Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Category Archives: Ephesians

Lessons from the Ephesians – Don’t lose your first love!!!! – Revelation 2:1-7

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Lessons from the Ephesians – Don’t lose your first love!!!! – Revelation 2:1-7 – 06/28/2016

It has been a while huh? I bet most of you haven’t noticed but I haven’t put out a blog in nearly 6 weeks and I think that is some sort of record for me. In that time I have not been idle, I have been doing some reassessing and looking at myself and as the church at whole introspectively. This blog article is not dedicated to any particular group of Christians but to Christianity as a whole. The verses I want to look at today are a well-known passage in Revelation…

Revelation 2:1 (ESV) “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

I want to go to this church!

When I look at what the Ephesians had together I am amazed I would want to go to this church!!! They had …

  • Works
  • Toil
  • Endurance
  • Patience
  • A hunger for holiness
  • Enough doctrine to test what was good (They remembered the warning in Acts 20:17-31)
  • Judgment to call those false who were false
  • They were okay to endure for the name of the Lord/They were known as Christians
  • They did not grow weary/remained hopeful despite trials

Sounds like a solid bunch huh? I know from experience when I have been assessing churches to make sure that my wife and I are serving where we are called to be at this time by the Lord I have a list of “must haves” a list of “nice to haves” and a list that are “cosmetic purposes only” and this was from advice from a Pastor I trust that asked me once “what is your deal breakers?”.

Warning to the new church seeker

I say this because there maybe that guy or girl at the moment who is contemplating switching churches, perhaps for a good reason, perhaps not but I would encourage you to watch out for the Ephesian church, they may be the one with the biggest youth ministry, the best programs, the largest congregation, the best sounding worship, the best light display but outside the Sunday meeting they may be a group who never interacts with each other and are strangers apart from a warm handshake and a bunch of promises to meet (which never materialize).

They may have none of those things and may tick all of your intellectual boxes, they may not have worship down, children’s ministry sometimes happens and sometimes does not but the Pastor teaches some of the most intellectually profound, right on doctrine that flexes your spiritual muscles on a weekly basis, the exegesis and hermeneutics are phenomenal and the teaching is at college level theological seminary and new believers learn a lot of spiritual language but is light on application and you see quickly that apart from the weekly lecture, there is no mentoring, no feeding into one another and loving on one another apart from maybe one or two individuals but the culture of love is not present and you know that a year down the line you won’t know these people any better than today.

Those are two extremes of course and the church you are looking at will most probably be somewhere in the middle of those but what they have in common is that while each opposite have vital components that will get people through the door if they are Ephesian in nature and forgotten their first love then all else is in vain. As Shakespeare would say “it is all for nought”.

Beware of the Pharisee Christian

Let’s look at those vitals that are alive in this Ephesian church…

  • Works
  • Toil
  • Endurance
  • Patience
  • A hunger for holiness
  • Enough doctrine to test what was good
  • Judgment to call those false who were false
  • They were okay to endure for the name of the Lord/They were known as Christians
  • They did not grow weary/remained hopeful despite trials

However…you can fall victim to the human nature that thinks that as you progress as a Christian you become “too good” for the things you did as a baby Christian (or the basics) but I would remind you that you would not build a structure without a foundation and even if you become a master builder and have built many fine buildings, imagine turning up a new job and stating to the works foreman that we “would not bother with the foundation as this building will be great because I am the builder”. All you are setting yourself up for is a building that will fall and a reputation ruined… How is your relationship building with Jesus? Is the foundation sure?

Jesus had a lot to say to the Pharisees in the Gospels because they were the ones who know the doctrine, they were the ones who should have known better and they should have been rejoicing at the Messiah, the Pharisees had the works, had the doctrine, they were known as the holy ones, they were supposed to toil, have endurance and patience and many did but some did not… (see a pattern here?)

This I have against you…

God is not saying do not have these things in place but there is an important foundation to have in verse 4 and 5…

“V4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.”

The word “abandoned” is telling here, it is not like losing your keys, they had made decisions to leave their first love, that to me is the saddest part of the passage and even although internally they were like whitewashed tombs (Matthew 23:25-28) They had left the love of God and the love for one another, they no longer had that first love of Jesus, like a marriage that both parties have allowed to become stale they no longer have that new romance spark and they did not allow it to mature so they have a broken relationship.

They are prodigals or wayward sons that have still got to come to that afternoon in the pigpen eating swill and realizing that they could have it much better as the lowest servant in their father’s house. Like the father in that account in Luke (Luke 15:11-32) when they returned to the love of the father there was much celebration, forgiveness and absolution of the sin that cause the son to go so low.

Exhortation and application

We are all sinners and the Ephesian church did not always have it together, read the epistle to Ephesians if you do not believe me. We all need repentance; we all need forgiveness whether your sins are few or many and we all could do with being closer to Jesus and I commend you all to learn the lessons of the Ephesians, take the good in what they do and in the spirit of application we need to do the basics, repent, find our first love and then follow Gods plan!

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

The two paths – death through Adam or life through Christ

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The two paths – death through Adam or life through Christ – 05/15/2016

Romans 5:12 (ESV) Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

This is a series in the book of Romans, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills.

Let’s start in verse twelve of chapter five…

V12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.

Paul continues his thought talking about the hereditary sin that we have through Adam. You will notice that he says it is through Adam and not through Eve because Adam was meant to be the head of the home so he was supposed to protect his wife from temptation. Paul takes the account in Genesis 3 as a literal account and ascribes the truth to it that it deserves and there is no debate in Paul’s mind whether Genesis is literal or not. Paul makes the following points

  • Sin came into world through one man – The buck stops with Adam, as the head of the home he carries the can for his household and as the first man and the father of us all he allows us to partake of his folly. Do not think dear Christian that all sins go unpunished in this lifetime as often times our errors will have repercussions beyond ourselves and our children’s decedents.

    If you doubt this then have a read through the book of Nehemiah then you will see that once they became aware of their sins then they made sacrifices for not just their generation but also their children too. If you are a parent you will want God’s blessings on your kids and a good measure of how much you love them as a Christian parent is how much you pray for them. Until very recently I have been lax in this area but that is something I have been burdened to do.

  • Death through sin – Death entered the world and spread like a virus, due to the fall of man we see the heart of man did not strive with God and a sinful nature overcame him and it required obedience and sacrifice to obey God. Adam was warned that a result of the original sin that death would enter into the world. God had created a place that was safe, that man could go forth and multiply and that was very good and because of sin everything started to go wrong due to the introduction of sin and death.
  • Death spread to all men because all sinned – As Paul shows us the connection between sin and death we see the connection due to every single family on this planet has had someone who has died in it. If we are truly fortunate then we may have one or two generations in front of us still alive but I have resigned myself to the fact that unless Jesus comes back I will have a funeral service at some point.

I know this because I come from a family of people who have sinned, some have repented of that sin and some haven’t. The point of what I am saying is that at one point we were all in the same sinful state and this is what matters in relation to where you are with God at present.

Paul counters the idea that the law was given to counter sin. The law was never meant to be the antidote to sin but merely to show the difference between God’s standards and what man could achieve. It was always meant to point to Jesus. The law was too late for sin and was not powerful enough to take away sin.

V14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.

Was their death between Adam and Moses? Of course there was and reading through Genesis you will see a constant strain of people who were born at some point and then…died – So Paul was correct huh? It wasn’t until the time of Moses that the law was given and people continued to sin. Paul compares Adam and Jesus because at the beginning of their life they were the same – SINLESS! However one caused a separation between man and God and the other repaired a separation and allowed a way to be reconciled to God.

