Volume 3 -- June 1999 (48 pages) -- TWO YEARS!
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) The Friends of the Nazarene© are a spiritual community of Messianic Christians. We are apologists dedicated to the defense of the truth that "God is One" and not three. The Bible is our creed. 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) The Friends of the Nazarene© web page is http://www.nazarene-friends.org/ . [Mark Miller / Senior Editor (USA West coast); Ralph Slaney / Senior Spanish editor (Europe); Alberto Padilla / Associate Spanish Editor (USA Northeast); Andy Weeks / Associate Editor [Webmaster] (USA midwest).]
Words of Encouragement
What is Wrong with Christians Today?
[A witnessing tract]
"A little child will lead them." (Isaiah11:6)
For over two thousand years peoples of all kinds and places have longed for a leader to guide them into a better life. Now as we approach the third millennium wars are fought over the issue of leadership. Europe and the middle East struggle to find a leadership which will guide them into this new millennium. Political disagreements have caused one world power -- with leadership problems of its own -- to warn of a World War III.
Does the Bible point to a future leader who will affect the entire planet? Does the Bible characterize such a leader who can control both global worship as well as the world of commerce? Does the Bible indicate this leader will bring a form of peace to the globe? Is there a leader who will guide mankind into the third millennium with blessing to themselves? We are happy to announce that the answer is, "Yes!"
The answers to the above questions may not be the ones that the majority of mankind seek. At the outset we can say that two kinds of world peace, two kinds of global control, two kinds of earth-wide worship are likely to occur. However, the Bible indicates this will take place by means of two quite different "lambs."
One 'lamb' will use economic and military means along with oppression to control humanity and lead it into the new world order it envisions. The other 'lamb' will also deem to bring world peace by undoing a centuries-old system, both religious, political and commercial. Who are the "lambs" that humanity will follow in the coming millennium?
A 'Lamb' as a False Prophet and a New World Order
Many people around the globe feel we are on the verge of great political, commercial and religious upheavals. Wars and national animosities caused by differences in religion now affect various parts of the earth. The news of these conflicts are highlighted on television, the radio, and the printed page. Historical commentators and political analysts search and speculate regarding what person or what agency may lead mankind out of the chaos into a peace last A millennium or longer.
Interestingly, the Bible actually predicts a political power and supporting agencies which will bring world peace, a stable global economy, and one unified religion.
The first prophetic lamb is described as a supporter of a great Sea-Beast in the apocalyptic book of Revelation. This lamb is an Earth-beast which carries out the programs of the Sea-Beast. Read about these in Revelation 13:1-4 and note the following characteristics:
A political power under the control of Satan (Revelation 13:2)
This political power has a history with roots in Biblical prophecy (Revelation 13:2)
The entire globe follows this Sea-Beast in worship (Revelation 13:3, 4)
No other power can war and thus there must be an enforced peace (Revelation 13:4)
This Sea-Beast in Revelation is a parallel of what Daniel 7:7, 8 calls a "small horn" -- which seems insignificant -- but rises after ten historical cousins traceable to Rome. This "little power" fells and humiliates three of the original fragments of Rome. It is this "little horn" in Daniel -- called the Sea Beast in Revelation -- that will bring the great holocaustic oppression on end-time Christians, and this for three and a half years. (Daniel 7:21-25; Revelation 13:5-7)
A second lamb-like Earth-Beast becomes the prophet or agency which carries out the Sea-Beasts great pronouncements. Note this in Revelation 13:11-17 and what characterizes its lamb-like association with the Sea-Beast:
This 'lamb' has two horns (or, two powers) (Revelation 13:11)
This 'lamb' enforces global worship of the Sea-Beast (Revelation 13:12)
This 'lamb' causes fire to come out of the sky (Revelation 13:13)
This 'lamb' forces the earth to make and worship an idol of the Sea-Beast (Revelation 13:14)
This 'lamb' controls the global economy (Revelation 13:17)
Many are the views expressed by Bible interpreters on these subjects. Without being dogmatic we suggest a possible historical scenario which seems to harmonize with past and current political developments:
Rome fragments into ten Papal states in Europe (Daniel 7:8, 20, 24)
An insignificant small power in the American colonies rises (Daniel 7:8, 20, 24)
America plucks, puts down, and humiliates the three major competitors among the Roman fragments: England, Spain, and France (Daniel 7:8, 20, 24)
America may well yet experience a death and restoration (Revelation 13:3, 14; Revelation 11:7; Revelation 17:8, 10)
A lamb-like (Christian) power will act as False Prophet for America (Revelation 19:20)
Between the restored Sea-Beast and the 'lamb' a new world order will arise historically characterized by: 1) world peace, for none can battle with the revived beast; 2) global worship of the political power; 3) fire called down from the sky; 4) global economic control.
Can anyone fail to see that presently America (supported by the United Nations and Nato) is becoming the only world power with which no one can reasonably do battle? Can anyone fail to see that America (supported by the United Nations and Nato) can already call fire down out of the sky? Can anyone fail to see the future potential of global economic control? Can anyone fail to see that a single religio-political form of worship might be forced upon all mankind?
Will this lead to a lasting world peace with one economy and one religion? Based on our knowledge of he Bible we can say, No? The reason for this future failure is because there is another apocalyptic Lamb who will prove to be earth's new King, not for a millennium, but forever.
The most oft-mentioned 'lamb' in the book of Revelation is the glorified and enthroned Jesus Christ who left his footprints along the shores of Galilee. No one could have predicted that an obscure carpenter from little Nazareth would today have over three billion adherents. No one could have predicted that most modern nations count-down to the year 2,000 based on their understanding of the birth date of Jesus Christ.
Whatever turn outs to be the actual fulfillment of the Apocalypse, this same book of Revelation that foretells future human developments also points to the one true Lamb who will finally lead mankind into a blessed millennium. Before he begins his own Thousand Year reign over the world, the Lamb is foretold to destroy those powers which have oppressed and polluted the earth by their commercial greed. The Bible describes what the Lamb will do (we suggest one possible fulfillment):
"These ten (European powers) all have the same purpose, and they give their power and authority to the (sea) beast (America). They will fight against the Lamb; but the Lamb, together with his called, chosen, and faithful followers, will defeat them, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings. .. "The time has come to destroy those who destroy the earth!" ... Then I saw heaven open, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithful and True; it is with justice that he judges and fights his battles. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and he wore many crowns on his head. He had a name written on him, but no one except himself knows what it is. The robe he wore was covered with blood. His name is "The Word of God." The armies of heaven followed him, riding on white horses and dressed in clean white linen. Out of his mouth came a sharp sword, with which he will defeat the nations. He will rule over them with a rod of iron, and he will trample out the wine in the wine press of the furious anger of the Almighty God. On his robe and on his thigh was written the name: "King of kings and Lord of lords." (Revelation 17:13, 14; Revelation 11:18; Revelation 19:11-16)
Following what Revelation 16:14, 16 calls Armageddon, the real enemy of mankind, "the god of this world," Satan, will be imprisoned and locked up in a Thousand Year abyss. The King Messiah will rule for a millennium, a Thousand Years, without the influence of the Devil. (2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 5:19; Revelation 20:3) Isaiah 65:17-23 describes this period:
For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the child shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall Not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity; for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of YHWH, and their children with them.
Surely, the Lamb will lead mankind into a genuine and godly peace with the full opportunity for the world and its nations to "learn righteousness." (Isaiah 26:9) This will occur under the loving rule of an inspired King where all will be treated justly and without any prejudice. (Isaiah 9:6, 7; 11:1-9) For a Thousand Years the rightness of God's rule by His Messiah will result in universal praise as described in Revelation 5:9-13 (TEV):
They sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to break open its seals. For you were killed, and by your sacrificial death you bought for God people from every tribe, language, nation, and race. You have made them a kingdom of priests to serve our God, and they shall rule on earth." Again I looked, and I heard angels, thousands and millions of them! They stood around the throne, the four living creatures, and the elders, and sang in a loud voice: "The Lamb who was killed is worthy to receive power, wealth, wisdom, and strength, honor, glory, and praise!" And I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, in the world below, and in the seaall living beings in the universeand they were singing: "To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, be praise and honor, glory and might, forever and ever!"
At the end of the Thousand Years the living proof will be universally visible that the Lamb of God has proved to be the One to follow into, not only the third millennium, but all millenniums to come!
"That is very fine for the future," someone will say, "but what about now?"
Who will 'follow the Lamb no matter where he goes'?
The Good News is that the King already reigns from his heavenly throne! Daniel 7:13 foretold that a human being would ascend to heaven and take up celestial rulership from the hand of the Most High. This proved to be none other than Jesus the Nazarene. (John 6:62; Acts 1:9-11) The authority of his rule is described by Paul at Ephesians 1:19-22, "This power working in us is the same as the mighty strength which (God) used when He raised Christ from death and seated him at his right side in the heavenly world. Christ rules there above all heavenly rulers, authorities, powers, and lords; he has a title superior to all titles of authority in this world and in the next. God put all things under Christ's feet and gave him to the church as supreme Lord over all things." (Compare Matthew 28:19.)
This reign began in the year 33 CE when Jesus ascended to heaven. He was to begin his rule waiting for the ultimate subjugation of all his enemies. (1 Corinthians 15:24; Psalm 110:1) The last enemy to be destroyed will be death itself. Though this will mean a glorious resurrection to life on an Edenic planet, the King Jesus is presently the "one leader" of the Christian Church. (Matthew 23:10) Persons who have repented of their sins, confessed them to God, begun a serious course of discipleship, and expressed their faith in Jesus as Lord, already acknowledge the Nazarene as their Lord and King. There are even now within his kingdom and under his guidance. (Colossians 1:13)
Those genuine Christians who live up to that future historical and prophetic moment called "the Day of the Lord" will find themselves snatched or raptured out of harm's way at the height of that future holocaust. (Daniel 7:22; Daniel 12:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 11:12) However, these so rescued from the "great oppression" (Revelation 7:9, 14; Daniel 7:22; 12:1) are described in Revelation 14:4 as "they are the ones who follow the Lamb no matter where he goes." Just how do they "follow the Lamb"?
These end-time Saints have chosen "one leader" and trust him to guide them throughout the coming millenniums. They recognize Jesus as their "model." (1 Peter 2:21) Indeed, "they follow the lamb no matter where he goes."
