Children’s Church

 

Providing an alternate experience for children when Christians assemble has been a controversial practice within the Restoration Movement for some time now.  A significant split occurred over Sunday School.  Later, others opposed the practice of sending children out of the Worship Service to attend their own Children’s Church

But, I think a greater problem may be something different than those controversies.  It is more about the fact that children (and their parents) have been enticed to come to church services.  Let’s look at some methods:

Various Enticement Methods:

  • Bus ministry (with food).
  • Babysitting. 
  • Puppet ministry.
  • Plays and productions.
  • Playground equipment.
  • The parties and games of the week.

I don’t oppose how individual congregations choose to run their “ministries.”  Christians in autonomous assemblies can agree upon how they do things.  I don’t even oppose the use of the above listed methods for children.  But here is my question:

What do children learn to expect at church?

I think we have taught an entire generation of adults to expect fun at church!  And fun is not “wrong” either, but what about the purpose of our assembling?  What about study, and exhortation, have they suffered?

What has caused the lack of motivation for deeper Bible study?  Could it be that what we have taught folks that the church experience should be mostly about having fun?  Now, if they aren’t having fun, they’re bored!

Some churches hire staff, who’s entire job it is, to dream up entertainment for the children.  Is it any wonder that today’s churchgoing adults are seeking better entertainment rather than Bible study?  These adults have been raised on, and are addicted to, being entertained.

We now find ourselves with adult churchgoers who have been dumbed down in Bible knowledge.  In an effort to accommodate the wishes of children (and their parents), deeper Bible instruction has suffered.  Act 17:11 Eph 5:19 Col 3:16

Hebrews 5:12
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.

Because of a change in church priorities, many have lost the motivation to study God’s word!

If the children of this generation are hearing their parents discuss who has the best band or the best praise team, something is wrong.  If the priority has become competition between neighboring churches using entertainment methods, something is wrong.

What can we do about this? 

  • Motivate parents to follow along with Bible sermons/lessons, looking up verses, and taking notes.  Children will see the example. 
  • Motivate parents to open their Bibles at home and spend time studying God’s word, and children will see what is important in their parent’s lives.
  • Motivate parents to spend time teaching the Bible to their children.

At some point, children need to put away childish things.”

1 Corinthians 13:11
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Let’s graduate from Children’s Church

Let’s teach children how to study God’s word.

 

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notapharisee

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Audience Relevance

 

It would be difficult to over-emphasize the importance of “audience relevance” when studying the scriptures.

There is an old joke about the man who wanted to know God’s will for him. He believed that the Spirit would guide him to the correct verse if he just opened his Bible and obeyed the first verse he saw.

So he opened his Bible to this verse:

1Sa 15:3 Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’ “

Obviously, that command was not for him!

It is the responsibility of readers of the scriptures to “rightly divide” the word. Paul told Timothy this:

2Ti 2:15Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Basically, the Bible is a history book… a divinely inspired history book.

1Co 10:11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

Notice that this verse has the word “our” in it, indicating that it was for the people then living. However, all can learn from this verse that the events and peoples of a previous generation can be “examples” and “admonition” to a later generation.

Ro 15:4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

Again, the “our” and the “we” are speaking of the “then living” disciples. But the principles, the timeless truths, live eternally, far beyond those originally involved in the events and the writers who recorded them.

The Scriptures were not actually written to us living today. But they are for us… for our admonition and learning. To rightly divide and follow God’s will, we must understand “audience relevance”.

notapharisee

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Note to Subscribers

 

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Recommended Video

Just a quick note to recommend the viewing of a portion of a recent sermon by Rick Atchley.  I checked with someone I know, that actually had seen this sermon when it was delivered.  He said it was amazing.  The sermon is very much aligned with the purposes of this blog i.e. exploring ways to promote better harmony within the Restoration Movement churches.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYflJaw1jY0

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The Domino Effect

We’ve all heard about the consequences of a mistake, the “domino effect,” of a wrong choice made long ago.   Bear with me as I make this illustration.

