Ezekiel 38:5, 9). It is not likely that those who came to plunder Israel from Persia were under the command of Cyrus. It is more likely that they were those who aligned themselves with the Scythians when they were driven out of Persia by Cyrus and Darius the Mede after the defeat of Babylon. Cyrus is known to have returned to Ecbatana after the fall of Babylon, probably to secure his kingdom against any uprisings that might have occurred during his campaign against Babylon. And history records that the Egyptians offered resistance to Persian domination until they were defeated by Cambyses in 525 BCE. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that Cyrus died in battle while fighting to protect the land of Israel from the Scythian hordes, and from the nations who had accompanied them in their quest for spoil.

Thus, the prophecy in Ezekiel 38 and 39 had its initial fulfillment in the latter part of the 6th century and does not apply to the prophetic battle of Armageddon. It will have its antitypical fulfillment after the end of the 1000 years. (Revelation 20:7-9) The text plainly says that Gog was to come "against the land of Israel." (Ezekiel 38:18) And Ezekiel also records Jehovah’s word that Gog was to come "against my people Israel." (Ezekiel 38:16)

Let us now consider what one Biblical commentary erroneously claims about the prophecy of Gog of Magog:

"The fact that the definite location of ‘the land of Magog’ is left uncertain
and indeterminate to us in the Bible (as well as in secular history), along
with the prophet's reference to ‘the final part of the years’ (Ezekiel 38:8),
and the fact that the described invasion is not known to have taken place
literally upon Israel, provide the basis for viewing the prophecy concerning
Magog as relating to a future time in the Biblical 'time of the end.' " (Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 2, page 295)

Is it obvious that Ezekiel 38 and 39 describe the attack of Gog upon the
"people of Israel." The above commentary would have us believe that "the
people of Israel" mean those Christians who are alive at the time of the end! Throughout all their numerous publications they insist that this is the case. Nevertheless, history records that the hordes from the north, which came against the land of Israel, were known as the Sythians. Their leader, Gog, is not mentioned in the secular records because the Sythians were a primitive people and did not keep much in the way of written records; thus little is known about this people. What is known is that Cyrus went out to meet them when they came in from the north to attack and plunder the southern lands, which included Israel. Cyrus repelled their attack and spared the nation from plunder. Ezekiel 38 and 39 is a fulfilled prophecy, and not one waiting to be fulfilled by an attack on Christians at the time of Armageddon.

Furthermore, Ezekiel 38:8 literally says, "From days many you will be visited, in the after years you will come to the land turned back from the sword - gathered out of peoples many." This simply means that Gog would make an attack upon literal Israel after it was gathered back from the time of the exile.

This is just another example of the way the above commentary misleads about
Biblical prophecies so as to make it appear that they are mentioned in
Scripture. Nevertheless, each Christian ought to take the time to do some research to see if there is another opinion about the fulfillment of Bible prophecies. But many "Christians" are simply too frightened to do so. Some have been told not to read publications that lack the seal of approval of one Christian sect or another. [Contributed: GP]

 

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The Wisdom of Youth

A child’s prayer overhead: "Lord, in Jesus’ name, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth."

Never trust a dog to watch your food.
Patrick, Age 10

When you want something expensive, ask your grandparents.
Matthew,Age12

Never talk back to a teacher whose eyes and ears are twitching.
Andrew, Age 9

Wear a hat when feeding seagulls.
Rocky, Age 9

Sleep in your clothes so you'll be dressed in the morning.
Stephanie, Age 8

Never try to hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.
Rosemary, Age 7

Don't flush the toilet when you're dad's in the shower.
Lamar, Age 10

Never ask for anything that costs more than five dollars when your
parents are doing taxes.
Carrol, Age 9

Never bug a pregnant mom.
Nicholas, Age 11

Don't ever be too full for dessert.
Kelly, Age 10

When your dad is mad and asks you, "Do I look stupid?" don't answer him.
Heather, Age 16

Never tell your mom her diet's not working.
Michael, Age 14

Don't pick on your sister when she's holding a baseball bat.
Joel, Age12

When you get a bad grade in school, show it to your mom when she's on
the phone.
Alyesha, Age 13

Never try to baptize a cat.
Laura, Age 13

Never do pranks at a police station.
Sam, Age 10

Beware of cafeteria food when it looks like it's moving.
Rob, Age 10

Never tell your little brother that you're not going to do what your mom
told you to do.
Hank, Age 12

Remember you're never too old to hold your father's hand.
Molly, Age 11

Listen to your brain. It has lots of information.
Chelsey, Age 7

Stay away from prunes.
Randy, Age 9

Never dare your little brother to paint the family car.
Phillip, Age 13

[Contributed: AW]

 

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A Stranger Visits an FBS meeting

"Was I nervous?" I was asked later. I suppose most people are nervous when they meet new people in different surroundings in an unknown environment. I told the gentle lady, "No, I was not nervous, because I had already learned something of the Free Bible Students."

