Bible Blueprints for Christian Meetings
From SaveTheWorld - a project of The Partnership Machine, Inc. (Sponsor: Family Music Center)
How God's Blueprints for Christian Meetings Gave America its Freedoms in the 1620's -Why they Offer “eye hath not seen” Freedoms in the 2020's
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What Christian Meetings should accomplish
BIBLE BLUEPRINTS FOR CHRISTIAN MEETINGS
If you believe American churches realize the full potential that God offers, with no room for improvement, and no amount of Scripture will convince you otherwise, you are going to HATE this Bible study. You are going to boycott my music store and spray paint "heretic" on our front window.
The same goes if you are determined that Christian political activists have nothing to learn about success from the Bible. (So if I come to work and find "heretic" spray painted on my store front I will know it was a pastor, and if I find "fanatic" I will know it was a politician.)
Because for several decades I have searched for some gentle way to point out the Scriptures ignored by virtually every church and Christian activist organization in America, which if obeyed would logically and obviously turn America back from its road to ruin, and I have not found it.
The vision I find in the Bible would answer the prayer of millions, yet must offend more millions because it overturns centuries of tradition, just as the outlawing of racial discrimination in the 1960's overturned centuries of tradition, as did the end of legal slavery a century before that, and the end of burning "heretics" at the stake a couple of centuries before that.
Yet because I see steps towards obedience like that throughout history, just like the growth of the "stone" cut "without hands" in Daniel 2, I expect our descendants, if not we ourselves, will witness a CHURCH!!
- where talk leads to action...
- that runs on the brainpower of all members – not of just one...
- shining the Light of what God says about Darkness into all the Darkness, including those forums where voters decide whether to pattern our laws after the principles of Heaven or of Hell.
I foresee in these verses the next step up that God’s Word offers America’s “church” in its Daniel 2 growth towards Revelation 21 marriage.
But CHURCH!! is so different than centuries of tradition – challenging not only every church but every Christian political activist group – that we should first see if we agree on the importance of obeying God when we have to choose between obedience and centuries of church tradition. So that choice is the first of the seven categories of verses in this study:
...the seven categories of verses in this study:
1. Worship the way God teaches is better than centuries of worship traditions.
2. “Good works” are God’s goal for meetings, not just talk.
3. God answers prayers through forums where “all” reason and “exhort”. Sermons aren’t mentioned.
4. Bible heroes, like God, were very Political.
5. “The Gospel” is not just about Heaven, but also about Heroic Hard Work Here.
6. “Light in the Darkness” means quoting God about Darkness - in the Darkness.
7. The “Cross” we must carry is an “easy yoke”, a “light burden”. It is a reward. It is Life, now. It may “cost” money, friends, wealth, careers, comfort, life, but not anything we need.
Appendix – links to more documentation are in six categories: Historical Fiction <> Greek Word Studies <> Others whose agreement has encouraged me <> Archaeological Evidence <> Practical Applications <> More of my own general explanation
Interact with this vision here, or email to email@example.com, or mail to Dave Leach, Family Music Center, 4110 SW 9th St, Des Moines IA 50315. Or call 515-244-3711.Or stop by our music store and visit.
This survey should take no more than ten hours. (If you look up the verses. 5 minutes if you just read the headings.)
Can we agree that:_
- 1 What Christian Meetings should accomplish
- 1.1 1. Worship the way God teaches is better than centuries of traditional worship
- 1.1.1 a. God calls us “Noble” when we daily test our spiritual assumptions and habits by Scripture when they are challenged.
- 1.1.2 b. Human traditions must not displace God’s commandments.
- 1.1.3 c. Cursed are those who add to God’s Word.
- 1.1.4 d. “To obey is better than sacrifice”
- 1.1.5 e. Worship that “feels right” can be wrong.
- 1.1.6 f. God even blesses His enemies. So the fact that God blesses imperfect worship should not so satisfy us that we feel no pressure to enjoy the greater blessings God promises for greater obedience.
- 1.1.7 g. The fact that God will put up with imperfect worship is no assurance that God will still put up with it after more Biblical forms are made clear.
- 1.2 2. “Good works”, not just talk with no intent to act, are God’s goal for meetings.
- 1.2.1 a. “Good works” are a Biblical purpose of Christian meetings.
- 1.2.2 b. The topics to be avoided in Christian meetings are abstract: they don’t affect what we do or how we behave.
- 1.2.3 c. Group action must be based on facts, not fiction.
- 1.2.4 e. Biblical topics exclude abstract “doctrines” (things to believe) that affect nothing we do.
- 1.2.5 f. We must waste no discussion on rights or credit for what ancestors created, including our birth as citizens. God counts spiritual lineage.
- 1.2.6 g. The call to do “good works” is especially to groups/teams, not just for lone individuals between Meetings. And not just topics for discussion, but for group action.
- 1.2.7 h.Talk about how bad things are, while leaving things that way, God judges as hypocrisy.
- 1.2.8 i. Blaming others for what our own actions could have corrected doesn’t end well.
- 1.2.9 j. Teaching and/or discussion with no intention of ever doing anything about Darkness is the faith of devils.
- 1.2.10 k. Prayer without action is not prayer.
- 1.2.11 l. The Goal of being “fed” by a sermon is not in the Bible, but to FEED is in Matthew 25:42.
- 1.2.12 m. We are called to help the helpless.
- 1.2.13 n. Let’s not get distracted from serving others by verses warning that we can’t save ourselves.
- 1.2.14 o. Biblical meetings are forums for Christians to prepare for action.
- 1.3 3. God answers prayers through forums where “all” reason and “exhort”. Sermons aren’t mentioned.
- 1.3.1 a. Teams that reason with each other will reach their goals.
- 1.3.2 b. Seven verses of the Bible chapter with the most detail about a Christian meeting format encourate “all” to verbally participate.
- 1.3.3 c. The reason for Christian meetings is so that we can “provoke” each other to do good out of love.
- 1.3.4 d. “All” in Christian meetings should “bring a message from God” to each other, according to the Bible chapter with the most detail about a Christian meeting format.
- 1.3.5 e. Revival will come if “all” bring a message from God.
- 1.3.6 f. The discussion topic must be flexible enough to allow all to share what they have realized.
- 1.3.7 g. God meets needs (answers prayers) which humans who could have met won’t, but it makes Him angry.
- 1.3.8 h. The Recorded Teachings of Jesus were not uninterruptable sermons, but interaction.
- 1.3.9 i. None of the Greek words translated “preach” mean a “sermon”.
- 1.3.10 j. Paul never “preached” [by today’s definition] a “sermon”.
- 1.3.11 k. God wants to reason with humans.
- 1.3.12 l. Jesus reasoned, responding with mouth-stopping logic, and praised people who reasoned right back, even when they challenged Him!
- 1.3.13 m. Peter said we should witness through reasoning.
- 1.3.14 n. Answered prayer is more likely when those praying have reached consensus, which is the fruit of reasoning together.
- 1.3.15 o. God calls us “Noble” when, TOGETHER, we test by Scripture our familiar, comfortable church traditions.
- 1.4 4. Bible heroes, like God, are very Political.
- 1.4.1 a. Prophecies are mostly about nations – political systems, not churches.
- 1.4.2 b. Bible heroes were either political leaders or lobbyists.
- 1.4.3 c. Biblical political involvement “mixes politics and religion” the way America’s Founders did.
- 1.4.4 d. “Governments” is a Holy Spirit Gift.
- 1.4.5 e. God equates a Republican form of government (in which voters elect representatives) with submission to God.
- 1.4.6 f. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 tells us to lobby government.
- 1.4.7 g. The Pharisees, Saducees, and the Sanhedrin comprised a political system.
- 1.4.8 h. Jesus’ teachings often came through interaction with political leaders.
- 1.4.9 i. Paul praised God that his ministry was known throughout the palace.
- 1.4.10 j. The kind of “sabbath” or “fast” God wants: to set free the oppressed, not to just go to church.
- 1.4.11 k. Church mission: to shine the Light of what God says about Darkness, in the Darkness.
- 1.4.12 l. Ekklesia doesn’t mean “church”.
- 1.4.13 m. “Politics can’t solve all the world’s problems” is the excuse of a cold heart to address none of the world’s problems.
- 1.5 5. “The Gospel” is not just about Heaven, but also about Heroic Hard Work Here.
- 1.5.1 a. A key to Heaven is loving [defined as sacrificially serving] our “neighbor” [defined as “everybody”] here'.
- 1.5.2 b. Constant Bible study, prayer, and wonderful service is nothing without obedience.
- 1.5.3 c. “Confessing” Jesus is a key to being “saved”, but not just in front of friends who applaud you for saying it.
- 1.5.4 d. Preaching the Gospel, casting out demons, wonderful deeds – Judas did that.
- 1.5.5 e. If our experience with God is relaxing and entertaining, that is a red flag.
- 1.5.6 f. The Bible lists of the helpless were examples, not complete lists. Today we must not overlook the helpless in our own culture and political system.
- 1.6 6. “Light in the Darkness” means quoting God about Darkness - in the Darkness.
- 1.6.1 a. Exposing government-supported abominations by the Light of what God says about them accomplishes little, limited to an occasional sermon.
- 1.6.2 b. Opposing government-supported abominations without the Light of what God says about them accomplishes too little, stripping Christian political activists of spiritual power.
- 1.6.3 c. Evil grows because Christians censor their Light from Darkness.
- 1.6.4 d. America’s slide to Hell is not because of America’s unbelievers, but because of the “wicked ways” of “my people, who are called by my name”.
- 1.6.5 e. When Christians discuss America’s spiritual condition, we primarily moan about abominations supported by politics/ government.
- 1.6.6 f. The greatest sin of all human history is a political system.
- 1.6.7 g. As we look about for who to blame for America’s slide, let’s not gloss over the gap between our “worship services” and Bible guidelines.
- 1.6.8 h. The “Darkness” into which Jesus begs us to shine our “Light” is not ignorance of what to believe and say among friends where there is no cost or risk in the expectation of Heaven.
- 1.7 7. The “Cross” we must carry is an “easy yoke”, a “light burden”. It is a reward. It is Life, now. It may “cost” money, friends, wealth, careers, comfort, life, but not anything we need.
- 1.1 1. Worship the way God teaches is better than centuries of traditional worship
- 2 More Stuff: Historical Fiction, Greek Word Studies, Others who agree, Practical Applications, More of my own general explanations
- 2.1 Historical Fiction
- 2.2 Greek Word Studies
- 2.3 Word Studies without the Greek
- 2.4 Others who agree and have encouraged me
- 2.4.1 Tabitha Price, a speaker in Arizona in 2021 for Wycliff Bible Translators
- 2.4.2 Watchman Nee, pioneer in Chinese house churches
- 2.4.3 Prem Pradhan, native missionary in Nepal
- 2.4.4 Gene Edwards wrote about congregation participation
- 2.4.5 John Robinson, pastor of the Pilgrims
- 2.4.6 The Verses that Launched Freedom
- 2.4.7 George Barna and Frank Viola
- 2.4.8 John Mark Ministries
- 2.4.9 Pastor John Zens
- 2.5 Archaeological Evidence
- 2.6 Practical Applications
- 2.7 More of my own general explanation
- 2.7.1 The Verses that Launched Freedom
- 2.7.2 The Last Five Reformation Theses?
- 2.7.3 “Who Owns the Pulpit?” (book)
- 2.7.4 A brief History of Christian Political Involvement
- 2.7.5 A slide show of key Scriptures
- 2.7.6 “Sermons don’t work”
- 2.7.7 Body Divided Survey
- 2.7.8 Newspaper Op-ed
- 2.7.9 “The ‘Gift’ of GOVERNMENTS”
- 2.7.10 Fornication Cards
- 2.7.11 Gospel Tract: Winning the Jackpot in a Wicked World
- 2.7.12 Awesome Cartoon
- 3 How God Says to Heal America: Join the Discussion
1. Worship the way God teaches is better than centuries of traditional worship
a. God calls us “Noble” when we daily test our spiritual assumptions and habits by Scripture when they are challenged.