There are several ways this submission to Christ's leadership is manifest:
An Eternal Leadership with Peaceful Prospects
By discipleship which leaves self behind and follows Jesus everyday (Mathew 16:24) and this after the example of Christ (Philippians 2:4-7)
By the exercise of deep conviction that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God (John 3:16; 1 John 5:1)
By learning and observing all the commandments of our Leader (John 14:15; John 15:14; Matthew 23:10) through personal study and by local and regular Bible discussions (Hebrews 10:24)
By living a life of the indwelling Christ manifest in faith, charity and self-sacrifice (1 John 3:23; James 1:27; 1 John 2:6)
By the endurance of suffering and oppression (1 Peter 2:21; Revelation 13:10)
The Good News is that time remains to join membership in the Bride of the Lamb with the potential of becoming a citizen of the New Jerusalem. (Revelation 19:7, 9; 21:9, 10; 2 Corinthians 11:3; Philippians 3:20, 21) The Good News now is that there is "one Leader" who can guide us like a Good Shepherd through this dark world into a glorious New Dawn. (John 10:11, 14, 16) The Good News now is that there is a Leader who will guide honest hearted peoples into the third millennium and beyond -- and more importantly, during the Thousand Years, will lead and guide them to everlasting life with enduring peaceful prospects. (Revelation 7:17; 14:4, 5; 22:2, 14, 17)
[For more details see the study on Revelation NAZARENE APOCALYPSE and Revelation 13.]
[A regular feature for the free expression of faith and belief.]
I just want to say again to you .... and all the brothers who are involved, these translations are awesome! I'm a babe in the faith compared to many of you (11 years), but I've studied from a host of translations, and the Nazarene renderings are simply second to none. May Jehovah God and his Son Jesus our Lord be glorified in all we do and say!! [a brother from the North East]
Each time I read one of these spirit guided suggestions it fills my heart with joy and it convinces me more and more that Jehovah through Jesus is guiding many to waters of truth among the Friends of the Nazarene. Thank you for, as my son says "Keeping it real". I will continue to pray that we grow in faith, love and hopefully in numbers.
God Bless in Jesus Name..... [a JW elder]
I spent most of the day today going over some of the past mags you and the friends have provided for since August 1997. I am trying to copy all of it. Wow! what alot in wonderful information! It astounds me! Not to mention all the hard work on the Bible translations , books, booklets etc in such a short time. I really commend all of you. I am so very thankful that you made this site available and those who sincerely are hungering and searching for the truth, and true Bible knowledge have a place such as this to come to.
It is only obvious that Jehovah and His son is blessing you and I do hope that He will also help you keep in health and help you to live a very long life. If this system keeps going on, and many of us do pass away, I pray that Jehovah will watch over those who come in afterwards and that they also show that they are just as God fearing and have the same love for Jesus' sheep. It would be terrible for Satan to get his foot in somewhere. What a terrible thing it was when I find out that we have been mislead for so many years. Look at all of the pain and suffering it has caused so many, and who knows how many are still streaming out of the Organiation and searching on the internet. As you know, Satan is there waiting. I am not too familiar with the H20, I have been there, but I haven't taken the time to look into many messages. I see that you found some unChristian people just interested in tearing down Christians faith. It surprises me that there are so many that just don't want to study Gods' Word, to
really find out the real........truth. I do feel so much better now, and my depression has lifted. Agape, [xJW sister]
Wow.... What a treasure! I sure appreciate your efforts, work, and spirit. I was raised as a Jehovah's Witnesses. Both I and my mother who has posted on this site, are truly happy to find your web site and will surely direct people (any who will listen) to your information. Comming from the spoiled "food" from the WBTS, your information is like cool water and fresh bread. You will probably never know the life saving impact on fellow Christians' lives who hunger for the pure "milk" of the word. How refreshing the spirit of Christian freedom is with you and the Free Bible Students who I now associate with. May God and his Son, the Prince of Peace, give you peace and rest, but most of all, support. My prayers will be with you. Thank you all dear Brothers. [xJW brother]
That is why I like this website. You will find wonderful Bible help for a Christian to learn just what Jesus' commandments really are, and how to follow them. There is alot of wonderful Bible knowledge here. A treasure to be cherished!
[a non-denominational Christian]
I agree, the new site is very nice. I see some new things too. Thanks so much for your work on Ephesians! I share your site with most everyone I contact on the net. Hope they too will see and appreciate the wonderful, loving help -- help you provide us with here to get a better and deeper understanding of the Scriptures.
May Jehovah and His son, continue to bless you and be with you always.
[Sister / Washington]
***WHAT IS WRONG WITH CHRISTIANS TODAY?
Christians number one third of the human population of six billion persons. If Christ were to return today and render that judgment that he foretold would occur when he arrived what would be his assessment of Christendom, his own kingdom? (Matthew 13:42, 43; Colossians 1:13; 2 Corinthians 5:10)
Would our Lord ask of us the following two questions? (Matthew 12:36, 37)
To be a disciple of any teacher one must begin with a reading or study of his teachings. Most great religious teachers either wrote or left behind writings under the care of their first personal disciples. A true disciple or learner will demonstrate his devotion to his Master by a diligent consideration of those writings or Scriptures though it be a life-long study.
Jesus committed his teachings to the inspired memory of certain of his apostles and charismatic disciples. (John 14:26; John 16:12, 13; John 17:20) These have become known as the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the epistles of Paul, Peter, James, Jude, and John. The Nazarene as a prophet greater than Moses gave his own inspired predictions. He taught illuminated disciples would be led by holy spirit which would, "guide you into all the truth ... and will declare to you the things coming." (John 16:13) Such predictions of the future would surely have included the Glorified Lord's own inspired apocalypse or Revelation. (Revelation 1:1)
Not all those who profess to be disciples of Jesus would demonstrate a love for all that Jesus taught. However, that some would read his teachings seriously over a considerable time was also foretold. Daniel 12:3, 10, 11 foretells -- in the context of the chronology of a great tribulation -- "Those who are wise will shine like the sun and those who have given right instruction as brilliant as the stars. ... Many will be cleansed but the wicked will never understand while those who are wise will understand." About 600 years later the Risen Messiah wrote in the Bible's last book, "Blessed with divine favor is the person who reads with understanding and observes these prophetic words." (Revelation 1:3)
Since this is the case would Christ not ask why those who profess him as Lord do not read his teachings more. The truth is that few Christians have completed even one reading of the New Testament. Fewer still have meditated seriously on the teachings of the Jesus. And, those who have committed themselves to a long and careful study of Revelation are rare indeed.
The "God of knowledge" has chosen to communicate with His worshippers through the medium of words. Over a period of several millenniums God spoke in a variety of ways and at different seasons to "prophets." The God of heaven now speaks by means of His Son. (Hebrews 1:1) Much of what is said in the Christian Bible is easy to understand for "love of neighbor" is not a difficult concept. Other portions are "hard to understand" as one inspired writer admits. (2 Peter 3:16) Other portions call on those with "wisdom" (or, an intelligent mind) to try and comprehend complicated prophecies. (Revelation 13:18; Revelation 17:9)
This kind of meditative and prayerful study requires several things: interest, time, faith, and those gifts which come from above. Now the Author of the Bible could have produced a Book of few pages, easily understood by a cursory reading -- something like the newspaper. However, He chose not to do it this way. Why?
Could one reason be that such time-consuming and earnest studies may demonstrate the depth of a "love of the truth"? (2 Thessalonians 2:10)
To illustrate: if a loved one writes a long and complicated letter trusting that those who return this love will take the time to carefully read this letter, would the reader's effort not demonstrate their own love? The only way to 'know' Jesus is from his own teachings and those things written about him by those who loved him first. If one professes to be a disciple of Jesus but has never ready everything he taught, how can this claimed love be manifested? Can our love and affection for God and His Son be demonstrated by a strenuous effort to read these inspired letters written to us for our own good? It is hard to conceive that a Christian disciple who has failed to read such letters will be able to convince the Judge of his affections in that Day.
This is another question our Lord may very well ask members of his Church? It is an awesome question everyone claiming Jesus as their Lord will have to face when they stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:10) At this moment there will be those Christians who will be able to speak freely and openly as those who have done just as the Master commanded. (Luke 12:43; 1 John 2:28) Others will be ashamed and reproached. (Daniel 12:2; 1 John 2:28)
Judging from the teachings and parables of Jesus the entire Christian Church, all of Christendom, will be asked: "Why didn't you love others more than you did?" The disciple of the Nazarene must be characterized by not only faith in his teachings, but also in love for brother and neighbor.
Galatians 6:10 -- "So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith."
James 1:27 -- "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction."
James 2:14-17 -- "If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
1 John 3:16-18 -- "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But if any one has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth."
This charity and hospitality must happen even when it involves an enemy who is wicked and unthankful. (Matthew 5:45-48) This love will be shown by praying for the enemy, doing good to the enemy, even giving money to such wicked and ungrateful enemy without ever expecting repayment.
Luke 6:31-36 -- "And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful."
The cries of "Lord, Lord," by Christians will go unheeded by our King when he reveals he never had any kind of relationship with them:
"Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.' (Matthew 7:21-23)
"Watch how you are building." (1 Corinthians 3:10)
An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer contractor of his plans to leave the house building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by.
The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his career. When the carpenter finished his work and the builder came to inspect the house, the contractor handed the front door key to the carpenter. "This is your house," he said, "my gift to you."
What a shock! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in the home he had built none too well.
So it is with us. We build our lives in a distracted way, reacting rather than acting, willing to put up less than the best. At important points we do not give the job our best effort. Then with a shock we look at the situation we have created and find that we are now living in the house we have built.
If we had realized that we would have done it differently. Think of yourself as the carpenter. Think about your house. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. Build wisely.
It is the only life you will ever build. Even if you live it for only one day more, that day deserves to be lived graciously and with dignity. The plaque on the wall says, "Life is a do-it-yourself project."
Who could say it more clearly? Your life today is the result of your attitudes and choices in the past. Your life tomorrow will be the result of your attitudes and the choices you make today. [Contributed by FBS sister]
It is hard to believe two years have passed since the first publishing of Nazarene Saints (Friends of the Nazarene) materials including this monthly Biblical sudies magazine. With this issue we begin our third year of making Bible research available without cost to interested persons all over the world.
