Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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Hey Jude, are you a bondservant?

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Thank you for reading our Bible study on the book of Jude. This bible study is part of a series on the book of Jude, 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 Jude for other studies in this book.

Let’s start in verse one of the first chapter of Jude.

Jude 1:1 (ESV) Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: 2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

I have quite the history with the book of Jude, when I first rededicated my life back to Jesus I went into a discipleship program with my then pastor Matt McGoldrick at Calvary Chapel Glasgow and we spent the best part of 7/8 months on the book of Jude learning how to study the bible in an inductive way.

In the Christian church today we either have one of two camps; we either have “lack of knowledge” or “Pharisee like knowledge” with very little balance. It is an issue in the church today that we have such wide chasms of knowledge.

Lack of Knowledge 

We see the lack of knowledge on one hand you have what we read in the book of Hosea…

Hosea 4:6 (ESV) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

Being Gentiles we should have learned from the mistakes that the Jewish people have done before us, but regrettably we have not. Many folks who call themselves Christian have not studied the word and do not have a decent foundational knowledge of what they represent and therefore are ineffective at winning souls for the kingdom of God. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy we read… 

2nd Timothy 2:15 (ESV) 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.

Some translations have the phrase “study to show yourself approved” and it is important to be spiritually fed enough in order to grow in your relationship with Jesus. You see, conversion should not be the end of the story, but merely the beginning of a new chapter.

It does sadden me when I hear of some testimonies that culminate in the believer being saved. I once heard a great sermon by Pastor Martin Tatton of Calvary Glasgow City (link in the sidebar) which asked that very question and made me question my own testimony because I used to do the same. It is truly an injustice to the life that has been changed by Jesus Christ as it sounds like life was a party and then it all stopped when I became a Christian.

Truth be told I am not (I still am DNA wise) the man I was before and my life is a lot better than it used to be when I used to drink myself senseless and party and waste copious amounts of money of selfish pursuits. I have a great wife, a lovely daughter and a marriage that I could never have wished for.

If you would have told me 15 years ago that I would be leading a bible study in my home, happily married, a father and being blessed beyond all measure by a God that I had rejected but he never gave up on me it moves me to happy tears. I have this pursuit for knowledge on his word and a thirst to know more of him, but I pray that it is not a “Pharisee like knowledge”.

Pharisee like Knowledge

So it is fair to say that I know the book well, but like everything in the Christian life it is not enough to simply have head knowledge, the Pharisees in Jesus day knew the scriptures so well that they could look at a parchment paper of a Torah and let you know if a stroke was out of place. However they did not let the words pierce their heart.

It is possible to know the theology and have such head knowledge that it becomes cold facts and therefore it is not living, it is cold, dry and dead. It is with great lament that I read of people who teach theology and wax lyrical about great and mighty things of God, know way more than I do and could out debate me and are way smarter than I ever will be but have missed the point of the whole thing. They are atheists!

Jude 1:1 (ESV) Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:

Jude describes himself as “a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James” and in that statement shows his humility, he could have written “a servant of our messiah and my half-brother Jesus” and been accurate, however he chose to address himself as a servant.

This shows great humility on the behalf of Jude. Can any of us honestly state that if they were a blood relation to Jesus they would not speak of it? But to give himself that lower place shows great character of a man and reminds me of what I read in the book of Proverbs…

Proverbs 25:6 (ESV) Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great, 7 for it is better to be told, “Come up here,” than to be put lower in the presence of a noble

And also spoken by Jesus in the book of Luke… (The parable of the wedding feast) 

Luke 14:7 (ESV) Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Jude does exactly this; he humbles himself by choice to the role of servant. The word servant is also translated as “bondservant” in this case one who has given up his own will to take up the role of a servant (or slave) for his master. So Jude is a slave to the gospel of Jesus Christ by his own free will and is completely subservient to his master and will follow the will of him as opposed to his own.

An application for that for us would be “how much of a bondservant are we?” I must admit that there are still things in my life that I have not given over fully to God and that is not a boast but an admission of guilt.

Also Jesus did call into question the importance of earthly brethren in Mark 3 and Luke 11, perhaps this was part of the reason why Jude did not feel the need to introduce himself as the brother (or blood relation) of Christ. Jude calls himself instead “the brother of James” James was an important leader in the Jerusalem church and author of an epistle.

Jude is mentioned in the gospels in the books of Matthew and Mark (Matthew 13 & Mark 6) as the brother of Jesus, Jude did not believe in Jesus until after the resurrection. (John 7:5 & Acts 1:14)

Jude addresses this letter “to those who are called” and this letter is still addressed to Christians everywhere. Jude will deal with issues that are not easy to hear and he categorizes them in 3 ways. 

1) Those who are called – Jude addresses it to the called, God has placed a calling on our lives, we have that choice as people to answer that calling, for some it will be into ministry, some it will be evangelism but whatever our calling we have to get to it and do it with all our hearts.