“Noble” is what God called the Bereans’ response when Paul challenged their church traditions. Acts 17:11. They “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether these things were so. “Noble” translates ευγενης which means “high rank”. It means high rank by human standards in Acts 24:3, 26:25, and 1 Corinthians 1:26. The context doesn’t allow that meaning in Acts 17:11, where it has to mean “high rank” (compared to other Christians) by God’s standards.
Their self-scrutiny lasted no mere 10 minutes, once, but was “daily”. They took off from work to study together. Their commitment was costly. They didn’t put off God with “I don’t like to read.”
Yet they accepted this challenge from a theological “nobody” whose spiritual credentials must have been somewhere in the vicinity of this booklet.
Matthew Henry: “Those that read and receive the scriptures must search them (John 5:39), must study them, and take pains in considering them, both that they may find out the truth contained in them, and may not mistake the sense of them and so run into error, or remain in it; and that they may find out the whole truth contained in them, and may not rest in a superficial knowledge, in the outward court of the scriptures, but may have an intimate acquaintance with the mind of God revealed in them.”
b. Human traditions must not displace God’s commandments.
Jesus rebuked priests for doing that. Matthew 15:6-9, 13
c. Cursed are those who add to God’s Word.
Revelation 22:18-19, Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32, Proverbs 30:6, Isaiah 29:13, Colossians 2:18-20
d. “To obey is better than sacrifice”
Today’s application: better than going to “church” 1 Samuel 15:22
e. Worship that “feels right” can be wrong.
“How can worship be WRONG that FEELS SO RIGHT? What’s the harm in a traditional ‘worship service’ even if it is different than the Bible, as long as I ‘feel God’s presence’?” 1 John 4:1
f. God even blesses His enemies. So the fact that God blesses imperfect worship should not so satisfy us that we feel no pressure to enjoy the greater blessings God promises for greater obedience.
Matthew 5:44-48, Isaiah 1:11-20, Romans 2:4
g. The fact that God will put up with imperfect worship is no assurance that God will still put up with it after more Biblical forms are made clear.
2. “Good works”, not just talk with no intent to act, are God’s goal for meetings.
a. “Good works” are a Biblical purpose of Christian meetings.
“Good works” are valuable (Greek: καλος, “beautiful, good, valuable”) actions (Greek: εργον, “toil”; hard work, action). Good works are actions that shine our God-given Light publicly [“before men”], Matthew 5:16.
General American church practice treats “good works” as optional. And if members choose to do them, they must do them alone, during the week between church services, without the help of any church support, planning, or even announcements: especially “good works” that affect government-entangled problems which we may therefore label “politics”.
But good works are so important that church leaders should “affirm” them “constantly”, Titus 3:8. This is more emphasis than was given any of the other teaching topics listed in the letter to Titus. They are “good and profitable” publicly (“unto men”).
Although next is a translation that indicates it is not “good works” which are to be directly “affirmed”, but rather the previous chapter and a half of teachings – although this translation then indicates what makes affirmation of those previous teachings valuable is that they will make believers “devoted to good works”. With either translation, “good works” is given great importance:
Berean Literal Bible. Titus 3:8 Trustworthy is the saying, and I want you to affirm strongly concerning these things, so that those believing God may take care to be devoted to good works. These things are excellent and profitable to men.
This translation indicates that what identifies talk as useful (not useless) is how directly it leads to benevolent action.
“Profitable”, Titus 3:8, is another way of saying “valuable”, one of the definitions of “good” in the Strong’s Greek lexicon. Another way is “good works for necessary uses”, Titus 3:14. Without that, the verse adds, we are not “fruitful”.
“Good works” means valuable “unto men”, meaning to the public, which is stated by Jesus another way in Luke 22:24-27 and Matthew 23:2-12 where Jesus contrasts how the world’s culture then defined “greatness” with what He established: then, he who could destroy, kill, and enslave the most people was what every mother wanted for her son. Jesus, as if fulfilling Daniel 2:34, established how well we serve others as God’s measure of our greatness. This identifies what is different about the United States from its beginning.
Church leaders, you should show “thyself a pattern of good works”, Titus 2:7.
To do “good works” is the reason we were created, Ephesians 2:10.
Without “good works” we are not “perfect” (Gr: complete, mature) 2 Timothy 3:17.
“Zealous of good works”, Titus 2:14, identifies those whom Jesus did “purify unto himself” a “people” distinctly His.
It is the essence of Biblical meetings according to Hebrews 10:24-25, often quoted as the verses telling us to go to church. The Biblical value of church going presumes that when Christians meet, they will study one another and “provoke” each other “unto love and to good works:”
We are commissioned by God (we are “ordained”, the word we use to commission a pastor to lead a churh) to do “good works”, which is our purpose in life. (We are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works”.) Ephesians 2:10.
Publicly done (“among the Gentiles...which they behold”) good works causes many to “glorify God”. 1 Peter 2:12.
Not that our “works of righteousness” are the reason God “appeared” and “healed” us through “rebirth” and “renovation” by the work of the Holy Spirit (the Strong’s definitions of the Greek words), Titus 3:4-5, but we all need to “be ready to every good work”, 3:1.
b. The topics to be avoided in Christian meetings are abstract: they don’t affect what we do or how we behave.
The Bible lists topics to avoid in Christian meetings: fables (Titus 1:14, 1 Timothy 1:4), foolish, uninformed questions (Titus 3:9, 2 Timothy 2:23 ), commandments of men/legalistic arguments (Titus 1:14, 3:9), genealogies (Titus 3:9, 1 Timothy 1:4), and quarreling (Titus 3:9). Those topics have this in common: they are abstract. They are irrelevant to how anyone acts. That is, they certainly lead to “bad works”, but they don’t enable “good works”.
God tells us to “reject” these time wasters just as we should “reject” those who split churches. As the Expositor’s Bible explains, commenting on Titus 3:9-11:
Expositor’s Bible: The word translated in the R.V. "refuse," and in the A.V. "reject," is the same as that which is used in 1Ti_5:2 in the text, "Younger widows refuse" (παραιτου). It means, "avoid, shun, excuse yourself from having anything to do with". (comp. Heb_12:25) It is also used of things as well as of persons, and in much the same sense: "Refuse profane and old wives’ fables," (1Ti_4:7) and "Foolish and ignorant questions refuse." (2Ti_2:23) The meaning, then, here seems to be that, after a few attempts to induce the heretical person to desist from his perverse and self-willed conduct, Titus is to waste no more time on him, because now he knows that his efforts will be useless. At first he did not know this; but after having failed once or twice, he will see that it is vain to repeat what produces no effect.
Bible Commentator Albert Barnes, concerning Titus 3:9, expands on what makes these topics “unprofitable and vain”:
Albert Barnes: Titus 3:9 “For they are unprofitable and vain” - - They disturb and embitter the feelings; they lead to the indulgence of a bad spirit; they are often difficult to be settled, and are of no practical importance if they could be determined. The same thing might be said of multitudes of things about which men dispute so earnestly now.
c. Group action must be based on facts, not fiction.
The categories of pointless discussion topics include Fables (Titus 1:14, 1 Timothy 1:4) and foolish, uninformed questions (Titus 3:9, 2 Timothy 2:23 ), The more serious the evil our “good works” aim to address, the more critical it is that we identify fictional “rabbit trails” so our resources can focus on real needs instead of making messes worse.
Laziness makes us roll our eyes at any solution longer than a page. That is, we will read many pages to fix an app or start our car. We will read whole books to master a skill or fix a relationship. But for solutions benefiting others, not ourselves, we don’t have time for more than a page.
Real problems are complicated. Any pretense of a solution that can be explained in a page is fiction. It is simplistic. Voters – and indeed lawmakers – who tire of reading a whole 500 words about a 500 page bill are easily manipulated.
“Uninformed” applies when we are too lazy to study a problem enough to be able to talk intelligently about it with leaders in a position to fix it. Or to be able to reason with opponents of your findings. Government, generally, tends towards bureaucracy and complexity. Attacking government legalism was a significant priority of Jesus. Matthew 23:4, Luke 11:46. That tendency of power, whether in politics, business, or education, can only be restrained to the extent people study how much complexity is really helpful, and take action to remove what isn’t.
“Foolish” comes from the Greek word moros, which also translates “moronic” and “idiotic”. Here is an example of Jewish idiocy in Paul’s time, from Bible commentator Adam Clarke, on Titus 3:9: “Rabbi Hillel was asked: Why have the Babylonians round heads? To which he answered: This is a difficult question, but I will tell the reason: Their heads are round because they have but little wit.”
Surely a modern counterpart of such idiocy, which is equally at the expense of people we enjoy keeping inferior, is the popular claim that we have to reduce the number of immigrants we let across our borders because they will take jobs from citizens and drive down citizen wages. This economic claim arises from the belly of organizations like FAIR, NumbersUSA, and Center for Immigration Studies, which as of a few years ago when I last checked, did not employ a single credentialed economist among their “researchers”. Heritage Foundation similarly employs a non-economist, Robert Rector, whose 2007 paper claimed that immigrants cost the U.S. $6 trillion! He replaced an actual economist with a doctorate in economics whose 2006 paper proved the opposite, as does peer-reviewed research of credentialed economists in general: there is economic benefit for citizens and for government from an increase in immigration.
You don’t have to be an economist to understand who is gaslighting you. All you have to do, to know that there is an economic benefit to sharing freedom and opportunity with immigrants, is believe Luke 6:38 and many similar verses. See www.Saltshaker.US/HispanicHope/StrangerProject.pdf
===d. Creative action and participation must not be stifled with well-meaning paperwork, mind-numbing rules, or arguable doctrines. Neither within a Christian meeting nor in any Christian’s legislative agenda.===
Commandments of men/legalistic arguments/strivings about the law are off-limits fields of study for Christian meetings (Titus 1:14, 3:9). That is, except to understand what kind of discussion wastes resources if not causing harm.
Commandments of men – Bible examples: 1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
Anyone who has run a business, defended himself in court, repaired his house, gone to college, or had his doctrines scrutinized when applying for a church position, can relate to Jesus crying out, “Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.” (Luke 11:46)
What would He say about 2,000 page bills which are passed without anyone reading them?! Not even the bureaucrats who enforce them can keep up with them, rendering their interpretations inconsistent, arbitrary, and unpredictable.
Surely not all laws are tangles of stifling red tape. 2 Timothy 3:16 says all Scripture – including Moses’ laws – is beneficial as our guide, and we know whatever Scripture we cite publicly, someone who hates God will “strive” with us about it. We see headlines about the Bible being publicly called “hate speech” when people publicly quote what it says about sodomite marriage. Surely it is not quoting the Bible in public which Paul tells us not to do in order to avoid “striving about the law”!
Does the Bible guide us in distinguishing the helpful from the useless? Jesus unloaded on the Pharisees for a simple handwashing law which was not in the Bible! Matthew 15:1-9. Also Mark 7:1-13. His argument to the Pharisees seemed to be that because they had violated God’s laws, they had no authority to enact laws of their own! Is that what Jesus meant?
Well meaning additions to the Bible for the purpose of clarifying the Bible only cause confusion. For example the CEV, ERV, and GW translations add “the Law of Moses” and “Moses’ teachings” to qualify that “law” about which we should not dispute. As if (1) it is unimportant to understand Moses’ laws, contrary to 2 Timothy 3:16-17; and (2) no other laws besides those set by Moses are the concern of Titus 3:9. But “Moses” is not in the original Greek text. And the principle applies logically to all laws and rules, once we understand the principle.
