Sunday, April 7, 2019

Hebrews 7-8~ Day 97~ Done deal!

So....as I have been reading through the New Testament again and again, I have been exposed to different schools of thought because of the different commentaries I read that help shed light on confusing scripture.

I have found all the different schools of thought fascinating!!  Fortunately, all the perspectives have the same elementary teaching that makes us all "Christians".
  • We all believe that the Bible is infallible.
  • We all believe salvations is only thorough God's grace by what Christ did for us on the cross.
  • We all believe Christ will return.
Yet, I find it surprising that there are so many different schools of thought within our evangelical Christian family.  These are some of the terms I have heard and been learning about the last couple of years while I keep reading the New Testament everyday.  Mind you, I never gave these topics much attention at all, in the past!
  • Dispensational
  • Amillennial 
  • Reformed theology/ Covenant theology
  • Monergism vs synergism 
  • Calvinism vs. Arminianism
Oh my!  There's no point in arguing over the different perspectives, but lively discussion can be fun;  if they are just that! 
Anyway, all that being said, I can't help but think of one of those perspectives and see how Hebrews counters one of the arguments held by one of those views.  (Yes, I am being vague because I don't want to start deep discussions on a short blog.😜

"Now there have been many of those priest, since death prevented them form continuing in office, but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. "( 7:24) and "Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day,...He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself." (7:27)

So, I was thinking about those who hold to the school of thought that someday in the future, an earthly temple will be rebuilt and a sacrifice system reinstated (referring to Ezekiel 40)....to me...that would contradict what we read today in Hebrews 7.  I like how one commentary put it, "That would be like putting scaffolding back up on a finished house."
As you have heard me say before, scripture doesn't contradict itself......so.....perhaps this can be an area of lively discussion!😉

Well, that's what stood out to me today!  hee-hee!😆 What stood out to you?

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Hebrews 5-6~ Day 96~ Have I matured?

I know when my body matured; I went through puberty.  I know when my knowledge in health matured;  I graduated from school and passed the State Boards.  But....how does one know they have matured spiritually?  Well, the writer of Hebrews laid it out in today's reading.  Like puberty, there are obvious signs!
Let's start with the first he listed,
  • Have you graduated to teaching the gospel or are you still sitting in the pew, struggling with the basics?   
Ouch!  That can be convicting....isn't that a gift that only certain Christians have, the gift of teaching (Rom. 12:7)?  Couldn't I use that as a cop out to not teach?  According to the writer of Hebrews, the answer is, no.  Teaching is not exclusive to those with the "gift".  He is addressing all the Hebrews hearing this letter.  "In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again." (5:12). I do like how he clarified what type of teacher we can all be.  Every Christian should be able to teach the elementary truths!!  No special gift required!  Similarly, all Christians are expected to have faith and hospitality (Rom 12:13).  Yes, there are some that have "the gift", who excel in certain areas due to the Holy Spirit using them to edify the body.  But, that doesn't let the rest of us off the hook for ever displaying those traits.
Case in point, the writer of Hebrews tells us it's a sign of maturity that we teach and move away from struggling with basic Christian principles!
Here's a thought, if you need practice teaching the basics, maybe you want to volunteer in teaching Sunday school at your church!😉

So, what else did the writer list?
  • Are you constantly learning more Biblical truths (5:14) so distinguishing good from evil comes naturally?  (I think you are doing that, since you are reading along with this reading plan everyday!) 
  • Do you help God's people or have you become lazy in your faith? (6:10)
Soooo,  those are the "tell-tale" signs of spiritual maturity! We may not go through a graduation ceremony, or have physical changes that others can see when we become "mature " in our faith, but there are clear indicators.
The question is for me, and all Christians, do I see those traits in my life,....have I matured?🤔

Friday, April 5, 2019

Hebrews 3-4! Day 95~ If, indeed!

We have only 25 days left of the reading!  Time is flying!  We will be done at the end of this month!!

So, as far as the reading today......I read, "But Christ is faithful as the Son over God's house.  And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory." (Heb. 3:6) To be honest, I just skimmed over it, because the wording confuses the heck out of me!  I didn't want to deal with it, so I moved on....
Then,  I come to this, "We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end." (Heb. 3:14)  Arg!!!  Why is the author repeating himself??
I can't ignore it if he repeats it!!

Well, that launched me in to reading a LOT of commentaries on the sentences that seem to hold a conditional clause.  One commentary said, "Perseverance in faith is the best evidence of the sincerity of our faith".   That sounds good.....but it still left me feeling some pressure.  "You better hold on! If you don't, you were never a Christian in the first place!" 😨 Um...I think I am...but what if I'm not?.... This reminded me of a poster I had on my wall when I was a young teen.



Then, I came to a commentary that made a clear statement (at least clear in my mind), "The question is not one of the retention of salvation based upon a persistence of faith, but of the possession of salvation as evidenced by a continuation of faith." (based on Heb. 10:36 and 11:6, as well)

I like that!  There is no desperate "hanging on to your faith" in that statement.  So, in reality,  these sentences with the "if" in them, are not conditional clause sentences, but descriptions of one who holds the belief in Jesus(as opposed to those described in 3:19).
In other words the writer could have said, "And we are his house, if indeed we are true Christians (one's who hold to their confidence in Jesus)." (my paraphrase of 3:6b)

I'm not confused by the wording now.  But I made notes in my Bible in the margin of those verses to remind myself to read the "if" sentences in the proper way!  I might forget the next time reading through the N.T. 😜

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Hebrews 1-2~ Day 94~ What great hope!

