Category Archives: Church / Body of Christ

Christ Is Our Advocate, Let Us Walk As He Walked

I find it interesting that John refers to his audience as “my little children”. I assume this is in relation to his role being a bit like a father to them in teaching and guiding them. It may imply that they are not mature in Christ yet. Many Christians to some degree understand the concept that Christ is our advocate, but let us be sure not to skip over the details. Read carefully and I will highlight some key themes on the other side of the scripture.

1 John 2:1-14

Christ Is Our Advocate

      1My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

      3By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

      7Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. 8On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. 9The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

      12I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. 13I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. 14I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

We are to stop sinning. We do not use Christ’s sacrifice as an excuse to go on sinning. However, if we do sin, we can be forgiven through Christ. (Read more on The Message of the Cross.)

If we are to know him, we follow his commandments. We walk as he walked. We do not go our own way or the way of the culture around us, no matter how much they claim to follow Christ. We can compare the actions of the church to his commandments and how Christ walked and know if they are liars or followers of Christ. We are to use discernment, not simply accept everything that is told us by someone claiming to speak YHWH’s word. The Bible is our most reliable source. Read it. Study it. Test everything. Pray for enlightenment and discernment. Pray for boldness and courage to follow the word of YHWH even when other Christians around us do not understand. Just for clarity, Yeshua walked as a Jewish Rabbi, who obeyed the law of YHWH. He did not simply pick and choose which commands he would obey and which he would not. He did not only obey the ten commandments, but also the entirety of the law including such things as celebrating YHWH’s appointed times laid out in Leviticus 23 (and elsewhere) such as Passover, Unleavened  Bread, Tabernacles, etc. (Read more on Understanding the Law – What Does It Mean Today?)

If the Light is in us, we are to love our brother. I think it would be interesting to study further who is my brother, but at a quick review, I will suggest it is the words of Yeshua himself who can clarify best.

Matthew 12:46-50

    46While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. 47Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” 48But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! 50“For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

Note that this does not imply we consider everyone living as a brother. We consider those who do the will of the Father as brothers.

Through Christ we can be forgiven and overcome the evil one. In this statement, let us remember there remains an evil one who comes against us. Only through Christ will we find victory. Read more on Spiritual Warfare.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Pray for the USA to turn back to God and become again a true light to the nations

The United States of America was founded based on Christian ideals and beliefs, but over the past few hundred years has largely turned their back on God and now embrace worship of self, worship of money, and many other sins. The word of God is tossed aside in favor of the wicked desires of men. God’s word shows us that when the people turn from God, He releases His blessing from that country. That does not mean He gives up on His people there, but rather that the country will suffer. There are consequences. The USA has great potential to serve God across the world if even those who profess Jesus with their lips would genuinely  turn toward Him and change their behaviors to be a light to the nation and the world.

2 Chronicles 7:12-22

     12Then the LORD appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. 13“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, 14and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15“Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. 16“For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. 17“As for you, if you walk before Me as your father David walked, even to do according to all that I have commanded you, and will keep My statutes and My ordinances, 18then I will establish your royal throne as I covenanted with your father David, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to be ruler in Israel.’

      19“But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, 20then I will uproot you from My land which I have given you, and this house which I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. 21“As for this house, which was exalted, everyone who passes by it will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land and to this house?’ 22“And they will say, ‘Because they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers who brought them from the land of Egypt, and they adopted other gods and worshiped them and served them; therefore He has brought all this adversity on them.’”

Please take some time to pray for repentance and mercy for the USA as leader of the free world but also for other nations globally in which there still remains a remnant of true disciples seeking to follow the Lord’s will.

Psalm 85

Prayer for God’s Mercy upon the Nation.

For the choir director. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.

     1O LORD, You showed favor to Your land;
You restored the captivity of Jacob.

      2You forgave the iniquity of Your people;
You covered all their sin.

Selah.

      3You withdrew all Your fury;
You turned away from Your burning anger.

      4Restore us, O God of our salvation,
And cause Your indignation toward us to cease.

      5Will You be angry with us forever?
Will You prolong Your anger to all generations?

      6Will You not Yourself revive us again,
That Your people may rejoice in You?

      7Show us Your lovingkindness, O LORD,
And grant us Your salvation.

      8I will hear what God the LORD will say;
For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones;
But let them not turn back to folly.

