Jews, Gentiles , or the Church?

1 Cor 10-32

The narcissistic church thinks that everything in the bible is written to them. This has caused massive confusion and results in wrongly dividing the Bible. God always addresses one of the following three groups according to 1 Corinthians 10,

32 Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:

 

One of the requirements to rightly divide the Bible is to be aware of who is being addressed. We can learn from the entire bible (Romans 15:4) but only certain parts are addressed to the Church. God tells us who he is addressing if we search the context. Let’s explore these three groups and look at some examples.

  • The Jews

The Jews are God chosen ones. They trace back their bloodline to Jacob/Israel. Most of the Old Testament is addressed to the Jews. They received the Mosaic law and were instructed, guided, and protected by God.  Christ traces his Jewish roots by to Judah for his claim as an Israelite.

In Romans 9 Paul turns from the Church then addresses  the Jews.

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers,[a] my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

He continues addressing the Jews in chapter 10

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

In Romans 11 Paul changes his audience from the Jews to the Gentiles.

13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify my office:

Then in Romans 12 he turns back to the Church.

The book of James is addressed to the Jews. James 1

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which, are scattered abroad, greeting.

 

 

  • The Gentiles

The Gentiles are the nations. All of the non-Jewish people in the world are Gentiles.

 

In Romans 8 God comforts us with these words

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

We are assured that nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. Now turn to Romans 11 and we’ll see something contradictory and unsettling

21 for if God spared not the natural branches take heed lest he also spares not thee.22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

 

How do we reconcile that “nothing can separate from the love of God” and take heed unless “you also shalt be cut off”? The answer is these are addressed to two different groups. “Nothing can separate us from the love of God” in Romans 8 is addressed to the church. The section in Romans 11 is explained by Romans 9 where a different group is addressed

For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the fleshwho are Israelites;…

 

And then in Romans 11 he begins addressing the Gentiles

13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify my office:

 

Now we know that the warnings and threats from Romans 11:21-22 about taking heed unless you be “cut off” is for our learning concerning the Gentiles but is not addressed to the Church of God. The entire bible is God-breathed, profitable, and for our learning. But only certain parts are addressed to the church. If the entire bible is interpreted as applied to the Church then we introduce confusion, error, and are not approved before God rightly dividing the Word of Truth.

It is critical to know to whom a letter or email is addressed. My wife Wendy may receive an invite to meet for lunch on Friday. I may read the invite and learn that she will be having lunch with a friend on Friday but it would be inappropriate for me to show up because the invite was not addressed to me. We understand the importance of this canon in our lives but then disregard it when studying the Word of God. The same principle applies.

Let’s look at another example in the book of James. In Romans 6 we learn that we are not under the law,

14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law but under grace.

 

But then we get to the book of James and read in chapter 2,

If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: but if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin and are convinced of the law as transgressors10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

 

How can the church not be “under the law” in Romans and also become a “transgressor of the law”? This confusion is cleared up by reading James 1

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

 

The 12 tribes are the blood line of the 12 sons of Jacob/Israel. This letter is addressed to the Jews and not to the church. This knowledge removes any confusion. Am I implying that you should skip this letter? God forbid. This epistle is critical to our practical walk. Some call this letter the New Testament equivalent of Proverbs in the Old Testament.

 

  • The Church of God

There are 9 letters addressed to the church. I will show you the introductions which show to whom these letters are addressed.

Romans 1

among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christto all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

The Church is called of Jesus Christ and another name for the believers is saints. Parts of chapters 9-11 are not addressed to the Church but are for our learning.

1 Corinthians 1

Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

The Church is also called those that are sanctified in Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 1

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia: grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Galatians 1

Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) and all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,

 

Ephesians 1

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Philippians 1

 

Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Colossians 1

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

1 Thessalonians 1

 

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

2 Thessalonians 1

Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

There is a total of 9 Church letters addressed to 7 different churches. These letters contain the instructions addressed TO the Church of God. Mastering the information in these letters is critical to the equipping of the saints.

 

Neither the Old Testament nor the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) are addressed TO the Church of God. However, there is an abundance of information that is for our learning, which is needed to understand parts of the Church letters.

 

 

 

 

Should we avoid divisions and offenses?

stay or go

This is an intentionally ambiguous question, forcing you to think. The correct answer, ” It depends”.  Let’s explore the two options.

In Romans 16, God presents why to avoid divisions and offenses.

