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Archive for September, 2014

Watch the news or not?

RE:  A recent article you wrote.

 

John,

Below is a quote from a recent article you wrote about a conversation you had with a young man you met at Yellowstone:

 “I had to ask myself, ‘Am I as dedicated to my calling in Christ, and free from interest in this world’s vanities, as that young man was?’  He was not in the least attracted to or interested in the latest political scandal, or “important” sporting event, or rumors of war, no matter what countries it involved.

To help me have a clearer and correct understanding of the point you are making, please explain how what you say below fits in with your father’s testimony about the Lord wanting him to watch the news and be aware of current events.

JWS

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Hi Wendell.

That is a good question, one which I considered dealing with in that article itself, but I decided to wait to see if anyone would ask it.  Thanks for bring it up.

The young man to whom I spoke was completely committed to the life he had chosen, so committed that he refused to allow his heart to be troubled or his mind cluttered with information about the “world outside the park”.  I felt challenged by his whole-hearted approach to life.  Am I as whole-hearted in my service to Jesus?  Or do worldly things distract me?

That was the good that I saw in what the young man said.  It went no further than that.  I still believe, as my father taught me, that God’s children need to know what is going on in the world at large, and at the same time, have enough faith in God to obey Jesus’ command to, “let not your hearts be troubled.”

I hope that explains what I meant in the article to which you referred.

jdc

 

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In our study of Acts, we have read these scriptures:​

Acts 2:44–45: “And all that believed were together, and had all things common, and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.”

Acts 4:32, 34–35: “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.  Neither was there any among them that lacked, for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.”

My Question:  Was it common in those times for the treasurer of a rich man’s house to be known as the one with the “keys”?  If the disciples were still expecting Jesus to establish an earthly kingdom, would they then have thought Peter was to be the Lord’s treasurer, since Jesus told Peter he would be given the keys to his kingdom?   And then, could that be why everyone had to bring their goods to Peter?

jdjr

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Those are some interesting questions, JD.  I don’t have any information about how common it was for a treasurer to be known to have the keys of the household, but I assume it was standard.  One Old Testament king’s treasurer, Eliakim, is called the head of the king’s household, and he is said to have had governmental authority (Isa. 22:15–21).  He was even called a father to the nation of Judah (Isa. 22:22).  So, everyone in the nation of Judah, I feel sure, would have assumed that Eliakim had control of the keys to the king’s house.

It makes sense that the earliest believers would have assumed that Peter would be in a place of authority similar to Eliakim’s place, since they (1) apparently did expect Jesus to return to set up an earthly kingdom and (2) Jesus had promised Peter the keys of his kingdom.

These facts may have played a part in influencing the earliest believers to sell their properties and turning over their profits, but in Acts 4, it does not say they brought the profits to Peter alone, but to all the apostles.  So, it doesn’t look like they were thinking exactly what you are asking about.

Thanks for the questions!

jdcsr

 

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The Resurrection

 

Hi John,

Amy and I read through the first part of the Acts notes last night, and it is feeling so good reading through it again.  Boy, it has really been stirring up some thoughts!

Amy said she went through some corrections with you this morning, and she asked you my question about whether or not there is a difference between a “resurrected” body and a body that’s been raised from the dead, and you told her that there is a difference.  The reason I had wondered is because of your comment, “It is unlikely that a resurrected body would actually feel hunger….” (from your note under Luke 24:43).

We got to talking about this at lunch today, and I remembered one key difference between Jesus’ body after he was resurrected and the bodies of those who were raised from the dead (e.g. Lazarus):  Jesus’ resurrected body contained no blood.  Then I got to thinking about how the life is in the blood (Lev. 17:11), which means that Jesus the human son of Mary, his natural life, no longer existed, for it was no longer in the body that Peter and the other apostles saw – only the life of God was there in that body.  Then Amy pointed out that in the Old Testament, animal sacrifices were made only after the blood was drained from them.  This is how it was with Jesus when he offered his crucified body to God for the sacrifice!  You probably have already told us that, but for some reason it just clicked today 🙂

Are there any other differences between a resurrected body and a body raised from the dead?  Is Jesus the one and only case of a human being resurrected?