      9Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him,
That glory may dwell in our land.

      10Lovingkindness and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

      11Truth springs from the earth,
And righteousness looks down from heaven.

      12Indeed, the LORD will give what is good,
And our land will yield its produce.

      13Righteousness will go before Him
And will make His footsteps into a way.

Grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you.
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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Serve YHWH Willingly And With Humility

Reading the closing of 1 Peter, I am reminded that these letters were not written to us, but if we seek to understand the context under which they were written, we can certainly glean much wisdom from them.

The elders are called in 1 Peter 5 to shepherd the flock of YHWH, not because they “have to” but rather voluntarily… not for personal gain, but to fulfill the will of YHWH… not to be haughty and look down on those you lead, but to provide example of godly living.  We are reminded that although we are not to act just for personal gain, Yeshua will reward us when he returns. We are to be humble rather than proud.

There is much more to pay attention to in this chapter, so pay close attention as you read.

1 Peter 5

Serve God Willingly

      1Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, 2shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. 4And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.

      6Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 8Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 11To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.

      12Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it! 13She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark. 14Greet one another with a kiss of love.
Peace be to you all who are in Christ.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Glorify the LORD Through Your Actions And Words

Do not continue in the desires of those who do not follow Yeshua, in sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties, and idolatries. Do not expect them to understand why you do not continue in these things with them. However, remain fervent in your love for Yeshua and live according to the Father’s ways, as Yeshua did. Act in such a way that Yeshua is glorified through our actions and words… in how we treat one another. But do not let this be an excuse to accept sin as we should continue to help one another to move away from our previous godless ways so common in culture around us and move ever closer to the LORD.

1 Peter 4:1-11

Keep Fervent in Your Love

      1Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. 4In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; 5but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.

      7The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. 8Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 9Be hospitable to one another without complaint. 10As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

The LORD Is My Helper; I Will Not Be Afraid

Good reminders and areas for reflection in the closing of Hebrews.

Hebrews 13

The Changeless Christ

      1Let love of the brethren continue. 2Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. 3Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body. 4Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. 5Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,”

6so that we confidently say,
“THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID.
WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?”

      7Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. 8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited. 10We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. 11For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp. 12Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 14For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.

God-pleasing Sacrifices

      15Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. 16And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

      17Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

      18Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things. 19And I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you the sooner.

Benediction

      20Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, 21equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

      22But I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. 23Take notice that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom, if he comes soon, I will see you. 24Greet all of your leaders and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you.

      25Grace be with you all.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Yeshua Became Our High Priest, and We Need Proper Guidance

Yeshua has become our high priest. He has offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins. He became man, and as such he understands temptation and what we experience. He was chosen by the Father. He has acted as mediator on our behalf with YHWH.

Hebrews 5

The Perfect High Priest

      1For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; 2he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness; 3and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself. 4And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.

      5So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him,
“YOU ARE MY SON,
TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU”;

6just as He says also in another passage,
“YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER
ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.”

7In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. 8Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. 9And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, 10being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

      11Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

I suppose it is worth considering also that the end of this chapter highlights a different important reality. Neither in Paul’s day, nor today, are churches perfect in their teaching and walking out the instructions of Yeshua. Quite the contrary. Many of Paul’s letters and again in Revelation letters to seven churches all provide encouragement and also reprimand to them. We are all flawed and need the encouragement and rebuke of the word of YHWH in the Bible to ensure we walk in righteousness and not confusion… according to the ways of YHWH instead of the ways of man. I encourage each of you to test everything against the written word in the Bible, even my teaching of course. We must each study for ourselves and then test the teaching we receive from others.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Worship His Way Rather Than Our Own

The LORD wants us to worship him according to his instruction and his ways. He does not want us to worship him each according to our own ways. He also calls us as a body of Christ to engage with one another to help one another to remain in right relationship with him. We should be discussing proper understanding of how to live for and worship our Creator. We should not just ignore one another’s differences in how we understand God’s word. By challenging one another we can help to ensure we walk correctly and together. We must really challenge our own theology as well as that of others. We do not need to go to war, but we neither should we ignore key differences within the body of Christ in understanding how to worship or live for him. YHWH does not intend for there to be thousands of different sects of Christianity and those apart from a separate Judaism. He intends on one body of believers, together Jews and Gentiles. He intends one way to live according to his instruction. That there are so many different opinions, and each going their own way, gives testimony to how confused we are as his people.

