12. The Motivation of Fear and Love (2 Cor. 5:11-15)Related Media
The Time of Jesus’ Death and Inerrancy: Is Harmonization Plausible?Related Media
The differences in the gospel record on the time of Jesus’ crucifixion have long been an enigma to Bible scholars. Mark 15:25 reads that Jesus was crucified at the third hour. Under a Jewish or common reckoning time system, which started the day at sunrise, Jesus was crucified at about nine in the morning. However, in the Gospel of John, John writes that Jesus was at his final trial before Pilate at “about (ὡς)” the sixth hour (John 19:14). If John was using the same time reckoning system as Mark, Jesus was not yet on the cross around noontime that day. On the face of it then the gospels appear to present a chronological contradiction of when Jesus was lifted up on the cross. Perhaps an alternate title to this paper would be: The Time of Jesus’ Death and Inerrancy: Was Someone’s Watch Broken? This issue has been one that has been used to argue that the Bible has real contradictions that are beyond reconciliation. In his book Jesus, Interrupted, Bart Ehrman referring to the day and time of Jesus’ death states: “It is impossible [italics supplied] that both Mark’s and John’s accounts are historically accurate, since they contradict each other on the question on when Jesus died.”2
Attempts at harmonization of the gospel accounts have included the following views: 1) a confusion of the numerals 3 and 6 in the manuscript transmission of John, 2) John’s use of a Roman time reckoning system of a civil day that started the day at midnight, 3) Mark’s reference to crucifixion as a general statement that included some event(s) that led up to the actual lifting of Jesus on the cross and, 4) the times being loose approximations that can be reconciled due to the fact that modern systems of time accuracy did not exist at the time in which the events occurred.
While a harmonization of these two accounts defies a definitive solution at least a few solutions are feasible such that the time of Jesus’ crucifixion is not a decisive proof text against inerrancy. While one cannot prove what an actual harmonized solution might be, neither can one prove an actual nonharmonistic view either. Indeed what Ehrman calls “impossible” is in fact possible within any standard evangelical definition of inerrancy including the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.3 And more than possible, this paper suggests that plausible harmonizations can be made consistent with about any inerrancy definition.
Methods of Ancient Time Reckoning and Framework of the Crucifixion Day
In the modern age people reckon time in hours, minutes, and seconds with clocks, watches, or phones. But time reckoning in the ancient world was reckoned with hours of sunlight based on sundials. If a sundial was not available rough times were based on eyeing the sun or one’s own shadow or even just the shadow from a stick in the ground.4 Sundials were introduced into Greece as early as the 6th century BC from the Babylonians according to Herodotus (Hdt 2.109). But it was not until the 3rd century BC that they were commonly used. For night-time hour calculations there were “water clocks.” Water clocks used a steady flow drip into a container and they were in use by Roman soldiers to mark watches on the night as early as the 5th century BC. 5 Hours of daylight were divided into twelve equal parts starting at sunrise. The result was that the first hour of the day (i.e., sunrise) would be different in absolute time depending on the location on the globe and time of year. Also, an “hour” was one twelfth of the total amount of daylight time. Since the length of daylight would change depending on location and time of year, an “hour” as one twelfth of the daylight could be anywhere in from the 40’s to the 80’s in terms of minutes.6
Assuming the day of the crucifixion Friday April 3, AD 337 the sunrise in Jerusalem would have been at 5:25 a.m. according to NOAA’s (National Oceanic Association and Administration) Solar Calculator.8 Solar noon would have been at 11:41 a.m. and sunset would have been at 5:59 p.m. One “hour” on the sundial would have been equal to 62 minutes on that day. The first break of light (astronomical dawn9) would have added as much as an hour to an hour and a half of some light before a 5.25 am sunrise. So, the first “hour” of that day on a sundial would have been 5:25-6:27 a.m.
Time references from the Gospels on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion are as follows.
Passages that Support
Before the Rooster Crows
Matt 26:74-75; Mark 14:72; Luke 22:60-61; John 18:27
Jesus delivered to Pilate the first time
Early in the morning ( πρωῒ)10
Matt 27:1; Mark 15:1; John 18:28-29
Jesus with Pilate just before the final decision (2nd time)
About the sixth hour
The third hour
Darkness falling over the earth
The (about (ὡσεὶ) = Luke) sixth hour to the ninth
Matt 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44
The (about (περὶ) = Matt) ninth hour
Matt 27:46-50; Mark 15:34-37
With the exception of the issue at hand (John 19:14 and Mark 15:25), what one notices is the consistency among the gospel writers as to the other chronology of events when a time indicator is given. There is agreement that Peter denied Jesus before the rooster crowed in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. There is agreement between Matthew, Mark and John that Jesus was initially delivered to Pilate very early in the morning.11 There is agreement between Matthew, Mark and Luke that darkness fell over the earth at or about the sixth hour until the ninth. And there is agreement between Matthew and Mark (Luke implicitly) that Jesus died at or about the ninth hour. These points help set the chronological background needed to start examining the various views of reconciliation between Mark and John.
Proposed Views of Harmonization
The proposed views of harmonization will be taken in the general order in which they developed over time.
View One: John 19:14 Had an Original Reading of the Third Hour which was Confused for the Sixth.
In the modern era, Sabastian Bartina and C.K. Barrett raise the possibility that John 19:14 had an original reading of the third hour and an early transcriptional error between the letters of gamma (Γ= 3) and digamma (F = 6) account for the time discrepancy in the accounts.12 There is a small amount of fairly late Greek external evidence in the manuscript tradition in which John reads τριτη (3rd). The evidence for τριτη as listed in Nestle Aland 28th edition is א
(2nd corrector; 7th), Ds, L (8th), Δ (9th), Ψ (9th-10th) and l 844 with everything else on the other side. For εκτη (6th) Metzger gives some of the support in his textual commentary: P66, א*, B, E, H, I, K, M, S, U, W, Y, Γ, Θ, Λ, Π, f1, f13 and most minuscules. Most if not all the early versions support εκτη (6th) which are are: Old Latin, vg, syrp, syrh, syrpal, copsa, copbo, arm, eth, geo, pers, and al. Metzger, while noting the possibility of an early transcriptional error based on support from the church fathers, argues in favor the reading of εκτη based on the “overwhelming” manuscript evidence and sees the reading of τριτη as an “obvious attempt to harmonize the chronology with that of Mark 15:25.”13 In support of the argument of harmonization as the reason for the variation, Metzger also notes that a very few manuscripts in Mark 15:25 read εκτη (Θ, 478, syrhmg, eth), which shows some tendency of Markan scribes to harmonize with John.14
While a view of reconciling Mark and John based on early transcriptional error does not have much Greek evidence for it or any evidence from the early versions, it is the testimony of the church fathers that stands out as something that at least needs further consideration and also a closer look at how an early transcriptional error could have occurred. In fact the earliest testimony in the church record for a reconciliation between Mark and John comes on the basis of a textual error in the manuscripts of John. Metzger and Bartina suggest that the view of a textual variant being a harmonization solution to the problem goes back to at least a second/third century church father named Ammonius15 from whom Eusebius and Jerome seem to have derived their views as well.16
It should be noted that the sometimes church fathers can be difficult to assess in that at places later editors many have modified the writings. This may be the case in the longer version of Ignatius, cited below.17
Ignatius. One section of Ignatius reads: “On the day of the preparation, then, at the third hour, He received the sentence from Pilate, the Father permitting that to happen; at the sixth hour He was crucified; at the ninth hour He gave up the ghost; and before sunset He was buried” (Ignatius, The Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians, 9 (longer version)).18
Ammonius. Ammonius writes, “‘Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, about the sixth hour: and he said to the Jews: Behold your king’. The Evangelist referred to the hour because the resurrection happened on the third day. The penman/copyist (καλλιγραφικός)19 instead of the Gamma element that marks the third, wrote episemon, which the Alexandrians call gabex, which signifies sixth, having much similarity [in form?]. And because of the writing error there came the discrepancy. For instead of third hour he wrote sixth”20 (Ammonii Alexandrini, Fragmenta in S. Joannem 19:14).21
Eusebius. Eusebius states, “Mark says Christ was crucified at the third hour. John says that it was at the sixth hour that Pilate took his seat on the tribunal and tried Jesus. This discrepancy is a clerical error or an earlier copyist. Gamma (Γ) signifying the third hour is very close to the episemon (ς) denoting the sixth. As Matthew, Mark and Luke agree that the darkness occurred from the sixth hour to the ninth, it is clear that Jesus, Lord and God, was crucified before the sixth hour., i.e., about the third hour, as Mark has recorded. John similarly signified that it was the third hour, but the copiest turned the gamma (Γ) into the episemon (ς) (Eusebius, Minor Supplements to Questions to Marinus, 4).22
Peter of Alexandria. Peter of Alexandria 23 indicates that the correct reading of “third” in John can be verified with the original extant manuscript, “‘For Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us,’ as has been before said, and as that chosen vessel, the apostle Paul, teaches. Now it was the preparation, about the third hour, as the accurate books have it, and the autograph copy itself of the Evangelist John, which up to this day has by divine grace been preserved in the most holy church of Ephesus, and is there adored by the faithful” (Peter of Alexander, Fragments from the Writings of Peter 5.7).24
In order to understand the nature of a potential early transcriptional error one must consider the nature and shape of the digamma (also referred to as episimon or gabex) as compared to that of a gamma. During the Koine Greek era (and even before that in Attic Greek27) the digamma fell out of regular use in the Greek alphabet with the exception that it was retained for the number 6. It took the form of several shapes and therefore it could be subject to greater confusion than the more well-known Greek letters. Common early shapes prior to the Byzantine era in the classical period were an F shape as well as a square C (). It is not hard to see how either of these shapes could be confused with a gamma (Γ) as its only one small stoke of a portion of a letter. The third century papyrus P115 contains an early digamma as a rounded C seen in the image below28. It is the final letter of the number of the beast here written as 616 (Rev 13:18).
Bartina cites an even earlier papyri (nonbiblical) dated to AD 42 (Papyrus Berolinensis 8279) shown below that contains both the gamma and digamma used as numbers.29
Bartina compares the letters, which he transcribed below. The first is the gamma, the second is the digamma, the only difference being the little hook at the bottom of the digamma. What is perhaps also significant about this example is the numbers in the papyri are written superscripted over other letters they are going with. This would raise the possibility that the lower part of the number could accidently connect with the upper part of another letter. One could see how this might make gamma and digamma hard to distinguish as well, since the difference between the two is a small stroke on the bottom of the digamma.
Bartina concludes that in all probability the original reading of John was “third”. He writes, “Propter omnes quae praecedunt rationed, ex contextu Evangeliorum ex critica textuali atque ex sufficientibus antiuitatis testimoniis petitas, clarum apparet, multo probabilius Io 19, 14 originaliter habuisse horam tertiam, non sextam.”30 Based on this evidence from the church fathers and the closeness of letters between gamma and digamma the theory of a textual variant (perhaps a hard to read original manuscript) as being the solution to a reconciliation with Mark is plausible.31 But based on the Greek manuscript and early evidence from the versions, it would have had to happen very close in time to the original writing.32
View Two: John is Using a Roman Civil Reckoning that Started the Day at Midnight John 19:14.
Going back to at least the 1700s, another view of reconciliation began to develop that John was using a different time reckoning system than the other gospel writers based on a day and hour reckoning that started at midnight.33 This view was picked up and brought into prominence by no less a New Testament scholar than B. F. Westcott and was carried forward by A.T. Robertson and Ben Witherington III, as well as the Holman Christian Standard Bible.34 The primary lines of argument for this view are: 1) there is good evidence that the Roman “civil” day was reckoned from midnight to midnight similar to our modern system; 2) internal evidence from John’s use of hours in the gospel fit better with a Roman civil reckoning of time than a sunrise reckoning; and 3) there is some nonbiblical evidence from Asia Minor that may suggest a Roman midnight time reckoning there.
The Roman Civil Day. There is ample evidence in the historical record that the Romans reckoned a civil day from midnight to midnight. This point is generally agreed upon. One testimony to this comes from Pliny the Elder: “The actual period of the day has been differently kept by different people: the Babylonians count the period between two sunrises, the Athenians that between the two sunsets; the Umbrians from midday to midday; the common people everywhere from dawn to dark; the Roman priests and the authorities who affixed the official day, and also the Egyptians and Hipparchus, from midnight to midnight.”35 Another writer, Plutarch (c. AD 46 – 120), asks the question, “why do they [the Romans] reckon the beginning of the day from midnight?”36
Another Roman writer Macrobius, citing an earlier source Marcus Varro (116 – 27 BC; his work, now lost, was entitled, Human Antiquites), writes, “People born in the twenty-four hours that run from one midnight to the next are said to be born on a single day.”37 Later, also Macrobius states, “The civil day as (the Romans called it) begins at the sixth hour of the night.”38 Lastly, Macrobius has commented on how Roman magistrates might see the day. He writes citing Varro: “But there are many proofs to show that the Roman people counted from one midnight to the next, just as Varro said: the Romans' sacred rites are partly diurnal and partly nocturnal, and those that are diurnal . . . , while the time from midnight on is devoted to the nocturnal rights on the following day. The customary ritual for taking auspices39also shows that the reckoning is the same: since magistrates must both take the auspices and perform the action to which the auspices were a prelude all on a single day, they take the auspices after midnight and perform the action after sunrise, and thereby are said to have taken the auspices and to have acted on the same day.”40
The Time of Martyrdoms in Asia Minor. Westcott and others also cite the time of the martyrdoms of Polycarp and Plotinus to support the view of a midnight reckoning of hours in the Roman Province of Asia Minor, the same province to which John was likely writing. Such martyrdoms, it is argued, normally took place in the morning.41 Polycarp is said to have been martyred at Smyrna at the eighth hour (Mart. Poly. 21) while a later Christian Pionius was killed at the tenth hour also at Smyrna.42
Other References to Time in John and the Synoptics. From the biblical text there may be some indication to support the day starting at midnight in the Roman conception. Matthew records “As he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent a message to him: “Have nothing to do with that innocent man; I have suffered greatly as a result of a dream about him today [italics supplied]” (Matt 27:19). Pilate’s wife, presumably Roman, refers to a night dream she had as being that day, the day of Pilate’s meeting with Jesus. Westcott contrasts this statement with a “Jewish” conception of a day based on Jesus’ statement, “Are there not twelve hours in a day?”
(John 11:9).43 Robertson adds the following passage to show that there is indeed a contrast with the Synoptics on how John views the “day” on the night of the resurrection. In Luke on the road to Emmaus, two disciples urge Jesus, “Stay with us, because it is getting toward evening and the day is almost done” (Luke 24:29 cf. v. 36). After dinner, Jesus travels about 7 miles to Jerusalem where he meets the eleven disciples. In John the same day referenced in Luke extends into the evening. John writes, “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the disciples had gathered together and locked the doors of the place because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). Robertson considers this argument as “conclusive” that John is using a Roman conception of the day.44
John makes reference to hours of time in three places in addition to John 19:14
(John 1:39; 4:6, 52). These some have argued better support a view of time reckoning that starts the day at midnight. 45 In John 1:39, two disciples come and meet Jesus after which they stayed with him “that day (τὴν ἡμέραν ἐκείνην).” John adds it was the 10th hour when they met him. Under a normal Jewish reckoning this would be 4 in the afternoon an unusual time to begin a day’s stay. Under a midnight reckoning the time would be 10 in the morning.
In John 4:6, Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus had left Judea and wearied from his journey he came to the well. John said this was about the 6th hour. While one could imagine being weary at about noon or at six p.m.,46 the distance from Jerusalem to Sychar is well over 30 miles. Walking at a normal pace of about 3 miles per hour and assuming no overnight stops, it would have been difficult to get there by noon. Also, it is argued that a more natural time for drawing water and the assignment of the disciples to go for purchase of food would be toward evening than at noon. 47
Lastly, there is the noblemen from Capernaum who comes to Cana to meet Jesus and requests that Jesus heal his son, which Jesus does at the “seventh hour.” Jesus does not go to Capernaum but speaks a word of healing from Cana. The nobleman does not make the return journey about 20 miles until the next day. It could be reasoned that if the time was only one in the afternoon he would have returned that day to see his son, but a Roman reckoning from noon would have made it seven in the evening, too late to return that night.48
While these arguments may be initially impressive, there have been serious counterarguments that make a midnight time reckoning less than definitive and many have rejected it for ultimately a lack of convincing evidence. The main arguments against John using a reckoning of time from midnight can be summarized into four areas.
First, though it is acknowledged that a Roman civil day reckoning from midnight was the way Romans viewed whole civil days, there is no direct evidence that day-hour reckoning was done other than by daylight hours as seen in the literature and sundials. W. M. Ramsay colorfully writes, “This [Roman] supposed second method of reckoning the hours is a mere fiction, constructed as a refuge of despairing harmonisers, not a jot of evidence for it has ever been given that will bear scrutiny.”49 Ramsey also points out a reading in Codex Bezae (Acts 19:9) in which Paul taught at the school of Tyrannus at Ephesus from the fifth to the tenth hour. He feels it would have been better suited for post vocational work time which ceased one hour before noon.50 It is also worthy of note that though the early church fathers such as Eusebius were aware of the apparent conflict of times in John and Mark and living in the Roman era, none of them wrote about a “Roman” reckoning as the solution.51 In addition to the Synoptic gospel writers, Josephus and Philo appear to use a normal daylight reckoning of hours.52 Also, as the earlier quote from Pliny indicated the “common people everywhere” reckoned the day from dawn to sunset. It could be asked, wasn’t John writing to the common man?
The other piece of evidence to consider is from the sundials. Morris calls attention to Roman sundials that mark noon with the number 6 as opposed to 12.53 While Morris’ point is valid it must be qualified at least in two ways. First, based on Gibbs’ catalogue of existing sundials from the Greco Roman world from the 3rd century BC to the 4th century AD, most of these do not have the number markings rather just lines representing the twelve hours of daylight. Also, for ones that have markings, at least in one case of a Ptolemaic era sundial, Gibbs notes that the numbers probably have been added later in the Byzantine era.54
The sundial above was discovered in the 1800s at Aphrodisias, Turkey, in the ancient Roman Province of Asia Minor. It is dedicated to Roman Emperor Caracalla (Marcus Aurelius Severus Antonius (reign from 161-180 AD) and his mother Julia.55 One should notice the Greek digamma mark (= 6) in the middle of the dial.
Second, the evidence of the time of martyrdom of Polycarp is at least debatable and a case can be made that he was martyred in the afternoon after the games were over. Ramsay attempts to make the point that closer reading of when Polycarp was martyred indicates the games were over and this would have been unlikely if the eighth hour were eight in the morning. But looking at this again the text only says that after the crowd asked that Polycarp be fed to a lion that the wild animal parts of the show were over not that all games and festivities were over.56 The fact that the whole crowd and the magistrate were all in the stadium suggests that some festivities were still taking place. Another possibility, as Ramsay noted was his first interpretation of the passage, was to understand that the wild animal exhibitions had taken place on a previous day.57 So though this piece of data is still a possibility for supporting a midnight reckoning of time, its ambiguity undermines the midnight time reckoning view.
Third, though the reference to time in hours in John may favor a Roman civil reckoning of time, the data is not conclusive because it must be framed in probabilities and not absolutes. 58 And fourth, some have also pointed out that a final verdict by Pilate at about 6:00 a.m. would not have allowed enough time for all the events that precede the verdict.59 These events include Pilate sending Jesus to Herod Antipas (Luke 23:6-12) and the flogging of Jesus
(John 19:1) before he was brought out for Pilate’s final verdict. But this final argument does not hold up that well. Jesus is brought to Pilate before sunrise in the range of 3-6 if πρωῒ is considered the fourth watch of the night, or if it starts with dawn, perhaps at hour to an hour and a half between the break of dawn and sunrise. Jesus did not respond to Antipas therefore he probably did not stay with him that long. Indeed a noon reckoning for John may allow too much time (over six hours) between Jesus’ first and second appearance before Pilate.60
View Three: Mark’s Reference to Crucifixion is a General Statement that Included Some Event(s) that Led Up to the Lifting of Jesus on the Cross
Augustine may have been one of the first to articulate and record that a closer look at Mark may be the solution to this issue. He considered that Mark was indicating that the cry to crucify Jesus by the Jewish nation is what took place at the third hour and thus they were the ones truly responsible for Jesus’s death. He writes, “Then Pilate in his judgment seat judged and condemned him, about the sixth hour, they took the Lord Jesus Christ and led him out. ‘And carrying a cross for himself, he went out to that place which is called Calvary, in Hebrew Golgotha, where they crucified him.” What is it, therefore, that the Evangelist Mark says, ‘Now it was the third hour and they crucified him,” except at the third hour the Lord was crucified by the tongues of the Jews, at the sixth hour by the hands of the soldiers?”61
In a similar vein, Mahoney interprets the time reference in Mark not when Jesus was lifted on the cross but at an earlier event of the dividing of Jesus’ garments.62 To support this, he repunctuates the reference to the third hour to go with the preceding phrase as opposed to the following. His translation is the following: “And they crucify him, and divide his garments, casting lots upon them, what each should take (but [καὶ] it was the third hour). And they crucified him and the inscription . . ..”63 Miller suggests the possibility that the aorist tense for “crucify” (ἐσταύρωσαν) might be ingressive stressing the beginning of the action (they began to crucify him).64
While these views are worthy of consideration, a few significant objections can be raised. In regard to Augustine, it would require to take the term crucifixion metaphorically in
Mark 15:25, but literally in the same passage in Mark 15:24. In addition, the referent to “they” would have to shift from the Romans in verse 24 to the Jews in verse 25, without much indication that a shift has been made (Then they [Romans] crucified him and divided his clothes, throwing dice for them, to decide what each would take. 25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when [and] they [Jews] crucified him. Mark 15:24-25). Mahoney makes a good point that many translations bias the interpretation by translating the καὶ as “when.” But the case of Mahoney would be better supported if the only reference to crucifixion followed the reference to the third hour. In this case a statement of crucifixion occurs both before and after the reference to the third hour. One must also ask the question of why give a parenthetical time comment for less important event of the dividing of the garments as opposed to the lifting of Jesus on the cross. While these views are possible, it is hard to make the case they are probable and they have not gained any measure of general acceptance.
View Four: Time Approximation Allows for Adequate Harmonization of Mark and John
What appears to be the currently prevalent view in the evangelical literature of those arguing for harmonization is that time approximation can account for a reconciliation of the two passages. Modern standards can speak of time in terms of minutes and seconds. Sundials presented times in terms of hours, while eyeing the sun or shadow length perhaps one could say early morning, midmorning, midday etc. Köstenberger writes, “since people related the estimated time to the closest three-hour mark, anytime between 9:00 a.m. and noon may have led one person to say that an event occurred at the third (9:00 a.m.) or the sixth hour (12:00 noon).”65 Similarly, Morris writes, “People in antiquity did not have clocks or watches, and the reckoning of time was always very approximate. The ‘third hour’ may denote nothing more form than a time about the middle of the morning, while ‘about the sixth hour’ can well signify getting on towards noon. Late morning would suit both expressions unless there were some reason for thinking that either was being given with more than usual accuracy. No such reason exists here.”66 Stein commenting on Mark concludes, “If we recognize the general preference of the third or sixth hour to designate a period between 9:00 a.m. and noon and the lack of precision in telling time in the first century, the two different time designations do not present an insurmountable problem.”67
While everyone agrees that ancient methods of time reference do not carry modern precision and that time approximation is taking place, the question remains how much approximation is being used by the gospel writers, and are approximations loose enough to account for a reconciliation of the two passages. For example, John refers to actual events with the seventh hour and the tenth hour (John 1:39). He is not using three hour increments but perhaps rather one hour increments. Matthew refers to the eleventh hour in a parable (Matt 20:9). One hour increments would be consistent with normal ancient sundial measurements. If both Mark and John used time tolerations of plus or minus an hour, time approximation would not produce a reconciliation. In Mark, Jesus would be on the cross as late as about 10:00 a.m., while in John Jesus would be before Pilate about 11:00am. But one has to ask the question, especially about Mark, if his time is coming from a sundial or is it a more general approximation based on eyeing the sun or a shadow. If this is the case, perhaps a two hour time tolerance is reasonable which could place the crucifixion as late as about 11:00 a.m.68 Greater allowance for time approximation for Mark seems warranted when his references are compared with Matthew and Luke. For example Mark says “when the sixth hour had come (γενομένης ὥρας ἕκτης), darkness fell over the whole land” (Mark 15:33). But in Luke the darkness is said to come about the sixth hour (ὡσεὶ ὥρα ἕκτη) (Luke 23:44). Similarly, Mark says that Jesus was at his last moments of death, crying out why God had forsaken him, at the ninth hour (τῇ ἐνάτῃ ὥρᾳ; Mark 15:34). Matthew though says the last moment of Jesus took place around/about the ninth hour (περὶ δὲ τὴν ἐνάτην ὥραν (Matt 27:46). It is significant that both Matthew and Luke interpret these times as approximate while Mark does not give an explicit time approximation qualifier. For the sake of argument, if Jesus was before Pilate at 10:30 and crucified shortly thereafter, perhaps one writer could say it was midmorning and another about midday with a reasonable time approximation. The time approximation view of reconciliation is feasible but also it is strained.69 Also, it would have to be time approximation for at least one of the gospel writers without a sundial level of accuracy.
The Time of Jesus’s Death and Inerrancy
The time of Jesus’ death has truly been a puzzle for anyone who has looked at this issue. All of the views for reconciliation have good arguments against them, but good arguments are not the same as decisive arguments. At least three resolutions (confusion of letters of gamma and digamma, Roman civil reckoning of John, and time approximation) in this writer’s view are plausible. In considering how the time of Jesus’s death relates to the doctrine of inerrancy, the evangelical can look to a standard definition of inerrancy as articulated by the Chicago statement in particular articles 10, 13 and 14. These read:
Article X We affirm that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy. We further affirm that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original. We deny that any essential element of the Christian faith is affected by the absence of the autographs. We further deny that this absence renders the assertion of Biblical inerrancy invalid or irrelevant.
Article XIII We affirm the propriety of using inerrancy as a theological term with reference to the complete truthfulness of Scripture. We deny that it is proper to evaluate Scripture according to standards of truth and error that are alien to its usage or purpose. We further deny that inerrancy is negated by Biblical phenomena such as a lack of modern technical precision, irregularities of grammar or spelling, observational descriptions of nature, the reporting of falsehoods, the use of hyperbole and round numbers, the topical arrangement of material, variant selections of material in parallel accounts, or the use of free citations.
