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Philippians 3:20-21 “Our Vile Bodies Changed”

 

 

INTRODUCTION TO OUR SERIES:

Background to Philippians…

The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle (personal letter) (1:1) to the Philippian church, probably during his imprisonment in Rome. The letter was written from a heart of love and concern for the Philippians. Due to Paul’s imprisonment, he could not personally visit with the church so he sent this letter with Timothy to encourage them and bring back news of their condition to Paul. (2:19).

Some of the main divisions of the book include:

1. Introduction to the book: 1:1-2

2. Paul’s thankfulness for the Philippians: 1:3-11

3. News of Paul’s imprisonment and dedication: 1:12-26

4. Following Christ’s example is our duty: 1:27-2:18

5. Paul’s representatives and the need to treat them kindly: 2:19-30

6. Paul’s example of living a joyous life: 3:1-11

7. The Christian’s heavenly calling: 3:12-21

8. The need for Godly living: 4:1-9

9. The love offerings of the Philippians: 4:10-20

10. Closing to the book of Philippians: 4:21-23

 

 

TODAY’S TEXT:

 

Php 3:20-21 – “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

 

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL:

For our conversation is in heaven;

For the believer, although we are not yet in God’s presence in Heaven, we already have our “conversation” (citizenship) there. Heaven, in the very presence of Christ, is our eternal home; it is where we belong. Our current habitation (this fallen earth) is not our home; this is why we are described as being “strangers and pilgrims on the earth”.

Heb 11:13 – “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”

 

As citizens of heaven, our thoughts, words and actions should reflect our true homeland. This includes living Godly lives in the midst of the sins of this world…

1Pe 2:11 – “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;”

 

 

 

from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

 

The same heaven that is our eternal home, is also the home of our Lord. It is from this same heaven that Christ will descend at His second coming.

 

 

 

Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the

working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

 

Christ at His second coming will transform our fallen sinful bodies of flesh, making it comparable to the glorious body of Christ. The glorification of our bodies is foreshadowed at the Mt. of Transfiguration where our glorified Christ is seen in all His glory…

Mar 9:1-4 – “And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.”

The same power that Christ exercises as He reigns over all, is the same power that He uses to glorify our bodies. He is the One, who is able to control the events of our lives, the angels of heaven, the spiritual powers of darkness of this world, and even Satan Himself. He is the same Lord that can easily glorify our bodies and deliver us from all the effects, and even the presence, of sin.

 

 

 

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

What a day that shall be. For the Christian, our coming eternity with the Lord and receipt of a glorified body are two truths that bring encouragement to their heart. How wonderful it is to know that someday, we will be delivered from the presence and results of sin and live eternally in the presence of our Lord and Savior.

Truly, what a day that shall be!

1Co 15:51-54 – “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”

 

 

Questions, Comments, or Suggestions?

Email me at: rob.barkman@settledinheaven.org

Homepage…  http://www.settledinheaven.org

Text Blog…  http://www.settledinheaven.wordpress.com

Video Blog… http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

Do We Recognize And Avoid The False Teachers Among Us?

SIH HALTAL ICONPhp 3:17-19 – “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.  (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:  Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)”

For the SIH devotional on this subject:

http://wp.me/pU88A-4t9

Philippians 3:17-19 “Ye Have Us for an Ensample”

INTRODUCTION TO OUR SERIES:

Background to Philippians…

The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle (personal letter) (1:1) to the Philippian church, probably during his imprisonment in Rome. The letter was written from a heart of love and concern for the Philippians. Due to Paul’s imprisonment, he could not personally visit with the church so he sent this letter with Timothy to encourage them and bring back news of their condition to Paul. (2:19).

Some of the main divisions of the book include:

1. Introduction to the book: 1:1-2

2. Paul’s thankfulness for the Philippians: 1:3-11

3. News of Paul’s imprisonment and dedication: 1:12-26

4. Following Christ’s example is our duty: 1:27-2:18

5. Paul’s representatives and the need to treat them kindly: 2:19-30

6. Paul’s example of living a joyous life: 3:1-11

7. The Christian’s heavenly calling: 3:12-21

8. The need for Godly living: 4:1-9

9. The love offerings of the Philippians: 4:10-20

10. Closing to the book of Philippians: 4:21-23

 

 

TODAY’S TEXT:

 

Php 3:17-19 – “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)”

 

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL:

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

 

Paul encourages the brethren to be “co-imitators” of himself. He goes on to tell them to take note of those who follow Paul’s example. These are the people that the brethren are to follow.

Why would Paul encourage the brethren to follow him, instead of telling them to follow Christ?

1. Paul understood our human nature. It is far easier to follow an example we can see with our eyes as compared to attempting to follow an example based on the historical account of someone’s life. At this point in time in history Christ was no longer present on the earth and the Word of God was not completed yet. For people to learn about, and follow, Christ they would have to hear about His life from a first or second hand source.

2. In the context, Paul is telling them to follow His example because he was following Christ. In essence, by following Paul’s example they would be following Christ.

3. Also keep in mind the context of the passage. Paul had just explained his great desire to be willing to put sin to death in his life and live a life of sacrifice for Christ. He had just encouraged others to do so as well (vs 11-16).

He may have been referring to this aspect of his life only. In other words, he was telling the people of Philippi to follow the example he was setting by desiring to put sin away and give their all in the service of Christ. This would involve following Christ’s example in all things.

In any case, Paul’s encouragement for others to follow his example does no injustice to the importance of being followers of Christ.

 

 

(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

 

Paul understood the need for the brethren to carefully choose whom they would emulate. There were many who came in the name of Christ, claiming to be His servants, who were actually opposed to His cause.

 

They were a sorrow to the heart of Paul. He understood their lost condition and the great harm they caused to the work of Christ.

 

 

 

Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)”

Those who actively oppose the work of Christ under the guise of service to Him are described by Paul as:

1. Whose end is destruction, – eternal ruin, constant entering into a worse state forever

2. whose God is their belly, – they worship and serve their fleshly appetites

3. and whose glory is in their shame, – the earthly honor and following they achieve will result in eternal embarrassment

4. who mind earthly things. – they place their attention and affection on the things this world has to offer.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

WOW! What a blessing it would be if we knew we lived such a Godly life that we would encourage others to be followers of us! If we carefully examine ourselves, I doubt if many of us (myself included) would feel comfortable do so.

This shows us such a need for Godly living on each of our parts! May we all follow the command of our Lord given to us by the Apostle Paul who said….

1Ti 4:12 – “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

Questions, Comments, or Suggestions?

Email me at: rob.barkman@settledinheaven.org

Homepage…  http://www.settledinheaven.org

Text Blog…  http://www.settledinheaven.wordpress.com

Video Blog… http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

Philippians 3:15-16 “Let us walk by the same rule”

 

 

INTRODUCTION TO OUR SERIES:

Background to Philippians…

The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle (personal letter) (1:1) to the Philippian church, probably during his imprisonment in Rome. The letter was written from a heart of love and concern for the Philippians. Due to Paul’s imprisonment, he could not personally visit with the church so he sent this letter with Timothy to encourage them and bring back news of their condition to Paul. (2:19).

Some of the main divisions of the book include:

1. Introduction to the book: 1:1-2

2. Paul’s thankfulness for the Philippians: 1:3-11

3. News of Paul’s imprisonment and dedication: 1:12-26

4. Following Christ’s example is our duty: 1:27-2:18

5. Paul’s representatives and the need to treat them kindly: 2:19-30

6. Paul’s example of living a joyous life: 3:1-11

7. The Christian’s heavenly calling: 3:12-21

8. The need for Godly living: 4:1-9

9. The love offerings of the Philippians: 4:10-20

10. Closing to the book of Philippians: 4:21-23

 

 

TODAY’S TEXT:

 

Phil 3:15-16 – “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.”

 

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL:

Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded:

For those who are perfect (spiritually mature with no great spiritual weaknesses), share in this same motivation as Paul… desiring a closer walk with Christ, possessing a holy self-sacrificial living and being confident of the great eternity awaiting us in Christ (vs 11-14).

1Co 14:20 – “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.”

 

 

and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

As God’s people, if we do not have a burdened heart for holy living and a sacrificial walk for Christ, He will give us this desire. The Lord wants all of His people to possess these wonderful desires for His service.

Pro 3:5-6 – “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

 

Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.”

