Posts Tagged ‘apostle Paul

12
Aug
14

Riots are NEVER a good thing

A few blocks from where I once worked selling cars in Ferguson, Missouri, a young man was shot and killed by a policeman which in turn has triggered ongoing and increasingly violent riots in the whole St. Louis area. Demonstrations are perfectly legal and entirely understandable but rioting, stealing, looting and destroying property is NOT.

It is interesting that the things going on in my area are the very things brought up and prohibited in the New Testament. Obviously the idea of people using a situation to justify rioting is not a modern phenomenon for it has been a part of cultures for thousands of years.

We need look no further than the mob action relating to the apprehension, “trial” and sentencing of Jesus to see that when leaders (especially religious leaders) stir up the people into a frenzy, the results are predictable and unpleasant. Is it not possible that the reason Pilate gave into the demands of the people to crucify Jesus was his fear that if he did not, the people would break through the Romans guards and crucify him?

On more than one occasion, the Apostle Paul was caught in public riots that nearly cost him his life. In Acts 19, while Paul was at Ephesus, people upset with losing money making idols of the goddess Diana, caused a riot that would have killed Paul if the disciples had not restrained him and safely took him away from the upheaval. An excellent definition of a mob is recorded in Acts 19:32 where it says:

Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused: and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

Most people who participate in a riot have no clue why they are rioting. The confusion of the situation leads to lack of communication which in turn leads to clamor and mass destruction. While in Jerusalem, Paul went to the temple to purify himself in Acts 21. What happened next defines a riot and almost claimed Paul’s life:

26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.

27 And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,

28 Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.

29 (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)

30 And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut.

31 And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.

32 Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul.

33 Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done.

34 And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude: and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle.

35 And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people.

Acts 21:26-35

Mob action is dangerous and many times leads to a full blown riot. A riot is a violent disturbance where angry and out of control people damage property and physically injure others. Rioting, reveling, clamoring etc are specifically forbidden numerous places in both Paul’s and Peter’s epistles. God’s people should NEVER be lured into a riot or mob action. There is absolutely no justification for anyone claiming to know and love God to participate, incite or take pleasure in anything resembling a riot.

My heart aches for what is happening in the St. Louis area for innocent and gullible people are being lured into doing things both illegal and dangerous. I pray that calmer heads prevail and the vultures descending on the area from other states fail in their attempts to incite the people to even more dangerous and damaging actions.

29
Apr
13

Confessions of a “heretic”; why I believe we are living in the Age of Grace

For nearly 45 years I have heard people tell me that I am deceived, “off balance” and not to be trusted because I dare to believe that the keys to understanding God’s will for us living in this day and time are found predominantly in the epistles written AFTER the Day of Pentecost. For reasons that still both amuse and befuddle me, the vast majority of Christians refuse to believe that what is written in Romans through Jude is anything other than “icing on the cake of the four Gospels” or nice little letters written to churches in the First Century.

One of the main reasons there tends to be incredible friction within the Body of Christ is the schism between factions which believe Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are the Holy Grail of recorded revelation, those who believe the Book of Revelation is the absolute authority, those who zero in on the epistles and those (like myself) who look specifically to those epistles written by the Apostle Paul as the “all truth” Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would lead us into.

I understand my position is in the minority among Christians. In fact, there are very few men and women who believe that if we spend most of our time reading and studying the writings of Paul, we will understand who the Church is, the role of the Church and who we are and what we have available to us as children of God living today.

Of course much of this comes down to whether one believes Paul’s epistles are indeed the “all truth” Jesus promised. The overwhelming majority of Christians flatly reject such a notion as either foolishness or blasphemy. Good, bad or otherwise I happen to believe that Paul’s “church epistles” form the foundation of understanding the rest of the Bible in light of all God did for us through Christ.

I believe with all of my heart that the greatest revelation given to the Church is found in the epistles of Romans through Titus. I believe that without a proper understanding of who Jesus Christ was, what He accomplished, what God did when He raised Jesus from the dead and what is available in the Holy Spirit first given on the Day of Pentecost; there is no way to appreciate or walk in the newness of life promised in Romans.

