Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Love One Another As Christ Has Loved Us

"The “as I have loved you” part of the command is not an issue of degree (“as much as I have loved you”) but an issue of relationship (“in the same way that I loved you”). When so understood, the command can be fulfilled. The Lord was saying, “Just as my love held you together in the past, so now in my absence, your love for each other must hold you together. You are family.” It is in this sense that His words can be called a charter for the local church. His words were a command because He wanted them to stop competing and start teaming up like brothers. His words were a provision because He knew they would need each other after He went away. They would not be alone. They would have each other. If they would stand together as brothers, they could withstand the attacks of the enemy and spread the Gospel far and wide. Their love and unity would show the world that they were His disciples (v. 35)."

Understanding the Church, by Joseph M. Vogl and John H. Fish III, p. 104-105

Monday, October 19, 2020

How The Gospel Brings About Unity

"One of the defining characteristics of modern cults is the turning of the convert against his family, and the cutting off of that convert from his parents. The true gospel does not do that. We teach young converts to honor their fathers and mothers, even when those parents oppose the Gospel. Unlike the modern cults, the alienation comes only when unbelieving parents disown, expel, or disenfranchise believing children. In such cases, the family of the local assembly is all the more important. The original family has cast out the new believer."

Understanding the Church, by Joseph M. Vogl and John H. Fish III, p. 98

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Pillar And Ground Of The Truth

"The word pillar (στῦλος, stylos) would have special significance to the Ephesians in that their city was the site of the Temple of Diana which had 127 marble pillars upon which announcements were regularly affixed. The local church was a pillar upon which the truth was to be held up that all might see it. By “truth” (ἀληθεία, alētheia) Paul means the full revelation of God in Christ as [1 Timothy] verse 16 makes clear...The church is a household called to manifest the truth in its message and to conform to it in its conduct. Paul adds that the church is the “support” or buttress (ἑδραίωμα, hedraiōma) of the truth. The church, the Apostle implies, exists to maintain the faith and protect it from all danger."

Understanding the Church, by Joseph M. Vogl and John H. Fish III, p. 49

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Office Of Overseer Or Overseership In 1 Timothy 3:1?

 "It should be noted that 1 Timothy 3:1 does not use the term "office." The term ἐπίσκοπος ("office of overseer," NASB) is rare in secular Greek and never has the sense of "office." Knight (The Pastoral Epistle, 153) has "position of overseer." The NIV is perhaps best: "If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer...." As Schweizer (Church Order in the New Testament, 171-80) notes, nowhere in the New Testament do the apostles refer to elders or deacons as "officers." This is striking in that the Greek language has a wealth of terms for “office” or “officer,” e.g. ἀρχή (“one at the head, ruler”), ἄρχων (“ruler”), τιμή (“position of dignity”), τέλος (“power of office”), λειτουργός (“priestly office”), πρᾶξις (“public office”), ἱερατεία (“priest’s office”). The caution of the apostles is due to the fact that they viewed the work of elders and deacons as tasks, functions or ministries, not as official platforms that distinguished the leaders from the people in a clergy-laity fashion. If by office, however, one simply means a formally recognized position with appropriate duties, then the elders and deacons were “officers” in the church. Cf. David Mappes, “The New Testament Elder, Overseer, and Pastor,” BS 154 (April 1997): 169."

Understanding the Church, by Joseph M. Vogl and John H. Fish III, p. 41

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Would Jesus Have Us Submit To The Roman Catholic Magisterium In Order To Properly Understand Scripture?

        The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church says the following in regards to the role of who interprets Scripture: 

        "The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him." (CCC # 100)

        "The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium's task to preserve God's people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates." (CCC # 890)

        The reasoning comprising the above quoted excerpts runs contrary to how Jesus Christ Himself addressed people and false teaching. He made individuals interpret Scripture for themselves and held them accountable when they applied them wrongly.

        Jesus Christ expected an expert in the Law to properly interpret Scripture for himself (Luke 10:26). He asked His challenger, "What is written in the law?"

        Jesus held the Pharisees accountable for their misinterpretation of the Scriptures in regards to working on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:3-5). He asked them, "Have you not read in the Law?"

        Jesus expected the Pharisees to interpret the Scriptures for themselves when He answered them on the matter of marriage and divorce (Matthew 19:5). He asked them, "Have you not read...?"

        Christ answered the Sadducees on marriage and the resurrection of the dead (Matthew 22:22-32). He told them that they neither understood Scripture nor the power of God. He asked them, "Have you not read?"

        After telling the Parable of the Tenants, Jesus asked those who had listened to Him, "Did you never read in the Scriptures?" (Matthew 21:42) 

        If Jesus Christ restricted private interpretation of Scripture to an elitist church hierarchy, then His questions would have been meaningless. He never pointed anyone to an office to be infallibly taught biblical doctrine. He made people interpret Scripture for themselves rather than simply spoon-feeding them divine truth.

        The Apostle Paul in Galatians 1:6-12 subjugated angels and apostles themselves to a standard of divine revelation as he said "even if we" in condemning false gospels. We clearly must resort to the use of our own reasoning faculties in order to test the messages of ministers. The substance of teaching has greater weight than the one who teaches.

       Christ defeated the devil by appealing to Scripture three times, "It is written" (Matthew 4:1-11). Why not emulate His perfect moral example in spiritual discernment? If a child like Timothy could understand Scripture (2 Timothy 3:15), then why cannot the same be true of us?

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Non-Christians And Church Attendance

"Nowhere in the New Testament is there any indication that the church met to preach the gospel. Rather the church met to worship, to teach the word, to pray, to have fellowship. The meeting of the church was to edify believers and to glorify God. But it was not to preach the gospel to unbelievers. Rather the saints went out into the world to preach the gospel. … there is no biblical mandate for an “evangelistic service” when the church comes together. There is a mandate to equip the saints to preach the gospel. The work of Christians is not to invite unbelievers to church so that they might hear the gospel. It is to preach the gospel themselves."

Understanding the Church, by Joseph M. Vogl and John H. Fish III, p. 132