No matter what level of spirituality we have attained, no matter what Godly desires we possess, we are to live according to the Godly desires we have been given. As we are faithful to the desires we possess, the Lord will bless us with a closer walk with Him and will grace us with a more perfect set of desires.

During this growth process we are to always be faithful with the desires we possess and continue to mature in our Christian walk.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

The great lesson to be learned in this text may be simple, and yet it is very important indeed.

We are to be faithful to our Lord no matter what level of spirituality we have attained. As we are faithful with the knowledge, desires and abilities that we possess, He will bless us with continued spiritual growth and eternal blessings.

Luk 16:10 – “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.”

Questions, Comments, or Suggestions?

Email me at: rob.barkman@settledinheaven.org

Homepage…  http://www.settledinheaven.org

Text Blog…  http://www.settledinheaven.wordpress.com

Video Blog… http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

Philippians 3:12-14 “Reaching Forth for Christ”

 

INTRODUCTION TO OUR SERIES:

Background to Philippians…

The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle (personal letter) (1:1) to the Philippian church, probably during his imprisonment in Rome. The letter was written from a heart of love and concern for the Philippians. Due to Paul’s imprisonment, he could not personally visit with the church so he sent this letter with Timothy to encourage them and bring back news of their condition to Paul. (2:19).

Some of the main divisions of the book include:

1. Introduction to the book: 1:1-2

2. Paul’s thankfulness for the Philippians: 1:3-11

3. News of Paul’s imprisonment and dedication: 1:12-26

4. Following Christ’s example is our duty: 1:27-2:18

5. Paul’s representatives and the need to treat them kindly: 2:19-30

6. Paul’s example of living a joyous life: 3:1-11

7. The Christian’s heavenly calling: 3:12-21

8. The need for Godly living: 4:1-9

9. The love offerings of the Philippians: 4:10-20

10. Closing to the book of Philippians: 4:21-23

 

 

TODAY’S TEXT:

 

Php 3:12-14 – “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

 

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL:

Paul, in previous verses (vs 9-11), explained his burning desire to experience communion with the Lord and possess a certainty of his future resurrection, glorification, and eternity with Christ. Paul now reminds us that he has not entered into his perfect, eternal existence yet, but lives a daily earthly life as a part of fallen mankind.

 

 

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect:

Paul had not yet received the blessing of perfection. He was yet to receive eternal physical life, glorification of his body in the eternal presence of Christ. He is still present on this fallen earth, struggling with his sinful flesh and awaiting physical death…

 

 

but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

Paul gives us the reason why although he was not yet eternally perfect, he strove to “apprehend” perfection while on the earth.

Christ took hold of Paul on the Damascus road. It was then that the Lord saved him, and called him to live a holy life of service to Him. It was then that he was “apprehended of Christ Jesus”. It was at this point that Paul knew the purpose of His life and the calling that he had been given.

It was at this point that he began to strive to take hold of the perfection that he knew awaited him in eternity.

 

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended:

 

Paul understood that he has not entered an eternal perfection, nor has he become perfect on earth. He knew that he still had not reached his goal.

 

 

but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Although Paul had not reached perfection as of yet, he would single-mindedly continue his pursuit…

1. forgetting those things which are behind, – Paul put behind him his past failures. He would try to forget his life as a lost person and his failures in his service to Christ.

2. and reaching forth unto those things which are before, – He would place his failures behind him and reach ahead to reach his goal of faithful service to Christ by living a holy life for His glory. He would not let his past failures stop his forward progress for Christ. He would not give up on reaching his goal of perfection while yet on this earth.

3. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. – Paul pushed himself forward to fulfill the calling of God that he had received Christ as his Lord and Savior.

 

 

 

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

Do we find our past failures hinder our present service to Christ? Folks, this should not be so. Paul has set us a perfect example of overcoming past failures to excel in Christ’s service. He did this by learning to place his failures behind him, out of sight, and keep his eyes fixed on the goal of faithful service that he had been given…

Heb 12:1-2 – “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

May we all learn to do the same as we seek to remain faithful to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Questions, Comments, or Suggestions?

Email me at: rob.barkman@settledinheaven.org

Homepage…  http://www.settledinheaven.org

Text Blog…  http://www.settledinheaven.wordpress.com

Video Blog… http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

Philippians 3:8-11 “That I Might Win Christ”

INTRODUCTION TO OUR SERIES:

Background to Philippians…

The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle (personal letter) (1:1) to the Philippian church, probably during his imprisonment in Rome. The letter was written from a heart of love and concern for the Philippians. Due to Paul’s imprisonment, he could not personally visit with the church so he sent this letter with Timothy to encourage them and bring back news of their condition to Paul. (2:19).

Some of the main divisions of the book include:

1. Introduction to the book: 1:1-2

2. Paul’s thankfulness for the Philippians: 1:3-11

3. News of Paul’s imprisonment and dedication: 1:12-26

4. Following Christ’s example is our duty: 1:27-2:18

5. Paul’s representatives and the need to treat them kindly: 2:19-30

6. Paul’s example of living a joyous life: 3:1-11

7. The Christian’s heavenly calling: 3:12-21

8. The need for Godly living: 4:1-9

9. The love offerings of the Philippians: 4:10-20

10. Closing to the book of Philippians: 4:21-23

 

 

TODAY’S TEXT:

 

Php 3:8-11 – “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”

 

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL:

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss

Paul had no doubt in his mind that all his personal attributes and what he had previously accomplished (vs 5-6) were simply a detriment and obstruction to obtaining…

 

 

for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord:

 

the highest possible achievement in life… to obtain a personal knowledge of Christ as Savior and Lord of his life.

 

 

for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung,

 

This same knowledge of Christ caused Paul to give up all his previous accolades and accomplishments; he was seeing them as simply refuse that is to be cast away.

 

 

Paul changed his attitudes and priorities of life so that…

 

 

that I may win Christ,

 

1. he might enter into a personal relationship with Christ and enjoy intimacy with Him.

 

 

 

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

 

2. he might, through faith be the recipient of Christ’s righteousness. He needed the righteousness of Christ because, being a part of fallen mankind, he had no righteousness of his own.

Please note that Christ’s righteousness is described in two ways:

a. “through the faith of Christ” – this righteousness is received through faith that comes from, and is brought to completion by, Christ (Hebs 12:2).

b. “of God by faith” – this righteousness originates with God through an exercise of faith in Christ (Roms 3:22).

 

 

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

Having an intimate relationship with Christ results in the Christian:

a. “may know Him” – a personal relationship with Christ

b. “may know the power of His resurrection” – the receipt of eternal life, and being dead to sin and alive to service of Christ.

c. “may know the fellowship of his sufferings” – suffering and self-sacrifice for the cause of Christ.

All of these make the Christian formed in the mold of Christ’s death. This causes the Christian to die to sin and be willing to live a life of sacrifice for Him (Roms 6:5-6; 2 Cor 4:11).

If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”

Becoming dead to sins and living sacrificial lives for Christ are indicators of a genuine salvation experience.

Both becoming dead to sins and living sacrificial lives do not merit the inclusion in the resurrection of the dead (which is obtained by grace through faith in Christ). On the contrary, these strongly validate the Christians’ belief that they will be a part of this glorious resurrection.

 

 

 

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

In our text for this morning, Paul presents to great truths that we find presented throughout God’s Word:

1. The receipt of Christ’s righteousness and the certainty of eternal life is not based upon human merit but faith in Christ which is a gracious gift from God.

Eph 2:8-9 – “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

2. The two distinguishing marks of a genuine salvation experience are being made dead to sin, and a willingness to live sacrificial lives for Christ…

Rom 6:10-14 – “For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”

May the Lord help us to always remember these two great truths and allow them to cultivate a greater love, appreciation and assurance of the wonderful salvation He has so graciously given to us!

Questions, Comments, or Suggestions?

Email me at: rob.barkman@settledinheaven.org

Homepage…  http://www.settledinheaven.org

Text Blog…  http://www.settledinheaven.wordpress.com

Video Blog… http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

Philippians 3:4-7 “Gain or Loss For Christ?”

 

 

INTRODUCTION TO OUR SERIES:

Background to Philippians…

The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle (personal letter) (1:1) to the Philippian church, probably during his imprisonment in Rome. The letter was written from a heart of love and concern for the Philippians. Due to Paul’s imprisonment, he could not personally visit with the church so he sent this letter with Timothy to encourage them and bring back news of their condition to Paul. (2:19).