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The New Testament speaks of a first and a second resurrection that will occur at the end of this age.  I assume that the first resurrection is called “the first resurrection” because it is the first of its kind (after Jesus, of course), and likewise, the second resurrection.  At the same time, the Bible records a number of people being raised from the dead, even in the Old Testament, and none of them are said to have been “resurrected”.

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Another part that we were talking about is the scene in Acts 1, when Jesus answers his disciples’ question, “Is this the time you will re-establish the kingdom of Israel?”, and Jesus’ response is, basically, to tell them not to concern themselves with those things, but to just go to Jerusalem to receive power and to be his witnesses.  Then Jesus is taken up into the clouds and disappears and they are left wondering (I suppose) why he left them before he even set up his earthly kingdom!  Then God sent the two angels to let the disciples know that Jesus would return in the same way that he left.  I wonder if they thought that that was why Jesus wanted them to go and wait for him in Jerusalem, because that’s where he was going to show up again, out of the clouds?  That would certainly be incentive to go and wait for him there!  It is really something how Jesus labored to get them to the place (both physically and spiritually) where they could receive what he so much wanted to give them.

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That’s a good point, Vince.  Jesus ascending into heaven would not have made the disciples stop looking for Jesus to set up an earthly kingdom.  My, what did they think?

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It felt really good reading and talking about these things.  There were so many other thoughts that we were having, but these are two that really stood out to me.  Thanks for doing this study, John.  It has been wonderful so far what Jesus is able to show us now that we have a better understanding of the Father and Son!

Vince

 

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the 12th apostle

Hey Pastor John,

I just read your note after Acts 1:26.  I agree that “we must be slow to say that this method of choosing an apostle was a fleshly exercise.”  But on the other hand, I can’t help but wonder if this truly was a work of God.  If it was, then Matthias would be the only apostle that I can think of that wasn’t personally chosen by Jesus.  The other 12, including Paul, were personally chosen by Jesus.  I believe there is a scripture in the book of Revelation that says that the new Jerusalem would have 12 foundations that will have the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb written on them.  Since Paul was personally chosen by Jesus “as one born out of time”, I am more inclined to believe that Paul would be counted as the 12th apostle.

As I said, just some thoughts.

Billy H.

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“Strangers”

Hey Pastor John, 

​T​his is from 1​P​eter 1​: ​”Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,”​

 Is the “strangers” he is talking to the Gentiles?

 ​Abby

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Yes, Abby. Peter would not have called fellow Jews “strangers”.

 jdc​

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Acts Study

http://www.goingtojesus.com/site/php/keys-to-the-kingdom.html

Good morning, Pastor John,

 I was listening to OT CDs for the book of Joshua.  You said, “The power of God creates a new understanding inside you.  The power of God is the doorway to understanding!  Nobody knows how little they know about God until they come in contact with power of God.  Then they realize they know nothing!”  

That made me think about the recent message on the Keys of the Kingdom!  Oh my, how many doors have been unlocked to us!  God reveals them to you, and you teach them to us!  Doors we did not even know were there!  And he is still revealing new things!!!

I love the Acts study!  Thank you for all your work!

Sue

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Reading Acts

 

John, 

I love the reading in Acts!  I love Peter!  He was just as lost as everyone else.  Even though his shadow healed people, he still had to grow in the knowledge of the God who gave him that power.  And Peter did not know what all God had done through his Son when he came to this earth and died to make a way for all people to be freed from sin and the power of the lust of this flesh.

“God needed another man!”  Wow, this is great!  🙂  It makes me love the Jews more than ever.  They had to change and move away from what God had already given them into what God was doing through His Son.  He gave them the law, and now they had to go where he was taking them, and that takes faith!!

Where is God taking us, with what he is showing us and teaching us?  This is exciting!!!  🙂  God help us take this in and give it out!!

Thank you, John.

Stuart

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Pastor John, 

Your thoughts are something to consider.  Here are some things that they had me thinking about recently.  All this is bouncing around in me.

I wonder now how much Peter really understood of anything.  How would he have explained being born again, or the forgiveness of sins, for example?

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Exactly, Damien.  After Pentecost, what would he have thought animal sacrifices were accomplishing, as far as atonement for sin was concerned?  And what did Peter consider the standard someone had to meet in order to belong to God?

