Flashback: This Week Last Year [2012 Week #10]

Apple App Store 25 Billion DownloadsThis week last year Apple’s App store surpassed 25 Billion downloads– confirming once again, the growing dominance of mobile in general and iOS in-particular. [Source]

During the 10th week of 2012 Digital Sojourner posted a number of interesting articles including:

  • Using Technology to Minister to the Elderly by Crawford Paul explores several ways modern technology can be used to help the aged keep in touch with not only family but also with their brothers and sisters in Christ. Interestingly Crawford’s post continues to be very popular with many discovering the post through search engines…. clearly there are many who want to help their elderly friends… check out the post for some helpful tips.
  • This week last year a new series of posts entitled Which Church? started. The series of posts, authored by Brother Jack Hay of Scotland, explores some of the clear patters of how the early Christians gathered in local congregations as recorded in the New Testament.
  • “Titus” was a second new series of posts that launched this week last year. In this series of videos, brother Stephen Baker of England, examines Paul the Apostle’s letter to Titus. You can jump to an introductory post here or to the first post in the series here.

 

Enjoy this flashback to 2012 week #10 on Digital Sojourner!

 

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NT Tuesday: The Church, The Body of Christ [part 6]

Open BibleWe continue to explore what the Bible says about the Body of Christ, the Church.

We have been using Ephesians 5:25-28 – “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 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” as our theme verse.

We were reminded in Colossians 1, that Christ is the Head of the Body – The Church.

We recognized two basic truths contained in Colossians 1:

  • One of these truths is that if Jesus Christ is the Head than NO ONE else can be the Head of the Body. In order for someone else to be the Head of the Church, that would require that Jesus Christ abdicate His role. And He can not, nor will He ever do that. In that very same passage, we read how “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” Since the fullness of God dwells in Christ (because He is fully God), then He is eternal and His plan is to prepare the Bride for the great Wedding feast.
  • The other truth that is evident in this passage is that CHRIST is Head. Oh, I know that we have been talking about this, but I want the point to be very clear – Jesus Christ is Head over the Church! That ought to mean something. It ought to have a practical effect on all that we do or say.

What I mean by this emphasis is that many believers, after having read and studied the scriptures, have rightly concluded that there ought not to be a man (a mere man) as the head of the Church, either the universal church or the local church. However, the absence of a man recognized as the head does not satisfy scriptures. Only when believers recognize Christ as the Head are scriptures fulfilled. Now, I am sure many of you are thinking that you are following this principle. But, let’s think about this in an objective manner.

If Christ is the Head, have we carefully and consistently done that which is necessary to satisfy HIS commands and His directions for our lives as individuals, as well as, our corporate life? In other words, do we merely give lip service or do we actively and purposely follow His lead? I fear that for my own life and for many others, it seems like lip service can be easier than true devotion to Jesus Christ.

Next week, we will continue looking at what the Scriptures say about the Church and other New Testament Principles.

 

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NT Tuesday: The Church, The Body of Christ [part 5]

 

Christ Preeminent

 

We continue to explore what the Bible says about the Body of Christ, the Church.

We have been using Ephesians 5:25-28 ESV – “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 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” as our theme verse.

Today we shall explore another aspect of Jesus Christ’s relationship to the Church.

In Ephesians 5, we noted that Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her. In other words, He purchased her with His own precious blood. It was the only way by which lost souls could be ransomed, sins could be forgiven and God could be satisfied. Because of Christ’s redeeming work on the cross, sinners can be called out and set apart for God’s purposes and in Christ’s Church.

 


The Head of the Church



 

We remarked, albeit briefly, that the Church is the Body of Christ. And, just as our human bodies have a head, so does the Church. The Church’s Head is Jesus Christ.

In Colossians 1:18-20 ESV, we have an inarguable affirmation of this. “And He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

As a side note, it confuses me how a statement so clear can be so ignored by people who profess to be part of the Body of Christ. Christ is the Head! That means that NO ONE else could possibly be the Head. No man, now or ever, could or should take the place of Jesus Christ. Not Peter, not Paul, and no one today.