Paul continues in this thought by comparing the free gift of salvation with the original sin because both had consequences for the human race because under Adams transgression allowed people to die in their sins due to their wrongdoing against God and Jesus death allowed the grace of God to be spread on the world. One brought death and eternal separation and one brought life and eternal life.

V16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Paul goes on to say that just as Adams sin brought condemnation and allowed death to reign over all in contrast Jesus brought justification, it allowed grace to multiply too many and show that Jesus gift of life would be much more than the power of death. Paul reiterates John 14:6 that Jesus was the only way to heaven and through him is the only way to have righteousness.

V18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

And this is where the rubber meets the road folks, when we pass from this earth we will be associated with one of these two paths we will either be associated with the one who justified us or be associated with disobedience against God. There is no neutral ground here because if you follow disobedience then there will only be one result and that will be separation from God but that does not have to be the way that it is. We can be made righteous before God by following Jesus. A good example of this is a topical one due to this being an election year because we will chose to align ourselves with our favored choice, who represents you best and that will answer that question.

V20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

And Paul summaries his thoughts here and while the law shone light on the wrongdoing we see that grace was more benevolent than our wrongdoings. Does that not tell you the type of God I serve that regardless of how much you kick against him and try to make it impossible for him to have communion with you he loves you that much that his grace is enough to redeem you as his own. As a result of the disobedience we see that sin reigned in death but God wins due to his grace due to the salvation work of the cross in Jesus Christ.

Paul closes by showing us that we cannot save ourselves, the law and the works based faith will fail and we have to stand on the work of Jesus because that is the only way that this unrighteous man will stand righteous before God. It is not of my own doing but simply my recognition that I have sinned and needed forgiveness from God. We are saved by grace through faith and that is a gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Lord willing, in our next article in Romans we will look at verses one through fourteen in chapter six where Paul looks at whether we should continue in sin in order to maximize God’s grace. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved – 2nd Timothy 2:14-19

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Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved – 2nd Timothy 2:14-19 – 05/13/2016

Thank you for clicking on our page for the Pauline epistle which is called 2nd Timothy, the letter is authored by the apostle Paul to Timothy who was in the Ephesian church. This is called a Pastoral Epistle and gives many doctrines that we still use in both church structure and also for choosing leaders in the church. For other bible studies on other epistles please see our main epistle page or for others in 2nd Timothy please click on this link.

2 Timothy 2:14 (ESV) Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse eight of the second chapter of Second Timothy.

V14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.

In true Pauline fashion we see that Paul instructs the younger man to not get distracted with things that would take him away from the word of God. That is the basic job of the pastor is to keep his “sheep” focused on God and I do lament that we have moved away from doing life together as Christians. Paul was reminding Timothy to keep the things that were spoken of in the last blog article first and foremost and then follows a command.

He tells them to not quarrel about words, to not get into unprofitable arguments and in this election year I see that we do that more and more as Christians, we get mad about things that really ae not worth getting heat up about. It is not worth it to cause contention in the church of Jesus Christ over things that do not matter. As Paul states, it does no good and only ruins the hearers.

Paul touches on a little of what we find problematic in our relationships today in that we are to not strive or quarrel about words and there is nothing wrong with standing up for the truth however the issue comes when we wish to debate points that are irrelevant n the great scheme of things and we care more about defending our own small theological point than the greater work of the Lord. That then causes harm in relationships because often times these exchanges are not done in love.

V15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

This is the most famous part of this scripture but I prefer to quote it with the verse behind and often times the verse in front in order to get the context of what Paul is saying. People have oft quoted this verse as a badge of honor to show how much they study the word and this verse being the reasoning why. It is good to study the word and that is commendable but it should not be a “kudos point” in our Christian walk. Let’s look at this the way Paul intended.

  1. Do your best – Sometimes this is translated as “be diligent” and much as we looked at when we looked at Psalm 123, God looks for us to be diligent, to be studying when we are not feeling it and in season and out of season. (2 Timothy 4:2) If we are not enduring then it may be time to check out motivation. If it is for us and not for the Lord then we have our reward already! (Matthew 6)
  2. To present yourself to God as one approved – And God’s opinion is the only one that matters, people will come and go and popularity is a fleeting fad of a swaying opinion that will either be in your favor or not. Pastors will often times not be the most popular people in the building (especially if they are doing their job right) and what Paul states here is true on this level.

    Like much of 1st Timothy Paul exhorts Timothy to get himself approved and get his doctrinal ducks in a row as he wasn’t called to get others approved, which will come as he is equipping the saints for the work of the ministry. (Ephesians 4) But as a leader he needs to make sure he is being refreshed as much as possible, that is why I try to get to at least one conference a year that has sound biblical teaching from men I trust.

  3. A worker who has no need to be ashamed – Have you ever done a job where the boss is watching and suddenly your “work rate” improves, so how many of you feel sad now that you have admitted that to yourself. Remember you have a heavenly boss that sees everything you do, so how holy do you feel now? Is there anything in your life that you wouldn’t want shown on a big screen cinema for all your family and friends to see?

    Yes we are saved by grace and not by works but it is encouragement to be diligent as we have that natural reaction of shame to our sin that stems back to the Garden of Eden because let’s face it, it is embarrassing when your work is examined and it is shown to be deficient.

  4. Rightly handling the word of truth – and this is the roof on the house, the topping on the cake and quite frankly the reason for the diligence. As a leader he had to know what it said the reason why it said it and be able to explain it to someone who either had a strong Jewish background in the law or no religious background whatsoever. He had to be able to explain the gospel truths to everyone who would receive it. It is tremendously important that the Pastor understands the correct meaning and application to the scripture before he teaches it. We see why in the book of James…

James 3:1 (ESV) Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

That scares me, even just teaching or preaching on a bible study or writing these articles means that I would be called a “teacher” and if ever a title was placed on someone who was more undeserving it is here. I see myself not as a teacher but more as someone who wants to make the scriptures more accessible to as many as possible.

V16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.

We need to be careful if we are seen as a teacher to not lead people away from the word of God. As leaders and by default we will have people looking up to us, it is not something that I chase or desire but it happens a lot. One thing we need to be careful is to not lead people astray with our actions. If you are a leader in authority you will be looked at and scrutinized. Let me give an example of this…

At a youth group I attended when I was much younger I was invited (along with the rest of the group) to the leader’s apartment building where we had youth group that evening because the church was unavailable. Where I was sitting in that guys living room I saw his CD collection and then started to think, if he likes these bands then they must be okay. I never saw his DVD/VHS collection but if I had then I might have used that to justify bad choices in my life based on what he had. Do you see where I am going with that?

We need to avoid vanity in our preaching also and avoid anything that promotes us. I find it a lot when I am speaking to fellow bloggers or pastors who have written a book that they can be very “promoting” of their own works. (I have been guilty of that also in the past too so I am speaking as much to me as anyone else!) There really is nothing as holy as the word of God and despite any good or relevant points that I make on these articles I pray that I always point you to the word of God first.

Teaching that is in place or dilutes the word of God may be popular for a season but it is not a substitute for the real thing. It is what will lead people further away from Godliness and the cancer will spread like gangrene and Paul gives two examples of this by naming two offenders to show Timothy what type of people he was meaning. We see our old friend Hymenaeus from 1st Timothy 1:20 but he appears to have a new partner in crime in this letter.

What were Hymenaeus and Philetus teaching? Well according to Paul they were teaching that the “saying that the resurrection has already happened” and were teaching incorrect doctrines regarding the End times and despite having started in the correct position they allowed themselves to become incorrect in their doctrine stating that Jesus had already returned. We have to base our faith on sound doctrine and not man’s opinions in order to be correct scripturally. Due to this incorrect doctrine they were causing others to have problems in their faith.

