SNT (Stained Napkin Theology)
April 30, 2018, 12:00 AM

Resurrection!

The Presence of Christ Makes Resurrection Predictable...v 23

(Joh 1:4)  In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

(Joh 14:6)  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

(Joh 5:26)  For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;

(Mar 12:26)  And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?

(Mar 12:27)  He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living...


The Power of Christ Makes Resurrection Possible...v 22

From the beginning, it has been mankind's ultimate & greatest quest to conquer or cheat death! Today, the global healthcare industry is approaching $7 Trillion. For 4000 years, there was only failure after failure.

Jesus alone has conquered death! For 2000 years, we have celebrated His resurrection!

Note in verses 15 & 21 that in the absence of Christ, death dominates; but in the presence of Christ, death is conquered! 
Death is brought into subjugation to the Son of God!


(Isa 25:8)  He will swallow up death in victory...for the LORD hath spoken it.

(1Co 15:54)...then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

(Act 2:24)  Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

According to Scripture, it is impossible for Christ to be held by death's bonds. Jesus was loosed & lifted by His Father! He was unshackled, unchained, unbound, & unlocked...however you wish to say it, Christ could not be conquered by death! Death was conquered by Jesus!

Jesus is the ONLY WAY to conquer death!

DO NOT meet death without Jesus!


On a humorous note...The Resurrection is not a Zombie Apocalypse!  Scripture indicates that the effects of sin's curse upon our bodies is to be removed. Our bodies will be transformed from corruptible to incorruption! Our flesh will not exhibit any effects of disease or ageing... 

 (1Co 15:52)  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

(Job 33:25)  His flesh shall be fresher than a child's: he shall return to the days of his youth:

(Joh 10:10)  The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

So, if you see someone at church aimlessly & stiffly stumbling about and mumbling incoherently...it's likely just a church deacon, not a zombie!


The Proclamation of Christ Makes Resurrection Personal...vv 25 & 43

Note that Jesus proclaimed, "I AM the Resurrection". 

The resurrection is not just a promise. 
The resurrection is not just an event. 
The resurrection is not just a doctrine.

The Resurrection is a Person!

Jesus IS the Resurrection!

This is born out in Scripture by the use of two different Greek words in vv 43 & 44 -

v 43 - "Come forth" (duero) which means "come here" is an imperative - Jesus is commanding, "Come to Me".
v 44 - "Came forth" (exerchomai) which means "to exit" is an indicative - a simple statement that Lazarus came out of the tomb.

Lazarus was not raised in order to come to Jesus, He was called to come to Jesus & then raised.
Coming to Jesus empowered him to rise from the grave!
We are not resurrected in order to come to Jesus. We come to Jesus in order to be empowered to be participants in resurrection!

(Act 4:12)  Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
(1Jn 5:11)  And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
(1Jn 5:12)  He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

(Joh 5:39)  Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
(Joh 5:40)  And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

Coming to Jesus is simple...simply hear and receive the Gospel. 

(1Co 15:1)  Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
(1Co 15:2)  By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
(1Co 15:3)  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
(1Co 15:4)  And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Christ Jesus was sent by His Father to be a sacrifice for our sin. 
He was crucified, buried, and resurrected!

Whosoever turns (repents) from trusting in their own efforts (works) to save themselves, to confess and trust in Christ and His righteousness, will be saved!
(Rom 10:9)  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
(Rom 10:10)  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.


Proof that one's sins are forgiven and trust has been placed in Christ as Savior is in confessing Him to others.
(Mat 10:32)  Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.

If you have yet to trust Him, do so today...Confess, believe, and live forever!

DO NOT meet death without Jesus!

(Gal 2:20)  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

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February 15, 2018, 11:58 AM

Fake News

Fake News Is Not Good News

According to Merriam-Webster, “fake news” has been in use since the 1890’s. [MW-The Real Story of Fake News, Mar 24, 2017]. President Trump posted his first-ever tweet containing the phrase “fake news” on Dec. 10, 2016, more than a month after Election Day. [WP-Callum Borchers, Oct 26, 2017]. Actually, Fake News is much older!

The first episode of fake news is recorded in: Gen 3:1-5

(v 1) Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made…
(v 4) …the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die.
(v 5) For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." 

Fake news was introduced into creation by one deemed a liar (Jo 8:44). It has been a useful tool of deception since the beginning.

Scripture cautions concerning fake news:
(Pro 14:15) The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.
(1Th 5:21)  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
(1Jn 4:1) Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (ESV)

It is the ultimate example of fake news to declare that mankind should question his Creator, that God cannot be trusted and we have no need of Him. We are not spiritually self-sufficient. We are unequipped to relate to a Holy God. It is impossible to redeem ourselves from the consequences of our sin. Thankfully, God has offered hope through the revelation of His “Good News”.

