The Friends of the Nazarene On-line Magazine

Volume 3 -- November 1999 (40 pages)

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: 

Nazarene Saints Publishing© is a Bible research group for a better Scriptural understanding. We are dedicated to the preservation and publishing of Christian writings which aid Friends of the Nazarene© to "follow the Lamb no matter where he goes." (John 15:14; 3 John 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 show respect for our multitude of Christian brethren. (1 Peter 3:15)

[Mark Miller / Senior Editor (California, USA); Ralph Slaney / Senior Spanish editor (Almeria, Spain); Luis Padilla / Associate Spanish Editor (Brooklyn, USA); Andy Weeks / Associate Editor [Webmaster] (Chicago, USA); Andrew Foss / Hebrew editor (Oregon, USA)]

IN THIS ISSUE –


“COMMAND OTHERS NOT TO TEACH DIFFERENT DOCTRINE!”

Paul’s Commands to Timothy and Titus

“I Am The Truth”

Jesus declared, “I am the Truth.” [John 14:6] He no doubt included many things in that brief statement. Certainly the Nazarene taught that he had come to earth to make known what truth the Father wanted revealed to humanity. Indeed, Jesus said: “If any person wants to do the will of my Father, then they will realize that my doctrine originates with The God or whether I originate my own teaching.” [John 7:17] Any such sincere person may read our Lord’s teachings in the four Gospels where the word “truth” is used over 40 times.

However, not all of the Nazarene’s “truth” is found in just the Gospels. Why can we say that? The night of the Last Passover, shortly before Jesus was arrested and carried off to his execution, Jesus told his loyal eleven apostles: “I have many things to tell you [apostles] but at present you do not have the ability to understand them. However, when that One arrives – the truthful Pneuma – he will lead you into the whole Truth, for he will not speak from himself. Rather, what he hears he will speak. Also, he will declare future events. That [truthful Pneuma] will glorify me, because he will draw upon my Truth and will proclaim it to you.” [John 16:12-14 NCMM] Thus, the Nazarene assures his apostles that they will receive future help by inspiration, and THEN they will be guided into “all the truth.”

There is little doubt that one of the vessels Jesus the Nazarene used in this process of inspiration was Paul. With the result that when Paul writes under inspiration it is really that Pneuma sent by Jesus. So Paul’s words are really those of Jesus Christ. Paul says as much several times in his letters. [1 Corinthians 11:23; 14:37; 1 Thessalonians 4:15] We can rightly suppose that nothing Paul writes contradicts the teachings of Jesus. We have one good example in this regarding a foretold apostasy from Christ’s doctrine.

Jesus Foretold an Apostasy

The Nazarene foretold a future corruption of his own Church, or Kingdom. He did this in at least two parables recorded at Matthew 13:24-33, 36-43. In these he predicted the whole fermentation of his Church. He taught that his “field” wherein he had sown wheat would be over sown with weeds by the Wicked One. While his apostles were sleeping in death, these weeds would grow and fill his field. The separation of these two – the sons of the Kingdom and the sons of the Wicked One – would await the parousia-judgment when the angels would separate the two. The spirit-helper inspiring Paul – as well as James, Peter, Jude, and John – expanded on this foretold apostasy. When it does it is really Jesus speaking this “whole truth.”

Paul’s Warnings to Timothy and Titus About “Different Doctrine”

[The following is based on the footnote commentary in the Nazarene Commentary© of First, Second Timothy and Titus, soon to be in CD-ROM form.]

1TM1:3 Even as I encouraged you to remain in Ephesus, while I was on my way to Macedonia -- so that you might command certain persons not to be teaching differently.

This is not a suggestion to Timothy, for the young elder is to “command” those who teach “different doctrine” not to do so. The Greek is PAR-ANGELES [Strong's Concordance #3853 = enjoin, charge, command, declare. Or, exhorted, begged, charge, instruct.] One of Paul’s apostolic charges dealt with preserving doctrinal purity in the Christian Church. The early Church was not an environment wherein any “wind of teaching” could find a place. [See notes on Ephesians 4:14, 15, 2 Peter 2:1 and 1 John 4:1 in Nazarene Commentary©.]

The Greek for “teaching differently” is HETERO-DIDASKLEIN [Strong's Concordance #562. Or, other doctrine, different doctrine, strange views, novelties, heterodoxy, new doctrines.] For details on Paul’s view on doctrine see NAZARENE COMMENTARY© on Titus. Research the word doctrine. The doctrine of the Church was based first on Jesus the Nazarene. [John 7:17 KJV] and then on Paul’s inspired epistles as an instrument of the spirit-helper guiding the Church into all the Truth.

1TM4:1 But, now, the Pneuma expressly says that in latter times some will apostasize from the Faith, giving heed to deceitful pneumas and doctrines of demons, 1TM4:2 in [the] hypocrisy of those [who] speak falsehoods, their own conscience having been seared.

Paul demonstrates that he is under the influence of the spirit-helper Jesus sent when he writes, “the Pneuma expressly says.”  [Or, KJV: the Spirit speaketh expressly; KNX: told by inspiration.]  PNEUMA, usually rendered “spirit,” may mean an “inspiration” or “inspired utterance.” Paul may refer to a personal inspiration experienced under the influence of the holy Pneuma sent by Jesus, the Head of the Church.

Paul, under the inspiration of Jesus’ spirit-helper, predicts a falling away as the Church grew. [Or, after times, later seasons.] Likely Paul has in mind John’s “last hour.” Compare notes on 2 Timothy 4:3.  [1 John 2:18; 4:1] In 2 Thessalonians 2:7 Paul had earlier written that the apostasy was “already at work.” [Research apostasy in NAZARENE COMMENTARY© for details.]

Paul writes, “Some will apostasize from the Faith.” The Greek is APOSTESONTAI [Strong's Concordance #868, to remove, to instigate to revolt, desert, depart, draw away, withdraw self; from which APOSTASIA (Strong's Concordance #646) is derived.] This may also be rendered: depart from, fall away, desert, abandon, revolt, rebel. Compare notes on 2 Thessalonians 2:3 regarding the foretold apostasy which finds its basis in the Nazarene’s parable at Matthew 13:24ff and Matthew 13:36ff. [Note also Matthew 24:12.] Nothing could be more accurate than the historical evolution away from the primitive Church and its teachings. These involved not only doctrine but also church order. Jesus had asked the rhetorical question, “When the Son of Man arrives will he really find The Faith on earth?” [Luke 18:8]

Through Paul, Jesus declares these apostates will be, “Giving heed to deceitful pneumas.”  [Or, seducing spirits, deceiving spirits, subversive.] The Greek is PNEUMASI, the plural for “spirit,” and may refer to inspiration. Compare notes on 1 John 4:1 and 2 Thessalonians 2:2. Part of this apostasy is due to the development of false teachings from an inspiration other than God. [Matthew 15:9; 2 Peter 2:1ff] Compare notes on “every wind of teaching” in Ephesians 4:14, 15 in NAZARENE COMMENTARY©.

Moved by the spirit of Jesus, Paul calls these, “Doctrines of demons.” [Or, doctrines of devils, teachings of demons, doctrines inspired by demons.] The Greek’s worshiped demons and their philosophical doctrines were formed from Egyptian backgrounds. [See Preparation of the Gospel by Eusebius] Paul agrees with this. [1 Corinthians 10:20, 21] Most of this came from teachers within the Church who under went a satanic transformation. [2 Corinthians 11:3, 14, 15] These “doctrines” surely included the concept of a triune deity, hell-fire torment, and the immortality of the human soul -- all which found their roots in Egypt, passing through Greek philosophy. [See Concerning the Heavens by Aristotle and the work by Eusebius mentioned above.] These apostates would teach “In [the] hypocrisy of those [who] speak falsehoods.” [Or, speaking lies in hypocrisy, teach falsely. (Acts 20:30; 2 Timothy 2:16; 2 Peter 2:3)]

Such false teachers experience a “Conscience having been seared.” [Or, seared with a brand, hardened, as dead as seared flesh, branded with the devil’s sign.] Not only is there a radical doctrinal shift evolving over several centuries, but also a moral shift resulting in more and more of a liberal ethical character. Such could later actually convince the Church to support wars and inquisitions, or the burning of heretics at the stake. But, what was Timothy to do?

1TM4:6 By suggesting these things to the brothers you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished with the words of the Faith and the Good Teaching which you have followed.

First, Timothy as a young elder authorized by Paul, was to continue “suggesting these things to the brothers.” The Greek for “suggesting” is HYPO-

TITHEMENOS [Strong's Concordance #5294, to place underneath, to hazard, put in remembrance. Or, pointing out, setting forth, lay these things before, instructing, explain, advices.] It seems fair to conclude that Paul means what he has written up to this point. It was vital that Timothy keep before the various churches the doctrine of Christ and be on guard against “different doctrine.”

This would make Timothy “a good servant.” [Or, a minister] A good minister in the Church is one characterized by teaching the contents of 1 Timothy. That is one “Nourished with the words of the Faith.” [Or, nurturing on the messages, feeding your own soul, bred on the precepts, trained, living on.] The “words of the Faith” would surely include the teachings of the Nazarene in the Gospels as well as Paul’s own inspired words. [Titus 2:1]

In contrast to the devious apostates Timothy had followed “the Good Teaching.” [Or, good doctrine, noble teaching, fine teaching, sound instruction, right teaching, excellent teaching.] Compare notes on 2 Timothy 2:15; 3:14. Certainly part of this “Good Teaching” is found in Paul’s letters to Timothy.

1TM6:20 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Turn away from the profane and empty utterances and opposing theories of the pseudo-named “Gnostic,” 1TM6:21 which some, professing [it], have missed the mark concerning the Faith.

The spirit-helper of Jesus has Paul urging the young elder to guard his deposit. It is hard to read that and not think of the Nazarene’s parable of the four slaves. [Luke 12:35-48] [Or, keep safe, take good care, guard the truths, keep the securities of the faith intact.] One view is the “deposit” is right doctrine, a true knowledge of the Truth. Titus 1:9 might be a comparison. The following phrases suggest such.

Paul writes, “Turn away from the profane and empty utterances.”  [Or, KJV: avoiding profane and vain abblings; WEY: shunning irreligious and frivolous talk; WMS: worldly, futile phrases; BER: empty discussions; NEB: turn a deaf ear to empty and worldly chatter; MOF: profane jargon; BECK: unholy talk; AMP: irreverent babble and godless chatter.] What Paul has in mind is suggested by the next phrases: the Gnostic influence working its way into the Church.