A clue to the principle is 1 Timothy 1:9: “understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers,” (ESV)
The following by Bible commentator Albert Barnes points out that the legitimate purpose of any law is to restrain harmful behavior. Laws violate their own purpose when they restrain or even inconvenience innocent, harmless, and beneficial service, or helpful innovation.
(Of course accomplishing one without the other takes much wisdom, not only to craft a law but to administer it, which is most freely available from “a multitude of counsellors”, Proverbs 15:23, which is why voter apathy leads to degeneration of the best intentions into mind-numbing bureaucracy.)
Here is what Albert Barnes says about 1 Timothy 1:9. The only clarification it merits is that what he calls Moses’ “moral law”, most of us would call “criminal law”.
“The law is not made for a righteous man - There has been great variety in the interpretation of this passage. Some suppose that the law here refers to the ceremonial laws of Moses (Clarke, Rosenmuller, Abbot); others to the denunciatory part of the law (Doddridge and Bloomfield); and others that it means that the chief purpose of the law was to restrain the wicked. It seems clear, however, that the apostle does not refer merely to the ceremonial law, for he specifies that which condemns the unholy and profane; the murderers of fathers and mothers; liars and perjured persons. It was not the ceremonial law which condemned these things, but the moral law. It cannot be supposed, moreover, that the apostle meant to say that the law was not binding on a righteous man, or that he was under no obligation to obey it - for he everywhere teaches that the moral law is obligatory on all mankind.
“To suppose also that a righteous man is released from the obligation to obey the law, that is, to do right, is an absurdity. Nor does he seem to mean, as Macknight supposes, that the law was not given for the purpose of justifying a righteous man - for this was originally one of its designs. Had man always obeyed it, he would have been justified by it. The meaning seems to be, that the purpose of the law was not to fetter and perplex those who were righteous, and who aimed to do their duty and to please God. It was not intended to produce a spirit of servitude and bondage. As the Jews interpreted it, it did this, and this interpretation appears to have been adopted by the teachers at Ephesus, to whom Paul refers. The whole tendency of their teaching was to bring the soul into a state of bondage, and to make religion a condition, of servitude. Paul teaches, on the other hand, that religion was a condition of freedom, and that the main purpose of the law was not to fetter the minds of the righteous by numberless observances and minute regulations, but that it was to restrain the wicked from sin. This is the case with all law. No good man feels himself lettered and manacled by wholesome laws, nor does he feel that the purpose of law is to reduce him to a state of servitude. It is only the wicked who have this feeling - and in this sense the law is made for a man who intends to do wrong.”
Just as Moses’ laws were all good, and served very good purposes, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 1 Timothy 1:8, Matthew 5:17-20, yet have been perverted to uses condemned by Scripture, today’s church “doctrines” have been perverted in the same way. See the following section.
1 Timothy 1:4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. 5 Now the end [purpose] of the commandment [of any law] is charity [not just a “warm fuzzy feeling” but real service] out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: 6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; [blabbering] 7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.
American culture suffers the same perversions of good intentions into chains upon Freedom and reason that oppress people who are in touch with reality. The difficulty of giving examples is that the slogans and buzz words change every few years, unlike the Doctrines that divide churches, and my writing is so tedious that it may be a few years before anyone gets it read, by which time the slogans of today will be forgotten. But here goes.
“Make love not war” was the slogan of the 1960’s. But “love” wasn’t defined as selfless self sacrifice for another, as in John 15:13, but as the most selfish reliance on “lines” (lies) needed, if not drugs, to get someone “in bed”, while the necessity of “war” was pretended away by immersion in “love”.
“Every child a wanted child” was the slogan of the 1970’s to justify murdering innocent babies promoted as “unwanted”, rather than encouraging our culture to relearn how to Love.
“Politically correct” became a straight-jacket for what was OK to say. Then it became against the law to discriminate against sodomites. Then sodomite marriage became so entrenched that lawsuits shut down businesses that wouldn’t endorse it, and now sodomite teachers can butcher children’s bodies to support the fantasy that they have changed sexes.
For the past three years, since 2020, some of the world’s top doctors have been called “science deniers”, have lost their medical licenses and been sued, censored, and jailed for reporting medical research showing masks and covid vaccines only cause harm.
All these “doctrines” of our culture are “commandments of men” that have destroyed as many lives, and are as great a danger to Freedom, as what any church has done.
e. Biblical topics exclude abstract “doctrines” (things to believe) that affect nothing we do.
It may seem that abstract topics have Biblical support, from the fact that the word “doctrines” is found 16 times throughout the letters to Timothy and Titus, and doctrines can get pretty abstract. But the Greek word διδασκαλια only means “teaching”, which describes the whole body of Paul’s teaching, or New Testament teaching – not just part of it or a summary of it as we use the word today.
The word “doctrine” has acquired a definition over the centuries that is quite the opposite of the Greek word it translates. “Doctrines”, today, are statements that summarize Biblical teachings which people have to intellectually agree with as a condition of joining a church or getting a job with a church. They serve the good purpose of drawing attention to important Bible teachings, but also the purpose condemned in 1 Corinthians 1 of providing the criteria for dividing Christians up into denominations which pretty much stop communicating with one another.
Another unbiblical purpose, condemned by God’s praise of the Bereans as “noble” for testing their own spiritual assumptions, Acts 17:11, is the cessation of scrutiny of whatever is stated in the doctrines. This is very divisive because doctrines are arguable almost by definition: they define what one sect believes which another disputes. Yet if a Christian wants the fellowship of a church today but has some minor quibble with a point of the church’s “doctrine”, the church has no interest in the applicant’s Bible study. The applicant must either recant or leave. By that process today’s “doctrines” are actually more likely to exclude serious Bible believers than shallow Christians who haven’t read their Bibles enough to even appreciate the spiritual significance of their own “doctrines”.
But the most unbiblical thing about doctrines is that they are abstract; they condition membership and communication only on what people intellectually believe, and mostly say nothing about how members must behave, love, and serve.
Neither do the contexts of these verses limit their instructions to how to behave during the week between meetings. Their instructions are especially “that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God”, 1 Timothy 3:15.
f. We must waste no discussion on rights or credit for what ancestors created, including our birth as citizens. God counts spiritual lineage.
“Genealogies” (Titus 3:9, 1 Timothy 1:4) is a topic we must reject in Christian meetings. Not all “genealogies”, since the Bible contains many. But 1 Timothy 1:4 targets “endless genealogies which minister questions, and Titus 3:9 targets “foolish questions and genealogies” (in which “foolish” apparently modifies “genealogies” as well as “questions”). So what was wrong with the genealogical studies of the Jews, and what is the equivalent wrong in our culture today?
Taking credit for what others did. John 8:31-59 is an example of such pride in being “born well” as to have no need for God. See also Matthew 3:9. The Pharisees thought being descendants of Abraham made them so special they didn’t need Jesus.
Today I am a member of the Iowa Society of Mayflower Descendants, and my wife is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Just as I am indebted to churches for preserving the very Bible in which I discovered a vision of what God calls CHURCH to become, I am indebted to these organizations for preserving the exciting history of those times.
But what excites me finds little acknowledgment in their meetings. I glorify God for the miracles of God during those times, and the reliance on prayer and Scripture that saved our ancestors and developed Freedoms that survive today. But I don’t notice glory to God in their meetings for those miracles then, not to mention for miracles today. Miracles are described as if they were wonderful coincidences, without mentioning God. The Scriptures they studied that shaped Freedom are not mentioned. The DAR has “chaplains” and the Mayflower organization has “elders”, but only for ceremonial prayers, for which booklets of prayers to read from are provided.
What consumes the time at the meetings is interesting, though relatively frivolous details about clothing, architecture, weapons, how they handled disputes, and the elections of officers today, and the structure and business of the organization today.
But the organization draws together people who know the spiritual treasures of our history. I met a few of them, and interviewed them for my documentary at www.1620.US.
Many members revel in wearing medals and ribbons of their organization, and researching how many ancestors they can claim they were descended from. There is a pride, a “we are born better than you” feeling that I sense sometimes, though at a much milder level than I read about in the past where “noble birth” was the basis of exercising tyrannical powers over others.
I am also a Vietnam veteran, and have official membership in the American Legion. One more thing these organizations of the past have in common is that they don’t apply the noble principles that overcame evils of the past to addressing, together, guided by those same principles, evils of the present, for which our ancestors gave their lives, and in the case of veterans’ organizations for which we ourselves risked our lives.
The Bible records a lot of genealogy, so the subject can certainly be persued profitably. It is reliance on our physical genealogy and disregard for our spiritual genealogy that Jesus condemned. Paul called it “unprofitable” and “useless”, presumably referring to our physical genealogy.
The principle surely also applies to citizens who, in politics today, consider just being a U.S. citizen merits greater freedoms and rights than an immigrant whom we won’t allow to come here and share freedom and opportunity to work hard with us, because they were born elsewhere.
It surely also applies to church members who have pride in the church denomination they joined, and its doctrines which they profess, which they think gives them more favor with God than someone who doesn’t profess our doctrines but who lives better. See Romans 2:12-29.
g. The call to do “good works” is especially to groups/teams, not just for lone individuals between Meetings. And not just topics for discussion, but for group action.
Titus 3:9 is about discussion topics, which occur in groups. Members, either of churches or of Christian political activist organizations, can’t carry on very good discussions alone. Verse 8, about “good works”, is set against – contrasted with – prohibited discussion topics. The two verses are surrounded by verses containing topics for Christian meetings, with no indication that verse 8 is less appropriate for meetings than all the other topics.
Further reasoning for discussing and conducting “good works” (v. 8) in our meetings is that God expects our “works” to be “good”, which includes criteria like successful, effective, quality, etc., and all human experience, plus Scriptures below, teaches us that people together accomplish almost infinitely more than divided, scattered people working individually.
The scenario of this verse is therefore group cooperative action, not individuals sent out from Sunday services to try to figure out how to do the best they can during the week alone, without even any group mentoring on Sunday.
People accomplish much more together than individually. This is true even of the godless: Genesis 11:6. How much more of God’s people! Matthew 18:18-20. This unity of purpose and action is especially the context of the promises of answered prayer in Matthew 21:22, Mark 11:24, John 14:13-14, 15:7, 16, 16:23, James 5:14-16, 1 John 3:22, 5:14-15.
h.Talk about how bad things are, while leaving things that way, God judges as hypocrisy.
It is addictive to analyze how wicked others are, but analysis focused only on judging them as so much more evil than ourselves, not on how we can heal wickedness in love and humble confession of our own like sins, James 5:16, is warned against in Matthew 7:1-5 and Romans 2:1-5.
It is even addictive to listen to radio prophets and nod along at how evil things are getting, just as prophesied, things getting “worse and worse”, 2 Timothy 3:13 without any sense that our awareness is our call to action - to OUR action - to jump out of our TV chairs - individually but preferably as a whole congregation - and go shine some serious light in that gathering darkness. Jesus said “Occupy till I come.” Luke 19:13. That must mean we should occupy our TV chairs, right? Because after all, wickedness is prophesied, so it is not God’s Will for us to succeed against it, right? Jesus was just kidding about those mountains. Matthew 21:21.
Even if we go into the Darkness to warn of God’s Judgment, let us not be like Jonah who afterwards just wanted to sit down and watch people die. After we tell all our friends about how The End is at hand, let’s not find it so entertaining to talk about the news of the decline of our land whose demise we are too busy to impede.
i. Blaming others for what our own actions could have corrected doesn’t end well.
It makes us feel less guilty if we can blame others for our failings, like Eve saying “the devil made me do it” and Adam blaming both Eve and God. Genesis 3:12-13. We can even blame Life, complaining, “Life Ain’t Fair”.
But Paul tells us not to get so excited about injustices done to ourselves. 1 Corinthians 6:7. James 1:2-3 even tells us to rejoice when life tests us because it builds patience, as if patience were the top prize. That’s not so much the way Christians talk, though, is it?