2) Beloved in God the Father – John 3:16 starts with the words “For God so loved the world” and that is a truth of the gospel, God loved us that much that he would give up his son Jesus to die on the cross for us to buy our salvation.

3) Kept for Jesus Christ – some versions say preserved in Jesus, and that we have protection in Christ and we are his children.

We have the same choice as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden, we can choose to go with God’s plan for our life, accept the free gift that is Salvation and live after his will or don’t. One way leads to eternal life, the other leads to the lake of fire, simple huh?

V2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

Jude greets the recipient with three wishes and that the three wishes are multiplied unto them. This shows Jude’s heart to the recipient that even although what he writes would be painful to swallow; he is doing it in love.

1) Mercy – We all have a need for mercy, for we all have fallen short of the glory of God due to our sinful nature.

2) Peace – This life is tough but we do not have to bear it alone we have access to an unlimited supply of the most perfect peace that a man can ask for, often times we do not ask and try to bear Gods burdens instead of our own.

3) Love – We are called to love, this letter is a love letter, doesn’t seem like it but sometimes the most loving thing we can do is be honest with someone.

Jude asks not just for theses blessing but he asks that they be multiplied unto them. What a heart that guy has for his recipients.

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE

Qualifications for Overseers

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This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, 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 1st Timothy for other studies in this book. 

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 third chapter of First Timothy.

Qualifications for Overseers

1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

Paul starts again by stating that right after he introduces that he will be speaking about the qualifications of an overseer, he establishes in the very first word that it will be a “he”. Paul states that it has to be a he, however that not all men are qualified and he will list qualifications below to help those who are called with finding suitable people in their task.

Episkopos

The Greek word (episkopos) which is translated as “bishop” or “overseer” means over – watcher literally someone God has charged to watch over the assembly, our closest English word is “overseer” nowadays it is not uncommon to see more than one “minister” or “pastor” in a larger assembly and some will fulfil different roles, some will be shepherds, some will be counsellors, some will be teachers and some will be evangelists, todays modern pastor will have to do many of these roles.

Timothy is reminded that the person who wants to do this does desire a good work; therefore he had to look for good guys that fulfil the criteria. It is not about elevation it is more about stepping up as an act of service and by taking this task on, you are willing to state that you are willing to serve more and do more work.

Careful of the “title chasers”

Conversely Timothy had not to look for those who chased titles, self-glory or individual honor. That is not service at all (perhaps self-service) which is why there were very steep qualifications in order to qualify.

I won’t get too deep into this but it does sadden me when major denominations with millions of Christian followers deviate from the word of God go away from the word of God and ordain women when there are perfectly able men to do the job.

Let’s look at the qualifications

1) Above reproach – Blameless, nothing in his life would cause attacks to the church, one who lives a righteous life. Really what you are looking at here is a man who cannot reasonably be accused and does not create wonder about why he is in that position. (many of these criteria’s will merge into each other)

2) The husband of one wife – Someone who is committed to his wife, a one woman man. Not someone prone to affairs, someone prone to straying, someone his wife can trust. Someone who is devoted to that one woman and not deviated to others, including fantasies such as pornography.

3) Sober-minded – someone who thinks with clarity, not given to going to extremes and is reliable. Someone who is trustworthy and knows how to handle difficult situations. Ministry can sometimes be difficult and you would not sent someone into a situation where someone was grieving that would constantly be joking and coming out with all manners of ill-timed and inappropriate conversation. Really we are looking at the man’s behavior that he would give a good counsel and not disqualify himself due to foolish conduct.

4) Self-controlled – Is as you would expect someone who controls himself, is trustworthy, is upright and does not rage or “lose it” at the slightest miniscule thing. Self-control is a rare gift in a man.

5) Respectable – Can also be translated as “modest”, “dignified” or “orderly” any of these definitions would give a good example of the type of man that Paul is speaking of.

6) Hospitable – Willing to open their home to strangers and friends, their house is a house of ministry where people are always welcome and their house is an extension to the church where real ministry can happen in a smaller setting.

7) Able to teach – He has to be able to lead the assembly in sound doctrine. Notice it doesn’t state eloquence or be “society friendly” (unlike today when the first concern is how it looks) just the ability to break down doctrine and be skilled to teach either in a large group, small group or individual setting.

8) Not a drunkard – This is quite a hotly debated subject as to whether an overseer should drink wine. Personally, from my history and to err on the side of caution as to not stumble a weaker believer, it would be better to sacrifice personal comfort in order to not cause another to sin. 

Paul states “not a drunkard” and for me this goes hand in hand with “above reproach”, “sober minded” and “self-controlled”. I don’t know about you but if I was to see a man falling about and not in control of himself due to being drunk, those words would be the furthest from my mind!