Much is in the news about a man who leads a denomination of professing Christians and his plans to retire. This mere man is often referred to as the head of the church. Dear loved ones, this man is not the head of the Church! Jesus Christ is and — praise His name Jesus is not retiring! I do not write this to cast aspersions, rather I must write this because the Word of God demands that truth be defended and taught.

 


Prominent or Preeminent?



 

Equally undeniable is the fact that, as Head, Jesus has the right to be preeminent in all things. That means He gets the first place, the most important position, the top priority in everything that we do – as a Body and as members of the body. One dear brother said, “It is easy to have Christ as prominent, but there is quite a difference when He is preeminent.”

For most reading this little blog, Jesus Christ probably plays a prominent role in your life, but, dear ones, is He preeminent? This is a challenge to my heart, as well!

Next week, we will continue looking at the role of Jesus Christ as Head of the Church. Praise His name!

 

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NT Tuesday: The Church, The Body of Christ [part 4]

Bride and GroomWe continue to explore what the Bible says about the Body of Christ, the Church.

We have been using Ephesians 5:25-28 ESV – “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 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” as our theme verse.

Over the last few weeks, we reviewed some of the names that William MacDonald listed in his book “Christ Loved the Church.” Last week we looked at the terms dwelling place, house, and pillar and ground of truth.

This week, I want to look at my personal favorite. All of the phrases are amazing and reveal what God thinks about the Church, but the Bride of Christ reveals an amazing love and incredible sense of intimacy.

Let’s think about what John the baptizer said about Jesus Christ and His bride. “The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete” John 3:29 ESV.

Two important points can be made from this short statement:

One is that the Bridegroom “has the bride”. In other words, there is an intimate relationship between the Bridegroom and the Bride. We often say, “we don’t have a religion, we have a relationship,” but do we really understand the significance of that statement. A religion is a series of beliefs/mores that define how God relates to man and man relates to God. But a relationship is about two living, intelligent beings that involve our emotions, our intellect, and our physical being. Relationships are living and can grow or can drift. Marriages get stronger or they stagnate. The same is true with our relationship with our Bridegroom, it ought to get stronger. Relationships take work. I like to say it takes investment, where we expend our time, emotions, and energy in something that is worthwhile.

The other fact contained in John’s statement is that there is great joy involved in a relationship between the bride and the Bridegroom. Now, John is saying that he has joy, so it is a joy that spreads. His joy is in knowing that the Bridegroom is rejoicing in His relationship with His bride.

I have to admit, that this concept is hard for me to grasp sometimes. I can understand, having experienced it myself, the joy of ME knowing Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. But, the Lord is rejoicing because He knows me?? How can this be? The answer is clear. It all has to do with His nature and His character and His attributes and it has NOTHING to do with me. He loves me (and His entire Bride) because He is love and because He loves us because of Who He is. We are unlovable, but He loves us anyway. I am so incredibly thankful that He loves me despite my numerous flaws, despite my falling short.

The Church is not a building, nor an organization! I hope we are starting to see this. The Church is the Bride of the Son of God and as such, it is the object of His special love and affection.

Praise God for His incomparable love!

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NT Tuesday: The Church, The Body of Christ [part 3]

Sunflower

 

We continue to explore what the Bible says about the Body of Christ, the Church.

We have been using Ephesians 5:25-28 – “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 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” as our theme verse.

And last week we reviewed some of the names that William MacDonald listed in his book “Christ Loved the Church.” Last week we looked at the terms flock, building temple, husbandry, and body.

The first term we will look at this week is the “Habitation of God” or “dwelling place for God.” This speaks to us of a permanency and closeness in proximity. God has routinely dwelt with man in various ways – in the Tabernacle, in the Word made flesh, in believers, and in a very special way in the Church. This speaks of fellowship – the fact that God wants to have a relationship with us! Praise His name!

In a similar way, the church is referred to as the House of God (1 Timothy 3:15). This speaks of order and discipline. The term “house” isn’t referring to the structure, but rather to the functions contained within the house. Think of the writer to the Hebrew’s comparison of Moses and Jesus Christ. The writer states that Moses was faithful “in God’s entire house” but that Jesus Christ was faithful “over the house of God as a Son.” The writer is referring to the functions of the house, not the structure.

