Monday, October 13, 2008

The Commenter's Commentary

I received another wonderful scriptural exposition from "The Commenter", my Church of Christ brother. He once again lists scriptures of which there is no contest. The subject was The Church. The scriptures he lists are pure and unadulterated. I find it interesting that The Commenter suggests the use of Strong's Concordance to assist the Bible Student (Who is Mr. Strong and from where does he get his authority?) I must assume that The Commenter is giving credence to the idea that individuals alone cannot adequately interpret the scriptures without some foundational source. The question remains and The Commenter has yet to address it, what is your source of biblical interpretation? Who gets to say what truth is- what do the scriptures mean and can they be adequately interpreted without at least giving the Early Church Fathers a vote? If Mr. Strong, other modern commentaries and Commenter's own interpretations are valid sources for understanding faith and doctrine, would not more so the Early Church Fathers who knew and walked with the Apostles? The Commenter includes his own commentary with the scriptures. At first glance I can find no fault in his scriptural commentary, however, he errs in his summation and shows a lack of understanding of history when he says,

"I feel sure that as the Holy Spirit guided the Apostles into all truth, we have all that we need to know about His church. These wonderful blessings can only be had by going back, back, back…, back behind the Reformation movement-back behind Romanism, back behind orthodoxism, or any other “ism” that gets in the way, all the way back to the day of Pentecost, which was the inauguration of New Testament Christianity. "

Orthodoxy IS that Church birthed out of Pentecost. Commenter's suggestion that one can go "back behind Orthodoxism" suggests erroneously that Orthodoxy was a later invention. The use of the word Orthodox in relation to the Church of the Apostles came about early in the Church to distinguish between the Church of the Apostles and heretics.

"It was in the early centuries of the Church's existence, while fighting to safeguard the true doctrines of Christ, that the Christian Church officially took on the name "Orthodox." The word Orthodox literally means "straight teaching" or "straight worship," being derived from two Greek words: orthos, "straight," and doxa, "teaching" or "worship."

Here is Commenter's treatment on The Church. It is worth reading. Read it or scroll past for final thought.

"The Church (the Kingdom of Heaven, The Body of Christ, The House of God, The Bride of Christ) The word “church” is found in the New Testament about 77 times. The word “churches” appears about 37 times. “The church” is found about 66 times and “The churches” about 19 times. The word “church” may have reference to the entire Body of Christ or a congregation in a particular location. “The churches” may have reference to several congregations in a particular area or among a particular people. “My church” designates belonging to Christ as does “churches of Christ”. “Church of God” or “churches of God” shows ownership. Anyone can use Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, or pages 227 and 228 of The Englishman’s Greek Concordance of the New Testament by George V. Wigram and arrive at these conclusions for himself and have a most profitable study. Matthew 16:18-20 is a wonderful introductory paragraph for this study. In those Verses Jesus makes several promises and the Passage I want to use is Verse 18: “And I also say to you that you are Peter (petros, rock), and on this rock (petra) I will build my church, and the gates of Hadeas shall not prevail against it.” In that promise Jesus would (future) be the builder; Jesus would build His (ownership) church; Jesus would build His church (singular); The foundation would be the petra, the rock-bed truth Peter had confessed, and the gates of Hades would not prevail against it. All of this is found in one verse, Verse 18, and in all references to the church throughout the New Testament none will be in conflict with this wonderful verse.Not long before Jesus ascended back to the Father we read: “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.” (Matt. 28:16). These are eleven of the twelve Jesus chose as His Apostles. (Matt. 10:2-4). These men had accompanied the Lord Jesus beginning from the baptism of John. (acts 1:21,22). They had heard His doctrine, witnessed His miracles, behalf His benevolence, and seen His mistreatment. Although after His arrest “the disciples forsook Him and fled.” (Matt. 26:56), they were never the same after His empty tomb.While the eleven disciples were at the mountain “Jesus came and spoke to them saying ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’”. (Matt. 28:18-20) He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” (Mark 16:16). Jesus also said “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:47)The record of the apostles doing what Christ commanded them to do is found in the Book of Acts. Peter stood up with the eleven and began preaching the Gospel. (Acts 2:14-35). Peter continued, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the Apostles, ’Men and brethren, what shall we do?’ Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and youo shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.’ (Acts 2:36-39). And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, ’Be saved from this perverse generation.’ Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.’ (Acts 2:40-42). ’praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47).” Thus Christ’s church (the church of Christ) had its beginning. And what a simple procedure the Lord used in building His church. The Gospel was preached, those who believed it repented and were baptized for the remission of their sins. They were saved and “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47) The Book of Acts is a history of the beginning of the church as the Body of Christ as a whole and of the church in Jerusalem in particular. Also, Acts is a history of the beginning of several congregations in different locations and among different people. Acts 5:11 states that “great fear came upon all the church.” Acts 8:1 says “at that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church.” (Acts 8:3). “Therefore, those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the Word.” (Acts 8:4) In Acts 9:31 Luke, the historian writes: “Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.” For a whole year Barnabas and Saul “assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” (Acts 11:26). “Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. (Acts 12:5) When Barnabas and Saul “had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” (Acts 14:23). Concerning Paul’s activities Luke records, “From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church.” (Acts 20:17).Ephesians 5:25 is a powerful reminder of Christ’s love for the church: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.” And to those elders at Ephesus Paul admonished “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28). Paul tells us that God “put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Eph. 1:22,23). And he reminds us that the church is to make known the manifold wisdom of God. (Eph. 3:10) Paul exclaims “to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph. 3:21). Paul proclaims that “Christ is head of the church; and He is the savior of the body.” (Eph. 5:23), and that “the church is subject to Christ.” (Eph. 5:24).In all the times “the church” is mentioned nothing is said or no questions are asked about “which church” or “what faith”, etc., do the writers have in mind. The reason being that was well understood. All that was written leaves no doubt as to who built the church, who purchased it and with what, who the head is, what the church is, and any other question that could come up. It was just “the church”. How clear and simple and easily understood the Lord arranged it. Satan’s primary objective was to muddy the waters and keep it that way. As Paul was writing to the Ephesians he said: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Eph. 4:4-6). Peter wrote, “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.” (2 Peter 1:3). I feel sure that as the Holy Spirit guided the Apostles into all truth, we have all that we need to know about His church. These wonderful blessings can only be had by going back, back, back…, back behind the Reformation movement-back behind Romanism, back behind orthodoxism, or any other “ism” that gets in the way, all the way back to the day of Pentecost, which was the inauguration of New Testament Christianity. No wonder Jesus said, “Because narrow is the gate and difficult (confined) is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matt. 7:14). But since Jesus is “the way” (John 14:6) by following Him I plan to make it. That is my Journey. The Commenter"