Article XIV We affirm the unity and internal consistency of Scripture. We deny that alleged errors and discrepancies that have not yet been resolved vitiate the truth claims of the Bible.70
In summary, inerrancy applies to the original autographs of the Bible, does not require “modern technical precision,” and is not negated by differences in parallel passages that have not been resolved. So, while the time of Jesus’ death as a case study does not prove the doctrine of inerrancy neither does it disprove it either. One area that could use further research would be to look at ancient Roman court records for hour reckonings to see if they indeed reflect a Roman civil day or if they refer to daylight hours.
Regardless of one’s view to a potential solution, exegetes and Bible translators need to be cautious that they do not communicate to English readers times and other measurements that express a greater level of precision than is really there. In regard to times, this is certainly the case. For example if someone sees 9:00 a.m. in a commentary or Bible translation they probably assume it does not mean 8:50 or 9:15. Even when the first hour started and how long an hour lasted in the ancient world lasted was dependent on location and time of year; this convention has great variance with the way modern time is communicated and most Christians are completely unaware of this point. Another point of encouragement would be for Bible translations to put the textual variant of “three” in John 19:14, something to the effect that a few manuscripts have it. This seems warranted due to the possibility of a transcriptional error and testimony of the church fathers. All would agree that the gospel writers place much more emphasis of what Jesus did rather when he did it. The few time indicators that we have though fit their purpose in communicating those critical events the day Jesus died. And for their accounts of this day in history we are eternally grateful.
1 This paper was presented on November 21 at the 2013 annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Baltimore, Maryland.
2 Bart D. Ehrman, Jesus Interrupted – Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know About Them) (Harper One, New York, 2009), 29.
3 Formalized in 1978 by numerous and prominent evangelical Christian leaders at a conference sponsored by the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy is perhaps the most thorough explanation on the meaning of inerrancy that has been able to muster a broad consensus in the evangelical scholarly community. The original copy of the manuscript is contained in the archives at the Dallas Theological Seminary Library.
4 The reference to the use of one’s shadow or even a stick in the ground as a common technique was given to me by Frank King, President of the British Sundial Society in a personal email dated October 15, 2013.
5 Simon Hornblower and Anthony Spawforth, eds., The Oxford Classical Dictionary (3rd ed.; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), 350.
6 Gibbs writes, “Greek and Roman sundials always marked the 12 seasonal hours of daylight from between sunrise and sunset. But while the seasonal hours were of equal length during a given day, their length varied during the year, being shortest at the winter solstice and longest at the summer solstice.” Sharon Gibbs, Greek and Roman Sundials (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1976), 4. Gibbs also notes that over 30 sundials have been excavated at Pompeii in various public places and homes indicating how common they were in a city of that size in the first century. Ibid., 5.
7 See Harold Hoehner, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ (Academie Books, Grand Rapids: 1977), 114. The two major views on the year of the crucifixion are 30 and 33 AD. But the time of the sunrise is more dependent on the day of the year and location than the year itself.
8 http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/grad/solcalc/sunrise.html (Date accessed September 28, 2013).
9 Astronomical dawn is defined at the point in time when total darkness is first broken, the sun being 24 degrees under the horizon. Nautical dawn would be the sun 18 degrees under the horizon and civil dawn would be the sun 12 degrees under the horizon. At the equator, length of times for these various stages would be the shortest on the earth at 24 minutes each. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawn (Accessed October 18, 2013). In Jerusalem which is north of the equator these time spans of dawn would be slightly longer.
10 BDAG defines as the noun Πρωΐα “early part of the daylight period, (early) morning”, and the adverb πρωῒ as “the early part of the daylight period, early, early in the morning,” BDAG, 892. Louw and Nida define πρωῒ as “the early part of the daylight period - `early morning.’” Πρωῒ appears to be the term used before sunrise daylight hours (first hour etc) are used and can refer to the timeframe when it is still dark. See Mark 1:35 Καὶ πρωῒ ἔννυχα λίαν ἀναστὰς ἐξῆλθεν καὶ ἀπῆλθεν εἰς ἔρημον τόπον κἀκεῖ προσηύχετο.
11 The phases of Jesus’ trial can be tabulated as follows: 1) An initial inquiry before the former High Priest Annas (John 18:13) 2) An evening examination with Caiaphas presiding.
(Mark 14:55-64; Matt 26:59-66); 3) A morning confirmation before the entire Sanhedrin
( Mark 15:1a Matt 27:1; Luke 22:66-71); 4) An initial meeting with Pilate (Mark 15:1b-5; Matt 27:2, 11-14; Luke 23:1-5; John 18:29-38); 5) A meeting with Herod Antipas (Luke 23:6-12); 6) A more public trial before Pilate; Luke: 23:13-16; Matt 27:15-23; Mark 15: 6-14; Luke 23:17-23; John 18:39-40). Darrell Bock, Luke (BECNT; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993), 2:1793.
12 Sebastian Bartina, S.J., “Ignotum Episemon Gabex,” Verbum Domini 36 (1958), 16-37. C. K. Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John – An Introduction with Commentary and Notes on the Greek Text (2nd ed; Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1978), 545.
13 Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (2nd ed; Stuggart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1994), 216.
14 Metzger does not give the reading selected a rating of certainty (A, B, D, or D). Ibid., 99.
15 Perhaps Ammonius Saccus (AD 175-242) the supposed founder of Neoplatonism or perhaps another Ammonius that predated Eusebius. Eusebius credits a man from Alexandria named Ammonius with being the forerunner of his Eusebian canons which was a systematic effort of a numbering system that would show parallel passages in the gospels. See F.L. Cross and E.A. Livingston, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997) 52-53, 573-574. See also Nestle-Aland, Novum Testamentum Graece (28th ed.; Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft: 2012), 89-90.
16 Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 216. Sebastian Bartina, S.J., “Ignotum Episemon Gabex,” Verbum Domini 36 (1958), 30.
17 Joel C. Elowsky, ed., Ancient Commentary on Scripture John 11-21 (Vol IVb; Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2007), 304.
18 Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers (10 vols; Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), 1:70. Joel C. Elowsky, ed., Ancient Commentary on Scripture John 11-21 (Vol IVb; Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2007), 304. Holmes dates the letters of Ignatius sometime around 110 AD. Michael Holmes, ed., The Apostolic Fathers (2nd ed; Grand Rapids, Baker Book House, 1989), 82
19 Liddell and Scott indicate that this word can refer to a penman or copiest. They note another passage where a copyist error is referred to (Steph. In Hp.2.407). LSJ, “καλλιγραφικός,” 867.
20 Authors own translation using the Greek and the Latin.
21 The Latin translation reads: “Erat autem parasceve Paschae, hora quasi sexta, et dicit Judaeis: Ecce rex vester. Horam evangelista denotavit propter resurrectionem tertio die factam. Insignis autem scriba pro Gamma elemento, quod tertiam signat, aliud signum posuit, quod Gabex Alexandrini vocant, et sextum denotat, magnamque inter se habent similitudinem: et ex errore scriptionis ista irrepsit diversitas lectionis. Nam pro tertia hora sextam scriptsit.” J. P. Migne, Patrologia Graeca, LXXV, col. 1512.
22 Quote taken from Joel C. Elowsky, ed., Ancient Commentary on Scripture John 11-21 (Vol IVb; Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2007), 304. See also P.G. Migne Patrologia Graeca, XXII, col. 1009.
23 Peter of Alexandria’s death is dated about 311 AD. He was bishop of Alexandria starting in about 300 AD. Cross and Livingston, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 1263-64.
24 ANF, 6:282.
25 P.G. Migne, Patrologia Latina, XXVII, col. 1108c.
26 Joel C. Elowsky, ed., Ancient Commentary on Scripture John 11-21, 304. Cross and Livingston, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 1491, 1607.
27 Herbert Weir Smyth, Greek Grammar (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1920), 125.
29 Bartina, S.J., “Ignotum Episemon Gabex,” 37.
30 A rough translation is as follows: “Due to of all that has been reasoned before, from the context of the Gospels, from textual criticism and from sufficient ancient testimony, it appears clear, it is more probable that Jn 19, 14 originally had the third hour not the sixth.” Ibid.
31 Even some like Hodges and Farstad who hold almost exclusively to the majority of manuscripts note, “Occasionally a transcriptional consideration outweighs even a preponderance of contradictory testimony. . .” Zane C. Hodges and Arthur L. Farstad, The Greek New Testament according to the Majority Text (2nd ed.; Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers: 1985), xxii.
32 McClellan notes that early textual critics Theodore Bezae and J.A. Bengel adopted this view. John Brown McClellan, The New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (London: Macmillan, 1875), 738.
33 Ibid., 740.
34 B. F. Westcott, The Gospel according to Saint John (London: John Murray, 1908. Reprint; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980), 324-26. A. T. Robertson, A Harmony of the Gospels for Students of the Life of Christ (New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1950), 286-87. Ben Witherington, III, John’s Wisdom – A Commentary on the Fourth Gospel (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995), 294. The Holman Christian Standard Bible reads: “It was the preparation day for the Passover, and it was about six in the morning. Then he told the Jews, ‘Here is your king!’” (John 19:14 HCSB).
35 Pliny, Natural History 2.77 (188). Loeb Classical Library, 319. Pliny later states in the same section: “A. Gellius, iii. 3, informs us, that the question concerning the commencement of the day was one of the topics discussed by Varro, in his book “Rerum Humanarum:” this work is lost. We learn from the notes of Hardouin, Lemaire, i. 399, that there are certain countries in which all these various modes of computation are still practised; the last-mentioned is the one commonly employed in Europe.”
36 Plutarch, Questions, 84.
37 Macrobius, Saturnalia, 1.3.2. Loeb Classical Library, 23.
38 Ibid., 1.3.10.
39 i.e., asking advice or guidance from the gods.
40 The text goes on to say that a slave, if he has left after midnight and returned before the next midnight, is only considered to be absent one day. Ibid., 1.3.8. Witherington who sees a Roman time reckoning as “likely” makes the point that Romans “were known for dealing with such matters the first thing in the morning, and Pilate is likely to have followed the same practice.” Ben Witherington, III, John’s Wisdom – A Commentary on the Fourth Gospel, 294. In a footnote he writes, speaking of Pilate’s decision and the time of it, “What may be significant is that this particular form of Roman recognition was used in official documents and for legal purposes. We have seen the interest of the evangelist throughout in presenting the story of ‘Jesus on trial’ and there is a certain fitness to have it close with a sort of time marker used in Roman legal proceedings.” Ibid., 400.
41 Philo is sometimes cited as evidence for this view. “the spectacle of their sufferings was divided; for the first part of the exhibition lasted from the morning (πρῶτος) to the third or fourth hour, in which the Jews were scourged, were hung up, were tortured on the wheel, were condemned, and were dragged to execution through the middle of the orchestra; and after this beautiful exhibition came the dancers, and the buffoons, and the flute-players, and all the other diversions of the theatrical contests” (Philo, Flaccum, 1:85). Translation taken from Bibleworks 9.0.
42 McClellan, The New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, 742.
43 B. F. Westcott, The Gospel according to Saint John, 324-25.
44 A. T. Robertson, A Harmony of the Gospels for Students of the Life of Christ, 286-87.
45 See Norman Walker, “Reckoning of Hours in the Fourth Gospel,” Novum Testamentum 4 (1960), 69-73.
46 Köstenberger cites a case in Josephus (Ant. 2.11.1) were some one was wearied at about midday. Andreas Köstenberger John (The Baker Exegetical Commentary of the New Testament; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2004), 147.
47 Norman L. Geisler and Thomas Howe, The Big Book of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992), 376.
48 Walker, “The Reckoning of Hours in the Fourth Gospel,” 69-70.
49 W. M. Ramsay, “About the Sixth Hour,” The Expositor 4.7 (1893), 220.
50 Ibid., 223. Tischendorf records this variant. See Constantinus Tischendorf, Novum Testamentum Graece (8th ed.; Lipsiae: Giesecke & Devrient, 1872), 2. 166.
51 J. A. Cross, “The Hours of the Day in the Fourth Gospel,” Classical Review 5.6 (June 1891), 245. Johnny V. Miller, “The Time of the Crucifixion,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 26.2 (1983), 165.
52 One clear passage from Josephus is from Life where a lunch (ἀριστοποιέω) is said the be at the sixth hour (Life, 279). One place in Philo is the reference to Jewish persecutions in the third or fourth hour which are probably to be reckoned from the first hour of the morning. See Philo, Flaccum, 1:85.
53 Leon Morris, The Gospel according to John (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971), 158.
54 Gibbs, Greek and Roman Sundials, 304.
55 Ibid., 169.
56 This proclamation having been made by the herald, the whole multitude both of the heathen and Jews, who dwelt at Smyrna, cried out with uncontrollable fury, and in a loud voice, “This is the teacher of Asia, the father of the Christians, and the overthrower of our gods, he who has been teaching many not to sacrifice, or to worship the gods.” Speaking thus, they cried out, and besought Philip the Asiarch to let loose a lion upon Polycarp. But Philip answered that it was not lawful for him to do so, seeing the shows of wild beasts (τὰ κυνηγέσια) were already finished (Martyrdom of Polycarp, 12:2). Also, Philo notes that in the shows which started with the persecution of Jews the first portion of is lasted from the first (πρῶτος) to the third or fourth hour (Philo, Flaccum, 1:85). Translation taken from Bibleworks 9.0.
57 Ramsey, “About the Sixth Hour,” 221, footnote 2.
58 A. Plummer, The Gospel According to St. John (Cambridge: University Press, 1906), 342.
59 See Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of John – A Commentary (2 vols.; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003), 2:1130.
60 Finegan in his Handbook of Biblical Chronology adopts the Roman civil reckoning view in its first edition. Jack Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1964), Sec. 453. But Finegan in the second edition changes to the view that Mark and John are irreconcilable with Mark being an “interpolation.” Jack Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology (Revised ed; Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1998), Sec. 614.
61 Augustine, Tractates on the Gospel of John 117.1. Translation taken from John W. Rettig trans. The Fathers of the Church – Tractates on the Gospel of John 112-24-Tractates on the First Epistle of John (Washington D.C. The Catholic University of America Press, 1995), 33.
62 Aidan Mahoney, “A New Look at the Third Hour of Mk 15,25,” CBQ 28 (1966), 292-299.
63 Ibid., 294.
64 Miller though opts for time approximation and being the best solution to this issue. John Miller, “The Time of the Crucifixion,” JETS 26.2 (June 1983), 165. Miller also notes that there is a textual variant in which D, it, samss read εφυλασσον (they guarded) which supports the time reference being something other than the actual lifting of Jesus on the cross.
65 Andreas Köstenberger, John, 538.
66 Leon Morris, The Gospel according to John, 801.
67 Mark Stein, Mark (BECNT; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008), 713.
68 Mark’s only time references in regard to the “hour” are on the day of the crucifixion. Mark 15:25 (Jesus crucified; third hour), Mark 15:33 (darkness fell; sixth hour) and Mark 15:34 (Jesus died; ninth hour).
69 One that for those used to looking at the sun for time indicators solar noon would be one of the easier times to identify.
70http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/documents/icbi.html (Date accessed November 8, 2013).
Lesson 9: The Study of the ChurchRelated Media
The true Church can never fail. For it is based upon a rock. ― T.S. Eliot
What are reasons that people do not go to church? One Christian website lists 10 reasons.1 Perhaps you have heard some of them:
- Christians are judgmental and negative.
- Church is boring.
- The church is exclusive.
- Christians are homophobic.
- 'I don't like organized religion.'
- Churches are full of hypocrites
- The church just wants your money.
- Life is better without religion.
- Christians live on another planet.
- I don’t have time.
In spite of these types of objections, Jesus stated, “I will build my Church and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matt 16:18). The study of the church in theological terminology is called ecclesiology. What is the church? When did it start? What is its purpose? How should it operate and be organized? How does the church relate to Israel? How important is it to go to church? These are some critical questions that this lesson is designed to cover.
What is the Church?
The word translated church in the New Testament is from the Greek word ekklesia which means an assembly or congregation. It does not refer to a building rather it refers instead to people. In the New Testament, it generally refers to believers Jew or Gentile who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ and have received the Holy Spirit following Pentecost in Acts 2. It may refer to a local assembly such as the church at Thessalonica (1 Thess 1:1) or the universal church of all believers in Jesus Christ in this age everywhere.
Metaphors for the Church
Metaphors are expressions of figurative language that are used to communicate truth through analogies. There are several metaphors that are used in reference to the church, which helps to define what the church is and how it functions. The first is that the church is the body of Christ. There are two good passages that teach this both of them written by the Apostle Paul: 1) “He [Christ] is the head of the body, the church,” (Col 1:18) and 2) “The husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church – he himself being the savior of the body” (Eph 5:21-22). As a physical head directs the physical body so also Christ directs the church. The body of Christ image also communicates our connection to Christ and to each member of the church. We are members of the same body and joined together. When Paul was persecuting Christians and on the road to Damascus Jesus appeared to him. Jesus didn’t ask Paul why are you persecuting Christians or the church? Rather he asks Paul, “Why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4). Christ is so connected and identified with the church that a persecution against the church is directly equated to a persecution against him.
A second metaphor of the church is the description of the church as the bride of Christ. John writes in Revelation: “Let us rejoice and exult and give him glory, because the wedding celebration of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. She was permitted to be dressed in bright, clean, fine linen” (for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints)” (Rev 19:7-9). The imagery of a bride communicates both intimate relationship and purity.
A third metaphor is that the church is a temple. “So then you are . . . members of God’s household, because you have been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Eph 2:19-22). In the Old Testament, the Temple was the place where God dwelt among the people of Israel (Exod 40:34-35).2 The church as a temple then would communicate that holy God indwells it and even individual members of it (1 Cor 3:16).3
Fourthly, the church is also referred to as a royal priesthood. Peter writes, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. You once were not a people, but now you are God’s people” (1 Pet 2:8-9). Royal suggests the idea that the church rules or will rule, while priests suggest that those in the church are God’s ministers or servants.4
Lastly, the church is referred to as a flock. Paul tells the Ephesians elders: “Watch out for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son” (Acts 20:28). Sheep imagery for God’s people is seen in both the Old and New Testaments (cf. Ps 23; Is 53:6). Jesus said he was the good shepherd and that his sheep follow his voice (John 10). Sheep communicate the need for a shepherd who will lead, feed and protect. Sheep are vulnerable and one could say dumb animals which need steady care.
When Did the Church Start?
While some people define the church as God’s people of all ages, there are strong implications from the Scriptures that the church did not begin until after the death of Jesus in conjunction with the inauguration of the New Covenant and descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. There are several passages that one can point to that support this view. First, Jesus spoke of the establishment of the church as a future event in his life. “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 16:18-19). The term key suggests that Peter would open up the kingdom in the form of the church, which he did at Pentecost in Acts 2. Secondly, the church was “obtained” by the finished work of Christ on the cross. In the verse that we looked at above the church of God is said to be “obtained with the blood of his own Son” (Acts 20:28). This also implies the church was not in effect until after the death of Christ.5
Lastly, the church is defined by the “body of Christ” and members of the body of Christ are placed there by the baptism of the Spirit. Paul states, “For just as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body – though many – are one body, so too is Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether Jews or Greeks or slaves or free, we were all made to drink of the one Spirit” (1 Cor 12:12-13). This baptism of the Spirit was predicted in the Old Testament (e.g., Joel 2) but occurred in Acts 2. The formation of the body of Christ formed by the baptism of the Spirit can be supported by the following verses. John the Baptist stated that the Messiah would baptize with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8). This was predicted as a future event. Jesus later stated that the baptism would take place “not many days from now in Acts 1:5. The Holy Spirit descended in Acts 2. In hindsight this event in Acts 2 is referred to as the “baptism of the Spirit” by Peter. Peter states, “Then as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as he did on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, as he used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 11:15-16).6 All of these are good reasons to see the start of the church after the death of Jesus and specifically in conjunction with the descent of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2.
The Purpose/Function of the Church
The purpose or function of the church can be summarized into three broad areas: worship of God, edification of the church itself, and evangelization of the world. The worship of God is the highest calling of man. God created us for this purpose and failure to do so will leave a God shaped hole in our lives. Jesus stated, “But a time is coming – and now is here – when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such people to be his worshipers. God is spirit, and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). The early church shifted the day of worship from Saturday (= the Sabbath) to Sunday (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2) most likely to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus, which occurred on the first day of the week (Matt 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1).
Secondly, the church as the body of Christ is to edify itself in the community of faith. Luke records this basic practice of the church in Acts. “They were devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). Paul supplements this idea: “It was he who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God – a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature” (Eph 4:11-13).
Thirdly, the church is to evangelize the world. Two passages illustrate this well. The first is referred to as the Great Commission. Matthew is one gospel that records it: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt 28:19-20). Luke also gives Jesus’ instructions to the disciples just prior to his departure to heaven called the ascension. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Whether worship, instruction, or evangelism, the overarching purpose of all that the church does is to glorify God (1 Cor 10:31). It’s not about us but it is about him!
The Ordinances of the Church
Water baptism and the Lord’s Supper (also referred to as Communion) are two mandates that Jesus gave to the church. The Catholic church and some Protestants refer to these mandates as well as others as sacraments. The word sacrament is used due to the Catholic church’s teaching that participation in these ceremonies will convey grace to the participant with or without faith on the part of the participant.7 Other Protestants have emphasized that the performance of these mandates should be referred to as ordinances and are merely are acts of obedience. Also, they are not grace bearing or meritorious in regard to one’s eternal status of salvation in any way.8
The purpose of water baptism is to identify with Christ and his message. Symbolically, in baptism there is identification with Jesus’ death and resurrection (cf. Rom 6:3-4) as well as purification and cleansing (cf. Acts 22:16). Peter said to them, “Repent, and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). While the church has had differing practices on the modes of baptism (sprinkling, immersion, etc), the practice of infant baptism is hard to substantiate from the practice of the early church as seen in the New Testament. People were baptized after they believed in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The purpose of the Lord’s Supper (also known as communion) is to remember what Jesus did for us on the cross. This is also a mandated practice for the church. Paul tells the Corinthian church. “[T]he Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, and after he had given thanks he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, he also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, every time you drink it, in remembrance of me’ (1 Cor 11:23-25). Like baptism, there are different views on the nature of the Lord’s supper. Referring to the bread, “This is my body” and the wine as, “This is my blood” historically led to debate on what “is” means during the time of the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic View is termed Transubstantiation, which means that the elements turn into the actual body and blood of Jesus. The Lutheran View (i.e., Martin Luther) is termed Consubstantiation, which means that Jesus is with, in, under and around the elements but they do not actually turn into the body and blood of Jesus. The Reformed View (i.e., John Calvin) is termed the Spiritual Presence View, which means that Jesus is spiritually present during the ceremony. Lastly, the Memorial View (i.e., Huldrych Zwingli) sometimes called the Remembrance View, is that the Lord’s table is simply a symbol used for remembering Christ’s death.9
The Organization of the Church
One thing that most people are aware of is that there are different kinds of churches. Some differences relate to the history and doctrine of the church. Other differences relate to different types of church government.10 The table below gives a description of the major types of church government.
Type of Church Government
Examples of Churches
Churches that are headed by the Secular National Government of the Country
Anglican Church of England or Lutheran Church of Germany
The body of clergy is divided into various ranks reporting eventually to a single person like the Pope or Archbishop
Roman Catholic Church, Episcopal and Orthodox and Anglican (in part).
Regional Federal Government
Synods and General Assemblies appoint pastors and determine doctrine
Presbyterian, Lutheran and some Reformed
Ultimate authority for the church rests with the members themselves, ministry, budget, choosing leaders etc
Some Baptist churches
Local Federal Government
Elders/Pastors in the local church are ultimately responsible for governing the church
Brethren, Bible Churches Some Baptist and Reformed
The apostles were the highest authority of leaders in the early church. But as one theologian states, it would seem unwise to give someone that title today.11 The apostles were part of the foundation of the church (Eph 2:20) and today’s church is being built on this foundation. In addition when one looks at the criteria of an apostle, the New Testament makes it clear that 1) the person had to have seen the resurrected Jesus (Act 1:22; 1 Cor 9:1), and 2) he must have been appointed by Christ (Matt 10:1-7; Acts 1:24-26).12
Leadership in the church today according to the New Testament consists then of two offices: Pastor/Elder and Deacon. Pastors/Elders are men who are willing to lead and are spiritually qualified to lead the church (Titus 1:6-9; 1 Tim 3: 1-7). Paul tells Titus to appoint such leaders in the church. Paul states: “The reason I left you in Crete was to set in order the remaining matters and to appoint elders in every town, as I directed you” (Titus 1:5). They are responsible to shepherd the flock of God (1 Pet 5:20). The New Testament also indicates that multiple leadership or a team of elders are to be present in each church. This is seen in the plural use of the term. For example, James tells the sick person to call for the “elders” of the church (James 5:14) or Peter who exhorts the “elders” among the church (1 Pet 5:1-2). All of the New Testament examples that we have indicate a plurality of male elders who oversee the church.13
The second church office is the office of deacon. These individuals are also to be spiritually qualified (Acts 614; 1 Tim 3: 8-13) and they are responsible to serve the needs of the church under the leadership of the pastors/elders. Acts 6 reads: “Now in those days, when the disciples were growing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Greek-speaking Jews against the native Hebraic Jews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the twelve called the whole group of the disciples together and said, ‘It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to wait on tables. But carefully select from among you, brothers, seven men who are well-attested, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this necessary task’” (Acts 6:1-3). The tasks of these men was to assist the apostles in serving the church by meeting physical needs so that the apostles could focus on the spiritual needs of the church. One question surrounding the office of deacon is whether or not the office is to be held by men only or also includes women. In the Acts 6 passage they are men, but in 1 Tim 3:11 women who are deacons may be in view. Another interpretation is that these refer to deacon’s wives.15
The Distinction between Israel and the Church
How do we distinguish between Israel and the Church? Or should we? In short, the Bible indicates that while there is a clear distinction between Israel and the church that needs to be maintained, there is also a relationship that needs to be understood. One can start to examine this issue by comparing basic definitions. The church is both Jew and Gentile in the current age who believe in Jesus and are baptized into the body of Christ. This baptism took place with the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Acts 2. Israel (used 2515 times in the Old Testament and 68 in the New Testament) refers ethnically to the descendants of Abraham that came though Isaac and Jacob. Sometimes the concept of circumcised of heart (Deut 10:16; 30:6; Rom 2:29; Phil 3:2-3) or the phrase Israel of God (Gal 6:10) is used to reflect the idea of saved ethnic Israel. There is no place in the New Testament or entire Bible where the term Israel refers to or means the church.16 The distinction between Israel and the church is also seen in statements that contrast them after the establishment of the church.17 One good verse for this is 1 Cor 10:32 which states, “Do not give offense to Jews or Greeks or to the church of God.” Here the “church of God” is distinguished from “Jews.”