We are drawn more to headlines that make us feel helpless than that fuel our faith. Has God withheld solutions because He knows how much we appreciate things to complain about? Or, sated as we are with such innumerable comforts, luxuries, and other blessings, is complaining so important to us that if there are no evils nearby to target, blessings will do?
Giving God thanks supports action, because remembering what God has done to protect, supply, and guide us, the bolder we will be facing the evil before us. Remembering instead our disappointments is only an excuse for doing nothing; we tell ourselves it proves that in the face of great need, “there is nothing we can do.”
j. Teaching and/or discussion with no intention of ever doing anything about Darkness is the faith of devils.
James 2:17-20. Not only that, but if there is intent to do anything effectively, that means doing it together.
k. Prayer without action is not prayer.
James 2:14-17. The verbiage of the metaphor is that faith without works is dead. But the “blessing” for the cold hungry man is like a prayer. It is the hope that God will take care of the need without me having to lift a finger. We pray to God to guide and enable our service, but we need to do what we can. God wants partners, not spectators.
l. The Goal of being “fed” by a sermon is not in the Bible, but to FEED is in Matthew 25:42.
In John 6, Jesus said His body is meat indeed. Hebrews 5:12-14 makes “strong meat” a goal, but it is through a Christian forum, the opposite of a sermon, 1 Corinthians 14:24-25, that we reach it.
m. We are called to help the helpless.
In advising us to not enable the lazy, 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, Paul directs our resources to the helpless. That is both to be good stewards of our resources and for the benefit of the lazy.
n. Let’s not get distracted from serving others by verses warning that we can’t save ourselves.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faithand that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
- Good works are so important that church leaders should “affirm” them “constantly”, Titus 3:8. This is more emphasis than was given any of the other teaching topics listed in the letter to Titus. They are “good and profitable” publicly (“unto men”).
- Church leaders, you should show “thyself a pattern of good works”, Titus 2:7.
- To do “good works” is the reason we were created, Ephesians 2:10.
- Without “good works” we are not “perfect” (Gr: complete, mature) 2 Timothy 3:17.
- “Zealous of good works”, Titus 2:14, identifies those whom Jesus did “purify unto himself” a “people” distinctly His.
- It is the essence of Biblical meetings according to Hebrews 10:24-25, often quoted as the verses telling us to go to church. The Biblical value of church going presumes that when Christians meet, they will study one another and “provoke” each other “unto love and to good works:”
- We are commissioned by God (we are “ordained”, the word we use to commission a pastor to lead a churh) to do “good works”, which is our purpose in life. (We are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works”.) Ephesians 2:10.
- Publicly done (“among the Gentiles...which they behold”) good works causes many to “glorify God”. 1 Peter 2:12.
Not that our “works of righteousness” are the reason God “appeared” and “healed” us through “rebirth” and “renovation” by the work of the Holy Spirit (the Strong’s definitions of the Greek words), Titus 3:4-5, but -
- We all need to “be ready to every good work”, 3:1.
The fact that we can’t “save” ourselves through any amount of work doesn’t mean we can be saved if we refuse to do anything. The man who does nothing in Matthew 25, both in the Parable of the Talents in 14-30 and in the Judgment Day scenario of 31-46, goes to Hell. James 2 warns that faith without action is not faith. People are judged “according to their works”, Revelation 20:12-13. Matthew 16:27. Romans 2:6. 2 Corinthians 5:10.
Jesus invites us to understand our relationship with God by pondering our relationship with our human parents. Can a baby raise himself, no matter how hard he works? Of course not. Yet, can a child who refuses to ever do anything his parents ask be raised to adulthood? Of course not.
Hebrews 12 describes the discipline to which God subjects adults, by pondering the discipline to which loving parents subject their children. The goal is to grow up. Children/parents, and humans/God, do it together.
o. Biblical meetings are forums for Christians to prepare for action.
Verse 3 further defines “prophesy” as to “edify” (build up, inspire, equip, “exhort” (educate, correct, and “comfort”. This covers the full range of Christian communication. “Equiping” and “correcting” imply the goal of action, because there is no purpose for them in a meeting whose goal is only talk.
3. God answers prayers through forums where “all” reason and “exhort”. Sermons aren’t mentioned.
a. Teams that reason with each other will reach their goals.
Proverbs 15:22. This is true even of the godless: Genesis 11:6. How much more of God’s people! Matthew 18:18-20. This unity of purpose and action is part of the context of the promises of answered prayer in Matthew 21:22, Mark 11:24, John 14:13-14, 15:7, 16, 16:23, James 5:14-16, 1 John 3:22, 5:14-15.
b. Seven verses of the Bible chapter with the most detail about a Christian meeting format encourate “all” to verbally participate.
Verse 1: verbal participation – more important than spiritual gifts, and love? 5: more important than tongues. 12: You want a gift? Edify the church. 24-25: All, participating, brings revival! 26: Don’t limit ways people can participate. 31: Participate, one at a time. 39: Participation is one thing it is OK to covet!
c. The reason for Christian meetings is so that we can “provoke” each other to do good out of love.
“Exhort” means to correct, and to reason with. We must “provoke” each other to love and do “good works” - we need to hold each other accountable. We behave better when watched; thanked when we do well, and noticed when we do nothing. Hebrews 10:24-25. In other words, God’s format for Christian meetings is a forum (1 Corinthians 14) where God speaks through Christians (v. 30) prayerfully reasoning with each other about what action they should take together (Titus 3:8).
Being “exhorted” is so unpopular among humans that it makes many violent, and it is not easy for Christians. But it is a source of wisdom which makes our “good works” succeed. A wise man will love you for a credible rebuke, Proverbs 1:20-33, 9:8, 13:18, Psalm 141:5, Galatians 2:11-14; 2 Peter 3:15-16.
The freedom to “exhort” one another nurtured by the Bible despite grudging Christian resistance has dribbled out of churches into Western Civilization to create freedom, safety and prosperity still unknown in God-denying nations. Verses in which God offers wisdom apply to individuals but were especially addressed to groups; James 1:5, Colossians 1:9, 1 Corinthians 12:8, Luke 21:15.
d. “All” in Christian meetings should “bring a message from God” to each other, according to the Bible chapter with the most detail about a Christian meeting format.
1 Corinthians 14 describes “bringing a message from God” [the Strong’s definition of the Greek word for “prophesy”] as what “all” the people in a Christian meeting should be doing. This is explicitly stated in seven verses: 1, 5, 12, 24-25, 26, 31, 39. Especially verse 31.
Verse 30 says whoever is speaking needs to wrap up his point and let another speak when something is “revealed” to another. This need not be some mysterious infallible communication, an assumption that has confused Bible commentators, but naturally describes what we daily “realize”, especially when we focus on God. We should daily credit God for these morsels of wisdom.
God meets needs which humans could have met but won’t, including our need to hear from God. But it makes Him angry. Isaiah 63:5. 1 Corinthians 14 ordains Christian forums/meetings as a means of hearing from God through each other. That is a very effective way to “test the spirits”, 1 John 4:1, to filter out nonsense.
e. Revival will come if “all” bring a message from God.
Verses 24-25 promises your group will experience what most will recognize as “revival”, if “all” will bring a message from God; in other words, will participate in the discussion, or the forum.
Verse 30 says in so many words that God must be allowed to speak, and He speaks to us through each other. Therefore He is censored when any of us are limited to subjects other than what God has revealed to any one of us, or are limited by growing group impatience the longer such a revelation digresses from the official subject (which may have been set months before).
g. God meets needs (answers prayers) which humans who could have met won’t, but it makes Him angry.
God’s preferred means of answering our prayers is through the actions of each other, guided by wisdom and prayer. Isaiah 63:5, Esther 4:14.
Sermons may be valuable tools in their place,
but they are given no place in the Bible,
so their place can’t be to displace
the form of worship God desires.
h. The Recorded Teachings of Jesus were not uninterruptable sermons, but interaction.
6/7ths of Jesus’ teachings were presented through dialog – in response to the questions or accusations of others. Jesus welcomed dialog just as God never treats our prayers as interruptions. He never criticized anybody for interacting with Him while He was teaching.
126 Teachings in the Context of Interactions: Matthew 3:15, 4:3-10, 8:8-13, 9:10-13, 14-18, 11:2-6,12:1-8, 9-14, 22-37, 38-46, 46-50, 13:10-23, 36-52, 54-57, 15:1-20, 22-28, 16:1-4, 5-12, 13-19, 21-28, 17:10-13, 14-21, 24-27, 18:1-20, 21-35, 19:3-12, 13-15, 16-30, 20:1-16, 20-28, 21:15-16, 17-22, 23-45, 22:1-15, 16-22, 23-33, 34-46, 24:1-25:46, 26:7, 13, 51-56, 63-64, Mark 2:1-11, 16-17, 18-22, 23-28, 3:1-5, 22-30, 4:10-32, 6:1-4, 7:1-23, 8:11-12, 14-21, 31-9:1, 11-13, 14-29, 33-50, 10:2-12, 13-16, 17-31,10:35-45, 11:20-26, 27-12:12, 13-40, 41-44, 13:1-37, 14:3-9, Luke 4:3-12, 16-30, 5:18-24, 30-39, 6:1-5, 6-11, 7:19-28, 36-50, 8:9-18, 19-21, 43-55, 9:1-5, 18-27, 46-50, 52-56, 57-62, 10:17-24, 25-37, 11:1-13, 14-36, 37-52, 12:1-59, 13:1-9, 10-21, 23-30, 31-35, 14:1-35, 15:1-17:10, 20-18:34, 19:1-27, 37-44, 20:1-18, 19-26, 27-47, 21:1-4, 5-36, 22:14-38, 23:27-31, John 1:47-51, 3:1-21, 4:5-38, 5:1-47, 6:22- 70, 7:14-29, 32-36, 8:1-59, 9:1-10:21, 22-39, 11:3- 16, 21-27, 34-44, 12:1-8, 20-50, 13:2-17:26, 18:33-38, 19:10-11, 20:19-29, 21:10-22.
20 Teachings where no interaction was recorded: Matthew 5:1-7:27, 10:5-42, 11:7-30, 13:3-9, 24-33, 21:13, 23:1-39, 28:10, 18-20, Mark 4:2-9, 6:10-11, 11:17, 16:15-18, Luke 6:20-49, 7:31-35, 8:5-8, 10:1-16, 19:45-46, 24:44-49. John 7:37-38.
(These lists were made by going through a Bible that had Jesus' words in red letters. Statements not seeming to contain any "teaching" were excluded.)
Only one seventh of Jesus’ sermons were not answers to questions or charges, and were not interrupted. Interaction was the rule, and never discouraged, so it would have been welcome the other 20 times too. For example, Matthew chapters 5-7 is called “the Sermon on the Mount” by commentators (though the word “sermon” is not in the Bible) and no dialog is recorded. But some of the same teachings were recorded in the context of dialog, in Luke.
God is happy to dialogue with humans even farther below Him than laymen are below pastors.
The fact that the KJV says Jesus “preached”, translated from κηρύσσω and euggallizw, combined with the fact that Jesus never gave an uninterruptible “sermon”, proves that these Greek words do NOT specify an uninterruptible sermon. Or even IMPLY such a “sermon”.
i. None of the Greek words translated “preach” mean a “sermon”.
That is, a lecture which cannot be interrupted for a question, clarification, correction, or anything else.
Not only is this proved by the fact that Jesus “preached” yet never “gave a [uninterruptible] sermon”, but this is also proved by the fact that the Greek word describes a king’s representative who negotiates with/reasons with subjects of the king. For a 32 page study of “Preach”, “preacher”, “Evangelize”, “Evangelist”, “ruling elders”, “divisions”, “orator” based on the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, see Preachers in the Bible did not do Sermons.
j. Paul never “preached” [by today’s definition] a “sermon”.