The first are “Opposing theories.” [Or, objections, contradictions.] The Greek is ANTI-THESEIS [Strong's Concordance #477, opposition, a conflict of theories]. The word from which the English antithesis is derived unchanged: opposite or opposing view. Compare Paul’s warning at Colossians 2:8. Paul entrusted Timothy with the doctrine of the Truth and part of his charge was to preserve these sound teachings and shun “different doctrine.”

The second is described as “Pseudo-named ’Gnostic’.” [Or, KJV: science falsely called; NOR: pseudo-science.] One immediately thinks of “Christian Science” or “Religious Science” in modern times. The Greek is PSEUDO-NYMMOU GNOSEOS and may be an identification of the Gnostic theosophy, “a system of mystical religious and philosophical doctrines, combining Christianity with Greek and Oriental philosophies.” [Webster] The Gnostics became powerful in the second and third centuries. They combined Jewish, Eastern, and Christian thought through a Greek filter. They believed in the immortality of the soul and that Jesus did not come in the flesh but was a materialize phantom. They were also liberal in their relaxed attitudes toward obedience. [Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Colin Brown), Volume 1, page 58] Some feel the modern doctrine of the Trinity derived from Gnostic beliefs traceable to Plato and Aristotle. Timothy is to shun or turn away from such.

The result of turning an ear to these “different doctrines” was that “some, professing [it], have missed the mark concerning the Faith.” [Or, erred concerning the faith, shot far wide, gone astray.] Already within three decades of Christ, Greek philosophy was influencing the faith of some Christians. Just as in the first century, now approaching the 21st Century, there are those who would corrupt primitive Christianity by a Jewish or Greek influence. [Compare notes on 1 Timothy 1:19.] What was Timothy to do?

2TM1:13 Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; 2TM1:14 guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.

Jesus through Paul counseled Timothy to “Follow the pattern of the sound words.” [Or, KJV: sound words; ABUV: healthful; GDSP: wholesome instruction.] Paul has taught and instructed Timothy and he charges him now to follow these teachings. He is to go on to mention some false teachers which have misled others. [2TM1:15; 2:17] May Timothy be in danger?

Paul counsels Timothy to “Guard the truth that has been entrusted to you.” [Or, BER: guard that precious entrusted deposit; ALF: goodly trust; RHM: noble thing; WMS: guard this fine deposit of truth.] Likely it reads more like, “guard this good trust.” [Note 1 Timothy 4:14.] “Continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed,” Paul writes. [Or, RHM: abide in the things; NEB: stand by the truths.] If we used only the letter of First Timothy we could identify some of those things Timothy had learned from Paul. Surely  those letters with Timothy’s name attached would also be included. [2 Corinthians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1] From these the Gospel Truth may be perceived as well as those further truths Jesus had predicted.

Paul writes again to Timothy. We believe this was under the influence of Jesus’ spirit-helper, and thus represent what the Nazarene himself would say to the young elder.

2TM3:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 2TM3:5 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2TM3:16 All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 2TM3:17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Paul notes that Timothy had been raised by godly Jewish women and had thus learned the Hebrew Scriptures. He writes, “How from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings.” [Or, KJV: holy scriptures; ASV: sacred writings.] Paul surely means the canon of the Hebrew Bible. It is possible this may have included the earliest of the Christian canon, including some of the Gospels, such as Matthew.

The benefit of these Scriptures is explained by Jesus’ representative, his apostle Paul: “Which are able to instruct you for salvation.” [Or, KJV: make thee wise unto salvation; WEY: wise to obtain salvation; WMS: which gives you wisdom that leads to salvation; MOF: saving wisdom.] The wisdom of the Scriptures cannot be separated from salvation. Yes, “All scripture is inspired by God.” [Or, RHM: God-breathed; TCNT: God-inspired; GDSP: divinely inspired; BAS: every holy writing which comes from God.] Surely Paul means at the least those “sacred writings” Timothy was raised on. There is a unique word here repeated no where else: THEO-PNEUSTOS, or “God-breathed.” These will make “the man of God … complete.” [Or, KJV: perfect; MOF: proficient; NEB: efficient; GDSP: adequate; WMS: perfectly fit; TAY: well-prepared at every point.] The inspired Scriptures are enough to accomplish this perfection of the man of God. Paul does not state that Timothy, or any other man of God, needs something in addition to these to make him complete.

2TM4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2TM4:2 preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. 2TM4:3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, 2TM4:4 and will turn away from listening to the truth, wandering into myths.

Surely that spirit-helper from Jesus inspired Paul to write further about that future apostasy? “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching.” [Or, KJV: not endure sound doctrine; RHM: healthful teaching; WEY: wholesome instruction.] Paul refers to the foretold apostasy predicted by the Nazarene in his parable of the wheat and weeds. See notes on Matthew 13:24ff and 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12. [Acts 20:29, 30; see notes on 2 Peter 2:1ff] Compare 1 Timothy 1:3, 10; 4:1. This prediction manifested itself in two ways: a) doctrines which deviated from the original truths taught by Jesus and his inspired disciples; and, b) those who felt doctrine was unimportant altogether. The modern Church is filled to the brim with examples of both.

Why would members of the Church begin to pick their own teachers? Paul explains, “But having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings.” [Or, KJV: aft their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears; WEY: to satisfy their own fancies; GDSP: to suit their own whims; BAS: a great number of teachers; KNX: provide themselves a continuos succession of new teachers; TCNT: itching for novelty; LAM: lured by enticing words; NW: to tickle their ears.] This is one reason to be attracted to new teachers and their doctrine: it is what one wants to hear. This may be doctrinal, or matters which liberalize conduct. Today the Church is splintered into tens of thousands of sects and denominations that cater to what the congregation wants to hear. Seldom is there any rebuke or correction in matters of doctrine or conduct.

Paul also writes to another elder directed to appoint elders in various churches. He also was warned about oppossers with “different doctrine” from that of Christ Jesus.

Ti1:10 For, indeed, there are many opposers, idle talkers and deceivers, particularly those of the circumcision, Ti1:11 It is necessary to stop the mouths of those who overturn entire households, teaching what they ought not for the sake of dishonest gain.

“There are many opposers,” Paul writes, no doubt guided by the spirit-helper of Jesus. [Or, KJV: many unruly; GDSP: undisciplined; MOF: insubordinate; KNX: rebellious; NEB: far too many out of all control; NOR: do not readily submit to authority.] Already, this early in the Church, there was an apostasy at work. [2 Thessalonians 2:1-3; Acts 20:29, 30] These “opposers” fell into two major groups: a) the Judaizers who wished Christianity to be an extension of Judaism and the Law of Moses (today reflected in similar groups); and,  b) the Greek influence of the Gnostics and Stoics who would bring in philosophical doctrines influenced by the much esteemed Plato and Aristotle (today reflected in Trinitarianism). Early Christianity was not a free group of independent thinkers with a variety of views on everything. Such “winds” were spoken of negatively. [Ephesians 4:13-15] Compare notes on Romans16:18. [1 Timothy 1:6, 7; 2 Timothy 2:18]

Paul calls these false teachers, “Idle talkers and deceivers.” [Or, KJV: vain talkers; CON: disobedient babblers; WMS: mere talkers with nothing to say, but deceivers of their own minds; NEB: they talk wildly and lead men’s minds astray; MOF: who impose on people their empty arguments.] As in the first century the same exist by the tens of thousands among modern Christianity. These include the so-called “modernists” who have rejected Jesus as Messiah and Son of God and deny the Bible is God’s inspired Word. [2 Timothy 3:15-17] They also include those so-called “conservatives” who twist the Word to create time chronologies and preach “the time is at hand.” [Luke 21:8; Deuteronomy 18:20-22]

Were these Christian teachers to be tolerated? Hardly, for Titus is commanded, “Stop the mouths of those who overturn entire households.” [Or, MOF: silenced; NEB: curbed; MOF: undermine whole families.] The early Church was not a place where just anyone’s views could be expressed. The elder must be able to resist or restrain those teachers who have departed from Christ and Paul. [2 Timothy 3:6] Mouths may be stopped by not permitting such to speak or by over-powering arguments. The fight for pure doctrine was an ongoing battle. [2 Corinthians 10:4-7]

There was a motive or hidden agenda behind these teachers as Paul describes them, “Teaching what they ought not for the sake of dishonest gain.” [MOF: teaching objectionable doctrine; NASB: sordid gain; CON: shameful gain; KNX: base profits; BECK: make money in such a shameful way.] There are two ways to identify such: material profit, or, selfish ambition. [1 Timothy 6:5; 1 Peter 5:2] Either these men want profit or they want undeserved honor. They usually teach what others want to hear in order to tickle their ears.

Paul, under the influence of the spirit-helper speaking for Christ, directs Titus in what he ought to do as an appointed elder.

Ti3:8 That statement is trustworthy. Concerning these [teachings] I counsel you [Titus] to make strong affirmations about them so that [the congregations] of those who believe God continue minding good works. These [teachings] are good and profitable to humanity.

What does Paul direct Titus to do? He writes, “Concerning these [teachings] I counsel you [Titus] to make strong affirmations.” [Or, KJV: affirm constantly; TCNT: and it is on these subjects that I desire you to lay special stress; PME: speak with absolute certainty; MON: firmly insist.] What Paul has written are no mere suggestions, they are apostolic commands. Titus is not to be hesitant or wishy-washy. He gives his reasons in the next phrases. But were these commands and instructions to Titus limited to just the island of Crete? Were they not meant for future generations of the Church? Were they not inspirations from Jesus’ spirit-helper?

Paul affirms: “These [teachings] are good and profitable to humanity.” [Or, TCNT: such subjects are excellent in themselves and of real use to mankind; MOF: such counsels are right and good for men; BER: which is excellent and beneficial for al people.] What Paul writes to Titus is not limited to just the isle of Crete. They are applicable and beneficial to Christians of all ages. [2 Timothy 3:15-17] But what is Titus to do if someone in their midst begins to teach “different doctrine”?

Ti3:10 Shun a heretical person after two warnings. Ti3:11 Realize that such a person has been perverted, and, in sinning, is self-condemned.