In regard to the church’s relationship with Israel, Paul states that Gentiles are grafted into the olive tree (= a symbol for Israel) to participate in blessings while natural branches (= unsaved Jews) are broken off (Rom 11:17). God told Abraham that “in you” all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Gen 12:3). The promise God gave to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 is referred to as the Abrahamic Covenant. In line with this covenant as Gentile members of the church we are a part of the blessing God gave to “all nations” though the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Paul also states that we are “sons of Abraham” by faith (Gal 3:7). It is important to understand though that Israel was under the provisions and requirements of Old Covenant while the church is under the New Covenant. The Old Covenant included: animal sacrifices, prescribed festivals, dietary laws, Sabbath keeping which included meeting on Saturday, moral laws and penalties for violation. The church on the other hand is under the provisions of the New Covenant and directly stated requirements for it are included in the gospels and epistles. There is both continuity and discontinuity in the relationship of these covenants to each other, that is some requirements of the Old Covenant are carried into the new while others are not. Paul clearly states that Christians are not under law as a system of requirements but under grace (Rom 6:14).
Lastly, there is a future for national Israel in which all the remaining Old Testament promises that God gave to them will be fulfilled: “For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion; he will remove ungodliness from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’ In regard to the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but in regard to election they are dearly loved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” (Rom 11:25-29). This does not mean that Christians have to agree with everything that modern day Israel does but it does mean that God has not abandoned his commitments of a future political and spiritual restoration of the that nation.
Importance of Meeting in Church
The lesson started with reasons why people do not go to church. Now, it would be good to conclude with reasons that we should go to church.
- The church is God’s ordained organization for spiritual growth in this age.
- We were made to worship God.
- We need to learn from God’s Word.
- We need to use our spiritual gifts to help others.
- We need to be encouraged by others in our relationship with God.
- We need to set an example to our families and friends and provide for their spiritual welfare.
- We need to give financially so our hearts will not be ruled by greed.
- We need to have an eternal perspective and not a temporal one.
- We need a break from our normal daily routine of work.
- We need to set an example to the world that Christians love one another.
The author of Hebrews says, “And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near” (Heb 10:24-25). Penguins are one of the few warm blooded animals that live in Antarctica during the winter. They can even breed in temperatures of -22°F and winds of 125mph.18 How can they survive in such harsh conditions? One of the main ways is that they huddle together, sometimes with thousands of penguins. Those on the outside of the circle as soon as they are faced with freezing to death move in toward the center while those in the center work their way to the outside. It’s only by sticking together that they survive. Any penguin that gets isolated will die. Is there an application for Christians? I think so. God designed us to survive and thrive spiritually by the encouragement we gain from each other.
- What are some things the church is doing that is not part of its mandate and what things is it not doing that it should be doing? How about the local church that you are in?
- Is there a difference between a church ordinance and a church sacrament? If so, what is it?
- How is the modern church different than the early first century church? How much should the modern church adapt to its culture?
- What are some reasons that some Christians give to not go to church? What are some biblical responses you can give to these reasons?
- How can the church better connect with society?
- How can I be more involved in the life and ministry of my church?
- How should our view of the Bible affect our views on national policies toward Israel?
- Should the church worship on Saturday? If not, why not?
1 This is a slightly edited list based on Pete Brookshaw, (Date accessed Jan 2, 2013).
2 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle (Exod 40:34-35).
3 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If someone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, which is what you are (1 Cor 3:16-17).
4 Robert Saucy, The Church in God’s Program (Chicago, Moody Press, 1972), 38-39.
5 One could also supplement this with the point that the new covenant did not start until the shed blood of Christ as well (1 Cor 11:25).
6 One passage that is sometimes used to indicate that Old Testament Israel was also a part of the church is Acts 7:38 (cf. Heb 2:12) which refers to people of Israel in the time of Moses as the “ekklesia.” But this term can generally refer to an assembly or congregation in secular usage which later came to be applied to the church as the body of Christ a more specific technical referent. See Robert Saucy, The Church in God’s Program, 15.
7 See Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 976 for a more detailed discussion on this topic.
8 One should emphasize that both water baptism and the Lord’s supper (communion) are acts of obedience but are not in any way a condition of reception of eternal life (Eph 2:8-9).
9 Peter Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago: Moody Press, 2008), 371-374.
10 Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1986), 405-411.
11 Grudem, Systematic Theology, 911.
12 Ibid., 906-911.
13 For an excellent resource on church elders see Alexander Strauch. Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church Leadership. Littleton CO: Lewis and Roth Publishers.
14 The men in Acts 6 are not specifically called deacons but they probably serve as a prototype of what the later office of deacon would become.
15 See Grudem for a discussion on this topic. Grudem, Systematic Theology, 918-19.
16 Sometimes Galatians 6:10 is argued that the “Israel of God” refers to the church. It reads, “and all who will behave in accordance with this rule, peace and mercy be on them, and on the Israel of God (Gal 6:10).” But even here the “Israel of God” as a reference to the whole church is doubtful for two lexical reasons. First, the last “and” (Gk. και) would have to be translated as “even” which is possible but much less likely lexically for the meaning of this conjunction. Second, one would have to find a meaning of “Israel” here that is not seen for the usage of the term in Paul’s writings, the rest of the New Testament or the whole Old Testament.
17Ryrie, Basic Theology, 399.
18 (Date accessed November 27, 2012).
La Revue Internet Des Pasteurs, Fre Ed 9, Edition de l’automne 2013
Edition de l’automne 2013
Sous la direction du
Dr Roger Pascoe,
Président de l’Institut pour la Prédication Biblique
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Renforcer les capacités de l’Eglise dans la prédication biblique et le leadership
1ère Partie: La Prédication : La Préparation Du Prédicateur
“Le prédicateur et l’œuvre de Dieu” 3ème partie
Par: Dr. Roger Pascoe,
Président de l'Institut pour la prédication biblique,
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Dans les éditions du printemps et de l'été 2013 de la Revue des Pasteurs (publié sur ce site), nous avons discuté de la préparation spirituelle et personnelle du prédicateur. C’est ce sujet que nous poursuivons dans la présente édition. Ce que nous avons appris, c'est que le pré-requis pour prêcher la Parole avec puissance, précision et crédibilité, c’est d’être qualifié au plan spirituel et personnel pour le faire. L’apôtre Paul appelle «homme de Dieu» une personne qui est qualifiée pour prêcher la Parole.
Nous avons également souligné que, pour être qualifié pour le service du Seigneur dans le ministère, les quatre principaux domaines auxquels nous devons donner la priorité sont: (1) protéger notre vie morale ; (2) diriger notre vie familiale ; (3) nourrir notre vie intérieure, et (4) discipliner notre vie du ministère. La dernière fois que nous avons clos notre discussion sur le thème « Protéger votre vie morale». Dans la présente édition, nous allons examiner les trois autres aspects de la vie d’un homme de Dieu.
Dirigez Votre Vie De Famille (1 Tim 3:5)
Le véritable caractère, les valeurs et le style de vie d'un homme sont manifestés à la maison. C'est là qu'il est vraiment lui-même. John MacArthur a dit: «Puisque le pasteur doit être un leader de l'église du Seigneur et un parent rempli d’amour pour la famille de Dieu, de quelle façon peut-il mieux se qualifier qu’en faisant preuve d’un leadership spirituel dans sa propre famille? » Si un homme ne peut se comporter bien et convenablement vis-à-vis de sa femme et de ses enfants, s'il ne peut pas bien «gérer» sa maison, comment peut-il diriger l'église? (1 Tim. 3:5). Un leadership en famille qui honore Dieu est un pré-requis pour le leadership dans l'église. Le leadership serviteur et sacrificiel que vous attendez de quelqu'un qui dirige l'église doit être évident d’abord dans sa maison.
Par conséquent, votre vie de famille doit être caractérisée par l'équilibre, le bonheur, la soumission à la Parole, la discipline, l'obéissance, l'amour, la spontanéité, le service, le sacrifice pour les autres, le respect mutuel, etc. Ainsi donc, dédiez suffisamment du temps et de l'attention à votre conjoint et votre famille et prenez la responsabilité de donner le ton et la direction spirituelle dans votre maison en donnant un bon exemple de spiritualité. Vous avez la responsabilité de définir la priorité spirituelle et l'orientation dans votre foyer. Puisque vous prêchez et insistez sur la priorité des Écritures et de l'obéissance à Dieu, assurez-vous que vous êtes un modèle en cela dans votre propre vie de famille.
Si vous ne donnez pas l'exemple et n’instaurez pas le respect des principes bibliques par votre conjoint et vos enfants à la maison, comment pouvez-vous le faire à l'église, dans une agence de mission, ou dans un ministère interdénominationnel?
Ainsi, je vous encourage à mettre de côté le temps nécessaire et approprié pour votre conjoint et vos enfants. Ne les placez pas à la deuxième place après votre ministère ou l'église. Vous pourriez probablement reprocher à quelqu'un d'autre dans votre congrégation de le faire, mais ne le faites pas vous-même. Montrez à votre famille que vous êtes prêt à mettre de côté d'autres questions urgentes parce que vous les appréciez beaucoup. Soyez accessible à eux, soyez à leur disposition par votre présence, dans votre esprit et dans vos émotions.
Prenez la responsabilité du bien-être spirituel, physique, émotionnel et mental de tout le monde dans votre maison. Si vous ne prenez pas cette responsabilité à la maison, comment pouvez-vous le faire dans votre ministère avec un certain degré de crédibilité ou de réussite?
En somme, les hommes de Dieu doivent être des maris et des pères affectueux et fidèles.
1. Soyez Un Mari Affectueux Et Fidele (1 Tim 3:2 ; Eph 5:22-33 )
Je voudrais vous encourager à laisser votre épouse développer et exprimer sa propre identité, exercer ses propres dons, plutôt que de chercher à faire dériver son identité de vous et de votre vocation en tant que pasteur. Toutefois, elle doit être un soutien pour vous dans votre rôle en tant que pasteur et sa vie doit renforcer ce que vous faites, et non pas y nuire.
Il ya tellement de sources de stress pour les femmes de pasteurs :
- Elles sentent parfois qu’elles occupent une place de second choix après le ministère de leur mari, ce qui peut conduire au ressentiment.
- Elles peuvent se sentir isolées, sans amis proches dans l'église, ce qui peut conduire à la solitude.
- Elles peuvent voir leurs maris recevoir l'attention d'autres femmes dans l'église, ce qui peut mener à la jalousie et la suspicion.
- Elles sentent la contrainte de toujours paraître parfaite, ce qui les amène à essayer de garder une fausse apparence, à s’efforcer de plaire à tout le monde.
- Elles vivent dans une sorte d’ «aquarium » spirituel à l’église, ce qui peut entraîner de la fatigue spirituelle.
- La plupart du temps les pasteurs ne gagnent pas beaucoup d'argent, ce qui peut amener leurs épouses à subir des pressions financières.
- Parfois, il ya une rupture dans l'intimité et la convivialité dans le mariage ainsi qu’un manque de soutien mutuel en raison des exigences du ministère, ce qui peut conduire à la froideur, la colère, l’anxiété, la dépression et la privation sexuelle.
Toutes ces sources de stress peuvent conduire à des difficultés conjugales. Soyons donc affectueux, sensibles, solidaires, et fidèles à nos épouses.
2. Soyez Un Pere Affectueux Et Fidele (1 Tim 3:4 ; Eph 6:4)
Soyez gentil et doux envers vos enfants (cf. 1 Thess. 2:7, 11). Par votre relation avec leur mère et votre témoignage chrétien montrez à vos enfants ce que c'est que d'être un chrétien pieux et mature. Si vous vous attendez à être utilisé par Dieu pour être un leader spirituel de l'église, commencez par être un leader spirituel pour vos enfants.
Rappelez-vous de ne jamais utiliser vos enfants pour des illustrations à la chaire, même s’ils y consentent. Les enfants ont tendance à accepter facilement de telles choses, mais quand ils sont exposés en public ils peuvent se sentir frustrés.
Ne négligez pas passer du temps avec vos enfants. Permettez au temps de «qualité» de compenser en quelque sorte le manque de temps en «quantité». Ce dont vos enfants ont besoin, c'est de votre temps et de votre attention.
Votre famille est d'une importance primordiale. Lorsque vous avez des enfants c'est une responsabilité qui vous est confiée. Vous ne pouvez pas vous en dérober. Réveillez-vous donc et assumez cette responsabilité comme un leader qui craint Dieu.
Ne laissez jamais vos enfants sentir qu'ils prennent la deuxième place - pas même après le ministère - sinon ils vont rapidement éprouver du ressentiment. Si le ministère et les responsabilités familiales sont en conflit de façon régulière, il suffit de rajuster votre programme du ministère.
Donnez à vos enfants la capacité de devenir les individus que Dieu les a créés pour être. Bien souvent, les enfants élevés dans des familles de pasteurs ressentent la pression de paraitre parfait. Si votre femme a l’impression qu’elle vit comme dans un « aquarium », à combien plus forte raison vos enfants ! Ainsi donc, n’aggravons pas cette pression en cherchant à les conformer aux attentes des autres. Nous pouvons les aider à y faire face en maintenant le caractère privé (intime) de nos foyers et en les aidant à vivre une enfance aussi normale que possible.
Enfin, aidons-les à ne pas devenir cynique en ne discutant pas des problèmes de l'église en présence de nos enfants.
Nourrissez Votre Vie Interieure
Dans le ministère vous dépensez une énorme quantité d’énergie sur le plan émotionnel, spirituel, mental et physique. Non seulement le ministère demande l’implication de la personne tout entière, mais il peut facilement devenir complètement absorbant. Avant que vous vous en rendiez compte, vous n’avez plus de vie ou d’intérêts en dehors de votre ministère. Pour cette raison, vous devez vous discipliner pour prendre soin de votre bien-être personnel. Vous devez réserver du temps pour :
1. Votre restauration spirituelle
Si vous êtes pasteur d’une église locale, vous donnez tout votre temps à votre congrégation – pour encourager, exhorter, avertir, conseiller, prêcher, enseigner. Si vous faites cela assez longtemps sans être nourri spirituellement vous-même, vous finirez par vous dessécher spirituellement. À une occasion, Jésus a demandé à ses disciples de venir avec lui dans un lieu désert pour un temps de repos.
Vous devez vous nourrir spirituellement. Comment pouvez-vous faire cela? Une des options c’est de laisser quelqu'un d'autre vous aider. Écoutez d'autres prédicateurs, lisez des livres de méditation, assistez à des conférences, ou invitez régulièrement des prédicateurs pour prêcher à votre place - c'est bon pour l'Église mais aussi pour vous. Quelle que soit la façon dont vous décidez de recevoir la restauration spirituelle, disciplinez-vous pour y rester engagé de façon assidue afin que vos batteries spirituelles ne se déchargent pas.
2. Votre rajeunissement mental
Une bonne santé mentale exige de la relaxation mentale ainsi que de la stimulation. La relaxation mentale peut prendre différentes formes telles que des vacances régulières, des promenades avec votre conjoint(e), une soirée de communion avec des amis avec lesquels vous pourrez vous détendre et être vraiment vous-même. Et n'oubliez pas de prévoir du temps pour être seul - la solitude est une bonne chose, surtout pour la détente mentale.
L'inverse est également nécessaire - la stimulation mentale. L'apôtre Paul a écrit: « Au reste, frères, que tout ce qui est vrai, tout ce qui est honorable, tout ce qui est juste, tout ce qui est pur, tout ce qui est aimable, tout ce qui mérite l’approbation, ce qui est vertueux et digne de louange, soit l’objet de vos pensées.» (Phil. 4:8 ). Toutes ces choses stimulent votre esprit par de bonnes réflexions et des questionnements qui vous édifient.
Ne devenez pas paresseux dans la réflexion ou impur dans vos pensées. Vous pouvez garder votre esprit alerte et stimulé par :
- la lecture de bons livres sur une variété de sujets
- la communion avec des gens qui partagent les mêmes idées que vous et qui ont une capacité intellectuelle et une maturité spirituelle, qui peuvent s'engager dans des conversations stimulantes sur des sujets consistants
- l’écoute de la bonne musique qui peut vous édifier
- l’écoute ou la lecture de bons sermons
- l'amélioration continue de vos compétences professionnelles en participant à des séminaires et des cours - en particulier ceux sur la prédication et le leadership de l'église
3. Le renouvellement physique par le sport
Dans 1 Timothée 4:8, l'apôtre dit : «car l’exercice corporel est utile à peu de chose» - c'est à dire qu'il y a quand même une certaine valeur. Chaque pasteur a besoin de prendre du temps pour les loisirs manuels et physiques pour compenser les exigences mentales et spirituelles de la prédication. Ne vous trompez pas à ce sujet, la prédication et le ministère pastoral c’est un travail assidue. Le fait de passer toute la journée à des réunions, à donner des conseils, à administrer et à étudier requiert que vous prévoyiez du temps pour faire quelque chose de physique ou d’actif.
L'activité physique est bonne non seulement pour le corps mais aussi pour votre esprit. Prendre soin de notre corps est une chose qui est tout aussi importante que la gestion de notre argent, de notre temps, et de nos dons spirituels. Paul a enseigné que le corps doit être consacré (Rom. 12:1); préservé (1 Thess 5:23.), exercé (1 Tim 4:8.) et discipliné (1 Cor 9:24-27). Et rappelez-vous, « votre corps est le temple du Saint-Esprit » (1 Cor. 6:19-20 ). Par conséquent, nous devons faire attention à la manière dont nous l’utilisons. Nous devons le garder pur pour la gloire de Dieu. Nous devons maintenir sa santé. Il faut « glorifier Dieu dans votre corps et dans votre esprit, qui appartiennent à Dieu » (1 Cor. 6,20).
Une partie du processus pour bien prendre soin de votre corps consiste à faire de l'exercice physique. Essayez de vous discipliner pour ce faire. Quand vous prendrez de l’âge, vous serez heureux de l’avoir fait.
4. Récupération émotionnelle
Les pasteurs sont très visibles et audibles - tout le monde voit ce que nous faisons et entend ce que nous disons. Certaines choses que nous disons et faisons généreront :
- les critiques de ceux dont la conscience réagit à ce que nous disons
- des conflits et peut-être la condamnation de ceux qui sont en désaccord avec nous
- des inquiétudes pour ceux dont nous prenons soin physiquement, émotionnellement et spirituellement
Les conflits et les critiques ont un lourd effet sur nous émotionnellement. Par conséquent, nous avons besoin de récupérer émotionnellement de temps en temps. Comment pouvons-nous faire cela? Voici quelques suggestions:
- communiez avec des amis qui vous encouragent et vous aident à vous réjouir
- rencontrez les autres pasteurs qui peuvent vous donner des conseils sur la façon de faire face aux situations difficiles
- Lisez des livres sur le ministère pastoral - vous verrez que vous n'êtes pas seul, même les prédicateurs les plus connus souffrent de conflits et de critiques
Disciplinez Votre Vie De Ministère (2 Tim. 2:1-6 , 15)
Un leader ou prédicateur qui craint Dieu a le devoir solennel suivant : « Efforce-toi de te présenter devant Dieu comme un homme éprouvé, un ouvrier qui n’a point à rougir, qui dispense droitement la parole de la vérité. » (2 Timothée 2:15 )
Cette exigence de la prédication biblique est décrite précédemment dans ce chapitre à travers trois images - la discipline quotidienne et l'engagement du soldat, l’athlète, et de l’agriculteur (2 Tim 2:1-6.). Les images qui sont utilisées dans ces versets décrivent la discipline, le devoir, la dévotion, qui, lorsqu'ils sont est manifestés, apportent une récompense.
1. Leaders pieux doivent avoir le focus d'un soldat (2:3-4 )
Tout d’abord, le focus d'un soldat est de toujours être disposé et prêt à souffrir (2:3) – à «endurer les difficultés». Il faut s’attendre à la souffrance dans le ministère à cause du combat spirituel (cf. Eph 6:1-20) et des mauvais traitements.
Deuxièmement, le focus d'un soldat est d'être toujours disposés et prêts à se sacrifier (2:4 a). Vous ne pouvez pas être préoccupé par les « affaires de cette vie » si vous voulez être toujours en service et disponible. Ceci est un appel à vous sacrifier - à vous dégager de toute autre tâche qui pourrait vous distraire de votre tâche principale. Ce n'est pas qu'il y ait quelque chose de mal avec les «affaires de cette vie », mais si elles ont tendance à vous distraire, elles doivent être mis de côté. Tout ce qui pourrait nous priver du temps nécessaire avec Dieu (dans la prière et la Parole) et du temps pour Dieu doit être sacrifié.
Troisièmement, le focus d'un soldat est de toujours être disposé et prêt pour le service (2:4 b) - « s’il veut plaire à celui qui l’a enrôlé ». En tant que soldats de Jésus-Christ, nous devons être prêts à servir Celui qui nous a engagés à son service. Nous sommes permanemment en service.
Un soldat authentique est marqué par une sincère consécration à son devoir, un engagement complet, sans aucune retenue. La récompense d'un soldat c’est l'approbation de son supérieur. C'est ce que pour quoi nous travaillons - l'approbation du Seigneur.
2. Les leaders pieux doivent faire «l'effort intense » d'un athlète (2:5 )
Un athlète fait preuve d’un effort intense à l’entraînement et lors de la compétition. Afin de gagner, un athlète doit s'efforcer d'atteindre trois objectifs :
- Viser l’excellence. Cela implique un travail soutenu, de l’exercice, de l'effort, de l’entrainement, de la diligence, de l'engagement, de la compétition, du travail bien fait. Les prédicateurs doivent faire leur tâche avec excellence et diligence.
- Se battre loyalement. Il s'agit de respecter les règles, d’être honnête. Connaître les règles et les respecter, même quand personne ne regarde. Les prédicateurs doivent avoir une telle intégrité.
- s'efforcer de gagner. La récompense est d'être couronné, d’être victorieux, de ne chercher que l'approbation du Seigneur. La récompense du prédicateur est l'approbation du Seigneur maintenant, puis sa couronne plus tard. Un athlète doit avoir de la discipline afin de participer à la compétition et de gagner à la loyale. Et la récompense est d'être «couronné» vainqueur.
3. Leaders pieux doivent avoir la « persévérance constante » d'un agriculteur (2:6)
L'agriculteur laboure longtemps et durement, sans aucun signe ou une garantie de succès. Cela demande beaucoup d’auto-discipline, de la persévérance. Après avoir préparé le sol puis planté la graine, il doit attendre la récolte. Cela demande de l’assurance – de la confiance en Dieu, car seul Dieu peut faire pousser une graine et produire une récolte. Les agriculteurs ont besoin de travailler durement et de rester dans la dépendance à Dieu.
Les prédicateurs peuvent préparer les meilleurs sermons et enseignements bibliques et les livrer avec une grande ferveur, mais les résultats appartiennent à Dieu qui donne vie à ceux qui étaient morts (Eph. 2:1).
Ce n'est que par le travail acharné, l'engagement sans réserve, et l'auto- discipline que nous pouvons nous présenter «approuvé par Dieu», des ouvriers qui n'ont point à rougir (2,15). Il est si facile dans le ministère de devenir paresseux, de baisser son niveau d’engagement, et de se décourager.
Disciplinons-nous à mettre le temps et l'énergie nécessaires pour obtenir un travail bien fait. Conduisons-nous de sorte à ce que les gens voient que nous sommes attachés à notre témoignage et notre ministère chrétien. N’ayez pas un cœur partagé dans votre vie chrétienne et ne soyez pas satisfait de la médiocrité dans votre ministère. La prédication et le leadership de l'église sont un travail dur! Tout ce que nous faisons doit être fait pour la gloire de Dieu et cela implique que nous le fassions avec toutes nos forces et avec excellence.
Au niveau personnel, la mesure du ministère chrétien pour l'homme de Dieu signifie, d'une part, d'être diligent pour se présenter approuvé par Dieu, et d'autre part, d’être un ouvrier qui n'a point à rougir.
Sur le plan pratique, la mesure du ministère chrétien pour l'homme de Dieu signifie avoir une prédication et un enseignement exact, approprié et rempli d’autorité – c'est-à-dire dispenser droitement la parole de la vérité.
2ème Partie: Le Leadership : être un modèle selon le cœur de Dieu
« Votre sanctification personnelle »
Par: Dr Roger Pascoe
L'Institut pour la prédication biblique
Nous poursuivons le thème de la sanctification personnelle entamée dans notre dernier numéro de la Revue internet des pasteurs. La dernière fois nous avons discuté de la pureté dans nos vies sociales. Dans cette édition, nous allons nous pencher sur la pureté dans nos pensées, nos motivations, et nos paroles.
La Purete Dans Vos Pensees (2 Cor. 10:5 )
Nos pensées peuvent être si subtiles et coupables, n’est ce pas? Parfois vous vous demandez d’où viennent certaines de vos pensées. Cela ne fait pas de doute qu’elles jaillissent de notre nature pécheresse, activées par Satan et les tentations qu'il met sur notre chemin.
Pour maintenir la pureté dans nos pensées, nous devons faire attention à l’objet de nos pensées. Nous devons discipliner notre esprit afin de contrôler les pensées que nous entretenons. Lorsque nos pensées ne sont pas contrôlées, nos fantaisies peuvent si facilement prendre le dessus. Et les fantaisies qui sont incontrôlées ont tendance à devenir réalité. La Bible dit que «l’homme est comme les pensées de son âme.» (Prov. 23:7). Nos pensées façonnent notre caractère et notre comportement. Toute action ou habitude commence par une pensée.
Faisons donc attention à l’objet de nos pensées. Si vous vous surprenez en train d’avoir des pensées malsaines ou pécheresses, priez Dieu de les bannir de votre esprit. Ca marche ! Dieu nous délivre du mal, car la puissance de Dieu est plus grande que Satan ou toute tentation terrestre.
Nos pensées sont souvent générées par des choses que nous avons lues ou vues. Donc faites attention à ce que vous regardez, parce que ce que vous regardez entre dans votre cœur et affecte vos désirs. « Puis la convoitise, lorsqu’elle a conçu, enfante le péché ; et le péché, étant consommé, produit la mort.» ( Jacques 1:15 ) . C'est ce qui se produit lorsque nos pensées ne sont pas contrôlées.
Probablement ce qui se passe dans l'esprit est le plus dangereux de tous (plus que même les actions extérieures) parce que personne ne peut voir vos pensées. Personne ne peut vérifier ce que vous pensez, parce qu'ils ne peuvent pas le savoir. Mais rappelez-vous ce que Jésus a dit: «c’est du cœur que viennent les mauvaises pensées, les meurtres, les adultères, les impudicités, les vols, les faux témoignages, les calomnies.»(Matthieu 15:18-20). Ce qui entre dans votre esprit finira par sortir – sous forme de bonnes ou de mauvaises pensées. Et ces pensées vont former la base de ce que vous êtes et de ce que vous faites.