He “reasoned”. Paul’s “manner” was to reason, Acts 17:2, 18:4, 19, 24:25. Same Greek word in Acts 20:7 where KJV says Paul “preached”. Dialegomai, source of our word “dialog”.
k. God wants to reason with humans.
God said “come now, let us reason together”, Isaiah 1:18. God listens to us, and reasons with us. Can anyone be as much lower than us as we are lower than God, that we dare say to each other, “you’re not worth my listening to you” or “it’s no use talking with you; you’re never going to agree with me anyway!”?!
l. Jesus reasoned, responding with mouth-stopping logic, and praised people who reasoned right back, even when they challenged Him!
Matthew 22:21, 15:21-28, John 7:23, 10:35
m. Peter said we should witness through reasoning.
We must always be ready with an “answer”, Greek apologia, a defense that addresses an accusation, 1 Peter 3:15. It is from this Greek word that theologians get their word “apologetics”, which today means “That branch of demonstrative or argumentative theology which is concerned with the grounds and defense of Christian belief and hope.”
n. Answered prayer is more likely when those praying have reached consensus, which is the fruit of reasoning together.
Matthew 18:20. Consensus is reached through reasoning and reviewing evidence together.
o. God calls us “Noble” when, TOGETHER, we test by Scripture our familiar, comfortable church traditions.
Acts 17:11 is the only time in the Bible where God honored His people by calling them “noble”, not by by God’s standards. The whole assembly participated in the scrutiny, not just one or two: it was in “the synagogue of the Jews”, verse 10. Together was the only way they could study: They only had one scroll, that was kept at the synagogue.
4. Bible heroes, like God, are very Political.
a. Prophecies are mostly about nations – political systems, not churches.
How many exceptions can you find?
b. Bible heroes were either political leaders or lobbyists.
Hebrews 11 is called the “Hall of Faith”. It lists Bible heroes who are “examples of faith” for us. Every one was either a political leader himself, or got in the Bible through interaction with a political leader. Even Abel and Noah were powerful government leaders according to Josephus. See GodsPoliticalHeroes.pdf God's Political Heroes.
c. Biblical political involvement “mixes politics and religion” the way America’s Founders did.
Because politics without religion thinks immorality doesn’t matter, and religion without politics is silent about the government-supported sins destroying America. Saving America, and saving her churches, can’t be done separately. Never has happened.
Israel’s rulers in the “wicked” category separated politics and religion. Immorality didn’t matter under their rule. God’s Bible heroes didn’t leave them alone. They “lobbied” them, as 1 Timothy 2:1-2 instructs. (See below.) Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles.
Biblical political involvement doesn’t censor public discussion of the Biblical basis for political positions, the way Christian political activists do in America today.
Their obedience was to the institution of the government/citizen relationship created by God, not to the perversion of that relationship by tyrants – as 1 Peter 2:13 instructs according to the Greek words, although English translations obscure their meaning.
Christian political activists are driven by their churches when occasional sermons identify government-enabled abominations and they want to do something. They are driven away from their churches because doing something about evil is “politics”, and is clearly prohibited by 2 Denominations 3:16. So they go out into the Darkness. But they leave their “swords” back in their pews! A verse is occasionally quoted in public by a handful of candidates, but a public discussion of how well political positions line up with the Bible is no longer heard in America. We are satisfied with an occasional verse, which is so refreshing in such a spiritual desert that we say “Oh thank God! He has heard of the Bible! Therefore we can trust all his positions to be Biblical!” But because we don’t double check our assumptions with our Swords, we sometimes get our positions terribly wrong. Immigration is an example of an issue about which God wrote over 200 verses but most Christians have no idea there are even six.
Politics alone, without the Bible, is very limited in its ability to solve very much of anything.
d. “Governments” is a Holy Spirit Gift.
1 Corinthians 12:28. This is traditionally assumed to mean a “church administrator” since it could not possibly refer to a Christian political activist. The problem with that assumption is that no “church administrator” is mentioned in the Bible, but virtually every Bible hero dynamically interacted with political leaders. Every church today has at least a couple of people who are well informed politically. Were they allowed to discuss their evidence with others on church premises, and propose action together, that would end Christians voting to pattern our laws after the principles of Hell. The Greek word is kubernesis, κυβερνησις, where we get our word “gubernatorial”, referring to our elections for state governors.
If church members are ever to keep up with Hell’s latest government-assisted attacks on their freedom of speech and religion, or on their children, it will be after they allow others besides their pastors to keep them informed. You don’t learn this stuff in seminary. Even if you did, it’s out of date now. You can only learn correct, up to date information about this from people who read Congressional Budget Office while they are in the tub, devour State Department press conference transcripts during lunch breaks, and go to sleep reading the Congressional Record.
e. God equates a Republican form of government (in which voters elect representatives) with submission to God.
1 Samuel 8:7, Deuteronomy 1:13
f. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 tells us to lobby government.
Several translations and Bible commentators assume the four kinds of communication in verse 1 are all shades of prayer to God, and do not at all indicate communication with leaders. The word “pray” does mean prayer to God, but “petition, intercede, and give thanks” just as often describe communication with humans.
Members fulfill the goal of 1 Timothy 2:1-2 to get government to let us live honest, godly lives without going to jail, by “petitioning” our representatives to base laws upon the principles of Heaven rather than of Hell, “interceding” for others harmed by our public policies, and to “thanking” lawmakers who serve us well (which is a wonderful way to build bridges with leaders). Such activity begins with prayer, without which we lack wisdom and direction, but God’s list doesn’t end with prayer as is widely assumed even by Bible commentators and by Bible translations.
All human experience confirms that petitioning political leaders, thanking them when they do right, and interceding for their victims, while costly to “Christian activists”, reduces the oppression of others. It’s the example given by Bible heroes. And James 2:14-17 mocks the idea of expecting God to do all our work so we don’t have to lift a finger. For 15 pages of related Scripture and analysis of over a dozen translations and Bible commentators, see 1 Timothy 2:1-2.
g. The Pharisees, Saducees, and the Sanhedrin comprised a political system.
John 11:48 states the political power they held, in the opinion of the Sanhedrin. They had police (John 7:45), jails (Acts 4:3), and laws they enacted (Matthew 15:2, Mark 7:3, 13 – called “tradition” but they were enforced), courts (John 18) to try violations of their laws, and punishments (John 9:34) including execution (Matthew 14:5, John 10:31; John 18:31 is often misunderstood to deny the clear authority of the Sanhedrin to execute offenders, but the next verse makes clear that it was only crucifixion, one form of execution, which was reserved to the Romans). That’s a political system. Jesus was heavily involved in politics.
h. Jesus’ teachings often came through interaction with political leaders.
Half Jesus’ teachings were verbal exchanges with Israel’s political leaders. Jesus was Involved.
i. Paul praised God that his ministry was known throughout the palace.
j. The kind of “sabbath” or “fast” God wants: to set free the oppressed, not to just go to church.
k. Church mission: to shine the Light of what God says about Darkness, in the Darkness.
What is darker: saying the wrong words during a baptism, or murdering your very own baby? The deepest darkness is usually enabled by politics.
l. Ekklesia doesn’t mean “church”.
“Congress” is closer to its meaning. It is the one word which King James ordered his translators to translate his way, as “church”, no matter what they thought was the best translation. Geneva had also translated it “church”, but five translations before that translated it “congregation”, before that word was associated with a Christian meeting. In Bible times it meant any meeting, and the most famous ekklesia was the meeting in Athens where citizens elected several political leaders including one who would manage religious events.
m. “Politics can’t solve all the world’s problems” is the excuse of a cold heart to address none of the world’s problems.
I cringe at Frank Viola’s statement that it is vain to pursue “politics” in order to “solve all the world’s problems”. That mischaracterizes the purpose of political involvement into something much easier to refute.
No politician offers to “solve ALL the world’s problems”. Not even God has “solved ALL the world’s problems” in 6,000 years. That is because God honors choice, declining to drag anyone into Heaven, and billions of people choose their problems – some as their first choice, but most as their second choice behind their desire to avoid the work and responsibility of accepting the ability and potentially infinite resources God offers them to heal their situation.
But God offers solutions to all the world’s problems, (for example, Deuteronomy 28) and we are called to participate in extending that offer. (For example, Mark 16:15.) America itself – its Biblical political system, and its development of Bible resources made possible by its Biblical political system, offers an example to the rest of the world of ways to greatly reduce “all the problems in the world”, though with a lot of thinking, reasoning, cooperation, love, and work.
“Politics won’t solve all the world’s problems” is called “a straw man” in logic – refuting an idea by mischaracterizing the idea as something much easier to refute. Like being unable to kill your enemy, so you make a replica of your enemy out of staw – and then “kill” your “straw man” so you can declare “victory”.
But I wholeheartedly agree with Frank Viola if he meant to say “politics alone, without the Bible, as we see in America where public discussion of the Scriptural basis for our political positions is unheard of, is very limited in its ability to solve very much of anything”. (I don’t count as “public discussion” books and lectures with which there is very little interaction that reaches very much of the public.)
5. “The Gospel” is not just about Heaven, but also about Heroic Hard Work Here.
a. A key to Heaven is loving [defined as sacrificially serving] our “neighbor” [defined as “everybody”] here'.
Luke 10:33, Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 19:19, Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:13, James 2:8, 1 John 3:18
b. Constant Bible study, prayer, and wonderful service is nothing without obedience.
It means nothing to “seek God daily” and “delight to know His ways”, “delight to approach God”, study the Bible to know “the ordinances of justice”, and go to church every Sabbath, if we Christians do not “loose the bands of wickedness...undo the heavy burdensllllet the oppressed go free, and...break every yoke...[give] bread to the hungry, and...bring the poor that are cast out to thy house...when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from” the needs of others of your own species. “honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words.” Isaiah 58 warns of judgment for not helping the helpless HERE.
c. “Confessing” Jesus is a key to being “saved”, but not just in front of friends who applaud you for saying it.
Romans 10:9-10 “Confess”, from ‘ομολογεω, means, according to Bible Commentator Albert Barnes, “to ‘speak what agrees with something which others speak or maintain.’ Thus, confession or profession expresses our ‘agreement or concord with what God holds to be true, and what he declares to be true.’ It denotes a public declaration or assent to that, here expressed by the words ‘with thy mouth.’ ” The Greek words combine “homo”, the same as, from where we get “homogenized”, and “logo”, meaning “words”. When milk is homogenized the cream and the skim milk is permanently blended so you cannot swallow the one without tasting the other.
d. Preaching the Gospel, casting out demons, wonderful deeds – Judas did that.
We must also obey God or we will hear “I never knew you”. Matthew 7:23.
Not that we should avoid “good works”, or miracles, which the Great Commission promises will follow our faithfulness. But Bible commentator John Gill connects Matthew 7:23 to 1 Corinthians 9:27, saying even Paul dreaded such judgment; should we? “Judas, for one, was capable of pleading all these things; he had the gift of preaching, and a call from Christ to it, and yet [was] a castaway; he had the power of casting out devils, and yet could not prevent the devil from entering into him; he could perform miracles, do wonders in Christ's name, and yet, at last, was the betrayer of him. These pleas and arguments will be of no use to him, nor of any avail to any at the great day. It may be observed, that these men lay the whole stress of their salvation upon what they have done in Christ's name; and not on Christ himself, in whom there is salvation, and in no other: they say not a syllable of what Christ has done and suffered, but only of what they have done. Indeed, the things they instance in, are the greatest done among men; the gifts they had were the most excellent, excepting the grace of God; the works they did were of an extraordinary nature; whence it follows, that there can be no salvation, nor is it to be expected from men's works: for if preaching the word, which is attended with so much study, care, and labour, will not be a prevailing argument to admit men into the kingdom of heaven; how can it be thought that ever reading, or hearing, or any other external performance of religion, should bring persons thither?”
e. If our experience with God is relaxing and entertaining, that is a red flag.