I build Hot Rod Cars and Custom Cars.  I sometimes purchase cars that others have built and repair them before I put them up for re-sale.  Often the problems are far deeper than they might originally appear to be.  A bad decision made very early in the building of a car can cause multiple problems as the car comes together.

I saw one such car recently.  It looked great with its nice paint scheme, good interior and expensive wheels.  It even drove well—accelerating, stopping and cornering admirably.  But when I raised the hood, I saw a serious problem that would plague the car from now on, unless…………..

Let me explain.  The car had been modified with a larger engine and transmission.  The engine and transmission combination was just fine; their location in the engine bay was not.

The engine had been mounted too low and too far forward in the engine bay.  Because it was mounted so low, the oil pan was the first thing to hit the pavement on even a slight bump.  That can be fatal to an engine.  Because it was mounted so far forward, the air cleaner setup not only rubbed the back of the radiator, it blocked the use of a proper fan to cool the radiator.  This too can destroy an engine.  Two fatal flaws were caused by one bad decision.

The fact is, there never was enough room in the engine bay for that engine and transmission combination.  That is, without making the transmission tunnel, the “hump” between the front seats, slightly bigger.  The only way to fix the car was to “back upto the point of the mistake and make it right.  The correction would now require major surgery… cut out the “hump” inside the car, remove the engine/trans,  mount it all 3” higher and 3” farther back,  then fabricate and weld in a new “hump” and engine mounts!

My point in relating this story is not to bore you with the details of Hot Rod building.  It is to make an application about wrong decisions in the handling of God’s word.  It is difficult, and sometimes painful, to make the corrections necessary.

Why did the car builder make the decision to install the engine/trans in the wrong location?  Did he lack the knowledge or skills to do it right?  Was he lazy?  Was he in a hurry to get it going?

If he, at some point, realized he had made a mistake, what was his next decision?  Could he admit he was wrong? No… too much pride.  Maybe he could just ignore it.  Or maybe he could just sell it to someone who wouldn’t recognize the problem.  He sold it.

If we apply this story to our own lives, and the teaching of God’s word, I think we have all been there.  Have we held on to a doctrine, a position, or a teaching that we know in our hearts is at least questionable, if not dead wrong?

Maybe a mistake in our early study influenced our later decisions on major doctrinal positions and teachings.  Perhaps we even made interpretations based on what we later discovered was a bad translation of a verse.  Sometimes just one or two poorly translated words can lead us in the wrong direction.  Maybe we have taken some “learned brother’sword for what a verse meant, only to find out later that he had been wrong.  Have we sold Bible doctrines that we now know are just not right, to others?

Are we willing to admit a mistake?  Are we willing to do the major surgery required, to go back and remove major parts of our teaching/doctrine, to rebuild our understanding of the Bible?  Are we too prideful?  Are we worried such a correction would cause us to lose our friends, our family, or even our job as a preacher, elder or pastor?  Have we become so entrenched in the particular “doctrine of our church” that we can’t afford to admit wrong?  Do we rationalize our reluctance with thoughts like, “I can do more good if I stay with what I have always taught”?

What is the cost of handling and teaching the word of God rightly?   2Tim 2:15  2Cor 4:2

notapharisee

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Instruments of Music in Worship – Part 1

From God or elsewhere?

One of the most problematic questions in the Restoration Movement churches has been the use of instrumental music in worship.  Through the years I’ve read many articles defending or condemning the practice.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it discussed in the way I am about to discuss it.

I want to approach the subject respecting the time, setting and context of when the “church” began.  During the time that Christ and the Apostles, lived on earth, they were subject to the “Theocracy” of the “Law of Moses.”  Yes, all the land was under Roman rule, but for daily life, social life, and religious ceremony, they operated under the “Old Covenant Law.”  Even the “scriptures” of the time, that “are able to make one wise for salvation” (2Tim 3:15) were what we now call, “Old Testament” scriptures!

Music under that system was prescribed in:

1 Chronicles 15:16
16 Then David spoke to the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers accompanied by instruments of music, stringed instruments, harps, and cymbals, by raising the voice with resounding joy.