17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

18 For they that are such serve, not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

The pivotal phrase in this section is “contrary to the doctrine which you have learned”. We should avoid divisions and offenses which contradict the Word of God. This foolishness proceeds from walking in the flesh. Since God’s thoughts and ways are superior to our thoughts and ways, then it is wise to choose God’s thoughts and ways.

What if the divisions and offenses are in congruence with the Word of God? Should we avoid them? First of all, walk in love. Second, pray for wisdom and understanding. You may be called to walk away, pray, or to highlight what is contrary.

Also, notice the motivation from verse 18. Avoid those that want to serve themselves instead of Jesus Christ, by deceiving the naïve or unsuspecting. Take heed if their goal is to serve Christ selflessly by proclaiming the Bible honestly to the hungry.

This section is about evaluating the one causing divisions and offenses. The key evaluation tool is to measure their thoughts and actions with the Word of God.

This is Godly instruction to address a vital, but potentially uncomfortable decision. Choose wisely by filtering life through the Bible.

 

Undue Political Influence

Citizens-United

Privately held Koch Industries generates enough profit to elevate Charles and David Koch, sons of the founder, to the top 10 wealthiest in America. Most billionaires give back a portion of their wealth to charities and non-profits through foundations. Warren Buffet, number 2 on the list, directs his charitable giving to the titular foundation of number one on the list – Bill Gates.

The Koch brothers have multiple foundations focused on the public good. However, their political contributions generate the most discussion and controversy. Their fundraising success will soon dwarf both the Republican and Democrat National Committees, the RNC and DNC respectively. In 2012, their fundraising group raised $400M for conservative candidates. The RNC and DNC each spent about $650M. Mostly dark money to non-profit organizations which spend no more than 50% of their budget on political influence. Why dark money? Dark money donors are anonymous, unlike the Super Pacs which require disclosure of all donors and amount contributed. Due to this loophole, a small group of people can have a massive influence on political speech and remain in the shadows, that’s why it’s called dark money.

The Koch’s influence will more than double for 2016. They lead a group of over 300 donors which will amass almost $900M for this year’s election season.

The democrats want to overturn Citizens United because it allows corporations to contribute money to Super Pacs. My greater concern is the cover provided for Dark Money donors. I believe that all donors to Super Pacs and Dark Money organizations should undergo the same transparency.

The Koch brothers have turned political donations into an art form which is permitted by the first amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The first five words of the first amendment, “Congress shall make no law”, are emphatic. It doesn’t say that Congress will make “some laws” or “most laws”, but “no law”. Also, notice that “no law” is singular, which means not a  single one. It doesn’t empower the Executive or Judicial branch to impose their interpretation either.

Political speech is under the heading of freedom of speech. The problem with restricting political speech is that it will always favor the incumbent or a candidate with name recognition.

I support two laws to reduce political corruption: term limits and dark money donor transparency.

Update: The Koch’s announced that they will not fund any pro-Trump or anti-Hillary ads this year.

Does Michele Obama live in a house built by slaves?

White House Avatar

On Tuesday evening at the DNC convention in Philadelphia, Michele Obama said the following:

“So that today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.”

This statement is a  great sound byte, but is it true?

In the late 1800’s, the original White House was built by a combination of slaves, free blacks, and contractors.  However, in the War of 1812, the British burned down the White House. Over the last 200+ years, the White House has been built, rebuilt, remodeled, and expanded. The only original part of the White House is a portion of one of the exterior walls.

If you live in a housing development that previously was farmland, then we do not boast that we live on a farm. It used to be a farm, but not anymore. Michele Obama does not wake up in a house built by slaves but lives on the property where a building built partially by slaves existed.

Verdict: Mostly false.

Proof of Hillary Clinton’s Intent

download

FBI director, Jim Comey, announced that he would not recommend charges against President-elect Hillary Clinton concerning her exclusive use of a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State.  She was identified with being “extremely careless” but not “grossly negligent”. The primary reason for no charges was no proof of intent. The law does not require intent, but Comey stated that no reasonable prosecutor would accept  this case due a history of requiring intent for this crime.

Intent is rarely proved by a confession but by circumstantial evidence. I will present the case for intent using circumstantial evidence.