Yes, Paul commands, “Shun a heretical person after two warnings.” [Or, KJV: heretick; ASV: factious man; CON: a sectarian; TCNT: if a man is causing divisions among you; KJV: first and second admonition reject; TCNT: having nothing more to say to him.] The Greek is HAIRETICON [141] from which comes “heretic.” The earliest meaning was a person with an opinion or choice and thus a person who is divisive in his opinion, or schismatic. [1 Corinthians 1:10] This does not mean a Christian cannot have an opinion or choice for Paul has just told Titus to make “firm assertions” about certain teachings. These “heresies” contradict “healthy teaching” which came from Jesus the Nazarene. [1 Corinthians 11:19; Galatians 5:20] Compare Galatians 1:7-9. The sectarian person deserves two apostolic warnings from qualified elders. See notes on Romans 16:17 and 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14. [2 John 10]

Our study of the letters to Timothy and Titus has helped us appreciate that we cannot take true teachings, Christ’s doctrine, lightly. There was an original truth found in the Gospels and inspired writings of Jesus’ appointed representatives. Today we can still study these writings and arrive at the Truth. Those who refuse to be led by these teachings are to be shunned and avoided. If they repent and sincerely seek correction, they may be restored to our Lord’s grace.

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ANNOUNCEMENTS

     FALL EDITION OF FRIENDS MAGAZINE: As was explained in the briefer edition of the October Friends magazine, we have moved some subjects to the November issue. We bless God that everything we prayed for has come true. [Joshua 21:45]

     RECENT ADDITIONS TO NAZARENE COMMENTARY: The on-going work of a complete commentary on the Christian Bible has recently produced several new works: Hebrews 1-9, James, First Timothy, Second John, Third John. We pray these are a blessing to those who wish a deeper study of God’s Word. Work continues on Hebrews 10-13. It will be awhile before the above works are available on the web page. If you wish any of these by email attachment please contact Mark Miller [].

      DOWNLOAD ENTIRE FRIENDS WEB SITE INFORMATION: Having recently lost everything by a hard drive crash, you can imagine my joy in being able to download EVERYTHING from the web page. Some may not know about this marvelous tool. In places everything in a file called “Friends.”

      PROGRESS ON NAZARENE COMMENTARY CD: This is a monumental effort and it requires time. We apologize if you do not see as many new items on the web page because faithful brothers are working on this research CD.

·       WE REJOICE over renewed Internet contact with the Slaney family in Spain. We pray they will be a blessing to all. They continue their missionary efforts in the Costa del Sol near Almeria. Those who wish to assist or communicate may email:

·       TESTIMONY PAGE: On the Friends of the Nazarene web site is a section called “Testimonies.” Any who agree with the Friends of the Nazarene and their Affirmation of Convictions [available on the web page] and who “follow the Lamb no matter where he goes” [Revelation 14:4] are invited to submit a photo and a one page bio for consideration. We do not judge of criticize other groups of our Christian family. If you wish to make an expression how the Friends of the Nazarene web page has helped you we feel that would be encouraging. Please send these to .

·       IN THE NEXT ISSUE: Tabernacle Shadows; The Ideal Man.

·       BAPTISMS DURING THE MEMORIAL SEASON: This year we plan to hold water immersion for those who wish to begin discipleship to the Nazarene Jesus Christ and be baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ.” Provisions for baptism will be provided during this period in southern California. There will also be a special day of Biblical discussions and devotions as well as a elders’ seminar for those able to attend.

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FAITH PERSPECTIVES

A Forum for Contributing Expressions of Faith and Thoughts

Words of Encouragement

I read a little of your commentary on Matthew and it is really good. I’M BEING HONEST. [California]

You have the best anti-trinity material anywhere in the solar system. [USA]

Thank you for helping me understand the Truth. [USA]

Mistaken Kindness

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared.
 
He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force
its body through that little hole.
 
Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had
gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further.
 
So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and
snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged
easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.
 
The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at
any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the
body, which would contract in time.
 
Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life
crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was
able to fly.
 
What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the
restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get
through the tiny opening were God's way of forcing fluid from the body
of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once
it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.
 
Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. If God
allowed us to go through our lives without any obstacles, it would cripple
us.

 We would not be as strong as what we could have been. We could never fly!
 
I asked for Strength....... And God gave me Difficulties to make me strong.
 
I asked for Wisdom......... And God gave me Problems to solve.
 
I asked for Prosperity........ And God gave me Brain and Brawn to work.
 
I asked for Courage......... And God gave me Danger to overcome.
 
I asked for Love......... And God gave me Troubled people to help.
 
I asked for Favors......... And God gave me Opportunities.
 
I received nothing I wanted ........ I received everything I needed!
 
May God Bless You.
 
May God bless you with unspeakable joy, not only in the world to come, but
in this world also.
 
May your path be bright and full of light everywhere you go.
May God tell darkness that it must flee at your command.
And, I pray your feet will never stumble out of God's plan.
May the desires of your heart come true,
and may you experience Peace in everything you do

“Lords of Your Faith”

At 2 Corinthians 1:24 Paul wrote literally in the Greek, “We are not lords of your faith.” Other versions render this: NW: we are not masters of your faith; TCN: I do no mean that we are to dictate to you with regard to your faith; ASV: lordship over your faith; NEB: dictating the terms of your faith; CON: I speak not as though your faith was enslaved to my authority.

It is unfortunate that throughout the history of the Christian Church -- as well as in these days approaching the year 2,000 – various sects have acted as if the hierarchy were “lords of your faith.” Controlling and punishing worshippers for what they believed, or how they exercised their personal convictions has characterized periods such as the Inquisition. Michael Servetus and Joan of Arc were both burned at the stake because they rejected the Trinity.

One’s faith is a personal matter and no one can really control what a person wishes to believe. There are very view people who agree completely on everything. Though the Church struggles for unity of opinion, striving to have one mind and one opinion, each is free to express their own beliefs. [1 Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 2:2]

The path to Truth is an ongoing process with the perfect maturity of Christ Jesus himself as the role model. [Ephesians 4:11-15] However, as that text shows there are dangers to “perfect knowledge.” What Paul calls “every wind of teaching by means of tricky men.” Both Paul and John taught to shun persons who were so heretical in their teachings that they endangered the original purity of Christ’s doctrine. [Read Paul’s letter to Titus, and John’s Second epistle.]

What Goes Around Comes Around

You know, he almost didn't see the old lady, stranded on the side of the
road. But even in the dim light of day, he could see she needed help.

So he pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got out. His Pontiac was
still sputtering when he approached her. Even with the smile on his face, she
was worried. No one had stopped to help for the last hour or so.
Was he going to hurt her? He didn't look safe, he looked poor and hungry.
He could see that she was frightened, standing out there in the cold. He
knew how she felt. It was that chill which only fear can put in you.
He said, "I'm here to help you ma'am. Why don't you wait in the car
where it's warm? By the way, my name is Bryan."

Well, all she had was a flat tire, but for an old lady, that was bad
enough. Bryan crawled under the car looking for a place to put the jack,
skinning his knuckles a time or two. Soon he was able to change the tire.

But he had to get dirty and his hands hurt. As he was tightening up the
lug nuts, she rolled down the window and began to talk to him. She told him
that she was from St. Louis and was only just passing through.

She couldn't thank him enough for coming to her aid. Bryan just smiled
as he closed her trunk. She asked him how much she owed him. Any amount would have been all right with her. She had already imagined all the awful things
that could have happened had he not stopped. Bryan never thought twice about
the money. This was not a job to him. This was helping someone in need,
and God knows there were plenty who had given him a hand in the past... He had lived his whole life that way, and it never occurred to him to act any
other way.

He told her that if she really wanted to pay him back, the next time she
saw someone who needed help, she could give that person the assistance that
they needed, and Bryan added "...and think of me."


He waited until she started her car and drove off. It had been a cold
and depressing day, but he felt good as he headed for home, disappearing into
the twilight.

A few miles down the road the lady saw a small cafe. She went in to grab
a bite to eat, and take the chill off before she made the last leg of her
trip home. It was a dingy looking restaurant. Outside were two old gas pumps.
The whole scene was unfamiliar to her. The cash register was like the telephone
of an out of work actor-it didn't ring much. Her waitress came over and
brought a clean towel to wipe her wet hair. She had a sweet smile, one that even being on her feet for the whole day couldn't erase. The lady noticed that the waitress was nearly eight months pregnant, but she never let the strain and aches change her attitude. The old lady wondered how someone who had so little could be so giving to a stranger.

Then she remembered Bryan. After the lady finished her meal, and the
waitress went to get change for her hundred-dollar bill, the lady slipped
right out the door. She was gone by the time the waitress came back. She wondered where the lady could be, and then she noticed something written on the napkin under which was four $100 bills. There were tears in her eyes when she read what the lady wrote. It said: "You don't owe me anything, I have been there too. Somebody once helped me out, the way I'm helping you. If you really want to pay me back, here is what you do: Do not let this chain of love end with you."

Well, there were tables to clear, sugar bowls to fill, and people to serve, but the waitress made it through another day. That night when she got home from work and climbed into bed, she was thinking about the money and what the lady had written. How could the lady have known how much she and her husband needed it? With the baby due next month, it was going to be hard.

She knew how worried her husband was, and as he lay sleeping next to her,
she gave him a soft kiss and whispered soft and low, "Everything's gonna be
all right. I love you, Bryan."

==== END ====

WORTHLESS RELIGION AND DEAD FAITH

 

Who Determines “True Worship”?

God is the One who determines how He is to be worshipped. Some worshippers believe THEY can determine how to worship God and He will just have to accept that. They go to the “church of THEIR choice.” God becomes something like a cafeteria buffet where one can pick and choose what pleases them.

When confronted with this exact context, Jesus Christ the Nazarene made it clear where true worship and salvation could be realized. Read the account in John 4:9-24: [New International Version]

 

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." 20 [She said] Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem." 21 Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

Jesus made it clear there were “true worshippers,” which infers there are also false worshippers, or those who worship amiss, or in vain. Did Jesus teach this elsewhere?

The Nazarene and Worthless Worship

When the Jewish hierarchy confronted Jesus and his disciples over a ceremonial law on cleanliness, the Nazarene quoted Isaiah against them:

You have invalidated the Word of The God by your own tradition. Hypocrites, Isaiah gave a good prophecy about you when he said, ‘This people honors me with their lips but their heart is distant. Their worship is worthless because they teach human commandments as doctrine.’ [Matthew 15:6-9 NCMM]

Jesus charged that these religious teachers had “invalidated the Word of The God.” [Other versions render this: MOF: you have repealed the law of God; GDSP: you have nullified what God has said; PME: empties the commandment.] Jesus then quotes Isaiah 29:13 which is the utterance of his Father Yehowah when he condemns the whole nation of Israel, not just its religious leaders. Because they followed the doctrines of human leaders their worship had become “worthless” or “in vain.” No matter how many sacrifices they made, no matter how often they raised their palms to God in prayer, no matter the sincerity of their hymns of praise – their worship was worthless. Or as the Williams translation puts it, “Their worship of me is an empty show.”