This reminds us that we are part of what God is accomplishing here on earth – the functions, the work, the order is all part of the house of God, and as members of the Body, we are part of what God is accomplishing. It also speaks to us of an order as well. God, with all due respect, gets to call the shots. He is in charge. It’s His house! We would do well to submit to His revealed instructions and directions.

In the same passage in Timothy, the writer mentions that the church is the Pillar and Ground of Truth. William MacDonald brings out some amazing insights to explain the significance of this phrase. Pillars, in biblical times, were used to post announcements and proclamations. They were also used to support the structure. So, the church is the instrument used by God to proclaim, support and defend the truth. Sadly, it would seem that some who profess to be the church, have done a terrible job of fulfilling this role. Much truth has been watered down or simply changed to make it more palatable to itching ears.

Next week, we will look at one more phrase. Until then, think about the magnitude of God’s love for the Church based on the phrases we have looked at thus far.

 

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vlog: 1 Corinthians 1:4-7 of Gift & Grace

 

 

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge – even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you – so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 1:4-7 KJV

We often forget how blessed and gifted every local church really is. God has showered his blessings on His people; His grace and kindness is unsurpassed. People often say it is ‘indescribable”! In addition to this God has equipped His people to serve Him.

Listen to the opening remarks of Paul the Apostle as he writes to the church in Corinth. To read it you would never imagine the problems that they were facing or the wrongs things that were going on. The truth is that God’s blessing and equipping is despite us not because of us.

Trust you are blessed as you consider these truths.

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This is the 4th video in a series of teaching videos on the book of First Corinthians.

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NT Tuesday: The Church, The Body of Christ [part 2]

 

dont go to church - be the church

 

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 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.” Ephesians 5:25-28

 

Last Week I began a new series of posts to take a closer look at what the Bible teaches us about the Church. After all, if “Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her” then this must be an important subject to Him! Therefore we must focus our thoughts on His Word to gain an accurate understanding of what the Church is.

In his book, Christ Loved the Church, William MacDonald listed many ways in which the Church is referenced in Scripture. For the careful reader, each of these references provides a different vantage point of God’s manifold love for His church.

Let’s take a look at a few of these.

In John 10:16, the Lord refers to the church as a flock. The term “flock” brings before us a sense of care, feeding, protection, and guidance! And our Father certainly performs many shepherd like functions for His flock.

We are also referred to as His husbandry (1 Corinthians 3:9 KJV). He expects fruit from us! Are we a fruitful garden/field/orchard? Or are we dead, fallow ground? God expects fruit from us – let’s work to meet His expectations.

Paul uses the term “building” to describe the church (1 Corinthians 3:9 KJV). This provides us with two view points as to God’s love. The first is ownership – God owns us. He created us, He purchased us. He owns us.

Secondly, sticking with the building theme, we are also referred to as the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16 KJV). This implies worship. As a corporate body we worship the Living God. The Holy Spirit is the one and only Worship Leader – there are no others. Just as we would never tolerate a man/woman filling the role of Head of the Church, we should be equally diligent in preserving the role of the Holy Spirit, as well.

We are the Body of Christ (Ephesians 5:23). This has a ton of implications, but the most significant implication is that Christ (the Head) uses the Church (the Body) to express His thoughts and intentions via our actions. What we do reflects on the Lord Jesus Christ. Every action we take, or every failure to act is perceived by others as a manifestation of the expression of the Head.

Is it any wonder why so few people are attracted to Christianity? We, as a church, have failed in properly expressing Christ to those watching. We have failed to be His hands and feet. We have failed to be His voice and His heart. But, the end has not yet been written! As we grasp this truth, we can, by God’s grace and help, die to self and seek to manifest the life of the Lord Jesus through our actions. The church ought to be His hands and feet! Let’s get busy, folks.

There are several more terms that we will review next week. Until then, let’s be the Church!

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NT Tuesday: The Church, The Body of Christ [part 1]

Ekklesia

Over the next several weeks, I would like to take a closer look at what the Bible teaches us about the Church. There are many misconceptions about the Church and many false ideas. We can only get true and accurate understanding by looking at the Word of God and allowing the Scriptures to shape our thoughts (rather than the alternative).

First, let’s wrap our mind around a key Bible passage about the Church. Ephesians 5:25-28 – “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 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.”