NAZARENE COMMENTARY: A cd-rom containing Bible studies materials is being prepared and will soon be available. It is 1,500 pages, 800,000 words, and 4,000 footnotes on a wide range of Bible topics. It is being prepared with Bible research in mind and speedy location of commentary on Bible verses and thorough consideration of hundreds of topics. Virtually all the material on the Friends of the Nazarene web page as well as other new articles have been included in one cd-library. Included are new translations of Matthew, John chapter 1, Ephesians, First John and Revelation with footnotes and commentary on every verse and every phrase, including all key words in Greek.
FON WEB NEWS: There have been new and major changes in the Friends of the Nazarene web page. The best way to examine this new and improved version is by clicking on http://www.nazarene-friends.org/ . New features are new translations of Bible books, chat rooms, downloads, email transmissions of publications, magazines, and booklets. Also an internal search engine makes it possible to research any topic or Bible verse contained in the hundreds of thousands of words featured on the web page. There is a guest book, a talk-list, and an online Bible Study program. Personal Bible questions can be answered by qualified representatives of Friends of the Nazarene. A new Testimony page will feature photos and bios of elders, research associates, and other Friends to the web page.
WITNESSING TRACTS: Several short witnessing tracts are being prepared for hard-publishing for those who wish to share the Gospel with others. They may be used to inform neighbors of a Bible discussion or devotional group in their area. One of these tracts is the article in this issue: FOLLOW THE LAMB. Other tracts will include: NAZARENE PRINCIPLES, HOW TO UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE, HOW TO BECOME A FRIEND OF THE NAZARENE. We hope to have these available as downloads on the web page. These can be printed on one 8x11.5 page front and back and then copies made at a local copy shop.
FBS Eastern "Christian Believers Conference": For program and information see the URL http://www.cqlcorp.com/fbs/Conferences/cbc99.htm .
NEW RENDERING OF FIRST JOHN: A new translation/rendering of First John has just been completed. It features two versions: one literal, the other a paraphrase. Also the literal version has footnotes on every main phrase which include: a brief commentary, comparison with other versions, cross references, Greek word studies, and other points of interest. It is now available on the web site with the other translations already published: Matthew, Ephesians, and John chapter one.
Proverbs 23:12 [The Strict School of Wisdom]
Proverbs 23:12 Pay attention to your teacher and learn all you can.
Translations: AAT: apply your mind to instruction
CROSS REFERENCE: Proverbs 22; Proverbs 5:1; Proverbs 2217 = discipline
NOTES: In order for the heart to be reach the ear must first listen and this implies a proper motive coupled with appreciaiton for the source of such knowledge.
Proverbs 23:13, 14 [To Spank or Not to Spank?]
Proverbs 23:13 Don't hesitate to discipline children. A good spanking won't kill them. Proverbs 23:14As a matter of fact, it may save their lives.
Translations: NEB: take the stick to him
CROSS REFERENCE: Proverbs 13:24; Proverbs 19:18; Proverbs 29:15, 17; Ephesians 6:4 = parental quidance
NOTES: The HEB for "rod" is shebet (Strongs# 7626) and means a stick for punishing. The HEB for "beat" is nakah (Strongs# 5221) and means to strike lightly or severely; give wounds, give stripes. This ancient advice is considered abuse or brutality by some in the Western world in this modern age and indeed some parents have abused what appears to be a standard norm through most societies in history. One need only judge by current examples of youth as to whether a passive permissiveness or a consistent and reasonable corporal punishment works best.
Proverbs 23:15, 16 [Parental Joy]
Proverbs 23:15 My child, if you become wise, I will be very happy. Proverbs 23:16 I will be proud when I hear you speaking words of wisdom.
Translations: JB: my innermost self rejoices when from your lips come honest words; BAS: and my thoughts in me will be full of joy when yor lips say right things
CROSS REFERENCE: Proverbs 4:1; Proverbs 10:1; Proverbs 27:11 = parental joy
NOTES: Nothing makes a parent happier than a child who is honest and truthful.
Proverbs 23:17, 18 [Enviable Sinners?]
Proverbs 23:17 Don't be envious of sinful people; let reverence for the Lord be the concern of your life. Proverbs 23:18 If it is, you have a bright future.
Translations: MOF: never envy evil men
CROSS REFERENCE: Proverbs 3:31; Proverbs 15:16; Proverbs 24:1 = envy
NOTES: The simultaneous admiration and resentment which make up envy, spring from an undue preoccupation with oneself and with the present.
Proverbs 23:19 [Guiding Heart]
Proverbs 23:19 Listen, my child, be wise and give serious thought to the way you live.
Translations: NAB: quide your heart in the right way; RSV: direct your mind in the way
CROSS REFERENCE: Proverbs 4:21
NOTES: A parents wise advice for the child to lead or direct his heart in the correct path of life.
[taken from Nazarene Commentary CD-ROM]
[An ongoing series. For other "qualifications" see previous Friends magazines.]
#338. WORD: amakhon peaceable
Cross References: see Romans 12:18 and James 3:18 = peaceable .
Translations: NEB: forbearing disposition, avoiding quarrels; PHI: controversialist.
#339. NOTE: In war-time a non-belligerent is a neutral or non-fighting body. This man is not adversarial with no bent or inclination to fisticuffs or settling matters in a browbeating or overpowering way. He seldom if ever appeals to the tyranny of authority as his only means of convincing a group or swaying opinion. If the arguments and facts are not present, he yields to the corporate conscience of the body of elders. It is true that sometimes a strong stand on principle is interpreted as belligerency but one must remember Paul's battles within the Corinthian congregation. (2 Corinthians 10:4-6)(12) NOT A LOVER OF MONEY ---
#340. Cross References: see 1 Timothy 6:9,10 and Hebrews 13:5 = materialism.
#341. NOTE: The term "lover of money" must be set within the context of several viewpoints: a) the teachings and life-style of the Nazarene; b) the example of his apostles; c) the example of Paul; and, d) the context of the expression in 1 Timothy 6:5-19.
#342. First, it is clear that Jesus led a simple lifestyle as an example to his disciples. He sent them out on preaching tours with specific instructions to teach them not to rely on material things. He taught directly and clearly on anxiety over material things and on several occasions by teaching and parable directed his disciples to "sell everything" or divest themselves of material burdens in order to fulfill his commission. Second, his disciples clearly understood this direction and so commented as in the case of Peter, "We have left our things." That they understood the divestiture of riches is seen in the Pentecostal example -- an example Paul upholds in his Corinthian letters. Third, Paul's lifestyle and example point the way to what his attitude would be toward love of money. Fourth, Paul's own writings, including 1 Timothy 6:5-19) outline that riches is means a surplus beyond the necessities and that those "determined to be rich" (or, having a surplus) are "lovers of money." He gives orders to those who are "rich" to respond to a list of half a dozen instructions which, if followed, would conform to those given by the Master, Jesus Christ. In addition to these points there are the remarks in the letters of James and First John as well as Jesus' own letter to the Laodiceans.
#343. "Lover of money" is aphilargyron in GRK, that is a lover of silver or "silver-lover". This expression occurs in Ecclesiastes 5:10 (LXX 5.9) where it is in the LXX agapon argyrion and the verse indicates a lover of silver is never satisfied but must persist in it despite already having plenty to satisfy reasonable needs. In this regard Ecclesiastes 4:8 mentions a lack of satisfaction or contentment (in the spirit of 1 Timothy 6:8, content) on the part of the man who works too hard without need to care for family members. There are precise warnings even in Proverbs -- 23:4, not toil to gain; 28:20, one hastening to gain not innocent; 30:8, a petition not to be rich.
1 Timothy 3:4
#344. WORD: kalos proistamenon well ruling
Cross References: see Joshua 24:15 = household worship
Translations: GDSP: managing his own house well; KNX: one who is a good head to his own family.
#345. NOTE: The "household" obviously includes his wife (see verse 11 regarding the requirements of his wife or woman) and there must be clear evidence she willingly supports him and follows his lead. If he fails in this and his wife is a source of contention in the home, as well as the congregation, it will be detrimental if such a man serves in the office of overseer.(14) HAVING CHILDREN IN SUBJECTION WITH ALL SERIOUSNESS ---
#346. Cross References: see Ephesians 6:4 = regulate; discipline
Translations: WEY: keeping his children under control; RV: his children submissive and respectful.
#347. NOTE: Having children in subjection requires that they are Christian children who also set fine examples in those affairs which are Christian, while remembering that they are children and will do childish things. (1 Corinthians 13:11) The Book of Proverbs is filled with advice and counsel on raising children in a godly manner. In this matter the husband and wife must be united in how to raise their children. Different cultures have different attitudes to rearing children, some very disciplinary, others very doting, oblivious of the irritation of other people.
#348. Paul advises: "You parents, too, do not irritate your children but bring them up with the sort of education and counsel the Lord approves." (Ephesians 6:4 WMS)
1 Timothy 3:5 (if indeed any man does not know how to preside over his own household, how will he take care of God's congregation?)
#349. Cross References:see 1 Timothy 3:15 = household
#350. NOTE: Paul's argument is obvious and it is his one and only parenthetical commentary on these qualifications. It is true that sometimes, despite a man's best efforts, neither his wife or his children respond to his good leadership and direction and are openingly rebellious, stubborn and insubordinate. It would require a great deal of soul searching on the part of recommending elders to suggest such a man to appointment as an overseer. Better such a good man function outside this "office" -- perhaps as a deacon -- than bring reproach via his family on the congregation. Such a good man can still do much as a Christian in his fine example within the congregation.
[The above is taken from the NAZARENE COMMENTARY CD-ROM.]
[PART TWO: JOY AND PEACE]
As previously discussed, the predominant quality of the fruit of the Spirit is love, but it is very interesting to note the relationship in Scripture between "joy" and "the Holy Spirit."
Romans 14:17 states, "For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." (ASV)
1 Thessalonians 1:6 states, "And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, seeing that you accepted the word under much tribulation with joy of holy spirit." (NWT)
In the aforementioned reference from Paul's letter to the Romans, we see that the kingdom is described as not meaning eating or drinking, but meaning "righteousness and peace and joy with holy spirit." (NWT) Paul has thus placed "joy" with holy spirit, as of equal importance to righteousness and peace with holy spirit. In the context of this letter, Paul is exhorting the congregation not to judge others in reference to food or drink. He says, "Do not by your food ruin that one for whom Christ died." (Romans 14:15, NWT) He says, "So then, let us pursue the things making for peace and the things that are upbuilding to one another." (Romans 14:19, NWT)
Our pursuit of peace and righteousness is not only imperative to our own salvation, but also to the salvation of our brothers and sisters in Christ, who are prone to be affected by our behavior. We must be as equally concerned with the salvation of others as we are with our own salvation. If we truly love our neighbors as ourselves, we will allow the joy of God's spirit to fill our hearts and manifest itself in our daily lives.