Some want to apply this “worthless worship” to just the scribes and Pharisees in the context. However, it should be noted that God himself in Isaiah 29:13 applies it to all Israel. A bit later Jesus responds to the hurt feelings of the Pharisees: “Then the disciples approached Jesus and told him: ‘Are you aware that what you said offended the Pharisees?’ Jesus answered them: ‘Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted. Leave [the Pharisees] alone. They are blind guides. Therefore, if a blind man tries to lead another blind man, both will stumble into the ditch. [Matthew 15:12-14] Thus, persons who are already spiritually blind and who attempt to follow blind religious leaders suffer together with them.

Did any of Jesus’ disciples preach the same message? Did any other inspired writer indicate worship – even Christian worship – could be in vain?

James --- Vain Worship and Dead Faith

The disciple James – at one time the presiding elder of the Jerusalem church – wrote words that echo the Nazarene. He writes that formal worship or service to God can be rendered worthless for three reasons. Anyone who wishes to become a “true worshipper” should show a heightened interest in what James said. Consider James 1:26, 27 [Nazarene Commentary©] --

JA1:26 If anyone considers themselves to be a formal worshipper and does not bridle his tongue -- but continues deceiving his own heart -- this person’s worship is worthless. JA1:27 Pure and undefiled worship before The God, even the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their oppression, [and] to keep oneself unspotted from the worldly social order.

 

Let us examine these two verses and note the three items, which could possibly make Christian worship “worthless.” First in James 1:26 we note James mentions “a formal worshipper.” What does he mean? If a Latin root is preferred the Greek may be “religious.” [KJV] The Greek threskos means ceremonial worship or religion, and has all the sense of a form of worship. The word is used two other times at Acts 26:5 where it is the Jewish religion, and at Colossians 2:18 where it is a form of Gnosticism -- it is organized, formal and rigid in its ceremony.

Here James introduces the control of the tongue as an important and vital element in “pure religion.” The word “tongue” occurs 165 times and most often in the Psalms  [38 times] and Proverbs [21 times]. This is the first occurrence out of 5 in James. It is the subject he takes up with detail in the next chapter, as well as infers it regarding “teachers” in chapter 3. He uses the word “mouth” once. The spirit of this theme is again from the Nazarene’s Mountain Teachings. [See notes on Matthew 5:21-24 in Nazarene Commentary©] For James it is impossible to divorce “pure religion” from the use of the tongue.

In what manner does he mean this bridling control? Largely he has in mind that negative judgmental and critical speech -- often inflammatory and murderous -- which is slanderous. The metaphor of the horse’s bridle he takes up again in James 3:3. The bridle does not shut the mouth but directs the horse. This is speech at once controlled but also directed to that which is upbuilding and constructive. It is the Nazarene who teaches [Luke 6:45] “Out of the heart's abundance his mouth speaks,” and who warns, “I assure all of you that every idle word that people speak they will give an account for it on the Day of Judgment.” [See notes on Matthew 12:36 in Nazarene Commentary©.]

James says such a person, “Continues deceiving his own heart.” [Or, TAY: is fooling himself] As in James1:22 self-deception in religious matters is a real and serious element to James’ letter. In James 1:22 it was concerning -- not just words -- but doing; and now it is not just doing but words.

James draws the harsh judgment that such a person’s “Worship is worthless.” The Nazarene showed that peace with one’s brother came before worship. [See notes on Matthew 5:24 in Nazarene Commentary©] Most often the worshipper realizes that another worshipper has something against him. This is either in the form of a “debt,” or, something said, which was either damaging, hurtful or divisive. It is honorable to approach God with one’s offering in a clean conscience, having “committed no offense against God and men.” [Acts 24:16]

However, worship can be “futile” or in “vain” for several reasons. In James 1:27 it is “pure religion from God’s stand point.” God, as the object of worship, has the right to determine how He is to be worshipped and what is acceptable to Him. The Nazarene speaks to the woman of Samaria, “True worship is offered in spirit and in truth for God looks for this true worship.” [John 4:22-24] In saying “true worship” he infers there is such a thing as false or erroneous worship. Again, quoting Isaiah, the Nazarene warns the religious hierarchy, “It is in vain you people worship Him because of your traditions.” [See notes on Matthew 15:9.] Isaiah also thunders in the voice of Yahweh, “You are completely sick. Your formal ceremonies are worthless. I hate your religious festivals.” [Isaiah 1:5, 11-14] It is a fearsome prospect that all one’s worship -- with its prayers, hymns, inspirational poems, church attendance, and donations -- is completely worthless if the tongue is not controlled.

On the other hand there is “pure religion” [KJV] identified by two factors here in James. He calls this, “Pure and undefiled worship.” [Or, KJV: pure religion; ABUV: undefiled religious service; TCNT: religious observance.] The Greek threskos is shown above to apply to the religious form and ceremony of either Jew or Greek. But, there is a religious form God approves. It includes three characteristics: 1] the controlled use of the tongue; 2] charity; and, 3] spiritual purity.

Having considered the first item, we note the second. James identifies true worshippers as those who “Visit orphans and widows in their oppression.” This is the second requirement of divinely approved worship. This charitable and humanitarian activity is classified by James as part and parcel of true religion though it is not part of what others might consider formal religious ceremony. God has fixed his vision on the orphan and widow and pays strict attention to how they are treated, for He Himself shows concern for them. [Proverbs 15:25; Psalm 68:5] Job is falsely accused of ignoring widows [Job 22:9] but this is not true. [Job 29:13]

The word “widow(s)” occurs almost 100 times, the first in Genesis 38:11 regarding Tamar, and most often in Deuteronomy, 14 time. In the Christian Bible it occurs 7 times in Luke and 7 times 1 Timothy. The person who ignores orphans and widows wastes precious time in ceremonial worship no matter the religion. James uses the Greek episkeptesthai for visit, care for, or look after. This is exactly the same word the glorified Son of Man uses at Matthew 25:36 -- epeskepsasthe -- when he tells the Sheep of their good deeds to “one of the least” of his brothers. Jesus’ use of “least” means the youngest, oldest, or sickest, particularly among women. There is no political value in the non-entities of orphans and widows, who are so poor they must rely on others. The Goats of this parable are cast off into “everlasting pruning” [literal Greek] for the sin of omission.

The third and final criteria for “pure religion” James describes: “Keep oneself unspotted from the worldly social order.” [Or, KJV: to keep himself unspotted from the world; NEB: untarnished by; TCNT: uncontaminated by; GDSP: unstained by; BER: free from the smut of] The Greek often rendered “world” is kosmos which means a systematized arrangement characterizing humankind in general. This “world” has as its “god” the Devil [2 Corinthians 4:4], and it is the Wicked One who is in control of the world. [See notes on 1 John 5:19 and Ephesians 6:12] The “world” [religious, political, commercial] is characterized by blindness to the truth and ignorance of godly morality. [See notes on Ephesians 4:17-19] Greed and fleshly desire drives the world.

 

James means, “Spotless.” There is the Christian community, and then there is everything “outside” in the world. In his Passover Teachings with his disciples in the upper room the Nazarene taught them: [John 15:19] “If you were part of the world the world would love you because you would belong to it But, because you are no part of the world you are hated by it.” Then he prays for his disciples: [John 17:14] “These [apostles] are no part of the world just as I am no part of the world.” James expresses this thought differently: “Adulterers, are you not aware that worldly friendship makes you an enemy of God?” [See notes on James 4:4] Paul stresses separateness from worldliness: (2 Corinthians 6:17) “Get out from their midst and separate yourselves. ... Do not touch the impure thing. ... Then I will receive you.”

The Greek aspilos means unspotted or without blemish and occurs only here and at 1 Timothy 6:14, 1 Peter 1:19, and 2 Peter 3:14. It is a synonym for “blameless.”  It is the state unto which a godly husbands attempts to bring his submissive wife. [See notes on Ephesians 5:27, spilon]

To James, not only is worship worthless that ignores charity, such faith is also dead. The disciple writes:

JA2:14 My brothers, what is the profit if anyone says, “I have conviction,” but does not have works? Is just his conviction able to save him? JA2:15 [For example], if a brother or sister is living without adequate clothing and lacks daily food, JA2:16 and anyone of you says, “Go in peace. Keep warm and well fed” -- but do not give them their bodily necessities -- what is the profit? JA2:17 Just so, conviction without works is dead by itself.

James uses a practical example -- perhaps an experience he actually knows about -- or an observation he has made many times with regard to the rich. He has heard this. Again he uses “a certain one,” but the Greek “you” is in the plural so this no single incident. The example is pure charity -- or lack thereof. The object of the need is a fellow believer -- a brother or sister -- and the need is immediate and serious. This is not a case of taking care of someone long-term but that requirement for that particular day. The Greek is different from Matthew 6:11 but the spirit is the same -- daily bread. Whereas the rich will make great plans to make profits over the period of a year in a distant city, they do not respond to the daily needs of those whom they profess to be related to in the faith.

John uses a similar example in 1 John 3:17 and both seem familiar with the parable of the sheep and goats. [See notes on Matthew 25:31-46] James writes of the same subject as Paul. [1 Corinthians 13:2, 3] It is interesting James does not amplify or attach additional riders to this simple demonstration of faithful works. For example, he does not clarify by saying, “Of course, the most important act of charity is providing for one’s spiritual needs.” Nor does he once launch into a desertion on the disciple-making commission of Matthew 28:19. Here he is dealing with those within the Christian community and their urgent material needs. This is the same spirit of Galatians 6:10. [See notes on Romans 12:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; Titus 3:8; 1 Corinthians 13:2; Job 31:19-23; Isaiah 58:7; Matthew 25:35-36; Luke 3:11; Deuteronomy 15:7, 8]

Just as worship can be worthless, faith is dead without positive action. Dead faith is unconscious, sleeping, lifeless, non-existent. It may be active in other areas but if faith forgets basic human need and dignity it is completely worthless and will make no impression on God Almighty. The Father is the epitome of charitable caring as the Nazarene teaches [Matthew 5:45] and any who profess to be His worshippers must be characterized by those attributes of the kindly Samaritan. [Luke 10:33; Compare also Luke 3:11; Deuteronomy 15:7, 8; 1 John 3:17; Matthew 7:22, 23; Romans 12:13; 1 Timothy 5:14.]

In conclusion, judging from both the Nazarene and James, we learn that we cannot take our worship for granted. If God could reject the worship of His chosen People Israel, he can also refuse to accept Christian worship. We do well to pay attention to four matters: a] doctrine based on the Bible; b] control of the tongue; c] look after orphans and widows; and, d] remain unspotted from the world. Surely every day our prayers will ascend to the Father by our Lord Jesus that we remain watchful. If we fail in one of these matters we are quick to repent and correct our error. How grateful we are to have His Word to guide us, rather than following “blind guides.”