1 Chronicles 16:42
42 and with them Heman and Jeduthun, to sound aloud with trumpets and cymbals and the musical instruments of God. Now the sons of Jeduthun were gatekeepers.

The Psalms are closely associated with instruments of music.  No less than 8 Psalms are addressed with this heading “To the Chief Musician. With stringed instruments.”  They are found in Psalms 4:1, 6:1, 12:1, 54:1, 55:1, 61:1, 67:1, 76:1.  (The phrase is not shown in all modern translations.)  But, here are some other Psalms that confirm the use of instruments in conjunction with the singing of the Psalms:

Psalm 33:2 
2 Praise the LORD with the harp; Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.

Psalm 144:9
9 I will sing a new song to You, O God; On a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You,

Psalm 150:3
3 Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp!

I don’t think it can be proved that musical instruments ever left the temple worship system.  After all, they were approved by God, and practiced in the temple for hundreds of years.  Consider this verse by the prophet Habakkuk:

Habakkuk 3:19 (NKJV)
19 The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills. To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.

You may say; well, that is all “Old Testament” stuff, it doesn’t apply to Christians today.

But, consider this:  Paul, who was at that time, a long term Christian, participated in the “Temple rituals” of that day. Acts 21:24, 26

Acts 21:24
24 Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law. ……….. 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for each one of them.

Paul “kept the law,” he paid the expenses of those who had performed vows, he participated in ritual purification, temple offerings/sacrifice, music and worship!  We today, have wondered how, or why, he would do such a thing!  How could he allow such an example to be given to all those who knew him? 1Cor 9:22.

In Revelation 5:8 (the Revelation of Christ) , we see that an instrument of music was involved in the “last days” of God’s plan to bring in the “Kingdom” and the “New Jerusalem.”  Acknowledging that there is great disagreement on the “Last Days” (Eschatology), I will word the argument below in alignment with at least one of the various interpretations.

Revelation 5:8
8 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

We see that “instruments of music” have been an integral part of service and worship to God throughout the Bible, even to the point of being revealed in Revelation as accompanying theprayers of the Saints”  Are we to believe that in the time in-between “Pentecost,” and our final home in Heaven (what many call the “church age”), that Christians are forbidden their use, under penalty of “Hell?”

We have been very strong on using Eph 5:19 and Col 3:16 to promote congregational use of “… psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…”   May I suggest one?

Psalm 150:1-6
1 Praise the LORD! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty firmament!
2 Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!
3 Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp!
4 Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
5 Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!

How can we encourage anyone today to sing a “Psalm” and then completely remove what was “part and parcel” of how they were written?

Imagine for a moment, Christians meeting in the 1st century, and in accordance with 1Cor 14:26, a brother begins singing Psalm 33:2, while strumming a harp, as had been practiced for hundreds of years.  Will another brother jump up and throw him out?

notapharisee

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Authority – Part 4

Seeking authority in modern times.

I have followed the history of men seeking authority within churches beginning from the first century.  Unfortunately, the problem still exist today.  It is in man’s nature to want to control events, people and wealth.  Sadly, much of modern Christianity still practices the methods developed within the Catholic church and honed to a fine art.

Thus far, in this series, I have not dealt with how one goes to the Bible to find God’s will for man, that is another subject altogether.  However, the subjects are closely linked.  So, I will conclude the series by dealing with how some use “methods of interpretation” to claim authority over other Christians.

We have today, in many churches, men/women who claim to have exact knowledge of God’s will for man, and thereby subjugate their members with their interpretations.

    1. Some claim direct apostolic linage of authority.  (Mormons, Catholics.)
    2. Others claim the Holy Spirit, in such measure, that they have unique knowledge of God’s will.  (Pentecostals and others.)
    3. Others have claimed tradition and church edicts and creeds as having equal standing in authority as the Bible itself.  (Mormons, Catholics, many protestants.)
    4. Still others have developed extra-biblical systems and hermeneutics whereby they claim they can determine the exact will of God in all matters of doctrine.