I was glad I left early because I got lost and arriving late was the only thing that made me nervous. The meeting was held in a fine residence in Temecula, California. When I rang the bell I was warmly greeted and then greeted again with loving enthusiasm: hearty hand shakes, hugs and kisses from the gentle ladies present. There were about two dozen in attendance and I was able to find a chair in a far corner to remain inconspicuous if necessary. It turned out it was not necessary. The group was mature with an average age I would guess around 60, which made me perfectly average. Everyone had their well worn Bibles in a variety of versions.

The meeting began with several hymns selected by members of the group and then formally opened with a pray and warm introduction. A brother passed out several pages on the subject of "How to Determine God’s Will?" This had been a group question raised in the past. The outline was followed with Bible texts looked up and read with any in the group volunteering comments. It seemed clear that most had a good knowledge of the Bible itself and genuinely wanted to understand God’s will. Men and women shared alike with harmonious respect. I noted some women wore a head-dress. Some made requests for special prayers in their behalf or in behalf of another. This was taken quite seriously. Some offered a reading of a favorite text of particular comfort at the moment. This part of the meeting lasted about an hour.

There was a break for lunch prepared by those who had brought a dish. What we had called "pot luck" in the Methodist Church. I was made to feel very welcome and had the opportunity to speak with most present. This was clearly a guileless group of genuine Christians characterized by love and warmth.

Following the meal another portion of the meeting began. This was an open discussion of any questions the group had. Two major questions were discussed: whether Christians were presently serving in the Most Holy and what exactly was the "seed of Abraham." Both questions were rather weighty for a nominal Christian but for this group these seemed questions of genuine interest. All had opportunity to contribute comments and Bible verses which related to the subjects. I am not sure any solid conclusion was reached and had the feeling some left wondering what the answer was.

Most would find the long meeting too much and surely if young children had been present it would be hard on parents and children. However, these were folks who truly loved the Bible and I got the feeling that most would gladly just continue discussing God’s Word late into the evening.

My overall feeling is that anyone could attend these meetings without any fear of something strange or something unusual happening. It was not a mystic clandestine gathering but rather resembled what early Christian meetings might have been like. Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, would find it similar to a "Congregation Book Study" with the inclusion of some hymns. I would suspect that such meetings will reflect the character of those brothers serving as chairman of the gathering. I would recommend anyone finding an FBS Home Church near to them and giving these kindly friends a visit. You just might to make it a habit every Sunday. [Contributed]

 

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The Times of The Gentiles

The text of Ezekiel 21:25-27 reads as follows:

"And thou, O deadly wounded wicked one, the prince of Israel, whose day is come, in the time of the iniquity of the end, thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Remove the mitre, and take off the crown; this shall be no more the same; exalt that which is low, and abase that which is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: this also shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him." - American Standard Version (ASV).

This text is often quoted by some in an attempt to support dates just as 1844, 1874, 1914 and others for the Return of Christ. The 1914 doctrine is also known as "the times of the Gentiles." The term "the times of the Gentiles" is taken from Jesus statement found at Luke 21:24:

 

"And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led captive into all the nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." - ASV.

Some of these interpreters of an "invisible presence" which according to them has already occurred have published information indicating that the 21st chapter of Luke was fulfilled in 70 CE by the destruction of Jerusalem. They state that the period of time from 66-70 CE was a period of great tribulation. They are correct in making this statement, as that period of time was the fulfillment of "the times of the Gentiles." It was the time period Jesus spoke of when he said that "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." [NOTE: possibly Jesus echoes Daniel 12:1, 7 in his "times of the Gentiles."]

Nevertheless, the these interpreters maintain that what happened at Jerusalem in the first century was a small scale model of something greater. They allege, in their so-called greater model, that the city of Jerusalem means something other than the literal city itself: they claim that the earthly city of Jerusalem was a theocracy; and, therefore, represented the rule of God. To further support this theory they cite the text of 1 Chronicles 29:23:

"Then Solomon sat on the throne of Jehovah as king instead of David his father, and prospered; and all Israel obeyed him." - ASV.