We all know what it is like to be around someone who is constantly angry or even hostile. We can be drawn into behaving in like manner. If we are continually surrounded by those who are unrighteous, we too can be drawn into unrighteous thoughts and practices. Similarly, if we are exposed, day after day, to people who are perpetually gloomy and downcast, we can eventually be drawn into harboring that same spirit and attitude. When we are around those who are joyful, especially during trying times, we are uplifted and encouraged by them. Therefore, "joy with holy spirit" is something we must fervently pursue, for the sake of others first, then, of course, for ourselves! "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." (Philippians 2:3 , KJV)
The fact that joy is something that involves and affects others, is quite evident in the Scriptures. For example, consider the following few references: "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For you are our glory and joy. (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, MKJV)
"Greater joy have I none than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth." (3 John 4, ASV)
"That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we beheld, and our hands handled, concerning the Word of life (and the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare unto you the life, the eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us); that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you also, that ye also may have fellowship with us: yea, and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ: and these things we write, that our joy may be made full. (1 John 1:1-4, ASV)
In Paul's letter to the Thessalonians, Paul tells them that they "became imitators of us and of the Lord." Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hidden in the field; which a man found, and hid; and in his joy he goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field." (Matthew 13:44, ASV)
This certainly describes a man whose joy is not founded in his present possessions, but rather in the prospect of what is to come. Likewise, the writer of Hebrews states, "Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2, ASV)
Regardless of our present situations, if we keep our eyes on Jesus, and "accept the helmet of salvation," that is to say, keep our minds on heavenly things rather than on the things of this earth, we shall experience true joy even in this life. And our joy, especially while in tribulation, will undoubtedly "rub off" on those around us. We are in essence providing a sacred witness by manifesting peace, righteousness, and joy even in the face of trial.
The King James Version translates the Greek word chara (Strong's #5479), as "joy" five times, "joyful" one time, "joyfully" one time, "joyfulness" one time, and "joyous" one time.
Chara, according to the New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, means, "cheerfulness, i.e. calm delight." Chara is derived from the Greek word chairo (Strong's #5463), meaning to be 'cheer' ful, i.e. calmly, happy or well-off."
Interestingly, there is another word in the Bible which is derived from chairo. It is the word charis (Strong's #5485), which, in the King James Version, is translated as "grace." Thus, even grammatically, one can see a connection between "grace" (undeserved kindness) and "joy" (cheerfulness).
It can be argued that the amount of joy one experiences is directly proportional to the amount of grace one understands they have received.
An example of this from the biblical record is see in Luke 7:36-48: "Now a certain one of the Pharisees kept asking him to dine with him. Accordingly he entered into the house of the Pharisee and reclined at the table. And, look! a woman who was known in the city to be a sinner learned that he was reclining at a meal in the house of the Pharisee, and she brought an alabaster case of perfumed oil, and, taking a position behind at this feet, she wept and started to wet his feet with her tears and she would wipe them off with the hair of her head. Also, she tenderly kissed his feet and greased them with the perfumed oil. At the sight the Pharisee that invited him said within himself: "This man, if he were a prophet, would know who and what kind of woman it is that is touching him, that she is a sinner." But in reply Jesus said to him: "Simon, I have something to say to you." He said: "Teacher, say it!" "Two men were debtors to a certain lender; the one was in debt for five hundred denarii, but the other for fifty. When they did not have anything with which to pay back, he freely forgave them both. Therefore, which of them will love him the more?" In answer Simon said: "I suppose it is the one to whom he freely forgave the more." He said to him: "You judged correctly." With that he turned to the woman and said to Simon: "Do you behold this woman? I entered into your house; you gave me no water for my feet. But this woman wet my feet with her tears and wiped them off with her hair. You gave me no kiss; but this woman, from the hour that I cam in, did not leave off tenderly kissing my feet. You did not grease my head with oil; but this woman greased my feet with perfumed oil. By virtue of this, I tell you, her sins, many though they are, are forgiven, because she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." Then he said to her: "Your sins are forgiven." (NWT)
Anyone who fully comprehends the grace and forgiveness Jehovah God shows us through our faith in his Son, Jesus, can certainly not help but be filled with joy unspeakable! As Paul wrote to the brethren in Rome, "Nay, in all these we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:37-39, ASV)
When we comprehend fully that God raised Jesus from the dead, and shall raise us up, and has given us the hope of eternal life, we cannot but rejoice in our faith. Perhaps, if we do not feel joy, it may be that we do not fully understand the grace we have been shown!
Peter wrote to "the elect who are sojourners of the Dispersion." He stated, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, ye have been put to grief in manifold trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold that perisheth though it is proved by fire, may be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ: whom not having seen ye love; on whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. (I Peter 1:3-9, ASV)
So, we see that joy comes from understanding the grace God has shown us, but it also comes from having faith in God and Christ, and in being obedient to God's word.
Without having faith in God and Christ, we simply cannot experience true joy in this present life, and quite obviously, we cannot take part in the future and eternal joy of the kingdom of God and of Christ.
Faith in God and Christ drives away anxiety and fear, which robs an individual of joy. Consider the words of the Nazarene, "Therefore I say to you, Do not be anxious for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Behold the birds of the air; for they sow not, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them; are you not much better than they are? Which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his stature? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They do not toil, nor do they spin, but I say to you that even Solomon in his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Therefore if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much rather clothe you, little-faiths? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, With what shall we be clothed? For the nations seek after all these things. For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow; for tomorrow shall be anxious for its own things. Sufficient to the day is the evil of it." (Matthew 6:25-34, NKJV)
Matthew also recounts an amazing story involving Jesus and Peter which reveals how faith dispels the fear which can rob us of joyfulness. Matthew writes, "And straightway he constrained the disciples to enter into the boat, and to go before him unto the other side, till he should send the multitudes away. And after he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into the mountain apart to pray: and when even was come, he was there alone. But the boat was now in the midst of the sea, distressed by the waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night he came unto them, walking upon the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a ghost; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee upon the waters. And he said, Come. And Peter went down from the boat, and walked upon the waters to come to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and took hold of him, and saith unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were gone up into the boat, the wind ceased. And they that were in the boat worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. (Matthew 14:22-33, ASV)
Where there is doubt, there is a measure of fear. Where there is faith, there is confidence and joy. But where does faith come from?
Paul reveals, "So faith follows the thing heard. In turn the thing heard is through the word about Christ." (Romans 10:17, NWT) Faith comes from hearing the word of God. Once faith is produced, it in turn produces joy. As Paul prayerfully wrote, "May the God who gives hope fill you with all joy and peace by your believing, that you may abound in hope with power of holy spirit."
(Romans 15:13, NWT)
Jehovah God said to Moses, "I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him." (Deuteronomy 18:18-19, ASV)
In turn, Jesus reveals, "If you remain in union with me and my sayings remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will take place for you. My Father is glorified in this, that you keep bearing much fruit and prove yourselves my disciples. Just as the Father has loved me and I have loved you, remain in my love. If you observe my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have observed the commandments of the Father and remain in his love. "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you and your joy may be made full." (John 15:7-11, NWT)
While praying to God, Jesus states, "But now I am coming to you, and I am speaking these things in the world in order that they may have my joy in themselves to the full. I have given your word to them, but the world has hated them, because they are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world." (John 17:13-14, NWT)
We can clearly see from these references the need to read and study the Bible diligently each and every day.
As mentioned previously, joy is not only produced by faith, but also by obedience. There are several good examples of this found in the biblical record.
Consider for one, the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch: "But an angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza: the same is desert. And he arose and went: and behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was over all her treasure, who had come to Jerusalem to worship; and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some one shall guide me? And he besought Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture which he was reading was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before his shearer is dumb, So he openeth not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: His generation who shall declare? For his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other? And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture, preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on the way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch saith, Behold, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, for he went on his way rejoicing." (Acts 8:26-39, ASV)
Being obedient to the teachings of Jesus the Nazarene will bring great joy. In what has come to be known as "The Sermon on the Mount" or "The Beatitudes," Jesus said, "Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you." (Matthew 5:11-12, ASV)
The scriptures reveal that joy also comes from the love revealed in the fellowship of God-fearing followers of Jesus.
Paul wrote, on behalf of himself and Timothy, to Philemon, "Our dear friend and fellow worker, to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier and to the church that meets in your home." (Philemon 1-2, NIV) He states, "I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints."
(Philemon 4-7, NIV)
The Hebrew word shalom, which is often translated "peace," as defined by The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of The Bible means "safe, i.e. (fig.) well, happy, friendly; also (abstr.) welfare, i.e. health, prosperity, peace." It is obvious that shalom has a much more encompassing meaning than "peace" as it is normally understood in English. Most of us simply think of freedom from war, calm, quiet, or even rest, when we hear the word peace. Biblically, however, we see it means having safety, soundness (in body); and in a figurative sense, happy and friendly. And it is only in an abstract sense, that is, theoretically that shalom means health, prosperity, and peace. Other scholars also describe shalom as meaning completeness, contentment, and friendship.
The Greek word eirene [from which the name Irene comes], which also is often translated "peace," is similar in that it, by implication, also means prosperity, i.e. fortunate, successful, auspicious.
Nonetheless, biblically, when we read "peace," we must now keep in the back of our minds, the idea of "safety." Notice the following references taken from the KJV in which shalom is rendered "safe" and "safety:"
"And the king said, Is the young man Absalom safe [shalom]? And Ahimaaz answered, When Joab sent the king's servant, and me thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was." (2 Samuel 18:29)
"And the king said unto Cushi, Is the young man Absalom safe [shalom]? And Cushi answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is." (2 Samuel 18:32)
"Their houses are safe [shalom] from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them." (Job 21:9)
"He pursued them, and passed safely [shalom]; even by the way that he had not gone with his feet." (Isaiah 41:3)
With a better understanding of the Bible's use of the word "peace," we can appreciate more deeply the hearts of the writers of the New Testament letters. For example, in ten of Paul's letters, he writes within the first few verses, "Grace to you and peace . . ." (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; and Philemon 3).