Some of the main divisions of the book include:

1. Introduction to the book: 1:1-2

2. Paul’s thankfulness for the Philippians: 1:3-11

3. News of Paul’s imprisonment and dedication: 1:12-26

4. Following Christ’s example is our duty: 1:27-2:18

5. Paul’s representatives and the need to treat them kindly: 2:19-30

6. Paul’s example of living a joyous life: 3:1-11

7. The Christian’s heavenly calling: 3:12-21

8. The need for Godly living: 4:1-9

9. The love offerings of the Philippians: 4:10-20

10. Closing to the book of Philippians: 4:21-23

 

 

TODAY’S TEXT:

 

Php 3:4-7 – “Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.”

 

 

 

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL:

Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:

Paul then explains that he should be able to rely upon his fleshly background and works to merit salvation.

He then gives us a list of some of the things that our flesh would look to merit salvation…

 

 

 

Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

 

1. Circumcised the eighth day, – Paul had the outward marking that identified him as a member of God’s physically chosen nation. He was a participant in the religious rites and observances commanded by God.

2. of the stock of Israel, – Paul, in actuality, was a member of God’s physically chosen nation.

3. of the tribe of Benjamin, – Paul was a member of the tribe that possessed the land area surrounding Jerusalem, the home of the worship place of God.

4. an Hebrew of the Hebrews; – Both of his parents could trace their lineage back through Abraham. He was not only a Jew but “doubly” a Jew.

5. as touching the law, a Pharisee; – He was a member of the most religiously strict group of the Jews. He was an interpreter, and observer of the laws of God.

6. Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; – He burned within to persecute those who opposed the teachings of the Jews.

7. touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. – His testimony among the public was spotless. No one could accuse him of publically breaking God’s laws.

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.”

All of these fleshly attributes that Paul, and the Jewish world, considered “religious” and pleasing to God, actually did nothing to attain the favor of God. Paul’s pursuit of these merits was only lost time and effort for the cause of Christ.

 

 

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

How sad it is to hear of Paul’s excessive attempts to curry favor with the Lord, only to come to an understanding that all His efforts were of no avail. He had conformed to, and excelled in, all the religious requirements of the day only to find them to be wasted efforts to please the Lord.

This example from Paul’s life brings to our mind two very important questions…

First of all, as fallen mankind, “Are we trusting in Christ as our Savior and Lord, or are we relying on the efforts of our sinful flesh and the religious requirements of the world to secure forgiveness and eternal blessings for us?”

Secondly, as Christians, “How often do we find ourselves laboring under the religious expectations of this fallen world, instead of simply living our lives to honor and glorify Christ in all we do?”

May the Lord give us the grace to come to an honest personal assessment of our spiritual condition and our outward labors for Christ.

Questions, Comments, or Suggestions?

Email me at: rob.barkman@settledinheaven.org

Homepage…  http://www.settledinheaven.org

Text Blog…  http://www.settledinheaven.wordpress.com

Video Blog… http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

Philippians 3:2-3 “Examine The Wicked And Our Own Lives”

 

INTRODUCTION TO OUR SERIES:

Background to Philippians…

The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle (personal letter) (1:1) to the Philippian church, probably during his imprisonment in Rome. The letter was written from a heart of love and concern for the Philippians. Due to Paul’s imprisonment, he could not personally visit with the church so he sent this letter with Timothy to encourage them and bring back news of their condition to Paul. (2:19).

Some of the main divisions of the book include:

1. Introduction to the book: 1:1-2

2. Paul’s thankfulness for the Philippians: 1:3-11

3. News of Paul’s imprisonment and dedication: 1:12-26

4. Following Christ’s example is our duty: 1:27-2:18

5. Paul’s representatives and the need to treat them kindly: 2:19-30

6. Paul’s example of living a joyous life: 3:1-11

7. The Christian’s heavenly calling: 3:12-21

8. The need for Godly living: 4:1-9

9. The love offerings of the Philippians: 4:10-20

10. Closing to the book of Philippians: 4:21-23

 

 

TODAY’S TEXT:

 

 

Php 3:2-3 – “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”

 

 

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL:

Paul begins to warn the Philippians of those who would oppose the truths of God’s Word. In doing so, he repeatedly used the term “beware”.

This word comes from a Greek word that means “to look at” or “to perceive”. When using this term, Paul is encouraging the Philippians believers to closely examine these groups and perceive the great harm they were doing to the cause of Christ.

“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.

 

Paul warns the church at Philippi of three groups of people who opposed the cause of Christ…

1. “dogs” – false professors, hypocritical worshippers of Jehovah who were looked upon as spiritually unclean and rejected from genuine worship of the Lord (Mat 7:6, 2 Pet 2:22)

2. “evil workers” – those who were outwardly, blatantly wicked. Those we were proud of their sins calling evil good and good evil. (Isa 5:20, Luke 16:15, 2 Pet 2:18-19)

3. “concision” – “to cut down” or “to cut off”. This speaks of the physical Jews who were relying upon their physical circumcision as one necessity for salvation (Acts 15:1, Gals 5:2)

To this day, all three of these groups do great harm to the cause of Christ.

For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”

Paul now identifies himself and other true followers of Christ as “the circumcision”, not “the concision. In other words, Paul places the emphasis, not on his physical Jewish lineage, but his spiritual lineage as a member of the nation of God’s chosen people (Gals 3:7, Rom 9:6-8).

In comparison to the groups of lost individuals described in the prior verse, genuine Christians as those who…

1. “worship God in the spirit” or “worship God by the Spirit’ – true believers worship God sincerely, they worship God based upon the intervention of the indwelling Holy Spirit during their times of worship.

2. “rejoice in Christ Jesus” – their boasting, rejoicing and peace all stem from their recognition of Christ’s work on their behalf and their security that they possess through Christ.

3. “have no confidence in the flesh” – Because true believers recognize salvation is by Christ and Him alone. They do not rely on any aspect of their own works realizing their entire being is tainted by sin and unable to produce anything work that is pleasing to the Lord.

This is why true believers understand that they can place NO CONFIDENCE in any aspect of their sinful flesh, but must place their entire confidence in Christ and His work.

 

 

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

May we all “be on the lookout” for the false professors, the blatantly wicked and those who rely upon human lineage or works to attain salvation from Christ. May we see that all of these do tremendous harm to the cause of Christ.

May we also examine our lives to be sure that we see the fruits of a genuine salvation experience. These include a sincere worship of the Lord based upon His enabling in our lives; all of our boasting based upon Christ and His work on our behalf; and not relying on any aspect of our own works realizing our entire being is affected by sin.

When we see these attitudes prevailing in our lives, we can have a greater assurance that we are genuinely saved and eternally secure in Christ.

Questions, Comments, or Suggestions?

Email me at: rob.barkman@settledinheaven.org

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Spiritual Gifts: When Did The Accrediting Gifts Go Out Of Existence? (Part 1)

SIH TOA ICONIntroduction:

“Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away.” (1 Corinthians 13:8)

 

In our previous studies we have seen that there are three basic types of Accrediting Gifts which include several gifts under each type. In the above passage, we find each type of Accrediting Gift is represented by one gift from each type …

 

Type Of Accrediting Gift Gifts Included In This Type Representative Gift Mentioned In

1 Cor 13:8

Supernatural Revelation Of The Truth The Word Of Wisdom, The Word of Knowledge Word of Knowledge (or Knowledge)
Supernatural Indicators Of The Truth Faith, Gifts Of Healing, Working Of Miracles, Prophecy, Discerning Of Spirits Prophecy (or Prophecies)
Supernatural Proclamation Of The Truth Divers Kinds Of Tongues, Interpretation Of Tongues Diverse Types Of Tongues (or Tongues)

 

Please note the above verse (1 Cor 13:8), which includes one representative gift from each group, makes it plain that each type of Accrediting Gift will come to an end at some point in time. We now will turn our attention to the question at what point in time will these gifts go out of existence?

In this study, we will see that this question is answered by the Word of God using several different lines of teaching which all present the same answer for us. This will be the lines of teaching that we will be studying:
I.        The Coming Of “That Which Is Perfect”
II.        The 70 Year Accreditation Time Span
III.        The Death Of The Apostles
IV.        The Supernatural Beginning / Natural Perpetuation Of God’s Workings
V.        The Prophecies of False Miracles In The “Last Days”

 

 

 

Lesson:


The Coming Of “That Which Is Perfect”

Our text for this lesson is found in 1 Corinthians 13:.

1) Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2) And though I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3) And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4) Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5) Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6) Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7) Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8) Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9) For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10) But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11) When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12) For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13) And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.

 

Here is a short outline of the entire chapter…
1)    The Definition and Indicators Of Biblical Love  vs 1-7
2)    Partial Versus Complete Knowledge   vs 8-10
3)    Illustrations of Partiality versus Completeness   vs 11-12
4)    Superiority Of Biblical Love vs 13

 

 

 

For this part of our study, we will be looking at verses 8-13….

 

8) Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away.

Here, Paul makes it very plain that love is the only gift of the four divine gifts (love, prophecy, tongues, knowledge) that will exist eternally.   In our previous studies, we explained that knowledge prophecy and tongues were related to the divine inspiration and accreditation of Scripture (along with the accreditation of the local church).

 

(Please note it is crucial to understand the meaning of the phrases “shall fail”, “shall cease”, and “shall vanish away”)…

  1. “shall cease”
  2. is the Greek word – “pauo” – it means “to stop”, “to be made complete” and “to end”.
  3. is in the middle voice, meaning the subject of the verb is acting upon itself.  In other words, tongues would “stop by themselves” or “would be ended in and of themselves”
  4. “shall fail” and “shall vanish away”
  5. Both of these phrases are the same Greek word “katargeo” which means “to be made inoperative, to cease to work, to cease to exercise, to render useless, to vanish”
  6. Both of these are in the passive voice meaning the subject of the verb receives the action.  In other words, our verse is saying that “the perfect thing” (vs 10) will cause both knowledge and prophecy to “no longer be exercised”, or “to vanish away”

 

9) For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

Out of the four previously mentioned gifts from God… knowledge and prophecy are set apart by being described as “in part”.  What does “in part” mean?  This phrase is referring to the nature of divinely inspired revelation to man.  Keep in mind, as God handed down His word to mankind, he did it over many years and many different men.  He gave it a part at time, not all at once.   (Isa 28:9-13)

 

The gifts of prophecy and knowledge were “in part” which teaches us that… as each prophecy came from God (as each bit of knowledge came to man) they were “one part” of the whole of divine revelation to man.  Until the final revelation from God was received by John on the Isle of Patmos (the book of Revelation), both knowledge and prophecy received by man was only a piece of His Word.  At the end of the message given to John on Patmos, the word was finally completed.  It was only then that mankind had the prophecy and knowledge God had chosen to give to man was made complete.

 

Love exists eternally, knowledge, prophesying and the gift of tongues will definitely come to an end, making love a much more valuable gift from God.

 

 

10) But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

Paul describes what causes prophecy and knowledge to vanish away.  He describes it as “that which is perfect.  To help us understand what Paul is referring to, we need to recognize a few important points in our study…
a)    Remember, in the previous verse of our study we saw that the gifts that were “in part” were the gifts of prophecy and knowledge.
b)    Also, we saw that the ending of these gifts were described by the Greek word “katargeo” which means “to be made inoperative, to cease to work, to cease to exercise, to render useless, to vanish”
c)     Thirdly, we learned that based on the Greek passive voice, something must act upon the knowledge and prophecy “to render it useless” or “to cause it to vanish away.”

 

What has acted on the gift of prophecy and knowledge rendering them worthless and causing them to vanish away?

It is the completed revelation from God… Once God had given to man all of His Word, there was no need for prophecy or knowledge gifts any longer… they were now useless, ineffective and worthless because the Lord was not going to add to the Word He had given to men. In other words, divine inspiration ceased and with it, the gifts linked directly to it…. prophecy and knowledge.

a)    Remember, the Lord has made it plain that the Word He has given to us is now complete. We will be receiving no additional inspired truth from Him.  (Rev 22:18, Heb 1:1-2)
b)    We know it is His Word that is “perfect” based on the Greek word for “perfect”… The word for perfect is “telios” – which means “complete”, “finished”, “brought to completion”.  “Telios” refers to the Word of God in James 1:25.  Contextually, based on the subject matter of prophecy and knowledge and the inspiration of the Word, it makes sense that the Word is what is being described as “perfect”…

 

Please note: Not once in Scripture does the word telios refer to sinlessness. Here is every use of the word “telion” in the Bible. Every time it is used it is linked to the completed Word and Spiritual Maturity.  

  1. The Word Of God
    1. James 1:25 – telion speaks of Bible perfect replacing imperfect.
  2. Spiritual Maturity Brought About Through The Word
    1. Eph 4:11-13 – telion speaks of mature man based upon receipt of knowledge resulting in unity
    2. Hebrews 9:11 – telion is speaking of new tabernacle compared to old. Completed NT revelation revealing Christ as completed Messiah prophecy
    3. Hebrews 8:13 – when the NT was complete the OT was thrown down and perfect (Word revealing Christ) has replaced imperfect
    4. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Hebs 5:12-6:5 – Bible brings men to maturity
  3. Marks Of Spiritual Maturity
    1. Love – matt 5:44-48, Luke 6:36
    2. Dedication to lord – matt 19:21
    3. Spiritual discernment – 1 cor 2:6,14, hebs 5:14
    4. Attitudes – 1 cor 14:20
    5. Truth of gospel salvation, perfect not sinless – phil 3:15
    6. Unity w lord – col 1:28
    7. Faithful to lord – col 4:12
    8. Patience – James 1:4
    9. The gifts of the Lord – James 1:17
    10. Faith/works – James 2:22

(Please note that in Matthew 5:44-48 – “telion” does refer to the Lord. However, in the context, it is not speaking of the Lord’s sinlessness, it is speaking of the spiritual maturity that He displays as He shows unconditional love to those who are around Him. No place in Scripture does the word “telios” mean sinlessly perfect.)

 

For argument’s sake, let’s assume that the term “perfect” does not refer to the completed Word of God. Instead, let’s assume that “perfect” in our text refers to the Lord at His second coming or the eternal sinless state. We have already seen that this “perfect thing” that is coming must act on the gifts of prophecy and knowledge rendering them useless.

If this is so then…
a)    We have to say that the Lord is continually revealing His inspired word to man throughout the ages. In other words, His word is not in completed form, but He is continually adding to His revealed Word to man. This revealing of the Word will only stop at His second coming.
b)    If this is so, we should be continually adding to the Scriptures.  Every new revelation God gives to man should be added to the Scriptures.  This principle does away with the warning given throughout God’s Word to not add to the Scriptures (Revelation 22:18-19, Deuteronomy 4:2, Proverbs 30:6).
c)    And also the fullness and completeness of God’s Word for us to use is done away with.  Therefore, we cannot count on His Word being the complete set of instructions for us to live by. (2 Tim 3:16-17)  In this hypothetical scenario, we may face situations that the Word cannot equip us to face.  What happens if the part of the Word we need now, will not be revealed to man for another 25 years?  Our entire view of the Scriptures must change if this is the case.

However, the Bible clearly tells us otherwise…
a)    The Word of God has been given to us resulting in us being given “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3)
b)    We are told that it is through the Word that we can know fully (Ephesians 3:3-5, Romans 16:25-27). These imply we have no need of other revelation than found in His Word.
c)     In Jude 1:3 we read that the truth was “once” delivered unto the saints. The term “once” is translated from a Greek word that means “once and for all”. In other words, the truth of God was revealed to us through His Word, and at its completion, no other revelation would be needed or given. This is exactly the point of our 1 Corinthians 13 passage.
d)    Also in Ephesians 2:20, we find that the teachings of the Christ, the Apostles, and the Prophets make up the foundation of the Lord’s local churches. This clearly implies the Scriptures would be completed during the founding years of the local assemblies. How can His churches be founded upon something which would not be completed for many years to come? It would be impossible. The very illustration of a foundation teaches us that the Word (just like the foundation) must be completed before the local assembly can be established (like the house that will be framed, roofed and then brought to completion FOLLOWING the completion of its foundation).  A foundation is never completed during or after the completion of the house which stands upon it.

The Word of God is clear that it is a completed document that can be relied upon to meet our every need. Again, keeping all of this in mind helps us to understand that the Word is complete and then it follows that the gifts related to the inspiration of His Word are no longer necessary.

 

11) When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

 

Paul now uses the example of the maturing of the process of understanding is used to picture the process of God’s revealed Word being brought to completion.  Just as Paul’s growth allowed him to come to a more mature and full understanding of life, so too, as God’s Word is brought to completion, it brings to us a fuller understanding of our Lord and our responsibilities as servants.