"The Son is the radiance of God's glory and exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.  After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." (1:3)

"Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." (1:13)

I love these verses!  Jesus provided purification for me and all my enemies (those evil spiritual forces-Eph. 6:12) will become his footstool! Ha!  It's so triumphal!!  It's this hope that the Christians of Paul's time needed to be reminded and encouraged.  The return of Jesus wasn't happening as fast as some were expecting and the Jews were fighting hard against this new "sect".  These encouraging words helped remind the believers that Jesus will come back and he will be victorious.

 What a great reminder for us as well in this post-Christian culture we find ourselves in today!  I bet I am as encouraged by these words as the Christians back then! Jesus will come back and he will be victorious!!

What stood out to you in the reading?  What has been your favorite letter so far!

Philemon 1~ Day 93~ I want "to be of use"!

As I started to read about Onesimus, the slave, I thought the name sounded super familiar.  So, I went back in our reading to 2 Timothy where I thought I had read the same name.  Timothy was the leader of the church of Ephesus and Paul sent his greeting to the household of Onesiphorus through Timothy's letter.

Ok, not the same guy.  However, they both start with Onesi-.  Well, that got me to wonder what the first part of the name meant.  I found out that the first part of the name is from the word Oninemi, which means, "to be of use or to profit."  Isn't that interesting?!

The one Paul referred to in 2 Timothy 1:16, "often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chain."  Onesiphorus was "of use" to Paul!  Then, Paul uses similar words when he refers to Philemon's slave Onesimus.  "Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me." (1:11)  I thought that was interesting!

Some scholars feel the the use of a real name would put the "household of Onesiphorus" in danger, considering the persecution of the church under Nero.  Intersection of the letter would have identified a whole new target for the tyrant.  So, Paul could have been using a code name(s).  Who knows?!

What I get out of it is, that it is good to be "useful" to fellow Christians!  I want to be known as a Onesi-, one who is helpful, like the slave was to Paul (Phil 1:13) and like the other who helped Paul, both when he was in Ephesus and in prison in Rome (2 Tim 1:16-18).  What a great character trait to have; one who is helpful (of use or profit)!!
Lord, help me to recognize when people around me need a "Onesi-" in their life!!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Titus 1-3~ Day 92~Rebuke them sharply? 😳

So, in his letter to the Galatians, Paul tells them, "Brothers if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently." (6:1)

To the Ephesians he says, "Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him.." (4:15)

To the Thessalonians he says "Brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the faint hearted, help the weak, be patient with them all." (5:14)

Paul sounds so gentle, loving and patient in how he deals with people!!  So, it really stood out in stark contrast to me when I read that the rebellious people, "must be silenced because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach.....therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith." (1:11 & 13)

Doesn't that seem out of character for Paul?  That doesn't sound too gentle!! The more I think about it though, the more I think, yes, that is exactly what Paul would say! Especially in light of 1 & 2 Timothy, where he repeated several times the importance of having "sound doctrine".

It's like Paul is saying, "When dealing with peoples faults or failings in their own life, have compassion, extend mercy and exercise charity.  But, don't mess with the words of Jesus!!  No way!! No charity there!  Do not beat around the bush or tip toe around their feelings! Correct them immediately before they influence others."
Paul is right in line here with what he told the Galatians and the Corinthians.  "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough" (Gal. 5:9 & 1 Cor. 5:6)  Get rid of it!!

I think some churches today need to take a fresh look at Paul's words.  Don't be timid with false teaching! Stop dancing around it! Stand up to it! Rebuttal it!  Get rid of it!!  

Monday, April 1, 2019

2 Timothy 3-4~ Day 91~ "Last Days" are Now!

"But mark this:  There will be terrible times in the last days." (3:1)

I have often read this one sentence thinking that Paul jumps to a time, sometime in the future, because he says, "There will be".  So, the "last days" must refer to that tribulation period that "pre-millinial" Christians refer to.
But, if that were the case, why would Paul tell Timothy, "As for you continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of.." (3:14)?  Paul wouldn't bounce around in his train of thought from some future time to present.  No, he is saying that the "last days" are now.

One commentary I read said, " 'in the last days' refers to the apostolic age and onward to the end of the world: the Jews generally understood by this phrase, when used in the Old Testament, the days of the Messiah, and which are the last days of the world, in comparison of the times before the law, from Adam to Moses, and under the law, from thence to Christ, and even in the times of the apostles."

Also, remember back in 1 Timothy Paul referred to the same "later times", "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons." (4:1)  This is how my Bible footnote explains that verse, "later times began with Christ's resurrection and will continue until his return when he will set up his kingdom and judge humanity."

So, why am I analyzing this?  Because all the things Paul is warning Timothy to be aware of...applies to us!!  This is not some future event that we may or may not be a part of.  We are in the last days now, and these warnings are for us, so be on guard, heed Paul's words!!!😳