The forth group concerns me most, because it is so interwoven with the history of the Restoration Movement, and because I have personally seen much misuse.  In this short article there isn’t room for a full definition and discussion of hermeneutics.  If you are reading this, and are familiar with the Restoration Movement, you should remember the most common ones used.

While the application of hermeneutics can be useful, hermeneutics are, in fact, systems devised and defined by men.  Therefore, they are subject to flaws and human frailty, not only within their creation, but also in application by humans.  Before applying hermeneutics to the Bible, I would suggest that the Bible student consider these points:

    1. The history/evolution of the selected hermeneutic.
    2. Does the user of the hermeneutic also consider all factors and verses applicable?
    3. Is the selected hermeneutic taught as the only way to accurate doctrine?
    4. Is allegiance to the hermeneutic itself, required by the leadership?
    5. What does the leadership do, if one does not agree with their interpretation/edict?

This is where the use of a hermeneutic, an extra-biblical “system of interpretation,can become dangerous.  If a particular “method of interpretation” becomes a “tool” to wield authority, there is a problem.  I posted the preceding three posts on authority, as a background to show the sad history of men seeking authority over other men within the Christian religion.

Despite all the claims promoting the value of certain hermeneutics within the Restoration Movement, the sad history is this; Unity has not been established, and Perfect theology has not been determined.

Yet… again… the use of hermeneutics can be helpful… in determining doctrine, (the will of God for man).  But the use of a particular “system,” does not guarantee that any man has found all truth.

I admonish all Christians to be wary of leaders attempting to “bind” their “doctrine” as “the final ruling.”  No man on earth has that “authority” today!

Acts 20:30
30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.

Matthew 20:25-28
25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.
26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.
27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave–
28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

notapharisee

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Authority – Part 3

The downhill slide.

When the “perfect” (the complete) came, the miraculous powers of the Holy Spirit ended and inspired writing ended.  Josephus records that Christians fled Jerusalem after its’ initial siege, but before its’ final siege, see Matt 24:15-21.  The destruction of the city was completed in A.D. 70.  It is believed that most of the Christians from Jerusalem went to Pella.  The Roman army swept through Asia Minor on its way to put down the Jewish revolt and besiege Jerusalem.   It is unknown how many Christians were killed on their journey.  During and after the war, the Romans didn’t much bother to differentiate between the Jews and Christians.

The history of the church in the second century is sketchy and sometimes even unreliable.  It is difficult to tell just how soon the “early church fathers” slipped into apostasy.  But it was prophesied in Acts 20:29-30.  I won’t go into a lot of historical detail in this article, but will mention a few events, in order to shed light on what was happening through the centuries.

Perhaps as early as 100 A.D., certain men began to be recognized as “bishops” apart from, or in authority over,  local “elders.”

  • Ignatius of Antioch (50-115 A.D.) was one such man, considered to be “Bishop of Antioch.”
  • Another was Polycarp (69-155 A.D.), considered to be “Bishop of Smyrna.”

It would be difficult to tell just how much authority they exerted over “elders,” but the precedent of church hierarchy was set pretty early.  The precedent, that one man should rule over other “leaders” of the church.

They all were living under Roman rule and had observed how efficient the organizational structure of the Roman government had been in maintaining order and authority.  Therefore, it would then be “logical” that other men would seek power and authority over the various “Bishops.”

  • By 190 A.D., one man claimed to be the “universal bishop” in Rome.
  • By 250 A.D. this concept was almost universally accepted.
  • In 325 A.D. Rome moved closer to total acceptance of “the church” when the Roman ruler Constantine held a “synod of the empire.”

As “the church” grew in influence and power, more emphasis came to be placed on organizational structure and authority than on the simple preaching of the gospel and the living of a godly life.  Much effort was given to maintaining and defending church officers authority over other men (and women).

As with the Roman form of government, so also in the “church,” politics entered in.  This seeking of authority, and control over men’s lives, led to the increasing corruption of “the church.”