Based on the Word being brought to completion during the age of the Corinthian church. It was time for them to “grow up” and become mature as well. It would only be at that time that they could use the wonderful blessing of His completed Word to help them to correct the many errors in their assembly.

 

12) For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

Paul now compares our knowledge of God in our sinful flesh with mankind’s knowledge of God with only a portion of His Word given to them.  In both cases, an incomplete view of God is had by man.

  1. Paul describes a time when God cannot be seen clearly
  2. Paul describes our life in our sinful flesh as seeing our Lord “through a glass darkly”.
  3. Paul then compares this to mankind trying to see a full picture of Christ with only a portion of God’s Word given to man. “now I know in part”.
  4. Paul next describes when we can receive a fuller knowledge of Christ
  5. When we go home to be with the Lord in heaven, it is seeing Him “face to face”, this will result in seeing Him much more clearly than while in our sinful flesh.
  6. Paul then compares this to receiving His completed Word which gives us a much more full revelation of the Lord.  “ then shall I know even as also I am known” .

 

In other words, God bringing His Word to completion gives us a much greater knowledge of who He is and what He has done for us. This is being related to man who while in his fallen, fleshly body is greatly limited in knowledge about Him. But when we receive glorified bodies in our eternal state, we will see Him much more clearly.

 

Also, keep in mind, both of these illustrations are illustrations CONCERNING AMOUNT OF KNOWLEDGE AND KNOWLEDGE INCREASING to a state of completeness. This is another point that cannot be ignored.

 

To say “that which is perfect” is speaking of spiritual maturity, the second coming of Christ, or the eternal state does not jive with these two illustrations when they are taken together. One illustration could be said to be speaking of spiritual maturity (vs 11) and other one could be said to be about His second coming and the future state (vs 12).

 

However, the only principle that is being brought out in both illustrations is the principle of incomplete knowledge and understanding being brought to a finished or completed state. Again pointing us back directly to His Word being brought from a state of being “in part” to a finished state of completion.

 

 

13) And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.

 

After telling us about the Word and it’s soon completion, Paul now brings us back to the original thought… love is even greater than our three existing gifts of faith, hope and love.

 

Why didn’t Paul mention prophecy or knowledge as abiding (to continue on for extended period of time, to endure to limit)? We have already seen they would end within a short period of time from the writing of 1 Corinthians when Word was brought to completion (about 20 years).  So he didn’t include these on our list.

 

But why didn’t he include the gift of tongues… when did they cease to exist?  Tongues ceased to exist, around the same time as knowledge and prophecy.  Tongues were one of several “sign gifts” that God gave to mankind. The gift of tongues were handed down through the laying on of the Apostles hands. At the death of the last Apostle, the gift of tongues would no longer be able to be passed down and, therefore, died “in and of themselves” (“they shall cease” – vs 8).

 

Keep in mind, the last Apostle living was the Apostle John. John penned the last book of the Bible (Revelation) in approximately 97 AD and died approximately 100 AD. Following his death tongues could no longer be handed down and went out of existence soon afterward, well within the time frame of this study. We will look at the ending of tongues in great detail in a later portion of this study.

 

Putting all of this together, it is easy to see why only faith, hope and charity are said to “abide” (to stay in place for an extended period of time).  The gifts of prophecy, knowledge and tongues would go out of existence within a few years after Paul’s ministry would be complete.

 

But not so with faith, hope and love.  They would continue on until the second coming of Christ.  When Christ comes back we will have no need of faith nor hope…. As we begin, our eternity with Him, we will begin the process of receiving all His promises to us.  Faith and hope will no longer be needed, we will be experiencing all He has for us.

 

At that point, faith and hope will no longer be in existence, but only love will continue on to eternity.  Thus making “love” the greatest gift of all that are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:.

  • Gifts are temporary but love is eternal
  • Gifts are elementary but love is mature
  • Gifts are partial but love is complete

 

 

Based upon our study, we have seen that the gifts involving the Supernatural Revelation Of The Truth (Knowledge) and the Supernatural Indicators Of The Truth (Prophecy) came to an end with the completion of the last book of the Bible, Revelation, in approximately 97 AD. We also saw that the gifts involving the Supernatural Proclamation Of The Truth (Tongues) came to an end within one generation following the death of John in 100 AD.

 

In our next lesson, we will see that the end of the Accrediting gifts can be understood by examining the 70 year time frame that the Lord uses to accredit His Word and the places of worship He has established.

 

 

 

 

Additional Information:

The Coming Of “That Which Is Perfect”

Deu 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

 

Pro 30:6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

 

Isa 28:9-13 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
(10) For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
(11) For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
(12) To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.
(13) But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

 

Mat 5:44-48 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
(45) That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
(46) For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
(47) And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
(48) Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

 

Mat 19:21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

 

Luk 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

 

Rom 16:25-27 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
(26) But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:
(27) To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen. Written to the Romans from Corinthus, and sent by Phebe servant of the church at Cenchrea.

 

1Co 2:6-14 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
(7) But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
(8) Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
(9) But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
(10) But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
(11) For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
(12) Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
(13) Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
(14) But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

 

1Co 13:8-13 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
(9) For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
(10) But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
(11) When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
(12) For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
(13) And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

 

1Co 14:20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.

 

Eph 2:19-20 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
(20) And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

 

Eph 3:3-5 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
(4) Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
(5) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

 

Eph 4:11-13 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
(12) For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
(13) Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

 

Php 3:15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

 

Col 1:28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

 

2Ti 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
(17) That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

 

Heb 1:1-2 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
(2) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

 

Heb 5:12-6:5 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
(13) For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
(14) But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
(1) Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
(2) Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
(3) And this will we do, if God permit.
(4) For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
(5) And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

 

Heb 8:13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

 

Heb 9:11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;

Jas 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

 

Jas 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

 

Jas 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

 

Jas 2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

 

Jud 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

 

Rev 22:18-20 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
(19) And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
(20) He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Cremation Or Burial: What Does The Bible Say? (2)

SIH STSTA ICONThe necessity of the death of our body, and its use to honor and glorify the Lord, is an issue for which we all should be prepared.  This would include the testimony that we display during our actual passing, as well as the funeral service and disposal of our body   After all, our physical bodies are a wonderful gift from the Lord of which we are to use for His glory in every way possible…

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

I have said this to simply explain the importance of the issue we will be studying today.  It is the issue of the burial of our body versus the cremation of our body.  Do either of these dishonor our Lord or harm our testimony before Him?

 

THE STUDY:

In my way of thinking, one reason why there is so many questions about cremation versus burial of the body is because there is no “thus saith the Lord”.  To my knowledge the Bible does not clearly address the issue.  It is an issue that will have to be decided based upon a variety of Biblical principles instead of a clear Biblical declaration.

Keeping that in mind, I would like us to look at some Biblical principles that we can prayerfully consider…
1. The Stewardship Principle (see lesson #1)
2. The Example Of Honored Bible Characters
3.  The Symbolism Of Fire And Burial

The Example Of Honored Bible Characters

The most common way the deceased body was cared for throughout the Scriptures is through the act of a burial.  Normally, this “burial” was not underground in today’s time but in tombs, or sepulchers, made from caves covered by a huge rock:  Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Leah (Gen 49:29-31); Lazarus (Mark 15:45-46); Christ Himself (Mark 15:45-47) to name a few.

However, there is, at least, one cremation of an honored character that took place, and it was for the Lords glory…

And when the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead heard of that which the Philistines had done to Saul;  All the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Bethshan, and came to Jabesh, and burnt them there.  And they took their bones, and buried [them] under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.”   (1 Samuel 31:11-13)

In this case, the bodies of Saul and his sons were burned to make certain the Philistines would not be able to reclaim the bodies and, once again, put them on public display, bringing shame to the land of Israel.  This was not done to dishonor Saul and his sons, who were revered by Israel, it was done to retain the honor of Israel and her God, Jehovah.  In this case, the burning of the bodies was done to preserve respect for the Lord, not take away from it.