Joshua 22:10-34

The Offensive Altar

     10When they came to the region of the Jordan which is in the land of Canaan, the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an altar there by the Jordan, a large altar in appearance. 11And the sons of Israel heard it said, “Behold, the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh have built an altar at the frontier of the land of Canaan, in the region of the Jordan, on the side belonging to the sons of Israel.” 12When the sons of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the sons of Israel gathered themselves at Shiloh to go up against them in war.

      13Then the sons of Israel sent to the sons of Reuben and to the sons of Gad and to the half-tribe of Manasseh, into the land of Gilead, Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, 14and with him ten chiefs, one chief for each father’s household from each of the tribes of Israel; and each one of them was the head of his father’s household among the thousands of Israel. 15They came to the sons of Reuben and to the sons of Gad and to the half-tribe of Manasseh, to the land of Gilead, and they spoke with them saying, 16“Thus says the whole congregation of the LORD, ‘What is this unfaithful act which you have committed against the God of Israel, turning away from following the LORD this day, by building yourselves an altar, to rebel against the LORD this day? 17‘Is not the iniquity of Peor enough for us, from which we have not cleansed ourselves to this day, although a plague came on the congregation of the LORD, 18that you must turn away this day from following the LORD? If you rebel against the LORD today, He will be angry with the whole congregation of Israel tomorrow. 19‘If, however, the land of your possession is unclean, then cross into the land of the possession of the LORD, where the LORD’S tabernacle stands, and take possession among us. Only do not rebel against the LORD, or rebel against us by building an altar for yourselves, besides the altar of the LORD our God. 20‘Did not Achan the son of Zerah act unfaithfully in the things under the ban, and wrath fall on all the congregation of Israel? And that man did not perish alone in his iniquity.’”

      21Then the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh answered and spoke to the heads of the families of Israel. 22“The Mighty One, God, the LORD, the Mighty One, God, the LORD! He knows, and may Israel itself know. If it was in rebellion, or if in an unfaithful act against the LORD do not save us this day! 23“If we have built us an altar to turn away from following the LORD, or if to offer a burnt offering or grain offering on it, or if to offer sacrifices of peace offerings on it, may the LORD Himself require it. 24“But truly we have done this out of concern, for a reason, saying, ‘In time to come your sons may say to our sons, “What have you to do with the LORD, the God of Israel? 25“For the LORD has made the Jordan a border between us and you, you sons of Reuben and sons of Gad; you have no portion in the LORD.” So your sons may make our sons stop fearing the LORD.’

      26“Therefore we said, ‘Let us build an altar, not for burnt offering or for sacrifice; 27rather it shall be a witness between us and you and between our generations after us, that we are to perform the service of the LORD before Him with our burnt offerings, and with our sacrifices and with our peace offerings, so that your sons will not say to our sons in time to come, “You have no portion in the LORD.”’ 28“Therefore we said, ‘It shall also come about if they say this to us or to our generations in time to come, then we shall say, “See the copy of the altar of the LORD which our fathers made, not for burnt offering or for sacrifice; rather it is a witness between us and you.”’ 29“Far be it from us that we should rebel against the LORD and turn away from following the LORD this day, by building an altar for burnt offering, for grain offering or for sacrifice, besides the altar of the LORD our God which is before His tabernacle.”

      30So when Phinehas the priest and the leaders of the congregation, even the heads of the families of Israel who were with him, heard the words which the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the sons of Manasseh spoke, it pleased them. 31And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said to the sons of Reuben and to the sons of Gad and to the sons of Manasseh, “Today we know that the LORD is in our midst, because you have not committed this unfaithful act against the LORD; now you have delivered the sons of Israel from the hand of the LORD.”

      32Then Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest and the leaders returned from the sons of Reuben and from the sons of Gad, from the land of Gilead to the land of Canaan, to the sons of Israel, and brought back word to them. 33The word pleased the sons of Israel, and the sons of Israel blessed God; and they did not speak of going up against them in war to destroy the land in which the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad were living. 34The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad called the altar Witness; “For,” they said, “it is a witness between us that the LORD is God.”

Dedicate yourself to prayer and study to seek out the LORD. Do not simply think that listening to a pastor once a week will guide you properly. We are called to understand scripture and test it ourselves against his word, documented in the Bible.