In the two letters to Timothy Paul writes, "Grace, mercy, peace . . ." (1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2).
In writing to Titus, whom Paul describes as his "true child after a common faith" (Titus 1:4) he writes, "Grace and peace . . ."
Likewise, the apostle Peter opens his epistles similarly by writing, "Grace to you and peace be multiplied . . ." (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:2).
The apostle John promises in the 2nd of his three letters, "Grace, mercy, peace shall be with us, from God the Father, and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love." (2 John 1:3, ASV)
Jude wrote in his letter, "Mercy unto you and peace and love be multiplied."
Before relating the details of the revelation of Jesus Christ, John states to the seven churches that were in Asia, "Grace to you and peace, from him who is and who was and who is to come; and from the seven Spirits that are before his throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his blood." (Revelations 1:4-5, ASV)
These men -- Paul, Peter, John and Jude -- were in essence, wishing upon their fellow Christian brothers and sisters, grace (undeserved kindness from God and Christ), mercy (compassion from God and Christ), and peace (safety, happiness, health and prosperity from God and Christ).
Peace, as with the other qualities of the Spirit's fruit, does not appear within the believer instantaneously. This is evident by the simple fact that Paul uses the term "fruit" to describe the result of God's indwelling Spirit. Fruit grows! Once seed is planted, it must be watered regularly. After time, tiny buds become noticeable. The buds open into beautiful blossoms. The blossoms then give way to fruit, (albeit hard and unripened at first); and then after time, the fruit grows to maturity and is ready for harvest.
As mentioned previously, in order for the "fruit" of the Spirit to grow abundantly, the seed of faith in God and Christ Jesus, which has been planted within us, must be watered regularly. It must be watered with more and more of the word of God, i.e. the Scriptures, and of course, with continual prayer. Knowledge of this world is one thing -- even Jesus was skilled as a carpenter; Paul, by trade was a tentmaker; and Matthew was knowledgeable in matters of taxation -- but the knowledge of God and of Christ, revealed by studying our Bibles and from prayering fervently and regularly, is quite another thing, and is true knowledge.
Consider the following references which speak clearly of the importance of "knowledge" of God and Christ:
"Grace to you and peace be multiplied in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that his divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that called us by his own glory and virtue." (2 Peter 1:2-3, ASV)
"For if these things are yours and abound, they make you to be not idle nor unfruitful unto the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:8, ASV)
"For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the last state is become worse with them than the first." (2 Peter 2:20, ASV)
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and for ever amen." (2 Peter 3:18, ASV)
So, it is evident that peace will grow abundantly within the heart of the believer, and manifest itself in his or her words and actions. A true disciple of Jesus will exhibit a peaceful nature, just as Jesus, the "Prince of peace," (Isaiah 9:6) exhibited and preached peace. Peter proclaimed to Cornelius and his family and friends, "The word which he sent unto the children of Israel, preaching good tidings of peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all)." (Acts 10:36, ASV) While the Scriptures have described the Messiah as the "Prince of peace," we also see reference to Jehovah as "the God of peace." (Romans 16:20)
Paul states, in his first letter to the Thessalonians, "And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 5:23, ASV)
It is evident that we must, in all aspects of our lives, and with all people, in as much as is humanly possible, strive to harbor a peaceful nature and disposition. We could never truthfully call ourselves disciples of Jesus the Nazarene, nor sons and daughters of the Father, if we are anything other than promoters of peace.
As our precious Lord Jesus declared, "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." (Matthew 5:9, KJV)
"This is what Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
It shall happen in the latter days, that the mountain of Yahweh's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many peoples shall go and say,
Come, let's go up to the mountain of Yahweh,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
And he will teach us of his ways,
And we will walk in his paths.'
For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem.
He will judge between the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." (Isaiah 2:1-4, WEB)
As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
-- Song of Solomon 2:3
Heaven's warm rains sink into the earth and an apple seed stirs with life from within. Slowly this new life rises from the earth toward the sun to become a tender sapling then, ultimately, a mature apple tree yielding fruit, sweet and nourishing. Failing to change, failing to mature and bear fruit, it fails its purpose for existence. Likewise, Christianity was never meant to be changeless, immature and fruitless.
But through the centuries men have worked unceasingly to make Christianity fixed and unchanging. Christendom's cathedrals, temples, monasteries and churches stand for centuries, changeless. Within these monuments to man's passion for permanence worshippers recite fixed ceremonial formulas of worship and recite fixed chants or fixed creeds that may be endlessly repeated without any living change in those who recite them. And should a long needed change occur, as in the Reformation, immediately a crystallizing sectarianism sets in to again cement the boundaries of Christian life and doctrine.
In a man's character the absence of an essential component usually leads to the adoption of a substitute. This is also true in the character of a nation. At the time of Christ's first advent Judaism was living on substitutes. Lacking the essentials of justice, love and mercy Israel substituted sterile forms of piety and irrelevant forms of order. And because Israel was living on substitutes she lacked the courage and power to either achieve past glories or move forward to the fulfillment of her national destiny of being a light to the gentiles.
Threatened by the bullying power of Roman law and the seductive philosophies of Greek culture Israel's leaders sought to preserve Judaism by sculpting its civil and religious order after their own likeness. As the New Testament opens we see that the once lowly Scribe has become a legal aristocrat viewing his fellow brethren as a vulgar herd of ignorant sinners, "who know not the law and are cursed!" The Pharisee has also become self-righteous, reducing everything to a formalized system of impossible rules and preposterous rites of purification. This substitution for the true spirit of the Mosaic Law Covenant projected an image of Godly order and stability.
However, beneath this homemade throne of law and order the life giving spirit of that Covenant lay near death. The common people of Israel struggled all alone in their hope for something better. The gentile was no friend and their self-righteous leaders were no comfort. Their cries to heaven seemed unavailing; since Malachi's prophecy heaven remained mute, echoing only the silence of the inevitable grave that awaited both them and their hope.
Then came Jesus. Not with the frightful roar of Mount Sinai's threatening thunder or with the melancholy predictions of the Old Testament prophets, this was a new voice, a voice that sang with heavenly grace the great love theme of our universe. With words and deeds that soared far above the formalized systems of religious rituals, here was a life whose dimensions could not be reduced to systematized catalog of words and actions. Here was a life that stood free to grow to maturity, and in its maturity become the standard by which all other lives might reach their highest level of maturity.
But Jesus would not conform to a fixed religious and social order despite its claim of Biblical origin. And because he would not conform he was considered a threat to the order of the nation. It became expedient, therefore, that this threat should be removed, that this life should end, "...that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not." (John 11:50)
It has been said that "order is heaven's first rule." On the surface this thought has much to commend itself. The stability and maintenance of our lives and collective arrangements depends on order. The alternative is chaos. But the saying "order is heaven's first rule" was never meant to be taken literally and it must never be allowed to become a substitute for heaven's first rule. Jesus lived, suffered and died not to uphold Israel's civil and religious rule of order. His singular purpose was to uphold a rule so profoundly superior to other rules that without it all rule, all order, breaks down into chaos.
"Thou shalt love the lord thy God with all thy heart, all thy soul, all thy mind and all thy strength."
This is heaven's first rule, the one Jesus lived for and died to uphold. From his first recorded words,"I must be about my father's business," to his last words on the cross, "It is finished," this was his one fundamental rule of life. Jesus walked through the land reminding his brethren that loving God above everything else must come first because that is the only path to life, peace, truth and order. Those who followed him little realized that he was leading them on a much greater journey than a missionary tour through the Holy Land he was leading them from one Age to another, from Judaism to Christianity, and only those few who closely followed him survived the transition. Those who clung to the old order went down with the old order.
When their Messiah came Israel should have been prepared to receive him. But in spite of nearly two thousand years of God's special nurturing (Amos 3:2), Jesus "came unto his own, and his own received him not." Threatened by Graeco-Roman influences Israel hid herself behind protective barriers of tradition and ceremonial ritualism. But those protective barriers were the very walls that stood between themselves and their Messiah. When it came to a choice between Christ or their fixed traditions Israel laid bare its true character by shouting, "We have no king but Caesar!" The cross of Christ proves that the nation, paralyzed by synthetic rules of order, had not matured nor produced Heaven's expected fruits of justice, love and mercy.
Since the end of the Jewish time of favor nearly another 2000 years have passed. During this time Christianity has been the object of God's favor and nurturing care. It is reasonable to think that by now Heaven's expectations of spiritual maturity and ripe fruitage should be evident. Obeying Christ's instruction to "love your enemies" should by now have influenced at least its own community of nations toward becoming a reasonably just and peaceable place.
However, as in ancient Judaism, a great gap is seen to exist between expectation and achievement. In this century alone, up from the very heart of Christendom, two horrible world wars have exploded upon the world causing the slaughter of over 100 million men, women and children. Adding up the death-toll from medieval crusades, Catholic-Protestant wars and religious persecutions the numbers become incalculable and Christendom's claim of obedience to Christ's instructions becomes an absurdity. Without heaven's first rule firmly fixed in the hearts and minds of Christian believers it is evident that the building of grand cathedrals, costly churches and centuries of reciting chants, creeds and formulas of worship have been useless toward fulfilling Heaven's expectation. And because of its centuries of manifest failures and double standards a nominal Christianity is no longer viewed by secular society as capable of achieving "peace on earth." The new torch-bearers of this elusive goal are the ardent proponents of a new concept world Democracy.
During this century European monarchism has been dethroned, colonialism has experienced a global sunset and dictatorships have hit Democracy's solid wall of united opposition. Today Democracy is fast gaining ground on all the non-democratic nations of earth and Christianity is urged to become Democracy's handmaiden in bearing the torch of "liberty and justice for all." The failure of Communism and the Soviet Union's breakup now finds Russia and its satellite nations steadily moving toward democratic forms of government. Modern communications systems broadcast Democracy's tantalizing ideals of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" (wealth) to a billion souls in poverty prone Communist China. Japan, India, Africa, Central and South America are already largely politically democratic or rapidly moving in that direction.