Good News Is Not Fake News

(Act 14:7)  And there they preached the gospel.

The phrase “preached the gospel” is translated from the NT Greek word euaggelizo meaning: to announce good news. The Gospel is not to be published on an opinion page. It is an announcement to be heralded, broadcast, published, and proclaimed! (Mk 13:10, 16:15)

Herein is “God’s Good News”: God sent His Only Begotten Son to be our Substitute, to endure the wrath of God against sin. In accordance with Scripture, He was born of a virgin, lived righteously, crucified, buried, raised, ascended, and presently sets at the right hand of the Father, from where He will personally return to defeat death, destroy Satan, restore creation, resurrect believers to everlasting life and non-believers to eternal death.

The disciples came to Jesus one day to ask: 

(Jo 6:28) … What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
(Jo 6:29)  Jesus answered… This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom he hath sent.

The only way sinners may please God and be acceptable to Him is by believing the Good News - the Gospel of His Son, Jesus Christ, Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life! (Jo 14:6)




December 28, 2017, 12:00 AM

Missionary or Pastor?

Often the question is asked: “What is the difference between a missionary and a pastor?” Biblically speaking, there is a significant difference: a missionary is sent – a pastor is called.

The word missionary is not found in Scripture. It derives from mid 16th century Latin mittere - ‘send’, which is translated: mission. “Missionary” denotes one who is sent on mission. Using a military analogy: as the Marines during WWII, today’s Special Forces are sent into enemy occupied territory to establish beachheads. Afterwards, a base or fort is constructed and a commander assigned. The original Special Force unit, as well as newly assigned units, may then be sent on new missions from the new base. Likewise, missionaries are assigned to engage lost-ness by invading enemy territory and establishing churches (spiritual beachheads). After a church is established, a pastor is called and additional missionaries are sent from the church. (Mat 16:18…I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.) Thus, pastors are called by existing churches (forts) to “occupy”, and provide “oversight” until the Lord returns. (1Pe 5:1-2…The elders which are among you I exhort…Feed the flock of God… taking the oversight thereof…) The new church is to disciple, equip, and send additional missionaries. (Lu 19:13…and said to them, “Occupy until I come”.)

Sent and Send are translated from two words, which entail a “push - pull” concept which is prevalent throughout Scripture. The two words have different emphasis. In John 20:21…”Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent [apostello] me, even so send [pempo] I you”, sent [apostello] implies going away (push) and send [pempo] implies inviting or drawing near (pull).

Throughout New Testament Scripture, sent is translated from the verb apostello, and is transliterated as the noun: apostle. It means appointed or assigned and relates to origination [push] - sent by someone. John the Baptist was a man “sent (apostello) from God” - Jo 6:44 [push]. Send (pempo) means to “dispatch or deploy, and relates to destination [pull] – sent to someone.

The Hebrew Old Testament also supports the “push – pull” concept. In Gen 45:7, Joseph confessed “God sent me before you [push]…and again (v 8)…it was not you who sent me here [pull]. In Ex 14, the “strong east wind” blowing toward the opening in the Red Sea is analogous to the Holy Spirit continually nudging [push] souls toward Christ, God’s way of Redemption. In Isaiah 6:8...I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send [push]. Then I said, "Here I am! Send [push] me… (v 9) And he said, "Go…to these people… [pull].  Moses was sent (shalach) by God [push] - Ex 3:10

 What appears to be an exception to the “push – pull” pattern appears in Act 3:2, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart…Barnabas & Saul for the work to which I have called [pull] them." It appears that Barnabus and Saul were called (like a pastor) to missions. Yet, the next verse reinforces the “push – pull” idea: Act 13:3...they…sent [push] them off. The Greek word translated “call” is proskaleomai which means “to call to one's self”. The voice of the verb is middle-deponent, emphasizing the subject as the receiver of action. In this application, the receiver is the Holy Spirit, indicating that Barnabus and Saul are called by God, the Holy Spirit, to Himself [pull] and are subsequently sent [push] away on a missionary journey.

In the New Testament, the word translated “called” [kalein] consistently implies being drawn to Christ (Jo 12:32 - And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.) (John 6:44) -No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws [pull] him. In contrast, send [pempo] implies assignment to a mission. (Jo 20:21 - Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you, as my Father hath sent me even so send (pempo) I you.)

Back to the original question- Is there a difference between a missionary and a pastor? The answer: Yes! A missionary is sent [push] and a pastor is called [pull]. Someone being “called” to ministry (drawn to Christ then equipped and gifted to pastor) is not the same as God “sending” (equipping & gifting to be a missionary).

In the next post, we shall address the question: How does one know that God is sending them?