La Purete Dans Vos Motivations
Les motifs impurs c’est lorsque nous faisons les bonnes choses pour de mauvaises raisons - faire quelque chose pour atteindre le résultat souhaité, mais pour les mauvaises raisons. Donc, posons-nous la question: Pourquoi faisons-nous le ministère ? Quelle est notre motivation? Nous devons faire les bonnes choses et pour les bonnes raisons.
Dans Apocalypse 2:2-3, l'église d'Ephèse a fait les bonnes choses, mais avec un motif impur – c'est-à-dire, ils ne le faisaient pas par amour pour le Christ. L'avertissement est que s'ils ne se repentaient pas de leur motif impur, Dieu enlèverait leur chandelier (leur témoignage public en tant qu’église). Dans quel but faisons-nous le ministère ? Pour quoi vivons-nous?
Faisons-nous le ministère pour notre propre gloire comme ceux qui « se recommandent eux-mêmes», et qui «en se mesurant à leur propre mesure et en se comparant à eux-mêmes, ils manquent d’intelligence » ? (2 Cor. 10.12)
Vivons-nous pour notre propre gain personnel, comme ceux qui croient que « la piété est une source de gain. » ? (1 Tim . 6:5 )
Cherchons-nous à nous auto-promouvoir? Jésus a dit: «Je suis au milieu de vous comme celui qui sert « (Lc 22,27). Paul a dit qu'il servait «le Seigneur en toute humilité, avec larmes, et au milieu des épreuves « (Ac 20,19) .
Dans son livre « Paitre l'église », Joe Stowell écrit: « Ceux qui servent pour Sa gloire et son gain trouvent leur plus grande joie non pas dans les félicitations à la porte juste après le sermon, mais dans une vie qui, au fil du temps, est totalement changée par le ministère de proclamation. Une vie qui à présent donne plus gloire à Dieu que dans les temps passés. Une vie qui donne du crédit à Dieu - pas à nous - pour ce que Dieu a fait dans leurs vies à travers nous ». Oui !
Les motifs purs nous amènent à servir pour la gloire de Christ et pour le bien de son royaume. Le motif de Paul pour le ministère était le suivant : «Christ sera glorifié dans mon corps avec une pleine assurance, soit par ma vie, soit par ma mort ; car Christ est ma vie, et la mort m’est un gain. » (Ph 1,20). Paul dit: «je suis le moindre des apôtres, je ne suis pas digne d’être appelé apôtre» (1 Cor. 15:9 ). Le motif de Jean Baptiste était que « Christ croisse, et que je diminue. » (Jn 3,30).
Examinons nos propres cœurs pour voir quels sont nos motifs en tant que dirigeants du peuple de Dieu.
La Purete Dans Vos Paroles (1 Tim 4:12 ; Tit 2,7)
Nos paroles peuvent être le domaine le plus dangereux et le plus facilement violable. Ce que nous disons (les mots et les expressions que nous utilisons) et comment nous le disons (langage corporel, ton de la voix) peuvent soit renforcer notre leadership, soit le paralyser. Vous pouvez donner un sens totalement différent aux mots que vous utilisez juste en mettant l'accent sur certains mots ou par le langage corporel.
Nous devons faire attention à notre choix de mots. Je remarque de plus en plus de mots et d’expressions inappropriés dans la bouche de chrétiens (et de prédicateurs) – des mots qui autrefois, n'auraient jamais été utilisés par les croyants. J'ai entendu des pasteurs et leaders chrétiens dire des choses qui me font grincer des dents. Parfois, ils utilisent des expressions qui sont courantes dans notre société, mais qui ne devraient pas faire partie de notre communication. J'entends des leaders dans l'église utiliser tout le temps des mots vulgaires qui sont dérivés de jurons (et je ne pense pas qu'ils le savent).
Les mots glissent si facilement et ne peuvent être rétractés. Quand ils sortent, ils sont comme de l'eau répandue sur le sol – l’eau ne peut pas être ramassée (2 Sam. 14:14 ). . Quand les mauvais mots sont dits, il est déjà trop tard, le mal est fait.
Les mots sont comme la matière première pour les dirigeants chrétiens. Notre travail s'articule autour de l'utilisation des mots. Par conséquent, il nous incombe d'être des experts dans leur utilisation - et non seulement sur la chaire, mais dans toutes nos interactions. Nous devons être des maitres de la parole qui choisissent savamment les mots qu’ils utilisent afin qu'ils transmettent fidèlement ce que nous voulons dire.
L’exactitude et la sincérité ne sont pas suffisantes. «Que votre parole soit toujours accompagnée de grâce, assaisonnée de sel. » (Col. 4:6). « Dites la vérité dans l'amour » (Ep 4,15). « Soyez lent à parler et prompt à écouter » (Jacques 1:19).
Ainsi donc, évitez le jargon vulgaire ou l’argot - cela peut vous causer des ennuis. N’utilisez pas des mots durs ou grossiers (Eph. 5,4) - ce ne serait pas conforme à l’exemple du Christ. Essayez de ne pas utiliser des mots qui ont des significations doubles. Autant que possible, utilisez intentionnellement des mots polis, constructifs, positifs, et bien choisis.
Méfiez-vous des ragots, de la calomnie, du mensonge, de la tromperie, des déductions, des insinuations, des séductions, des murmures, des plaintes, de la vantardise, de l’exagération. Ils découlent tous de la mauvaise utilisation ou de la mauvaise application de mots (cf. Eph 4:25 , 29, 31 ; 5:4 ; Col. 3:8-9 ; 4:6 ; Matt 15:11 17-20). Abstenez-vous des mots qui peuvent avoir des connotations impures.
Servons-nous de «paroles saines» (Tite 2.8) qui rendent témoignage aux autres des « paroles de grâce » qui sortaient de la bouche du Seigneur, de la pureté de la parole que nous voulons que les autres adoptent, et des mots qui pointent les autres vers Christ.
Nos enseignants avaient l’habitude de nous dire : «les bâtons et les pierres peuvent casser mes os, mais les mots ne pourront jamais me faire du mal » - ce n’est pas vrai ! Les paroles dites dans la colère, les plaisanteries, les taquineries, les critiques peuvent blesser beaucoup plus que les blessures physiques et causer des blessures profondes dans les relations chrétiennes. Les mots que nous utilisons sont importants, choisissons-les donc avec grand soin.
3ème Partie : Meditation
«Le ministère des vases de terre (2ème partie): La motivation pour le ministère » (2 Cor.4 :16-5 :9)
Par: Dr Roger Pascoe
Institut pour la prédication biblique
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Dans l'édition d'été de cette revue, nous avons commencé à étudier le sujet suivant : «Le ministère des vases d'argile» (2 Cor.4 :16-5 :9). Nous avons regardé 2 Corinthiens 4:7-16 qui traite le sujet de «La nature du ministère ». Maintenant nous continuons avec la section suivante, 2 Cor.4 :16-5 :9, qui traite le sujet de « La motivation pour le ministère ». L’apôtre Paul souligne trois motivations pour le ministère : (1) la motivation de la transformation future (4:15-5:8 ) , (2) la motivation du jugement de Dieu ( 5:10-13 ), et (3) la motivation de l'amour du Christ ( 5:14-17 ). Dans ce numéro de la Revue des Pasteurs, nous allons couvrir seulement LA MOTIVATION DE LA TRANSFORMATION FUTURE (4 :16-5 :9) .
L'apôtre développe ce sujet du ministère de vases de terre autour de quatre paradoxes du ministère. La dernière fois nous avons porté notre attention sur le premier paradoxe du ministère: la faiblesse du messager comparé au puissant message. Maintenant, dans le cadre de la motivation pour le ministère (en particulier, la motivation de la transformation future), nous abordons les trois paradoxes restants.
Le second paradoxe du ministère est: la décroissance à l'extérieur comparé au renouvellement intérieur (4:16-17). Pour le chrétien, le paradoxe est que «même si notre homme extérieur se détruit, notre homme intérieur se renouvelle de jour en jour « (16b). Il ya une différence entre l’extérieur et l’intérieur - l’extérieur se détériore et l’intérieur se renouvelle. D'une part, nous souffrons de la désintégration progressive de notre être physique. Notre «homme extérieur » (ce qui est visible - notre corps physique et les facultés) est en «décomposition » (de façon constante et irréversible se dirigeant vers la mort). D'autre part, notre être intérieur est progressivement renouvelé à l'image de Dieu. Notre « homme intérieur » (c'est ce qui est invisible - notre nouvelle vie en Christ, notre être spirituel, notre ressemblance à Christ ) « se renouvelle de jour en jour » (est sanctifiée, transformée à l'image de Christ ) .
La réalité pour le non-chrétien c’est la détérioration. Ils ne subissent qu'une décroissance à l'extérieur sans renouvellement intérieur, parce qu'ils n'ont pas de vie spirituelle. Le mot «car» introduit l'explication de ce paradoxe du déclin à l'extérieur comparé au renouveau intérieur « Car nos légères afflictions du moment présent produisent pour nous, au delà de toute mesure, un poids éternel de gloire» (17). Notez les éléments contrastés du paradoxe chrétien :
- souffrance actuelle pour l'amour de Jésus = légères afflictions du moment
- gloire future dans la présence de Jésus = une gloire éternelle qui dépasse de loin toutes nos souffrances présentes ou problèmes
Paul n'enseigne pas que la souffrance physique est récompensée par le mérite spirituel. Il n’est pas en train de prôner l'ascétisme. Au contraire, Paul traite toujours de la question de savoir comment la gloire et la puissance de Dieu sont manifestés dans des vases de terre (7); la question de la mort spirituelle (et peut-être physique) avec Jésus (10a), la question de la vie de Jésus manifestée en nous (10b), la question d'être livrés à la mort à cause de Jésus afin que la vie de Jésus soit aussi manifestée en nous (11).
Le thème de Paul tout au long de cette épître est que la fragilité du corps humain et l’affliction qu’il subit pour la cause de l'Evangile, augmente, en raison de l'étonnant contraste, et offre la possibilité d’expérimenter la gloire toute-transcendante, et la puissance, et la grâce du Dieu Tout-Puissant. «Peu importe la gravité de la souffrance physique pour l'amour de Christ» (souffrance supportée et endurée au nom de Jésus pour la cause de l’Evangile). Elle est « légère » et « momentanée » par rapport à la «gloire éternelle» qui nous est réservé dans les cieux.
Le troisième paradoxe du ministère dans ce passage est le suivant: le visible contre l'invisible (4,18). Les yeux de la foi ne se préoccupent pas de ce qu’on voit, mais de ce qu’on ne voit pas. «Nous regardons, non point aux choses visibles, mais à celles qui sont invisibles ». Nous ne nous concentrons pas sur notre faiblesse humaine, la souffrance, la mort (c’est à dire la désintégration de notre existence extérieure, physique), et des circonstances difficiles, mais plutôt, nous regardons aux «choses invisibles ». Le non-chrétien est centré sur le coté physique, l’extérieur et le présent (les trésors sur la terre, les choses périssables), mais le chrétien est centré sur le spirituel, ce qui est intérieur et éternel. Nous nous concentrons sur les réalités spirituelles (par exemple la vérité, la vie dans le Christ). Nous nous concentrons sur la puissance intérieure, le renouvellement du Saint-Esprit. Nous nous concentrons sur la gloire éternelle - une perspective future, céleste où nous serons pleinement et définitivement comme le Christ. Nous allons de l'avant sans regarder en arrière (Phil. 3:14 ). Nous supportons le présent dans l'assurance de l'avenir. Nous savons que ce qui est transitoire cédera la place à ce qui est permanent. Nous nous attendons à voir les afflictions temporelles remplacées par la gloire éternelle.
Le quatrième paradoxe du ministère est: notre tente terrestre comparé à notre édifice céleste (5:1-8). L'explication de ce paradoxe précédent suit maintenant : «Car nous savons ... » La base de notre point de vue sur la souffrance actuelle et la décomposition est notre connaissance de la glorification future, la rédemption de notre corps et de nos âmes, l’espérance certaine de la gloire. La seule incertitude est de savoir si nous allons mourir avant le retour de Jésus - «si cette tente - lit. notre tente, habitation sur la terre- est détruite...» (5:1).
Le corps dans lequel nous vivons aujourd'hui est temporaire et transitoire, ce n’est pas notre habitation permanente. Mais même si elle est détruite par la mort, «...nous avons dans le ciel un édifice qui est l’ouvrage de Dieu, une demeure éternelle qui n’a pas été faite de main d’homme.» L'image d'une «tente» contre un «édifice» est une allusion au tabernacle des Israélites dans le désert contre le temple permanent à Jérusalem (cf. Heb. 11:8 et suiv.). Comme dans le désert, nous sommes des pèlerins et des étrangers sur la terre, juste de passage - notre citoyenneté est dans les cieux. Et quand nous serons au ciel, nous aurons des corps adaptés à cette existence céleste - «pas fait de mains d’homme» (pas comme les créations de ce monde ici bas), pas temporaire, pas soumis à la pourriture, pas affecté par le péché, mais permanent, éternel, glorifié, un corps de résurrection à l’image du corps glorieux du Christ (Phil. 3:21 ).
«Car» (explication du verset 1) « dans ce corps nous gémissons (cf. Rom. 8.23) soupirons en nous-mêmes, en attendant l’adoption, la rédemption de notre corps « (2). Dans notre présente habitation terrestre actuelle nous gémissons (parce qu'elle est soumise à la pourriture, à la souffrance, à la douleur). C'est pourquoi nous soupirons après nos corps glorifiés (notre habitation qui est du ciel), qui sont considérés comme étant revêtu sur nos corps terrestres (cf. 1 Cor 15:53). Afin qu'il y ait à la fois la continuité et transformation - nos corps terrestres seront couverts et modifiés par nos corps glorifiés. Ce pour quoi nous soupirons vraiment c’est la possibilité («... si du moins », verset 3) de recevoir nos corps glorifiés sans mourir («... après avoir été vêtu ») - d'être en vie à la venue du Christ afin que, « ayant déjà revêtu nos corps glorifiés, nous ne soyons pas trouvés nus »(3). L'espoir exprimé ici est que nous ne soyons pas dépouillés de notre corps à la mort, que nous ne connaissions jamais l'expérience d'un état désincarné du tout, que nous ne mourions pas avant d’avoir reçu nos corps glorifiés, revêtus de « notre domicile céleste» (2b).
«Car» (plus d'explications) nous qui sommes dans cette tente (cette existence physique temporaire, en décomposition) gémissons, accablés, non pas parce que nous voulons être dépouillés, mais parce que nous voulons être mieux vêtus, afin que la mort soit engloutie par la vie «(4). Nous gémissons à cause de la charge de nos corps actuels, pas parce que nous voulons mourir (être dévêtu et que nos corps reviennent à la poussière ), mais parce que nous voulons être revêtus de nos corps glorifiés (organismes adaptés à la gloire), de sorte à ce que nos corps mortels (nos corps actuels en décomposition) soient avalés par (repris par , absorbés dans, revêtus de) la vie éternelle au retour de Christ, afin que nous ne mourions jamais et que nous n’expérimentions jamais la corruption.
C'est ce qui va arriver à ceux qui sont encore en vie au retour du Christ. Nous ne serons pas « dépouillés « (nus, désincarnés), mais « mieux vêtus » en portant nos corps glorifiés sur nos corps mortels. Lorsque cela arrivera, nos corps mortels, liés à la terre seront immédiatement absorbés et transformés en notre état glorifié, afin que notre chair mortelle (notre vie terrestre, corps mortels) soit engloutie (disparaître à l’intérieur, absorbé, intégré en, digéré) par (ce qui sera vraiment) la vie.
Ainsi, l'image en 5:1-4 est que nos corps mortels sont comme un vêtement qui recouvre l'âme, qui, à la mort devient nue car elle sera séparée du corps. D'autre part, à la venue du Christ nos corps immortels sont rendus semblables à un vêtement qui revêt (ou recouvre) nos âmes, ou, pour ceux qui sont en vie à ce moment-là, nous revêt davantage – c'est-à-dire est mis par dessus nos corps mortels.
« Et celui qui nous a formés pour cela, c'est Dieu » (5a). Dieu lui-même nous a façonnés pour la réception (le revêtement) de nos corps glorifiés. Cette transformation finale dans notre état glorifié est entièrement et uniquement l'œuvre de Dieu. Cela nous rassure, car ca ne dépend pas de nous, mais de Dieu et donc cela va sûrement se réaliser. Ce que Dieu a commencé, il l’achèvera (Phil. 1:6 ), car il «...nous a donné les arrhes de l’Esprit (comme garantie) » (5b). Non seulement nous avons les instructions de l'apôtre sur cette certitude future que Dieu va accomplir notre transformation finale, mais dès maintenant nous avons le dépôt interne (l'acompte) de l'Esprit comme garantie que Dieu va sûrement le faire (cf. Eph. 1,14; cf Rm 8,11 et suiv). Le Saint-Esprit nous rassure constamment que la puissance qui a ressuscité Christ d'entre les morts nous ressuscitera dans la gloire (Ephésiens 1:9-20 ).
Quelle assurance et quelle motivation cela nous donne, en particulier dans la souffrance et dans la vieillesse ! Nos corps se détériorent à l'extérieur, nous souffrons de notre mortalité, mais plus spécifiquement pour l'amour de Jésus. Mais tout cela est perdu dans l'assurance et l'espoir de notre transformation à venir à la ressemblance du Christ, car cela n’est pas comparable à la gloire à venir. «Ainsi» (suite à cette assurance que Dieu le fera et qu’il nous a donné son Esprit comme garantie), «nous sommes toujours confiants ... « (6a) - notre confiance dans la réalisation de notre transformation par Dieu est inébranlable et constante - « ... sachant que (la confiance est basée sur la connaissance) alors que nous sommes dans ce corps ... « (vivant dans cette tente terrestre) « ... nous sommes absents de la présence de Dieu. Car (parce que) nous marchons par la foi, non par la vue (cf. He. 11,1). Nous sommes confiants, et même bienheureux être absents du corps (c'est-à-dire de mourir) et d'être présent avec le Seigneur (6b -8). Bien que la mort soit notre ennemie finale, cela ne nous fait pas peur. Au contraire, nous sommes pleins de confiance et de motivation.
Dieu est au contrôle à la fois dans la vie et dans la mort. L'Esprit de Dieu nous donne l'assurance intérieure que Dieu va compléter notre transformation. Notre vie temporelle est un rappel constant que nous ne sommes pas encore dans la présence du Seigneur - en effet, dans cet état, nous vivons par la foi et non par la vue. Notre désir est de laisser notre vie terrestre actuelle et d'être avec le Seigneur, même si nous aimerions entrer dans une période de nudité en attendant d'être revêtu avec nos nouveaux corps. Ce n'est pas un désir de mort, mais l’expression de notre volonté que le désir d'être avec Christ puisse surpasser l’obstacle de la mort (cf. Phil. 1.21).
Mais la meilleure de toutes les circonstances serait d’être en vie lors de son avènement, transformés pour être avec Christ sans la mort (cf. Phil. 1:21-13) .
Conclusion : «C’est pour cela aussi que nous nous efforçons de lui être agréables, soit que nous demeurions dans ce corps, soit que nous le quittions.» (9). Quelque soit ce qui arrivera, que nous soyons ici, chez nous dans le corps lors du retour de Christ ou absent du corps à ce moment, notre objectif et notre motivation pour le ministère c’est d’être trouvés agréable au Seigneur.
4ème Partie IV. Plan De Predications
Jean 4:19-42 - Le dialogue de Jésus avec la Samaritaine, 2ème partie
Titre: L'approche d'évangélisation du maître, 2ème partie
Sujet: Surmonter les obstacles spirituels et sociaux dans l'évangélisation
(Suite du point n°3 entamé dans la dernière édition de cette Revue.)
Point n°4 : Tourner l’attention vers la personne de Dieu (4:19-24 )
1. Grâce à une réaction qui éveille la conscience (19-20)
a) Au sujet de qui est Jésus (19)
b) Au sujet de comment trouver Dieu (20)
2. Grâce à une réponse qui éclaire (21-24)
a) Au sujet du lieu où l’on peut trouver Dieu (21)
b) Au sujet de la façon dont Dieu est adoré (22-24)
Point n°5: Révéler la divinité de Jésus (4:25-26 )
1. En découvrant ce qu'ils savent à son sujet (25)
a) Au sujet de sa seconde venue
b) Au sujet de sa révélation de la vérité
2. En révélant ce qu'ils ne savent pas à son sujet (26)
Point n°6: Susciter la foi chez les autres (4:27-38 )
1. Susciter la foi chez les autres à travers votre témoignage (28-30)
a) En démontrant que Dieu change les vies (28)
b) En invitant les autres à l’expérimenter par eux-mêmes (29a)
c) En déclarant que Christ a fait (29b)
d) En mettant l’accent sur qui le Christ est (29c -30)
2. Susciter la foi chez les autres à travers une théologie correcte (31-42)
a) L'œuvre de Dieu dans le monde est la mission du Christ (31-34)
- de faire la volonté de Dieu
- pour achever l’œuvre de Dieu
b) L'œuvre de Dieu dans le monde est une mission «inattendue» (35)
- la moisson spirituelle se produit aux moments les plus inattendus
- la moisson spirituelle se produit dans les endroits les plus inattendus
c) L'œuvre de Dieu dans le monde est une mission d'équipe (36-38)
- L'équipe de Dieu est composée de semeurs et de moissonneurs
- Les membres de l'équipe de Dieu sont tous importants
- Tous les membres de l’équipe de Dieu travaillent pour le même résultat
Point n°7: Conclusions - Les résultats (4:39-42 )
1. Certains croiront à travers votre témoignage (39-40)
2. Beaucoup d'autres croiront à travers la parole de Dieu (41-42)
Related Topics: Pastors
Jurnalul Electronic Al Păstorilor, Rom Ed 9, Ediţia Toamnă 2013
Ediţia Toamnă 2013
Produs de ...
Dr. Roger Pascoe, Preşedinte,
The Institute for Biblical Preaching
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
“Întărind Biserica în Predicare Biblică şi Conducere”
Partea I: Predicarea: Pregătirea Predicatorului
“Predicarea şi Lucrarea lui Dumnezeu” Pt. 3
De: Dr. Roger Pascoe
The Institute for Biblical Preaching
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
În ediţia de primăvară şi vară 2013 a acestui Jurnal al Păstorilor (publicat pe acest website), am discutat despre pregătirea spirituală şi personală a predicatorului. Vom continua acest subiect din nou în această ediţie. Ceea ce învăţăm este că înainte de a predica Cuvântul cu putere, acurateţe şi credibilitate, trebuie să fii calificat spiritual şi personal. Persoana calificată pentru a predica Cuvântul este numită „omul lui Dumnezeu” de către apostolul Pavel.
De asemenea observăm că, pentru a fi calificat să slujeşti Domnului în lucrare, trebuie să ai în atenţie patru domenii principale: (1) păzeşte-ţi viaţa morală; (2) condu-ţi viaţă de acasă; (3) îngrijeşte-te de viaţa personală; (4) disciplinează-ţi viaţa de slujire. Ultima data am discutat despre „Păzeşte-ţi viaţa morală”. În această ediţie vom privi la celelalte trei aspecte ale omului lui Dumnezeu.
Condu-ţi viaţa de acasă (1 Tim. 3:5)
Caracterul adevărat al omului, valorile şi stilul de viaţă se vad acasă. Acolo se vede cin este el cu adevărat. John MacArthur spune: „De vreme ce păstorul trebuie să fie liderul bisericii Domnului şi un părinte iubitor pentru familia lui Dumnezeu, unde se poate califica mai bine decât în conducerea spirituală a propriei lui familii?”1 Dacă un bărbat nu se poate raporta corect la soţia şi copii lui, dacă nu îşi poate conduce propria lui casă, cum va putea să conducă biserica? (1 Tim. 3:5) Conducerea spirituală în casă este premisa pentru conducerea în biserică. Aceeaşi conducere jertfitoare şi slujitoare pe care o aştepţi în conducerea bisericii trebuie să fie evidentă acasă.
De aceea, viaţa ta de familie trebuie să fie caracterizată de echilibru, bucurie şi supunere faţă de Cuvânt, disciplină, ascultare, dragoste, spontaneitate, slujire, sacrificiu pentru ceilalţi, respect reciproc, etc. De aceea, dedică timp adecvat şi de calitate şi atenţie faţă de soţia ta şi familie, iar apoi ia asupra ta responsabilitatea ritmului şi direcţiei spirituale fiind un exemplu duhovnicesc. Tu eşti responsabil de stabilirea priorităţilor spirituale şi concentrare asupra căminului. De vreme ce predici şi înveţi prioritatea Scripturii şi ascultarea de Dumnezeu în viaţă ta de slujire, fii sigur că eşti un exemplu al acestor lucruri în viaţa ta de familie.
Dacă tu nu aşezi un exemplu, dar ceri respectul soţiei şi copiilor, cum vei putea face aceasta în biserică, sau într-o agenţie de misiune sau într-o slujire para-bisericească?
De aceea vreau să te încurajez să pui deoparte timp adecvat şi potrivit pentru soţia şi copii tăi. Nu îi pune pe locul secund, după slujire sau biserică. Posibil că ai criticat pe cineva din biserica ta pentru că a făcut lucrul acesta, aşadar nu o fă şi tu. Arată familiei tale că eşti gata să laşi deoparte orice altceva pentru că îi preţuieşti pe ei. Fii accesibil, fii disponibil pentru ei prin prezenţa ta, în mintea şi emoţiile tale.
Fii responsabil de bunăstarea spirituală, fizică, emoţională şi mentală a tuturor din familia ta. Dacă nu îţi iei această responsabilitate acasă, cum o vei putea face în slujirea ta, dovedind credibilitate sau succes?
Aşadar oamenii lui Dumnezeu trebuie să fie soţii şi taţi iubitori şi credincioşi.
1. Fii Un Soţ Iubitor Şi Credincios (1 Tim. 3:2; cf. Efes. 5:22-33)
Te încurajez să-ţi laşi soţia să să-şi dezvolte şi să-şi stabilească mai degrabă propria ei identitate, să-şi exercite darurile ei, decât să-şi derive identitatea ei din identitatea ta şi din vocaţia ta ca pastor. De asemenea, ea trebuie să te sprijine în rolul tău de păstor şi viaţa ei trebuie să-ţi dea având, nu să te frâneze.
