Arkiv | mars 2012

Being confident that he which has begun a good work will perform it to the end (Phil. 1:6)

phil. 1Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Phil. 1:6)

There are loads of things we can say we are confident” about, due to past experiences and based on what we could reasonably expect to happen. I’m confident that I will get at least 250 hits on my blog today, because that’s the least amount of hits I normally get. I’m also confident that certain friends will continue to remain christians and work for the Lord throughout their lives, because they have shown enough good fruit to make me believe that. However, even if I’m confident about these things, there is no guarantee that what I’m confident about will absolutely take place.

Paul is addressing a certain group of believers in Philippi,  and not all christians in the whole world. He doesn’t know all christians under the sun intimately enough to make estimations about their future, but he was well acquainted with these particular believers in Philippi. Due to his past experiences and what he had witnessed, he feels confident that he which began a good work in them will perform it to the end. The verse doesn’t say that God, regardless of people’s own free will, predestines them to do good work (forcing them to do good works), because had it been up to God to make sure there is good works in us then of course God would make sure to do accomplish this at all times without failing even once.

Eph. 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

What will happen if we choose to not walk in them? Still on the right track and saved?

2 Tim. 2: 21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

We are asked to purge/cleanse ourselves from vessels of dishonor (sin), in order to be of use for God and prepared unto every good work. It’s about our willingness to obey the holy Spirit who leads us away from sin and into a world where we can be useful tools for God.

1 Tim. 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. (NKJV)

Above we can see that good works can actually lead to eternal life. (Faith without works is dead.) It’s about giving God the honor because we are building good on him.

1 Cor. 3:6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

This is the whole context of Phil. 1:

Phil. 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: —3I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 5For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 6Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: 7Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. 8For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. 9And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.

The reason Paul feels confident about this group of christians is because he has witnessed their godly lives and noticed that they have proved to be trustworthy workers. ”For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now”. That’s why Paul is convinced that God will continue to bless them and let the holy Spirit be a big part of their work. Paul will also continue to pray for them and keep them in his heart, which will also affect the outcome.  Praying for people will help influence them to know what is right and in the end to be without blemish until the day of Christ. With other words, there is no guarantee that born again christians will be without blemish on judgment day, because it depends on if they endure to the end or not – by living righteous lives. However, we know that we are in the vine if we follow the Spirit instead of our flesh.

The chapter mentions ”confident” yet again (actually twice…)

14And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.15Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: 17But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.

Paul suggests that his own imprisonment actually brings the good result that many brothers feel confident in God, perhaps due to Paul’s impeccable confidence. They are being helped to preach the word of God with no fear, albeit not everyone because Paul mentions that there are christians who preach about Jesus of contention and not through sincere concern for the lost. Maybe they were out to tear down what Paul had built up by introducing false doctrines that cause division among believers. Paul also warned about this precise situation:

Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

Paul encourages his christian friends to continue to pray for him, and he says that their prayers and the supply of the Spirit will lead to his salvation. Naturally Paul’s own willingness to obey the holy Spirit is fundamental.

19For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

Paul has the confidence that it’s best for him  to remain with them for yet a little time. He continues to encourage and warn his fellow christians to be strong in their faith and to strive together for the gospel.

25And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;26That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.27Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

In Phil. 2:12 below we can see that these believers are those who have ”always obeyed.” This is more revelation as to why Paul was so confident about the christian Philippians.

Phil. 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

Paul reveals that these christians helped him financially (Phil. 4:10-19), which is yet another example of good fruit. There is no biblical promise of security given to those who are not grounded in Jesus, but throughout the New Testament Paul gives true believers many warnings, that they must not shipwreck their faith.

1 Tim. 41 Tim. 4: 16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

2 Tim. 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

Titus 2:6 Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, 7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, 8 sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.—11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (NKJV)

Deliver someone unto Satan for destruction of the flesh 1 Cor. 5:5

Deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit MAY be saved (1 Cor.5:5)

There are some who believe that the wicked man spoken about in this passage did not lose his salvation even though he was a fornicator who committed a horrific crime. Some of course will say that ”he wasn’t saved to begin with” but this man was a member of this particular church and a brother, so it’s more likely that he at one point was a true christian. When we read that this man was to be delivered to Satan so that his spirit MAY be saved, it doesn’t say that this procedure definitely WILL succeed. This however was an attempt to save his soul. IF the man was already saved (as some suggest) then why can we read that he was to be delivered to Satan so that he may be saved, if he already was? Paul criticized the leaders of the church for not having reacted concerning this man and his grievous sin, and put him away from among them. To say that this man was saved despite his fornication, is to say that unrepentant sinners are welcomed into the kingdom of God.

1 Cor. 1It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 2And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you3For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed4In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit MAY be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.6Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump—11But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 2For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

The same Greek word translated wicked in that verse is also found in Mt. 13:49,50:

This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Also, the same word translated fornication in 1 Cor. 5:1 is found in Gal. 5:19-21:

19Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

It looks like the same man is spoken about yet again in 2 Cor.2:

1But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness. 2For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me? .5But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all. 6Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. 7So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. 8Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. 9For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.