I believe that The Law was nailed to the cross and we now live under a far greater law, the law of love. I believe that we are saved by grace and through God’s grace we are allowed to live and move and have our being in Christ. I believe that that we live in the dispensation of grace and until Christ returns, man can chose whether he will obey God’s Word or live in sin. I believe that the day is coming when everyman must appear before the Great White Throne and give an account of what he chose to do and how he chose to live in this life.

I believe that if a believer puts on the whole armor of God and seeks to walk in love, live in Christ and walk in righteousness; God will be well pleased and that believer will receive rewards and crowns after Christ returns. I believe that once the church is “gathered together” (according to 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15), all the horrible things mentioned in the Book of Revelation and much of the Old Testament will take place and those who have rejected Christ will endure the Great Tribulation.

I believe that the old man was crucified with Christ and that we are to put on the new man through renewing our minds to the Word of God. I believe that God has given to us the ministry of reconciliation whereby we are to bring the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a dying world. I believe that God has instructed us to love one another with a pure heart fervently and seek to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.

I believe many more things and in setting a few of those things out in this blog, I understand that I will probably lose many friends and be looked upon as a heretic by many more. I am willing to accept this as the price I must pay to boldly proclaim what I believe to be true. I respect each person’s choice to believe as they see fit and I will neither condemn nor think any less of anyone who vehemently disagrees with me. To me, this is the beauty of the grace which defines the current age and love which binds us together.

25
Apr
13

Legalism vs grace; the battle rages on and on and on

The battle between legalism and grace has raged in the Church since the First Century. The Jewish Christians wanted to retain elements of The Law while the Gentile Christians desired none of The Law. The apostle Paul pulled his hair out trying to preserve the unity of faith in the bond of peace, but the legalistic influence was so strong it prevailed in most areas in the end.

Paul spends an entire epistle (Galatians) trying to reason with and persuade the Galatians to wake up and understand what Jesus Christ did and accomplished through His death and resurrection. At the counsel in Acts 15 the men involved almost came to blows over the wording of an official proclamation regarding this subject. The arguments were passionate on both sides of the aisle.

Each of the original 12 apostles were Jewish converts to Christianity. Each one of them must have grappled with this subject most of their lives. They were raised under The Law but they knew what Jesus had taught them and thus they had to know something profound was taking place. They had to have known that whatever it was, it would make their old legalistic religion undesirable and unnecessary.

When Jesus Himself personally called Saul on the road to Damascus, He specifically ordained him to be the minister to the Gentiles. Saul, who became Paul, was himself a Jew above all Jews and the idea of preaching to and being a pastor to the Gentiles had to have utterly repulsed him. If it were not for the personal prodding of Jesus along with the time he spent alone in the wilderness, Paul would have rejected the idea as pure heresy and told Jesus to choose someone else.

Paul did indeed become the minister to the Gentiles just as the original apostles were ministers to the Jews who became Christians. Paul’s ministry took him to Asia Minor, Macedonia and Rome among others. Paul’s message (preserved for us in his epistles) is dramatically different than the message of James, Jude and even Peter whose ministry was to Jewish believers.

The Jews hated Paul as much as Paul used to hate Christians. They followed him, mocked him, beat him and thought they had killed him. They believed that if they could kill the messenger of grace they would kill the message. The legalistic tap root runs deep and is not easily modified or destroyed.

Although a miniscule number of Christians believe it, if we would concentrate on the epistles of Paul which are addressed to those with Gentile backgrounds we would see the unmistakable foundation of grace as opposed to a legalistic tap root. Assuming Paul wrote the epistle of Hebrews (no one knows for sure), it represents his final attempt to convince legalistic Jewish born Christians that grace did away with animal sacrifices and all other elements of the law when it comes to remission of sins etc.

There is no question that what is recorded in Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians is very different than what is found in Hebrews, James, Jude and to some extent 1 and 2 Peter. Put together all these epistles are the Word of God, but we would spare ourselves much confusion and turmoil if we looked at those sections of the Word of God specifically addressed TO US as being FOR US and the other sections as being FOR OUR LEARNING.