==== END ====

 

WALKING IN CHRIST’S DOCTRINE

A Commentary on Second John

An Elder’s Love and Eternal Love

When we all pause and think about it, we have learned the Truth – the doctrine of Christ – by means of letters or epistles. How we all appreciate receiving a brief letter of encouragement.

We have an example of an inspired letter, which continues to encourage modern Christians near the year 2,000. Indeed, it may be more important now that when it was first written. It is a letter from the beloved apostle John. It is called Second John in the Biblical canon.

John only describes himself as the “older man” or the Presbyter. Some believe it is addressed to a Christian congregation, while others think it written to a Christian sister and her children. Either way the power of the letter is not lost on us.

Many believe Second John to have been written near the turn of the First Century by the beloved Apostle John. Surely he was an ancient man by this time and suffered all those ailments, which attack a person nearly 100 years old. Despite these his heart was devoted to the Church he had seen grow up around him in the six decades since the death of his Master, Jesus Christ the Nazarene. He felt two compelling obligations: to preserve the original faith with its doctrine, and, the motivating force of Christianity -- love. About four decades before the great missionary of the Faith, Paul, had already warned about those who would pervert the Doctrine of Christ with “different teachings.” In First John, the beloved Presbyter had called his period of time “the last hour.” He knew following the death of all the Apostles and their appointed representatives the Church would undergo a fermentation, a field of wheat with weeds planted among them, until the weeds nearly choked out the wheat. What would a Christian man -- one who leaned against the breast of the rabbi from Galilee -- wish to tell the Church before his own death? And do this in less than 400 words?

John introduces his main theme right away using one of his key words – Truth. 1 2 John 2 reads in part, “This Truth remains in us and it will be with us into the Age.” The Presbyter’s concern is that this “Truth” remains the same one the Church had at the very beginning. He has a particular “truth” in mind and is assured the Church still contains that Truth: “I am the Truth.” [John 1:14, 17; 8:31; 14:6] The “truth” contained all that Jesus and his inspired disciples taught.

John expresses his joy at hearing this sister or congregation continues in that original Truth: “I rejoiced exceedingly when I discovered your children continue to walk in truth in accordance with a commandment we received from the Father.” [2 John 4] Here “truth” is without the article. [3 John 3] Despite the foretold apostasy and “falling away” [2 Thessalonians 2:3-9; 1 Timothy 4:1-3] these “children” continue conducting themselves according to the original Nazarene truth. It is interesting he would say “the Father” rather than Jesus. What is this “commandment”? [Compare 1 John 3:23.] God’s “commandment” involves two major factors: conviction in Jesus as Christ and Son of God, and, loving concern for one another. To John, one cannot separate love from God’s commandments. [2 John 5, 6]

Antichrist and the Meaning of Love

It is here John associates God’s commandment on love with what he is to call “antichrist.” 2 John 7 reads: “For many deceivers have left [us] and gone back into the world. These [deceivers] do not confess that Jesus Christ came in flesh. These are the deceivers and the antichrist.” Jesus foretold such. [Matthew 24:24] Paul did also. [Acts 20:29] As did Peter. [2 Peter 2:1; compare also 1 John 2:18, 19 and 1 John 4:1]

John particularly identifies these as those whom, “Do not confess that Jesus Christ came in flesh.” Jesus was a true anthropoid – a human being of flesh, bone, and blood. [John 1:14; Romans 5:14; 1 John 1:1, 2] He was physically nothing more than a perfect man like Adam during the “days of his flesh.” [Philippians 2:5-7; Hebrews 5:7] He was not God in an apparition of flesh. Nor was he ever called a THEOS-ANTHROPOS, or god-man. [1 John 4:2]

Some render “deceivers and the antichrist” -- GDSP: imposter and Antichrist; NEB: arch-deceiver. Only John uses the designation “antichrist” which literally means against Christ. [1 John 2:22; 4:3] The designation includes all deceivers and apostates. They were mainly identified in the first century by three factors: a] false doctrine; b] a lack of loving concern for their fellows; and, c] unrighteousness. First John deals in such details. See notes in Nazarene Commentary. The “man of lawlessness” of 2 Thessalonians 2:3-9 is such an antichrist, whether a class, type, group, or individual.

Remain in the Doctrine of Christ

Now John gets into the details regarding these deceivers. He lays stress on the importance of “Christ’s doctrine.” Read the following as though John wrote the letter to you:

2JN8 All of you be careful so that you do not ruin our work, but rather that you receive a full reward. 2JN9 Every person who pushes ahead and does not remain in Christ’s doctrine does not have God. The person who remains in the Doctrine has the Father and also the Son. 2JN10 If anyone approaches you and does not bring this Doctrine, do not receive such into [your] house. Do not say a greeting to such. 2JN11 For the person who says a greeting to such is sharing with the wicked works of [such persons].

John cautions his readers: “All of you be careful so that you do not ruin our work.” [Or, look to yourselves, keep watch, be on your guard, take care; TCNT: do not lose the fruit of all our work; PME: throw away all the labor that has been spent on you] John’s reason is that you, “Receive a full reward.” [Or, reap the benefit of it in full, make sure of] It is reward enough just to be a disciple of Jesus. The full reward would include ageless life in heaven. [John 4:36; 2 Corinthians 5:1] So, he warns, “Every person who pushes ahead.” [Or, goes beyond, runs ahead; see 1 Corinthians 4:6]

 

Not only must his readers be on guard against these deceivers, but they must also “remain in Christ’s doctrine.” [Or, teaching of Christ] Such may be found in the Gospels and the inspired writings of the Nazarene’s disciples as instruments of the promised pneumatic-helper. [John 16:12, 13] The Christian who does not remain in this doctrine has no relationship with God, or “does not have God.” [Or, NOR: does not have hold of God] [John 14:9]

In contrast, “The person who remains in the Doctrine has the Father and also the Son.” [Or, in that teaching] This ‘remaining in Christ’s doctrine’ is surely done by continual study and meditation of Christ’s teachings, as well as humbly walking in them by obedience. [John 3:35] Those who do so have an intimate relationship with both the Father and the Son. It is worthy of note that the Spirit is not mentioned here. [In this regard compare notes on Matthew 11:27 in Nazarene Commentary©.]

More is needed John writes. It is not enough to just remain in Christ’s doctrine. These deceivers, or antichrists, are so dangerous that the Presbyter adds: “If anyone approaches you and does not bring this Doctrine do not receive such into [your] house.” [Or, if you are visited by anyone; and does not bring this teaching.] Some would limit this “doctrine” to just the belief that Jesus did not come in the flesh. It is “Christ’s doctrine” John has mentioned in verse 9. It seems fair to conclude John refers to those deceivers and antichrists who were once part of the Nazarene community but have now gone apostate.

There is a story of John who was on his way to the public baths with some disciples. Upon entering it was learned an apostate was present. John told the others: “Let us flee from here, lest the building collapse!” This is a more severe reaction than those who have sinned as ordinary humans. [Compare notes on 2 Thessalonians 3:11-15.] Note how such apostates work their way into households and lead away captives. [2 Timothy 3:5-13]

John adds, “Do not say a greeting to such [and thus] share with the wicked works of [such persons].” It is best to have no communication at all with such antichrists. Let them pass without notice. Romans 16:17 counsels to “avoid” or “shun” such sectarians.

We are now nearly 2,000 years removed from these early warnings. Today Christendom [the Kingdom of Christ] is divided into thousands of sects with hundreds of teachings formed in the centuries after Christ and his apostles. John’s brief letter is just as powerful today, as the weeds seem to over-power the wheat in the field of the Lord. We do well to examine daily God’s Word in the teachings of the Nazarene to assure we also continue to “remain in Christ’s doctrine.”

==== END ====

IMITATE GOOD AND NOT BAD

A Commentary on Third John

Children Walking in the Truth

A Christian parent is always concerned that their children continue walking in the Truth. There are those occasions when one’s child may belong to a congregation or ecclesia that is not the best example in the world. Indeed, there may be dangerous forces at work in such a congregation. [1 Corinthians 11:17] One only has to read the seven apocalyptic letters of Jesus Christ to the seven churches in Revelation to learn of these dangers. [Revelation chapters 2 and 3]

Suppose there was a congregation with two elders: one was an evil and bad example possessed of some authority; the other was an elderly brother who was a good example. Suppose the bad elder used his power and authority to control the congregation with threats of excommunication. What advice would you give? Who will have the courage to stand up and speak out against such a bad elder?

We find this exact situation when we come to read what is called in the Biblical canon as Third John. It is a brief letter of 384 words and yet has a powerful impact on Christian churches near the year 2,000. This letter reveals a real challenge even in the modern Church: political ambition and religious control. John writes to another old Christian, Gauis. In the congregation there are two forces: one hateful and one loving, both manifest regarding hospitality. What is a member of the Church to do when two elders represent two different poles: one spiritual and one fleshly?

John the Presbyter begins with kind words to Gaius, evidently an elder within the ecclesia. The beloved apostle expresses his joy that his “children continue walking in the Truth.” [3 John 1-4] He then continues to praise their hospitality and charity toward fellow workers in the Truth of the Evangel.

The Faithful Work of Hospitality

3JN5 Beloved, you are doing a faithful thing whenever you work in behalf of the brothers, and this to strangers. 3JN6 [These visiting brothers] testified about your loving concern in sight of [the] ecclesia. Please send these [visitors] forward worthily of The God. 3JN7 For it was in behalf of [God’s] Name they went forth, receiving nothing from the non-Jews. 3JN8 Therefore, we are obligated to receive such so that we may become co-workers to the Truth.

John will identify this “work” as hospitality and charity. [Compare Matthew 25:40 and Hebrews 13:12. See notes in Nazarene Commentary on Romans 12:13.] Hospitality and sharing is high on the list of Jesus, Paul, James and John when it comes to “works.” Both Paul and Jesus accepted aid from non-Jews. However, there were circumstances in which Paul did not take advantage of their hospitality. [1 Corinthians 9:12, 15] John says it is our duty to entertain – that is, to show hospitality – and so play our part in spreading the truth. [Romans 12:13; Hebrews 10:34; 1 Peter 4:9] Despite good-heartedness on the part of Gaius and others, there was a dangerous, ravenous wolf in the church. [Acts 20:29, 30]

Ambition, Disrespect and Tyranny

3JN9 I wrote something to the ecclesia, however, Diotrephes -- who likes to be first among them -- does not accept us. 3JN10 Because of this, if I should ever visit, I will remember his works -- chattering about us in wicked words. And not being satisfied with that, neither does he receive the [visiting] brothers. Also, those [in the ecclesia] wishing [to receive the visiting brothers] he wishes to hinder and expel from the ecclesia.