Some people may be okay with some unconventional teaching and methods and I am all for reaching people for the gospel, however if we stray into heresy and teaching that is not consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ then I will have an issue with that. People start to believe a version of Jesus that is not the Jesus of the bible and that is not okay. Also it the heresy does not have to affect everyone, if they are upsetting the faith of some that is bad enough.

V19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

In typical Jewish writing style we see that Paul goes from the negative to the positive and he states quite boldly that despite the attacks on the faithful word of God, He has a firm foundation and that foundation will stand up to the scrutiny of skepticism and false religion. That is a good question to ask yourself is that do you stand on that firm foundation when under attack by those who wish to trash your faith? Or do you stand on that firm foundation that cannot be shaken?

Paul takes his thoughts from Numbers 16 verses 5, 26 & 27

Numbers 16:4 (ESV) When Moses heard it, he fell on his face, 5 and he said to Korah and all his company, “In the morning the LORD will show who is his, and who is holy, and will bring him near to him. The one whom he chooses he will bring near to him.

And

Numbers 16:26 (ESV) And he spoke to the congregation, saying, “Depart, please, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be swept away with all their sins.” 27 So they got away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. And Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the door of their tents, together with their wives, their sons, and their little ones.

Because the Lord knows who are his, notice that it says the Lord knows, not us! I genuinely think that we will be surprised by who we see in heaven and who we don’t because many of us will not be our true selves when we are with other believers. We are called to be his and we are also called to true repentance and a life change when we enter that relationship with Jesus. We need to turn from our sins and depart our iniquity as Paul states. That is my MO here at TTE is to either help you into a relationship with Jesus, help you find a decent bible teaching church and partner with you in growing in Christ and if you are a believer I pray these studies help you grow deeper in Christ because let’s face it! It is all about Jesus!

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Timothy we will look at the verses eight through thirteen of chapter two where Paul talks being a worker approved by God, having read ahead I love these scriptures and I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Gods authority is challenged by the serpent – Genesis 3:1-7

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Gods authority is challenged by the serpent – Genesis 3:1-7 – 04/19/2016

Genesis 3:1 (ESV) Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

This article is designed to be a slightly more in depth article than I did in the “creation series” elsewhere on this website, Lord willing I hope to look at the full creation week and examine the case for a Biblical creation from the mindset that the bible is accurate and a honest and truthful source of history in how we came to be here. I am not here to attack other mindsets as I appreciate that not everyone shares my view of a biblical history and I do welcome lively debate on the subject regardless of your thoughts or beliefs on how the earth was made.

In order to look at this from a biblical context we must first look at the text in question starting in chapter three verse one…

V1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

As the title suggests this was the first challenge to the authority of God and although the text does not clearly state that this was Satan, however elsewhere in the bible it does make it clear, let’s look at the book of Ezekiel…

Ezekiel 28:13 (ESV) You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. 14 You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. 15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. 16 In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. 17 Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. 18 By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out from your midst; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you. 19 All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever.”

And we read that the serpent was crafty and cunning and this is a warning to us today not to engage Satan in a battle of wits or attempt to even outsmart or try to do battle with the word of God against Satan, he knows the word of God and knows how to twist it to suit his ends and we see this in this text that this is what he tries to do with Eve. It is important to recognize that Satan is a created being; he is not equal or equivalent to God. To elevate him to such stature is giving him what he desires most, to have the power of God. He can be defeated and Jesus is more than a match for him.

He understood the woman and understood that by going to the woman and attacking the one that the command was not explicitly given (see Genesis 2:15 onwards) to he may expose a weakness in the relationship of the man and the woman. The question is not a friendly one and exposed by Satan’s purpose in all of our lives that is explained in John 10 where he is listed as “the thief”…

John 10:10 (ESV) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

I know all about Satan’s plan in this area as often times we have been attacked as a family unit when either myself or my wife has been at their weakest and here is how he attacked “He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” He decided to go against the very word of God and whilst this may be a bold assertion for us mere mortals, Satan genuinely believes that he is equivalent to God and will attempt to place himself in that place.

He would have had foreknowledge of whether Adam did a good job telling Eve God’s plan for the garden and he approached it in a manner taking what God had said as a positive (He gave them so much to eat and a perfect paradise to roam in) and the devil focused in on the ONE LIMITATION that was given and even then he asked the question in a manner that was designed to trip up Eve.

V2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

Eve was really proud to be asked this question and answered him in the first place and secondly that she answered in her own pride and here is the first mistakes made in this whole unfortunate encounter. She also does not name the tree by name and lastly she adds her own addition to the end of the command from God. Here is what God actually said…

Genesis 2:15 (ESV) The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

No-one expects Eve to repeat the command verbatim but she was not supposed to add to the words of God and this is what Satan jumped on. She added the “nor shall you touch it” and whilst it may have been a sound policy to avoid temptations she was not bound by that recommendation by God and I see that a lot with Christians who bind themselves up in a whole bunch of traditional dogma that is not actually biblical and have been passed down as a tradition as opposed to sound theology. Eve really had a poor understanding of what God had actually said and did not understand the heart behind it. This for me as a man, husband and father falls squarely on Adams shoulders as he was the one who was supposed to take care of that.

V4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

As stated prior, Satan jumped on this like a flash exposing her false doctrine he had planned this and from the first moment asking the question in the way he did he opened up this situation to his benefit. He did not have to discredit God’s word; he just had to make Eve doubt and want to defend it. That is how he got a foothold in that conversation and from this he then went on the attack.

He stated “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” He starts with questioning to make sure that Eve did not know what she was talking about and now moves in for the kill by contradicting God’s word. God’s word shows two good ways of dealing with the devil…

Jude 1:9 (ESV) But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”

Ephesians 4:27 (ESV) and give no opportunity to the devil.

Basically the bible states that we should not be tackling him dead on and instead leaving him to the Lord because greater is he that is in us than the one who tempts us. The devil concentrates on what he believes the benefits would be to them if they carry out this sin. The most dangerous part of this that there was a little truth in that their eyes would be opened…to their sin and just how inferior and different they were to God. Satan promised the opposite, he played on the pride that was in the heart of the woman wanting to be like the one who created them and made them fall in the same way he did, by wanting to be equal with God.

V6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Satan focused on how good the food was and Eve looks at the food and is enticed by the very thing that we are warned about in the epistle that we call First John…

1st John 2:15 (ESV) Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Eve did all of that…

  • She gave into the desires of the flesh – when the woman saw that the tree was good for food
  • the desires of the eyes – was a delight to the eyes
  • and lastly the pride of life – desired to make one wise

Now the seed was sown Eve was sunk, she had backed herself into a corner and now wanted to go against God. This is a common story because every sin, whether it is a small sin like disobedience or a slightly larger one like lusting after another, they all start in the same manner, they start with pitching your tent closer and closer to the place of sin until the sin overtakes you. Whether that is a look that gravitates to a thought that cultivates a desire and concludes with an obsession it is all the same.

Up to this point it was all temptation and Eve still had to make the choice to sin and she chose that path but before you get to hard on Eve please note that it does state that her husband was with her and he took the fruit from his wife and ate it. As the man of the house he should have covered his wife and protected her from the devil. Eve was deceived but Adam had all the information direct from God and he chose to willingly rebel against God.

V7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

True enough their eyes were opened and the promise was fulfilled, they saw their nakedness and understood shame for the first time. They understood exposure, they understood vulnerability and they were experiencing things that God did not want them to have to go through. We know this as guilt, suddenly everything was worse and they had realized that they had done something wrong and they decided to cover their shame with leaves and for the first time they had a desire to be modest. God made us to be beautiful in who we are, our sin and fallen nature is the reason we wear clothes.