I have a number of resources listed on HearingFromJesus.org to help you get started. Just recognize that no one source has all the answers laid out. (The Bible does, but we have to properly understand it.) The LORD wants us to seek him and devote time in our lives to worship and know him personally. In this pursuit, he reveals more to us over time in proper understanding.

I think some of the most fertile ground for us as Christians to start improving our understanding of the Bible is to study and learn the Hebrew roots of our Christianity. The New Testament is best understood through a good understanding of the Old Testament.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

How Are We To Behave?

The entire Bible is a guide for us to help us lead our lives in proper relationship with our heavenly Father. In his letter to Titus, Paul takes time to instruct on the way in which older and younger men and women should behave. This is not a comprehensive list of everything we should do, but it is a good checklist at least on some of our attitudes and behaviors toward YHWH and toward one another.

Titus 2

Duties of the Older and Younger

     1But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. 2Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.

      3Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

      6Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; 7in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, 8sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.

      9Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.

      11For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

      15These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Instructions To Titus on Elders

We should often remind ourselves as we read Paul’s letters, that they were not written to a broad audience in the same way that the gospels were written. These letters were written privately to specific audiences that were dealing with specific issues. We must take care to discern which elements were applicable to the specific situation and which are applicable still to us today.

Titus 1

Salutation

     1Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, 2in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, 3but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior,

      4To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

Qualifications of Elders

     5For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 6namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. 7For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, 8but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, 9holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

      10For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. 12One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, 14not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. 15To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

As we see Paul’s salutation, we should take care not to overlook even that as providing insight. He identified himself as a bond-servant of YHWH. That mean he was dedicated to the work of YHWH and doing it according to YHWH’s ways rather than Paul’s ways. We would do well to take a similar attitude in our lives. He also reminds us that we get grace and peace from the Lord, not from our own efforts or accomplishments.

As YHWH’s people, especially the leaders, must be beyond reproach. Let that sink in. There are specific characteristics listed upon which we should focus, including the behavior and attitude of our children. We also see that seem to always be people coming to attach the body of Christ, often from within. They need to be rebuked appropriately.

It is good to close with the following verse, and prayerfully consider if we ourselves need to repent and change in some way.

15To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Guidance for the Church

Looking inside the letters that Paul wrote can be fascinating. There is a mix of eternal truths we should try to apply and personal situations which really may not have as much applicability broadly.

1 Timothy 5:17-22

     17The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18For the Scripture says, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” 19Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. 20Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning. 21I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality. 22Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.

      23No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.

      24The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after. 25Likewise also, deeds that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed.

Clearly when we review this scripture, we can see elements which are still broadly relevant. When there is an elder with good reputation and a teacher or preacher of the word, let us not accept an accusation without two or three witnesses. This is just good sense to apply to anyone who has a good reputation. Sometimes people make false accusations or accuse them of something that is not true, even if the accuser believes it.  A good name, or reputation, is to be valued and considered.

He makes reference to rebuking publicly those who continue to sin. This implies that they continue to sin… after you have confronted them privately. Making the rebuke public for those who refuse to repent is important. We don’t do it much today and are the worse off for it. It is intended to discourage others from sinning. Today it seems we are always too concerned about offending the sinner, rather than about offending YHWH by accepting the sin in our midst. Publicly addressing it helps to highlight the sin to others in the congregation also. Failing to confront the sin also sends a clear message to the people that it is acceptable.

Do not lay hands on anyone too hastily. Before we pray over and bless someone as a congregation, let us take time to know them and use discernment. We are to be selective. If we bless and encourage someone who goes off and does bad things, we have some accountability for it, according to Paul.

Then there is a sudden switch over to talk to Timothy about something very personal and specific to him. He has a stomach condition and Paul recommends a little wine. This does not appear to be generally and broadly applicable, but rather specific to Timothy. Paul is not saying all of us need to drink some wine because all of us have stomach issues or are frequently sick.

The last few verses are very interesting as well. It is certainly true that some people are obviously sinners and everyone knows it. For others, they may appear in life to be good and righteous, but their sins may be discovered after they have died. Not everyone that appears righteous is so.

Ultimately though our sins may be concealed for awhile to man, they are never concealed before the Lord.

I encourage you to prayerfully reflect on this passage and consider how it applies to your life today. Think specifically about changes in attitude or behavior that you should make.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.