ARVSYND, syndarv, fördärv, syndfull natur – vi är EJ födda i synd

ARVSYNDEN – sanningarnas sanning? Även om du kallar det arvsynd, syndarv, fördärv eller att vara född med en syndfull natur, så handlar det ändå om en gnostisk lära. 

Charles Finney sade om arvsynden”This doctrine is a stumbling-block both to the church and the world, infinitely dishonorable to God, and an abomination alike to God and the human intellect, and should be banished from every pulpit, and from every formula of doctrine, and from the world. It is a relic of heathen philosophy, and was foisted in among the doctrines of Christianity by Augustine, as everyone may know who will take the trouble to examine for himself.” (Lectures on Systematic Theology, 1851 Edition, Published by BRCCD, p. 340)

En del menar att vi är födda men en syndfull natur för ”Varför skulle vi annars synda? Men varför syndade Adam och Eva? (Varför syndade 1/3 av änglarna?) Var DE födda med en syndfull natur? Nej, självfallet inte – de var skapade mycket goda – men ändå valde de att synda. Alltså krävs det inte någon syndfull natur för att vi ska välja att synda för det går precis lika bra den förutan.

Om vi är syndare av naturen, har då Gud någon rätt att döma oss för något som han vet är utanför vår egen kontroll? Om Gud skapade lagar som vi inte kan följa eller om han skapade oss som oförmögna att hålla dem så blir slutresultatet detsamma – vi är stackars offer för hur Gud valt att skapa oss (direkt eller indirekt). Men vi kan endast vara skyldiga till lagöverträdelse om vi haft möjlighet att hålla lagen, och ingen normal domstol skulle försöka processa mot en mentalt handikappad person eller en bebis eftersom dessa inte är medvetna om lagen och därmed inte kan anses vara skyldiga. Skulle då vår Gud handla annorlunda?

OM vi hade haft en fallen natur skulle vi då inte ha utmärkta ursäkter för vår synd på domedagen när vi blir tillfrågade av Gud varför vi syndat? ”För att vi är födda med en syndfull natur naturligtvis” skulle vi kunna svara. ”Eller har vi haft ett val att INTE bli födda med syndfullt kött?” Gud måste då medge att vi inte haft något sådant val och att vi alltså syndat av ren nödvändighet. Har han då någon rätt att döma oss, och vore det inte snarare så att det är SYND om oss som drabbats av en syndfull natur mot vår vilja? Vem skulle frivilligt vilja ha en syndfull natur som tvingar en till synd? Vidare tror ingen kristen att Jesus föddes i synd, men om arvsynden är sann så skulle det betyda att Jesus gavs fördelar över oss och att han lättare kunde hålla sig syndfri eftersom han ju inte var född med ett handikapp som vi andra. Idén om arvsynden förminskar vad Jesus gjorde för oss eftersom Jesus då skulle kommit lindrigare undan i livet jämfört med oss. Sanningen är dock att Jesus inte åkte någon gräddfil, utan han hade precis likdant kött som oss och blev precis som oss frestad i allt. Skillnaden mellan oss och Jesus är inte att vi hade en syndfull natur till skillnad mot honom, utan skillnaden är att Jesus valde att inte synda till skillnad mot oss. Så mycket älskade han oss!

Synd är överträdelse av lagen ( I Joh 3:4) och är ett val. Det är ingen synd att vara född med svart hår, blå ögon osv och det är ingen synd att överhuvudtaget bli född. En bebis är inte medveten om lagen och kan heller inte göra några överträdelser. Om synd går att ärva borde då inte syndare föda syndare, och heliga föda heliga? Hur kom det sig att Jesus inte föddes i synd? Maria var ju precis lika mycket släkt med Adam och Eva som alla andra – OCH hade manliga förfäder – så att vara född av en jungfru skulle inte ha hjälpt mot ett sådant ”synd-DNA”. Varför skulle arvet hoppa över henne och inga andra kvinnor? Att Jesus var född av en jungfru var ämnat som ett TECKEN enligt Jesaja och det står ingenstans att det var för att Jesus skulle undgå någon arvsynd.

Jesaja 7:14 Därför skall Herren själv ge er ett tecken: Se, jungfrun skall bli havande och föda en son och hon skall ge honom namnet Immanuel.

De första 300-400 åren e Kr så lärde ingen av de gamla kyrkofäderna att vi ärvt Adams synd, men däremot gjorde gnostikerna det och de betraktades som villolärare. Augustinus var en före detta gnostiker och det var därifrån han hämtade idén om den syndfulla naturen och introducerade den till kyrkan. Luther, Kalvin och andra fortsatte att sprida idén och vi har sedan i flera hundra år tagit denna lära som en självklarhet och ”sanningarnas sanning” som vi helt enkelt inte FÅR ifrågasätta. Men varför ska vi försöka intala oss att ALLA de gamla kyrkofäderna hade fel de första 300 åren efter Jesu död, innan Augustinus äntligen äntrade scenen och gav oss ljus? Det finns ingen som orsakat fler villoläror i Kyrkan än Augustinus som kan ses här.

Nedanstående verser brukar vanligtvis användas för att ge support för idén om Arvsynden

1) Rom 5:12 Därför är det så: Genom en enda människa kom synden in i världen och genom synden döden, och så kom döden över alla människor, eftersom alla hade syndat.