Lord willing, in our next article in Genesis we will look at verses eight through thirteen in chapter three when we look at what happens the next time Adam and Eve talk to God. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus – 2nd Timothy 2:1-8

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You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus – 2nd Timothy 2:1-8 – 04/15/2016

Thank you for clicking on our page for the Pauline epistle which is called 2nd Timothy, the letter is authored by the apostle Paul to Timothy who was in the Ephesian church. This is called a Pastoral Epistle and gives many doctrines that we still use in both church structure and also for choosing leaders in the church. For other bible studies on other epistles please see our main epistle page or for others in 2nd Timothy please click on this link.

2nd Timothy 2:1 (ESV) You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse one of the second chapter of Second Timothy.

V1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Paul starts his exhortation by telling Timothy to “be strengthened” and as a young teacher myself I understand the premise behind what Paul is saying here and that Timothy would need to be strengthened to fulfil what God had called him to do. Paul is faithful in his work as encourager and mentor and there will be times in our lives where we are the encourager and conversely there will be times that we will be required to be encouraged.

One thing we have to realize is that we serve the God who wants to supply all that we need and should we need strength to complete a task then he is always available. I have found many times in my life that God will allow me to try things in my own strength to show me that I am not enough or that I need him and his strength. Let’s look at a passage in Isaiah…

Isaiah 40:28 (ESV) Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

God gives power to the faint; they will rise up with wings like eagles. As usual I do wish to look at an epistle and I know I quote this all the time but let’s also look at Ephesians 6…

Ephesians 6:10 (ESV) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

We have to remember that although God makes his strength available to us as stated above we also have to rely on him instead of our own strength. Then Paul goes on to say that “be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” that the strength in grace is absolute in order to fulfil the calling that God has you do. In the last year from stepping into ministry I have a new found respect for full time members of the clergy and I understand when some pastors say things like “my job as a pastor was getting in the way of the ministry” because when you are the one people are looking to for answers there carries a responsibility and it is true that “to much is given and much is required” (Luke 12:35-48) and that we have to be strengthened in Christ’s grace as it is a burden as well as a calling. Please do not think I complain as I am blessed more than I can talk about.

God will supply all that his children need, we have that love, favor and grace and despite whether we have earned or deserve anything that God benevolently gives us we understand that through the grace of God is where we can draw our strength. I am reminded of the song…

“I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God”

Paul describes his dealings with grace through problems in his second letter to the church in Corinth…

2 Corinthians 12:7 (ESV) So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

What a notion, for when I am weak, then I am strong! Real strength comes in the Lord. Paul then goes on to write “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” And that is my heart too with any ministry that I do, that I am not simply passing knowledge or passing on decent precepts or personal opinions, in fact part of the job description of the Pastor was to train others to train others in the true faith. That is not to say a pastor of a 3000 person church should still do all the training, I am saying that would be silly, but he should be a part of the training and maybe managing the ones who are doing the training.

And he was to train “faithful men” Paul goes through what would be regarded as a faithful man in First and Second Timothy and the epistle to Titus, we are not to look at the external but the internal! What is the faithful man’s fruit? Is he doing some of the work already without being asked? HE has to be a good quality candidate because he is supposed “to teach others also”.

V3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

Paul then makes a comparison between three occupations that would have been relevant both in that time and even today, he compares the Christian life to…

  • A soldier
  • An athlete
  • A farmer

The soldier is one who is used to suffering, yes in those days they did not have mortar bombs or automatic weapons or for that nature chemical or nuclear warfare but the soldier was still used to suffering, taking orders, dealing with hardships and that is sound doctrine because when I have achieved the most for Jesus has been when I have been at my lowest in other ways in my life. Even the call to ministry is fraught with potential pitfalls whether that is financial, familial or any other hardship in whatever way it comes. Examine your own heart and where you cherish the most will be the place that you will be hit the hardest. See below for what Jesus said about taking up his cross and following him…

Matthew 16:24 (ESV) Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Paul goes on to say “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him” and the one who enlisted him is obvious as Jesus is that Commander of the armies of heaven and rather ironically he was probably looking at the soldier he was chained to as he was penning this so it is no surprise that he used this occupation. He also notes that the soldier cuts himself out of civilian life, really what Paul is saying is do not do anything that will interfere with your calling.

It sounds grim but please stay with me, let’s look at the athlete…

V5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.

First we have “hardship” and now we have “fair play” and the idea of athletics would be well known in this Roman/Greek culture and it was known that the rules of competition would be known beforehand and the athlete would want to receive the prize for competing. The athlete also knew that he would be disqualified if he did not place by the rules and what Paul is really saying is that like the athlete we should not do anything to be disqualified in our calling, in our walk with Jesus on a daily basis. We should be the ones to set the standard and play by the rules.

V6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.

And Paul is stating we should be diligent and hard working. The farmer does not get any glory but if he does not work hard then no-one eats! By the same token if he has called you into ministry it is no place to be lazy. You have to be hard working for God because God see’s you sleeping on the clock. Paul also uses the metaphor of eating in the relation to the food that he will be supplying to his congregations and I know that to be true that God will have me live through something before I was able to teach that lesson. Also often times I have found that in order to teach something with heart I have had to learn the lesson myself and sometimes there has been some repenting going on in order for me to be able to teach it clearly with experience and authority.

V7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Paul gave three quality illustrations that I know that because of time served with Paul that Timothy would have received them in a way that did not require further explanation and the overall theme is to be diligent and persevere and that is a message that is just as relevant today as it was when it was first written. Lastly Paul calls for understanding and as stated prior God will give us understanding in the same abundance that he will give us strength.

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Timothy we will look at the verses eight through thirteen of chapter two where Paul talks about holding to the truth in a steadfast manner, having read ahead I love these scriptures and I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone – And God created Woman – Genesis 2:18-25

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Flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone – And God created Woman – Genesis 2:18-25 – 04/05/2016

Genesis 2:18 (ESV) Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

This article is designed to be a slightly more in depth article than I did in the “creation series” elsewhere on this website, Lord willing I hope to look at the full creation week and examine the case for a Biblical creation from the mindset that the bible is accurate and a honest and truthful source of history in how we came to be here. I am not here to attack other mindsets as I appreciate that not everyone shares my view of a biblical history and I do welcome lively debate on the subject regardless of your thoughts or beliefs on how the earth was made.

In order to look at this from a biblical context we must first look at the text in question starting in chapter two verse eighteen…

V18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

So far everything had been “good” and God saw that something for the first time was “not good” and that was the loneliness of man. God saw the issue and like any loving father sought to remedy it. He states that he would make a “helper fit for him”. My wife has a blog called “Keeper of his home” and her first book sought to show the original plan for God’s helper. God being God he created a helper fit for man, not one who was inferior to man in any way and many women have been maligned because some men have read “helper” as “servant” and that was never God’s plan.

Yes, God gave the plans to Adam and Adam and Eve carried out the work as God gave Adam the responsibility and accountability to be in charge and be “head of the home” but as we read in Ephesians five we are to do it in love…

Ephesians 5:22 (ESV) Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

As we see in the Adam and Eve model, God gave Adam one rule and he gave it to his wife, we will read more on that in Genesis three, but with the responsibility came the accountability because if that house was going to fall it would fall on the head of the home.

V19 Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.

Adam was given an important job in that it was his job to name the animals that were all around him and as it was the garden that was gifted to man by God he was allowed to call them what he saw fit. Let’s face it, Adam at that point was the smartest guy that ever lived!

But none of the animals were a fit helper for Adam. He didn’t name them human or man, God did this to show Adam that he was different from the animals and these animals were not for mating purposes however God had a plan to fix this.