  • Simony, the purchase of church offices, became common.
  • Indulgencies, the selling of the privilege of sin, (forgiveness… in advance of sin!) was introduced.
  • Burdensome taxes were imposed to support the massive cost of organizational structure and church property.
  • At some point, in many countries, “the church” became the landlord.
  • On November 18, 1302 a “Bull” was signed called; “Unam Sanctam,” which declared that every human being was subject to the Roman Pontiff, which is necessary for salvation!
  • Papal infallibility, became a dogma of the Catholic Church that allowed the Pope to define, without error, all doctrine.  While it had been in medieval tradition earlier, it was finally defined in the First Vatican Council of 1869–1870.

Through history, The Catholic Church claimed authority over all mankind.  Unyielding allegiance was required of all members.  Those that resisted that authority, were punished with confiscation of their property and land, and with torture or death.

Finally, some men began to oppose the tyrannical rule of “the church.”  Such men as, Martin Luther, John Wycliffe, Ulrich Swingli, John Calvin, and others became part of the “Protestant Reformation.”  They opposed the authority of “the church.”  Some attempted to “reform” “the church” while others sought to break away from it.  However, even those that broke away, often attempted to transfer religious authority from the “Catholic Church” to their own organizational structures.

A major example of transferring religious authority, is found in the Church of England.

  • King Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church over the rules of divorce and remarriage, and formed the Church of England.
  • In 1534 the “Act of Supremacy” appointed the King Henry VIII as Supreme Head of the Church of England.
  • The “Act of Obedience” also in 1534, made any attribution of power to the Pope, treason.  The king tolerated no dissension within his kingdom and none against the “church” of which he was the head!

Not long after, the King James translation of the Bible was published in 1611.   It became England’s “authorized version” of the Bible, translated from the original Hebrew and Greek languages into English at the request of King James I of England.   At the time, other English Bibles existed, but King James did not like the most popular translation, the Geneva Bible, declaring that the marginal notes disrespected the authority of kings.

The third rule of translation given the King James translators, prior to beginning their work, required the use of the wordchurch” and forbade the use of “congregation.”  Obviously, this was an attempt to strengthen the authority of the newly formed Church of England, as opposed to any reading that would encourage individual congregational authority.  Another example where authority was a consideration, is found in this verse.

1 Timothy 3:1 (KJV)
1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

The Greek word; ἐπισκοπή Strong’s Number: G1984 is from the base word; ἐπισκέπτομαι Strong’s Number: G1980, and is correctly translated as “visit” in James 1:27.  The KJV translators selected “the office of a bishop” as more fitting for their purposes than a translation that would more correctly convey visiting, or caring for, those who had need.  Another example of desire to establish the authority of the Church of England is found in this verse:

Hebrews 13:24 (KJV)
24 Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you.

This is another overly strong English translation of a Greek word (and its’ root word) than what is required.  But a full study is beyond the scope of this short article.

Christianity has had hundreds of years of history showing that the various sects and churches acted to establish authority and submission.  There is a well established pattern of churches establishing a hierarchy, setting doctrine,  and requiring absolute submission to their dictates.  It is no wonder that the these attitudes and practices continue today.

notapharisee

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Authority – Part 2

When did the delegated authority end?

Jesus delegated authority and “power” to the apostles Matt 10:1.  The “seventy” and the apostles, were given authority over demons and physical harm Luke 9:1, 10:19 Acts 28:3-5.  Some measure of the “power” (the miraculous “gifts”) of the apostles, was passed on to others, by the “laying on of the apostles hands” Acts 8:18.

1 Corinthians 14:37
37 If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.

Paul claims that the words he writes are the actual commandments of God!

1 Peter 4:10-11
10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
11  If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Peter says that those who had the miraculous gift of “speaking” for God, were revealing God’s will, to their fellow Christians.  They had been given delegated authority and “power”… by God… to do just that!  Yet even Peter himself was not to speak on his own authority, as a man, but “as the oracles of God”… that is… what God, through the Holy Spirit, revealed to him.

Matthew 16:19
19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Peter was one who had this delegated authority, although he was not alone in this responsibility to use the “power” that was given.  In this verse, Jesus likens it to opening up the kingdom, with the “keys” that were to be given.  If one searches for a list of the uses of word; “kingdom”… one quickly finds that “preaching the kingdom” was what John, Jesus, and the apostles did… a lot.