Vad vi kan läsa här är att DÖDEN kommit över alla människor (”all MEN” KJV) och inte  att SYNDEN kommit över alla människor. Och varför kom döden över alla människor? Jo, EFTERSOM ALLA HADE SYNDAT. Det betyder att VI som individer orsakat det tillståndet med vårt eget agerande och det står inte att vi är födda i synd eller fördömda från start. Syndens lön är döden och i Adam och Evas fall så handlade det om både fysisk och andlig död. Fysisk för att de inte längre kunde nå Livets Träd och fick träda ut i världen som var förbannad för deras skull, och andlig eftersom synden ju separerar oss från Gud som är helig.

En del hänger upp sig på att det står att ”alla hade syndat” och menar att detta borde inbegripa bebisar. Det handlar om anthrōpous (”all men”  i KJV) vilket beroende på sammanhang kan betyda män, kvinnor OCH män eller hela mänskligheten. Vi vet redan att det finns åtminstone ett undantag till regeln eftersom Jesus aldrig syndade. ”Alla” betyder alla av någonting, och i det här fallet ser det ut att vara alla som överhuvudtaget kan synda. Läs sist i dokumentet om vad synd är, och du kan se att barn inte kan inbegripas i beskrivningen eftersom de inte är medvetna om lagen.

Adam introducerade den allra första synden till världen och det orsakade väldiga konsekvenser för alla efterkommande. Det mest påtagliga är att vi måste dö FYSISKT pga honom (även om vi dör som oskyldiga bebisar) och detta beroende på att vi inte kan nå Livets Träd pga hans synd när han blev utkastad ur Eden. Vi har även blivit födda in i en fallen värld pga honom, och vi måste arbeta i vårt anletes svett och vi måste föda barn i plågor vilket är del av förbannelsen. Vi har även tistlar i naturen pga Adam, och vi skulle även kunna säga att jordbävningar, tsunamis, vulkanutbrott o dyl. kan härledas till förbannelsen som Adam orsakade eftersom Gud aldrig skulle acceptera eller orsaka sådana element gentemot oss utan orsak. Dessa saker är ju negativa och orsakar död och plåga, och Bibeln lär att Döden är en FIENDE. Vi vet att vi lever in en fallen värld men de goda nyheterna är förstås att Gud gjorde någonting åt saken. Fysisk död är enda utvägen efter det som Adam orsakade för ingen skulle vilja leva för evigt på en jord som är under en förbannelse.

Vi är inte ansvariga för Adams synd för synd tillräknas inte där det inte finns någon moralisk lag som blivit överskriden. Romarbrevet 5 talar inte om fysisk död för Paulus talar om fördömelse och rättfärdighet, och fördömelsen syftar till själslig död eftersom de som ju är rättfärdiggjorda fortfarande dör fysiskt. Väljer vi Adams väg så dör vi, men väljer vi Jesus väg så får vi liv. I Rom 6:23 står det ”Ty syndens lön är döden, men Guds gåva är evigt liv genom Kristus Jesus, vår Herre”. För att förstå vad slags död som menas i början av versen behöver vi bara jämföra med motsatsen i slutet av versen. ”Evigt liv”! Att få evigt liv betyder inte att den rättfärdiga personen inte kommer att dö fysiskt. Jesus säger i Joh. 11:25 ”Jag är uppståndelsen och livet. Den som tror på mig, han skall leva, om han än dör.” Om döden i Rom 6:23 betyder fysisk död så skulle det betyda att de rättfärdiga inte behöver dö fysiskt. Rom. 6:23 lär ut samma sak som Rom. 5:12 och 18-19 – att vi inte dör förrän vi syndar, och att vi inte lever förrän vi tror på Jesus.

Rom. 6:23 Ty syndens lön är döden, men Guds gåva är evigt liv i Kristus Jesus, vår Herre

Rom 5:13 Synd fanns i världen redan före lagen, men synd tillräknas inte där ingen lag finns

2) Rom 5:18Alltså: liksom en endas fall ledde till fördömelse för alla människor, så har en endas rättfärdighet för alla människor lett till en frikännande dom som leder till liv. 19 Liksom de många stod som syndare på grund av en enda människas olydnad, så skulle också de många stå som rättfärdiga på grund av den endes lydnad.

Om vi i Rom 5:18 ska se första halvan som att 100% av alla människor kategoriskt blir fördömda pga Adam, då måste vi se andra halvan på precis samma kategoriska sätt – att ALLA blir rättfärdiga genom Jesus. Men blir 100% av alla människor rättfärdiga i Jesus? Nej, vi vet att en universell frälsning inte är Biblisk så vi kan inte kategorisera på det sättet utan måste läsa verserna i sitt sammanhang. Vi får mer ljus bara vi går till nästa vers som är 5:19. Där står det att MÅNGA blivit syndare och att MÅNGA ska bli rättfärdiga. Vi vet att vi inte blir rättfärdiga i Jesus såvida vi inte accepterar honom som Frälsare och omvänder oss från våra synder. Likaså blir vi inte fördömda i Adam, såvida vi inte väljer att vara olydiga som han var. Nu har alla syndat (alla som är medvetna om lagen) och är därför i behov av en frälsare, men inte för att Adam syndat utan för att VI syndat. Sen kan det också vara så att vi är utsatta för ännu mer frestelse än vad Adam var och att Kunskapens Träd orsakat en ny dimension för oss att hantera, men ingenstans står det att vi är födda i synd, att vi ärvt Adams synd, att vi är födda med syndfullt kött, att bebisar kan synda, etc. I Adam så dör vi inte såvida vi inte väljer att vara olydiga, och i Kristus så lever vi inte såvida vi inte väljer att lyda.