V21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

I have grouped these verses together deliberately. This is the first recorded surgery in the bible and this shows to me how much God knew his creation because I know that if someone was to attempt to remove a rib from me when I was asleep then I would know all about it. He did all of this and closed over the flesh so it sounds to me as if there wasn’t even a wound.

I think it is beautiful how the woman was made, God could literally have used anything to create woman but he chose to use part of man to create this helper and Adam got the drift by incorporating the name man in the name of this beautiful new creature. He called here Woman because she was taken from the man and I believe that God did this to remind Adam that they are essentially one.

Anyone who has been in a relationship with a woman will know that as much as we are alike, we can be so different sometimes and we also know that as much as they drive us nuts we would be lost without them and today was the beginning of the human race when Eve came along because when we added Eve to the mix then Adam’s line could increase and he would have that love and companionship that he desired.

Adam states that “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Adam knew that although Eve was like him (human) she was not like him (gender) I love that he says “at last” because you will know that like a child on Christmas morning he would have diligently searched for that prize that he was hoping he was getting. He had searched all of the animals and was anticipating someone like Eve and God being the perfect creator he was you know that Adam was delighted with Woman.

V24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

And here we see the first marriage ceremony in the original blueprint of God. We see the following about God’s plan…

  • It was MONOGAMUS – There was one man and one woman
  • It was HETROSEXUAL – Again one man and one woman
  • It was HUMAN – There was not an animal found to be a helper to Adam

I truly am not trying to be offensive when I state this I truly am not but the idea of sexual relations with animals, same sex, many partners was never in God’s plan, he never designed the human heart to go through the trauma that a lot of this promiscuous actions that we put ourselves through. (Especially the multiple partners)

Adam and Eve were one flesh, they were intimate, they were in union and they were spiritually compatible. This is not an excuse to look at your own partner and state “well they are not, so it must not be God’s plan for me” Often times when you feel like that it is because you have chosen it not to be so.

The text states that “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” and that is the truth, the man has to be a man and lead his wife and family according to what God has called them to do. It is important for both people in the marriage to not allow extended family take an unwelcome or overbearing role in the marriage that God ordained. It gets a little crowded with more than two people in the marriage. This is why they are called one flesh, Jesus and Paul both quoted this in relation to marriage…

Jesus…

Matthew 19:1 (ESV) Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. 3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

Paul…

Ephesians 5:29 (ESV) For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Paul brings up a tremendous point that the marriage is an example of the relationship between Christ and the church. This is why it is vitally important that we do things God’s way.

Lastly “the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” this gives a great answer to the question “Why do we wear clothes these days?” and the answer is to cover our shame. They were still at one with God and there was no sin, no issues and they were in a perfect paradise and temperature that outerwear was not required to either stay cool or be hot. They were exposed to God and other man because they had not fallen into sin and they were natural before themselves and before God.

Lord willing, in our next article in Genesis we will look at verses one through seven of chapter three when we see Adam and Eve encounter their first trial when they meet the serpent. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Abraham’s offspring’s hereditary privilege came from the righteousness of faith – Romans 4:13-25

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Abraham’s offspring’s hereditary privilege came from the righteousness of faith – Romans 4:13-25 – 04/03/2016

Romans 4:13 (ESV) For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

This is a series in the book of Romans, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills.

Let’s start in verse thirteen of chapter four…

V13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.

Paul states a great point that makes the arguments of the day mute when he states that the promise between God and Abraham did not come through the law but the righteousness of faith. The law came later than the Abrahamic covenant and was dependent on a faithful God as opposed to an unfaithful line of family who could never hold up to the terms that God requested. Abraham’s hereditary honor of being the father of faith would come from exactly that, his simple faith in God.

V14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void.

And if we take this point to its logical conclusion then the ones who are “law only” if they were to be heirs then that would render faith a futile exercise. You have to ask the question “Can you keep all of the law?” (And remember there are 613 laws in the Mosaic law) Look at what James states about the “law keepers”…

James 2:8 (ESV) If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

“For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it” (v10) those words send shivers down my spine! We cannot be declared righteous by following a creed or code of conduct otherwise there was no point in Jesus dying on the cross for our sins.

V15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

As stated above in the James scripture the “law brings wrath” because we are unable to keep the law and that would be seen as a way for God to nuke us with his wrath. This is what makes Christianity so different in that we are not constantly trying to appease an angry deity or god. But our God has grace upon us and does not justify us based on a set of unachievable rules.

If we use the law as the ruler then we see our guilt before God. That is not that we absolve our sins through ignorance of Gods requests. Transgression means that we overstepped a boundary that was set by God, a clear defined command that God made, Paul makes the hypothesis that if there is no law there is no transgression and that keeping the law is not the be all and end all of a relationship with God.

We are in a relationship with God and like any other relationship that you have it is based on trust and in the original sin between Adam and God that trust was broken and created a division between man and God. God planned redemption for his creation and the center of that loving and trusting relationship is not the keeping of the law. So that we do not take this out of context I would urge that you read on to get Paul’s point…

V16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

So rather than the law it depends on faith, when we believe we have that promise of grace. We are not saved by faith rather we are saved by God’s unmerited favor and that is what grace is. It is God giving us a benefit that we do not deserve and saving us based upon his own benevolence and will that none should perish.

Does that mean that we all get a “free pass” to heaven? No that is not the case! Paul states quite eloquently that salvation is based on faith. To unlock that free gift of grace we must also have some input and our input in that relationship is faith, not works, lest any man should boast!

This is why the promise rests on grace and is guaranteed to all of his offspring. God has a heart of acceptance and forgiveness and desires that no one should be without the opportunity of salvation. God is sure and is a God of truth, there is no deceit in him and that is why salvation is based on the grace of God (promises of God) rather than the fallible sinful promises of man (in keeping the law). Let’s look at the promise between God and Abraham…

Genesis 17:1 (ESV) Genesis When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, 4 “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.

We see that through Abraham in Gods promise to him that he would be the father of many nations see that he was the father of faith in the Jewish religion and though his offspring came a Messiah who would sacrifice his life so that he world could be saved through faith.

V18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.

Abraham believed in hope and he went from being called “father of many” (Abram) to being called “father of many nations” (Abraham) and despite being advanced in years God opened the womb of Sarah and fulfilled that “everlasting covenant” that he promised to Abraham and is still faithful to that covenant. God’s favor extends through Abraham both as a physical offspring and spiritual.

Paul makes note of the age of Abraham and gave glory to God for what would be attributed to God as a miracle. Think about it, when was the last time that you read about a 100 year old father in the news? Abraham had faith that God would provide but he was not perfect in his actions, he had a child under his wife’s instructions to the Egyptian handmaiden Hagar. God redeemed him despite his mistake; he granted an inheritance to the child that was outside of God’s plan called Ishmael.

Abraham gives us a good example of how we should be in our faith. Yes, Abraham was promised an offspring and despite his circumstances he did believe and he also would have continued to have relations with his wife and allow God to open the womb in his time. The promise of God did not mean that he stopped doing what he had to do and often times that is a lesson that we could learn in today’s Christianity. If you are called to something and know that it is a definite calling from God do you sit back, relax and just assume that God will do everything for you? Or do you prepare yourself; do you take the steps that you need to take in faith in order to be ready when God opens that door for you? Sometimes it takes greater faith to be diligent in the small things and leave the results up to God. That is obedience also and Abraham is also a good example of someone who is obedient in their faith as he took the necessary steps in order to be ready when God opened that door.