How we would rejoice to read this unknown letter. There is a possibility it was the epistle of First John but was rejected by this elder named Diotrephes. His name means “Fed by Zeus” which turns out to be somewhat cryptic. Though here he is an individual, there are elders who as a group turn out to be a “corporate Diotrephes” Such congregations, organizations or religious societies are dominated by a controlling tyranny where threats and fear reign.

Diotrephes was ambitious and “liked to have the first place” in the congregation. [Or, eager to be a leader.] There is a difference between the Christian man who “desires the office of overseer” [1 Timothy 3:1] and the man who desires “first place.” The very nature of a political body involved with government will produce those men who crave absolute control. No matter the political structure of this body it will manifest itself in one way or another. Even the Lord’s apostles argued who was the greatest among them. [Matthew 18:1; 23:11; Mark 9:46] When such a man attains power it can make life in the church a great test of faith. The correct attitude is reflected in Matthew 20:27 and Philippians 2:4, 5.

A man who is ambitious for political control or prestige will do what Diotrephes did. He will not respect another’s authority. John says that Diotrephes, “Does not accept us.” [Or, not acknowledge our authority, declines to recognize us.] A man so obsessed with power resents any other authority. He will do what he can to belittle and undermine any other leadership. [Compare Hebrews 13:7, 17] There is a good Biblical example of such jealous ambition in David’s son, Absalom.

Diotrophes does not realize the man he will confront if John should ever visit. We would long to have been there to see such an element disposed of by the remaining restraint in the Church. [Compare 1 Corinthians 4:19; 2 Corinthians 13:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-9]

Jealousy and ambition are always revealed by speech and just so John knew that Diotrophes was, “Chattering about us in wicked words.” [Or, KJV: pratting against us with malicious words; TCNT: ridiculing us with his wicked tongue; GDSP: maliciously accusing me; WEY: mischievous talk; NEB: baseless and spiteful charges; KNX: maligns us with his foolish gossip.] Some how the blasphemous talk by Diotrephes has gotten back to John, which is the way of things. [Psalm 101:5; Proverbs 6:19; Ecclesiastes 10:20] Diotrephes was “blaspheming Glorious Ones.” [2 Peter 2:10; Jude 8]

Not only did Diotrophes speak abusively of John but he used his position to put pressure on the congregation, trying to control them. He refuses to accept any of these apostolic representatives or in any way show them charity and hospitality. The man has virtually sealed his fate as one of the “goats.” [Matthew 25:40-46]

These members of the church would have included the hospitable Gaius. These Christians are truly among the “sheep.” [Matthew 25:40]

The extremes of control Diotrephes would sink to is shown in what must have been his threat of excommunicating anyone who was charitable to these visiting brothers. Possibly he had the authority to excommunicate and used this as a threat. Diotrephes is an example of the “evil slave.” [Matthew 24:49] Paul had similar struggles. [2 Timothy 4:15] This is religious control at its worst, and the atmosphere of fear in the congregation must have been considerable. Only the brave dare challenge such a man. What is one to do? John leaves no doubt.

Imitate the Good and Not the Bad

3JN11 Beloved, do not imitate the bad but rather, the good. The person doing good is from The God. The person doing harm has not seen The God.

John’s counsel is as we would expect – simple, “Do not imitate the bad but rather, the good.” [Compare Romans 12:9; 1 Peter 3:11; Hebrews 13:7] There are bad examples in the Church. Sometimes these are in the majority. 85% of the seven churches to whom Jesus wrote in Revelation were riddled with problems. One does well not to look at these bad examples, but rather imitate those excellent examples of true followers of Christ. [1 Corinthians 11:1; 1 Peter 2:21]

Only persons who habitually practice goodness can claim a relationship with The God. Jesus taught that there was only One who was absolutely Good as the source of all goodness. Those desiring to be genuine disciples of Jesus do well to keep their eye on good examples and avoid the bad. [2 Timothy 2:20-22] Those who do really “see” or experience their relationship with God. They are called “friends” by John as he concludes his epistle: The Friends greet you. Greet the Friends by name.” In time, certainly no later that the parousia-judgment [1 John 2:28; 4:17], wicked men like Diotrephes will receive that reward they deserve. [2 Corinthians 5:10] Those who imitate goodness will rejoice at the Marriage of the Lamb!

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“SEAL NOT THIS BOOK!”

The Meaning of Revelation

The Theme of Revelation

This article is intended to be a simple statement and outline on the Book of Revelation. It’s purpose is not to examine details, nor provide Bible verses for every affirmation. These may be explored in the online publication Nazarene Apocalypse©. The theme of Revelation is stated in both the introduction and conclusion of the Bible’s last book.

The very introduction of Revelation explains it’s purpose: “A revelation of Jesus Christ given to him by The God in order to show his slaves what will occur suddenly in the future. … Blessed is anyone reading these prophetic words, as well as those who hear them. [Blessed] is anyone who observes the things written here because the due season approaches. … Write down everything you see – both things present and things future.” [Revelation 1:1, 3, 10]

The conclusion of the book says something similar, explaining the purpose of the book: “And the angel told me: ‘All of these words are loyal and trustworthy. Yes, the LORD God who inspired the prophets sent His angel to show His servants those things that will occur suddenly. ‘Behold, I am arriving suddenly. Blessed is everyone who is obedient to this prophecy’s message.’ … The angel told me: ‘Seal not this Book and these prophetic words, for the season is drawing near.’” [Revelation 22:6, 7, 10; for details on these verses see the Nazarene Commentary© Nazarene Apocalypse©]

What follows is a brief overview of the book of Revelation. It should be understood that there are a variety of opinions on the Apocalypse and this is presented as one of many.

Introducing “the Revelation of Jesus Christ”

Chapter one serves as an introduction. It introduces the main persons and elements of the entire book. The two most important persons in Revelation are God Almighty [“the One who is”] and Jesus Christ the Lamb. Jesus is identified as the “Son of Humankind” as well as already ruling as a King. [Daniel 7:13; Ephesians 1:20-23; 1 Corinthians 15:24]

By the spirit John finds himself “on a Day belonging to the Lord.” He is told to write down what he sees. These are divided into two categories: a) those things that are present and have already occurred; and, b) those things still future. [Revelation 1:19]

Seven Christine Letters

Chapters two and three are seven inspired epistles sent to the “angels” of seven real churches in Asia Minor. These are letters from the Risen Christ penned by his beloved apostle John. They deal with real churches with real problems. Though some make a future application to these letters, it is clear they were first written to the presiding elder of each of these congregations as the Greek is the singular “you.”

Of the seven churches only two get a complete bill of health. The other five have serious problems and are reproved by the Lord Jesus. Most of the contents of these letters deal directly with the presiding officer of the church, or the angel of the ecclesia.

Though these letters are among what Jesus had called “the things that are” there is much benefit in the counsel given by our Lord himself. These letters are also insights into the character of the Risen Christ.

History and the Reign of the King

Chapters four, five, and six also belong generally to what Jesus had called “the things that are.” Chapter four is a transcendent description of God Almighty’s Throne room. Chapter five introduces two important features of what will follow in Revelation: a Lamb and a Book. Describing the scene in the year 33 upon the Lord’s triumphant return to the celestial realm, a freshly slaughtered Lamb is seen approaching the Throne to receive a sealed Book from God Almighty. Only the Lamb can open these seals so as to read the Book. This Book turns out to be Revelation chapters 7-22. That is, this Book is Revelation itself.

The Lamb begins to open the Book one seal at a time. Chapter six begins with the time the Messiah began his victorious reign in 33 CE when he returned to heaven to take up his Kingdom. [Daniel 7:13; Acts 1:9-11; Hebrews 9:24] Compare the ride of this white horse with Psalm 45:3-6 and his yet future ride to “complete his conquest” at Revelation 19:11.

Would the beginning of the reign of the Messiah bring world peace and prosperity? The opening of the next four seals prove this is not the case. History can expect war, famine, and pestilence. The reign of the King covers a process of his enemies being subdued beneath his feet until complete victory is attained. [1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Hebrews 2:8, 9; 10:12, 13] This will not completely occur until the end of the Thousand Years described in Revelation chapter 20.

What about Christians themselves? Could they expect instant deliverance and heavenly salvation upon the establishment of Messiah’s Kingdom? The sixth seal reveals this is not to be the case. Parallel with the wars, famines and pestilence Christians can expect to endure martyrdom with their blood crying out for vengeance. The millions of faithful Christians throughout the Dark Ages must await the Return of the King. [1 Corinthians 15:23; Matthew 24:30, 31] Only then will they experience a resurrection to heavenly glory.

The End-Time Saints and a Great Oppression

The sixth seal continues on into chapter seven and includes the sealing of the final members of the Church, the new Israel of God. [Romans 9:6, 7; Galatians 6:16] The “great day of their wrath” is restrained by four angels until the sealing of the 144,000 end-time Saints. First John hears their number and then he actually sees this Large Crowd who finally survives “the great oppression.” This Large Crowd of end-time Saints is seen victorious in heaven, serving before God and the Lamb in the Celestial Throne-room.

Beginning with the close of this sixth seal in chapter seven one of the main features of Revelation is the experience of the end-time Saints (144,000) during the Great Oppression. They have much to endure in the worst Holocaust to ever befall the People of God.

Chapters 8 and 9 see the seventh seal turn into seven trumpets. They describe conditions during this period of the Great Oppression while the end-time Saints experience their sealing. These seven trumpets continue sequentially until near the end of chapter eleven and the blowing of the “last trumpet.”

Chapter eleven concentrates on the 42-month long period of the Great Oppression on the end-time Saints. In passing two important identities are introduced almost in passing. These will be examined in detail in later chapters. They are a Beast ascending out of the abyss and then persecuting the Church; and, a Great City later designated Babylon the Great. Also, another city is mentioned which will also be described in detail in following chapters – the Holy City, or New Jerusalem.

Chapter twelve now rewinds the film as it were to provide more details on the elements of chapter eleven. The Holy City is portrayed as a celestial woman [Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22] with a remnant of her seed still on earth – the end-time Saints, the 144,000, or Large Crowd. Satan is described as a Dragon who has reigned over the great world powers of Biblical history.

Here the period of the Great Oppression is described as 1,260 days or three and a half years. This is a length of time borrowed from Daniel 7:21-25 and Daniel 12:1-9 where the Great Oppression is foretold.