Whilst it is not a “banned substance” I have seen folks who have been encouraged to drink by leadership in churches “go too far with their liberty” and having sin issues because of it. Not really good leadership and a steep price to pay for “liberty”. Paul certainly discourages choosing someone who has an unresolved issue with alcohol.

9) Not violent but gentle – not a brawler, can you imagine an assembly where a man who led it wanted to be involved in fist fights? Doesn’t really show Jesus gentle side as appears to be involved in whatever the latest battle is. Not quite the same as someone who wished to argue all the time, which comes next!

10) Not quarrelsome – Similar to the violent man, this one is violent of speech! Always contentious, always splitting people up, always fighting, always conflict. Why would you do that to your assembly?

11) Not a lover of money – We see this a lot in today’s church, the “career Pastors” or the ones who are in the ministry for the money that it generates. You can see these men’s hearts if you ask them to give up their lavishness for a 2 year ministry in the 3rd world. They would not be lining up to bear another’s burdens with the least of these. Another issue is that these men become covetous, always looking for the next big thing, keep up to date on the pulse of the newest movements to get new people in and he is never satisfied and always looking for more, bigger or better.

By being anchored in the temporary things such as money, the heavenly things are bound to be neglected. How can the man counsel others about the riches of heaven if he is focused on the riches in his own wallet?

12) He must manage his own household well – God has given the man a training environment in his own home. Paul states that those who wish to be leaders have to be effective leaders in their own homes. They have to lead their family in devotions; they have to lead the family in prayer.

13) He must not be a recent convert – One of the dangers of leadership is choosing the wrong man, too quickly. Perhaps he is a likeable man and appears good for leadership with one issue – He hasn’t been saved all that long!

Paul warns against doing this. I have seen this happen and I also have seen someone remove themselves out of ministry due to issues concerning this. Being in ministry is tough and it is not fair to an assembly or the person themselves to put them into a position they are not equipped to handle.

Obviously if it is an obvious calling from God and that would be acceptable, but Paul is speaking about a brand new believer, they can be swayed with erroneous doctrines and fall into errors that a more mature believer would not fall into.

Lastly in extreme cases you can burn a new believer out, cause them to doubt even their faith and you could lose him to the faith. It is always best to be cautious and cover any new appointments with care.

I have been in a missions church where I was perhaps given more than I should have been because it was “all hands on deck” but any training, any teaching, were all done supervised and careful care was taken before I was allowed to do it on my own. That is not distrust but simply good leadership.

14) He must be well thought of by outsiders – He must have a good report, a good testimony both in and out of the church, so much so that he even has the respect and people know what kind of man he is both in the assembly and out. His life must be a positive affirmation of his faith. He must be Salt and Light to those outside and his life must be the best advert for the faith of Christ Jesus.

Steep qualifications

Quite a long list huh? Which is why I stated it the qualifications were pretty steep. I think already I have ruled myself out from ever being an overseer!

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE

A vision of clarity for the church (part 2)

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(One entity many parts – like a hand)

A vision of clarity for the church (part 2 )

See also

A vision of clarity for the church (part 1)
A vision of clarity for the church (part 2)
A vision of clarity for the church (part 3)

Yesterday we spoke in depth about the value of high quality discipleship, next up we speak about “letting go of your pulpit” & look at the next step of the process. 

Once you have guys who are able to teach (or able to play in a worship leader setting) you have to give them opportunities,  whether that is serving in a small or community group or leading a youth group (should your church have one) opportunities should be given to allow the disciples get exposure to teaching.

Once they have proven their mettle at small group teaching,  it is then finally time to “let go of the pulpit”

All of this requires good delegation, discernment and a willingness to grow the body of Christ as a whole,  many Pastors either won’t do this or perhaps have little experience in how to do so, some go with folks they trust and if they are doing it alone then they will do it alone. (Or will only let members of their own family do everything) this is detrimental to both the family and church relationships as people will leave if they are not as involved as they would like.

Pastors have to find out who is wanting to be involved, discover the motives and seek out the wolves from the sheep. Only by placing the right folks in the right places will it make your job easier. You also have to be courageous to not have people there that will block any sign of progression or worry that they will be displaced if they show someone how to do something. 

We have to be willing to equip our the body of Christ as a whole and we have to be willing to equip our saints for the work of the ministry and trust God that if he is taking us away from something we thought we were called in, then God will have something else for us.

I called this “letting go of the pulpit” and it may sound like I am picking on Pastors but they are the decision makers in many churches, this will apply to any decision maker in the church.

I say this all in love and not in any way looking to hold anyone to account,  but I have been reminded of a situation where this sort of leadership was very successful,  the Pastor had many interns, some stayed with him, some moved on but that guys investment in those internees lives will last longer than any sermon that guy ever preached. (And he was also a very good preacher) The result of all that labour was that not only did the Pastor get a few Sundays without preaching (which I am sure was a blessing) he got to see some of the fruit of his harvest, imagine the fulfillment that must have been?