V20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”

Abraham’s faith was strengthened and boy could we learn from that example. Abraham did not waver in faith and gave glory to God and Abraham really had two options and that was to trust God or not but based on what we read in the book of Genesis and here in Romans we see quite clearly that his faith was counted to him as righteousness because he remained and grew strong in the belief that God was going to keep his promises. You can apply the same principle to your own lives when you look at what you trust God with and what you don’t! That is a good measurement of how strong your faith actually is. Often times our faith is tested because we don’t understand God’s timing is perfect and He actually knows what he is doing.

V23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

And Paul explains that further that Abraham is an example to us all, that we all can be deemed as righteous through faith, that we be seen as though we have never sinned. Verse 24 states that “for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord” and that shows belief in his saving work on the cross and also that he died on the cross for our sins as the wholly acceptable sacrifice for our sins. He states that Jesus was “delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” and it is important that you remember that the journey of Jesus life does not end at the cross but death could not hold him and he was raised up and even today is in heaven. This is what Paul states here rather eloquently is a fulfillment of the Old Testament scripture and Abraham is a great example of why we are justified by faith rather than works. Paul also reiterates this point in his epistle to the Ephesian church…

Ephesians 2:8 (ESV) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Lord willing, in our next article in Romans we will look at verses one through eleven in chapter five when we look at having peace with God through faith, it is a great piece of scripture full of wonderful doctrine. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord nor of me his prisoner – 2nd Timothy 1:8-14

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Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord nor of me his prisoner – 2nd Timothy 1:8-14 – 03/18/2016

Thank you for clicking on our page for the Pauline epistle which is called 2nd Timothy, the letter is authored by the apostle Paul to Timothy who was in the Ephesian church. This is called a Pastoral Epistle and gives many doctrines that we still use in both church structure and also for choosing leaders in the church. For other bible studies on other epistles please see our main epistle page or for others in 2nd Timothy please click on this link.

2nd Timothy 1:8 (ESV) Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. 13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse eight of the first chapter of Second Timothy.

V8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God,

Paul had just finished (in the last article) describing a spirit of power, love and sound mind and now Paul moves on to courage and encourages Timothy not to be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord. We have it easy these days in following Jesus as Christianity is an established religion of nearly 2000 years but back then he was following someone who the critics stated was crucified.

It is quite a common emotion to be ashamed of the gospel as the Christian message does not always follow the patterns of this world and often times it is very contrary to the standards of this world. It is not a popular message but a lifesaving one. It was a message so important that Paul was willing to have his liberty stripped from him in order to save souls.

When we become Christians we should not expect our lives to be easy, often times we will be tried and James tells us that we should count it all joy…

James 1:2 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

We have to get away from our “Western Christianity” that promotes the message that if life is hard then you are not doing your faith correctly. We have lost our edge and become as comfortable in the world as Lot was when he pitched his tent near Sodom. Let’s be honest here and ask “who does rejoice when they have stresses and trials? Yes we can sometimes cause our own issues and trials but we should not expect life to be easy.

Paul sees his imprisonment in a way that shows his heart, he is not the prisoner of Rome, of the ruling authorities but of “his prisoner” and this is the mark of a man who has his life immersed in his mission. If he is jailed he is jailed for the Lord, if he is free he is free for the Lord and if that wasn’t enough he invites Timothy to take a share in that ministry. Who would apply for that ministry post? With the knowledge that your mentor is in jail and you are invited to follow the same path and that would be a good application question – Would you do it?

V9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,

And this is why you do it…Paul was sitting there incarcerated due to a “holy calling” and he submitted to the purpose of God and was submissive to the grace of God also. So with God on his side should he be in such difficulty? Well he was! Just because someone is working in the will of God does not mean there will not be difficulties, sometimes God’s grace is what sees us through the difficulties.

I love this because here was Paul, and if you were not looking at his situation through “theological glasses” you would see him as a political prisoner, he was a prisoner of Rome, the largest empire of man at that time. If he was talking of power and might then people would automatically think of those who held the earthly power, however God allows people power for a season and as we know the Sun has set on the Roman Empire, let’s look at what the bible says about earthly power…

Romans 13:1 (ESV) Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

We all have our opinions regarding Governments, Parliaments and ruling people such as Prime Ministers and Presidents and to air them here would only cause discord, however we are called to be subject to the governing authorities as God is the one who gives authority. Whilst I may not agree with policy decisions I trust God who knows how it will pan out. Paul also sees this by stating that this power is fleeting compared to the power of Jesus Christ who has been there since the beginning.

V10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.

We all have a common savior in Jesus Christ, we have responded to a call in our hearts. Jesus came to manifest light unto the world and Jesus told us this would be the case…

John 8:12 (ESV) Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 13 So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. 17 In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” 19 They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.

Jesus abolished death! He came to reconcile man to God and be that spotless lamb without blemish that would replace the Passover lamb. Death is not death anymore, there is hope through Christ Jesus that we can be saved and rejoined in communion with a loving Father God I don’t see death as the sting I once did but merely a matriculation to glory. Yes I certainly will miss the ones who have touched my heart down here but apart from a mission to have as many souls as the Lord will allow me to join me, this world holds very little for me now.

Paul goes on to say this is why he was appointed a preacher, to tell that good news, that gospel! He considers it a privilege and not a course for shame; he is honored to suffer for the sake of the gospel. I just wish that I had that resolve because in all honesty I am keen to be through trials as quickly as possible and I do wonder in hindsight what valuable lessons I could have learned if I had just been patient. He calls himself three titles which he is more than worthy…

  • Preacher – Think of the sermons he has taught, the lessons he has shown people face to face and the advocate he has been for Jesus Christ.
  • Apostle – The churches he has been a messenger to (apostolos in Greek also means messenger) and has planted.
  • Teacher – Paul was given the task, despite his Jewish pedigree of being the “Teacher to the Nations/Gentiles” and we are reading fruit of that in his epistles to strengthen others.

This is why Paul was content to suffer, because he understood the majesty and honor due to the person he served. We have to realize who it is we are serving but we have to also be as committed as Paul who was committed to serving him with everything he had until the day that he would see him. (Paul calls it that Day) and this may be a question you can ask yourself… Are you all in? Do you serve the Lord with all that you have? Or Are you going through the motions? If the answer is less favorable than you would like then it is not a situation that cannot be remedied, I would suggest discussing with your Pastor or leaders how you could use your gifts more. I don’t teach at the church I attend so I use my gift for teaching on this blog, there may be more than one way to be of use to the Lord.

V13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

Just as it is important to know WHO we are serving it is just as vitally important to know your doctrine (know the sound words) as we are all called to be faithful to the truth. We are to follow that pattern, to hold fast in the midst of friction, it will require inner strength as well as a firm footing in the doctrinal truths that you already know, to give you an example in Paul’s epistle to the Ephesian church…

Ephesians 4:11 (ESV) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

I see this in the church today where sketchy doctrines become popular that has precious little biblical basis but they are accepted because people who are trusted endorse them. I worry and wish to keep myself and my family (and those the Lord has allowed be to be Spiritual mentors to) free from being tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine.

Paul states that Timothy must follow his example in sound teaching and Paul is not being proud when he states this but merely giving a tangible example of someone he can relate to, we all have folks that we trust for doctrine and Paul advises Timothy to remain faithful and guard that good deposit within us by the Holy Spirit and God has supplied that helper and he desires from us more than we can do on our own and is it good to be obedient and rely on the help that we are given.

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Timothy we will look at how Paul gives a good example of what he is teaching Timothy by giving examples of faithful and unfaithful men in the faith. It truly is a challenging study from an introspective point of view. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Teach sound doctrine – Titus 2:1-10

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Teach sound doctrine – Titus 2:1-10 – 01/14/2016

This bible study is part of a series on the book of Titus, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of Titus for other studies in this book.