Sunt atât de multe surse de stres pentru soţiile păstorilor:
- Câteodată se simt pe locul doi, după cerinţele lucrării soţului şi asta poate duce la resentimente.
- Se pot simţi izolate, fără prieteni apropiaţi în biserica, lucru ce poate duce la singurătate.
- Văd că soţii lor primesc atenţii de la alte femei din biserică, lucru ce poate duce la gelozie şi suspiciune.
- De multe ori simt presiunea de a fi perfecte, lucru ce duce la o imagine falsă, în încercarea de a mulţumi pe toată lumea.
- Pot trăi într-un „acvariu” spiritual la biserică, lucru ce poate duce la oboseală spirituală
- Câteodată păstorii nu câştigă mulţi bani, lucru ce poate face ca soţia să cadă sub presiune financiară
- Câteodată există o întrerupere a intimităţii în căsătorie şi o lipsă a sprijinului reciproc din cauza cerinţelor lucrării, lucru ce poate duce la răcire, mânie, anxietate, depresie şi îndepărtare sexuală.
Toate aceste surse de stres pot duce la dificultăţi în familie. Aşadar haideţi să fim plini de dragoste, sensibili, susţinători şi credincioşi soţiilor noastre.
2. Fii Un Tată Iubitor Şi Credincios(1 Tim. 3:4; Efes. 6:4)
Fii binevoitor şi blând cu copii tăi (cf. 1 Tes. 2:7, 11). Fii într-o relaţie bună cu mama lor şi prin mărturia creştină arată copiilor tăi ce înseamnă să fii un creştin evlavios şi consecvent. Dacă vrei să fii folosit de Dumnezeu ca lider spiritual al bisericii, începe prin a fii un lider spiritual al copiilor tăi.
Ţine minte să nu foloseşti copii tăi pe post de ilustraţii de la amvon, chiar dacă ei sunt de acord. Copii tind să agreeze repede aşa ceva dar atunci când reflectoarele sunt pe ei, s-ar putea să apară resentimente.
Nu neglija timpul petrecut cu copii tăi. Nu există acel timp de „calitate” care să compenseze lipsa „cantităţii”. Copii tăi au nevoie de timpul tău şi de atenţia ta.
Familia ta este de o importanţă supremă. Este o responsabilitate cu care te-ai încărcat când ai primit copii. Nu poţi scăpa de ea. Aşadar ia această responsabilitate ca un lider evlavios.
Nu lăsa ca copii tăi să simtă că sunt pe locul doi – nici chiar după lucrare – pentru că vor fi frustraţi. Dacă lucrarea şi responsabilităţile familiale sunt într-un conflict continuu, atunci ajustează-ți agenda lucrării.
Oferă copiilor tăi spaţiu pentru a creşte ca persoane, aşa cum Dumnezeu i-a creat să fie. De multe ori, copii crescuţi în casele păstorilor simt presiunea de a fi perfecţi. Dacă soţia ta se simte ca într-un acvariu, cu cât mai mult copii tăi! Aşadar, haideţi să nu punem presiune, obligându-i să se conformeze aşteptărilor celorlalţi oamenii. Îi putem ajuta să treacă peste asta, menţinând o intimitate continuă în casele noastre şi oferindu-le o copilărie normală.
În cele din urmă, haideţi să-i protejăm de cinism prin a nu discuta problemele din biserică în faţa copiilor noştri.
Hrănește-Ți Omul Din Lăuntru
În lucrare folosești foarte multă energie emoțională, spirituală, mentală și fizică. Nu numai că slujirea îți acaparează întreaga personalitate, dar într-un mod foarte ușor ajunge să absoarbă totul. Înainte ca să îți dai seama, nu mai ai viață sau interese în afara slujirii. Din acest motiv, trebuie să te disciplinezi și să te îngirijești de persoana ta, punând timp deoparte pentru:
1. Restaurare Spirituală
Dacă ești pastorul unei biserici locale, dai totul pentru biserica pe care o slujești – încurajare, îmbărbătare, mustrare, avertizare, consiliere, predicare, învățătură. Dacă faci acest lucru suficient de mult timp fără ca să te hrănești tu însuți din punct de vedere spiritual, în cele din urmă vei rămâne gol. Într-un moment Domnul Isus le-a spus ucenicilor să vină în deșert pentru o perioadă de odihnă.
Trebuie să te hrănești din punct de vedere spiritual. Cum poți să faci acest lucru? O modalitate ar fi să ai pe altcineva care să te încurajeze. Ascultă pe alți predicatori, citește cărți devoționale, participă la conferințe, sau invită predicatori într-un mod regulat ca să predice pentru tine – este bine pentru biserică și pentru tine. Indiferent de varianta pe care o alegi pentru a fi restaurat din punct de vedere spiritual, disciplinează-te astfel încât aceasta să fie făcută în mod regulat pentru ca bateriile tale să nu ajungă descărcate.
2. Reîmprospătare mentală
O viață mentală sănătoasă necesită atât relaxare cât și stimulare. Relaxarea mentală poate lua diferite forme cum ar fi vacanțe obișnuite, plimbări cu soția, o seară de părtășie alături de prieteni cu care te poți relaxa și să fi tu insuți.
Și nu uita să îți programezi timp pentru a fi singur – solitudinea este bună, în special pentru relaxare mentală.
Opusul acesteia este însă și el necesar – stimularea mentală. Apostolul Pavel scria: „Tot ce este adevărat, tot ce este vrednic de cinste, tot ce este drept, tot ce este curat, tot ce este vrednic de iubit, tot ce este vrednic de primit, orice faptă bună, și orice laudă, aceea să vă însuflețească”(Filip.4:8). „Tot ce este vrednic” stimulează mintea cu gânduri
“Aceste lucruri” iti stimuleaza mintea cu ganduri bune si subiecte provocatorare care te vor edifica.
Nu devenii inactiv sau necurat in gandirea ta. Iti poti tine mintea treaza si stimulata astfel:
- Citind carti bune pe subiecte cat mai diverse
- Asociindu-te cu oameni care impartasesc aceleasi idei privind abilitatile intelectuale si maturitatea spirituala, care se pot angaja in conversatii antrenante despre subiecte esentiale
- Ascultand muzica buna care sa te ajute
- Ascultand predici bune
- Imbunatateste-ti in mod continuu abilitatile profesionale prin participarea la cursuri si seminarii – in mod special la cele despre predicare si conducerea bisericii.
3. Recreerea Fizica
In 1 Timotei 4:8, apostolul spune: “Exercitiul fizic ajuta putin”– i.e. are ceva valoare. Fiecare pastor are nevoie sa isi ia timp pentru munca fizica afara si pentru recreere fizica pentru a compensa responsabilitatile menatale si spirituale ce vin din predicare. Nu intelege gresit, predicarea si slujirea pastorala inseamna munca grea. Sa iti petreci toata ziua la intalniri, consiliere, administrare, studii inseamna sa iti planifici timp si pentru ceva activ.
Activitatea fizica este buna nu doar pentru trupul tau dar si pentru mintea ta. A avea grija de trupurile noastre este o administrare la fel de importanta ca administrarea banilor, a timpului, si a darurilor spirituale. Pavel a crezut ca trupul trebuie sa fie consacreat (Rom. 12:1); pastrat (1 Tes. 5:23), antrenat (1 Tim. 4:8), si disciplinat (1 Cor. 9:24-27). Nu uitati, “trupul vostru este templul Duhului Sfant “(1 Cor. 6:19-20).Asadar, trebuie sa avem grija cum il folosim. Trebuie sa il pastram in curatie pentru gloria lui Dumnezeu. Trebuie sa ii mentinem sanatatea. Si trebuie sa il “glorificam pe Dumnezeu in duhul si trupul nostru care sunt ale lui Dumnezeu” (1 Cor. 6:20).
O parte din acest proces de a avea grija de trupul nostru il reprezinta angajarea intr-o forma de exercitii fizice in ideea de a-l mentine in greutate si sanatate. Incearca sa te disciplinezi in acest domeniu. Pe masura ce vei imbatranii o sa fi multumitor ca ai facut-o.
4. Recuperare Emotionala
Pastorii sunt foarte vazuti si auziti – toata lumea vede ce faci si aude ce spui. Unele lucruri pe care le spunem si le facem vor genera:
- Critica din parea celor al carui cuget va reactiona la ceea ce spunem
- Conflict si, poate, judecata din partea celor care nu sunt de acord cu noi
- Ingrijorare pentru cei pentru care suntem responsabili fizic, emotional si spiritual
Conflictul si critica au un cost emotional ridicata. De aceea, din cand in cand avem nevoie sa ne recuperam emotional. Cum putem face acest lucru? Cateva sugestii
- Bucura-te de partasia cu prietenii care te incurajaza si te ajuta sa razi
- Intalneste-te cu alti pastori care te pot sfatuii cum sa tratezi situatiile dificile
- Citeste carti despre slujirea pastorala – vei descoperii ca nu esti singur; chiar si predicatorii remarcabilii se confrunta cu conflictele si critica.
Disciplinarea Vietii De Slujire (2 Tim. 2:1–6, 15)
Un lider / predicator bun are solemna responsabilitate de a se “infatisa inaintea lui Dumnezeu ca un om incercat, ca un lucrator care nu are de ce sa ii fie rusine si care imparte drept Cuvantul adevarului.” (2 Tim 2:15)
Acest standard al predicarii biblice este descris mai sus in acest capitol prin trei imagini privind efortul disciplinarii - disciplina si angajamentul zilnic al unui soldat, al unui atlet, al unui agricultor (2 Tim. 2:1-6). Imaginile care ne sunt trasate in aceste versete zugravesc disciplina, datoria si devotamentul, care, atunci cand sunt manifestate, aduc rasplata.
1. Liderii evlaviosi trebuie sa aiba acea „tinta unica” a unui soldat (2:3-4)
In primul rand, principala tinta a unui soldat este aceea de a fi gata intotdeauna de a suferi (2:3) – de a „indura greutati”. Suferinta este de asteptat in slujire datorita razboiului spiritual (Ef. 6:1-20) si a tratamentelor rele.
In al doilea rand, principala tinta a unui soldat este de a fi gata de sacrificiu (2:4a). Nu poti fi preocupat cu „treburile vietii” daca vrei sa fi intotdeauna la datorie si disponibil pentru lucrare. Aceasta este o chemare la sacrificiu – sa de debarasezi de orice alta datorie care te-ar putea distrage de la principala preocupare. Asta nu inseamna ca este gresit in “treburile vietii” insa acestea au tendinta de a ne incurca, si pentru aceasta ele trebuiesc puse deoparte.
Orice ne-ar fura din timpul nostru necesar cu Dumnezeu (in rugaciune si in Cuvant) si pentru Dumnezeu trebuie sacrificat.
In al treilea rand, principala tinta a unui soldat este aceea de a avea intotdeauna dorinta si de a fi gata pentru oaste (2:4b) – „dacă vrea să placă celui ce l -a scris la oaste”. Ca si soldati ai Domnului Isus Hristos, noi trebuie sa fim gata sa il slujim pe Cel care ne-a inscris in oastea Sa. Suntem intotdeauna de serviciu.
Un soldat adevărat este marcat de devotiune din toata inima pentru slujire, angajament total si care nu are nimic care sa il tina pe loc. Rasplata unui soldat este aprobarea ofiterului superior. Pentru aceasta lucram noi – pentru aprobarea Domnului.
2. Liderii evlaviosi trebuie sa aiba „efortul intens” al unui atlet (2:5)
Un atlet An athlete displays strenuous effort in training and competing. In order to win an athlete must strive toward three objectives:
- Tinteste excelenta. Aceasta implica exercitiu, efort, antrenament, intelepciune, angajament, competitie, si acestea facute bine. Predicatorii trebuie sa faca lucrarea lor cu excelenta si intelepciune.
- Tinteste dupa randuieli. Aceasta inseamna sa te supui regulilor, in mod sincer. Cunoscand regulile si urmandu-le, chiar si atunci cand nimeni nu se uita. Predicatorii trebuie sa aiba o asemenea integritate.
Tinteste sa castigi. Rasplata este de a primi cununa, de a fi victorios, cautand doar aprobarea Domnului. Rasplata predicatorului este acceptarea din partea Domnului acum si cununa sus in cer.
Un atlet trebuie sa aiba o discipina totala daca doreste sa participe in competitie si sa castige dupa reguli. Iar rasplata este acea de a fi „incoronat” ca si castigator.
3. Liderii evlaviosi trebuie sa aibă „perseverenta continua” a unui fermier (2:6)
Fermierul lucreaza mult si din greu fara a avea vreun semn de succes. Aceasta necesita foarte multa auto-disciplina si perseverenta. Dupa pregatirea terenului si plantarea semintei, ei trebuie sa astepte recolta. Aceasta necesita incredere – incredere in Dumnezeu, pentru ca numai Dumnezeu poate face ca o samanta sa creasca si sa produca o recolta. Fermierii trebuie sa munceasca din greu si sa fie dependenti.
Predicatorii duhovnicesti pot pregati cele mai bune predici si studii biblice si sa le transmita cu mare pasiune dar rezultatele, de a aduce pe cei morti la viața, ii apartin Domnului (Ef.2:1).
Numai prin munca asidua, angajament din toata inima, si auto-disciplina putem sa ne infatisam ca niste lucratori „vrednici inaintea lui Dumnezeu” care „nu au nimic de care sa se rusineze” (2:15).
Este usor sa devii lenes in lucrare, sa iti pierzi angajamentul si sa devii descurajat.
Haideti sa ne disciplinam in a pune timp si energia necesara pentru a ne face treaba bine. Sa ne comportam astfel incat oamenii sa vada ca noi suntem dedicati marturiei crestine si slujirii. Nu fi cu inima impartita cu privire la viața ta crestina sau sa fi satisfacut cu mediocritate in slujirea ta. Predicarea si conducerea bisericii inseamna munca grea! Si tot ceea ce facem trebuie facut pentru gloria lui Dumnezeu iar asta inseamna sa o facem cu toate puterea noastra si cu excelenta.
La un nivel personal, masurarea slujirii crestine pentru omul lui Dumnezeu inseamna, pe de-o parte, a fi cu luare aminte pentru a fi gasit fara pata inaintea lui Dumnezeu, si pe de cealalta parte, a fi un slujitor care nu are nimic de ce sa ii fie rusine.
La un nivel practic, masura unei slujiri crestine pentru omul lui Dumnezeu inseamna predicare si invatatura corecta, appropriate, si cu autoritate – impartind corect cuvantul adevarului.
Partea A-II-A. Lidership: A Fi Un Exemplu Crestin
“Sfintirea Ta Personala”
By: Dr. Roger Pascoe
The Institute for Biblical Preaching
Vom continua tema sfințeniei personale din ultima noastra editie a Jurnalului Electronic al Păstorilor. Ultima dată când am discutat puritate în viețile noastre sociale. În această ediție, ne vom uita la puritate în gândurile noastre, motivele, și cuvinte.
Puritate In Gandire (2 Cor. 10:5)
Gandurile noastre pot fi atat de pacatoase, nu-i asa? Cateodata te gandesti de unde iti vin anumite ganduri. Fara indoiala ele izvorasc din natura noastra pacatoasa, activate de Satan si de ispitele pe care el le pune in calea noastra.
Pentru a ne pastra puritatea in ganduri trebuie sa fim atenti cu privire la lucrurile la care ne gandim. Trebuie sa ne disciplinam mintea astfel incat sa controlam gandurile pe care le alimentam. Cand gandurile noastre sunt necontrolate, fanteziile pot usor sa preia controlul mintii noastre. Iar fanteziile care sunt necontrolate tind sa devina realitate. Biblia spune, „ceea ce omul gandeste, aceea el este” (Prov. 23:7). Gandurile noastre modeleaza caracterul si comportamentul nostru. Fiecare actiune sau obicei incepe cu un gand.
Deci,trebuie sa fim atenti la ce ne gandim.
Dacă aveți în minte gânduri nesănătoase sau păcătoase , rugați-vă lui Dumnezeu să le alunge din mintea ta . Aceasta funcționează ! Dumnezeu ne eliberează de rău , pentru că puterea lui Dumnezeu este mai mare decât Satan sau decât orice ispită pământească .
Gândurile noastre sunt de multe ori generate de lucruri pe care le -am citit sau văzut . Deci, fi atent la ceea ce te uiți, pentru că ceea ce te privești pătrunde în inima ta și are un impact asupra dorintelor tale . “Apoi pofta, cînd a zămislit, dă naştere păcatului; şi păcatul odată făptuit, aduce moartea.” ( Iacov 1:15 ) . Acesta este modelul , dacă gândurile noastre merg necontrolate .
Probabil că ceea ce se întâmplă în minte este mult mai periculos decât toate celelalte ( mai mult chiar decât acțiunile exterioare ), pentru că nimeni nu poate vedea gândurile. Nimeni nu te poate trage la răspundere pentru ceea ce gândești pentru că nimeni nu le știe. Dar Isus a spus : “ce iese din gură, vine din inimă, şi aceea spurcă pe om. Căci din inimă ies gîndurile rele, uciderile, preacurviile, curviile, furtişagurile, mărturiile mincinoase, hulele.” ( Matei 15:18-20 ) Ce se întâmplă în mintea ta va ieși la iveală - . Fie gândurile bune fie cele rele . Și aceste gânduri vor sta la baza a ceea ce esti si ceea ce faci .
Puritate In Motiv
Motivele impure sunt atunci când facem lucrurile corecte pentru motive greșite – când facem ceva pentru a obține un rezultat dorit, dar pentru un motiv gresit. Deci, haideți să ne întrebăm: de ce facem lucrarea? Care este motivația noastră? Noi trebuie să facem ceea ce trebuie si pentru motivele corecte.
În Apoc. 2:2-3 biserica din Efes a făcut lururile bune dar dintr-o motivație greșită. – mai exact, ei nu au făcut lucrarea din dragoste pentru Hristos. Avertismentul este că, dacă nu se vor pocăi de motivele lor necurate, Dumnezeu va îndepărta sfeșnicul de la ei (mărturia lor publică ca biserică). Pentru cine facem lucrarea? Pentru ce trăim?
Facem lucrarea pentru propria noastră glorie asemenea celor care “se laudă singuri” care “se măsoară cu ei înşişi şi se pun alături ei cu ei înşişi, sînt fără pricepere.” (2 Cor. 10:12)?
Trăim pentru câștigul nostru personal, cum ar fi cele care “presupun că evlavia este un mijloc de câștig” (1 Tim. 6:05)?
Căutăm noi propria noastră promovare? Isus a spus: “Sunt printre voi ca unul care slujește” (Luca 22:27). Pavel a spus că el a “slujit Domnului cu toată smerenia, cu multe lacrimi și încercări” (Faptele Apostolilor 20:19).
În cartea sa, “Păstorind Biserica,” Joe Stowell, scrie: “Cei care slujesc spre slava și câștigul Lui găsesc cea mai mare bucurie a lor nu în afirmația ce ar putea veni la ușă, după predică, ci într-o viață care, în timp, este schimbată prin intermediul slujirii de proclamare. Într-o viață care aduce acum mai multă slavă lui Dumnezeu decât în vremurile de demult. Într-o viață care dă credit la Dumnezeu - nu noi - pentru ceea ce a făcut Dumnezeu în viețile lor prin noi “Da.!
Motivele curate ne fac să slujim pentru slava lui Hristos și de a beneficia de împărăția Lui. Motivația lui Pavel pentru lucrare a fost că “Hristos va fi proslăvit în trupul meu, fie prin viață sau prin moarte. Căci pentru mine a trăi este Hristos și a muri este un câștig “(Filipeni 1:20). Pavel a spus, “Eu sunt ultimul dintre apostoli și nu merit să fiu numit apostol” (1 Cor. 15:9). Motivul lui Ioan Botezătorul a fost că Isus Hristos “trebuie să crească, dar eu să mă micșorez” (Ioan 3:30).
Să ne verificăm inimile noastre să vedem care sunt motivele noastre ca și lideri ai poporului lui Dumnezeu.
Puritate In Cuvant (1 Tim. 4:12; Tit. 2:7)
Discursul nostru este un domeniu care poate fi cel mai periculos și cel în care se pot strecura greșeli cel mai ușor. Ce spunem (cuvintele și expresiile pe care le folosim) și cum le spunem (limbajul corpului, tonul vocii), poate să împuternicească rolul nostru de lider sau să îl imobilizeze. Puteți da un sens total diferit cuvintelor pe care le utilizați doar prin punerea unui accent în mod diferit sau prin limbajul corpului.
Trebuie să fim atenți cu privire la alegerea cuvintelor noastre. Am observat din ce in ce mai multe cuvinte și expresii seculare nepotrivite folosite de creștini (și predicatori), cuvinte care în alte vremuri nu ar fi fost niciodată folosite de creștini. Am auzit pastori și lideri creștini spun lucruri care mă fac să mă pitesc. Uneori, ei folosesc expresii care sunt comune in societatea noastră, dar care nu ar trebui să fie parte din limbajul nostru de comunicare. Am auzit lideri din biserică folosind cuvinte de argou tot timpul, care sunt derivate din cuvintele de blestem (și cred că ei nici macar nu știu asta).
Cuvintele sunt spuse atât de ușor și nu pot fi retrase. Când au ieșit, ele sunt ca apa care s-a vărsat pe pământ - nu pot fi ridicate din nou (. 2 Sam 14:14). Atunci când cuvintele gresite sunt spuse, e prea târziu, răul a fost făcut.
Cuvintele sunt fondul de comerț pentru liderii creștini. Lucrarea noastră se învârte în jurul utilizării cuvintelor. Prin urmare, este de datoria noastră să fim experți în utilizarea lor - nu numai de la amvon, ci în toate interacțiunile noastre. Noi trebuie să jonglăm cu cuvintele, să alegem cu grijă cuvintele pe care le folosim pentru a transmite cu exactitate ceea ce vrem să spunem.
Dar acuratețea și adevărul nu sunt suficiente. “Vorbirea voastră să fie totdeauna cu har, dreasă cu sare” (Col. 4:06). “Spune adevărul în dragoste” (Efeseni 4:15). “Fi lent în a vorbi și grabnic în ascultare” (Iacov 1:19).
Deci, încercați să evitați limbajul ușor sau cel de stradă – vă va aduce numai probleme. Nu folosiți cuvinte dure sau aspre (Efeseni 5:4) - nu este modelul lui Hristos. Încercați să nu folosiți cuvinte cu dublu înțeles.. Atunci când este posibil, fiți atenți pentru a folosi cuvinte politicoase, constructive, bine alese.
Feriți-vă de bârfă, calomnie, minciună, înșelăciune, concluzii, aluzii, seductie, murmurări, nemulțumiri, laude, exagerări. Ele toate provin din utilizarea și aplicarea greșită a cuvintelor (cf. Efeseni 4:25, 29, 31,. 5:04, Coloseni 3:8-9, 4:6;. Matei 15:11, 17-20) . Stai departe de cuvinte care pot avea conotații necurate.
Să folosim “vorbire sănătoasă” (Tit 2:08), care este o mărturie pentru alții a “cuvintelor pline de har”, care ieșeau din gura Domnului, a purității în exprimarea pe care ne-o dorim ca alții să o adopte, și de tipul de cuvinte care îi îndeamnă pe alții la Hristos.
Profesorii obișniuau să ne spună: “bețele și pietrele pot să imi rupă oasele, dar cuvintele nu-mi vor face niciodată rău” - nu este adevărat! Cuvintele rostite în furie, glumă, tachinare, critică poate răni mult mai mult decât durerea fizică și produce o suferință de nedescris în relațiile creștine. Cuvintele pe care le folosim sunt importante, asa ca alege-le cu grijă.
Partea A-III-A. Gânduri Devotionale
“Slujirea Vaselor de Lut, Partea a-2-a: Motivarea pentru Slujire” (2 Cor. 4:16-5:9)
By: Dr. Roger Pascoe
The Institute for Biblical Preaching
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
În ediția de vară a acestui jurnal, am început să studiem subiectul “Slujirea vaselor de lut” (2 Corinteni 4:7 - 5:21). Ne-am uitat la 2 Corinteni 4:7-16, care se ocupă cu tema “Natura Slujirii”. Acum vom continua cu următoarea secțiune, 2 Corinteni 4:16 - 5:8, care se ocupă cu tema “Motivația pentru Slujire “. Apostolul arată trei motivații pentru lucrare: (1) motivația pentru transformarea viitoare (4:15 - 5:8), (2), motivația dării de seamă înaintea lui Dumnezeu (5:10-13), și (3) motivația dragostei lui Hristos (5:14-17). În această ediție a Jurnalului păstorilor, vom acoperi doar MOTIVAȚIA PENTRU TRANSFORMAREA VIITOARE (4:16 - 5:9).
Apostolul dezvoltă acest subiect al slujirii vaselor de lut în jurul a patru paradoxuri ale slujirii. Ultima dată am observat primul paradox al slujirii: mesagerul slab versus mesajul plin de putere. Acum, în legătură cu motivarea pentru slujire (specific, motivația pentru transformarea viitoare) avem următoarele trei paradoxuri.
Al doilea paradox al slujirii este: decăderea exterioară versus reînnoire lăuntrică (4:16-17). Pentru creștini paradoxul este că, „chiar dacă omul nostru de afară se trece, totuş omul nostru din lăuntru se înoieşte din zi în zi.”(16b).
Există o diferență între exterior și interior - exteriorul se degradează, iar interiorul se reînnoiește. Pe de o parte, suferim de degradarea progresivă a ființei. “Omul nostru de afară” (de exemplu, ceea ce este vizibil - corpul nostru fizic și abilitățile noastre) „se degradează” (de exemplu, în mod constant și ireversibil se îndreaptă spre moarte). Pe de altă parte, ființa noastră interioară este progresiv reînnoită după chipul lui Dumnezeu. “Omul nostru din lăuntru” (de exemplu, ceea ce este invizibil - noua noastră viață în Hristos, ființa noastră spirituală, asemănarea noastră cu Hristos) “se înnoiește din zi în zi” (adică sfințiți, transformați în imaginea lui Hristos).