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When Peter said in Acts 10:43, “All the prophets bear witness to him, that through his name, everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins,” what did Peter think that meant?  It is so easy to read that and unwittingly insert your own understanding!  His doctrine on the day of Pentecost was, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the holy spirit!”  I assume that was still how he was thinking.  Did he even understand the connection between the spirit baptism and the forgiveness of sins or was there a certain separation produced by an absolute need, in his mind, to repent and be water baptized first?  (The same might be asked of Ananias when he said to Saul of Tarsus, “Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling upon the name of the Lord!” )  Did Peter understand what God did when he gave the Gentiles the spirit?  Did he realize that they were cleansed by that experience alone and then connect it to what was said to him about God cleansing someone (Acts 10:15)?  Peter could easily call to mind that twice Jesus had said that he and the other apostles were clean “through the word that I’ve spoken to you.”  Peter’s thoughts about being cleansed could have been very different from ours.  So, when the voice said to him “What God has made clean, don’t you call common!” I wonder what, if anything, he comprehended about God making something clean.  

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There had to be much confusion in Peter’s mind, Damien, if he actually got still and tried to sort it all out.  He knew that God still required the Jews to obey the law, which was true at that time, but even if the Jews obeyed the law, according to what Peter himself said, they could not be saved except through faith in the name of Jesus.  And when God by-passed the law and began pouring out His Spirit on gentiles – well, there are no words to describe the bewilderment that Peter and the other believers at that time must have felt.

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Perhaps we ought to consider something else in that interesting exchange which Peter recounted exactly in Jerusalem. Peter says he had eaten nothing unclean or common.  “Common” may well have to do with Jewish tradition as the use of the same word (in Greek) in Mark 7:2 suggests.  I doubt unclean and common are intended as synonyms but rather that they betray Jewish thinking.  The Lord’s response might then be seen as addressing Peter’s Jewishness and directing him away from Jewish tradition.  But I don’t think Peter got it then, nor could he.  By the time of Acts 15 he seemed to have a better understanding.

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Yes, and that is an important point.  “Common and unclean” would mean to a Jew that something, or somebody, was ritually impure.  The Jews knew that certain rites of the law could make a defiled person clean, and until that person underwent that ritual, he was unclean.  What God was telling Peter on the rooftop was that he could make a ritually unclean person clean without the use of the law’s cleansing ritual.

The theological implications of what God told Peter were enormous, but obviously, Peter could not at that time take them in.  And no one living at that time could have.  That amazing truth had to be revealed in order for us to believe it, and it had not yet been revealed.

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Whatever the case, all in all, God put Peter in a situation that was beyond him.  Actually impossible.  How would Peter’s heart have felt if he didn’t water baptize Cornelius and the other gentiles if he thought forgiveness of sins depended on it, in some way?  As Paul later taught, Peter had a gospel, but it didn’t really fit with the Gentiles.  Yet it was the only gospel on earth before Paul came preaching his.  Peter would not have thought of himself as having the “gospel of the circumcision” committed to himself.  He had THE gospel (in Acts 15 he still said “by my mouth the Gentiles were to hear the word of the gospel, and believe.”) And there he was, in a house with Gentiles, with a gospel that was not really even for them, but still, God sent him there.  God really knows how to set things up.

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That is true, Damien.  Peter would not have thought of himself as having the gospel for the Jews only.  In fact, in the beginning of this covenant, it actually was the gospel for everybody on earth because if a Gentile wanted to participate in it, he first had to submit to the law and become a Jew.  Peter had no idea that such would not always be the case, as long as the world stood.

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The day Jesus died, no man could do right, and on this day at Cornelius’ house it was somewhat similar.  No one could yet answer Peter’s question, “Can anyone refuse them the water, that these should not be baptized who received the holy spirit just as we did?”  There was no answer until Paul received his gospel, and his answer to the question was perfectly reasonable.  I can’t help but feel Peter’s question came out complete confusion and bewilderment at what God had done.  Maybe desperation as well.  But it was a very good question.  Peter may have thought it was rhetorical, but God did have an answer.