Titus 2:1 (ESV) But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 9 Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

Titus begins the reason for his letter after the earlier salutation (see previous blog article) and outlines the reasons for initially writing and set out what the mission for Titus should be in chapter one. It is both a mission and a challenge because Titus would have to be very discerning in who he chose and he would require wisdom to ensure that the correct type of people were installed to help these churches to be strong. Let’s start in verse one of chapter two and my aim (God willing) is to go through the letter to Titus on a verse by verse format.

V1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

Paul states God’s plan for Titus life and these few words show that Titus was set apart for a task that was not for everyone. His task was to teach what accords with sound doctrine, he was given a responsibility that I think we take too lightly today in today’s church. Ask yourself a question, should everyone be allowed to teach in the church? James answers this quite clearly in his epistle…

James 3:1 (ESV) Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.

Those who teach will be judged with greater strictness…Now you see why it is called a calling and not simply a job or an occupation. Often times Paul in his ministry was bi-vocational, he made tents and preached the gospel, I know many pastors who ministry is not their “day jobs” and it is very much a western mindset that we have teachers of the bible as a career choice.

What had he to teach? He is told to teach what accords with sound doctrine, not just an action, going through the motions type deal, but a living example of what the right things are. We read all through chapter one some of the incorrect doctrines that he was being told to correct and we see here that Paul is only interested in him being a teacher of what is sound.

It is an example to us even today, to stand up for what is right and correct and represents Christianity in a true light. The world is good at distorting Christ and his followers and many of the myths I used to spread myself and have heard about Christians are simply stereotypes and are not true. Yes we have the Bible and it is a manual to advise us doctrinally how to live and we do believe that it is the inerrant, infallible word of God. Paul goes on to explain and categorizes the different groups within the assembly.

Older men

V2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.

Titus was a younger man so it is important that when you are teaching these men that it is done with respect and love with a liberal amount of wisdom, it is obvious why because you do not want to cause offense and cause stumbling by things that are not biblical. Despite the fact that these men may be older in physical age, it is more likely that they would not be as advanced and as spiritually mature as Titus.

Despite their lack of spiritual maturity Titus was to teach these men certain standards that they had to adhere to. Titus is commanded to teach these things that might not have come with their life experience so far. If you are saved later in life you have a far bigger past that a new believe who gets saved in his teens, you may not have the following characteristics…

• Sober minded – not a lack of a sense of humor but simply someone who knows when to be serious and when to be called upon as an “elder head”
• Dignified – If dignity did not automatically come with age or if you were undignified in your previous life, then this may have to be “taught”
• Self-controlled – Titus had to teach them to be self-controlled in order to be a good example, they had to be sober, reverent and temperate.
• Sound in faith – They had to get their doctrinal “ducks in a row” in order to be effectively used in the ministry. They had to have good knowledge and be diligent in their studies
• Sound in love – They had to have a genuine love for people, this may have been an issue as I know myself as we get older we get more stuck in our grooves and we will have pre-conceived notions more than someone who is not as advanced in age.
• Steadfast – Unmovable, a word often used for an anchor, someone that is dependable. If you think of the really good elders or spiritual mentors you have had in your lives you will see that they had most of these characteristics.

Quiet a list huh? I am not really confident in which ones I should share about that I am still working on! I would imagine that due to the age difference this may have been met with some resistance however the purpose of this was to do what we should be doing more of in our churches, Titus was equipping his saints for the work of the ministry, once Titus was done with these men he would have them teach these principles to others. They would automatically have people’s ears due to their age but Titus was to make sure that the very people that could influence people are influencing them correctly and in a sound manner. Let’s look at what he had to teach the older women…

Older women

V3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Like the older men the older ladies are given their own expectations, from the text we glean that they were expected to be the following…

• Reverent in behavior – Like the older men they were to show reverence, be that example of reverence, being a woman for all the people that they would be reliant on in any situation and not disqualified due to external behaviors.
• Not slanderers – The woman of God is expected to use her tongue wisely, not to be tripped up by speaking evil of others, they must be able to be trusted to not be flippant in speech and would you confess your deepest darkest sins to one who would spread them around the church?
• Slaves to much wine – She must be sober, you notice that it says “not slaves to much wine” and the culture then, as it is today expressed that alcohol was okay. I have no actual issue with the partaking of alcohol but merely the abuse of it. If the lady was drunk consistently or lived her life according to the bottle and replaced the Spirit of God in her life with a slavery or addiction to wine.
• Teach what is good – The woman of God has to be able to teach appropriate doctrine to establish a legacy in her ministry. She is to be the living example in that she would practice what she preached and preached only sound doctrine and be a mentor to those who are looking to her for instruction.
• Able to train the young women – Again she is looking to train the young women in the precepts and doctrines of her faith, being that example and being a valuable resource in the mentoring and maturing of the young women. In many cases supporting the parents by being a spiritual parent to the younger women.
• Self-controlled – Self-control is a must, I know this is starting to sound like the perfect lady but she will have her faults and I am sure that there will have been people that will have been chosen for ministry that will have been a work in progress, so please if you are reading this do not get down hearted that you are a few categories off. God will work on you should you invite and desire that to happen. I urge you to charge on and not get discouraged!
• Pure – It goes without saying that she would be pure, with no scandal or examples that would lead the younger believer astray, yes she will have her challenges but she will be showing to have overcome them and use the challenges as a testimony to her faith.
• Working at home – In that day the women were expected to work at home and if your finances allow for that then that is wonderful, however there are many reasons why a woman would not be working at home and sometimes you have to do what is best for your family.
• Kind – She is to be kind, able to be kind in situations that warrant a gentle hand, you will notice that there is no category for the younger ladies and they are expected to get their mentoring from the older ladies, that is not to say that they would not learn from Titus, but their principle instruction would be with their husbands and the older ladies.
• Submissive to their own husbands – Those of you who think this is a “blind submission”, “submission to the dictator husband” or “forced servitude” do not have a full understanding of God’s design for marriage, the woman is expected to be submissive and be under the headship of her husband as the keeper of his home but many do not understand the dynamic that is explained in the book of Ephesians chapter 5…

Ephesians 5:22 (ESV) Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Yes she is meant to submit, but the husband is to love her as Christ loved the church, remember that whole “love. honor and cherish” deal on the wedding day?

And this is enveloped in the last sentence “that the word of God may not be reviled” that is beautiful and it shows that they had to be a living example for the generation coming up and the generations to follow of what was expected of a Godly woman. Blessed are the churches that follow this pattern for women’s ministry. It is important that older does not always mean age, spiritual maturity is as vital as life experience and many effective women’s leaders would be regarded as “young”.

Younger men

V6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

Young men are to be the following…

• Self-controlled – Like the older men that are teaching them, they are expected to be self-controlled and be examples to be used for the ministry of God when they are spiritually mature. The Christian faith is a journey, a day by day relationship and often times people transition and you could be called at any time, so you have to be ready to go when you are called.
• Model of good works – If you wished a scriptural example of this I would urge you to read the third chapter of the book of Colossians, the young men are called to diligence, called to be mature, called to be an example of good works to all around them. Show them that despite your youth you are an example to others. Titus had to be more than a mentor, more than a teacher; he had to be an example to these people.
• In teaching show integrity, dignity and sound speech that cannot be condemned – Here is the meat and bones of the text, the mission had to stand up to scrutiny, it had to be permeated in integrity, he had to be dignified and everything that came out of his mouth had to be sound doctrine. This was the legacy he was leaving to the younger people.
• Leave opponents with nothing evil to say about you – Be “above reproach” remember that from earlier? Leave no arguments about you, what you teach or just as dangerously your character.