Another example of a Godly use of cremation is found in Amos…

Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed.  The Lord GOD hath sworn by himself, saith the LORD the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein.  And it shall come to pass, if there remain ten men in one house, that they shall die.  And a man’s uncle shall take him up, and he that burneth him, to bring out the bones out of the house, and shall say unto him that [is] by the sides of the house, [Is there] yet [any] with thee? and he shall say, No. Then shall he say, Hold thy tongue: for we may not make mention of the name of the LORD.  For, behold, the LORD commandeth, and he will smite the great house with breaches, and the little house with clefts.”   (Amos 6:7-11)

In this case, we have cremations taking place to stop a communicable plague from spreading throughout the land.

Also, we have to think about all the other honorable servants of the Lord whose body did not receive a proper burial.  In Hebrews 11: we find listed, in general terms, the types of death, and lack of burial many experienced…

And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and [of] Barak, and [of] Samson, and [of] Jephthae; [of] David also, and Samuel, and [of] the prophets:  Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,  Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:  And others had trial of [cruel] mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:  They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;  (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and [in] mountains, and [in] dens and caves of the earth.

And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:  God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.  (Hebrews 11:32-40)

Throughout the ages, the bodies of the people of God have suffered greatly at the hands of their enemies.  Some of the types of death relevant to our study include…. burning at the stake, being sawn asunder, eaten by wild animals, cast into the sea, torn apart on the rack etc etc etc.   All of these examples help us to understand that, in some instances, the lack of a burial actually glorifies God in great ways depending on the situation in which they occur.  Paul understood this principle when he actually offered for his body to be abused for the resultant glory of the Lord….

And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”  (1 Corinthians 13:3)

Of course, Paul is not referring to a cremation here, but a death by fire (aka being burned to death) which has a secondary result of destruction of the body.

Based upon the examples of the honored Bible characters, it seems as if the norm was definitely a proper burial of a prepared body, but it certain instances, cremation or the lack of a proper burial was used by the Lord for His honor and glory.    This must be determined based upon the motive behind the action and the circumstances surrounding it.

The Symbolism Involved

The final area that we need to look at is the area of symbolism… what does burial symbolize, if anything; and what does cremation of the deceased body symbolize, if anything?  To help us understand this we need to see what these two acts are related to in the Bible….

First let’s look at the symbolism of application of fire ….
Many times, the application of fire is symbolic of the falling of God’s judgment.

How long, LORD? wilt thou hide thyself for ever? shall thy wrath burn like fire?   (Psalms 89:46)

And [when] the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard [it]; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed [them that were] in the uttermost parts of the camp.  And the people cried unto Moses; and when Moses prayed unto the LORD, the fire was quenched.  And he called the name of the place Taberah: because the fire of the LORD burnt among them.   (Numbers 11:1-3)

 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away [the punishment] thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime:  But I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of Kerioth: and Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting, [and] with the sound of the trumpet:  And I will cut off the judge from the midst thereof, and will slay all the princes thereof with him, saith the LORD.  (Amos 2:1-3)

In all the above three texts, which is only a sample of the many times fire is used by God to judge those who were rebellious, we can see that the application of fire was related to God’s anger and wrath being poured out upon the sinful.

However in our last text, Amos 2:1-3, it is interesting for us to notice WHY Moab was being punished by God.  It is described as “because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime”.  Was the Lord calling the act of cremation a sin?  If so, this would make our study much simpler.  There are those who say that is exactly what is being said, and therefore, we can know with certainty that the cremation of a body is an act of sinfulness.

However, from my perspective, I do believe this verse is better understood to be describing the horrible cruelty of Moab that was shown by his burning up the bodies of his enemies until the bones turned to small pieces with which he then plastered his palace.  He was a nice guy huh? (Because this information is based on human historians who were not inspired by God, this information cannot be relied upon with absolute certainty.  Therefore I am just sharing this alternate view with you.)

The reason why I do not think it is speaking of all types of cremation is because, we just saw in a previous examples where the act of cremation was not sinful but done as an act to glorify and honor the Lord.  I do not believe the act of cremation is not sinful in and of itself, but the purpose behind the cremation, and the circumstances surrounding it, must be taken into account as well.

From this standpoint, a usage of fire to cremate a body would be a symbolic picture of the body being used to dishonor the Lord, and as a result the body receiving judgment at the hand of the Lord.

Not only is the application of fire is symbolic of the falling of God’s judgment, but at other times, the application of fire was used by the Lord to accept an offering made to Him…

And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people.  And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: [which] when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.   (Leviticus 9:23-24)

And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour: the flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and brought [it] out unto him under the oak, and presented [it].  And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay [them] upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so.  Then the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff that [was] in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the LORD departed out of his sight. And when Gideon perceived that he [was] an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord GOD! for because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face.  And the LORD said unto him, Peace [be] unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.  Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it [is] yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.”   (Judges 6:19-24)

And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD [be] God, follow him: but if Baal, [then] follow him. And the people answered him not a word.  Then said Elijah unto the people, I, [even] I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets [are] four hundred and fifty men.

Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay [it] on wood, and put no fire [under]: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay [it] on wood, and put no fire [under]:  And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.  And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress [it] first; for ye [are] many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire [under].  And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed [it], and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But [there was] no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.  And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he [is] a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, [or] peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.  And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.  And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the [time] of the offering of the [evening] sacrifice, that [there was] neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.  And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD [that was] broken down.  And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name:  And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.  And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid [him] on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour [it] on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.  And he said, Do [it] the second time. And they did [it] the second time. And he said, Do [it] the third time. And they did [it] the third time.  And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.  And it came to pass at [the time of] the offering of the [evening] sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou [art] God in Israel, and [that] I [am] thy servant, and [that] I have done all these things at thy word.  Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou [art] the LORD God, and [that] thou hast turned their heart back again.  Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that [was] in the trench.  And when all the people saw [it], they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he [is] the God; the LORD, he [is] the God.  And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.   (1 Kings 18:21-40)

In the above texts, and in several others, we can see that many times the Lord declared His acceptance of an offering through the use of fire coming down upon the offerings and consuming them.

Under this basic usage, the cremation of a body could be seen as a body being offered for the Lord’s use (during its lifetime on earth) and that offering being found pleasing in the eyes of the Lord.

Now, let’s begin looking at the symbolism involved with the act of burial of a body…

The act of burial pictures the state of the saints dead body as it awaits the final resurrection.

But some [man] will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?  [Thou] fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:  And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other [grain]: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.  All flesh [is] not the same flesh: but [there is] one [kind of] flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, [and] another of birds.  [There are] also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial [is] one, and the [glory] of the terrestrial [is] another.  [There is] one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for [one] star differeth from [another] star in glory.  So also [is] the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:  It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:  It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.  And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam [was made] a quickening spirit.  Howbeit that [was] not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.  The first man [is] of the earth, earthy: the second man [is] the Lord from heaven.  As [is] the earthy, such [are] they also that are earthy: and as [is] the heavenly, such [are] they also that are heavenly.  And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.  (1 Corinthians 15:35-49)

In the above text, we can see that the body of those who are passed away is pictured by a seed that is sown.  The resurrection of that body is pictured by the seed then sprouting and growing with a new type of life.  Therefore it only makes sense that this seed that is “buried” and the sprout that arises with new life is the perfect illustration of dead body that is buried in the ground and the coming resurrection to a new type of life when the body comes forth from the grave.

The act of burial pictures Christ’s burial

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;  (Hebrews 2:14)

But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept.   For since by man [came] death, by man [came] also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.  But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.  (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:  Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.  (Philippians 3:20-21)

Christ went before His people setting the perfect example for us to follow in all aspects of His life. The example He has set for us even extends to the burial and resurrection of His body.  Christ’s body was buried in a tomb and then three days later at His resurrection, He exited that tomb proving to all that He was the true God and Redeemer of His people.   The burial of the believer’s body is one way, among many, that we can follow His great example that was set for us.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

To summarize our completed study…

In the first study…
1.  We have come to recognize the importance of using our physical bodies for the glory and honor of God as stewards of these wonderful dwelling places for the Holy Ghost.  This principle even applies to our bodies following our death.
2.  We saw that the burial of the body was following the example set for us by our Lord, and in and of itself, was an act that brought glory and honor of Him.
3.  In our previous study, we also saw that the Bible gives us a clear recognition that the burial of a body is a very acceptable way to dispose of the body following death. It is through the use of burials that a body is protected for the destructive forces found in nature and shows great respect for the deceased.
4.  In our first study we also saw that the use of cremation to dispose of the dead body, may be considered using a force of nature to destroy it.  If that is the case, then this would be an act of dishonor for the deceased and abuse of the dead body.
5.  Also, in several cases, cremation was used to destroy those who are enemies of the Lord and foreigners from the nation of Israel.  Again, this would seem to teach us the need to refrain from the use of fire to dispose of the dead body.