Now that we have level set our thinking, let me tell you how I grew up and what use to come to mind when I heard the word “church.” I was raised in a main-line protestant denomination. When I was young, “we went to church”. And what that meant was we went to a special purpose building where religious things happened. Church also meant things like special calendars and special clothes for the clergy. It meant special events and special collections. It meant spectating while the paid staff and the deacons did the work. It meant a little song “here is the church, here is the steeple, open the door and see all the people.” The word “church” brought to mind a lot of things, but none of them were biblical or in the correct context.

I don’t recall ever hearing that the Church was the Bride of Christ and that He was eagerly awaiting His gathering her up for the great wedding day. I don’t ever recall being told that I was part of a body – a living organism that, in order for it to function, every member must use the gift given to him/her for the mutual edification of the other members of the body. I wasn’t told that we were “called out ones” or that we were gathered unto the Lord Jesus. Ironically, I was taught why “we” were “more right” than the Catholic church. But, I don’t recall being taught that Jesus was the Head of the Body. I always thought that the clergy was the head of the church.

But if we look at Ephesians 5, we notice something pretty significant. First and foremost, Christ loved the Church. He loves her – and He demonstrated His love towards her by dying for her and by purchasing her – He GAVE Himself for her. That’s an amazing thought – that the Eternal Son of God gave Himself for her. What does it mean that “He gave Himself”? Basically, how I see it is that He sacrificed Himself for us – for me!

More next week, but in the meantime, think about the fact that Christ loves the Church. What does that mean for you?

 

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[Photo Credit] Note: Ekklesia is the Greek word for church.

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NT Tuesday: The Lord’s Day Pt. 2

But we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days. On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. Acts 20:6-7 ESV

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet. Revelation 1:10 ESV

Golden Gate BridgeLast week we looked at the nature and characteristics of the Lord’s day from scripture.

I would like to consider some additional thoughts on this subject, however, I suppose it is safe to say that these thoughts will be more musings than commentary on scripture.

Let me be clear, we need to be governed by the truth contained in Colossians 2:16-17 – “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” But I also think we would be wise to take before the Lord how He would want us to live on the Lord’s day– as well as, every other day.

If the Lord’s day is supposed to have a characteristic that reflects that Jesus Christ is Lord, then what does that day look like?

I think it is fair to say that we ought not to be indifferent towards the Lord’s day. If the Lord required obedience to the Sabbath based on Law, then out of love, in response to grace, we ought to look upon the Lord’s day in a serious way. Do we use the Lord’s day for spiritually profitable things or for a “day off”, recreation, amusement, errands, work, etc? If there was value for the people of the former dispensations to set aside one day, would there not be value in the people of God in this dispensation to also set aside a day – out of love, not law?

Of course, we won’t find real rest even by voluntarily, in response to love, setting aside a day for the Lord and unto the Lord. We will only find real rest in the person of the Lord of the Sabbath.

I am not trying to be legalistic, just contemplative, even purposeful. I think we would do well if we seriously considered our use of the the Lord’s day and whether it reflects the Lord and His priorities or whether it reflects our own selfish desires and priorities.

Until next week, press on and enter into the rest that comes only from Jesus Christ.

 

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NT Tuesday: The Lord’s Day

But we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days. On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. Acts 20:6-7 ESV

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet. Rev. 1:10 ESV

Wheat and SkyWe’ve been considering what the Scriptures say as it pertains to the Sabbath and the Christian’s response to it (part 1 here, part 2 here). We rightly understood that the Sabbath is no longer a day, but rather it is now found in Jesus Christ.

Now we are going to consider what the Scriptures say about the Lord’s day which is the first day of the week (not to be confused with the ‘Day of the Lord’ which is an entirely different teaching found in the Scriptures). Interestingly, many early Christian manuscripts, written prior to AD 170, refer frequently to the first day of the week as the Lord’s day.

The Lord’s day is not the day that was sanctified by creation rest, nor is it the day of law which the law commanded Israel to keep.

From a grammatical standpoint, the term “Lord’s day” does not involve the possessive tense. Rather, the word “Lord’s” is actually an adjective and it describes the nature and purpose of the day.

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