Thus, with the above text, they conclude that Jehovah reigned over his covenant people by means of earthly representatives who were the earthly kings of Judah. They consider Zedekiah to be the last member of the line of earthy kings to sit upon "the throne of Jehovah." With the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians they fix what they call the starting point of a greater fulfillment of the times of the Gentiles. They claim that the end point of the greater fulfillment was to occur with the realization of what was foretold in Ezekiel 21:27:

"This also shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him." - ASV.

The demonstrative "this" means "one claiming to represent Jehovah." Thus, the text can be understood to mean, "no one will claim to represent Jehovah, until he come whose right it is to represent him; and Jehovah himself will appoint that one as his representative." The supporters of an invisible presence in say 1914 claim that the one who was to come was the Christ. However, they state that the Christ did not assume his position as Jehovah's representative until 1914. This is the date they select for the end point of the greater fulfillment of the times of the Gentiles.

Furthermore, they consider the total time period from the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians until 1914 to be a period of 2520 years. (The chronology of these interpreters differs from what is commonly accepted by a little over 20 years due to their dating the fall of Jerusalem in 607 BCE.) The 2520 years is taken from their understanding of the seven times in Daniel chapter 4. Using a prophetic year of 360 days they apply a day for a year for each of the 7 times, which yields 2520 years. In offering an explanation of the meaning of the events in Daniel chapter 4 they consider the account to have a greater fulfillment, just as they do with the events described in Luke 21.

In studying the account in Daniel 4 we find that Jehovah struck down Nebuchadnezzar so that he could not rule again until seven times had passed over him. (Most scholars believe this to be a period of 7 literal years.) After the 7 times had ended Nebuchadnezzar was returned to this throne. A logical analysis of this chapter provides use with a simple explanation of what happened -- Jehovah (the subject) struck down (the action) Nebuchadnezzer (the object). Now in order to maintain logical consistency between the literal event and any greater fulfillment one must restore the same object that was struck down at the end of the greater time period. This the supporters of 1914 do not do; they claim that the object of Jehovah's action was "rulership" and not a particular person as is found in the account. In doing this they introduce the idea that there are two objects, 1) the last king of the earthly line of the kings of Judah, and 2) Jesus Christ.

They further state that Jesus Christ was part of that line of earthly kings. Yet they ignore the fact the Christ never sat on Jehovah's throne in Jerusalem. They ignore the fact that he died and was raised as a spirit being and was no longer a man of flesh. In doing this they also make the two objects in their model to differ from each other; the first, in their model, was the last king of Israel, and a man of sinful flesh; the second, Christ, was a spirit being. So in addition to having two objects in their model, they also have objects that are not equal. In short, their model, with its two objects does not match the model in Daniel 4. What their so-called greater fulfillment really does it to equate Jesus Christ with the kings of Israel; it also equates the heavenly kingdom to the earthly kingdom. We know that the object (Nebuchadnezzer) in Daniel 4 received back the same kingdom that was taken from him. This is clearly not the case with the invented1914 model.

The whole idea that Luke 21 has a greater fulfillment, and that there is some greater period of time equaling 2520 years for the rule of the Gentiles, is a complete invention. It is true that the nation of Israel dwelled in the promised land until they were exiled by the Babylonians, but whether their kings represented Jehovah is another matter altogether.

The text of 1 Samuel 12:17 makes it plain that it was not the idea of Jehovah for the people to have an earthly king ruling over them; in fact he considered it a great evil that the people had asked for a king:

"Is it not wheat harvest to-day? I will call unto Jehovah, that he may send thunder and rain; and ye shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the sight of Jehovah, in asking you a king." - ASV.

We should also note that the kingship did not constitute the direct rule of Jehovah over the people:

"And Jehovah said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee; for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not be king over them." - 1 Samuel 8:7; ASV. [Consider also Isaiah 63:19]

Scripture also records that the king had to make a covenant between himself and the people to the effect that he would represent Jehovah in their behalf:

"And Jehoiada made a covenant between Jehovah and the king (Jehoash) and the people, that they should be Jehovah's people; between the king also and the people." - 2 Kings 11:17; ASV. See also 2 Samuel 5:3.