In this, our final study…
6.  We saw that most of the honored servants of God had their bodies placed in a tomb for their burial.
7.  There were only two types of exceptions to the burial of God’s people…  The martyred servants of the Lord, who then had their dead bodies treated abusively by the enemies of the Lord; and, a few other cases, where cremation was used motivated out of desires to honor the Lord and protect His people from harm and shame.
8.  In this lesson, we also saw that cremation could be looked at as symbolic of the Lord’s rejection and punishment of the body of the deceased.  However, we also saw that this same cremation could picture the Lord’s acceptance of the service that was once performed in the body.  To my way of thinking the symbolism of fire is a wash, since it could be looked at either way.
9.  Based upon the spiritual lesson learned from a burial, we saw that a burial was symbolized by a sown seed waiting to receive new life and sprout.  This being a picture of a saint’s body sleeping awaiting a future resurrection.
10.  We also saw that a burial was also a public declaration of what our Lord has done for us by dying on the cross and experiencing a resurrection with a glorified body.

I believe the overwhelming evidence of the Scriptures is for the burial of the body of the saint who has passed before us.  It is clearly and acceptable way to dispose of the dead body picturing what Christ has done for us (as well as following His example and the example of saints who have gone before us). It is a proper way of protecting the body from abuse by nature, as well as a picture of the saint’s sleeping body.

When it comes to cremation, this is a much more questionable method of disposal of the body.  It could be abusing a body using a force of nature, and is associated with the death of those who are enemies of the Lord and it also is missing an opportunity to picture the Lord’s burial, following the example He has set for us.  Finally, it lacks in it declaring that the saint’s body is “asleep” and awaiting a future resurrection.  When we look at all these issues we can see that the weight of evidence makes cremation a questionable practice.  However, we should never forget that the Bible does give examples of cremation being used in God glorifying ways. Therefore we cannot say that in every case cremation is a sinful act or displeasing to God.

My thoughts are that … Biblically, confidence can be found in the burial of the saint’s body.  It is clearly an acceptable, God honoring way to dispose of the believer’s body.   However, cremation is a much more questionable method of disposal of the body. Therefore, it must be selected with great care, prayer and consideration of the motives behind that decision.

The greatest consideration for us all is not the condition of our bodies following our death, but the condition of our souls now.  Keep in mind, one of the supreme goals of a Christian’s service to the Lord is to see the salvation of those who are lost.  For the Christian, are we certain our hearts are right with the Lord?  Likewise, are we living a life that glorifies and honors Christ?   Furthermore, are we using the opportunities the Lord has given to us to witness to and pray for the lost around us?  All of these things are of utmost importance.

For those who are lost, have you ever experienced the Lord’s saving grace in your life?  Have you ever seen that you have sinned against the Lord and, apart from His gracious intervention in your life, you can do nothing to gain forgiveness from Him?  Have you come before Him humbly, turning form those sins and trusting in Him to save you from those sins?  Have you ever experienced a change within you that results in recognizing Christ as your Lord and seeking to live your life for Him?

These are the marks of genuine salvation and the most important consideration that lies before us…

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.  Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:  Even as I please all [men] in all [things], not seeking mine own profit, but the [profit] of many, that they may be saved.   (1 Corinthians 10:31-33)

May the Lord bless you as you continue to seek His truth.

 

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May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

The Church Universal, Local, Or Both? #4

SIH STSTA ICONNow unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”  (Ephesians 3:20-21)

(Please note: I apologize for the length and detail of this series, and to be honest, I realize it will not be easily consumed by some of its readers.  I normally do not post articles of this length or depth, but I feel obligated to write this posting based upon feedback I have received from the Importance Of The Local Assembly series that was recently published.  So for the many who have shown interest and/or curiosity on this subject, here is the information you have requested.  My apology to those who lack interest or the time to read this study.  It is understandable.)

Facts about the word “church” as used in the King James Version of the Bible….

1.  The word “church” is not used in the Old Testament.

2.  The word “church”  is used in 111 verses in the New Testament.

3.  Every occurrence of the word “church” is translated from the Greek word “ekklesia”  in the NT.

In this study, I would like to study the definition and contextual usage of this Greek word “ekklesia”, with the intent of answering the following questions…

“When the Bible speaks of a “church” is it referring to an invisible, universal assembly made up of all believers in Christ;…. or, is it referring to visible, local assembly whose membership is limited to baptized believers;…. or, does the Bible speak of both types of “churches” that are differentiated by the context in which they are used?”

Let us all ask the Lord for grace, a spirit open to truth, clarity of thought, and accuracy as we work our way through the Holy Scriptures…

THE SCRIPTURES:

A.   (Matthew 16:16-20);

B.   (Act 2:42-47); (Act 7:37-41); (Act 12:1-4); (Act 15:1-4); (Act 19:29-34); (Act 19:35-41); (Act 20:17-28)

C.   (Romans 16:21-24)

D.   (1 Corinth 6:1-5); (1 Corinth 10:24-33); (1 Corinth 11:19-24); (1 Corinth 12:27-31); (1 Corinth 15:1-11)

E.   (Galatians 1:11-13)

F.   (Ephesians 1:16-23); (Ephesians 3:8-12); (Ephesians 3:14-21); (Ephesians 5:22-33)

G.   (Philippians 3:4-6)

H.   (Colossians 1:14-29)

I.   (1 Timothy 3:14-16); (1 Timothy 5:9-16)

J.   (Hebrews 2:10-13)

K.   (James 5:12-18)

L.   (3 John 1:5-10)

 

THE STUDY:

A basic principle used in this study:

You must take the normal, usual usage and meaning of a word unless the context CLEARLY DICTATES ANOTHER MEANING is ABSOLUTELY necessary.

This is the core principle upon which this study is based.  Both the details, and conclusion, of this study rest heavily upon this principle. We will be finding the common, basic usage and definition of “ekklesia” as found in the Scriptures, and then attempt to consistently apply that meaning to each text.

The common definition of the word “ekklesia”:

The basic meaning of “ekklesia” is “called out from”, or “to separate by summons”.

Therefore, based upon the definition of “ekklesia”, we find no indication of which type of assembly we are speaking of whenever we find the word being used.

However, this is only half of our “equation”.  Next we have to look at the USAGE of the word “ekklesia” in the Holy Bible.

The common usage of the word “ekklesia”:

I am forced to conclude that the common usage of the term in the NT is “local visible assembly”.  This definition clearly applies in at least 80 verses (that’s over 70 percent of the time) the word is used.  There was only, at the most, 32 verses that it could mean a invisible, universal assembly (that’s less than 30%).

Therefore, for this study, we will be using THE COMMON DEFINITION OF “EKKLESIA” WILL BE “A LOCAL VISIBLE ASSEMBLY”.

Based upon our earlier discussion under the heading “A basic principle used in this study”   This will be our process…

1.  We will look at the context of each of the 32 Scriptures where “ekklesia” could mean an “invisible universal assembly”.

2.  We will see if each one could allow us to use our common definition a “local visible assembly” .

3.  If the context allows “ekklesia” to hold to its common definition, that will be the definition we assign to that text.

4.  If the context forbids that the common definition of ekklesia can be used, we will then attempt to determine the definition of “ekklesia” for that text.

For more detailed information on the above sections, please see part one of our study…

A verse by verse study of the “questionable” texts that use the word “ekklesia”:

Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;  That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:  The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,  And what [is] the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,  Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set [him] at his own right hand in the heavenly [places],  Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:

And hath put all [things] under his feet, and gave him [to be] the head over all [things] to the church,  Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”   (Ephesians 1:16-23)

 

The exposition:

Paul is describing his prayerful desires for the local church at Ephesus. Some of those desires include understanding: the truth of His Word, their calling, what eternity holds for them, His great attributes, and the exalted position of Christ.  This exalted position includes: being placed above all worldly powers, all creation, and being placed as Head of the local assembly.

Christ’s exaltation over the local assembly is described as being made “head” over the “body”, the church.

(For further details on this phraseology please refer to our prior study of the 1 Corinthians 12 passage.) Paul then continues by explaining that it is within the confines of the local assembly that Jesus will meet with His people in His fullness.