Realitatea pentru cei necredincioși este înspăimântătoare. Ei experimentează doar degradare exterioară fără nici un fel de înnoire interioară, pentru că ei nu au viață spirituală. „Căci” introduce explicarea acestui paradox al degradării exterioare versus reînnoire lăuntrică „întristările noastre uşoare de o clipă lucrează pentru noi tot mai mult o greutate vecinică de slavă.”(17). Observați elementele contrastante ale paradoxului creștin:
- suferința prezentă de dragul lui Isus = lumină și probleme aleatorii
- gloria viitoare în prezența lui Isus = o slavă veșnică, care depășește cu mult toată suferința sau problemele noastre actuale
Pavel nu ne învață că suferința fizică este recompensată cu merite spirituale. El nu este favorabil asceticismului. Ci mai degrabă, Pavel încă se confruntă cu problema modului în care slava și puterea lui Dumnezeu sunt afișate în vasele de lut (7), problema spirituală (și, probabil, fizică), moartea împreună cu Isus (10a), problema vieții lui Isus manifestată în noi (10b), problema de a fi dat la moarte din pricina lui Isus ca astfel încât viața lui Isus să se arate în noi (11).
“Tema lui Pavel de-a lungul acestei epistole este că fragilitatea cadrului uman și suferința pe care o susține în cauza Evangheliei mareste, din cauza contrastul uimitor, și oferă posibilitatea pentru a experimenta, transcendenta glorie, putere și harul Dumnezeului Cel Atotputernic”2. Nu contează cât de severe pot fi suferințe fizice “pentru Isus” (de exemplu, suferința, care este îndurata și suportate pentru Isus in slujirea Evangheliei), este “usoara”și “trecatoare” în comparație cu “slava veșnică” care este rezervata pentru noi în cer.
Al treilea paradox al slujirii în acest pasaj este : vizibil versus invizibil (04:18) . Ochiul credinței nu este preocupat de ceea ce se vede , ci cu ceea ce nu se vede . “Pentrucă noi nu ne uităm la lucrurile cari se văd, ci la cele ce nu se văd.” Noi nu ne concentram pe slăbiciunea noastră umană, pe suferință, pe moarte ( adică pe decăderea fiintei noastre exterioare, fizice ), și pe situațiile dificile, ci, mai degrabă , ne uitam la “lucrurile care nu se văd.” Necreștinii se concentrează pe elementele fizice, pe comorile exterioare, și prezent (comorile de pe pamant, lucrurile pieritoare), dar creștinul este axat pe lucrurile spirituale, launtrice, și eterne. Noi suntem axati pe realitățile spirituale (adevăr, viața în Hristos). Noi suntem axati pe puterea interioara, reînnoirea Duhului Sfant. Suntem axati pe slava veșnică - o perspectivă viitoare, cereasca, când vom fi in cele din urma pe deplin ca si Hristos. Noi alergam inainte, fără să ne uitam înapoi ( Filipeni 3:14 ). Induram prezentul pentru asigurarea viitorului. Noi știm că cele tranzitorii vor face loc celor permanente. Noi cautam ca necazurile vremelnice să fie înlocuite cu slava veșnică.
Al patrulea paradox al slujirii este: cortul pamantesc versus casa cereasca (5:1-8). Explicația pentru acest paradox anterior urmează acum: “Caci noi știm...” Fundamentul perspectivei noastre asupra suferinței și degradarii prezente este cunoștințele noastre cu privire la glorificarea noastra viitoare, răscumpărarea trupurilor noastre, precum și a sufletelor noastre, o anume speranța a slavei. Singura incertitudine este daca vom muri înainte de venirea lui Isus - “…dacă se desface casa pămîntească a cortului nostru trupesc...” (5:1).
Corpul în care trăim acum este temporar și trecător, nefiind locul nostru permanent de adăpost. Dar, chiar dacă acesta este distrus în moarte, “... avem o clădire în cer dela Dumnezeu, o casă, care nu este făcută de mînă ci este vecinică”. Imaginea “cortului” versus “casă” este o aluzie la Cortul Intalnirii al Israelitilor din pustie vs templul permanent de la Ierusalim (cf. Evrei 11:8 ff.).. Ca și ei în pustie, noi suntem străini și călători pe pământ, doar in trecere - cetățenia noastră este în ceruri. Si atunci când vom ajunge în cer, vom avea corpuri potrivite pentru că existența cerească - “nu este făcut de mâini” (nu din aceasta lume, creații legate de pământ), nu temporare, care nu sunt supuse la putrezire, nu sunt afectate de păcate, ci trupuri permanente, eterne, glorificate asemenea trupului glorios înviat al lui Hristos (Filipeni 3:21).
„Si ( explicarea v. 1) gemem in cortul (trupul) acesta” ( cf. Rom . 08:23 ), plini de dorinţa să ne îmbrăcăm peste el cu locaşul nostru ceresc ... “( 2 ). În cortul nostru pamantesc noi gemem ( pentru că este supus la putrezire, suferință, durere). De aceea tanjim dupa trupurile noastre glorificate ( locuința noastră , care este din cer ), care sunt privite ca hainele ce vor fi puse peste trupurile noastre pământești (cf. 1 Corinteni 15:53), astfel încât exista atât continuitate cat și transformare – trupurile noastre pământești vor fi acoperite și schimbate de trupurile noastre ceresti. Ceea ce dorim cu adevarat este posibilitatea ( “...dacă într-adevăr” , v. 3 ) de a primi trupurile noastre glorificate, fără moarte (“...a fost îmbrăcat”) - să fim în viață la venirea lui Hristos , astfel încât , “fiind deja îmbrăcati” cu trupurile noastre glorificate , “nu vom fi găsiţi desbrăcaţi de el “(3). Speranța exprimata aici este că noi nu trebuie să fim separati de trupurile noastre la moarte, ca nu am experimenta o stare în afara trupului, ca nu murim înainte de a primi trupurile noastre glorificate „îmbrăcați cu locasul ceresc “( 2b ) .
“Caci” (ca explicații suplimentare), noi, cei care sunt în acest cort (existență fizică temporara in degradare) gemem apăsaţi; nu că dorim să fim desbrăcaţi de trupul acesta, ci să fim îmbrăcaţi cu trupul celalt peste acesta, pentruca ce este muritor în noi, să fie înghiţit de viaţă (4). Gemem din cauza poverii trupurilor noastre actuale, nu pentru că vrem să murim (să fim dezbrăcați și trupurile noastre sa se intoarca in tarana),ci pentru că vrem să fim îmbrăcați în continuare cu trupurile noastre glorificate (trupuri potrivite pentru glorie), astfel că trupurile noastre muritoare (trupurile noastre prezente aflate in degradare), pot să fie înghițite de (preluate, absorbite, îmbrăcate cu) viața veșnică la reîntoarcerea lui Hristos, astfel încât să nu murim niciodata și sa nu experimentan coruperea.
Aceasta se va întâmpla cu cei care sunt în viață la venirea lui Hristos. Noi nu vom fi “dezbrăcati” (goi, fără trup), ci “îmbrăcati”, prin punerea trupurile noastre glorificate peste trupurile noastre muritoare. Când acest lucru se întâmplă, trupurile noastre muritoare, legate de pamant vor fi absorbite imediat și transformate in starea noastra glorificata, pentru ca trupul nostru muritor (viața noastră, pământească, dar cu trupuri muritoare) va fi “înghițită” (dispărea în interiorul, absorbita, integrata in, digerata) “de” (ceea ce va fi cu adevărat) viață”.
Deci, portretul prezentat în 5:1-4 este că trupurile noastre muritoare sunt asemenea unui vesmant care acoperă sufletul, care la moartea devin goale, pentru că vor fi separate de trup. Pe de altă parte, trupurile noastre nemuritoare sunt asemănate la venirea lui Hristos cu o haina care re-imbraca (sau acopera) sufletele noastre, sau, pentru cei care sunt în viață în acel moment, vor fi “imbracati”- adică vor fi puse peste trupurile noastre muritoare.
“Acum, El, care ne-a pregatit pentru aceasta, este Dumnezeu” (5a). Dumnezeu însuși ne-a modelat pentru primirea (îmbrăcarea) trupurilor noastre glorificate. Această transformare finală în starea noastra glorificata este în întregime și numai lucrarea lui Dumnezeu. Acest lucru ne dă incredere pentru ca aceasta nu depinde de noi, ci de Dumnezeu si prin urmare se va împlini cu siguranță. Ceea ce a început Dumnezeu, El va finaliza (Filipeni 1:06), pentru că El “...ne -a dat arvuna Duhului.” (5b). Nu numai că avem instructiunile apostolului cu privire la aceasta certitudine viitoare a faptului ca Dumnezeu va realiza transformarea noastră finală, dar acum avem aceasta garantie interna (plata jos) a Duhului ca si garanție a faptului că Dumnezeu o va face cu siguranță (cf. Efeseni 1:14;... cf. Romani 8:11 și urm.). Duhul Sfânt în mod constant și continuu ne asigură că puterea care L-a înviat pe Hristos din morți ne va ridica si pe noi în slavă (Efeseni 1:9-20).
Ce încredere și motivație ne dă acest lucru, în special în aceste timpuri suferință și bătrânețe! Trupurile noastre exterioare se degradeaza, suferim de mortalitatea noastra, dar mai ales de dragul lui Isus. Dar totul se pierde în increderea și speranța transformării noastre viitoare în asemănarea lui Hristos, caci nu se poate compara cu slava care va fi. “Deci “(ca un rezultat al acestei asigurări că Dumnezeu va face acest lucru și a arvunii date prin Duhul Sfant), “suntem mereu încrezatori...”(6a) – increderea noastra in împlinirea lui Dumnezeu a transformării noastre este de neclintit și constanta - “... stiind ca ( încrederea este bazată pe cunostinta), dacă sîntem acasă în trup ... “(care trăiesc în acest cort pământesc ) “... pribegim departe de (prezența ) Domnul. Pentru că umblăm prin credință , nu prin vedere ( cf. Evr . 11:01 ). Suntem încrezători, da, și ne place mult mai mult să părăsim trupul ( adică să murim) și de a fi prezenti cu Domnul “( 6b - 8 ) - când vederea vor înlocui credința . Deși moartea este dușmanul nostru final , nu este un motiv de teamă . Mai degrabă , suntem plini de încredere și motivație .
Dumnezeu este în control, atât în viață cat și în moarte. Duhul lui Dumnezeu ne dă asigurarea interioara ca Dumnezeu va încheia transformarea vietii noastre. Viata noastra temporara este amintirea noastră constantă că nu suntem încă în prezența lui Dumnezeu - într-adevăr, în această stare trăim prin credință, nu prin vedere. Dorinta noastra este de a parasi viața noastră pământească prezentă și să fim cu Domnul, chiar dacă am intra intr-o perioadă de goliciune, așteptand să fim îmbrăcați cu noile noastre trupuri. Aceasta nu este o dorinta de moarte, ci o expresie a dorinței de a fi cu Hristos care pune în umbră obstacolul mortii (cf. Fil. 1:21).
Dar cea mai buna din toate circumstanțele ar fi să fim în viață la venirea lui, transformati și schimbati pentru a fi cu Hristos, fără moarte (cf. Fil. 1:21-13).
Concluzie: “Deaceea ne şi silim să -I fim plăcuţi, fie că rămînem acasă fie că sîntem departe de casă.” (9). Indiferent ce se întâmplă, fie că suntem acasa in trup in momentul venirii lui Hristos sau despartiti de trup in momentul cand Hristos vine, scopul și motivația noastra pentru slujirea noastră este de a fi „placuti Domnului”.
Partea A-IV-A. Schițe De Predici
Ioan 4:19-42, Dialogul Domnului Isus cu Femeia Samariteancă, Partea a-2-a
Titlu: Metoda Stăpânului în Evanghelizare, Partea a-2-a
Subiect: Învingând bariere sociale si spirituale în evanghelizare
Continuare de la punctul 3 din ediția precedentă a jurnalului
Punctul 4: Îndrumă persoana spre Dumnezeu (4:19-24)
1. Printr-un răspuns trezitor (19-20)
a) Despre cine este Domnul Isus (19)
b) Despre găsirea lui Dumnezeu (20)
2. Printr-un răspuns care aduce lumină (21-24)
a) Despre unde Dumnezeu poate fi găsit (21)
b) Despre modul în care ne închinăm la Dumnezeu (22-24)
Punctul 5: Revelează Dumnezeirea Domnului Isus (4:25-26)
1. Prin a găsi ceea ce ei cunosc despre El (25)
a) Despre venirea Lui
b) Despre revelarea adevărului
2. Prin descoperirea lucrurilor pe care ei nu le cunosc despre El(26)
Punctul 6: Dezvoltă credința în alții (4:27-38)
1. Dezvoltă credința în alții prin mărturia ta personală (28-30)
a) Prin demonstrarea faptului ca Dumnezeu schimbă vieți (28)
b) Prin invitarea altora de a vedea ei înșiși (29a)
c) Prin proclamarea a ceea ce a făcut Hristos (29b)
d) Prin arătarea a cine este Hristos (29c-30)
2. Dezvoltă credința în alții printr-o teologie corectă (31-42)
a) Lucrarea lui Dumnezeu în lume este lucrarea lui Hristos (31-34)
- de a face voia lui Dumnezeu
- de a termina lucrarea lui Dumnezeu
b) Lucrarea lui Dumnezeu este o lucrare „neobișnuită” (35)
- recolta spirituală iese în momente când nu te aștepți
- recolta spirituală iese în locuri în care nu te aștepti
c) Lucrarea lui Dumnezeu este o lucrare în echipă (36-38)
-Lucrarea lui Dumnezeu este compusă din semănători șu culegători
- toți membrii din echipa lui Dumnezeu sunt la fel de importanți
- toți membrii din echipa lui Dumnezeu lucrează pentru același rezultat
Punctul 7: Concluzii – Rezultatele (4:39-42)
1. Câțiva vor crede prin mărturia ta personală (39-40)
2. Mai mulți vor crede prin Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu (41-42)
1 John A. MacArthur, Rediscovering Pastoral Leadership – Redescoperind Conducerea Pastorală (Dallas: Word, 1995), 91.
2 Philip Hughes, 2 Corinthians in “The New International Commentary on the New Testament,” 157.
Related Topics: Pastors
Issue 015. 2013 December Bible.org Translator's Newsletter
This last month has resulted in 2 new translated articles being added to the site.
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The Gifts of ChristmasRelated Media
Christmas is hard work and expensive! We celebrate Christmas because it is tradition and part of our culture. God doesn’t command it, nor do we earn brownie points for doing so. Is it really worth the trouble?
For those of us who are Christ followers, if we are going to spend the effort and money, it seems that we should do so with purpose and not just follow tradition. And, it’s more fun when we celebrate because of gratitude as we remember God’s gifts to us embodied in our Christmas celebrations.
Several years ago, I hosted a neighborhood Christmas luncheon. When I got out my decorations, I asked myself, “What message do I want to give to the women as they come into my home?” Decorating is work; I wanted it to be meaningful! Over the years, I had collected a bunch of odds and ends stuff—mostly things given to me by my mom, our kids, or found in the attics of houses we bought. Recalling a book I read years ago called The Gifts of Christmas by Rachel Hartman, I remembered the author had taken the parts of the biblical Christmas story and considered them to be gifts (music, wonder, love…). Then, she related each gift to the traditions we have for celebrating Christmas. Her book had seven gifts—too many for me to use! So, I took three of the gifts—love, life, and joy— and put my decorations in groups matching the gift along with a descriptive card.
The first gift is that of love—God’s love. Christmas is the celebration of God making good on a promise He had made hundreds of years earlier that a child would be born who would be both God and man. God delivered on that promise when Jesus was born. We don’t know the date. The early Christians celebrated the resurrection, not the birth of Jesus. But by the 4th century, they celebrated Jesus’ birth when the Romans were busy with their own feasts—Dec. 25 in the West, Jan. 6 in the East. (The 12 days of Christmas connect the two dates.)
God made a promise and kept it. Love keeps promises. It was God’s idea to come to earth and live as a man—Jesus—fully man yet fully God. Now, why would God do that? Was it for His sake? No. It was for ours. It was God’s gift of LOVE to us.
“For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son…” (John 3:16).
Because God lived as a man (Jesus), He could pay the penalty of death that He as God had imposed on man because of sin. His death on the cross opens the way for us to have a relationship of LOVE with God. Titus 3:3-7 describes this well.
For we too were once foolish, disobedient, misled, enslaved to various passions and desires, spending our lives in evil and envy, hateful and hating one another. But “when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior. And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life.” (Titus 3:3-7)
We can have confidence that He understands what we’re feeling and experiencing as humans on earth. Because He’s has been here, He knows what it’s like to be tired, hungry, sad, surrounded by cranky people, and having someone dependent on you day and night. He showed His LOVE to women, so we know He LOVES us as women. God’s LOVE gift is expressed in nativity scenes, red bows, giving gifts, and serving one another.
The second gift is one of LIFE—real life that God promises to those who love Him. This same Jesus who died to pay the penalty for our sins so we could be totally forgiven of them also rose again from the dead—alive with a new body. And, he’s in a human body still in heaven. Do you think of Him that way? God offers this same LIFE to us who believe in Him.
“…so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).”
This new LIFE richly fills the longing in our hearts for a relationship with God our Creator. He adopts us as His children.
But to all who have received him -- those who believe in his name -- he has given the right to become God’s children -- children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God. (John 1:12-13)
We get to call Him Father, even Daddy. This gift of LIFE that never ends is represented in evergreen trees, wreaths, lights, and candles. I love evergreen wreaths with red bows and white lights at Christmas—LIFE!
The third gift is JOY expressed in celebration. The angels announced the good news of Jesus’ birth with JOYFUL praise. The shepherds responded by going to investigate for themselves, seeing the truth of the message and telling others.
Suddenly a vast, heavenly army appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom he is pleased!” When the angels left them and went back to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, that the Lord has made known to us.” So they hurried off and located Mary and Joseph, and found the baby lying in a manger. When they saw him, they related what they had been told about this child, (Luke 2:13-17)
JOY is a sense of well-being apart from circumstances. The world seeks happiness and is devastated when things go wrong. God’s gift of JOY transcends such “happenings.” JOY is the infallible sign of the presence of God. It comes to us through our relationship with Him.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29)
When we experience His gifts of love and life, joy follows. Traditions expressing joy are music, angels, and bright colors.
Maybe dwelling on these 3 gifts of Christmas will make your celebration more meaningful and give more purpose to your decorations. What message do you want to convey to those in your household or to those who come to visit you? Having this focus in my decorating has made a huge difference for me. May God bless your Christmas celebration this year.
As For MeRelated Media
Jane Austen once wrote, “I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle.”1 Far too often people placate themselves in outright selfishness—even at times out of pure greed. We have all noted this in many forms of social behavior, such as evidenced in political leaders, shoppers, drivers, or various public figures. For many, personal desire, opinion, or viewpoint is all that matters. For others, however, selflessness is quite characteristic such as in performing charitable deeds or in a desire to help or encourage others. Of vital importance is a spiritual concern not only for one’s own relation to God but for all people. As Haggai expressed it, “A self-centered life is totally empty, while an emptied life allows room for God.”2 Even more importantly, the need to put God first in one’s personal life so as to trust him above all, and in and through all circumstances is crucial.
In this study we shall note cases where the emphatic anticipatory phrase, “As for me” occurs followed by something other than a verb. Where it is followed by a verb, this phrase tends to underscore strongly the action involved. In other constructions it emphasizes a given person’s reaction, resolve, or attitude in accordance with the situation in which he finds himself. The latter shall be our focus of attention, with special attention to the biblical book of Psalms. The expression “As for me” may occur in most any context, such as in the psalmist’s declaration of his personal integrity (Ps. 26:11).We shall note two distinct yet at times overlapping situations, followed by a special study of Psalm 73. A summary and applications will close the study.
The Psalmist’s Need for Deliverance
In several passages, a psalmist cries out to the Lord in a time of dire need, whether due to trouble or even outright oppression (e.g., Ps. 70:5). Thus in Psalm 35 David points out to the Lord his grounds for seeking divine intervention in the midst of his troubles at the hands of others. Indeed, rather than persecuting others, he had a deep empathy and concern for them—yes, even those who were now maliciously and unjustly attacking him (Ps. 35:11-18). This was particularly true when they were ill. As Leupold observes, “Their sickness grieved him to such an extent that in deep- feeling for them he even wore sackcloth. He even fasted in his prayers for them as did Bible men in days of old in many instances. He would at such times go about as though his closest of kin, friend, brother, or mother had been sick.”3
In Psalm 69 the psalmist shares with God the depth of his troubles. He complains that he has so many enemies who hate him “without cause” (v. 4; cf. Ps. 119:81-88).4 Indeed, he is surrounded by them with their ridicule and insults. (vv. 7-12, 19-21). Therefore, he cries out,
O LORD, may you hear my prayer
and be favorably disposed to me.
O God, because of your great loyal love,
answer me with your faithful deliverance! (v. 13)
As in verses 1-3, he likens his situation to one who is about to be overwhelmed in surging waters (vv. 14-15), and pleads for God’s compassion and intervention on his behalf (vv. 16-18). His plaintiff cry is distinctively felt in verse 29:
But as for me—poor and in pain—
let your salvation protect me, God.
His great desire is not only to be rescued from his oppression and troubles, but to be able to praise the Lord before all, even those who had insulted him (vv. 30-32). Even more, as Futato expresses it, “As he was disgraced publicly, so he will praise God publicly. As God has been insulted by the opposition, so he will be praised by the opposed. Others, too, will join in the praise.”5
In a still later Psalm, the psalmist is again seen pleading for relief from all his troubles (Ps. 88:1-9). His plight is so severe that even his closest friends have nothing to do with him (vv. 14-18). Indeed, he feels lonely and abandoned by all, even the Lord himself (v. 14). His despair, however, does not keep him from seeking the Lord each morning. Accordingly, he reminds the Lord that he has come daily to cast his cares before him:
As for me, I cry out to you, O Lord;
in the morning my prayer confronts you. (v. 13)
The psalmist’s feeling of abandonment stands in vivid contrast with the sentiment of the hymn writer:
On life’s pathway I am never lonely,
my Lord is with me, my Lord divine;
ever present guide, I trust him only,
no longer lonely, for He is mine.
No longer lonely, no longer lonely,
for Jesus is the friend of friends to me.6
In a graphic lament the author of Psalm 102 complains bitterly about his troubles, which have so greatly impaired him physically and emotionally (vv. 1-11; cf. Ps. 109:1-5, 22-26). So burdensome is his situation that his physical impairments have taken on a grotesque appearance. To add to his woes, his enemies taunt, mock and curse him (v. 8). As Yan Gemeren points out, “In the tension of his being and not-being and of meaning and meaninglessness, the psalmist despairs. He is full of feverish anxiety…and is alone in his suffering.”7 So miserable is his condition that he feels certain that his life is nearly over :
My days are coming to an end,
and (MT. “As for me”) I am withered like grass (v. 11)
Accordingly, he cries out to the Lord as his only source of help:
O LORD, hear my prayer!
Pay attention my cry for help!
Do not ignore me in my time of trouble!
Listen to me!
When I call out to you, quickly answer me! (vv. 1-2)
The psalmist’s plea is reminiscent of the words of the hymn writer:
Help me then in ev’ry tribulation
so to trust your promises, O Lord,
that I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
offered me within your holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
e’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
one by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
till I reach the promised land.8
The Psalmist’s Resolve to Trust God
In Psalm 41 David pleads for relief from his sickness, which he feels he may have brought on himself by sins he had unwittingly committed
As for me, I said:
“O LORD, have mercy on me!
Heal me. for I have sinned against you!” (v. 4)
He prays also for relief from the terrific oppression he is receiving from those around him (vv. 5-8). So severe is his condition that,
even my close friend whom I trusted,
he who shared meals with me, has turned against me. (v. 9)
In light of all of this he asks the Lord not only for healing but for the opportunity to set the record straight with his adversaries (vv. 10-11).
Although at first sight it might appear that David is being vindictive and desirous of revenge, such is not the case. Rather, at the outset he expresses his confidence in the Lord’s known actions as a just, holy, and compassionate God (vv. 1-3; cf. Ps 109:28). Therefore, in spite of his sickness and troubles, it is apparent that he has resolved in his heart to trust the Lord to act in the same way in his situation. Therefore, he goes on to say,
As for me, you uphold me because of my integrity;
you allow me permanent access to your presence. (v. 12)
David closes his thought here by affirming that the Lord is worthy and deserving of all praise both now and forever (v. 13; NET, “We agree! We agree!”; MT, “Amen and amen”).
David’s expressed condition is reminiscent of Psalm 38 (see also, Psalm 116). As in Psalm 41, here David is fearful that his poor health may have been caused by some unknown unintentional sin that he has committed (cf. Ps 38:3, 10, 18 with Ps. 41:4). Likewise, he is tormented by oppression not only from those who dislike him, but even by his close friends (vv. 11-12; cf. Ps. 41:5-9). In his depressed state he feels despised by all and totally alone;
But I (MT, “As for me”) am like a deaf man—I hear nothing;
I am like a mute who cannot speak.
I am like a man who cannot hear
and is incapable of arguing his defense. (vv. 13-14)
In his helpless and discouraged condition he cries out to the Lord for the help that only the Lord can grant (v. 15). He hopes that it will be a quick deliverance lest he stumble further in his walk before the Lord (vv. 16-18). Moreover, as in Psalm 41 David prays for relief from his adversaries, whom he has helped and not harmed in any way. David’s prayer is most sincere, for in laying his needs before the Lord he emphasizes very strongly his relation to the Lord and his dependence on him. This he does in a three-fold manner: it is the LORD (Yahweh) who is “My God” (cf. Ps 31:14) and “My deliverer”; Yahweh is the one true God of the universe and all human history, and he is the one and only one who can who can deliver David from this awful state (vv. 19-22). Thus David’s impassioned plea is not only one of an urgent need of help, but also is an expression of his total reliance on the Lord for deliverance. It is for this reason that earlier David declared:
I wait for you, O LORD!
You will respond, O LORD, my God. (v. 15)
David’s resolve to trust completely in the Lord, which we have seen in Psalms 41 and 38, is in evidence in Psalm 59. Here again he prays for deliverance from adversaries whom he has not wronged (vv. 1-5). In the face of their attacks against him he feels confident in God, his source of strength and help in perilous times (vv. 6-10, 11-13). Although their attacks are relentless (vv. 14-15), he is so certain of God’s support and deliverance that he can, and avows that he will, praise the Lord in song:
As for me, I will sing about your strength;
I will praise your loyal love in the morning.
For you are my refuge
and my place of shelter when I face trouble.
You are my source of strength!
I will sing praises to you!
For God is my refuge,
the God who loves me. (vv. 16-17)
David’s determination to praise God is echoed in Psalm 75, a psalm of Asaph:
As for me, I will continually tell what you have done;
I will sing praises to the God of Jacob!
God says, “I will bring down all the power of the wicked;
the godly will be victorious.