Mark 16:20
20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.

The purpose of the “signs” accompanying these empowered people was what?… “confirming the word!”

Hebrews 2:3-4
3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,
4  God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?

Jesus’ words, and his empowered disciples words, were to reveal salvation.  The signs, miracles and wonders are what confirmed that it truly was God speaking!

 

What was the duration of this delegated authority?  Are the “miraculous gifts” still with us today?  There are differing beliefs on just when they ended, but it is generally accepted in the Restoration Movement, that they have indeed ended.  Here are some verses that pertain to the completion of the delegated authority and the “miraculous gifts.”

Zechariah 13:1-3
1 In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.
2 “It shall be in that day,” says the LORD of hosts, “that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they shall no longer be remembered. I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to depart from the land.
3 It shall come to pass that if anyone still prophesies, then his father and mother who begot him will say to him, ‘You shall not live,…

Zechariah links the time of the end of “prophets” and “unclean spirits” to the same “day” when a fountain for sin is opened.  John 4:14  Rev 21:6

Daniel 9:24
24 “Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy. Heb 9:12

Daniel links the time of the end of “prophecy” and “vision” with the end of the people (Israelites) and the holy city (Jerusalem) and the anointing of the Most Holy (Christ). (Look at the other things that simultaneously happen.)

Ephesians 4:11-13
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

Paul links the ending of the “gifts” to when the “perfect man” and the “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” would come.

1 Corinthians 12:28-31
28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.
29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?
30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

Paul lists the “gifts” again, but says there is a “more excellent way”… love.

1 Corinthians 13:8-10
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

Paul links the end of the “gifts” to the time when the “perfect has come.”  (In his future.)Heb 12:23  The “gifts” and “delegated authority” ended, when the “perfect” came.

When exactly was that?  I’ll leave you to think about it, as we move on.  In part 3 we will begin looking at the use of authority in the later history of the church.

notapharisee

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Authority – Part 1

Who is seeking it?  Who has it?

In the first century, there were concerns about authority.  During the ministry of Jesus, the Pharisees wanted to know where he got authority.

Matthew 21:23
23 Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?”

Jesus knew there would be problems about authority, among his disciples.

Matthew 20:20-28
20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him.
21 And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”
22 But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask…

25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.
26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.
27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave–
28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

The mother of James and John was asking that they might be given authority!  In those times, the position one held, sitting next to the king on his throne, indicated what level of authority the king had delegated to them.  Jesus, knowing all things, knew that this human weakness would arise again.  What was his response?  If you want to be first, be a servant!

But also, look at what he said concerning “exercising authority.”  Look how forceful his pronouncement is; “it shall not be so among you.”  They were not to seek or exercise authority on their own!

There were also other men who attempted to seek a place that they did not deserve.  And Paul, an apostle, did not “submit” to them.

Galatians 2:4-6
4 And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage),
5 to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
6 But from those who seemed to be something–whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man–for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me.

Notice also that these “brethren” were “secretly brought in.”  They used “stealth” (deception)… that they might rule over those local disciples, and over Paul.  In addition to being “false” people, they wanted control over fellow Christians… they wanted submission… they wanted authority!

But Jesus claimed “all authority.”  Speaking to his apostles, Jesus said:

Matthew 28:18
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

If he has “all authority” how much was left to manNone!… unless… he delegates it.

Jesus did delegate authority.  In the following parable (and others), Jesus likened his temporary absence to a man who gave authority to his servants while he was gone.

Mark 13:34
34 It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch.

After the 70 returned to Him, Jesus said this:

Luke 10:19
19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

The apostle Paul claimed that Christ had delegated authority to him:

2 Corinthians 10:8
8 For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed—    See also 2 Corinthians 10:14

2 Corinthians 13:10 (NKJV)
10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction.

Obviously, Christ delegated his authority. The apostles were his specially appointed ambassadors, they were given unique miraculous gifts.  Yet he didn’t want his own apostles seeking after authority.  How would Christ view those who seek authority over fellow Christians today?

notapharisee

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