The object of 21st century Democracy is to build a new world society, a society where law and order, peace and prosperity, health and happiness are firmly established. This new world society would be free from crime, poverty, pollution, disease, racism, war, terrorism and all the other ills that plague mankind. Unfortunately, however, the human heart has a disease more deadly than all these ills combined. That awful malady is self-will. Despite seeing the wretched results of Adam's will versus Heaven's will in Eden's garden, self-will remains the abounding choice among Adam's battered and bruised posterity.
With the ideals of Democracy as a blueprint and self-will as his tools, humankind would build a more perfect world but a world where Heaven's first rule comes last, or omitted from the agenda altogether. Conceivably, considering the absence of Heaven's rule and humanity's propensity for serious mischief, Democracy's menu item of global "freedom of expression" is tantamount to global anarchy. The blueprint may call for peace on earth but, according to the Scriptures, self-will is building a time bomb, "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape." ( 1 Thessalonians 5:3)
Just as systemetized Judaism could not be a light to the nations neither can systemetized Christianity nor systemetized Democracy provide the increasingly angry and fearful nations of earth with Heaven's light of life. Again, irrelevant substitutes have taken the place of essential components. According to the Scriptures, when the furious struggle of human political, social, economic and religious systems has reached hurricane proportions (Revelation 7:1-3), and when, "unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved" (Matthew 24:22 ) becomes a grim reality, Heaven's thunderous command, "Peace, be still!" will silence the raging storm. Then, what humankind could not produce through human substitutes, Heaven will produce through Heaven's true essentials -- the sweet and nourishing fruitage of a new planting, a new growth and the fulfillment of Heaven's long awaited expectation: "In thee and in thy seed shall I bless all the families of the earth." (Genesis 28:14)
[Contributed: Ron Prosken © 1999 Mountain Home, Arkansas
[A witnessing tract]
Approximately two thousand years ago Jesus said of himself, "I am the Truth." (John 14:6) His most beloved disciple wrote of the Nazarene, "Truth came by means of Jesus." His greatest evangelizing missionary preached, "Truth is in Jesus." (John 14:16; John 1:17; Ephesians 4:21) One of the reasons for these statements was because Jesus was the greatest spiritual teacher who ever lived. Not only did he teach the truth, he also lived the truth.
The great Indian social revolutionary Mohandas K. Gandhi once said: "When (nations) shall get together on the teachings laid down by Christ in this Sermon on the Mount, we shall have solved the problems not only of our countries but those of the whole world." Thus, it is recognized by some that much of the world's troubles would be healed by the application of what Jesus taught.
However, regardless that one third of humanity approaching the year 2,000 claim some form of belief in Jesus the Nazarene, very few have actually read what this most famous of teacher taught. What would we learn if we read all of his words and sayings in what are called the Four Gospels? What are the basic, essential, or fundamental teachings of Jesus Christ?
The Christian missionary of the first century, Paul of Tarsus, spoke of "the principles of the doctrine Jesus Christ." (Hebrews 6:1 KJV) Seven of these Nazarene principles may be found in what has come to be known as the Lord's Prayer, or the Pater Nostra. Some also call it the Model Prayer for by it Jesus taught his disciples how to pray and what to pray for.
Using this prayer as a format or outline one can remember these fundamental teachings. For our own enlightenment let us consider these seven Nazarene principles as they occur in this mountain prayer found in the Gospel of Matthew 6:9-13. [For a commentary on the Sermon on the Mount see the online publication Nazarene Mountain Teachings or the Gospel of Matthew at: http://www.nazarene-friends.org/. ]
The First Nazarene Principle is found in the opening address to Jesus' prayer, "Our Father in the heavens ... " (Matthew 6:9) By these simple words Jesus introduced to his followers the possibility of becoming a child of God. Though many people think all persons are born as children of God, Jesus did not teach that. Jesus taught about two fatherhoods and he condemned the religious hierarchy of his day when he told them, "You men originated with your father the Devil!" (John 8:44)
Jesus and his inspired disciples taught that there were certain steps one had to take before being consider a child of God. For example, John 1:12, 13 reads: "Everyone who accepted him Jesus gave to them the authority to become children of God -- to all those believing in his name." Also, Paul wrote: "Everyone who allows the spirit of God to lead them, these are sons of God. You received a spirit of adoption as sons in which we cry out, 'Abba! Father!' We have the spiritual evidence within ourselves that we are children of God." (Romans 8:14-16)
This grand family of God is not limited in number but is open to all persons. Jesus most beloved apostle wrote: "Everyone who believes Jesus is the Christ has been God-born." (1 John 5:1) You are encouraged to read this letter called First John for it enumerates half a dozen characteristics which would identify such a child of God. (1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4) Premier among these attributes that one is a child of God are deep conviction and neighborly love. (1 John 3:23)
Jesus also taught that total immersion in water baptism was one way to "fulfill all that is righteous." (Matthew 3:15) He gave command to his apostles to go teaching and baptizing (Mathew 28:19) and this they did. (Acts 2:37-38, 41; 8:14-16, 35-38; 9:17-19; 10:44-48; 16:27-33; 19:1-5) Baptism was to be preceded by repentance, confession, and a conversion from a past lifestyle that displeased God. (Acts 2:38; Romans 12:2)
The Second Nazarene Principle is the sanctifying of the Name of God. Jesus believed that he " ... came from God and was returning to God." (John 13:3) When some of the religious hierarchy accused him of claiming to be God or equal to God, the Nazarene's answer was simply, "The Son of God can do nothing of himself," and, "I only call myself the 'Son of God'." (John 5:19, 30; John 10:36) No where did Jesus ever claim to be God himself. Rather, he taught the obvious, 'The Father is greater than I." (John 14:28) [For details on the Trinity see the online publication: De Trinitatis Erroribus ]
Jesus the Nazarene taught that his Father had a name. He does that right in his prayer when he says, "Father ... let your Name be sanctified." (Matthew 6:9) On a later occasion Jesus received an audible answer to his prayer: "'Father, glorify your name.' Therefore a voice came from the sky, 'I have glorified (my Name) and I shall glorify it again.' " (John 12:28) In his prayer just before his death, Jesus prayed: "I manifested your name to the men whom you gave me." (John 17:6)
Jesus the Nazarene knew from his own experience and knowledge of the Hebrew Bible that his Father's name was represented by the Hebrew letters YHWH. Those four letters of the Tetragram are understood by some as meaning Yehowah (Jehovah) or Yahweh in English.
What His name means was explained by God to Moses when that Egyptian shepherd was before the burning bush:
"And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? What shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Jehovah, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations." (Exodus 3:13-16 ASV)
According to the Hebrew Bible this name YHWH occurs nearly 7,000 times in the Old Testament. Some Bibles versions, such as the American Standard Version and the New Jerusalem Bible, use either Jehovah or Yahweh in most all of its proper occurrences from Genesis 2:4 (Yehwah) to Malachi 4:5 (Yehowah). Throughout the Hebrew Bible the need to "sanctify" (or, hallow) God's Name is stressed over and over -- 60 times in the prophet Ezekiel alone. The Old Testament also describes those who would try to make "His people forget His Name." (Jeremiah 23:27) The name Jesus in Hebrew itself means "Yehowah Saves."
How can the divine name be "sanctified"? One way is by keeping faith in God, just as a child may honor a parent's name or reputation. Note how Moses failed to do this on one occasion: "And Jehovah said unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed not in me, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel." (Numbers 20:12 ASV) A lack of faith led to a failure to sanctify God. This single error by Moses became a national problem in Israel so that over a thousand years of reproach was brought on God's name. God Himself said by his prophet: "...my name continually all the day is blasphemed. Therefore my people shall know my name..." (Isaiah 52:5 ASV) Since God's people knew the Name to be YHWH in what manner was God going to 'make them know His name'?
There is no evidence in any of the 10,000 ancient manuscripts and parchments of the Christian Bible where Jesus ever used God's name YHWH. In Jesus' day the Jews did not mention the divine Name. There is no place in the Gospels where Jesus ever used YHWH in conversational speech or in his prayers. So, in what way did Jesus mean God's Name was to be "sanctified"?
The word "name" according to some scholars may mean more than just the literal name of a person. It may also mean the reputation or character of a person. Thus, when Jesus prayed before his apostles, "I have made your name known to them," he was speaking of men who already knew that God's name was YHWH. (John 17:6) So, some feel that what Jesus meant was that he had revealed and manifest God's character as the Father as well as declaring His purpose. When God's purposes are fulfilled then His Name will be sanctified completely. How this is to be done involves the next two Nazarene principles in the Lord's Prayer.
The Third Nazarene Principle is stated in the words of Jesus, "Let Your Kingdom come." What is this "kingdom" and when would it "come"? Jesus knew the answer because he was a student of the prophet Daniel.
Daniel foretold that God's Kingdom was a real government by Messiah and would come when the Son of God was enthroned in heaven. This was to occur during the history of the world power, Rome. Note the following in Daniel chapters two and seven.
"Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom [ROME], strong as iron--for iron breaks and smashes everything--and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. ... In the time of those kings [BABYLON, PERSIA, GREECE, ROME], the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. ... In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." (Daniel 2:40, 44; 7:13, 14 NIV)
A reading of the context in Daniel chapter 2 and 7 will show that during the history of the Roman Empire "someone like a son of man (a human being)" would ascend to heaven accompanied by angels and thereupon receive his kingship as the seat of his heavenly government. The extent of the Christ's power is described by Paul in words similar to those above in Daniel 7:14,
"That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church." (Ephesians 1:19-22 NIV; see 1 Corinthians 15:24)
When did this kingdom "come" in the sense of Jesus "sitting down at the right hand of God"? This phrase "sitting down at the right hand of God" is taken from Psalm 110:1. Paul writes that Jesus was first to be enthroned and then wait for all his enemies to be conquered. (1 Corinthians 15:24; Hebrews 10:12, 13; compare also Psalm 2:6, 7 with Acts 13:33) In this manner the Kingdom did "come" in the year 33 AD when Jesus returned to heaven. (Acts 1:9-11)
However, Jesus himself taught that he would return in glorious victory to gather his entire Church who would then share in his kingdom government. (John 14:1-3; Matthew 24:29-31; 1 Corinthians 6:2; Daniel 7:27) Such a reunion with Jesus and his disciples would mean the kingdom "comes" in a larger sense. Then the kingdom of the whole world would become subjects of God and His King. Note the words of the prophecy in Revelation:
"Breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, 'Come up here.' And they went up to heaven in a cloud [1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17], while their enemies looked on. ... The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever. ... You have taken your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great-- and for destroying those who destroy the earth." (Revelation 11:12, 15-18 NIV)
In order for his whole Church to join him in his heavenly rule all the members of his Church must be resurrected to "inherit the kingdom." Note how Paul describes this "change" --
"But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. ... I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the [Christian] dead will be raised imperishable, and we [Christians] will be changed." (1 Corinthians 15:23, 50-52 NIV)
Those Christians living on the earth at this historical moment will experience a simultaneous "change" by being caught away or raptured directly from earth to heaven. Paul explains this mystery:
"According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 NIV)
In this manner the Nazarene's words in John 14:1-3 will be fulfilled and the kingdom will have "come" in the fullest sense of its governmental rule. (Isaiah 9:6, 7) Read the words of Jesus:
"In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. ... If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:1-3, 23 NIV)
The Fourth Nazarene Principle involves the fulfillment of the Father's will for the earth. (Matthew 6:10; Isaiah 45:18; Isaiah 55:11) God's original and unchanging purpose was for perfect humanity to enjoy life in a global Eden, living at peace with the environment, with one another, and with their God. Nothing in the great cosmos would be impossible for them as a single united family. (Genesis 1:28)
Rebellion in heaven and earth brought upon humankind wickedness and death. (Genesis 3:1-19; John 8:44; Romans 5:12-14) God foresaw this possibility and immediately His purpose went to work "to gather all things together again -- the celestial and terrestrial." (Ephesians 1:4, 5, 9-11; Colossians 1:20) However, God's "eternal purpose" did its work to provide a means to restore what was lost. (Ephesians 3:9; Acts 3:20, 21)
This involved a demonstration of the Father's love and His own Son's obedient example of submission to His will. This resulted in a life and death example of humble service to God resulting in a complete liberation for humankind. (Philippians 2:5-11; Romans 8:18-25) This involved "a ransom for all." (Matthew 20:28; 1 Timothy 2:4-6)
There is one more feature or phrase to this "coming of the Kingdom." Once the Church is gathered to heaven, the King will cleanse this earth of all those unwilling to submit to his reign. Some call this Armageddon, or the Day of Wrath. (Revelation 6:17; 16:14, 16) Whatever name one wishes to use the result will be the end of greedy commercialism, political tyranny, and controlling religions. (See Revelation chapters 18, 19) However, perhaps the most important feature of that New Age to come is the absence of the Devil. (Revelation 20:3; Revelation 12:9)
This kind of new world under Messiah's just and benevolent reign will encourage the vast majority of mankind to turn this earth into an environment conducive to living a long and full life with the prospect of eternity. (Revelation 20:4, 6; Isaiah 11:1-9; Isaiah 26:9; Isaiah 65:17-25) For one thousand years Jesus Christ and his Church will rule the earth as an example of why God's sovereignty is the most blessed form of government. (Proverbs 29:2; Ephesians 2:5-7; 3:9, 10) Following the millennial reign of Christ, Satan will be destroyed, mankind will be raised on Judgment Day, and the "last enemy, death, will be destroyed." (1 Corinthians 15:24-26; Revelation 20:5,
10-14; Matthew 12:36, 37; Acts 17:31; Romans 2:6, 16) God's original purpose for an Edenic global paradise, peopled with His perfect human family, will come to complete realization. (Psalm 37:10, 11, 29) [For a full commentary on the Book of Revelation see the online publication Nazarene Apocalypse: http://www.nazarene-friends.org/pubs/apocalypse/default.htm]
While we wait for the blessed fulfillment of the Creator's grand purpose -- what should we do? What is expected of us? The next three Nazarene principles give us some kind of idea.
The Fifth Nazarene Principle is found in the revolutionary but simple words: "Give us today our daily bread." (Matthew 6:11) Locked in this lovely phrase is a life-style encouraged by Jesus Christ the Nazarene. A life completely lacking materialism and asking only for today's bread -- not tomorrow -- not ten years from now. Today. (Matthew 6:33, 34)
If one reads the entire body of the Nazarene's teachings and note such words as: riches, possessions, things, the poor, money -- it becomes very clear that Jesus encouraged a life that emphasized spirituality and put material concerns (along with their attendant worries and anxieties) in the background.
Jesus not only preached the simple, non-materialistic life, but he lived it. (Matthew 8:20) He also taught his personal disciples to divest themselves of their possessions and devote themselves to what turned about to be the greatest revolution in human history: Christianity. (Luke 12:32, 33; Matthew 28:19) Charity, giving, and hospitality -- not to just friends, but also to enemies -- are at the pinnacle of his teachings. Indeed, he goes so far as to teach that everlasting life in the kingdom of heaven depends on that love and kindness shown to those in need; while those who refrain, or ignore the needy, are doomed to everlasting extinction. (Matthew 5:31-46) Yes, Jesus taught, "Practice giving." (Luke 6:38)
The fact that his disciples understood what the Nazarene preached, is demonstrated in what thousands of them did in the early years of Christianity. (Acts 2:44, 45; Acts 4:32, 34, 36, 37) Later Jesus' greatest missionary Paul was to write that he was "homeless." (1 Corinthians 4:11) Paul also encouraged Timothy to give orders to the rich to "be liberal and ready to share" (1 Timothy 6:17-19), and exhorted Christians to seek the ideal of an economic "equality" within the Nazarene community. (2 Corinthians 8:14, 15)
However, living a simple spiritual life sharing with others was not enough. Something just as important was also required from the disciple of Jesus.
The Sixth Nazarene Principle states, "Forgive us our trespasses just as we have forgiven those who trespass against us." (Matthew 6:12; Luke 11:4) The very first commentary on this thought is given by Jesus himself in the verse following the Lord's Prayer: "For if you forgive men their sins against you, your heavenly Father will forgive yours. However, if you refuse to forgive the trespasses of others, your Father will not forgive your trespasses." (Matthew 6:14-15)
It is true that to accept or receive Jesus Christ one must repent of ones sins, confess them to God, convert to a life of faith, and be baptized in the name of Jesus. However, more is required in this context of forgiveness.
This stress on forgiveness is at the very root of love, for love requires a forgiving disposition. "Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you. And to all these qualities add love, which binds all things together in perfect unity." (Colossians 3:10, 11 TEV)
When Peter asked about this matter of forgiveness and how many times one had to be forgiving, the Nazarene told him: "So watch what you do! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in one day, and each time he comes to you saying, 'I repent,' you must forgive him." (Luke 17:3, 4 TEV) A Christian community filled with forgiveness will be characterized by peace and unity.
Finally, there is one more principle and it is the one which concludes the Lord's Prayer.
The Seventh Nazarene Principle is stated by Jesus: "Keep us clear of temptation and save us from evil." (Matthew 6:13 PME) Jesus knew something about this subject of temptation for he was tempted himself. (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13)
One of Jesus' inspired disciples, James, explains how temptation works: "If we are tempted by such trials, we must not say, 'This temptation comes from God.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. But we are tempted when we are drawn away and trapped by our own evil desires. Then our evil desires conceive and give birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." (James 1:14, 15 TEV) Obviously one way to avoid temptation is to avoid those situations and circumstances where one may be tempted. (2 Timothy 2:22)
Jesus himself relied on two things in his own temptations: the Scriptures and prayer. (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 22:39-46) Though in our hearts and minds we may always want to do good and avoid bad, we may find this is a constant battle. In such cases it is comforting to read Romans 7:13-25. Never give up in the struggle against our own weaknesses and temptations.
The above seven Nazarene principles are just elementary and basic teachings. Paul encourages us to, "Press on to maturity." (Hebrews 6:1) We all start out as baby Christians but our goal should be to become mature in imitation of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 4:13) We should continue to grow in faith, love, and complete knowledge of Bible truth. (Colossians 1:6, 9,10)
Daily meditation on the teachings of Jesus the Nazarene will lead to becoming a Friend of the Nazarene. For Jesus himself taught, "My friends are those who observe my commandments." (John 15:14) These Nazarene friends are determined to "follow the Lamb no matter where he goes." (Revelation 14:4; 1 Peter 2:21)
This begins with a study of the Nazarene's teachings. Several Bible study aids have been prepared by the Friends of the Nazarene and are available free on the Internet. To know all of the commandments of Jesus read Nazarene Commandments: http://www.nazarene-friends.org/pubs/commands.html .
For an online book on the Nazarene Principles designed as a Bible primer for personal study or group discussions: http://www.nazarene-friends.org/getpubs.htm .
At this URL link you may have several publications emailed to you in minutes. Some of these are: Nazarene Apocalypse (a commentary on Revelation); Nazarene Community (a manual for starting a home church and maintaining Christian unity); Where Are the Dead? (a complete study of what the Bible teaches on he after-life); The Error of the Trinity (a comprehensive consideration of the doctrine and its roots). There are also new translations of some Bible books together with footnote commentaries, a variety of online "booklets" and a monthly magazine covering a wide range of Bible topics.
For information on printed material you may write Friends of the Nazarene,
c/o Shawn Mark Miller
The God of our Lord Jesus bless your path as you "follow the Lamb no matter where he goes." (Revelation 14:4)
[A Community of Light]
The Word of Life -- he was from the beginning and we actually heard him! We actually saw him with our own eyes and our hands actually touched him! That Life was made manifest and what we saw we are relating to you. We are giving our own eyewitness evidence regarding that everlasting Life. That Life actually faced the Father! And he appeared to us! We are relating to you what we actually saw ourselves! We do this that you too may share with us. Now this common relationship is also with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. We relate these things to you so our own joy may be perfectly complete.
Now this is the communication we learned directly from Jesus himself. We proclaim to you: GOD IS LIGHT and there is no dark evil in Him. If anyone of us should ever claim, "I have a communal relationship with God," and continue to live a life in dark evil -- we are liars! However, if we live like we are in righteous illumination -- exactly as Jesus lived in righteous illumination -- then we are a community cleansed from sin sharing in the blood of God's Son, Jesus.
Every time we make the claim, "I have never sinned," we deceive ourselves and prove we do not have the Truth. Every time we confess our sins God is trustworthy and just. As a result He releases us from our sins, purifies us from all our unrighteousness. Every time we make the claim: "I have never sinned," we accuse God of being a liar. Surely His Word no longer remains within us.