It is also reflected in the well-known Psalm 119. Here again we see a faithful follower of the Lord and his Word pleading for deliverance from those who attack him without cause (vv. 81-86, 107). The declaration of his virtue and his affirmation of innocence are encapsulated by saying,
They have almost destroyed me here on earth,
but I (MT, “As for me”) do not reject your precepts. (v. 87)
Accordingly, he can plead with the Lord and pray expectantly for relief so that he may in assured confidence continue to adhere to God’s revealed standards.9
In the fifth Psalm, we note once more David entreating the Lord to deliver him from his foes, while punishing the wicked (vv. 1-6, 8-10). Moreover, he knows that he can plead with the Lord to care for the godly (and by implication he is included among them), confident in God’s faithfulness to do so (vv. 11-12). Unlike the ungodly, David is determined to continue his heartfelt worship of the Lord and resolves to do so:
But as for me, because of your great faithfulness,
I will enter your house;
I will bow down toward your holy temple as I worship you. (v. 7)
David’s confident trust in the Lord’s sustenance and deliverance together with his resolve to sing praises to him are underscored in Psalm 13 (cf. Ps. 138:7). Thus he declares,
But I (MT, “As for me”) trust in your faithfulness.
May I rejoice because of your deliverance!
I will sing praise to the Lord
when he vindicates me.(vv. 5-6)
Likewise, in Psalm 31 he reaffirms his trust in the God of faithfulness (v. 5). By way of contrast he adds,
I hate those who serve worthless idols,
but I (MT, “As for me”) trust in the LORD.
I will be happy and rejoice in your faithfulness,
because you notice my pain
and you are aware of how distressed I am. (vv. 6-7)
As in Psalms 38 and 41 he pours out his heart in deep despair because of his weakness and suffering (vv. 9-13). Having done so, he expresses his appreciation of God’s delivering power (v.8) and reaffirms his confident trust in the Lord:
But I (MT, “As for me”) trust in you, O LORD!
I declare, “You are my God!” (v. 14)
He goes on to say that he understands full well that his life and destiny are in God’s hands and therefore he can plead with the Lord for his deliverance (vv. 15-16).10 Indeed, it is with the realization of God’s faithfulness (cf. v. 21) that he closes his psalm by urging the Lord’s people as faithful followers to “love the LORD” (v. 23).11
A Special Case: Psalm 73
We culminate our exploration of passages in the Psalms in which the formulaic expression “As for me” is found by taking particular note of Psalm 73. The structure of Psalm 73 is readily discernible:
Introductory statement: the guiding principle (v. 1)
The psalmist’s problem (vv. 2-14)
The resolution of the problem (vv. 15-24)
The concluding statement: the applicability of the guiding principle (vv. 25-28)
The psalmist prefixes his personal observation of the world around him by informing his readers of a guiding principle for evaluating life that he had come to realize. God is truly good both to his people Israel and especially to those who live with a pure heart. Indeed, the heart theme is weaved throughout this psalm: once in verses 1, 7, 13, 21 and twice in verse 26 (although the Hebrew word for heart is not always reflected in translations). Thus the psalm emphasizes the basic source of a person’s motives: his innermost personality. The heart must come to understand and reflect the goodness of the Lord, for he is the ultimate example of goodness (cf. Pss. 52:9; 145:7).
He goes on to point out that he had personally missed this truth before he came to his senses. By way of introducing all of this he says,
As for me, my feet almost slipped,
my feet almost slid out from under me, (v. 2)
Because of his external trials, the psalmist had plunged himself internally into a depressed condition. He was like someone who walks on slippery ground. His problem was a spiritual one. Although he thought that he was living a good and proper life before the Lord, his own life was nonetheless in a state of turmoil. As he contemplated those who were proud and rich, he concluded that were faring very well despite their sinfulness. In viewing their status in life, he envied them (v. 3). He saw them as physically healthy and strong as well as free from the troubles that plague others (vv. 4-5). Indeed, they were not only proud, but conceited, arrogant, and often violent toward others. Yet they are enormously successful, live for self, and attract a large following (vv. 6-9). As Leupold observes, “ Success had made them self-assertive, proud, without regard to the rights of God and man. Indeed, a repulsive spectacle!12 Moreover, they scoff at any thought that God had any power over them; they believe that they answer only to themselves (v. 10-11). Accordingly, he says,
Take a good look! This is what the wicked are like,
those who have it so easy and get richer and richer.
I concluded, “Surely in vain I have kept my motives pure
and maintained a poor lifestyle.
I suffer all day long,
and am punished every morning.” (vv. 12-14)
Although he had come to these conclusions in accordance with his observations as to life’s unbalanced inequalities, he did nevertheless did not express them to others, troubled though he was. He did not wish to be a stumbling block to anyone else (vv. 15-16). Providentially, his misconstruing of the true state of human existence and affairs was reshaped when he at last took his problem to the Lord. Having gone to the temple and laid his conflicts before the Lord, he now “understood the destiny of the wicked” (v. 17), especially the haughty, proud rich: “In the end evil is not and never will be victorious The wicked will be severely punished.” 13. Now he sees clearly that their apparent success is merely an illusion. It was they who were in danger of being in “slippery places.” Their ruin could come at any moment. The righteous Lord will deal justly with them, so much so that they will be totally destroyed, not only in this life but forever (vv. 18-20; cf. James 5:1-6)
The psalmist has come to a point where he discerns the foolishness of his past perspective and attitude. He now understands how bitter his spirit has been. Rather than seeking God’s wisdom, he has relied on his own reactions to life’s circumstances as he saw them. He realizes further that his thoughts have been ruled by doubts and self pity. He confesses to God that what it boiled down to was,
I was ignorant and lacked insight;
I was as senseless as an animal. (v. 22)
Going through this experience, however, had enabled him at last to become aware that God had not deserted him and he could now have intimate fellowship with the Lord. Now he was aware that the Lord was his source of wisdom and strength and even held his “right hand” (vv. 23-24). 14 As Leupold remarks,
No matter what had happened, no matter what he might have passed through, “nevertheless” he was continually with God. That nearness was, however, not due to the fact that he had tenaciously clung to God but rather to the fact that God had not let him go…. Left to myself, I might even have left Thee. But with infinite patience, God clung to His weak and sometimes even wayward child (v. 23). 15
Rather than feeling worthless and bitter, he now understood that nothing could be better or worthy of more honor than being led by God. The psalmist’s experience and ultimate spiritual victory is well reflected by the hymn writer:
The King of love my Shepherd is, whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am His and He is mine forever.
Perverse and foolish oft I strayed, but yet in love he sought me,
And on His shoulder gently laid, and home rejoicing brought me.16
The psalmist brings his account of his spiritual struggle to a close by reaffirming and enlarging upon his opening statement concerning how crucial the guiding principle of life has proven to be (vv. 25-28; cf. v. 1). Not only do his comments underscore the psalmist’s new convictions, but they sound a high note of confidence and trust in God, as well as praise for him. By means of a rhetorical question, which the psalmist himself answers, he declares that ultimately his hopes and allegiance belong to the Lord.
Whom do I have in heaven but you?
I desire no one but you on earth.
My flesh and my heart may grow weak,
but God always protects my heart and gives me stability. (vv. 25-26)
Therefore, he can now face with confidence in the Lord the challenges and obstacles of life. As VanGemeren remarks, “There is no one but God, his Sustainer in heaven, with whom he longingly desires to fellowship even while in the flesh; therefore he is more prepared to face his present existence with all of its problems.”17
Furthermore, the issue that troubled him so greatly is now settled. Rather than envying the person who is unfaithful to God, however rich and influential or powerful that one may be, he realizes that all who live for self rather than the Lord will perish. Eternal life and true fellowship in this life are found in the Lord alone. His final declaration is both emphatic and of special importance to all believers: “But as for me, God’s presence is all I need” (v. 28a). The Hebrew text is even more emphatic: “The nearness of God is my good” (see NET text note). He ends the psalm by affirming his now fully established conviction: God is the ultimate sovereign over all things, including the psalmist’s life and circumstances. The Lord is his refuge and shelter for whatever may come. Therefore, he highly resolves to praise him in everything, including not only his words and testimony, but doubtless in his whole manner of life (v. 28b).
Summary and Application
There are a great many of the biblical Psalms, which contain the psalmist’s plea for rescue from oppression and trouble. We have given particular attention to those in which the formulaic expression “As for me” occurs. We noted at the outset that this expression tends to emphasize rather strongly the psalmist’s reaction resolve or attitude in light of his difficult circumstances.
Certainly the psalmist had ample reason to believe that Lord is an available helper in time of need. Perhaps the greatest example that the psalmist had before him was that of God’s deliverance of his people from Egyptian oppression in the days of Moses (Exod. 12-39; cf. Exod. 3:7-10, 12; 18:4, 8-10) and from the clutches of the Egyptian forces at the Red Sea (14:1-15:21). Many other examples of God’s deliverance or rescue back in the days of Joshua and the Judges would also be familiar to the psalmists. Not to be forgotten also was God’s rescues of Elijah (1 Kings 17:1-24) and Elisha (2 Kings 6:8-23). Moreover, the Psalmist David had experienced the Lord’s delivering power on more than one occasion in his relations with King Saul (e.g., 2 Sam. 12:7) as well as from several enemies. Therefore, David could rightly praise the Lord (cf. 2 Sam. 22:18-20, 44).
From this we learn that a righteous, god-fearing and loving psalmist could anticipate and expect deliverance by his Sovereign Lord (e.g., Ps 69:9; cf. Ps. 41:12). Even when his friends shunned him, he could depend on the Lord not to abandon him. The psalmist’s confidence was shared in a more recent time by Elizabeth Howell:
All merciful One!
When men are further, then thou art most near;
when friends pass by, my weakness to shun,
thy chariot I hear.18
So also John Newton could declare,
Though troubles assail us and dangers affright,
though friends should fail us and foes all unite,
yet one thing secures us, whatever betide,
the promise assures us, “The Lord will provide.”19
In several of these psalms in which “As for me” occurs the psalmist displays that as a true believer and follower of God, he has definitely resolved to trust in the Lord no matter what he is going through or may lie ahead (e.g., Pss. 31:14; 59:9-10, 16-17). Such a confidence in the Lord was also expressed by Oliver Wendell Holmes:
Though long the weary way we tread,
and sorrow crown each lingering year,
no path we shun, no darkness dead,
our hearts still whispering, Thou art near! 20
Many other examples of those who depended on God for deliverance, while maintaining their allegiance to him, are found in the Scriptures, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. For example, Daniel’s three friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were delivered from the accusations and resulting action of their adversaries, which had caused them to be cast into a fiery furnace (Dan. 3:8-27). Likewise, an unjustly accused Daniel was rescued from the mouths of lions (Dan. 6:14-24) and the Apostle Paul was delivered from imprisonment in a jail in Philippi (Acts 16:8-49).
The greatest example, of course, comes in connection with the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. As Isaiah had prophesied long ago (Isa. 53:3-9) and as Simeon confirmed at Jesus’ presentation in Jerusalem (Luke 2:33-35), Jesus would later instruct his disciples with reference to those who hated and persecuted him because of his miraculous deeds: “Now they have seen the deeds and hated both me and my Father. Now this happened to fulfill the word that is written in the law, ‘They hated me without cause’” (John 15:24-25). Nevertheless, Jesus committed himself to follow the will of God the Father. Accordingly as he journeyed to Jerusalem for the last time it is reported, “He set out resolutely (Gk. ‘Set his face”; see NET note) to go to Jerusalem. (Luke 9:51). Knowing full well what lay ahead (cf. Mt. 16:21), even in his closing hours he would commit himself for the Father’s will to be done (Mt 26:39-44). Much as Jesus his Lord and example, Paul declared,
And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit warns me in town after town that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for me. But I do not consider life worth anything to myself, so that I may finish my task and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:22-24)
With all of this clearly in mind, the psalmist’s troublesome experience as reported in Psalm 73 can be all the more meaningful for today’s believers. Like the psalmist, Christians can all too easily be guilty of improper thinking. As Peale warned, “You cannot think clear-headedly while seething with a sense of outrage hating other people or life or even God for some experience that has befallen you.”21 Yes, as did the psalmist, some Christian believers could conclude that God seems to ignore the godless. For they do not fear or respect the Lord but go on in their wicked lifestyles, even at times oppressing their fellow man (cf. Ps 10:1-11). Such thinking is wrong-headed, for to envy the godless rich is to mistake their coming judgment (cf. Ps 73:12-19; James 5:1-6). Much better is it to realize that the believer has even better riches—true spiritual riches, which are of everlasting worth. Indeed,
His presence is wealth,
His grace is a treasure,
His promise is health
and joy out of measure.
His word is my rest,
His spirit my guide:
In him I am blest,
Not only are envy and greed and unjustified pride to be avoided Gal: 6:3-4; cf. Rom. 12:3) but false Christian conduct (Rom. 8:25; James 1:26). As Paul declared, “Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself” (Phil. 2:3).
Elsewhere Paul reminds believers that the road to true success in this world lies in dedication to the Lord. He tells believers that they should present “your bodies as a sacrifice--alive, holy, and pleasing to God– which is your reasonable service. Do not be conformed to this present world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God—what is good and well-pleasing and perfect” (Rom 12:1-2; cf. Josh 24:15). This will bring life changing results in one’s thinking (Phil. 4:9; cf. Col. 3:2-3), actions (Eph. 2:8-10; 5:15-21; cf. James 3:13) and speech. As Paul admonishes the Colossian believers, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:17). In so doing we can like the psalmist (Ps. 73:15) avoid being a source of discouragement to others but rather, be a source of encouragement to them (1 Thess. 5:11). And this we can do through Christ, if we are thoroughly dedicated and committed to the Lord . As the hymn writer wrote,
May the mind of Christ my Savior
live in me from day to day,
by His love and pow’r controlling
all I do and say.23
Whatever trials a believer may be going through should never cause him to doubt the Lord’s concern and availability to help. It is as the psalmist declared long ago,
The godly cry out and the Lord hears;
he saves them from all their troubles. (Ps. 34:17; cf. Ps 145:18-19)
To be sure, “The Lord is near!” (Phil 4:5). This is a living certainty, for believers have been taken into a living, vital, spiritual union with the risen Christ (Gal. 2:20; cf. Eph 2:4), who has gained victory over all things including death. Moreover, he has also sent the Holy Spirit in order that each believer may sense God’s presence and experience his comfort and strength for any and all matters. As I have remarked elsewhere, “The reality of God’s presence should bring real joy and foster a deepened trust in the Lord’s provision for their lives. This will enable them to stand firm even in the midst of life’s testings and trials. Indeed, these experiences, when surrendered to Christ, will equip believers for a life of rewarding service for the Lord (cf. Paul’s assurance in 2 Tim. 4:6-8).”24
In a more intimate way than the psalmist, today’s believer may affirm, “As for me, the nearness of God is my good.” Therefore, as united to the living Christ may we live for him, not self. May each of us reflect Widdington’s burning desire:
Not I, but Christ, be honored, loved, exalted;
Not I, but Christ, be seen, be known, be heard;
Not I, but Christ, in every look and action;
Not I, but Christ, in every thought and word.
O to be saved from myself, dear Lord, O to be lost in Thee,
O that it might be no more I, but Christ, that lives in me.25
1 Jane Austen, “Pride and Prejudice,” in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, ed. Justin Kaplan (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 16th ed., 1992), 387.
2 Tom Haggai, as cited in Quotable Quotations, ed. Lloyd Cory (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985), 344.
3 H. C. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), 288.
4 Note the similar plaintiff cry of a psalmist in Psalm119:86: “I am pursued without reason. Help me!”
5 Mark D. Futato, “The Book of Psalms, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2009) 7:232.
6 Robert Harkness, “No Longer Lonely.” One is also reminded of the words in Ludie D. Pickett’s old hymn song: “No, Never Alone”: “No, never alone, no never alone, he promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone.”
7 Willem A. VanGemeren, “ Psalms,” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, eds. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland 13 Vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, Rev ed., 2008) 5:750.
8 Lina Sandell Berg, “Day By Day,” translated by Andrew L. Skoong
9 A similar sentiment may be noted in Micah 7:7 “But I (MT, “AS for me”) will keep watching for the LORD; I will wait for the God who delivers me.”
10 A similar sentiment is expressed in Psalm 143 where once again David is portrayed as weakened by adversity (vv. 3-4). Here, too, David calls on God for guidance and protection (vv. 5-10), and points out his concern for God’s reputation (v. 11). He closes the psalm with an appeal to God for his faithfulness to be demonstrated in David’s situation (v. 12, see NET notes).
11 It should be noted that the psalmist’s confidence in the Lord’s faithfulness is well taken. Indeed, others have experienced similar instances of God’s faithful care and guidance. Thus Isaiah records the Lord’s own assurance that he is a God who is faithful to his promises (Isa. 59:21). Such a promise was given to Jeremiah at his call to be God’s prophet (Jer. 1:18). In both cases the familiar “As for me” occurs in the Hebrew text.
12 Leupold, Psalms, 526.
13 VanGemeren, “Psalms,” 5:564.
14 It should be noted that the image of the right hand was one that expressed assurance or dignity as well as good fellowship (cf. Ps. 139:10; Isa 41:10). See further, Richard D. Patterson and Michael E. Travers, Face to Face with God: Human Images of God in the Bible ( Richardson, TX: Biblical Studies Press, 2008), 33-51.
15 Leupold, Psalms, 530.
16 Henry W. Baker, “The King of Love My Shepherd Is.”
17 VanGemeren, “Psalms,” 5:566. See further, the NET note #29.
18 Elizabeth Lloyd Howell, “Milton’s Prayer.”
19 John Newton, “Though Troubles Assail Us.”
20 Oliver Wendell Holmes, “Hymn of trust.”
21 Norman V. Peale as cited in Quotable Quotations, ed. Lloyd Cory (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989), 399.
22 Patrick Brontē, “The Cottager’s Hymn.”
23 Kate B. Wilkinson, “May the Mind of Christ My Savior.”
24 Richard D. Patterson, “The Pleasure of His Presence” (Biblical Studies Press, 2010), 7.
25 Ada A. Whiddington, “Not I, but Christ.”
Lesson 10: The Study of Future EventsRelated Media
He who will not look forward must look behind ―Gaelic Proverb
Consider a few of some of the world’s worst predictions. King George II said in 1773 that the American colonies had little stomach for revolution. An official of the White Star Line, speaking of the firm’s newly built flagship the Titanic, which launched in 1912, declared that the ship was unsinkable. In 1939 the New York Times said the problem with TV was that people had to glue their eyes to a screen, and that the average American wouldn’t have time for it. An English astronomy professor said in the early 19th century that air travel at high speed would be impossible because passengers would suffocate.1
Question one: How do we know that the Bible can predict future events? The answer is because it has a 100 percent track record of doing so. Daniel predicted Alexander the Great
(Dan 8:21). Malachi predicted Jesus would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Jeremiah predicted the 70 year captivity (Jer 25:11). Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD
(Matt 24:1-2). And the list goes on and on and on.
Question two: Why is studying about the future in biblical prophecy important? Sometimes Christians are told not to focus too much on prophetic issues because what is important is the gospel. We are told we should focus on the gospel that unites us as opposed to future events, which have not yet happened and people have differing opinions on. In response to this attitude first one must say that future events are part of the gospel. It is a major part of the good news in which Jesus is coming back, we will be in his presence, and God will complete the salvation process in us. We will receive glorified bodies and will be freed once and for all from our struggle with sin. Secondly, when one considers the amount of prophecy that is in the Bible it is apparent that it is such a major emphasis that it must be very important in God’s overall message for us. J. Barton Payne’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy lists 1,239 prophecies in the Old Testament and 578 prophecies in the New Testament for a total of 1,817. These encompass 8,352 verses out of 31,102 verses.2 Thus, over a quarter of the entire Bible is biblical prophecy. Why is it there in that quantity if it’s not that important? Third, Paul taught detailed events surrounding the second coming of Jesus in Thessalonica after planting a new church there and only being there three weeks. He thought it was a critical teaching that the church needed to be introduced to at a very early stage in its development. Lastly, God wants us to know certain events about the future so that we can live our lives today with confidence about what is to come. He gives us the light at the end of the tunnel so to speak. Thus, one would have to conclude that biblical prophecy is a critical part of the core faith of Christianity.
In theological terminology, the study of future events is referred to as eschatology. This lesson will briefly survey and focus on key topics related to future events. These areas are: the rapture and great tribulation, our resurrection, the return of Jesus Christ, the millennium and future for national Israel, and future judgments including heaven and hell. Lastly, it will conclude with what not to say about the future and a primary application for us.
The Rapture and the Great Tribulation
The rapture refers to an event in the future in which believers in Jesus Christ who are alive at that time will be taken up into heaven in conjunction with the Lord’s coming without having to physically die. Those believers who had already died will rise from the dead and all those in Christ will receive immortal glorified bodies. The word rapture is from the Latin word rapturo which means to be “caught up.” All evangelicals agree that the rapture will happen but the differences evangelicals have are concerning when it happens in relationship to what is called the great tribulation and the return of Jesus’ coming to earth. There are two primary passages on the rapture both located in Paul’s writings.3
The first is in 1 Thessalonians: “For we tell you this by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not go ahead of those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thess 4:15-17). The second is in 1 Corinthians: “Listen, I will tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Cor 15:51-52).
In evangelical circles, there are three major views on when this rapture will take place. The first is called the pretribulation rapture view.4 This view is that the rapture will occur at the beginning or just before the start of the 7 year tribulation period. The second view is called the midtribulation rapture view as it sees the rapture occurring at the middle of the 7 year tribulation period. A development of the midtribulation rapture position is referred to as the prewrath rapture view, in which sometime during the second half of the seven year tribulation the rapture takes place prior to a great outpouring of God’s wrath on the earth. The last view is called the posttribulation view as it sees the rapture taking place at the end of the 7 year tribulation period.5 The postribulation rapture position along with the pretribulation rapture view are probably to be considered the most common views today. Once one understands the various framework for these basic events one can then consider some of the arguments for the differing positions for the timing of the rapture in relation to the tribulation period. Since the rapture is still future and there are differing interpretations of the biblical data by good scholarly evangelicals, one has to hold one’s position with a degree of humility that reflects some of the ambiguity on this issue. If someone has a view on it, as this author does, it should be held with an open hand rather than a clenched fist.
What is the Tribulation?
The “great tribulation” or just “tribulation” in certain New Testament contexts refers to an unprecedented time of global suffering and trial in the world that immediately precedes the second coming of the Lord. Jesus stated, “For then there will be great suffering unlike anything that has happened from the beginning of the world until now, or ever will happen”
(Matt 24:21-22). If you think about all the different types of and magnitude of suffering has been experienced already in the world, this statement is a sobering description of how devastating this time period will be. In other words this devastation will be far worse than the Christian persecutions under any Roman Emperor, famines in Africa, genocides, what the U.S. saw in its own civil war in which hundreds of thousands of Americans were killed at the hands of their fellow countrymen, what the world saw in World War II with the Holocaust, massive battles and nuclear detonations, or the 2004 Asian Tsunami in which over 200,000 people were killed.6 And the list could go on. In another passage dealing with this time period John writes, “Then one of the elders asked me, “These dressed in long white robes – who are they and where have they come from?” So I said to him, “My lord, you know the answer.” Then he said to me, “These are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb!” (Rev 7:13-14). What do we know about this “great tribulation”? It’s a period that lasts 7 years long (Dan 9:27; Rev 13:5). It is a time of God’s wrath (Rev 6:17) and involves at least three series of judgments from God toward the world that are global in nature (seals, trumpets and bowls; Rev 6-18). The suffering and conflict will be greater than has ever been seen (Matt 24:21-22). It involves a unique manifestation of evil driven by the Devil, the Antichrist and the False Prophet (2 Thess 2:3-4; Rev 12-13). People will be faced with a stark choice to repent and worship God or follow evil and receive the consequences of this choice (Rev 14:6-7).
The Postribulation Rapture View
Why do some people hold to the postribulation rapture view? Here are five basic arguments in support of it.7 First, there is only one “coming” of Jesus and both the rapture and conquest of Jesus must be the same event after the tribulation when he comes as seen in Revelation 19. Second, a resurrection is mentioned in Revelation 20 just following the second coming of Christ in glory (Rev 19), which suggests that the rapture that includes the resurrection is there at this event as well. Third, the saints (or elect) are seen in the tribulation period (e.g., Rev 7) and this must be the church. Also, the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 seems to indicate that believers go through the tribulation and these are to be identified with the church as well. It is argued that the church does not have to be removed from the tribulation to be protected from God’s wrath through it, similar to God protecting Israel during the plagues against Egypt in the book of Exodus. Fourth, the pretribulation position is a relatively recent development in part promoted by the writings of J.N. Darby8 and is not seen in the writings of the early church fathers. And lastly, the parable of the wheat and tares suggests that believers and unbelievers will be together until the “end of the age,” which would be until the second coming of Jesus (Matt 13:24).9
The Midtribulation/Prewrath Rapture View
At least three basic arguments can be given for the midtribulation rapture view. First, the rapture is said in 1 Corinthians 15 to occur at the “last trumpet.” In Revelation there are a series of seven judgments that start with the blowing of trumpets. The seventh trumpet blows in Revelation 8 which appears to be approximately half way through the tribulation period.