We also note that when the king sinned that the people were punished for his transgressions:

 

"And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto Jehovah, I have sinned greatly in that which I have done: but now, O Jehovah, put away, I beseech thee, the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly. . . . So Jehovah sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed; and there died of the people from Dan even to Beer-sheba seventy thousand men." - 2 Samuel 24:10 - 15; ASV.

From this we can see that Jehovah was correct in condemning the idea of an earthly king ruling over the people. Nevertheless, he allowed to it occur so that it might be proven beyond a doubt that none of the sinful fleshly kings of Israel could claim they represented Jehovah; their transgressions caught up with them, and as a consequence the people suffered. The fact that they sat on what was called Jehovah's throne did not mean that they represented him. The idea of that the nation of Israel was a true theocracy like the kingdom of God under the rule of Christ Jesus is foolishness.

Let us consider what Jehovah had to say to Ezekiel about the kings of Israel:

"And he said unto me, Son of man, this is the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever. And the house of Israel shall no more defile my holy name, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, and by the dead bodies of their kings in their high places; in their setting of their threshold by my threshold, and their door-post beside my door-post, and there was but the wall between me and them; and they have defiled my holy name by their abominations which they have committed: wherefore I have consumed them in mine anger. Now let them put away their whoredom, and the dead bodies of their kings, far from me; and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever." - Ezekiel 43:7 - 9; ASV.

From this is can plainly be seen that the kings of Israel were no different than the rest of mankind who inherited sin and death from their forefather Adam. The words of the apostle ring loud and clear on this point:

"Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned:" - Romans 5:12; ASV.

"For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive." - 1 Corinthians 15:22; ASV.

So what are these interpreters trying to do in equating the kings of Israel with Jesus Christ? And in equating his kingdom with their kingdom? Perhaps they would have us believe that he is a sinner like the fleshly kings of Israel! And that his kingdom is wicked like theirs was!

Scripture records that Christ was approved by Jehovah in the first century:

 

"And lo, a voice out of the heavens, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." - Matthew 3:16: ASV.

This was when he came "whose right it is" to represent Jehovah; thus, it was in the first century when Jehovah words, "and I will give it him," were fulfilled, and not in 1914.

Clearly scripture teaches that Jesus was sent to the people of Israel as one approved to be their king by God himself:

"Fear not, daughter of Zion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt." - John 12:15; ASV.

Scripture also records that the people rejected Christ as their king:

"Now it was the Preparation of the passover: it was about the sixth hour. And he saith unto the Jews, Behold, your King! ' They therefore cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him! Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar." - John 19:14, 15; ASV.

These mistaken interpreters are correct in saying that the 21st chapter of Luke was fulfilled in the first century. The only "times of the Gentiles" mentioned in the entire Bible was that brief period of time from 66-70 CE when the Romans armies trampled on the holy city. There is nothing in the text of Scripture, in direct prophecy, or in antitypical model, that points to the year 1914 for the beginning of the reign of Jesus Christ over the earth. The text in Revelation plainly states that Christ will rule for 1000 years after the battle of Armageddon.

The 1914 doctrine, which is also known as the doctrine of the times of the Gentiles, is the foundation of the Gospel of those who believe Christ’s parousia began in 1914 though invisibly. 1914 is the date for which they allege that a core group of Christians were approved by Christ and deemed to be anointed to represent him before the world. When they take you into their religion you must understand that they, and not Jesus Christ, are your mediators or "channel" to God. You must understand that you are in a covenant relationship with them for salvation. They plainly teach that their core group, known among them as the anointed, are the only means by which a person can hope to survive the pending battle of Armageddon. Friends, this is very serious matter in the eyes of Jehovah God.

The scriptures state:

"Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in his name." - John 20:30, 31; ASV.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life." - John 3:16; ASV.

"Jesus said unto them. I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." - John 6:35; ASV.

The Bible teaches that the only savior sent by Jehovah was his beloved Son Jesus. Nevertheless, some pseudo anointed prophets have, by means of its doctrines, claimed to be a savior. They have many other false teachings, which they link to the 1914 doctrine. I would have to go into a lengthy discourse and much greater detail in order to explain all the errors in their doctrines that relate to the 1914 doctrine. It is my hope that what I have thus far presented for consideration will be sufficient to help those with doubts to see the error in the principle doctrine of Messiah’s Parousia occurring in 1914. [Contributed: GP]

 

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A Hymn Based on 1 Timothy 3:16

"Wonderous is the Mystery of our Worship!"