[The complete new rendering of 1 John is now available on the Friends web page. It contains also a literal rendering from the Greek with footnotes on every major work or phrase.]
[You may have the complete work on First John emailed to you or you may read it on the Friends web page under "Translations." Also completed are Matthew, Ephesians, and John chapter one.]
A study of word "truth" in the Christian Bible --
Even religious observers knew Jesus taught the truth and that this involved the two greatest commandments: love of God and neighbor. Mark 12:32-34 -- The scribe said to him: "Teacher, you well said in line with truth, 'He is One, and there is no other than He'; 33 and this loving him with one's whole heart and with one's whole understanding and with one's whole strength and this loving one's neighbor as oneself is worth far more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." 34 At this Jesus, discerning he had answered intelligently, said to him: "You are not far from the kingdom of God." [All texts are from the New World Translation.]
If we want "truth" we have to look to Jesus. though God once spoke to the Hebrews and Jews by means of their prophets "He now speaks by a Son." (Hebrews 1:1) John 1:14-17 -- He was full of undeserved kindness and truth. 16 For we all received from out of his fullness, even undeserved kindness upon undeserved kindness. 17 Because the Law was given through Moses, the undeserved kindness and the truth came to be through Jesus Christ.
Worship that is acceptable to God must be in harmony with truth. John 4:23 -- the true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth.
The truth liberates and does not enslave. John 8:32 -- the truth will set you free.
There is a great enemy of truth who left the truth. John 8:44 -- He did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him.
To have the truth one must approach God through Jesus Christ. John 14:6 -- I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Jesus sent a spirit-helper to his apostles to equip them to write the New Testament. John 15:26 -- I will send you from the Father, the spirit of the truth, which proceeds from the Father, that one will bear witness about me.
It is a truth that Jesus returned to God in order to bring salvation to humankind. John 16:7 -- I am telling you the truth, It is for your benefit I am going away.
Jesus' inspired apostles and disciples were guided into all the truth that would be necessary for future followers. This was composed into the New Testament. John 16:13 -- The spirit of the truth, he will guide you into all the truth.
Only by the truth of God's Word can we be sanctified or declared holy by God. John 17:17 -- Sanctify them by means of the truth; your word is truth.
To possess the truth one must listen to Jesus by readings his words in the Gospels. John 18:37 -- Everyone that is on the side of the truth listens to my voice.
"Worship God," the apocalyptic angel said to John. (Revelation 19:10) No others are to be worshipped. Romans 1:25 -- ... those who exchanged the truth of God for the lie and venerated and rendered sacred service to the creation rather than the One who created.
One can disobey the Truth by practicing unrighteousness. Romans 2:8 -- ... who disobey the truth but obey unrighteousness there will be wrath and anger.
Truth causes one to be joyful and glad and applaud honesty. 1 Corinthians 13:6 -- (Love) rejoices with the truth.
We must be careful not to adulterate God's Word the truth and our conscientious conduct ought to reflect that to others. 2 Corinthians 4:2 -- Neither adulterating the word of God, but by making the truth manifest recommending ourselves to every human conscience in the sight of God.
No matter what happens nothing can harm the truth and it will always prevail. 2 Corinthians 13:8 -- For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth.
Some Christians, even the most sincere, may stumble and not always walk in harmony with the Truth. Galatians 2:14 ... when I saw they were not walking straight according to the truth of the good news.
The Truth and the Gospel include the good news regarding our own salvation. Ephesians 1:13 -- ... the word of truth, the good news about your salvation.
By learning to be honest and then speak the truth to others we will mature as Christians. Ephesians 4:15 -- Speaking the truth, let us by love grow up in all things into him who is the head, Christ.
Some Christians preach the Truth with wrong motives. Philippians 1:18 -- ... in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is being publicized.
Satan can mislead or deceive us if we do not really love truth. 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 --
because they did not accept the love of the truth that they might be saved. 11 So that is why God lets an operation of error go to them, that they may get to believing the lie, 12 in order that they all may be judged because they did not believe the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness.
It is the will of God that people of all kinds gain salvation and come to understand the truth.
1 Timothy 2:3, 4 -- God, whose will is that all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.
The Church should support itself by the Truth. 1 Timothy 3:15 -- ... the congregation of [the] living God, a pillar and support of the truth.
Some Christians use the truth to take advantage of others by material gain. 1 Timothy 6:5 --
... men corrupted in mind and despoiled of the truth, thinking that godly devotion is a means of gain.
Bible truth must be handled correctly and not misapplied. 2 Timothy 2:15 -- ... handling the word of the truth aright.
It is a deviation from the truth to say the resurrection has already taken place. The resurrection will not occur until Christ returns and then all will be raised "at the same time." (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17) 2 Timothy 2:18 -- These very [men] have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already occurred; and they are subverting the faith of some.
Before on can know the truth accurately one must repent of past wrongs. 2 Timothy 2:25 --
... repentance leading to an accurate knowledge of truth.
One may learn and study and still not find heightened knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:7 --
... always learning and yet never able to come to an accurate knowledge of truth.
The Bible predicted an apostasy or falling away from Bible truth. 2 Timothy 4:4 -- They will turn their ears away from the truth, whereas they will be turned aside to false stories.
To be "born again" one must know the truth. James 1:18 -- Because he willed it, he brought us forth by the word of truth, for us to be certain firstfruits of his creatures.
Though one ma have the truth in the beginning they may deceived from it. James 5:19, 20 --
My brothers, if anyone among you is misled from the truth and another turns him back, 20 know that he who turns a sinner back from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
Truth will always be associated with love and is a uniting force. 1 Peter 1:22 -- ... obedience to the truth with unhypocritical brotherly affection as the result, love one another intensely from the heart.
If a person claims they have never sinned as a Christian they do not have the truth. 1 John 1:8 -- If we make the statement: "We have no sin," we are misleading ourselves and the truth is not in us.
If someone does not keep God's commandments regarding faith and love, then that person does not have the truth. 1 John 2:4 -- He that says: "I have come to know him," and yet is not observing his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in this [person].
Truth is learned by reading the words of Jesus inspired disciples in the Christian Bible. 1 John 4:6 -- We originate with God. He that gains the knowledge of God listens to us; he that does not originate with God does not listen to us. This is how we take note of the inspired expression of truth and the inspired expression of error.
It is not enough to know the Truth, a Christian must also conduct is life in the Truth. 2 John 1-4 -- ... all those also who have come to know the truth, 2 because of the truth that remains in us, and it will be with us forever. 3 There will be with us undeserved kindness, mercy [and] peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Son of the Father, with truth and love.4 I rejoice very much because I have found certain ones of your children walking in the truth.
"So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today." (Matthew 6:34)
Luke 12:18-19: "Then he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'"
Luke 10:41: "But the Lord answered her, 'Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things.'"
"Don't put off to tomorrow what you can do today." (Unknown)
The senseless shooting rampage in Littleton, Colorado sure made all of us stop and think a great deal about many topics. The one that struck me the hardest was indelibly impressed when I was watching an interview on CNN with the parents of two students who were shot and yet survived their wounds. I found their final thoughts on the CNN web site. They wanted to leave a message for other parents: The Hockhalter Parents: "Hug your kids every day, all of the time, and be as involved as you possibly can, because you never know, you just never know when they can be snatched away from you."
The Castaldo Parents: Make sure you have a good close, loving relationship with your children; be very active and involved in their lives; know their friends; pay attention to the spirituality aspect of their life."
These parents will never again put off till tomorrow what they can do today with their children. They will never again take for granted the invitation to be involved! When I heard that interview I was considering canceling what my daughter has gleefully dubbed, "Abby and Daddy Day" which occurs once every week. I was extremely busy with legitimate work for my Father in Heaven. It was piled up enough that I was tempted to let my promise to Abby slip and pick it up again the following week. It might not have made a big difference in her life, but that interview renewed my vigor to be the best father that I know how to be. What if, like the barn builder in Luke chapter 12, our Father had said that my life was finished? Would the last thought that my daughter have had be that I was too busy to keep my promises to her? Would I have been like Martha, and let the work get in the way of my parenting responsibilities?
We all think, "Oh, that will never happen to us! It may happen in Littleton, but not in our town." The fact is that Littleton is a very nice middle class town where crime was given little thought and was only in the back of everyone's mind. There is no rhyme or reason to senseless acts like this. Some good friends of ours were in a violent collision with a drunk driver that very nearly could have taken them from our midst. But, we think..."it will never happen to us!"
Those of you who are younger may not have had the brutality of death smashing down the door to your peace. It will happen some-day. And the cliché puts it, "It really is just a matter of time."
We must all ask ourselves..."Who in my family and friends am I taking for granted or have been putting off for a while?" We must not let the common everyday occurrences in our lives push people into the background. Jesus was a people person. His concern was mainly about others and how He could impact their lives. We, like Him, must make those same choices each day of our lives.
In a tape series by Chuck Swindoll, I vividly recall a very sad and horrifying story. A very famous evangelist had died and the funeral was taking place. Thousands of people came to pay their respects to this man who had obviously impacted many lives. However, his four sons were missing from the activities following the funeral at the graveside. While everyone else was remembering the wonderful worker in the Harvest fields, they had stayed behind at the grave. They didn't stay to ponder the tremendous amount of Christian work their father had done. They stayed behind to urinate on his grave. This world-renowned evangelist apparently never took any time for his sons and they remembered him with bitterness, and a complete failure as a father to them.
Now obviously, this reaction is extreme! Couldn't they under-stand how important their father's work was? If we are going to have children, then we have a moral obligation to raise them lovingly and give them the attention they need and deserve.
1 Timothy 5:8: "And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."
How can we know when our children, a parent, or a sibling will be snatched away from us? It is impossible to know the mind of Jehovah in this regard. Today...have you hugged your kids? Have you told your wife or husband that you love them? Have you taken the time to share the blessings that you have received from the hand of your Heavenly Father through Jesus with them? Have you told your parents that you are thankful for everything that they have done for you?
Time is not on our side in these earthly temples of ours. However, the choice to impact our loved ones is always an option because it is something we can act upon immediately. Seize the day... seize the moment! Never take the chance that tomorrow you can fulfill your obligations to the ones you cherish. The parents at Littleton plead with you not to wallow in regret. You don't know what tomorrow will bring!
Nazarene Saints Publishing ©
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