Matthew 7:12-14 warns that the path to Life is “narrow” – we can’t find it if we wander back and forth – and “difficult”. Doubling our capacity, as Matthew 25:14-30 requires, is as challenging for adults as it is for growing children. If it is never exhausting, never costly, never requiring every ounce of your will and strength or demanding more of your resources than you think you can afford, never causing you any suffering, maybe you have not yet “taken up [your] cross daily, and followed [Jesus].” Luke 9:23, Mark 10:21
f. The Bible lists of the helpless were examples, not complete lists. Today we must not overlook the helpless in our own culture and political system.
We must give one of our coats to one who has none, Luke 3:11. We must rescue those being led away to slaughter, Proverbs 24:10-12. We must visit those sick and in prison, take in the immigrant, feed and clothe the naked and hungry, Matthew 25:31-46.
Few starve among us here in America except as a consequence of largely reversible choices. The spirit of these examples, applied today, call us to reform abortion laws that protect abortion, reform criminal laws that deprive falsely accused defendants of the right to defend themselves in court [expensive lawyers – so they get a “plea bargain” which is not much of a “bargain”], reform immigration laws that abandon genuine refugees to die at our borders, etc.
6. “Light in the Darkness” means quoting God about Darkness - in the Darkness.
a. Exposing government-supported abominations by the Light of what God says about them accomplishes little, limited to an occasional sermon.
Matthew 5:13-16 is two metaphors, but of what? One is of light kept under a “bushel”. Doesn’t that well depict a sermon that proclaims what God says about Darkness, but without any plans, vision, or marching orders to take the message outside the church, but the opposite: censorship of those annoying “controversial” congregants who know what other members could do together to take that message out where voters choose between the principles of Heaven and Hell?
b. Opposing government-supported abominations without the Light of what God says about them accomplishes too little, stripping Christian political activists of spiritual power.
When Christian Activists go into the Darkness but censor the Light which is the real reason they are out there, isn’t that, still, keeping the light under a “bushel”? Activists exist because people hear Evil dramatically portrayed as abominations by the power of God’s Word, but churches won’t let them organize other members to fight evil, calling it “politics”, so driven from their churches, they go out into the Darkness but without the Light. They give the public every other logical reason for their positions other than the Bible verses which are their real reason. They strip their efforts of the Power of Scripture.
c. Evil grows because Christians censor their Light from Darkness.
Letting it out will save America. When Christians in ekklesias and activist groups reason with each other to develop consensus about how to shine light in darkness together to relieve the oppressed, America will be safe, according to many passages here, and confirmed by all political experience.
d. America’s slide to Hell is not because of America’s unbelievers, but because of the “wicked ways” of “my people, who are called by my name”.
2 Chronicles 7:14
e. When Christians discuss America’s spiritual condition, we primarily moan about abominations supported by politics/ government.
Things like abortion, men in girl’s bathrooms, surgically turning boys into pretend girls, government databases preparing for the Mark of the Beast. This makes it quite irrational for churches to forbid discussion of “politics”, and for Christian political activists to self-censor the zBible Light strong enough to sanitize evil.
f. The greatest sin of all human history is a political system.
The Beast, and his Mark, is depicted in the Bible as the ultimate sin of all human history, the only one which sends all to Hell who take it. It is a political system. A world government. Revelation 13, 14:9-10. Shouldn’t we take warning that we should stop voting for leaders promoting the expansion of Mark-of-the-Beast tracking technology?
g. As we look about for who to blame for America’s slide, let’s not gloss over the gap between our “worship services” and Bible guidelines.
We are smart enough to perceive government-supported abominations as a measure of America’s spiritual slide. Let’s be smart enough to consider how dedicated our noninvolvement theologies are to keeping Biblical influence out of politics. Let’s see the connection to “worship” traditions not found in the Bible that censor consensus building strategy discussions about how to respond together, to shine “Light” in those Dark forums in which voters decide whether to pattern our laws after the principles of Heaven or of Hell. And that displace that Biblical mandate with “worship services” where only one person talks and there is no discussion, and with “Sunday Schools” which tolerates little digression from “teacher”-approved topics whose goal is only education but not action.
h. The “Darkness” into which Jesus begs us to shine our “Light” is not ignorance of what to believe and say among friends where there is no cost or risk in the expectation of Heaven.
That is a superficial view of Salvation promoted in “Romans Road” tracts, Chic comics, and “accept Jesus into your heart” repeat-after-me prayers. The Bible is far more interesting. It is an adventure that makes the most edge-of-your-seat thrillers boring by comparison.
7. The “Cross” we must carry is an “easy yoke”, a “light burden”. It is a reward. It is Life, now. It may “cost” money, friends, wealth, careers, comfort, life, but not anything we need.
Our Cross equips any of us who accept it with super powers, protection enough to finish doing God’s Will, provision of needs, along with all the risks and “impossible” obstacles faced by any other super hero. Except that our super powers are not finite like those of comic book heroes. With these powers we are equipped, if we will accept the mission, to save our nation, leave an inheritance for our children, experience the joy of seeing others rescued, and all the consolation of Heaven without waiting to die.
HELP! Half of America’s Christians vote Democrat, doing things to America which send souls to Hell. The other half votes to keep “the stranger” (immigrants) unwelcome, which Matthew 25:41, 46 warns is another road to Hell! Especially since the most promised tool for driving out “the stranger” is Mark-of-the-Beast tracking technology (Real ID, updated into E-Verify) which is the Bible’s surest road to Hell!
Meanwhile “the worst and most bloodthirsty form of false religion that humanity has ever known” is “rapidly spreading all over the world”, especially over Europe whose 2030 goals of “legal identity for all” through its national identity databases are able to interface with the system being fast-tracked by U.S. Republicans, into a worldwide system.
The response of “Church”? Don't allow members to pass voting information, in “church”, that might be “controversial”!
(This is not the end of this article. This is an AL, Article Loop. From this point, return to the beginning and read it again.)
More Stuff: Historical Fiction, Greek Word Studies, Others who agree, Practical Applications, More of my own general explanations
Neb’s Dream about the “stone cut without hands” which grows to displace the world’s tyrannies, featuring the perspectives of Daniel, Moses, Samuel, and even, of all people, Ahaz. [.Unfinished novel
Near a pagan cliff called the “Rock of the Gods”, out of which flowed a stream called “the gates of Hell”, Jesus said he would build His Εκκλησια on a Rock, “and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” This story features the perspectives of John, James, and King James. Why did King James order his translators to translate Εκκλησια as “church”, when Greeks associated the word with their public assemblies which elected their political leaders? See Upon_this_Rock_I_will_build_my_Congress
Greek Word Studies
(Νικολαιτης, compound word: ruler + laymen) Nicolaitans Today
How could churches as dramatically fall from God’s model as this study alleges, for so many centuries, without such a momentous historical event being foretold in Bible prophecy?
Perhaps it was, from what we are able to deduce about this doctrine and its deeds from the name itself: ruler + laymen.
Jesus "hates" Nikolaitans. He hates what they do, Revelation 2:6, and what they teach, v. 15. That very strong statement, being in the Bible, calls us to discover what Jesus is talking about. But history records no such group known by that name, according to half of the 18 Bible commentaries on my computer. The other half speculate that Nikolaitans are just another name for the lovers of pleasure with Jezebel, but the first half explain the lack of support for that speculation. (My article reaches 20 pages because it compares all 18.)
That leaves the meaning of the name itself, to reveal Jesus' meaning: there is something about the relationship between rulers and laymen which Jesus hates. Only two of the commentators sought significance in the name itself.
What exactly is that divinely hated relationship? The compound name itself leaves us guessing. The word is found nowhere else in the Bible, and the few times early Christian writers used the word, nothing indicates they knew anything more about Nicolaitans than what they read in Revelation 2, as half of the 18 commentators point out.
Fortunately we are not left to guess what kind of "worship" God hates. Without using that word, plenty of Old Testament Scriptures tell us very graphically the kind of "worship" God hates, while plenty of Old and New Testament Scriptures tell us the kind of "worship" God desires.
We are warned by Revelation 2:6, 15 that corruption of the kind of worship God desires had begun in John's time and must be fought in our time. We already know from Revelation 22:8-9 about God's judgment for anyone who changes God's instructions, which must certainly include the relationship between leaders and "laymen". Jesus says the same thing in chapter 2 in a way that shows this is personal with God: He hates deviation.
The relationship between leaders and those subject to leaders has been a project of God for a long time. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is a metaphor of God’s gentle nudging of human spirits away from our natural desire to be slaves of tyrants, from Nimrod through the violence of freed slaves wanting to return to slavery of Numbers 14:10, Israel petitioning Samuel to replace their Deuteronomy 1:13 elections with a dictator (1 Samuel 8), the crowds trying to violently "force" Jesus to be their dictator in John 6:15, and the whole world’s readiness to worship a worldwide dictator in Revelation 13.
Why should we imagine churches to be exempt from this embedded human desire? Not that long ago churches were theological dictatorships which tortured people for disagreeing, a practice with zero Biblical support. Why should we imagine we have now completely overcome that fault so that no further improvement is possible?
“Preach” in the Bible does NOT mean “give a sermon”
A 32 page study of the Greek words translated “Preach”, “preacher”, “Evangelize”, “Evangelist”, “ruling elders”, “divisions”, “orator” as understood by the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, and by the contexts of these words throughout the New Testament. The Greek word for “preacher” describes a king’s representative who negotiates with/reasons with subjects of the king. See Preachers-in-the-Bible-did-not-do-Sermons
Mark of the Beast & Immigration. Why God cares; why we should
We may not yet know exactly what John foresaw, but when we see systems that fit John’s descriptions, it is surely unwise to vote for them.
Yet conservative Bible-believing Republicans were the main force behind the RealID act of 2005, which combines state drivers license databases with data added from county records, and without signing up you can’t fly, open a bank account, or enter a federal building. The same Republicans push E-verify, which combines with RealID and adds that without it you can’t get a job. Republicans have pushed this in order to identify “illegals”.
This study parses Greek words and matches their meaning to today’s tracking technology to show that every element of the cursed Mark matches today’s Republican-supported positions except the identification of the 666. If everyone who takes the mark will be in Hell according to Revelation 14, can it be safe for Christians to vote for its development?
How smart has it been for not only churches but Christian political activists to censor Bible discussion that could have warned voters from choosing Hell?
The spiritual threat isn’t just from taking the Mark. It is also from not “taking in the stranger” which Matthew 25:41-46 says is another road to Hell. There are over 200 verses about immigration. Most Christians don’t seem to know about more than a half dozen.
My “Mark of the Beast” study is at www.Saltshaker.US/HispanicHope/Mark-Beast.htm. It concludes with a comparison of Moses’ census with David’s census to explain exactly what it is about the Mark that God hates so much: David's census made a government record of everyone's name and address, apparently, while Moses' census used a system that made that impossible.
My study of God’s win-win immigration solution is at Solutions. More immigration studies are at Hispanic Hope.
Word Studies without the Greek
Bible heroes were either political leaders or lobbyists
Hebrews 11 is called the “Hall of Faith”. It lists Bible heroes who are “examples of faith” for us. Every one was either a political leader himself, or got in the Bible through interaction with a political leader. Even Abel and Noah were powerful government leaders according to Josephus. See GodsPoliticalHeroes.pdf God's Political Heroes
Half Jesus’ teachings were verbal exchanges with Israel’s political leaders
Jesus: Involved. John 11:48 states the political power they held, in the opinion of the Sanhedrin. They had police, jails, and laws they enacted, and courts to try violations of their laws. That’s a political system. Jesus was heavily involved in politics.