What a time in history! What an incredible moment.  I never saw before how events  were swelling to the point of an eruption, when the spirit came down in Cornelius’ house. After this, God had to send another man (not sure about needed :))  The Gentiles needed that man.  Peter’s gospel had reached its extremity.  It could not accommodate what God had in store for the Gentiles.  And we have been blessed in this time to have been granted understanding of what that man, Paul, taught, and to see and understand Peter’s place in the foundation.

You have to love Peter.  For God to be able to use him in this way says something for him.  God could really knock that rock around!  Can you imagine being Peter?!

Damien

 

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John,

​Considering how Jesus spoke to the Syro-Phoenician woman in Matthew 15, and Peter’s attitude toward Gentiles in Galatians 2, and even some comments Paul made, it makes me wonder how many Jews ever accepted the ​believing ​ Gentles as real brothers and sisters ​ in Christ​. For Peter, ​even​ after being told by God, “What I have cleansed ​call not ​ thou common or unclean ​”, ​for him to still have so much fear of the Jews ​ seeing him sit and eat with Gentiles ​ (Gal. 2)​, it stands to reason there must have been conversations among the Jews ​ concerning Gentles being second class ​ members of the body of Christ​. ​ ​ Thank God ​that He found a man who didn’t trust anything contrary to what he had been given by him! ​ ​ Paul really had to stand alone. ​ ​It amazes me, ​ Paul’s spiritual strength.  V​ery few in this world develop this kind of steadfastness.

In thinking about this scene and noticing not many men in this life seem to have the strength to stick with what God had given them, ​I think about ​ your ​f​ather​, “Preacher Clark”. He was an example ​of one ​who was successful, and we ​​ still reap the benefits of his strength,​ given from God.

If I hadn’t found you,​ I am doubtful I would been able to hold on to what the Lord told me when I asked him about the divisions ​among God’s People. ​ ​ He told me “Doctrines and Commandments of Men” was the reason. ​ ​Oh, God!  Sweet, direct and short answers are so precious, and at that moment in my life​,​ breath​-​taking.  If I hadn’t met you​,​ would I have heard and understood ​what was recorded in the ​Minutes ​of the 1974 Church of God International convocation in Dallas: “Touch not the unclean thing”?​ ​ ​That understanding  still excites my soul to this day.  I have no idea how I ​could have  the point ​without help from God​.

Those two experiences connected together, along with hearing you say​,​ ” ​They ​[Christian sects] ​ are all wrong” (my spirit jumped up and down,​ saying, “Yes​!”​) were instrumental in my leaving Christianity​,​ although at the time I didn’t know to call it by that name. ​ ​I hope my action in leaving that abomination will count for something in the end.

Thinking about what happened to Peter falling victim to the pressure around him ​in Galatians 2 ​ makes me pray, “Please keep me​, God,​ from anything that opposes ​your spirit!”

There is no hope of doing what is correct without help from Jesus.

God help us!

Wendell

 

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The meetings this weekend

Pastor John,

What a wonderful testimony from Michelle!  Thank you, Jesus, for touching her and loving her the way you did, through your body.  And another beautiful song God gave Darren!  We always need God, no matter what we think.  Thank God for what he has done for our body, John.  How much it meant to Michelle as she was going through her sickness to have such loving and wonderful people around her!  Do we really know how much Jesus love us as a body? or how much we mean to one another in his body?  It sure comes through as we walk along in this world.  How sweet is his presence, when he moves, everything changes!!!

Look at all the testimonies Jesus gave everyone through what he was doing with Michelle! We don’t have a testimony unless he gives us one, and if he gives us one, it is for the whole body, near and far.  The love of God shines through his body if we walk in him.  The love and the hurt we felt for Michelle every time we would get an e-mail or a text touched our hearts, and we would fall on our face and pray and ask God, “Help Michelle!  Please touch her, Jesus!”  We knew he had to move for anything to change.  He is our life and our hope.

I love what you said: “There are no regrets in the love of God”, and I really liked Anna’s song “Good morning, Lord!”  Morning is my favorite time of the day, and I say the same things just about every morning.  Sweet!

I love this Acts reading.  It is amazing what we are seeing now.  I can’t wait to get to brother Paul’s part of Acts.  It is so exciting to feel what God was doing with Peter and the Jews. They where going in a direction they did not know God was taking them to, for all his people. 

Wow!!

Stuart

 

 

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