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For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot * say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.

1 Corinthians 12:12-26

It’s been a couple of years since I sat down and started writing again. Hopefully, by God’s grace I can do better at this.


These scriptures came to mind this morning as I was talking with the Lord about the life path He has taken me on. I won’t go into detail about why that topic was important to me, but let me share what He told me:


Included in that which Lord gifts every believer are unique experiences, various sorts of education, and skill sets. All of these are a part of what that individual believer can contribute to the building up of the body. No one is disqualified because they don’t have a particular skill or training in their “tool set”, and neither should anyone disdain someone who does not have their set of tools. Additionally, the one who does not have a particular skill set should not disdain the gifting in the one who does. “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you.’”


That is all for now.

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It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted on my blog.  Not that I haven’t had a lot of thoughts pondering in my mind and spirit.  I have just been hesitant to voice them.  But I am back now.

I’ve been using my old church hymnal in my private worship time at home.  I am completely taken with the depth of meaning in the words of the old hymns compared to the choruses we generally sing in church and bible studies these days.  It has occurred to me that most of the modern choruses and songs seem to be more focused on us than on the majesty of God.  Seems to be more like musical petitions rather than adoration, with the operative words being “I”, and “me” and “us” and “give me”.

Take a listen to these old hymns.  Pay attention to the words, and see if you pick up on the difference:

Praise to the Living God:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5Gmo1JzbCU

Holy Holy Holy Lord God Almighty:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=414dGGTedpM

How Great Thou Art: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90ABccHh1Eo

Oh For a Thousand Tongues to Sing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7w3DXMkyj7Q

 

Beware of the Judiazers.  The Apostle Paul continually warned church about slipping into a “gospel” that was other than they had originally received. He pulled no punches in describing those who wanted to add the yoke of the law the gospel of grace.  I can imagine that those who were teaching the error were fully convinced their doctrine was correct.  After all, how could someone be sanctified if they  weren’t circumcised, and they ate pork, and didn’t attend the festivals or tithe, and so on?  Weren’t all those things in the scriptures?  Didn’t Paul tell Timothy “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”? 

Yes, those things are in the scriptures, but care must be taken in  considering who they were speaking to and in what context.  Paul goes to great lengths in the books of Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews, with honorable mentions in the books of Timothy, Ephesians, and his other letters, to explain that in Christ we are under a new covenant:

 [8:1] Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, [2] a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. [3] For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. [4] Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. [5] They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” [6] But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. [7] For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.

 

               [8] For he finds fault with them when he says:

              “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,

                              when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel

                              and with the house of Judah,

               [9] not like the covenant that I made with their fathers

                              on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.

               For they did not continue in my covenant,

                              and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.

               [10] For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel

                              after those days, declares the Lord:

               I will put my laws into their minds,

                              and write them on their hearts,

               and I will be their God,

                              and they shall be my people.

               [11] And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor

                              and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’

               for they shall all know me,

                              from the least of them to the greatest.

               [12] For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,

                              and I will remember their sins no more.”

 

[13]  In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

(Hebrews 8:1-13 ESV)

You can use the search tool on www.biblestudytools.com to look up the many other references to the new covenant.

I would recommend the reading of the entire books of Romans, Galatians and Hebrews, often and intently, to get a grasp of the new covenant, and why Paul was so adamant that the Judiazers not be given place.

Why am I bringing up this topic today, in an age where it seems that God’s grace has been cheapened to be interpreted as “anything goes”?  Because Paul, through the Holy Spirit, deemed it to be deadly to the faith.  And because it is sneaking back into our church doctrine and teaching in a very surreptitious way. 

My observation for the reasons for this reappearance of the Judiazers is 1) it is a misguided response to the apparent licentiousness of the modern church (although that licentiousness does need addressing), and 2) in standing in concert with Israel, many believers have obfuscated the division between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, wanting to interpret the old covenant law as continuing to apply to those under the new covenant.  This second instance is directly in line with the form of Judiazer doctrine that Paul so vehemently fought against. 

So, after reading Romans, Galatians and Hebrews, (I am intentionally not referencing specific verses because the entire books address the issue, and you really, really should read the whole thing) you can see that we are not, as in the example Paul uses in Romans 7:1-6, married to the law (the old covenant).

Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives?  For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work kin our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

We are not tied to the old covenant law.  In Jesus, we have been given a new commandment: 

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 13:31-35

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on this blog.  It’s not that I haven’t been “ruminating”.  It’s that I have been thinking of too much!  Sometimes it’s hard to determine what to write what is from God’s heart rather than mine.

I was thinking that certainly since this is Easter, I should write something pertaining to the crucifixion, and try as I might (since there is so much to say),  I just couldn’t put it together.  I kept hearing in my heart that I needed to write about repentance.  So that is what this blog entry will be about.

There seems to be a difference of opinion on the origins of the English word “repent”.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the English word “repent” is a verb that first appeared in the late 13th century.  It means:

“To feel regret for sins or crimes,” from Old French repentir (11c.), from re-, here probably an intensive prefix, + Vulgar Latin *penitire “to regret,” from Latin poenitire “make sorry,” from poena (see penal). The distinction between regret (q.v.) and repent is made in many modern languages, but the differentiation is not present in older periods. Related: Repented; repenting.” 