This is supported by Matthew 18:20 –

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” 

This text is speaking about the meeting of God’s people in a local church assembly (Matt 18:15-19).

 

The usage of “ekklesia”

The local church is clearly described as the Lord’s body as already seen in our study.  The entire context clearly fits the description of a local assembly.  No need to look further.

 

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;  And to make all [men] see what [is] the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:  To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly [places] might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,   According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:  In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.  (Ephesians 3:8-12)

 

The exposition:

The reason that Paul acted as a missionary, being instrumental in the founding and instruction of the first local churches, was so that these churches could present Christ and His Word to both men and angels.

This section of Scripture presents the same truth as the account of the Great Commission found in Mark… And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.   (Mark 16:15-16)

When the gospel is preached by the local assembly, all of creation, including the angels of God learn of the wisdom of God.  Keep in mind, we are told that angels attend the meeting of local churches and learn from the preaching of the Word. (1 Cor 11:10, 1 Pet 1:10-12)

The use of local assemblies to proclaim truth about Christ and His work on our behalf is a part of His eternal plan.

 

The usage of “ekklesia”

Here, the preaching of the Word by the local church, and the benefits of that preaching extend to both men and angels and is supported by a variety of Scriptures.  The local church can easily be understood in this passage.

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,  May be able to comprehend with all saints what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;  And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.  Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.   (Ephesians 3:14-21)

 

The exposition:

Paul’s prayerful desires for the local church at Ephesus is explained in detail… receipt of His eternal riches, His strength through the Spirit, salvation from sins, a foundation of love, an understanding of the love of Christ, filled with the fullness of God.

Paul then explains the obligation of the church to glorify God for granting them these blessings.  God is to be glorified by the local assembly through the work and intervention of Christ in their personal lives and worship services, until the end of the age.

 

The usage of “ekklesia”

Paul is addressing the local assembly, explaining to them the blessings of God that can be received by them and their obligation to praise Him for those blessings. Clearly, in the context, this is speaking of a local assembly.

 

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in every thing.  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.  So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.   For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:  For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife [see] that she reverence [her] husband.”   (Ephesians 5:22-33)

 

The exposition:

Here we find Christ’s relationship with His local assemblies being likened to the relationship between a husband and a wife.  Some of these likenesses include: the church’s need of submission to Christ as their head (1 Cor 12:12-31); the husband’s need to sacrifice himself for the wife, always putting her welfare above his own, motivated by love (Acts 20:28); the very special intimate union that takes place between Christ and the local assembly (Matt 18:20, Rev 1:13-20).

The usage of “ekklesia”

The word “church” is used in the generalized sense. The concept of a local assembly fits very nicely in the context. No need to look further.

 

“Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:  Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, [of] the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;  Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.”   (Philippians 3:4-6)

The exposition:

Paul speaking of the persecution of the local assembly at Jerusalem of which he has spoken earlier. See 1 Cor 15:1-11 and Galatians 1:11-13)

The usage of “ekklesia”

Church refers to the local assembly at Jerusalem.

 

In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins:  Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.  And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all [things] he might have the preeminence.

For it pleased [the Father] that in him should all fulness dwell;  And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, [I say], whether [they be] things in earth, or things in heaven.  And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled  In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, [and] which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;  Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:  Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;  [Even] the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:  To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:  Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:  Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.   (Colossians 1:14-29)

The exposition:

Christ’s (who was God Himself) great work, power and authority being described.  Because of His faithfulness to the calling of His Father to give His life, Jesus is exalted as head of the local assembly.  Christ’s work involved making a sacrifice for our sins.  He did this so that we might serve Him.

Our faithful service to Him is our supreme call to holiness and spirituality.  Because of his desire to keep this calling, Paul is thankful for the privilege of being persecuted, which allows him to have be a living sacrifice for the Lord.  He is making this sacrifice to be of benefit to the local assemblies to whom he is ministering.

The local assemblies benefit from his ministry by receiving his teachings on the mystery of Christ, His person, work, and the eternity He has prepared for us.  Paul’s great desire is that the local church might learn from his teachings, then fulfill their commission to indoctrinate their members so that they might grow in grace and knowledge and win others to Christ.

The usage of “ekklesia”

The “church” is used in the generalized sense. It is referring to any local assembly to whom Paul has ministered.  The local assembly can easily fit this context, therefore no need to look further.

We will continue our study of the questionable texts in our next posting.

 

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May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

“Oh Well, Moment” It’s Like an “AHHA Moment” (only different)

SIH STSTA ICONOne of the most widely telecast TV commercials, as of late, is Mutual of Omaha’s AHHA moments.  You know, the ones that show different individuals describing their AHHA moments.  (You can see many of these at (http://www.youtube.com/MyAhaMoment?feature=pyv&gclid=CIOpsL3ewKECFVhJ2god_AfX-w.)  So what is an AHHA moment?  It is a time in one’s life when they come to a clear understanding of something they previously did not understand.

Well, my wife and myself have come up with a new “moment”.  This one is known as our “Oh Well,” moment.  Let me try to explain…. I am known for being a klutz.  That’s right, at times, I feel like I am the most clumsy person alive.  I drop things, knock things over, and spill things all the time.  It is really pathetic.

Anyhow, this is where the phrase “Oh well,” comes in.   You see, whenever I pull one of my klutz moves… the first thing to pop out of my mouth is “Oh well”.  I use this phrase A LOT.  When I use it what I am trying to say is…. “I’ve done something stupid and I can’t undo it, so I’ll just get on with my life.”    For example, I spill tea all over myself, I mutter “OH WELL”, and then proceed with cleaning up the tea and changing my shirt.

Oh, how I wish getting over all my mistakes in life were this easy.  But it’s not.  When I think about how I have failed my Lord in times past, I have a tendency to harbor feelings of guilt and inadequacy. Although I have been forgiven of my sins, I have a tendency to say to myself, “I have failed the Lord before… chances are I will fail again, so why even try?”  Let’s see what the Lord says our attitude should be concerning our past failures in our life…

THE SCRIPTURE:

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

(Php 3:13-14)

THE STUDY:

The book of Philippians was written by the apostle Paul.  To get the impact of these verses we need to understand Paul’s past.  Saul (later renamed Paul), as a younger man hated Christ and the followers of Christ.  He hated Christ and His disciples to the point he persecuted and killed them whenever he could. (Phil 3:4-7, Acts 7:58-60 & 8:1, Acts 8:3-4)  Talk about committing grave sins in the eyes of God!  After his salvation, I’m sure that Paul desired to turn back the time and undo all that He had done against his Lord.  But he couldn’t.  No matter how sincerely he desired for things to be different, what was done was done.

Just like when we fail our Lord today.   When we sin, we sin.  We can never take it back.  We can secure forgiveness from God and those we have sinned against.  We can try to make amends the best way we know how.  We can even successfully resolve to never commit that sin again.  But the bottom line is… that original sin that we committed can never be reversed.

That leaves us with a choice.  Either we allow that sin to weigh us down for the rest of our lives; or, after securing our Lord’s forgiveness and seeking His grace to strengthen that weak area in our life; we proceed forward seeking to serve Him to the best of our ability.

Paul’s example makes the Lord’s desire for us crystal clear… “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things that are before I press toward the mark”.  Paul said, in the context of his horrible past life of sin and rebellion, that he would forget what lay behind him.  In other words, as much as he hated what he had done, he would press ahead in his service as if those previous sins had not been committed.  He had been forgiven by God’s grace, his sin was now cast behind God’s back, buried in the deepest sea (please see Isa 38:17, Micah 7:19).  Paul had resolved to treat them in the same manner.

In Rom 5:20, Paul said “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.”   Paul used his previous sinful life to motivate himself to greater service.  You see, because God was willing to forgive him of such a grave set of sins, he then needed to appreciate God more than others… therefore, out of an appreciative heart, Paul would then serve the Lord in greater ways than others!  Paul saw himself as the “chief of sinners” and then proceeded to serve the Lord accordingly, as the chief of servants!

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

My prayer is that all of us, as forgiven servants of the Almighty God, learn this important lesson.   We should never allow our past sins to hinder our current service to our Savior.  His grace is always sufficient to forgive any past sin we have committed. (Roms 5:19-21)  When we are forgiven of those same past sins, we have been given His amazing, miraculous grace. We need to serve Him more than ever, because of the tremendous gift of love He had placed upon us.  Let us all, with thankful hearts, serve Him with all our might… He has done so very much for us!

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.

Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”