Wonderous is the mystery of our worship!

Nothing so profound!

Nothing so great!

Our Lord became manifest in the flesh

The Logos revealed in a human body

to take away the sins of the world

Wonderous is the mystery of our worship!

Nothing so profound

Nothing so great

Our Lord was justified in the spirit

Raised up in immortal glory

Exalted above all -- Head of the Church

Wonderous is the mystery of our worship!

Nothing so profound

Nothing so great

Our Lord was seen with angels

To the imprisoned spirits he preached

He is coming again with his angels in glory

Wonderous is the mystery of our worship!

Nothing so profound

Nothing so great

Our Lord was preached to the world

How beautiful the gospel feet

To every nation under heaven

Wonderous is the mystery of our worship!

Nothing so profound

Nothing so great

Our Lord was believed on in all the world

The blood of the martyrs the seed of the Gospel

Multitudes confessed their salvation

Wonderous is the mystery of our worship!

Nothing so profound

Nothing so great

Our Lord was received up in glory

Ascending on high he led captives as gifts to all

Ascending he took his Throne -- Lord of all

Wonderous is the mystery of our worship

Northing so profound

Nothing so great

 

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UNITY DESPITE DIFFERENT FUNCTIONS

[An section from Nazarene Community]

 

"DIFFERING GIFTS"

#78. Having isolated the type of thinking which will maintain body harmony Paul makes it clear that all in the community do not have the same function. Romans 12: 4, 5 read: "For as in on e body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function (performance), so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another." (RSV)

#79. Comparing the human body to the Nazarene community is common to Paul. (1 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 4:4) Paul uses the Greek soma as a comparison to the unity in the Nazarene community or congregation. He uses the word 44 times in 1 Corinthians and only again in Ephesians 4:4, Colossians 1:18, 24 and 3:15. Perhaps nothing illustrates joint-harmony better than the human body. The Greek soma is the basis for the Latin corps which is the root for "corporation" or "corporate." He does not frame ergon (work) in such a way as to create organization but the meaning is the same: a working body of people united for a common purpose. Such a definition is found in Ephesians 4:12,16. He begins with the expression "function" and the idea of different or varied "use" in the Greek word prazin so that irrespective of the body "member" it functions for the common whole. Somatic or bodily harmony is his theme and the sum of his entreaty in verse one. The warm thought that we "belong individually to one another" ought to be a force for joint-harmony realizing that none can function or succeed without the other.

 

#80. Paul goes on to list these seven "differing gifts." Paul has not discussed "gifts" yet but they are inferred by the word "function" or "use" in Romans 12:4. Differing gifts may also be a cause for disunity as the Corinthian congregation illustrates. Because these gifts vary there is the tendency with weaker individuals to draw comparisons and start a hierarchy of degrees or status. Such a mentality is not conducive to joint-harmony. These gifts are possessed by God’s undeserved kindness and however charismatic (or, gifted) a person may be it is because he has received the gift from God, not out of his own doing. (1 Corinthians 4:7) Jealousy is always a danger in such an environment.

GIFT # 1 -- PROPHET

 

#81. Romans 12:6b reads in the King James Version: "whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith." The Greek word prophetes means to "speak out" or "speak before." The phrase is variously rendered: TCNT: if our gift is to preach, let our preaching correspond to our faith; NEB: the gift of inspired utterance, for example, in proportion to a man’s faith.

 

#82. Peter says something similar: "When any one speaks, let him speak as one who is delivering the oracles of God." (1 Peter 4:11TCNT)

#83. The subject of "prophet" and "prophecy" may be studied under different headings for the varied details regarding this gift. However, for practical purposes it may be considered here as a speaker before an audience, or a spokesman. In a general sense all Christians share this gift as preachers and teachers of the Kingdom. For Paul says, "I believe and so I spoke." (2 Corinthians 4:12, 13) Some are gifted by assignment or application and will be evident by their speaking before audiences of varying sizes. They should apply their gift as evidence of the faith proportioned to each one. Their gift can greatly enhance joint-harmony.