Like I said yesterday this vision is a little radical, it most certainly is not the easy way of doing church, but I would state that it is worthwhile and the results will go on for years to come.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing,  please share, like or comment as the LORD leads.
TGBTG
TTE

Do it as if you are serving the LORD!

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Do it as if you are serving the LORD!

Colossians 3:23 (ESV) And whatever you do, do it heartily, as unto they Lord, and not unto men

I see different variations of this story from time to time where a new pastor will come into a church that has not been introduced to him. The announcement is made to all the church family, this announcement has really been promoted so that lapsed members, people who only come on Christmas and Easter can get the chance to be there for the “new guys” first sermon, create a good impression and let’s try to get a full house.i

Anyways, just before (maybe about 20 minutes) the service starts, a down and out homeless figure appears on the steps to the church, stinking of urine and alcohol. The church elders, rather than helping the guy, maybe help him to sober up, maybe invite him to church? They try to shoo him off. Maybe the sight of him may upset the folks who don’t often come, or maybe the new pastor. The homeless guy hangs around, tries to speak to the folks coming in, not begging, just saying hello, and passing the time, out on the street, outside the church gates.

The people by in large don’t talk to him, seem embarrassed to be there. Some are nasty, some cross over the street to avoid even passing by the smell coming off this guy. Everyone fills into the church; he maybe has had a kind look from about maybe 1% of the congregation. (Never mind some actual dialogue)

He shuffles up the steps in his broken shoes and shuffles towards the door of the church, the briefest of handshakes happen between the elder to tried to escort him off the premises, decides not to cause a scene and tries to sit him at the back out of the way with about 2 benches segregating him from the nearest “God-fearing” parishioner. The man decides he wishes to sit with the people in the middle of the church. Again, not wishing to cause a scene, the elders allow the man to not be impeded.

The final insult occurs when he sits next to this well dressed family, who when they smelled what was coming off his clothes, got up and moved elsewhere. The church is getting rather anxious, the previous pastor used to be behind the lectern prior to the first hymn beginning. An elder (who wasn’t involved in the door issue) leads the congregation in the first hymn.

The same elder asks the congregation to give a round of applause for the new pastor who shocks the congregation by standing up in the body of the church, the “new guy” is the homeless man, the new pastor walks to the front of the church, takes off the stained clothes to reveal a shirt, tie and clean trousers. He replaces his “homeless shoes’ with his own shoes and begins to address the crowd.

He teaches on “The Good Samaritan” and also on forgiveness, because he saw the “non-Church” “non-Sunday” side of many of his new parishioners, they viewed him through societies eyes, rather than through the eyes of Jesus. There was no love, no compassion and he knew what word God had sent him to do there as a new pastor.

Before we all get on our moral high horse and state “I would never do that!” We all have our hot buttons, we all have our areas that we put barriers up to help people, maybe people are in a sin that you find worse than others? Maybe people are drinking themselves to death? Maybe people are dependent on substances? Maybe people are in a job where they sell themselves? NO-ONE should be beyond help! We weren’t with our multitude of sins.

I say this as someone who has been an outsider most of my life, as the song goes “everybody needs compassion” and I am not perfect in this area, instead of praying “LORD get me outta this” pray “LORD give me the words to help this person” We should do it as if we were serving the LORD.

Matthew 25:31 (ESV) “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

We should go all “Downtown Abbey” on the least of these; we should serve them as if we are serving Jesus Christ, the King of Glory himself. If the LORD moves us to help these people, we should do it with all of our heart, not just with our scraps. I am sure the guy who is really destitute will be overjoyed at you throwing a quarter at him (or to him) but if you could help him with $5 without hurting yourself financially, how much more of a blessing would that be to the recipient.

God bless and i pray this was a blessing, help, encouragement or challenge, please comment below.

TGBTG
TTE

Careful you get the address correct

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Careful you get the address correct

After the last few heavy blogs I felt that we could all do with a little piece of “Monday mirth”. Just be careful in your e-correspondence.

A couple going on vacation but his wife was on a business trip so he went to the destination first and his wife would meet him the next day.

When he reached his hotel, he decided to send his wife a quick email.

Unfortunately, when typing her address, he mistyped a letter and his note was directed instead to an elderly preacher’s wife whose husband had passed away only the day before.

When the grieving widow checked her email, she took one look at the monitor, let out a piercing scream, and fell to the floor in a dead faint.

At the sound, her family rushed into the room and saw this note on the screen:

Dearest Wife,
Just got checked in. Everything prepared for your arrival tomorrow.

P.S. Sure is hot down here.

God bless you all and I hope this finds you well.
TGBTG
TTE