The Devil and his angels have been at war with Michael and his angels since the enthronement of Messiah upon his return to heaven in 33 CE. [Ephesians 6:12] Now comes the moment when Satan and his demons are cast out of heaven knowing they have only three and a half years. Enraged the Dragon begins the Great Oppression on the end-time Saints.

Chapter thirteen again rewinds the film to provide a closer look at the Dragon’s political instrument in bring about the Great Oppression – the Wild Sea Beast. This political power gains global rule of the earth by gaining control of all commercial transactions. A type of enforced world peace and a religion that worships the Image of the Wild Sea Beast is brought about by the agent of the beast called the Earth Beast, or later, the False Prophet.

The real focus of these Beasts’ anger (as agents of the Dragon) is against the end-time Saints for the foretold period of 42 months. In the prophetic context the end-time Saints are in the Great Oppression, which begins with ouster of Satan from heaven and ends with the “last trumpet.”

The 144,000 Large Crowd is raptured to heaven in chapter eleven and seen as victorious conquerors as chapter thirteen ends and chapter fourteen begins.

The Victorious Church

Chapter fourteen and fifteen describe the triumphant Church with the focus on the end-time Saints who have just been rescued by Rapture from the Great Oppression. At that moment all genuine Christians have been removed from the earth to stand with the Lamb on Mount Zion. There in the Throne-room they are described as completely victorious over the Wild Sea Beast and its Image. They are seen joined with those martyrs who had been crying out since chapter six.

This is later described as the Marriarge of the Lamb when the film is rewound again to add more details to this moment in prophetic history.

Plagues Upon the “Great City”

While the Lamb’s Wife is descending in the New Jerusalem and the Marriage festivities are taking place, the seventh trumpet introduces seven plagues to befall that Great City, Babylon e Great. These are described in chapters sixteen to eighteen. How God will destroy this Harlot is described in detail.

The War of the Great Day of God Almighty

Once Babylon the Great has been completely burned with fire, the Lamb returns with his glorious Church to face off with the political powers of the earth. The time has come for what some call the Battle of Armageddon and this is described in chapter nineteen. This battle concludes with the abyssing of the Wild Sea Beast, the False Prophet, and the Dragon, Satan the Devil.

An Extra-terrestrial City Descends

In chapters twenty-one and twenty-two the film is rewound again to detail the glorious Church, the Lamb’s Wife, the New Jerusalem. It has descended before the war of the great day of God Almighty and the winepress is trodden outside the city where all the wicked wail in grief-stricken hatred of the reigning Messiah.

A Millennial Reign of Messiah

With Babylon the Great destroyed, and the Dragon with his Beast and False Prophet all in the abyss, the peaceful reign of the Messiah may begin. It is a reign over the “kingdom of the world” with billions of survivors of the Great Day of God Almighty. [Revelation 9:15] Christ does not rule alone for his Church made up of Saints of the Gospel Age reign with him. These are described in chapter twenty as sharing in the “first resurrection.”

Earth will be blessed by the presence of the New Jerusalem. The glorious King and his tested and proven co-rulers will [Daniel 7:27; 1 Corinthians 6:2] insure a peaceful environment without any satanic influence. This period of one thousand years will demonstrate the superiority of Messiah’s reign compared to “the god of this world.” [2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 5:19]

But, what about the “rest of the dead”? That is, what does the Bible say about those not of the Bride or Church, those not sharing in the “first resurrection”?

The Last Judgment

Chapter twenty says the “rest of the dead” – that is mankind in general still resting in Hades, Death, and the Sea – come to life (or resurrected) after the Thousand Years have ended. Indeed, after the Devil and those he deceives when he is released at the end of the thousand years are hurled into everlasting extinction. Then the billions of humanity since Adam will be raised to Judgment Day. Their life records like scrolls will be opened and from these of all humanity will be judged on their past life. Those who are pronounced righteous will inherit everlasting life on a New Earth. Those who are pronounced habitually vile will experience the same fate as the Dragon – eternal extinction. For the first time since Eden both heaven and earth will contain only those to whom God is everything. [1 Corinthians 15:28; Ephesians 1:10]

The Day of Eternity Begins

Essentially Revelation ends here, on the first day of “the Day of Eternity.” [2 Peter 3:13, 18] What lies before redeemed humanity is limited only by our imagination and the Grace of God.

Happy Those Who Hear and Obey

How truly blessed we are to glimpse but “the fringes of His ways”? [Job 26:14] To behold that enigma through a “glass darkly.” [1 Corinthians 13:12]

Revelation began with the promise: “Blessed is everyone who reads and hears these prophetic words. [Blessed] are they who observe and obey everything written herein because the due season approaches.” [Revelation 1:3] And, happily, the Apocalypse ends with the words: “Behold, I am arriving suddenly. Blessed is everyone who observes the prophetic words of this Bible.”  [Revelation 22:7]

No one who makes Revelation a life-long study will ever be disappointed by the blessed happiness such an endeavor fulfills! With John we raise our hopeful voices: “So let it be! Come, Lord Jesus!” [Revelation 22:20]

[NOTE: for details see the 250 page book with its 1,500 footnotes and running commentary Nazarene Apocalypse©. It is available free on the Friends of the Nazarene© web page.]

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HOW TO KNOW ONE IS BORN OF GOD

The beloved apostle John wrote often on the theme of spiritual birth. When introducing his Gospel he mentions early on such a birth:

JN1:12But, to everyone who did accept [Jesus] [The God] authorized to become children of God, because they believed in his name. JN1:13These were born, not from blood – that is,  from a fleshly desire, or a male desire --  but from God.

 

We are not born as children of God. We are born “in sin” even as was David. [Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12] God cannot have sinful children. [Deuteronomy 32:4, 5] In order to become a child of God one must be “adopted” or “authorized” as John says in John 1:12. [Romans 8:15, 23; 9:4; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5] Such adopted persons become “born anew” or “born again.” [John 3:3-8; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:3, 23]

There are four different expressions for a God-Birth in the Christian Bible. 1) John 3:3, gennethe anothen, “born again” is the same as John 3:7 “born of the spirit”; 2) James 1:18, “he gave birth to us”; 3) 1 Peter 1:3,“having been born again”; 4) The expression, “having been born out of God,”  occurs most often in 1John. (See also 1 John 4:7; 1 John 5:1, 4, 18)  Only Peter comes close to the popular expression “born again.” However, the varied expressions refer to two acts of God: a) justification; and, b) regeneration by spirit. The Divine seed implants the conviction of sonship with its attendant hope through spiritual “enlightenment” and “revelation.” (See Ephesians 1:18 in Nazarene Commentary) 1 Peter 1:23, “You have been born again not through a seed of corruption but rather incorruption by the enduring Word of the living God.”

How does one know they have been “born of God”? How can one recognize others who have experienced a true spiritual rebirth? This is a subject the apostle John explains in what is called First John. Consider the five elements involved in a God-birth.

John first introduces this subject by writing in 1 John 3:1-3:

Now grasp the character of this loving concern the Father has bestowed on us so that we should be called “Children of God.” And truly this is what we are! For this reason the worldly people do not recognize us because they do not recognize the Father. Beloved, at the present time we are “Children of God.” However, what we are to become has not yet been revealed to us. We only know that when the time comes for the Son’s Appearing we will exist after his resemblance. We shall actually behold him as he exists in reality. Now all persons with this hope purify themselves exactly as the Son is pure.

1. PRACTICES RIGHTEOUSNESS

First, John writes that a person truly born of God is characterized by the practice of righteousness. In other words the person is law abiding, not lawless. This is particular true of God’s Law. Consider what John taught:

 

1JN2:29If you know that he is righteous you also know that everyone who continues in this righteousness has  originated from the Father.

Or, “If you realize that God is righteous you will also realize that those God-born continue in righteousness.” These are fully aware of what God’s commandments are having studied these in His Word. John uses the word “commandment(s)” 14 times in his first epistle. [1 John 2:3, 4, 7, 8; 3:22-24; 4:21; 5:2, 3]

This is in imitation of the King himself for Paul writes of him in Hebrews 1:9, “You loved righteousness, and hated lawlessness.”  We have learned righteousness from he example of our Lord Jesus. Children of God are characterized by a righteous character.

2. DOES NOT HABITUALLY SIN

Related to this is the second identifying feature: one who has truly been born of God does not habitually sin. That is, does not practice sin as a constant exercise. John writes:

1JN3:9Every person who has been born of God does not practice a sin because His sperm remains within such a person and so is incapable of habitual sin because of being born of God. 1JN3:10In this manner the children of The God and the children of the Devil are manifest -- every person not practicing righteousness is not from The God, nor is the person not loving his brother. 1JN3:11Because this is the message that you heard from a beginning: we should be loving one another.

Or, “Anybody who is God-born never habitually continues in a sin because God’s seed resides within that person. This is the reason the person is unable to continue in a course of habitual sin because of being God-born.”

John writes that the child of God, “Does not practice sin.” [Or, MON: cannot go on sinning.] Like a child taking after his human father, a child of God cannot habitually practice sin because the in-born characteristics, like DNA, remain in the one “born from above” or having been begotten by spirit. [See 1 John 5:18.]

John explains why: “Because His sperm remains within.” The Greek is sperma. [Or, TCNT: for the very nature of God dwells within him; RSV: God’s nature abides in him; WEY: a divine germ remains in him; WMS: because the God-given life principle continues to live in him.] Having the “seed of God within” causes the Christian to desire to follow a course of righteousness and love. It becomes the natural bent of mind to want to go in the right direction.

John says the child of God, “Is incapable of habitual sin.” [Or, WMS: cannot practice sinning; MON: cannot go on sinning.]  (Compare Romans 7:18, 19.) Clearly there is a difference -- and no contradiction between Paul’s admission of the difficulty of the human race (particularly corporate Israel) of practicing bad even when one hates it -- and this habitual sin here. For Paul, a spirit-begotten son of God himself, confesses to a “practice” of that bad he does not wish. This is in indwelling rule of sin inherited from Adam. The “sin” mentioned in John is that habitual, willful, premeditated rebellion with full understanding of the consequences and with no concern regarding the outcome.

3. IS LOVING IN CHARACTER

The genuine child of God is characterized by a loving concern for others demonstrated in seeking their highest good. Often when John mentions “love” he uses the Greek AGAPE with the article and so it is not just love in general but The Love. That is love of a divine order learned from the Father through the Son. John writes:

1JN4:7Beloved, may we continue to love one another, because the love is from The God, and every person who is loving is born from The God and such a person knows The God. 1JN4:8The person who is unloving does not know The God because The God is love.