Others who agree and have encouraged me
Tabitha Price, a speaker in Arizona in 2021 for Wycliff Bible Translators
I spoke with her about her experience with Christian churches in other nations which do not have the “worship service” formats we have that feature uninterruptible sermons. She told me she would write down some of her observations and send them to me. But I never heard from her again. Maybe it was because I honestly emailed her with my thoughts about her courage, being associated with information like that, since Wycliffe has to raise money from churches with the “sermon” model. Maybe the reminder of that cost gave her second thoughts. Or maybe she is in some Moslem or Communist prison.
Testimony about Christian gatherings in persecuted areas which enjoy robust interaction and action about all matters of concern should be valuable in overcoming the superstar status of American church tradition that severely throttles both interaction and action. Because I think many Christians realize that Christians suffering real persecution are more likely to be true Christians, and their meetings are therefore likely to merit our serious consideration as models for ourselves.
Surely any movement in American churches to God's model of group action being the holiest purpose of consensus-building discussion would multiply support for Wycliffe and all other missions. Except that early association with the movement would be the target of the movement's enemies, making the effect unpredictable. Unpredictable for humans, that is. But standing with God's Will against what God hates is predictably beneficial regarding anything that matters.
Watchman Nee, pioneer in Chinese house churches
Nee wrote “The Normal Christian Life”. In the book he makes clear that sermons have no place in a Biblical church; in fact, the role of “pastor” is quite different today than in God’s Fellowship Handbook. (The Bible.)
I quote him extensively in chapters of my book, “Who Owns the Pulpit?”. See Chapters 5, 6, 7, 8.
Nee was an influential miracle-working native Chinese missionary who died at the age of 69, in 1972, after 20 years in a Communist prison. Nee’s application of Scripture is not mere untested theory. Nee and an entire network of missionaries lived by it. It works. Not only did God say to do it, but it works. No one can say “Ah, maybe God commanded it, but we cannot do this, because it will never work.” Nee proved that it works.
My only disappointment is that in the videos I find of him on youtube, all I find is of him lecturing. No interaction. Oh well. A couple of factors could explain that.
First, informal filming was unavailable then. The smallest video cameras were the size and weight of motorcycles and were much less portable. Remote filming was done with 16 mm cameras. The sound was recorded separately and later synced with the video. There were no wireless mikes to pass around to people in audiences, and quality dropped a lot when a speaker was a few yards away from a mike. Lighting was more complicated. In other words filming before Nee died was quite an operation. The bustle of a film crew would surely interfere with concentration on a topic.
Second, even today most people don't want to be on camera. And in America, few Christians are used to the idea of participating in a forum. In China, where some were used to that, they especially didn't want to be on camera where the CCP could identify them.
(The Normal Christian Life was published 1980 by Living Stream Ministry. The book was originally published as "Concerning Our Missions" in 1939 in England.)
Prem Pradhan, native missionary in Nepal
Once Prem spoke in my home to an audience of 14. I recorded the conversation and made a transcript. See Nepal's "Paul". 15 pages. Some excerpts:
“So many, many American church denomination, they are now entering into Nepal. What you have here, the dead church, many dead church you have in America, they're exporting their dead church in my country!...You need to pray!...
“I come to America, and find the Catholic church and the Protestant church are identical! In both, one man stands against a wall and talks, and then ‘church’ is over. In Nepal, only Catholic church that way. Although the Greek Orthodox church, everyone stand.
“Devil is always after the church. Americans will take offerings, and send to Nepal, and build a building, and line up the benches, and stand up a preacher, and say here is the pattern. the pattern that America got from Calvin.
“In Nepal there are no benches where people sit who don’t know each other....
“Honor headship of Jesus, no man the head. Someone may be good speaker, but leave that behind. Read Gospel of John 6 or 8 times, then no need to tell what it says....”
Gene Edwards wrote about congregation participation
Edwards wrote numerous books featuring the theme of congregation participation instead of an uninterruptible sermon. He described a small number of large churches with different schemes for fairly robust participation.
The Wikipedia article about him says “Groups and churches that he planted pattern their gatherings around primitive Christian practices such as meeting in homes, writing their own songs, and meeting in an open, participatory style. These groups aim for a distributed ministry model in which no one in the group possesses greater authority than any other so that all will be encouraged to function and speak in the meeting.” I read at least a dozen of his books.
But when he hosted a conference in an East Coast state – maybe it was South Carolina, and I was considering going, I got the impression from his promos that it was not going to be that kind of participatory meeting but basically his own lectures. I contacted him about that, and his answer confirmed my impression. There would be little or no opportunity for others to interact by contributing information. So I stayed home.
But his writing greatly encouraged my Bible study of a meeting format.
John Robinson, pastor of the Pilgrims
www.1620.US features the documentary I filmed in 2008 when, as elected Elder of the Iowa Society of Mayflower Descendants, I traveled to Plymouth, Massachussetts for the triennial convention of the international organization. I interviewed world experts on what happened that first November and in their first years here. I learned that they hosted “Sabbath afternoon prophesying services” which were all that I have discerned from 1 Corinthians 14, which were, in effect, laboratories of free speech and religion, and of a vote for all.
Later I read some of Robinson’s 1,000 pages of Bible study available online. Their catechism lists the verses supporting their practice. I built a 1/6 size replica (roughly) of the Mayflower on a car, which I have entered in parades since 1918. The message on its side: “They got freedom of speech and religion, and a vote for all, from the Bible.” Before that, about 2014-2015, I helped build a cruder float for the Iowa Society of Mayflower Descendants which featured nothing about the Pilgrim's spiritual or political contributions, but only encouraged people to check their ancestry and join if they qualified.
The Verses that Launched Freedom
The Verses that Launched Freedom (written by myself) reports Robinson’s Bible study. Contents of the article after its introduction: <> How the Bible word “Prophesying” launched Freedom of Speech and Religion – 842 word summary <> Their own words: The Pilgrims’ Catechism on Freedom: 418 words if you just read the catechism questions and answers; 1956 words if you also read the Scriptures cited and their Geneva notes. <> Summary of the Freedom Verses noticed by the Works of John Robinson Vol 3, chapter VIII, & Catechism 1 With notes added by Dave Leach Pilgrims and how Pastor Robinson understood them – a 1097 word summary of the complete Biblical evidence in Chapter 8, Book 3, “Of the exercise of Prophecy” <> The complete Chapter 8, Book 3, “Of the exercise of Prophecy”. Robinson’s words number 1569. 6822 words if you also read all the Scriptures he cited in the Geneva version, with Geneva notes. <> A review: just the paragraph headings, 148 words, of the complete study
George Barna and Frank Viola
Their book. “Pagan Christianity”, is available on Amazon.
The Amazon promo: “Have you ever wondered why we Christians do what we do for church every Sunday morning? Why do we “dress up” for church? Why does the pastor preach a sermon each week? Why do we have pews, steeples, and choirs? This ground-breaking book, now in affordable softcover, makes an unsettling proposal: most of what Christians do in present-day churches is rooted, not in the New Testament, but in pagan culture and rituals developed long after the death of the apostles. Coauthors Frank Viola and George Barna support their thesis with compelling historical evidence and extensive footnotes that document the origins of modern Christian church practices.”
Barna summarized in an interview, “In the book, we are challenging something very specific: a paid professional clergy that receives a salary for being ‘the minister’ to a local congregation. We discuss the biblical, historical, and pragmatic reasons for our challenge.”
I marveled that Barna, who created Barna surveys which markets its surveys to pastors, could stay in business whose income is from people who his book says should receive no pay! But then I read that a year after his book was published, he sold his survey business. Hmmm.
It’s been a few years, but I know I read the book, though now I can’t find it. And I don’t remember reading that church leaders should receive no support, which would have made me wonder to this day how he fits that theory with 1 Corinthians 9:9-10. My challenge is not to the existence of church leadership but to its role. It is not to be virtually the only source of wisdom in a “worship” service. It includes teaching, but not to the exclusion of wisdom from all others, during which his Biblical role is that of moderator.
I love how co-author Frank Viola deconstructs the Sermon tradition. But I cringe at his statement that it is vain to pursue “politics” in order to “solve all the world’s problems”. That is the excuse of a cold heart to address none of the world’s problems.
John Mark Ministries
“The Problem with Preaching” by John Mark Ministries: Points # 7-8, 10-15. Here is a summary of point #7:
7. Apostolic preaching recorded in Acts was extemporaneous and without strict rhetorical structure. Acts 2:14-35; Acts 7:1-52; Acts 17:22-34 8.
Apostolic preaching recorded in Acts was most often dialogical (meaning it included feedback and interruptions from the audience) rather than monological (a one-way discourse).[xxiv] Acts 17:2,17; Acts 18:4,19; Acts 19:8,9; Acts 20:7,9; Acts 24:25.
Even when Paul & others preached to unbelievers, there was always opportunity for interaction.
Pastor John Zens
"The Pastor Has No Clothes" is the title of a book by John Zens. He points out on page 78, “Several things are evident in [1 Corinthians 14].
First, Paul is dealing with the whole church as gathered: “the whole church come together in one place” (v. 23: cf 1 Cor. 11:18).
Secondly, there is nothing stated about the ministry of one person.
Thirdly, there is much stated about the ministry of many: “that you all may prophesy” (v. 1); “when you come together, every one of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has an interpretation” (v. 26); you may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted” (v. 31)....
This does not mean, of course, that at every gathering each person must participate verbally. But it does at least mean that the time together at some point was open to those who had something from the Lord to contribute (cf. Appendix with Barclay’s comments).”
He points on on the next page, “I am not suggesting in all of this that elders never teach in the church gatherings, or, conversely, that all must speak. But it is clear that words of edification in the local church is not limited to one ‘minister’. Where [in that tradition] is any opportunity given to others to speak unto edification [a purpose for interaction specified in 1 Corinthians 14:3, 4, 5, 12, 26] in our services? What grounds are there in the NT to limit public speaking to the elders, especially the ‘pastor’? 1 Corinthians 14 teaches the exact opposite of such an idea.”
Zens’ next sentence submits the absurd as the logical corollary to today’s throttling of interaction: “Are the basic perspectives of this passage now obsolete because the canon of Scripture is closed?”
Although such a theory should strike any Bible believer as absurd and heretical, pastor Terry Amann in Des Moines actually told me that although my interpretation of Scripture may correctly portray the practice recommended in 1 Corinthians 14, we have learned better ways of worshiping over the centuries. Amann is not otherwise any kind of liberal. He is very politically active, spending much time in our state capitol praying with lawmakers, and discussing bills which he believes Christians should favor. He aligns with conservative Republicans in all the positions he has that I know about. I spent several months in his church, the Church of the Way.
Excerpts from “Ante Pacem/ Archaeological Evidence of Church Life Before Constantine” by Graydon F. Snyder, published by The SeedSowers, Mercer University Press, (c) 1985, 2nd printing 1991. A book full of photos of art created by early Christians in their homes, churches, and tombs; and photos and architectural perspective drawings of reconstructed house-churches and meeting halls.
Page 81: A hall 100 by 58.5 Roman feet built about 310 AD “must be the earliest-known structure built specifically for the Christian assembly....There were no special appointments or divisions for liturgical purposes. Only later was it necessary to divide clergy from laity (the screen of the mid-fourth century). The confessio and the altar were introduced no earlier than the end of the fourth century or the beginning of the fifth..."Without denying the formal presence of ministers and elders or bishops in the governance structure of a local church, it must be maintained that the pre-Constantinian Church was remarkably democratic.
In the letters and inscriptions there are very few references to clergy, and those are late. Only in the Crypt of the Popes in Rome do we have a clear interest in 'leadership' figures, but we understand the political nature of this attempt to replace saints with bishops. Still, even the presence of this struggle in Rome and such evidence as the letter to the brothers at Arsinoe indicates that there was a hierarchy in place. There was leadership, but clergy were not divided from laity, nor religious act from religious actor. Not until the end of the fourth century can we find church edifices with a choir or confession.