Romans 5:14 Ändå härskade döden från Adam till Mose också över dem som inte hade syndat genom en överträdelse SÅDAN SOM Adams, han som är en förebild till den som skulle komma.

Sådan som” betyder ”i likhet med” och är översatt från det grekiska ordet homoiōmati. Paul refererade till de som hade syndat innan lagen kom och som syndat mot sitt samvete. De hade visserligen inte fått ett direkt bud från Gud som Adam fick, men de var fortfarande syndare.

3) Psalm 58:4 De ogudaktiga är avfälliga ända från födelsen, de lögnaktiga far vilse alltifrån moderlivet

Ps. 58:4 ger intryck av att barn är syndiga från födelsen och Ps. 51:7 att barn när syndiga från befruktningen. Hur ska vi ha det? Vi ska inte bygga doktriner på psalmer som kan vara just psalmer och poesi, och det är bättre att läsa psalmer genom filtret av klarare texter utan poetiska inslag. Notera att det står ”far vilse” vilket betyder att de inte var födda vilse från start. Notera också att den rättfärdiga i vers 11 INTE var vilse så ”fara vilse” gäller alltså inte alla universellt. Psalmen gäller vuxna personer och inte barn för barn kan inte göra upp onda planer i sina hjärtan.

Ps. 58:3 Nej, i hjärtat gör ni upp onda planer, era händer banar väg för våld i landet

Notera också att det står ”lögnaktiga”. Vilka bebisar känner vi som kan tala lögner och prata direkt från födseln? Vilka bebisar kan använda sina händer för att bana väg för våld i landet? Självklart ingen!

Ps. 58:7 Gud, krossa tänderna i deras mun, bryt sönder de unga lejonens käkar, Herre!

Hur många är födda med TÄNDER? Detta är ytterligare bevis för att psalmen inte handlar om straff gentemot bebisar utan gentemot ogudaktiga som gjort sig skyldiga till våld, blodutgjutelse och att ständigt bryta mot Guds lag.

Det låter onekligen som barn är neutrala och oskyldiga:

Rom 9:11 Innan barnen ännu var födda och innan de hade gjort vare sig gott eller ont

Mark 10:15 Amen säger jag er: Den som inte tar emot Guds rike som ett barn kommer aldrig dit in.

Jesaja 7: 16 Ty innan pojken förstår att förkasta det onda och välja det goda, skall det land för vars båda kungar du ängslas vara övergivet.

Hes. 18:20 Den som syndar skall dö. En son skall inte bära sin fars missgärning, och en far skall inte bära sin sons missgärning. Den rättfärdiges rättfärdighet skall vara hans egen, och den ogudaktiges ogudaktighet skall vara hans egen.

5 Mos 24:16 Föräldrar skall inte dödas för sina barns skull, och barn skall inte dödas för sina föräldrars skull. Var och en skall lida döden genom sin egen synd.

4) Jer. 17:9 Bedrägligare än allt annat är hjärtat, det är obotligt sjukt. Vem kan förstå det?

Jeremia talar här om hjärtan som säger en sak men känner ett annat. Bibeln talar också om hjärtan som är rena, villiga, glada, perfekta, osv. Versen precis efter säger:

Jer. 17:10 Jag, Herren, utforskar hjärtat och prövar njurarna för att ge åt var och en efter hans vägar, efter hans gärningars frukt.

Så det handlar om en persons gärningar och inte att alla är födda med hjärtan som är fördärvade. Vi kan absolut inte använda den här poetiskt uttryckta versen till stöd för att vi är födda i synd. När Gud utrannsakar en bebis hjärta (om han ens är gammal nog att ha ett) så ser han självfallet vilka gärningar den har och vilken kapacitet den har att lyda – och dömer därefter.

5) 1 Mos. 6:Och Herren såg att människornas ondska var stor på jorden och att deras hjärtans alla tankar och avsikter ständigt var alltigenom onda

Detta handlar om tillvaron strax före floden och innebörden av orden visar att man åtminstone måste vara vuxen för att kunna ha sådana tankar. Noa var undantagen och han var en rättfärdig man. Det är troligt att ”Guds söner” (det hebreiska begreppet betyder änglar de andra tre tillfällena som det används i GT) haft en stor orsak till den våldsamma och onda tillvaro som rådde just före floden. Vi kan läsa att de fick barn med kvinnor och att avkomman blev jättar. Gud accepterade Abels offer och inte Kains, och ansåg dessutom att även Kain hade förmåga att stå över synd. Inte kan vi väl säga att vi alla syndar ständigt och jämt än idag endast tänker onda tanker, för det gör inte ens ateisterna! Om den här versen säger att vi alla är födda i synd så måste man fundera på varför Gud dödade alla människor pga deras totalt syndfulla liv, bara för att se problemet fortsätta även efter floden. Då skulle han ha orsakat floden helt i onödan. Är vi födda i synd är det i stället Gud som ska klandras, för ingen av oss har bett om att få bli födda men en syndfull natur som får oss att synda.