Miriam-Webster differentiates between the origin of the verb and the adjective.  Whereas they agree with the Online Etymology Dictionary as to the origin of the verb, they indicate the origins of the adjective as follows:

Definition of REPENT

 : creeping, prostrate <repent stems>

Origin of REPENT

Latin repent-, repens, present participle of repere to creep — more at reptile

First Known Use: 1669

At any rate, either of the English definitions carries with it a picture of sorrow and grief, and of penance.

The word translated as “repent” or “repentance” is used 52 times in the New Testament.  The Greek root word is metanoeó.  It originates from the words “meta”, which depending on the context, means “changed after being with”, and “noieo”, to think.  So it literally means “think differently after,” “after a change of mind”.  “A change of heart” has been suggested as a good modern translation. 

But I am more inclined to stay with the literal translation of “change of mind,” simply because I don’t think that emotion is a part of the central idea.    The word metanoeó is used in many contexts, from changing one’s mind on what to have for lunch, to changing your mind about eternity.  But the change is made after something, whether it be based upon new knowledge or an experience. 

Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 

Matthew 11:20-21

As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

2 Corinthians 7:9-10

Here, Paul indicates that the godly grief (which was in response to the information they received in Paul’s first letter to them, correcting their errors) produced the repentance. That would indicate to me that the “change of mind” or “thinking” that resulted is not the same thing as grief.  Good news that brings rejoicing can change your thinking as well.

I think we may be in error to associate the word translated as “repent” as always being associated with sackcloth and ashes.  As I read the word of God, I see so much that makes me rejoice into a new way of thinking.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

Luke 2:10

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew 4:17

Haven’t we been conditioned to interpret Matthew 4:17 to read as “Uh-oh, God is here.  We’re toast.”? 

Compare that to the message of “Change your way of thinking, the kingdom of heaven is here”.  

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.

Matthew 11:2-6

I don’t see Jesus saying “I’m here, you’re toast” in this passage.

Perhaps the concept of “repentance”, or “changing your thinking”, should be defined as aligning your thinking with God’s words, rather than focusing on whichever emotion was felt when you changed your mind.

Anyway, more thoughts on this to come in the future. 

Often times when we read the bible, we do so with presuppositions that have been implanted in our minds based on teachings we have heard or read.  While there is a lot of good teaching being done, there are also a lot of errors being promulgated. That is why it is important when you read the bible to keep open to the Holy Spirit’s promptings while you study in context. 

It is wise to read a book over many times before you break out the study tools.  Well, perhaps it is a good idea to have an understanding of who wrote the book, and who it was written to, as well as the historical setting.  But most bibles have a preface for each book that gives you a thumbnail of that information.  You can also glean that information readily from such sites as www.biblestudytools.com.

When you read the book, try not to chop it up according to chapters and verses, or the subheadings provided in your bible.  Read it as though you were reading a letter from a friend, or a novel.  There is an overall message to be learned, and pulling chapters and sentences out of the whole and building a doctrine on them is not wise.  You have to read through the whole thing in order to understand what is being said or taught. If you built your doctrine just on the first chapter of Romans, you would be teaching condemnation.  But as you read the whole book, you see that the message of Romans is not God’s condemnation, but God’s incomprehensible grace.

Pay attention to the “therefore’s”.  That means that the following statement is directly dependent upon the preceding information.  A good example is Matthew 6:24:

24“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

This verse is usually quoted on its own, followed by a lambasting sermon against riches.

But the following verses say:

25“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

The “therefore” tells us that this section is directly related to the previous, and the message becomes completely different.  You can’t be a slave to money and be a slave to God.  We tend to be slaves to money when we are dependent on our own earning capacity to provide for our needs.  It is our Heavenly Father who provides for us, because He IS our father and he loves us.  As we seek His Kingdom and His righteousness (bestowed upon us by His grace), all our needs will be provided for.  That kind of plants a kick in the head to teachings that suggest we have to give money to God in order to have a roof over our heads, and food in our bellies.  Here is a great lesson on the topic of God’s provision: 

From Sharecropper to Sonship

24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 my sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

 John 10: 24-29

 

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

John 14:9  

 

21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”

 Mark 2:21-22

In the New Testament Gospels, we see Jesus as the fulfillment of the promise of God hidden in the Old Testament.  He is God the Son, and His words are important. 

But do not ignore who he was talking to, and the full context of what he was saying. 

To the multitudes, Jesus showed them God as their loving father, who loved them, cared for them and provided for them.

But Jesus’ harshest words were for the Scribes and Pharisees, whose error was that they believed they were perfected by the law, and through their own efforts to keep it.  Jesus was often rebuking them, showing them how their own efforts failed the standard that the law was given to set.   In modern terms, they thought they were “all that and a bag of chips.”  Jesus proved to them that they were not.  And instead of their hearts softening, they were offended by the rebuke of this man whom they perceived to be a lowly carpenter from the backwater town of Nazareth.  Who was He to tell them anything?  And this self-righteousness became a bitter root that grew to the point that they determined to kill him rather than hear His words.

Many preachers commit the error of pulling Jesus’ teaching out of that context, with the result that they teach the old law in a new setting (new wine in old wineskins).    The Gospel then becomes a new series of “does and don’ts”, rather than the rebirth with a new nature, based solely on the reconciliation with God, in unmerited grace, by Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. And rather than focusing our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) so that we grow in His nature and likeness, the teaching of the Gospel in the form of a new law focuses our eyes on our selves, which will only grow the bitter roots of self-righteousness or defeat.

A good way to test to see whether you are living in the law or walking in the Spirit is to note where the major focus of your thoughts are.  Are you looking at yourself, or are you gazing upon Jesus?