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December 20, 2017, 12:00 AM

A Latter Day Pattern

Have you noticed in Scripture that…

Approximately 3500 years ago in Egypt, immigration & population were the predominate issues driving political, social, economic, & security policy? (Ex 1:7-10) Pharaoh’s solution (for population control) was to legally massacre infants! (Ex 1:22)

How did God respond? God sent a Redeemer – Moses!

Fast-forward 1500 years to the time of the birth of Christ…Again immigrationpopulation (census & taxes - Lk 2:1-5) & security (posed by immigrants - Mt 2:1-3) were dominate issues. Herod's solution was to legally massacre infants! (Mt 2:16)

How did God respond? God sent a Redeemer – Jesus!

Present day 21st century…Immigration, population, & security  (See 1 Thess 5:3) are the predominate issues driving political, social, and economic policy. Since 1973, infants are being legally massacred! (abortion). 

How might God respond? God may again send our Redeemer – Jesus!

(Lk 21:28)  And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

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December 18, 2017, 12:00 AM

21st Century Church Corruption

Here is a brief outline based on 2 Cor 11:3-

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

Again in Good News Bible translation:

I am afraid that your minds will be corrupted and that you will abandon your full and pure devotion to Christ—in the same way that Eve was deceived by the snake's clever lies.

 

1) Corrupted Motive [phobeo] leads to Corrupted Means [poce]

fear...[phobeo] {pres/mid-dep/ind} I, myself, am seized with/struck with/entered into a state of fear

>Fear rather faith becomes driving force of a church

 

means...[poce] by any thing at all...anything goes...all things are lawful, no limits, no reserves, no fouls, anything & everything 

>Unregulated worship...anything not expressly forbidden by Scripture is acceptable in church.

>Regulated worship...only elements warranted in Scripture are acceptable in church


2) Corrupted Means [poce] leads to a Corrupted Mission [exapatao]

beguiled...[exapatao] {aor/act/ind} ...thoroughly & utterly, no limit, no reserve, totally, completely...

>Serpent's mission was to corrupt God's creation through corrupting Adam by deceiving Eve


3)Corrupted Mission [exapatao] leads to Corrupted Methods [panourgia]

subtilty...[panourgia]   pan + ergon = collective acts/experiences/works - [current spelling: subtlety]

allowed/condoned-
...craftiness (ASV)
...cunning (ESV)
...cleverness (GNB)
...tricks (ISV)
...treachery (NET)

>Business elements: envisioning, contextualizing, marketing, etc., the primary tools of today's church growth strategy, are substituted for repentance, cleansing, annointing of the Holy Spirit, and gospel proclamation in Spirit and Truth!

v 4...another spirit


4) Corrupted Methods [panourgia] leads to Corrupted Minds [noema]

minds...[noema] mental perception, thoughts, considerations, ponderings

(Col 1:21)  And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
Php_2:5  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

>Deceivng of the mind (ta noemata) is different than corrupting of the will 

>Leadership begins to think that church success depends upon leadershp personal ability and performance

>Membership begins to think that church is about their needs and desires

 

5) Corrupted Minds [noema] leads to Corrupted Message [haplotes]

simplicity...[haplotes] singleness, pure, openness, sound, whole, uncomplicated, uncomlex

v 4...another gospel

>"Your Best Life Now" ... Enough said?

 

5) Corrupted Message [haplotes] leads to Corrupted Messiah [v 4 -Ieosus]

v 4...another Jesus [allos Ieosus]

>Our fallen nature drives us to derive a God of our liking. Usually derived from focusing on a single attribute of God, ie, "God is love" to the detriment of all other aspects.

 

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December 14, 2017, 12:00 AM

A Subtle Shift

A foundation Scripture of Simply Church Ministries is 2 Cor 11:3 -

       But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be

       corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

In the passage, there is a phrase ascribing "subtlety" [1] as the serpent's choice of weapon in deceiving Eve.

While searching Scripture for an example of subtlety, I was lead to 2 Chronicles 16:1-9 concerning the last years of Asa, King of Judah, who reigned for 41 years {1 Kngs 15:10}. His reign was characterized by peace {2 Chrn 14:6}, prosperity {2 Chrn 14:7} and progress {2 Chrn 15:3-15}.

Asa may have started right, but he didn't finish right. Scripture reveals that Asa experienced a "subtle shift" during the latter years of his reign (v 7).

I believe there are analogies in this narrative indicative of a "subtle shift" affecting the spirituality of 21st century churches.

 

Misplaced Trust - leading to the idol of "Professionalism".

Being installed in the office of King of Judah meant Asa was the top dog! The buck stopped with his office! When he was first crowned, he was young and inexperienced. He relied on the Lord constantly {2 Chrn 14-15}. He continually experienced God's provision and protection, the latter particularly when the Ethiopians and Lubims attacked early in his reign. {v 8}.