6) Psalm 51:7 I synd är jag född, och i synd blev jag till i min moders liv (SFBSe, i synd är jag född, och i synd har min moder avlat mig (1917)

Denna vers handlar inte om alla människor i hela världen utan om David och hans mamma. Versen säger att David blivit avlad i synd och INTE att David är född syndig. Det kan mycket väl stämma att David blev avlad i synd om vi ser till omständigheterna till hans mamma.

David hade två halvsystrar Zeruiah and Abigail (1 Krön. 2:13-16). Pappan till dem var inte Jesse utan Nahash (2 Sam. 17:25). Davids mamma var förmodligen inte Jesses första fru, vilket kan förklara varför Davids halvbröder såg sig själva som bättre än David (1 Sam. 17:28-30) Det kan också förklara varför David inte kallades fram då profeten Samuel var på besök för att hitta en kung. (1 Sam. 16:11).

Det går att spekulera ytterligare om omständigheterna gällande David’s mamma och hur hon fick sina barn, men vi vet åtminstone ovan. Det går t ex att spekulera om otrohet, våld, skilsmässa osv vad gäller omständigheterna kring Nahash och Jesse. Davids mamma borde ha varit gift med Jesse när han föddes eftersom David inte var någon bastard (Deut 23:2).

David var precis som vi född in i en syndfull värld och man kan också bli född in i ett språk (Apg 2:8). Låt oss återigen inte glömma att psalmer ofta innehåller poetiskt tal, och i det här fallet så vet vi att ben inte kan prata, att Gud inte krossar ben när vi syndat, att isop kan få oss vitare än snö, osv:

Ps.51:9 Rena mig med isop, så att jag blir ren, två mig, så att jag blir vitare än snö. 10 Låt mig få höra fröjd och glädje, låt de ben som du har krossat få jubla.

Det låter inte logiskt att David ivrigt skulle be Gud om förlåtelse för att han (David) hade mage att bli avlad i synd. Det hade knappast varit Davids fel utan snarare Guds fel.

7) Job 15:14 (Elifas) Vad är en människa, att hon skulle vara ren, att en av kvinna född skulle vara rättfärdig?

Job 25:4 (Bildad) Hur kan då en människa vara rättfärdig inför Gud, eller någon av kvinna född vara ren?

Frågorna i 15:14 och 25:4 är adresserade till Job av hans vänner i respons till Jobs övertygelse om att han är oskyldig. Vännernas åsikter är inte Guds åsikter. Vi vet redan att det finns flera rättfärdiga personer beskrivna i GT och Job själv hör till dem. Hela mänskligheten som är född av kvinna har hamnat i frivillig demoralisering pga frestelser och själviskhet. Jesus var också född av kvinna men han var inte demoraliserad. Versen säger inte att varje kvinna har ärvt orenlighet och att varje man är född orättfärdig. Vi måste fråga oss själva om verserna absolut måste läsas bokstavligt? Läser du den här versen bokstavlig ifrån samma bok?:

Job 1:21 Naken kom jag ur min moders liv, och naken skall jag vända tillbaka dit.

8) Rom. 3:10 Det står skrivet: Ingen rättfärdig finns, inte en enda 11 ingen förståndig finns, ingen finns som söker Gud

Läs ett mer utförligt svar i min bloggartikel här. 

Återigen kan vi se att bebisar inte kan åsyftas eftersom det handlar om onda människors val. Paulus ord kommer ifrån några psalmer och vi kan läsa att de ogudaktiga (däribland det inte finns någon rättfärdig) konstrasteras mot de rättfärdiga som tar sin tillflykt till Herren.:

Psalm 14: 1 DÅRARNA säger i sitt hjärta: ”Det finns ingen Gud.”Onda och avskyvärda är deras gärningar, det finns ingen som gör det goda.Herren blickar ner från himlen på människors barn för att se om det finns någon förståndig, någon som söker Gud.Men alla har avfallit,  alla är fördärvade. Ingen finns som gör det goda,  inte en enda.Förstår de ingenting, alla dessa OGÄRNINGSMÄN, de som äterMITT FOLK som om de åt bröd och som inte åkallar HerrenDär gripsde av förfäran, ty Gud är hos de RÄTTFÄRDIGAS släkte.Den betrycktes råd hånar ni, ty Herren är hans tillflykt.O, att det från Sion kom frälsning för Israel!När Herren gör slut på SITT FOLKS fångenskap, då skall Jakob jubla, Israel glädja sig.