Or, “My loved ones, let us all continue to have a loving concern for each other, because this kind of loving concern is from God. Every individual who continues to show loving concern is God-born. Such a person has an intimate relationship with God. The individual who refuses to show loving concern has no intimate relationship with God because God is love.”

To John “the Love” is the hallmark of the true child of God. He counsels, “May we continue to love one another.” Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words clarifies: "Love can be known only from the actions it prompts. God's love is seen in the gift of His Son, I John 4:9, 10. But obviously this is not the love of complacency, or affection, that is, it was not drawn out by any excellency in its objects, Romans 5:8. It was an exercise of the Divine will in deliberate choice, made without assignable cause save that which lies in the nature of God Himself, cp. Deuteronomy 7:7, 8." (1981, Volume 3, page 21)

1 Peter 1:22 urges, “Love one another intensely from the heart.” (NW) Based on 1 John 3:16, 17 this love is no mere abstraction, or feeling of sentimentality, but manifest, according to John, in physical charity. This self-surrender of love manifests the spirit of Philippians 2:4, “Pay attention not just to your own self but also the concerns of others.” As well as 1 Corinthians 10:24, “Let everyone continue to seek self-interests but the interests of others.”

The reason John gives is, “Because the love is from The God.” [Or, KNX: springs from God; WMS: originates with God.] The origin of “love” is not from Christ as he confessed he can “do nothing of himself,” but rather from that Absolute Source of goodness -- God. The first expression of “love” was the Son and the ultimate expression of “love” is through the Son and by the Son’s own sacrifice.

Thus are children of God identified because, “Every person who is loving is born from The God.” [See 1 John 3:6, 9; 4:16. It seems he speaks of a divine kind of love as well limiting his thought to those who have “received” Christ (John 1:12, 13), and experienced regeneration. (John 3:3-5)

This is also visible proof that, “Such a person knows The God.” As elsewhere “know” (ginoskei) is more than intellectual knowledge. It is rather an intimate relationship with the Father. (Romans 8:15-17)

In contrast the opposite is also true: “The person who is unloving does not know The God.” [Or, WEY: has no knowledge of; RHM: doth not understand.] Despite all claims and attestations, those without love, those who do not manifest or characterize themselves as loving persons, do not “know” God in intimate acquaintance. They are liars and hypocrites according to John. Because, “The God is love.” God is the absolute personification of “love”. It is interesting to note John does not say, “The Son is love.”  In this he echoes Moses at Exodus 34:6, Yahweh, Yahweh, a God compassionate and beneficent, slow to anger, abundant in loving kindness and loyalty.” (Compare also Micah 7:18)

4. BELIEVE JESUS IS THE MESSIAH

Is it not enough to be just humanitarian and righteous, repelled by evil. There is another important factor involved. The child of God has a deep conviction that Jesus is the true Messiah, the Christ. John declares:

1JN5:1Every person believing that Jesus is the Christ has been born of The God, and every person loving the One born continues to love the One who caused his birth.

John excludes no one from the opportunity of becoming one born of God. For he says, “Every person.” [Compare the Greek of John 1:12 and Romans 8:14.] This prospect is open to “everyone” and not limited as if by a predetermined number.

Those who believe Jesus is the Christ may be adopted as children of God. [Compare John 3:16; John 20:31.] John’s purpose is to confirm this conviction in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God. In these verses he emphasizes once again the two prime features: faith and love.

 

No only believe Jesus is the Messiah, but also loving the Son of God. That is, Jesus Christ. There are at least 5 ways in which Jesus became the Son of God: a) his creation; b) human birth; c) spiritual birth at his baptism; d) by his resurrection; e) by his enthronement as King. [See notes elsewhere in Nazarene Commentary.] Loving the One begotten of God also loves the One who gave birth to His Son. [Or, WEY: loves the Father.] One cannot love Jesus without also loving the Father. Note the Holy Ghost is missing here.

5. THE GOD-BORN ARE VICTORIOUS

Finally, John makes it clear that the Fatherhood of God is dependent on endurance, or final victory over the worldly social order under the power of the “god of this world.” [2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 5:19] This conquest involves two important matters: obedience to God’s commandments and victorious faith. John writes:

1JN5:3For this is the love of The God that we observe His commandments, and his commandments are not a burden, 1JN5:4because everything born of The God continues to conquer the world. And this is the conquest of those who have conquered the world -- our faith.

Or, “And none of His commandments are a heavy burden because every person God-born is victorious over the world. Our faith -- this is our victory in conquering the world.”

No true child of God fails to endure, but because of being born of God is a world-conqueror. John says, “Everything born of The God continues to conquer the world.” [Or, TCNT: because all that has received new life from God conquers the world; KNX: whatsoever takes its origin from God must needs triumph over the world; WMS: every child of God continues to conquer.] This reflects the Nazarene himself when he says at John 16:33, “You will be oppressed in the world. Be courageous for I have had my own victory over the world.”

John words, “This is the conquest,” reminds one of the stirring words of Revelation 12:11 and Revelation 15:2 –

Revelation 12:11 And our brothers conquered the Dragon

by the blood of the Lamb,

and by the word of their witness.

They loved not their souls until death.

Revelation 15:2 And I saw a sea of glass mixed with fire

and those coming out

of their conquest of the wild Sea Beast,

and the Image of the wild Sea Beast,

and the number of it’s name.

The victorious stood upon the sea of glass

holding harps of The God.

 

John declares that it is deep conviction that is the key to this victory. He says, “The victory that defeats the world is our faith.” [NEB] The word group “faith” (believe, conviction) occurs about 100 times in John’s Gospel and epistles. It is a word the beloved apostle loves for he was an eyewitness to the greatest faith ever known – that of Jesus the Nazarene.

What a blessed privilege to be acknowledged and authorized as children of God. Now possessing the Father’s DNA as it were we walk in righteousness, abhor unrighteousness, love one another, maintain faith in our Lord, and enjoy our continuing victory over the worldly social order. How we long for the final and irrevocable celestial adoption as spirit children of God. How we long to “behold His face.” [Revelation 22:4]

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WHAT IS YOUR VIEW OF DRESS?

Any who have television and that is most persons in the western world have seen the models parading down the catwalk with the latest novelty from their creator.  Most of these innovations will be here today and gone tomorrow yet some will remain in vogue for a while.  Yet as the years go by most all will be forgotten.  Of course some of the classic styles do last for decades even the English tie has been around for about a century, often to the chagrin of its wearer.

With so much promotion of styles of dress a question can be asked: “What is my viewpoint and where do I see the importance about dress?” The need for clothing is undeniable, particularly in the colder climates, although in some of the hotter areas of the world they seem more of a burden than a usefulness.  It is no wonder that some tribes have almost dispensed with there use.  It is of fascination that some of these people, now becoming ‘civilized’ or should we more accurately say ‘brainwashed’ by the so-called advanced, materialistic and often decadent western world, now feel they must conform so as to become accepted by the very ones who were once their slave bosses, conquerors and exploiters.

What a long way we have all come from Adam and Eve!  Apparently there was no need for clothing at all in the Garden of Eden.   It was only after corruption had entered the human scene that God Himself provided clothing for both Adam and Eve.   However, from the account we note it was first the couple that felt the need to cover themselves.   For some reason the corruption of the human personality is associated with the need to cover oneself. (Genesis 3)

For the Christian this has more profound implication.  Before considering the most beneficial of these let us consider the misapplication of a Scripture, and the nonsensical views of some religionists.  Often quoted is 1 Timothy 2:9 where much argumentation is used so to coerce their members into a certain mode of dress.  Such argumentation is usually presented in a manner that makes the member embarrassed if he or she does not conform.  In reality, it is another ploy to gain control of the individual’s life, which in effect is contrary to the Christian way of freedom: “You, my brothers, were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature, rather, serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13 NIV = New International Version)  However, such reasoning is used not to the benefit of the individual, but as a means of gaining authority so as to perpetuate a regime.  Where in reality the Apostle Paul is directing that Scripture only at women, and counseling them not to ‘overdress’ so as to become ‘flashy’, thus drawing attention to themselves and thereby detracting from the Christian way.

Obviously the flaunting of one’s body, especially the female, so as to tantalize the opposite sex is completely, converse to Holy Scripture: “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit, what is contrary to the sinful nature.  They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.  But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under law.” (Galatians 5:16-18 NIV)  But to wear clothing that is appropriate to the climate and the occasion is totally in harmony with both the Bible and common sense.

Who has not heard of the imperious and impervious Puritans and their escapades in America and what is more ludicrous than their apparel in a hot climate?  One may be inclined to believe that many fainted and were overtaken by heat exhaustion, and yet the ‘hangover’ from that time still haunts the business world of the United States and Europe and therefore the rest of the world.  Just think of their suits, collars and ties.  This also has influenced the extremist religions.  Some persons would not dare turn up without a white shirt and tie, in fact without such garb they would be despised by their fellow religionists.  A careful reading of James 2:1-13 shows the absolute folly of demanding and judging another fellow over clothing.

However, lets now consider the most beneficial and profound implications of clothing: and this is that which is mentioned by the apostle Paul at Colossians 3:12-15 “You are God’s chosen race, his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. Over all these clothes, to keep them together and complete them, put on love. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together as parts of one body. Always be thankful. (The Jerusalem Bible)  This adornment not of the person as to their body but of to the person as to their personality is quite opposite to worldly thinking, but is what God approves.  So just as Adam and Eve had to clothe their bodies due to the corruption of their personalities so the Christian needs to clothe his personality to become acceptable in the sight of God.  Remember even with clothes Adam never gained God’s approval.  Yet it is possible for Christians to gain God’s approval by clothing not his body but his personality.  Jesus said: “The Spirit gives life, the flesh counts for nothing.” (John 6:63 New International Version)  One is helped to understand the Spirit’s personality as it is elaborated upon at Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (NIV)

 

Just as a country cottage is made beautiful with a coating of new paint so our personalities need a coating of the Spirit of God.  That is why the apostle Paul writes: “You must therefore, as you have been taught, divest yourselves of that old personality, which was characteristic of the way in which you used to live, and which was rotting away, seduced by its own desires.  You must have a completely new attitude of mind.  You must put on that new personality, which was divinely created, and which shows itself in that justice and holiness, which are the products of the truth.” (Ephesians 4:22-24 William Barclay)

So, rather than being overly concerned about literal clothing let us: “put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” (Romans 13:14 King James Version)  Then gradually the Spirit of God will transform us ever nearer to His likeness, until that glorious day when we shall be made anew, perfect and incorruptible, in the Kingdom of our heavenly Father. [Contributed from Spain]


 

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