 

#84. According to Paul this would not include women for he writes what he calls the "Lord’s commandment" when he says: "As in all the churches of the saints, women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak. Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man." (1 Corinthians 14:33; 1 Timothy 2:11, 12 RSV) This church-wide rule should not create disharmony, for women are free to perform the more important obligations of a Christian -- the physical care of others as shown in the next gift listed by Paul. (Matthew 25:31-46)

GIFT # 2 -- SERVICE

#85. Romans 12:7a reads in the King James Version: "Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering." The Greek word diakonia means "service" to others. The phrase is variously rendered: MOF: if it is practical service, let us mind our service; LB: if your gift is that of serving others, serve them well; PME: if it is serving others let us concentrate on our service.

 

#86. The Nazarene encourages the same service in imitation of his own life: "Whoever wants to become ‘great’ among you must be your servant. Just as the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve and give himself a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:26, 28) Peter writes in the same vein: "If anyone is serving others let him do so in the strength supplied by The God." (1 Peter 4:11)

#87. This gift has stronger reference to service in a physical sense than the preaching connotation it is often given. A survey of the word as well as the Greek from which it is drawn lays emphasis on service done to others regarding their material needs, sometimes in an organized manner. Clearly such a gift, used rightly, goes a long way in creating a spirit of harmony and love among the brotherhood. (Compare 2 Corinthians 8:1-4; 9:1, 2, 11-13)

GIFT # 3 -- TEACHER

 

#88. Romans 12:7b reads in the King James Version: "or he that teacheth, on teaching." This phrase is variously rendered: CON: let the teacher labor in teaching; MOF: the teacher must mind his teaching; MON: let the teacher give himself to his teaching.

#89. Paul mentions elsewhere hard-working teachers who deserve some financial help. (1 Timothy 5:17; Galatians 6:6) There are different degrees of Christian teachers though all should be teachers in time. (Hebrews 5:12; Matthew 28:19) Paul’s entreaty is that the teacher be about his teaching and not be distracted. Also, if he teaches in a good and godly manner he will be a tower of strength to those endeavoring to be joined harmoniously together. (Compare Ephesians 4:11, 16) Teaching in a general sense could also be done by all Christians. Official "teachers" do so under a heavier judgment. (James 3:1-3)

GIFT # 4 -- EXHORTER

 

#90. Romans 12:8a reads in the King James Version: "Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation." The Greek paraklese carries the idea of encouragement or comfort. The phrase is variously rendered: PME: and if our gift be the stimulating of the faith others let us set ourselves to it; NEB: the gift of stirring speech; BECK: if you can encourage, encourage; LB: the preach should see to it that his sermons are strong and helpful; WEY: and the pastor’s in his exhortation.

#91. To the Greek the exhorter was one who could move the men in the army to rousing feats of martial art and high morale. Some are particularly gifted as speakers and one is always encouraged to hear them. But, all can encourage in one degree or another. (Romans 1:11) This gift can be a unifying factor in joint-harmony.

GIFT # 5 -- GIVER

 

#92. Romans 12:8b reads in the King James Version: "he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity." The phrase is variously rendered: NW: he that distributes let him do it with liberality; TCNT: let the man who gives in charity do so with a generous heart; MON: he who gives, let him do it with singleness of mind; LB: if God has given you money, be generous in helping others with it.

 

#93. Both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures encourage giving. "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 15:11 NW) "The generous soul will itself be made fat, and the one freely watering [others] will himself also be freely watered." (Proverbs 11:25 NW) "But as to this, he that sows sparingly will also reap sparingly; and he that sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:6, 7 NW)

#94. Though this has application to giving in general and doing so without an envious eye -- but with a simple eye -- there were those occasions where men were assigned to make a distribution in the common sharing of the Christians. (Compare Acts 4:35; 6:1,2) Indeed, it was this distribution which raised the first disharmony among the Christian brotherhood when, due to the difference in language only, some widows were overlooked in the daily distribution of food! Those assigned such tasks are encouraged to do it liberally or generously. One of the single most grievous causes of disharmony is the unequal distribution of wealth among Christians. This Paul addresses to the Corinthians when he encourages an "equalization." (2 Corinthians 8:8-21)

GIFT # 6 -- PRESIDENT

 

#95. Romans 12:8c reads in the King James Version: "he that ruleth, with diligence." The Greek is proistamenos meaning "standing before" and indicates one who presides before the congregation. Various renderings are: TCNT: let him who is in authority exercise due diligence; NEB: if you are a leader, exert yourself to lead; NJB: if you are put in charge, you must be conscientious; NW ftn: "act as leader."