  • Secretary Clinton set up her personal email server before she was sworn into office. She used this unsecured email system for all of her ­email: personal, work and classified.
  • The law requires for all government departments to assign an Inspector General to independently oversee security issues. President Obama never nominated an IG during Secretary Clinton’s four-year tenure,  earning him the distinction as the only president not to appoint an IG since 1957.
  • ­Lied under oath that:
    1. She never sent classified email on her server.
    2. She never sent any emails marked classified on her server.
    3. She testified that her lawyers read each email and were conservative in their deletion of private emails.
    4. She turned over all of her work related emails.
    5. She only used one email device.
  • Hid her email system from congressional committees for over two years.
  • Unilaterally had her lawyers delete emails that they decided were not work related. They followed by wiping the devices clean to ensure the least chance of recovery.
  • Refused to turn over her server until the FBI requested it.
  • The FBI found thousands of work-related emails on her server.
  • The FBI found 110 emails, marked classified at the time of their origin, in 52 chains on the server. Who transferred the classified emails to a non-classified system? Who removed the classified markings from the emails?
  • Brian Pagliano, the IT specialist that setup Secretary Clinton’s server, pled the 5th when questioned about the server setup. The FBI negotiated immunity for his testimony.
  • Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff, was hired as Clinton’s personal attorney. She could invoke attorney/client privilege when questioned about her official duties as chief of staff.
  • Clinton and her immediate staff, all employed the same attorney to represent them.
  • Violated the Freedom of Information Act by not turning over all of her work related emails upon terminating her work at the State Department. They were turned over after 2-3 years, but only after over half of the emails were deleted by her lawyers.

 

This seems to be enough to prove intent with circumstantial evidence. I believe that a reasonable prosecutor could prove intent even though it’s not a requirement under the statute.

Daily Bread in Acts

church division

Human nature has not changed since the foundations of the world. Selfishness, pride, and justification are not new. In Acts 6, an incident occurs that could happen today.

And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

The Grecians are the Gentiles. This is a division of the body of Christ where there are no Jews and Gentiles in the spirit. The Jews were being racist by omitting the Gentiles during the daily sharing of food provisions. This is not an accounting problem, but a spiritual problem. The Gentiles have always been second class citizens to the Jews. They called them “dogs”. This act was an intentional shortchanging justified by “we are better than them”. The Gentiles complained to the apostles about this unfair practice.

Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.

The apostles remind the disciples that they have an apostolic ministry serving thousands of members.

Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

The apostles instructed the disciples to choose seven from the disciples that have the following traits: stellar character, active in the manifestations of the spirit, and spiritually wise. These men will oversee the daily distribution. Notice that the apostles did not pick the seven, but delegated the election to the disciples. Delegation is one of the keys to a growing church.

This was not a counting problem that could be solved with a project manager and a bookkeeper. This was a spiritual problem that needed to be confronted and resolved, especially among the Jewish disciples. That’s why these men needed to be strong believers.

But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:

These disciples chose an excellent group of men, led by Stephen. Natural problems can be resolved with natural talents, but supernatural problems require people with spiritual maturity.

 

The Ties That Bind

toasting a meal

It’s the day of Pentecost. The apostles were faithful and waited in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit.  At 9am, they were in the temple and started breathing heavy when suddenly cloven tongues as of fire distributed on each of them. They began to speak in tongues and all of the non-locals understood at least one of the languages.  Peter then proceeds to deliver one of the greatest sermons in the Bible. Later that day 3000 people are saved and become new members of the body of Christ. Over 3000 people are born again on the first day of the Church. Wow! How did they organize and function? Most churches would struggle with 3000 new people showing up on a Sunday morning. God provides us a framework for how the early church grew and expanded. These same principles still work today.

All of the New Testament (Gospels, Acts, Church letters, Revelations) was written 20-60 years after the day of Pentecost. They had no scripture to guide them in how the church operated. They did have the Holy Spirit to guide them.

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

They were diligent and dependable at fellowshipping and following the apostles doctrine (had to be oral), sharing meals, and prays together.

Fellowship is the Greek word koinonia

43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

Fear does not mean scared but it means to give reverence or respect. This was the fear of the lord. The apostles demonstrated that God was present and working in their lives.

44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

They were believers (Romans 10:9-10) and spent time together.

45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

Notice that possessions and goods are plural. This was not a commune. They share of their abundance with their neighbors so that nobody lacked. They gave freely. It was not commanded or legislated.

46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

They were daily, with a common purpose, in the temple. They shared meals together in their homes. These were community groups which are scalable, affordable, and homey. People were thankful for their food and had their hearts knit together with the love of God.

47 Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

They praised God, which means they practiced the presence of God, acknowledged God, and worshiped God with thankfulness.  They had favor (grace) with all the people. They did not have favor with all of the Jews but they had favor with the believers.

God added to the church daily all that had a desire to be saved. This was an exponential growth because this loving, committed environment was irresistible.