Psalm 5:9 Herre, led mig genom din rättfärdighet för mina förföljaresskull.  Gör din väg jämn för mig.10 Ty vad deras mun talar kan ingen lita på, deras inre är fördärv,  en öppen grav är deras strupe och sin tunga gör de hal.11 Förklara dem skyldiga, Gud, låt deras planer bli derasfall. Driv bort dem för deras många synders skull, ty de är upproriskamot dig.12 Men låt alla som flyr till dig få glädja sig. I evighet skall de jubla, ty du beskyddar dem. I dig skall de fröjdas  som älskar ditt namn.13 Ty du, Herre, välsignar den RÄTTFÄRDIGE, du omger honom med nåd som med en sköld.

Vi vet redan om en rad kända rättfärdiga människor i GT, såsom Abraham, Lot, Job, Noa, etc, och Paulus som yttrade orden i Rom 3:10 var också rättfärdig! Är vi inte rättfärdiga kommer vi inte in i Guds rike. Alltså kan vi inte låta Rom 3:10 motsäga detta utan vi måste läsa versen i sitt sammanhang och notera vad psalmerna säger som citeras.

9) Ef 2:Också er har Gud gjort levande, ni som var döda genom era överträdelser och synder. Tidigare levde ni i dem på den här världens vis och följde härskaren över luftens välde, den ande som nu är verksam i olydnadens söner.

En del påstår felaktigt att det står att vi blivit FÖDDA i ”överträdelser och synder” men det står inte så. Versen efter säger:

Ef. 2:Bland dem var vi alla en gång, när vi följde våra syndiga begär och gjorde vad köttet och sinnet ville. Av naturen var vi vredens barn, vi liksom de andra.

Bebisar kan inte följa syndiga begär och vara olydiga. Man måste vara vuxen för att vara medveten om sitt kött och känna behag till begär så bebisar kan inte vara skyldiga till de överträdelser som Paulus talar om. Ingen måste av nödvändighet vara ”olydnadens söner” eller ”vredens barn”, liksom ingen måste vara alkoholist. Det är våra egna val som vi måste stå till svars för och vi är slavar under den vi lyder. ”Av naturen” visar på personens karaktär som orsakas av inövad synd, och inte nödvändigtvis pga att vara född i synd. Bebisar som skriker efter mat, blöjbyte eller omtanke syndar inte! Vårt samvete är det som kan döma oss och bebisar har gott samvete.

Rom 2:14 Ty när hedningar som saknar lagen, av naturen gör vad lagen befaller, då är de sin egen lag, fastän de inte har lagen. 15 De visar att det som lagen kräver är skrivet i deras hjärtan. Om det vittnar också deras samveten och, när de är tillsammans, deras tankar, som anklagar eller försvarar dem.

10) 1 Kor.15:22 Liksom i Adam alla dör, så skall också i Kristus alla göras levande

Sammanhanget handlar om de kristnas uppståndelse, och ingenstans står det att vi har ärvt Adams synd och/eller att vi måste dö andligen pga det som HAN gjorde. Sammanhanget är:

1 Kor. 15:20 Men nu har Kristus uppstått från de döda som förstlingen av de insomnade. 21 Ty eftersom döden kom genom en människa, så kom också de dödas uppståndelse genom en människa.22 Liksom i Adam alla dör, så skall också i Kristus alla göras levande. 23 Men var och en i sin ordning: Kristus som förstlingen och sedan, vid hans ankomst, de som tillhör honom. 24 Därefter kommer slutet, då han överlämnar riket åt Gud, Fadern, sedan han gjort slut på varje välde, varje makt och kraft.

Adam orsakade som sagt fysisk död för ALLA människor eftersom vi inte kan nå Livet träd pga honom, och vi har också syndat LIKSOM honom, vilket får oss att förtjäna andlig död precis som honom. Det står inte att ALLA dör andligen i Adam och NÅGRA görs levande i Kristus. Nej, ALLA görs levande i Kristus. Om någon vill läsa att vi alla automatiskt dör andligen i Adam så tvingas vi tro att alla automatiskt görs andligt levande i Jesus., men alla blir inte frälsta. Jämför gärna dessa verser med Rom. 18-19 som säger samma sak. Läs mer i den här artikeln.

11)  Predikaren 7:21 Ty det finns ingen rättfärdig människa på jorden som gör gott och aldrig syndar

Predikaren är en person som ibland låter lite bitter över hur människan beter sig, och uttrycker sig ibland som han vore en av dessa syndiga människorna som han suckar över. Han uttrycker sig kategoriskt om människan och säger att människornas hjärtan är fulla av ondska så länge de lever. Stämmer det in på alla? Enok, Abraham, Lot, Job, och de människor som levde senare, såsom Jesus lärljungar inklusive Paulus? Var deras hjärtan fulla av ondska dygnet runt och gjorde de aldrig något gott en enda minut? Självfallet gjorde de det. Predikarens texter måste läsas med hänsyn till hans klagan över människosläktet som sådant.

Predikaren 9:Detta är det onda i allt som händer under solen, att det går alla lika. Därför är också människornas hjärtan fulla av ondska, och oförnuft bor i dem så länge de lever, och sedan måste de ner bland de döda.Ät därför ditt bröd med glädje och drick ditt vin med glatt hjärta. Gud är redan nöjd med det du gör.  Njut livet med en hustru som du älskar, alla dagar i ditt förgängliga liv, det som Gud ger dig under solen, ja, under alla dina förgängliga dagar. Ty detta är din lott i livet och under den möda som du gör dig under solen.