Servants

V9 Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

Bondservants are to be as following…

• Submissive to their own masters in everything – The church was the one place that servants could mingle with their masters on a somewhat equal footing, this was a culture shock to many as servants sometimes had positions in the church and their masters did not. However the servants had obligations as part of their servitude and they were to fulfill them with all of their heart.
• Well pleasing and not argumentative – Paul goes into a greater detail into the heart of how they were to serve and the heart behind of how they were to serve, they were to be pleasing and not argumentative in spirit or in speech, it wasn’t simply good enough to do the “bare minimum” or simply to “tick the boxes” they were called to exceed and succeed in all that they did (See Colossians 3:23)
• Not pilfering – They were not to steal and that was obvious, but ponder this, what about stealing time, wasting time or loitering so that they are not as efficient as they could be. Another common practice would be that the servants would run errands and this states that they should not profit by keeping change or property from their masters.
• Showing all good faith – Titus must show the servants that they must be an example of their faith in all that they do, they must be markedly different to those who are not of the same faith, they must be honest, trustworthy and a good example.
• They may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior – And here is the reason why, to give a good report to others of the doctrine they possess. What greater testimony than someone who is in servitude living out their life as a Christian and being the best servant he could be? Talk about the ultimate dead end job with no career prospects and they must have a Christ like attitude and work at it with all their endeavors.

We are not bondservants ourselves nor do any of us have servants or slaves so a modern day application is difficult but think on this, many of us are employed or employ others and in our daily employ do we have the above credentials? I am not trying to shame you but merely make you think and imagine what a witness we could be if we were like this. Should the Lord spare us until next time I plan to look at verses 11-15 next time in chapter two.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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Mark Driscoll launches Phoenix church and why I am okay with it!

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Introduction?

I read on several Christian themed news sites within the last 48 hours that the worst kept secret in West Coast Christianity is now official, former Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll is to set up a new church in Arizona in the Phoenix area entitling this new mission as “The Trinity Church”. I am proud to say that I have quite a wide spectrum of Christianity as far as viewpoints on my social media feeds but even I have been surprised about the veracity of criticism levelled at Pastor Mark. I thought I would add some words to the debate, these are my personal words and by no means are representative of any of the ministries that I am involved in. I am not a paid pastor and really I am speaking as myself only, but I feel led to add my voice to the mix and that I have to do so as possibly a voice that may look at some of the thinking behind the criticism of this man of God.

I am of no doubt of a few things, having heard podcasts of the man himself in his previous position as pastor of Mars Hill and as a former leader of Acts 29 I know that the man is a truly gifted teacher of the word of God. I am not all “doe eyed” and a supporter of any man or any man’s ministry because they have a name but God has certainly used Mark to reach many people and modern Christianity is a better place because of his input. Personally, I have never met the bloke but I do know him by his positive impact to others in the ministry that he was blessed to be a part of for Jesus.

Why isn’t he pastor of Mars Hill anymore?

For further clarification I had written an earlier blog on Mark Driscoll, The board at Mars Hill in the Seattle area accepted Mark’s resignation in October of 2014 after a group of former Mars Hill congregants made certain allegations about him accusing him of using his position as a Pastor wrongly and there were allegations of what could be construed as bullying.

I am not going to defend what he was accused of because I was not there and to be honest I have no idea what went on or whether 100% of the accusations were 100% true or is it a case that as emotions have ran high, have things been pulled out of context, exaggerated or possibly manipulated because let’s face it, when you mention Marks name there are folks out there with an agenda.

Type in Mark Driscoll into a popular search engine and you will already see sites that have the words “Mark Driscoll” and “Controversy” in the headers, the title, I am not saying he hasn’t flown close to the wind or ben a choirboy in the pulpit, man he had even turned so many people away because people would rather report that he used a four letter word in a sermon as opposed to any decent application or life changing message of the gospel that could be applied to someone’s life.

What was he accused of?

As covered a little bit above he is accused of the following according to Wikipedia…

“In May 2013, now former Mars Hill elder Dave Kraft filed formal charges (under Mars Hill Church bylaws) of “mistreatment” against Mark Driscoll and other leaders at Mars Hill. He specifically accused Driscoll of being “domineering, verbally violent, arrogant, and quick-tempered”. Kraft further argued that this “established pattern of… behavior” disqualified Driscoll from church leadership.[note 1] Mars Hill Church’s Board of Advisors and Accountability responded, saying that they sent one hundred letters to former elders and staff in an effort to substantiate Kraft’s charges. They received eighteen responses, which they reviewed, and determined them to be “non-disqualifying” with respect to Driscoll’s leadership position. However, the Board did initiate a “reconciliation process” to address “many offenses and hurts that are still unresolved”. Dave Kraft worked at Mars Hill from 2005 to 2013 and was Driscoll’s personal “coach” during that time.”

Other controversies include an issue with a company used by Driscoll to promote a book who used methods to manipulate sales figures on a book that would later be designated to be on the New York Times bestseller list and another book he faced accusations of plagiarism. Lastly as the controversies raged it was found that Driscoll had posted online messages under a pen name of William Wallace II and the content of those messages.

How should we react biblically?

Paul talks about these very things in the epistle of Ephesians…

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV) Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

I say this because really, unless you were personally hurt by Driscoll, or any of the group that call themselves “Repentant Pastors” (They have their say here) or anyone associated with him or the Mars Hill movement then really you have no axe to grind and you may just have an agenda against a man who was popular for a wee while in Christian circles. From what I see, he is not guilty of any heresy, he is not prohibited from leadership and has taken a year out to pray, contemplate and reassess and he is starting again in a new city with a new group of people and I have no doubt that he probably will have learned so much from this on a personal level in what must have been a terribly challenging season as a pastor, but I do know that if this is truly his calling (I cannot speak for the man and do not know his heart) then he must follow Gods plan for his life.

Should you do have that axe to grind then I do urge you to do as Paul commands here and use your words to…

•       Build up
•       Not corrupt
•       Fitting for the occasion
•       Giving grace to all who will hear
•       Not grieve the Holy Spirit
•       Be kind
•       Be forgiving
•       Be tenderhearted

And the reason is stated here also “as God in Christ forgave you” and this is no great theological mystery, this is Sunday school stuff here, if you think Paul is talking nonsense then will you take it from Jesus Christ in the gospel of Matthew chapter 18?

And here is what we should not be…

•       Bitter
•       Filled with wrath
•       Filled with anger
•       Filled with malice

People will use words like “I am protecting the flock of Christ” or “I am being a watchman” or my personal favorite “I am exposing a wolf in sheep’s clothing” and I agree that false teachers should be exposed, however many folks who do these “exposés” are often times being divisive for the sake of being divisive. Again I wrote about that in my article “Why is division long?”

So you are okay with it?

I am okay with Mark going back into pastoral ministry because like him, I have messed up, I have been extended grace and I have extended grace to others. The main difference between me and Driscoll is I don’t have hundreds of people waiting to pounce on my every failing. For that reason I hope that I never have “a name” or “popularity” in the Christian circles because once you “make it” the knives come out.

You expect that from the world but you expect more from your Christian brothers and that works both ways in the forgiving stakes and I would hope that those who want to flame Driscoll would not wish the same on themselves. The guy is like me, a flawed sinner who is saved by grace just wanting to use the talents and giftings that God has given him for his glory and if he truly is doing it “Soli Deo Gloria” then I wish him all the best and I pray for impact in the souls that he is sent to minister to. I pray for life change, revival and Jesus name to be praised in that city; wouldn’t that be a better main story? Let’s advance the kingdom of Jesus!

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to
TTE
TGBTG
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