Second, there is an emphasis in Revelation on 3 and one/half years in the seven year judgment sequence (Rev 11:2-3; 12:6, 14; 13:5 cf. Dan 9:27). This suggests a major event at the midway point. And third, the church is delivered from the wrath of God (1 Thess 5:9) which this view argues starts at the mid-point of the tribulation (Rev 15:1). The prewrath rapture view is a development and modification of the midtribulation rapture position which sees the church going through the midpoint of the tribulation period and undergoing persecution but being taken out sometime prior to the end of the seven year period and before a great outpouring of God’s wrath.10
The Pretribulation Rapture View
The view that in this writer’s opinion provides the most coherence with the biblical data is the pretribulation rapture view. There are four basic arguments that lead in this direction. First, in the Old Testament there is Daniel’s 70 week prophecy, which relate to these end time events.11 Daniel states that these events are for or concerning “his people” (Dan 9:24). This must refer to national Israel as Daniel is an Israelite. Since the first 69 weeks primarily refer to the time when God is focusing his program/dealings with the nation of Israel, it makes sense that the 70th week would as well. The 70th week, a seven year period, is the same length of time as the tribulation period (See Rev 12:6, 14; 13:5 which refers to half of this period) and Daniel’s events fit well with a future tribulational framework (e.g., the abomination of desolation (Matt 24:15), etc). The point then is that the tribulation period is not for the church or concerning the church. Second, while the church is explicitly mentioned many times in Revelation 2-3 it is not explicitly mentioned once in chapters 4-19. It is true that believers are described in Revelation 7:9-17 but they are not described as the “church.” There is a shift in terminology which suggests a change has taken place. In Revelation 4-19 the focus appears to be on the tribes of Israel (Rev 7:1-8), which is contrasted with believers from other peoples (Rev 7:9). Third, in Revelation 3:10 it appears that the church is promised to be kept from the hour or time of trial that is coming on the whole world, not protected through it. We are not just kept from the trial but kept from the time of it. The phrase “to test those who dwell/live on the earth” (cf. Rev 6:10; 8:13; 11:10; 13:8, 14; 17:2, 8) describes God’s purpose for the event and refers to the unbelieving world some of whom will turn in belief to God. Lastly, the church is not appointed to God’s wrath (1 Thess 5:9). It is clear that even from right at the start of the tribulation with the seal judgments, God’s wrath is unleashed in terrifying force (e.g., Rev 6:16-17).12
Resurrection and Glorified Bodies
Our future resurrection is also a significant theme of understanding the biblical picture of the future. In essence, the resurrection refers to the replacement of our mortal physical body with an immortal physical body. Jesus promised this to those who believe in him in the clearest of terms. In John 11 after a man named Lazarus had died, Jesus gave hope to his sister. “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies’” (John 11:25). The foundation of the Christian faith is the death and resurrection of Christ. Also, Jesus’ resurrection is a prelude to every Christian’s resurrection. Paul writes to the church at Corinth, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor 15:20). Jesus’ resurrection is only the first of many to come. The reference to those who have fallen asleep refers to Christians who had died. The symbolic language of sleep suggests that we will wake up again. The Christian who dies will wake up in the resurrection. But what kind of body is it? Paul describes, “It is the same with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Cor 15:42-44). It is an imperishable, glorious, powerful, and spiritual body. What a glorious future we have to look forward to! For the church, the resurrection takes place at the time of the rapture (1 Thess 4:15-17). For the Old Testament saints as well as those believers who die in the tribulation, their resurrection appears to occur at the second coming of Christ prior to the millennium (Dan 12:1-2; Rev 20:4).
The Second Coming of Jesus Christ
The ascension of Jesus Christ was a prelude to his second coming. Luke records, “After he had said this, while they were watching, he was lifted up and a cloud hid him from their sight. As they were still staring into the sky while he was going, suddenly two men in white clothing stood near them and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way you saw him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:10-11). While Jesus had predicted his return earlier than this (See Matt 24), the ascension shows how Jesus would return and even where, on the Mount of Olives (Zech 14). In the last book of the Bible, Revelation, the entire theme of the book is centered on the return of Jesus: “Look! He is returning with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the tribes on the earth will mourn because of him. This will certainly come to pass! Amen” (Rev 1:7). Revelation 19 describes the majestic and awesome climax of Jesus’ return as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 19).
The Millennial Reign of Christ
Another major topic related to future events concerns what is termed the millennium. This word comes from the Latin term mille, which means 1000. The length of the reign of Jesus is mentioned 6 times in Revelation 20:1-6 as being 1000 years long. John writes, “Then I saw an angel descending from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a huge chain. He seized the dragon – the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan – and tied him up for a thousand years. The angel then threw him into the abyss and locked and sealed it so that he could not deceive the nations until the one thousand years were finished. (After these things he must be released for a brief period of time.) Then I saw thrones and seated on them were those who had been given authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. These had not worshiped the beast or his image and had refused to receive his mark on their forehead or hand. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (Rev 20:1-4). There are three major views related to the millennial reign of Christ. They are termed amillennial, postmillennial, and premillennial.13
The amillennial position believes that the 1000 years is a symbolic time between the first and second coming. Based on events at Jesus’ first advent14 it also holds that Satan is currently bound by the chain mentioned in Rev 20:1. This view was introduced by the early church father Origen and popularized by Augustine.15 The postmillennial position believes that the church will usher in the God’s kingdom and ideal millennial conditions. After that, Jesus will return to the earth. This view was more popular going into the early part of the 20th century but faded following the devastations of World Wars I and II and lack of the church’s ability to stem it. The premillennial position believes that the 2nd coming of Jesus occurs prior to a literal 1000 year reign on the earth.16 This view was held by early Christian interpreters (Epistle of Barnabus (about 130 A.D), Papias (60-130 A.D. Irenaeus, Tertullian, Justin Martyr (100-165).17
The main test though for the truth of any position is the biblical arguments for and against it. The premillennial position has much to commend it. First, it fits a natural chronology of the book of Revelation. In Revelation the second coming of Jesus comes first in Chapter 19 and then the millennium is described in Chapter 20. Secondly, it will take Christ himself coming in judgment to bring in His kingdom and defeat evil including Satan and his forces. This is what is pictured in Zechariah 14 and Revelation 19. A future millennial reign on the earth also fits the Old Testament passages that promise a messianic kingdom that has not yet been seen. For example, the Son of David is said to rule on David’s throne forever and the government being on his shoulders (2 Sam 7:13-14; Is 9:6). In the New Testament, Jesus told the 12 disciples that in the future they would rule over the 12 tribes of Israel (Matt 19:28). This did not happen in their lifetime.
Also, it is claimed by some that the 1000 years are merely symbolic not literal. While other numbers in Revelation may be symbolic they also have a literal referent (e.g., 12 literal tribes
(Rev 7), 7 literal historical churches (Rev 2-3) etc). The reference to 1000 years is mentioned 6 times and thus it is emphasized in Revelation 20. Whenever time references are given with a number, for example 1260 days or 42 months (Rev 12:6; 13:5), they are always taken literally in correspondence with Daniel’s seventieth week. So it would also seem to be true for 1000 years. Lastly, when John speaks of an indefinite period of time he states it that way. For example Satan is released for “a short time” in Rev 20:3 which contrasts with a definite period 1000 years.
My main objection to amillenialism though from the passage is that the purpose of the binding of Satan is not currently being fulfilled: the deceiving of the nations. During the period of binding there is no indication of any freedom for Satan in his confinement; the pit is locked and sealed. This description of Satan being bound contradicts quite a few New Testament passages. For example, Satan is a roaring lion seeking someone to devour
(1 Peter 5:8).18 Ananias’ heart was filled with Satan (Acts 5:3). Satan blinds people to the gospel
(2 Cor 4:3-4). Satan hindered Paul (1 Thess 2:18). Christians are alerted to Satan’s temptations
(1 Cor 7:5; 2 Cor 2:11; 11:14). This point strongly suggests that we are not currently in the millennial period.
There are two basic types of judgments described in the Bible, one for believers and one for unbelievers. This is the basic dividing line. Jesus stated, “The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God” (John 3:18). The final judgment and condemnation of unbelievers is sometimes referred to as the great white throne judgment based on John’s description of it in Rev 20:11-15: “Then I saw a large white throne and the one who was seated on it; . . And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne. Then books were opened, and another book was opened – the book of life. So the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to their deeds. . . If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, that person was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:11-15). There is also a final judgment and reward for believers in Jesus Christ. This is sometimes referred to as the Bema judgment based on the Greek word related to this judgment. Paul writes, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat (Gk. Bema) of Christ, so that each one may be paid back according to what he has done while in the body, whether good or evil”
(2 Cor 5:10). This judgment is not related to whether or not a Christian gets into heaven but rather the reward that awaits when one gets there (cf. 1 Cor 3). Lastly, there is a judgment of believers (as represented as sheep) and unbelievers (as represented as goats) at the second coming of Jesus in which the sheep enter the blessing of the kingdom while the goats go off to judgment (Matt 25:31-46).
What is hell like? The Greek word for hell is Gehenna. It is a place of fire (Matt 13:30; Luke 3:17); weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt 8:12); darkness (Matt 8:12); separation from God
(1 Thess 1:9) and eternal destruction (2 Thess 1:9). From these verses and others, it is clear that the Bible pictures hell as a place of conscious eternal torment.19 On the converse side, what is heaven like? First there is the continuous praising of God in his very presence by saints and angels (Rev 4-5). Paul states that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord
(1 Cor 5:8). There will be no more sin, death, crying or pain (Rev 21:4). We will be in resurrected eternal bodies. Heaven is a place to be with Jesus forever as well as with our fellow saints
(1 Thess 4:17). A new heavens and new earth will be created for us to live on and in (Rev 22). The tree of life gives healing to the nations and God’s glory lights the new creation (Rev 22:1-5).
In conclusion, despite the debates about the rapture and nature of the 1000 years perhaps the most important point to take away is this: When Jesus comes back he is coming back to earth and when he gets here he will defeat his enemies and rule. As Matthew states, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne”
(Matt 25:31). In this passage, notice the word “then,” which describes the future rule of Christ after the second advent.
But we must not try to make date setting predictions for Jesus’ return. Unfortunately, not all have heeded this advice as numerous people have tried their hand at date setting to the church’s detriment. One of the latest of these attempts was broadcast and publicized on family radio by Harold Camping who predicted that Jesus would come back on May 21, 2011.20 But as Jesus stated, “But as for that day and hour no one knows it – not even the angels in heaven – except the Father alone. For just like the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. For in those days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark. And they knew nothing until the flood came and took them all away. It will be the same at the coming of the Son of Man”
(Matt 24:36-39). Instead, we need to be ready and live in light of Jesus’ future coming and our accountability before him. Jesus himself gives us our basic responsibility. “Therefore stay alert, because you do not know the day or the hour” (Matt 15:13).
- Why do you think the Bible gives us prophecies about the future to think about?
- What are the most important things to know about the future and how can we live our life in light of them?
- How do rewards for the Christian motivate us to serve God?
- How has and does “date setting” for the Lord’s return hurt the church?
- How much leeway should we give our fellow Christians in different views about the future?
- How does and should God’s sovereignty affect how we think about our personal future and the future of the world?
1 The World’s Worst Predictions in Reader’s Digest, March 1991.
2 J. Barton Payne’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980).
3 Some also add John 14:1-3 to this list but this passage is not as clear as the passages in Paul.
4 One could also add the partial rapture theory in which only faithful Christians are raptured but this view is not that common today.
5 For an in depth presentation of three views on this topic see Stanley Gundry and Alan Hultberg, eds., Three View on the Rapture – Pretribulation, Prewrath, or Postribulation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010).
7 These are developed in part from George Ladd. See George Eldon Ladd, The Blessed Hope, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956.
8 John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) is sometimes considered to be the father of modern Dispensationalism and was a major figure in England in the origin of the Plymouth Brethren Assemblies. See (Date accessed December 2).
9 Counterarguments could be developed on these points but for now we want to try to understand some of the main arguments for postribulationalism.
10 Marvin J. Rosenthal, The Pre-wrath Rapture of the Church: A New Understanding of the Rapture, the Tribulation, and the Second Coming (Nashville: Nelson, 1990).
11 To start understanding the 70 week prophecy one must realize that a “week” in the Old Testament can refer to a week of days or a week of years and here it refers to a week of years. For more information on this prophecy see Alva J. McClain. Daniel’s Prophecy of the 70 Weeks (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1969).
12 One could also add for those in a premillennial framework that postribulationism does not easily have a solution of how believers will enter the millennium in mortal bodies since at the rapture the church receives its glorified bodies. Millennial conditions appear to start out with only the saved (Matt 25: 31-46) and also have people dying during that period though at older ages (Is 65:20). For pretribulationalism though those who get saved and also live through the tribulation events can enter the millennium with their mortal body.
13 See Robert Clouse ed., The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1977).
14 One verse that is sometimes given is Luke 10:17-18, in which Jesus states that he saw Satan fall from heaven like lightening.
15 Augustine states: “Those who, on the strength of this passage, have suspected that the first resurrection is future and bodily, have been moved, among other things, specially by the number of a thousand years, as if it were a fit thing that the saints should thus enjoy a kind of Sabbath-rest during that period, a holy leisure after the labors of the six thousand years since man was created, and was on account of his great sin dismissed from the blessedness of paradise into the woes of this mortal life. And. this opinion would not be objectionable, if it were believed that the joys of the saints in that Sabbath shall be spiritual, and consequent on the presence of God; for I myself, too, once held this opinion. But, as they assert that those who then rise again shall enjoy the leisure of immoderate carnal banquets, furnished with an amount of meat and drink such as not only to shock the feeling of the temperate, but even to surpass the measure of credulity itself, such assertions can be believed only by the carnal. They who do believe them are called by the spiritual Chiliasts, which we may literally reproduce by the name Millenarians (Augustine, The City of God, 20.7).
16 See Donald Campbell and Jeffrey Townsend eds., A Case for Premillenialism (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992).
17 Justin Martyr states: “But I and others, who are right-minded Christians on all points, are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned, and enlarged, [as] the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare.” Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Tryho, 80.4.
18 Someone has once well said that if Satan is currently chained with the description of Rev 20 it must be an awfully long chain.
19 For some differing views on this topic see Stanley Gundry, ed. Four Views on Hell. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.
20 (Date accessed January 9, 2013).
Lesson 36: What Are You Eating? (John 6:48-59)Related Media
November 24, 2013
Perhaps the Sunday before Thanksgiving is not the time to ask, “What are you eating?” The holidays are the most difficult time of the year to stick to a diet. You say, “Ask me in January!”
But that’s the question that our text implicitly wants us to consider: “What are you eating?”—not physically, but spiritually. We hear a lot these days about the importance of a healthy diet. You are what you eat and a lot of Americans eat a lot of junk food, resulting in a lot of serious, but avoidable health problems. Most of us could benefit by being careful about what we eat.
It’s the same spiritually. If you gorge yourself on the latest movies or on the fare that is offered every night on TV, and you seldom feed on the Bible, don’t be surprised if you’re not spiritually healthy. If your spiritual intake consists of a sugary devotional that you grab on the run, like a donut, and an occasional sermon when you aren’t doing something else on Sunday, don’t be surprised if you’re feeling kind of spiritually sluggish. You are what you eat.
In John 6, after He fed the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish, Jesus repeatedly offers Himself as the spiritual food that gives eternal life and eternal satisfaction to all who eat:
John 6:27: “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.”
John 6:32: “Jesus then said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven.’”
John 6:33: “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.”
John 6:35: “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.’”
John 6:48: “I am the bread of life.”
John 6:50: “This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.”
John 6:51: “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”
In 6:52, the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” Rather than softening the analogy so as to be less offensive, Jesus goes on to make it more offensive! He changes the bread analogy to His flesh and, in a statement that would have grossed out just about every Jew, He added that not only did they need to eat His flesh, but also they needed to drink His blood!
John 6:53-57: “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.’”
Then He goes back to the bread analogy (John 6:58): “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”
Then John mentions (6:59) that Jesus spoke these things (probably from 6:41 on) as He taught in the synagogue in Capernaum. At another time, Jesus lamented of Capernaum (Matt. 11:23-24), “And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.”
That’s an awful warning! It’s going to be worse for Capernaum on the day of judgment than for Sodom because the people of Capernaum did not eat Jesus’ flesh or drink His blood when it was offered freely to them. So we need to be clear about what Jesus means here and we need to take it to heart so that we don’t follow Capernaum into judgment. The lesson is:
Feeding on Jesus by faith is necessary for eternal life, for temporal sustenance, and for temporal and eternal satisfaction.
This is an eternal life or death matter. In 6:50, Jesus says that if you eat of Him as the bread from heaven, you will not die. He states the converse in 6:51, if you eat of this bread, you will live forever. In 6:53, Jesus warns the Jews that unless they eat His flesh and drink His blood, they have no life in themselves. In 6:54, He again states the converse of 6:53, namely that the one who eats His flesh and drinks His blood has eternal life. He reinforces it again in 6:57, “He who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.” And in 6:58 he again contrasts Himself with the manna, which the Israelites ate and died, by saying that the one who eats this bread (probably pointing to Himself) will live forever. Thus …
1. Feeding on Jesus by faith is necessary for eternal life.
Some interpret these verses to refer to partaking of communion, or the Lord’s Supper. The Roman Ca1tholic Church and the Orthodox Church also base their views of transubstantiation (the view that the communion elements actually become the body and blood of Christ) in part on John 6:53, where Jesus says that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have eternal life. So before we examine what Jesus means, we need to look at what He does not mean:
A. Eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood do not refer to partaking of the Lord’s Supper.
A. W. Pink (Exposition of John, on monergism.com) gives four reasons that John 6 does not refer to communion. First, communion had not yet been instituted. Jesus instituted it on the night He was betrayed. Second, Jesus was speaking here to unbelievers and communion is for believers. Third, the eating here is unto salvation or eternal life, while eating the Lord’s Supper is for those already saved and points to fellowship. Fourth, the Lord’s Supper does not produce the results that are here attributed to eating and drinking Christ. If Jesus’ words here refer to communion, then you gain eternal life by partaking, which contradicts many other Scriptures that show that salvation is through faith in Christ, not through participating in a ritual. So, as J. C. Ryle puts it (Expository Thoughts on the Gospels [Baker], 3:393), “We may eat the Lord’s Supper, and yet not eat and drink Christ’s body and blood. We may eat and drink Christ’s body and blood, and yet not eat the Lord’s Supper.”
The main problem with the Catholic and Orthodox view of transubstantiation (the communion elements actually become Christ’s body and blood) is that it takes literally words that were obviously meant as symbolic. True, Jesus said (Matt. 26:26), “This is My body.” But He also said (John 10:9), “I am the door.” John 15:1, “I am the true vine.” Nobody takes those statements literally. Jesus clearly meant them symbolically.
There are other reasons for rejecting the view that the communion elements actually become the body and blood of Jesus. But it’s obvious that Jesus’ words in John 6 to these unbelieving Jews, spoken at least one year before He instituted the Lord’s Supper, have nothing to do with that ordinance. True, there are parallels that we can draw between the Lord’s Supper as later instituted and Jesus’ words here. As Colin Brown puts it (The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology [Zondervan], 2:535), “John 6 is not about the Lord’s Supper; rather, the Lord’s Supper is about what is described in John 6.” By comparing parallel verses in John 6, we can determine what Jesus meant by the metaphor of eating His flesh and drinking His blood:
B. Eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood refer to believing in or appropriating personally His death on the cross as your only hope for eternal life.
Note these parallels: In John 6:40, Jesus says, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” The requirement for eternal life is to behold the Son and to believe in Him. The promised results are that a believer has eternal life and Jesus will raise him up on the last day. In 6:54, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” These are exactly the same results as in 6:40, but instead of beholding the Son and believing in Him, Jesus substitutes eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Since things equal to the same thing are equal to each other, eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood refer to believing personally in His death on the cross as your only hope for eternal life.
Why would Jesus use such graphic language as eating His flesh and drinking His blood to describe believing in Him? Perhaps one reason is that He was making it clear to these Jews who wanted Him to be a political Messiah that He wasn’t that kind of Messiah. He came the first time to give His life as an offering for our sins. He will come the second time as the conquering King to rule in power and judge the nations (Rev. 19:15).
But the first time, He was the Passover Lamb of God (John 1:29), offered up so that His blood would protect those who applied it to their lives. The Jews were very familiar with eating the Passover lamb. By shocking them with this graphic language and applying it to Himself, those who were true seekers for eternal life would be jarred into realizing that their main need was not for a Messiah to give them literal bread, but for one to give them the bread of eternal life. They needed Jesus as their Passover Lamb.
In 6:51, Jesus says, “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” By giving His flesh, Jesus was referring to His upcoming death. No one took His life from Him; rather, He gave it on His own initiative (John 10:18). Also, the bread analogy pictures death. As Jesus says (John 12:24), “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” To make bread, the grain of wheat had to die. Then, the fruit of the grain had to be plucked, crushed, and made into flour before it was baked into bread. Even so, Jesus had to die in order to be the bread that gives eternal life to those who eat it in faith. Pink suggests that “eating” looks back to Adam and Eve. Their eating the forbidden fruit plunged the human race into sin and judgment. Now, eating Christ, the “tree of life,” liberates us from the curse that came on us with Adam’s fall.
Perhaps another reason that Jesus uses the graphic language, especially the part about drinking His blood, is that it puts the offense of the cross in full view. Drinking or eating blood was highly offensive to a Jew (Gen. 9:4; Lev. 7:26-27). But when they start arguing among themselves about how “this man” (probably a derogatory term) can give them His flesh to eat (John 6:52), which was offensive enough, Jesus doesn’t explain it in less offensive terms. Rather, it’s like He pokes them in the eye by adding to eating His flesh the gross picture of drinking His blood!
But the Bible is clear (Heb. 9:22), “Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Have you ever thought about how bloody the Jewish religion was, with the slaughter of bulls and goats and rams? We got a little glimpse of that when we visited our daughter and her family in a Muslim area of Central Asia, where they were slaughtering sheep on the sidewalk as we walked by. It isn’t pretty! But to be the complete and final sacrifice for our sin, Jesus’ blood had to be shed. If Jesus is just your moral example, but not your sacrificial Lamb, then He is not your Savior from sin.
So, to be clear: Eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood refer to believing in and personally appropriating His death on the cross as your only hope for eternal life. Thus,
C. Eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood are how you gain eternal life.
This is not just a matter of how to have a happier life. It’s a matter of eternal life or eternal death. In 6:49-51, Jesus contrasts the manna, which only fed the people physically for a while and then they died with Himself as the living bread that came down out of heaven to give eternal life to people through His flesh. Religious rituals cannot not bring eternal life to anyone. Apart from Jesus’ sacrificial death, He cannot be the bread that gives eternal life to us. So to gain eternal life, you must eat Jesus’ flesh and drink His blood, which primarily means, to believe in Him personally.
But let’s think about the eating and drinking analogy further so that we understand what saving faith means (Pink develops some of these points).
First, eating is a necessary response to a felt need. You eat when you feel hungry and you drink when you feel thirsty. If you go long enough without eating or drinking, you will die. But, the world feeds us with all sorts of things that mask our true hunger and thirst. It feeds us with money and possessions and sex under the illusion that these will satisfy us, but those things get left behind at death. Sometimes the world deceives us with legitimately good things, like family and friends, to make us feel full and happy. But the best family and friends will not do us any good when we stand before God at the judgment. Those are not true food. Jesus says (6:55), “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.” The Holy Spirit has to impress on us the vanity of life apart from God and convict us of our true guilt before God so that we will hunger and thirst for the eternal life that only Jesus can give.
Second, eating and drinking only benefit you when you actually eat and drink. It doesn’t do you any good to smell a good meal or to analyze it chemically or to write flowery poems about how wonderful it is. You’ve got to eat it. Also, it must be personal. I can’t eat it for you. Your parents can’t eat it for you. You must eat your own food. In the same way, you have to appropriate Christ for yourself by faith. You must not only believe that He is the Savior. You must believe that He is your Savior. You must trust in His death on the cross as the penalty for your sins. You must receive or appropriate Him into your innermost being, just like you eat food and drink water to live. Feeding on Jesus by faith is necessary for eternal life.
2. Feeding on Jesus by faith is necessary for temporal sustenance.
In 6:56, Jesus states, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” Here Jesus mentions the intimate union that takes place between Him and the one who feeds on him by faith. (He will explain this further to the disciples in 15:1-11.) The Greek verb for “eats” is a present participle, looking at the ongoing, close relationship between Jesus and the one who feeds on Him. When you eat food, it literally becomes a part of you. When you feed on Christ by faith, you become more like Him and you enjoy a close relationship with Him.
Also, in 6:57 Jesus emphasizes the intimacy that we enjoy with Him: “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.” J. C. Ryle explains (ibid., 3:404),
It is as though our Lord said: “Just as the Father sent Me into the world to be born of a woman and take the manhood into God—and even though I am among you as man, I live in the closest union and communion with God—even so the man that by faith feeds his soul on my sacrifice for sin shall live in the closest union and communion with Me.” In a word, the union between Christ and the true Christian is as real and true and close and inseparable as the union between God the Father and God the Son.
The implication here is that we should eat often. Most of us eat three meals a day, sometimes with snacks in between. If you were a prisoner of war, you might survive on a cup of rice or a piece of bread and some water every day. But if you survived, you would come out of that camp emaciated, weak, and vulnerable to disease. To be healthy, you have to eat nutritious food several times a day.
Do you feed your soul on Christ every day? “Well, I try to read ‘Our Daily Bread’ once in a while.” Okay, but you need more than that. You need a consistent diet of reading and meditating on God’s Word, praying as you read, “Lord, reveal Yourself to my soul.” Or, as Moses dared to pray, even after all of the amazing miracles that he had seen (Exod. 33:18), “I pray You, show me Your glory!” Feed on Christ often in His Word. Don’t be satisfied with the fact that you ate last week or yesterday. You need manna for your soul today.
Also, it is helpful to eat at regular times. Don’t wait until you’re starving to eat, but eat at set times. Dietary experts say that breakfast is the most important meal not to skip. Likewise, it’s spiritually healthy to spend at least a short time each morning feeding your soul on Christ. I’m not a morning person, so it’s hard for me. But I set my alarm a half hour earlier than I need to and spend that time reading God’s Word and often praying it back to Him.
One final thought: You can’t overeat when it comes to feeding on Jesus! When we sit down to a holiday feast, it all tastes so good that it’s easy to eat more than you should. But with Jesus, you can eat and eat and eat, and it won’t adversely affect your health. In fact, the more of Jesus that you feed on, the healthier you will be!
Thus, feeding on Jesus by faith is necessary for eternal life and for temporal sustenance.
3. Feeding on Jesus by faith is necessary for temporal and eternal satisfaction.
In Matthew’s account (14:20) of the feeding of the 5,000, he says, “And they all ate and were satisfied.” There is a satisfaction factor about eating, isn’t there? That’s why we overeat—because it tastes so good and it’s pleasurable. Good bread nourishes and sustains life, but also it’s enjoyable. To smell bread baking in the oven and then to butter and eat a warm slice—ah! Even so, feeding on Jesus by faith is enjoyable in this life and it will continue in His eternal presence, where, as David exults (Ps. 16:11), “In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”
Yet, as John Calvin laments (Calvin’s Commentaries [Baker], p. 261), “How few are there who are satisfied with Christ alone!” How about you? Are you satisfied with Christ alone? Do you feed on His death for you as your only hope of eternal life? Do you feed on Him daily in His Word as nourishment for your soul? Do you enjoy all that He is for you, both now and for eternity? If not, the answer is fairly simple: Change your diet!
- Biblically, what is the true meaning of the Lord’s Supper? How can we keep it fresh when we repeat it so often?
- A Christian tells you, “I try to read the Bible every day, but it often seems so dry and boring.” How could you help him?
- I mentioned two reasons why Jesus may have used such graphic language that He knew would shock His hearers. Can you think of any other reasons?
- Discuss: Should you read the Bible and pray as a regular discipline even when you may not feel the delight? How can you keep the “delight” factor burning strong?
Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 2013, All Rights Reserved.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture Quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition © The Lockman Foundation