Predikaren sade också i samma kapitel att Gud skapade människorna RÄTTSINNIGA och att de SEDAN tänkt ut många onda planer. Det kan dock inte stämma att 100% av alla människor tänkt ut onda planer, för en person som Enok togs till och med upp till himlen pga sin rättfärdighet:

Predikaren 7:30 (29) Se, endast detta har jag funnit  att Gud skapade människorna rättsinniga. Men sedan har de tänkt ut många onda planer.

12) Här följer några mycket olyckliga översättningar från Svenska Folkbibeln

a) Rom 8:12 Vi har alltså skyldigheter, bröder, men inte mot vår onda natur, så att vi skall leva efter köttet

b) Rom 7:5 Ty så länge vi behärskades av vår onda natur, var de syndiga begär som väcktes till liv genom lagen verksamma i våra lemmar, så att vi bar frukt åt döden

c) Gal. 5:13 Ni är kallade till frihet, bröder. Använd bara inte friheten så att den onda naturen får något tillfälle, utan tjäna varandra i kärlek

d) Ef. 2:3:3 Bland dem var vi alla en gång, när vi följde våra syndiga begär och gjorde vad köttet och sinnet ville. Av naturen var vi vredens barn, vi liksom de andra.

e) Rom. 8:3 Det som var omöjligt för lagen, svag som den var genom den syndiga naturen, det gjorde Gud genom att sända sin egen Son som syndoffer, han som till det yttre var lik en syndig människa, och i hans kropp fördömde Gud synden.

f) Rom. 8:8 De som följer sin syndiga natur kan inte behaga Gud.

g) Kol. 2:11 I honom blev också ni omskurna, inte med människohand, utan med Kristi omskärelse, då ni avkläddes er syndiga natur

h) Rom. 7:7 Vad skall vi då säga? Att lagen är synd? Nej, visst inte! Men det var först genom lagen jag lärde känna synden. Jag hade inte vetat vad begäret var, om inte lagen hade sagt: Du skall inte ha begär.

Samtliga ovan verser är från Svenska Folkbibeln som felaktigt lagt till ord som inte finns i grundtexten.  Där ”ond natur” finns med är felaktiga översättningar eftersom ordet ”onda” är taget från luften och inte har en parallell i originalspråket (grekiska).  1917 års översättning har lyckligtvis inte ”ond natur” i någon av dessa verser och inte heller Reformationsbibeln. ”Ond natur” är en översättning av grekiska ”sarx” som betyder KÖTT och precis samma sorts kött som Jesus hade.  Att översätta ett och samma ord för ”kött” när det är relaterat till Jesus, och till ”ont kött/ond natur” när det är relaterat till människor är ohederligt och helt omotiverat. Att lägga till ordet ”onda” är att göra tillägg till Bibeln och det är vad vi blivit varnade från att göra. Tilläggen har förmodligen kommit till genom en influens av vårt Lutherska arv, och Luther var som sagt mycket influerad av Augustinus.

Bättre översättningar är:

a) Rom. 8:12 Alltså, mina bröder, hava vi icke någon förpliktelse mot KÖTTET, så att vi skola leva efter KÖTTET. (1917)

b) Rom. 7:For when we were IN THE FLESH, the MOTIONS OF SINS, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. (KJV)

c) Gal 5:13 I ären ju kallade till frihet, mina bröder; bruken dock icke friheten så, att KÖTTET får något tillfälle. Fastmer mån I tjäna varandra genom kärleken. (1917)

d) Ef. 2:3 Bland dessa voro förut också vi allasammans, där vi vandrade i vårt KÖTTS begärelser och gjorde vad köttet och sinnet ville; och vi voro genom vår natur hemfallna åt vredesdomen, vi likasom de andra. (1917)

/d) Ef. 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (KJV)

e) Rom. 8:Ty det som lagen icke kunde åstadkomma, i det den var försvagad genom KÖTTET, det gjorde Gud, då han, för att borttaga synden, sände sin Son i syndigt kötts gestalt och fördömde synden i köttet. (1917)

f) Rom. 8:So then they that are in the FLESH cannot please God. (KJV)

g) Kol 2:11 I honom haven I ock blivit omskurna genom en omskärelse, som icke skedde med händer, en som bestod däri att I bleven avklädda eder KÖTTSLIGA KROPP; jag menar omskärelsen i Kristus. (1917)

h)  Rom. 7:What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not COVET. (KJV)

Vad gäller Rom. 8:3 så är det faktiskt det enda stället i Bibeln där det står något om ”syndigt kött/natur” och vi kan läsa att Jesus kom ”i syndigt kötts gestalt och fördömde synden i köttet”. När han vara tillsammans med sin Fader i treenigheten så hade han inte kapacitet att synda eftersom Gud inte kan gå emot sin egen natur, men när han kom som människa till jorden så hade han kött liksom vi och hade plötsligt kapacitet att synda som alla andra människor. Därför är det en bra beskrivning att Jesus kom ”i syndigt kötts gestalt”, för det är ju med köttet som en människa kan utföra synd, och det var just i syndigt kötts liknelse som han kom. Det går inte att använda denna vers som stöd att vi alla är födda i synd, eftersom versen handlar om Jesus val att komma till jorden i ett likadant kött som vi – och är man i KÖTT så har man också förmåga att synda. Jesus valde dock inte att synda, och därför är hans offer så makalöst.