 

#96. Congregations, like synagogues before them, had a single presiding elder or group of presbyters. (Acts 13:5; 18:8, 17; 1 Thessalonians 5:12; 1 Peter 5:2) Nothing is more disheartening that a presiding elder or a leader who lacks enthusiasm and industriousness. A true leader who does so, not out of ambition or vainglory, but out of genuine zeal, can help harmonize any group or congregation. The Greek carries the idea of "speed up" so he gets his work done quickly and efficiently yet in loving warmth. (Hebrews 13:7, 17)

 

#97. Paul gives two lists of requirements for an overseer or elder containing more than a dozen characteristics. (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-10) These will be discussed in detail.

GIFT # 7 -- CHARITY

 

#98. Romans 12:8c reads in the King James Version: "he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness." The Greek word here for "mercy" eleon is often misunderstood. It has more to do with charity or giving than with judicial forgiveness. Various renderings are: LB: if yours is the gift of kindness to others, do it cheerfully; CON: he who shows pity, let him show it gladly; WEY: one who gives help should do it cheerfully; NJB: if you do works of mercy, let it be because you enjoy doing them; PME: let the man who feels sympathy for his fellows act cheerfully.

 

#99. The Nazarene teaches the same kind of charity or giving: "Blessed are the merciful (or, charitable) for they will receive mercy." (Matthew 5:7) Jesus gave specific instructions to his "little flock": "Sell your possessions and give the money away." (Luke 12:33 PME)

#100. The word "mercy" has less to do with judgment and forgiveness than with material giving or charitable assistance to the poor and needy -- a proof of pure worship. (James 1:27) Jesus instructed his disciples not to fear but "sell everything and give gifts of mercy" if they wanted to inherit the Kingdom. (Luke 12:32, 33) Nothing discourages more than one who gives begrudgingly or who has the wherewithal but refuses. (James 2:15,16; 1 John 3:17) Again, a divisive factor among Christians is the attitude developed by both the poor and rich toward one another in their social castes. Ultimately Christians will be judged either sheep or goats on the basis of their charity and hospitality. (Matthew 25:31-46)

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Who are the "Friends of the Nazarene"?

This newly formed Christian group is associated with Nazarene Saints Publishing. Who are the "Friends of the Nazarene"?

Please read John 15:14: "You are my friends IF you do what I am commanding you." Friends of the Nazarene ("Friends" for short. Compare 3 John 14) are those disciples of the Nazarene who have seriously embarked on keeping the commandments of their Lord, Jesus. A consideration of the Gospels show at least 60 of these "commandments." You may read all of them in the online publication NAZARENE COMMANDMENTS at the Nazarene Saints Publishing web page. (Also called, "Friends of the Nazarene.")

 

"Friends of the Nazarene" agree in principle with the two primary publications used in Nazarene Home Churches: NAZARENE PRINCIPLES (a basic primer on the teachings of the Nazarene); and, NAZARENE COMMUNITY (a guideline for church unity and order). Both of these publications are available by emailing or down-loading from the web page.

Several other publications are used in Home Churches: NAZARENE APOCALYPSE (a verse by verse commentary on the Book of Revelation with 1,000 footnotes); NAZARENE MOUNTAIN TEACHINGS (a commentary on the Sermon on the Mount). Also published by the Nazarene Saints are DE TRINITATIS ERRORIBUS (a treatment of the Trinity); WHERE ARE THE DEAD? (a consideration of what the Bible says about the "after-life"); and, a monthly newsletter or journal of about 40-50 pages dealing with a wide variety of subjects for use in Nazarene Home Church meetings. It is left to each Nazarene Home Church to determine their own spiritual needs and therefore the article or publication they wish to use as a format for discussion.

Nazarene Home Church meetings spend part of their devotion and worship to consideration of the above publications and a less formal discussion of the Bible itself, verse by verse, with audience participation in questions and answers. The Nazarene Home Church meeting is opened with song, then prayer. This is followed by a five minute reading of a portion of the Bible chosen by a "reader." A second fifteen minute "commentary" deals with a portion of Scripture followed by a sermon explaining these particular verses. A 30 minute talk by an elder is the highlight given by an "apostle, prophet, or teacher." The first formal half of the meeting closes with a hymn and the second one hour informal portion follows with a consideration of Bible verses selected by the group for study in an open question and answer program. The entire meeting concludes with song and prayer. Generally some form of hospitality follows.