For The Commenter, all of my Church of Christ friends and others who give sincere honor to the Word of God and to His Church I encourage you to not be ignorant of history by ignoring 2000 years of those who have faithfully held and interpret the scriptures and died to defend the faith of the Apostles. Please take time to study the following three articles. Warning: They may ruin your religion.

Which Came First-The Church or the New Testament? Click Here

Finding The New Testament Church Click Here

Scripture and Tradition Click Here

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Note To Self

[From the words of St. Simeon the New Theologian]
"Unless you are humbled, brother, and unless you are under submission, afflicted and dishonored; unless you are despised and slandered; unless you accept to become as one of those who are obscure, foolish, base and down-trodden; unless you are shunned by all men and regarded as one of those who are reprehensible and begging in the squares and byways of the city, how, do tell me, can you become alienated from your own will?
God has commanded that we endure all thee things that come our way for a testing and for experience, not for testing and experience but for catharsis of our souls. In spite of this fact, we do not desired to suffer these things, but, instead, the reluctance to endure them lives within us which is the earthly mind of the flesh.
How then can we become dead? In no way. If we do not become dead to the world and to the things of the world, how can we live the life which is hidden in Christ, not having become dead for God? How can we behold God dwelling within us as light, as St. Symeon* said (*St. Symeon was his namesake and his spiritual father) ? In no way, brother. Let no one deceive you.
But you are saying that it is foolish to follow the blessed Symeon and it is shameful to imitate his actions? Then imitate Christ our God. Endure sufferings yourself for your own salvation, as he suffered for you. As you know, they called him a demonized, a deceiver, a glutton and a winebibber. They said: "You have a demon" (John 7:20), and again: "Behold a man gluttonous, and winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners" (Matt. 11:19)
These things even our blessed father, St. Symeon, heard in our behalf or rather for us. Furthermore you can hear again concerning the Lord being bound and dragged as a murder and criminal and standing before Pilate as one who is base, receiving a slap from the servant, being thrown into prison and being taken out of prison, led by the soldiers who bear sticks and then handed over by the people to Pilate who said: "Take ye him and crucify him" (John 19:6).
Understand how he was rendered in their midst- He Who is above all the Heavens and Who holds all things in His hand: scourged, flogged, maligned, abused and led to the praetorium-He Who is beyond the sight of all creation and even of the Seraphim, undressed and tied to a post, receiving forty full stripes, indicating the death sentence.
Then, what? He was dressed in a purple mantle scoffingly and He was struck on the head and asked, "Who is he that struck you?" He was crowned with thorns, bowed down and scoffed, spat at and did hear what sarcastically was uttered? "Behold the King of the Jews" (Mark 15:26). He was dressed again with his own garments, tied with a rope by the neck and led to death, and then carrying the burden of His own cross, when He came to the place where the cross was set, He was deserted only by His friends and disciples; after this, He was again divested of His garments, lifted up with His hands and feet and nailed to the cross by the soldiers and left to hang; He was offered gall to drink and was pierced with a lance and blasphemed by a thief, scoffed at and heard: "He who destroys the temple and three days raises it up again, save yourself and come down from the cross," and again, "If you are the Son of God (Matt. 27:40), come down from the cross and we will believe in you".
Thus after suffering these things, and having given thanks, he prayed for those who put him to death, and gave up his soul into the hands of His Father."
Note to self: All is fine if all is not fine.