“Not only were religious distinctions minimalized, but social class structures were all but destroyed. The first Christians abetted that shift within the Roman world but obviously moved well ahead of society itself. One can see this fact in two distinct ways: the rapidity with which Roman family names were dropped and the total lack of reference to slaves. In both cases the Christian community demonstrably differed from Roman society at large.
“The characteristics of the house church noted in the period’s art match our picture of the Christians as a democratic, close-knit group. People found in the new faith community a place of deliverance and peace. Most of the symbols from 180 [A.D.] reflect this deep sense of security. At the same time the Church extended itself by offering hospitality not only to its members but to society at large. We find this in the philanthropia of the Good Shepherd and the function of the meal as social diakonia [service].”
[In other words, the original “communion service” was a real meal shared with non-Christian guests.]
Page 153: “The financial function of the Church has not been sufficiently appreciated. At the time of Christ the Jewish Temple and its synagogues were probably the largest independent (of Rome) banking institution in the Empire. The account in Acts tells us the Christians threatened that financial function of the Temple with a counterstructure. Our knowledge of how that new financial structure developed has been very minimal. This letter indicates the office of the bishop was available for expediting financial transactions nd even holding deposits.”
Page 158: “In addition to this deep sense of community that was expressed, no doubt, through common meals, worship, and assemblies, the community served as an economic institution. It could act as a bank, both local and international, and [in two surviving documents] employment is offered. In others...services are being performed. A kinship community also cares for its members financially, as the documents indicate.”
“Multitude of Counsellors” Project (for political activists)
With such resistance to God’s meeting format recommendations in both churches and Christian activist groups, here is a way to achieve at least part of God’s vision which political candidates could put together by inviting those they meet on the “campaign trail” who like to talk longer than campaign managers want their candidates to spend.
The people perhaps most interested in obeying these tips from God may be people who have lost elections, yet who still have lists of people they have met who might care enough about the assaults of Darkness to come to meetings about shining Light. Candidates who win may be less interested, since the political formulas worked for them so far, and may find it too risky to divert attention from them to what God says to "try". See Multitude_Of_Counsellors_Project
Saltshaker Papers (for small groups within churches)
Proposed practical rules for groups to function as “saltshakers” within their churches. Also includes a brief history of the Fall of Freedom of Religious Expression in America, a Bible Study on “Salt”, and a Mission statement.
Join the “Save The World” Club which is a fair way to describe God’s ignored blueprint for “Church”. I have worked to create an online forum as much like 1 Corinthians 14 fellowship as I can imagine. You can’t build much fellowship with someone who won’t even tell you who they are, so to post, you have to give your real name, your state, and your political party. Optionally, you can sign with a bit more about your beliefs, and/or some contact information.
Once you do that, you can not only post comments after the articles of others, but you can interact with points you want to respond to, right where they are in the article. Just like in Wikipedia, although with your name next to your contribution. And you can contribute your own research, analysis, or opinion, unlike Wikipedia where you can only report what some "mainstream" [liberal] media has claimed.
God’s Relationship Primer (Book)
Free PDF. Paperback available on Amazon.
The more people want to accomplish together, the more they need rules to govern their communication, whether they number 200 million or 2. People act as if they have never heard of a handbook of relationship rules. But a Book in most homes has enough wisdom and love to save our marriages, friendships, nation, world, and churches. Robert's Rules of Order can keep even a group of scoundrels orderly, with the opportunity of all members to have some voice. God's Tips for Relationships enable group discussion that is not only orderly and somewhat fair, but respectful, swaddled in love, a vehicle through which God can speak (1 Corinthians 14:30), and a Lighthouse aimed at Mountains of Darkness.
More of my own general explanation
The Verses that Launched Freedom
Launched Freedom.pdf The Verses that Launched Freedom (This article is linked under www.1620.us above. There its contents are summarized. Here its introduction is copied.)
Freedom. What a funny idea.
Everyone else in the world knew it could never work. Only the Bible told the Pilgrims it would.
Or did it? Does the Bible really say what they thought it says? Do we indeed have God to thank for Freedom?
Or is our freedom just an accident based on their bad interpretations? Are claims of Freedom’s Biblical beginnings merely the wishful thinking of looking back in time and hoping to validate what we have created?
In other words, does God actually care about our freedom, or is freedom destined to fade away as Jesus returns and takes charge as the world’s King – as a “benevolent dictator” – because freedom is not God’s eternal plan after all?
Or, did the Separatists mistake something God never thought of for His Plan, but now God likes it too and will let us keep it?
Has political freedom always been urged by God, important to God, and holy? To be valued, exercised, and protected by God’s people?
The Separatists claimed they got the idea for their freedoms from the Bible. What verses did they quote? How did they assemble those verses into Freedom? (Also published at ipatriot.com)
The Last Five Reformation Theses?
Last5ReformationTheses.pdf The Last Five Reformation Theses?
Martin Luther didn't finish his list of theses, since he only listed 95, and everyone knows when you get that close to 100 you need to come up with 5 more before your list will be considered complete. It would seem Luther left his list unfinished in order to invite others to help finish it. So here are 5 more:
96. Jesus begs us, and our churches, to crawl out from under our safe, non-controversial “bushels” to where it is darkest, and shine the “light”, of what God says about Darkness across the whole “city”. Matthew 5:13-16. But American churches excuse themselves with Noninvolvement Theologies which rename the most grievous “darkness” as “politics”, and “shine your light” as “don't get involved”, resulting in America's Light darkening. (Continued at link.) Also published in an ipatriot.com article on Reformation Day, October 30, 2017, the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's 95 theses nailed to his church door. (Also published at ipatriot.com)
“Who Owns the Pulpit?” (book)
Who Owns the Pulpit? is mentioned above under "Watchman Nee" above because four chapters of my book quote Nee extensively.
Chapter One: “According to 1 Corinthians 14, today's churches are receiving only about 1% of the blessing God offers them. How we can return to 100%.”
Chapter Two: “Did God write ‘for men only’ on the pulpit?”
Three: “Pastors: God's Job Description.”
Chapter Fourteen: “Case Histories of Actual Bible Discussions in other lands.”
A brief History of Christian Political Involvement
What Christians used to do, What Churches can legally do, What God says to do. Christian Involvement.
A slide show of key Scriptures
"Prophesying" (as in 1 Corinthians 14) Slides
“Sermons don’t work”
Sermons don’t work is a review of sermon retention research – of how much of a sermon people remember – about 5% a short time afterward, the same rate as for university lectures – and how schools, universities, and businesses are replacing their lectures with more successful verbal interaction in which up to 95% is retained.
My review is not scholarly or comprehensive. It is just excerpts from a few articles that came up when I googled “retention of sermon content” and “audience participation”. But two or three of these articles seem pretty scholarly and comprehensive, with summaries of research findings with plenty of links.
Body Divided Survey
Survey. This shows how misguided Christian political activism has, by getting God’s views on immigration wrong, fast-forwarded “Mark of the Beast” national tracking technology.
After I returned from the triennial convention of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, as elected Elder of the Iowa society, I wrote about the “mixing of politics and religion” by our Pilgrim ancestors and my op-ed was published by the Des Moines Register. I was involved in the comment stream afterwards, which generated a LOT of very interesting dialog and information. I lot of it forced me to do further research in order to respond to challenges. The year: 2008. The link: Salt/Politics&ReligionMixedOpEd&CommentStream.pdf Politics and Religion Mixed
“The ‘Gift’ of GOVERNMENTS”
A tabloid I wrote and mailed to every Iowa church in 2008. I had done the same thing in 1986 with three consecutive tabloids before the 1986 election; then, my only responses were from half a dozen requests to remove them from my mailing list. In 2008 I don’t remember any responses. (In 1990 I wrote a book by that title but it is not online now.)
This is a PDF of business cards you can print out with a message about fornication designed to break the desire of teens for it. A strong Biblical message, for which I would probably be arrested if I passed them out to teens directly. Or lynched by some parents. But maybe it is safe to offer them to parents who may share God’s concerns.
Gospel Tract: Winning the Jackpot in a Wicked World
This is not a traditional tract about a few things you need to intellectually believe to get your guaranteed ticket to Heaven. This reviews God’s promises to help you conquer evil in yourself and in the world. It is a glimpse of Purpose for Life. Winning the Jackpot in a Wicked World
How God Says to Heal America: Join the Discussion
God solicits 'your' brainpower. God says in many ways, in many verses, reprinted here, that He speaks to us through each other, in conjunction with speaking to us through the Bible. God answers prayers especially of those who reach at least a little consensus through communicating with each other and with God. He guarantees success through a “multitude of counsellors”. That is, through teams that listen to each other, making available to the whole group its full brainpower.
America’s existence is a demonstration of this Biblical principle, which America’s Founders risked and gave their lives to carefully extract from the Bible, as early as the catechism of the Pilgrims.
America’s threats come from erosion of that Foundation, from hearing these sayings of Jesus and not doing them, that Rock of Matthew 7 which saves from storms every life built on it. Jesus tells us to shine Light in Darkness, but we tolerate censorship in Christian meetings of strategizing how to get out into the Darkness (outside our safe comfortable “bushel”) what God says about the Darkness.
(Churches often report what God says about Darkness but won't let congregants strategize together how to get that Light out into the Darkness. Christian activists strategize how to get out into the Darkness and do some good, but once there, won't proclaim what God says about Darkness.)
God desires “teamwork” with teams that won’t kick Him, or the needs of those He loves, off.
The Bible explains where tyranny is vulnerable. It explains the “ways” from which “My people, who are called by My name” must “repent”, 2 Chronicles 7:14, which will exploit this vulnerability to achieve a government where “we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” 1 Timothy 2:2. A government of “higher powers” that does not conflict with the Highest Power, “the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” Romans 13:1-4.
The Bible explains how vitally important to God it is that we do this.
The Bible explains that Government is not total answer, but the total answer doesn’t ignore government.
Evil can proceed only as far as “good” people, through their levels of ignorance and apathy, allow it, according to several verses where tyrants “feared the people” too much to do the harm to Jesus, and later His apostles, that their rage demanded.
The Pharisees “feared the people” too much to do evil. Even Pilate, with his 10,000 soldiers, “feared the people” too much to do good! How can this be? Isn’t the unrestrained power to do whatever he wants what identifies a tyrant?
The most apathetic, ignorant Americans grasp a little of this principle today, with our elections that make it easy and safe for sufficiently informed, concerned, and awake voters to correct evil government and laws. But before elections, even then, the Bible says, tyrants were restrained by too little ignorance and apathy?
“The Prince” is a short book written a few centuries ago by Machiavelli. He wrote it as a gift to his king, in Italy. His name has become a word in English meaning sinister, scheming, sick, and evil. It comes up in conversatins about political scheming. It is so embedded in English vocabulary that when I spell “Machiavellian” correctly, my word processor doesn’t put a squiggly red line under it.
The book describes ways a monarch can decieve his subjects into thinking the steps he is taking to secure power over them are really great blessings for the people.
When I read the book, what surprised me was how much deception it thought necessary to keep a monarch in power. I had thought monarchs’ power is so secure that they could be perfectly honest with the people about how brutal they are and no one could do anything about it.
But Machiavelli helps me understood how the Pharisees, Pilate, and the Sanhedrin “feared the people” despite all their police, soldiers, and cruel punishments. Therefore what has not changed in 6,000 years, we learn from this fact, is that tyrants are safe only in proportion to the ignorance and apathy of the people.
The Bible targets ignorance and apathy like no other religion or philosophy. That is why tyrants fear the Bible, and persecute its followers, like no other religion or philosophy.
It is also why America’s freedoms are threatened by America’s culture today pushing God out of those forums where voters decide whether to pattern our laws after the principles of Heaven or of Hell. Churches won’t allow strategizing and consensus building on how to get light into government-entangled darkness, and Christian political activists who spend their lives trying to heal Darkness try without turning on their Light.