Each Nazarene Home Church is relatively independent while having a deep respect for those appointed as apostles, prophets, teachers, shepherds, and missionaries. (Acts 16:1-3; Romans 12:1-17; Ephesians 4:1-16; 1 Corinthians 12:1-33) Nazarene Home Church order among the Nazarene Community is arranged according to the teachings of the Nazarene as well as the inspired instructions of his apostle Paul. (1 Timothy chapters 3 and 5; Titus chapter 1)

What are some of the essential beliefs of the Friends of the Nazarene?

1) There is one absolute God, the Father and Creator who is called Yahweh or Jehovah. He has produced or begotten spiritual children and continues to do so. These all are led by His Spirit. (John 1:12, 13; Romans 8:14-16; Hebrews 2:10-12) The First Letter of John the Beloved lists a handful of identifying characteristics of those who are God-born.

2) Jesus the Nazarene was the pre-existent Logos, the first creation of the Father -- also designated a god though in a secondary manner -- who became a human being, the Christ or Messiah, and who offered his flesh and blood in sacrifice to redeem all mankind. (John 1:1-3; Proverbs 8:22-30; Matthew 20:28; John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:4-6; 1 John 2:1, 2)

3) The Holy Pneuma (Spirit) is the mental force or intellectual pressure by which The God (Yahweh) accomplishes His will. (1 Corinthians 2:16; Isaiah 40:13, 26)

4) The Bible is accepted as inspired in the traditional sense including 66 books from Genesis to Revelation. Commentaries by Christians, though traditional and beneficial, are not inspired. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17)

5) Christ came not only to provide himself as a ransom for all but also to build his Church or Congregation. His Church is the realm of his own rulership as King which began in 33 AD upon his return to heaven. (Daniel 7:13; Matthew 13:41; Ephesians 1:20-23; Colossians 1:13)

6) Jesus the Nazarene promised to return and gather home his Elect. (John 14:1-3; Matthew 24:30, 31; 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2) All the Christian dead wait in unconscious sleep in Hades until that future time of resurrection. (1 Corinthians 15:23, 50, 51) Those alive on earth at the very moment of the Parousia will be "changed" in the "rapture" to join Christ and the Church in the heights. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; 2 Thessalonians 2:1; 1 Corinthians 15:50-53; Daniel 7:21-25)

7) The Parousia of Christ the King is visible (Matthew 24:29, 30) and includes the parousia-judgment of the Master’s own household where all Christians who have ever lived must stand before the Nazarene’s throne for judgment. (2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 John 2:28, 29; 4:17; John 5:29; Daniel 12:1, 2) Those who have been good and righteous will inherit a heavenly or spirit existence but rule within the New Jerusalem upon earth. (Matthew 24:45-25:46; 1 Corinthians 15:50-53; Revelation 5:9, 10; 20:4, 6; 21:1-5) No Christian is authorized to preach "the time is at hand" or that we now live in the so-called "last days." (Matthew 24:44; Luke 21:8)

8) The majority of mankind alive at the time of Messiah’s Return will survive the Great Day of Wrath and live on earth into the Thousand Year reign of the King. (Revelation 9:16; 20:3; Zechariah 14:16) Generations will come and go during this period of judgment. (Isaiah 65:17-23; Daniel 7:27; Acts 17:31; 1 Corinthians 6:2) At the end of the Thousand Years, after the extermination of the Devil, all mankind sleeping in death (other than those Christians raised a thousand years before) will rise in their own judgment before the Throne of Messiah. They will be individually judged on their conduct and conscience during their life times. To continue to live forever the righteous must recognized earth’s new King. (Revelation 20:12-14; Romans 2:15, 16; Matthew 12:36, 37; Philippians 2:10, 11)

9) A Friend of the Nazarene must keep the commandments of the Lord and walk carefully in his footsteps. (John 15:14; 1 Peter 2:21; Revelation 14:4) This requires they transform their thinking to conform to God’s will. (Romans 12:1, 2) Friends of the Nazarene are recognized by their continually perfecting their Christian character. (2 Corinthians 7:1, 2; 1 Peter 1:14-16; 1 John 3:3)

10) Friends of the Nazarene realize the need to carry the indwelling Christ into their daily walk. (Romans 10:9-15; Ephesians 6:15) They seek opportunities to evangelize or preach the good news or otherwise bring comfort and encouragement to the multitudes of the Christian brethren in their neighborhoods.

Any who wish to question the Friends of the Nazarene may receive an honest Biblical answer by emailing .


Nazarene Saints Publishing

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