In the text, Baasha, King of Israel, attempted to plug his "back door" problem of immigration (think church-members leaving). Presumably, the peace, prosperity, and protection (safety and security) enjoyed by his subjects drew many Northern Kingdom refugees (think America & 3rd world nations) . Baasha's solution was to build a city (Ramah) on the border between the Northern (Israel) and Southern (Judah) Kingdoms in order to lay siege and control immigration (v 1-think Berlin Wall and/or border wall).

Amazingly,  Asa's reaction to Baasha was not to seek the Lord but to ignore Him! Asa adopted a strategy which depended not on the Lord but on human resources. He formed an alliance with Benhadad, King of Syria, who drew Baasha from Ramah by attacking Israel on their northern border with Syria.

During the years of peace and prosperity, a "subtle shift" had taken place in Asa's heart. His experience, education, and ego had simmered to produce an idol: professionalism. Asa was now a "professional" who did not need God as he did when first crowned King. His "professionalism" led him to misplace his trust (reliance) in human resourcefulness {v 7} (think marketing, merchandising, leadership, and presentation skills).

It is not to say that pursuing an education and honing skills through experience are wrong. Yet, when we rely on these skills to produce spiritual results rather than relying on God, we "idolize" the very skills that were simply gifted to us from the Lord. We have replaced the "Giver" with the "gift" as the object or our faith (reliance). God has made it abundantly clear in His Word that He is a "jealous" God, Who will not share His Glory {Ex 20:5, 34:14} Furthermore, He said the flesh is not capable of producing spiritual results {Jo 6:63}.  By relying on the skills of human resources, we are doomed to failure.

 

Mismanaged Opportunity - leading to the idol of “Personalism”

Asa used Temple treasure to finance his personal agenda {v 2} in opposition to former countrymen. There are innumerable examples in 21st century church life of leaders using church assets (social, tangible, and monetary) to further their agenda (which, in their view, is always the will of God). A "subtle shift" has occurred in the church. God is treated as a resource used to fulfill human agenda rather than human resources being used to fulfill God's will (agenda)!

 

Malignant Consequences - leading to idol of "Pragmatism"

Initially, Asa's scheme appeared to be successful {v 4-5}. Apparent confirmation came in the form of material gain: the stones & timber from Ramah, resulting in the cities of Geba & Mizpah (v 6). "It worked, so it must be ok" was the practical (but not Biblical) theology of the time.

Unfortunately for Asa, material gain was far outweighed by the loss of peace in his kingdom for many years to come {v 9 & 1 Kngs 15:32}.  A "subtle shift" had occurred in Asa's heart, leading him to experience "mission creep"; wherein his mission objective shifted from opposing the true enemies of God's people (Benhadad - Syria) to maintaining the status quo of feuding with Baasha.

Like Asa, a"subtle shift" has occurred in today's churches. Because spiritual results are difficult to quantify, buildings and budgets are deemed a primary indicator of God's blessing. Energy is expended on promoting building campaigns, budget pledging, planning meetings & conferences, leadership seminars, denominational programming, deriving vision, formulating mission statements, and developing implementation strategies.

When these are substituted for confession, repentance, prayer , fasting, submission, surrender, total abandonment to God, Holy Spirit filling, & anointed gospel proclamation, they have become idols!

Asa contracted a foot disease in his latter years. In light of such Scripture as Rom 10:15...And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things, this is an apt metaphor indicating that gospel proclamation is hindered in churches as a result of misplaced trust.

Simply Church Ministries exists to exhort and encourage today’s churches to return to total and complete reliance on God for spiritual life and energy! Abandon the works of the flesh and return anew to God!

Once again the Simply Church Ministries foundational text: 

          2Co 11:3  I am afraid that your minds will be corrupted and that you will abandon your full and pure devotion

          to Christ—in the same way that Eve was deceived by the snake's clever lies (subtlety). (GNB)

          Pro 3:5  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding


[1] Merriam-Webster treats “subtilty” as old English spelling & “subtlety” as current spelling of the same word.

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December 13, 2017, 12:00 AM

Stained Napkin Theology


The name is derived from the experience of a few pastors meeting at a local cafe for breakfast, coffee, or lunch.

Discussions quickly gravitated to Scripture. From these discussions, many a sermon was derived and tweaked - sometimes before and sometimes after being delivered in their pulpits. 

Often, notes were jotted on napkins stained from coffee cups, thus the name "Stained Napkin Theology".

Those familiar with church history may be reminded of the habit of 17th & 18th century English pastors who gathered at local inns and discussed theology.

Welcome to the Stained Napkin Theology blog, please join in the discussions of Biblical topics.



Comments

12-13-2017 at 5:33 PM
Jeff Brown
A long overdue concept! I am looking forward to upcoming discussions.
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