13) 1 Mos. 8: 21 När Herren kände den ljuvliga doften, sade han till sig själv: ”Härefter skall jag inte mer förbanna jorden för människans skull, eftersom hennes hjärtas tankar är onda ända från ungdomen. Jag skall aldrig mer döda allt levande så som jag nu har gjort.

Det står ”ända från ungdomen” och inte ”ända från födelsen” eller ”ända sedan de var bebisar/barn”. Så kan man uttrycka sig om man vill säga att något varat ända från början, eller mycket tidigt eller i urminnes tider. Är man ungdom så har man åtminstone uppnått en ålder när man är medveten om Guds bud och hur man relaterar i förhållande till det. Man är alltså medveten om att man syndar, och versen säger inte att vi är födda i synd.

14) Rom. 8:Det som var omöjligt för lagen, svag som den var genom den syndiga naturen, det gjorde Gud genom att sända sin egen Son som syndoffer, han som till det yttre var lik en syndig människa, och i hans kropp fördömde Gud synden (SFB)

1917 års översättning är bättre:

Rom. 8:Ty det som lagen icke kunde åstadkomma, i det den var försvagad genom köttet, det gjorde Gud, då han, för att borttaga synden, sände sin Son i syndigt kötts gestalt och fördömde synden i köttet. (1917)

Den enda versen i Bibeln där det faktiskt står något om ”syndigt kött” är faktiskt i denna vers. Det står att sonen kom i ”syndigt kötts gestalt”. Det är en bra beskrivning eftersom det är köttet vi kan tänkas synda med och Jesus kom alltså i liknelse av ett sådant kött som vi andra hade. Ingen syndar dock av ren nödvändighet och absolut inte för att vi är födda med syndfulla kroppar. Om det var vårt kött som per automatik vore syndigt så borde det gälla ofödda barn också, men då måste man fråga sig på vilket sätt ett ofött barn kan ha ”syndigt kött” och varför detta inte skulle vara Guds fel snarare än barnets. Då måste vi ändra de verser som säger att det är våra överträdelser som orsakar så att vi blir (andligt) döda när vi egentligen blir döda så fort vi avlas och får ett kött. Men Bibeln lär inte ut att det är en synd att ha ett kött, och varför skulle Gud vara vred på oss för att vi har ett kött? Nej, Gud är vred för att vi SYNDAR.

Vi orsakar vår egen fördömelse

1 Mos 6:12 Gud såg på jorden, och se, den var fördärvad, eftersom alla människor levde i fördärv på jorden.13 Då sade Gud till Noa: ”Jag har beslutat att förgöra alla levande varelser, ty för deras skull är jorden full av våld. Se, jag skall fördärva dem tillsammans med jorden

2 Mos 32:Då sade Herren till Mose: ”Gå dit ner, ty ditt folk som du har fört upp ur Egyptens land drar fördärv över sig. De har redan vikit av från den väg som jag befallde dem att gå. De har gjort sig en gjuten kalv som de har tillbett och offrat åt och sagt: Detta är din gud, Israel, som har fört dig upp ur Egyptens land.” Herren sade ytterligare till Mose: ”Jag har sett detta folk, och se, det är ett hårdnackat folk.) 

5 Mos :31:29 Ty jag vet att ni efter min död kommer att göra det som är fördärvligt och vika av från den väg som jag har befallt er att gå. Därför skall olycka drabba er i kommande dagar, när ni gör sådant som är ont iHerrens ögon och väcker hans vrede genom era gärningar.”

5 Mos. 32:Du övergav Klippan som födde dig.Du glömde Gud som gav dig livet.19 Herren såg detta och förkastade dem,eftersom hans söner och döttrar hade kränkt honom.20 Han sade: ”Jag vill dölja mitt ansikte för dem,jag vill se vilket slut de får.  Ty de är ett förvänt släkte, barn utan trohet.

NÅGOT ATT FUNDERA PÅ

Risken med läran om Arvsynden är att den kan användas som en ursäkt för synd och att vi kan ha både vår synd (som stackars vi inte kan hjälpa) och vår frälsning också. Men vår frälsare kan ge oss en fullständig seger över synden. Jesus dog inte så att vi ska kunne fortsätta synda. Synd är något som inträffar vid någon tidpunkt efter att vi blivit födda, och synd är ingenting som finns i våra gener/DNA. Jehovas Vittnen lär att en människas läggning och synden finns i blodet.(”The poisons that produce the impulse to commit suicide, murder, or steal are in the blood.” (Watchtower 9/15/1961, page 564)

Hur kom det sig att Enok i 1 Mos. 4:26 levde så Gudfruktigt att han helt enkelt togs hem till Gud utan att behöva dö? Det verkar inte som han var född i synd. Man skulle också kunna tycka att om nu syndarvet är ett faktum så borde en sådan mycket viktig och avgörande lära kunna ses någonstans i Bibeln. Men vi har visat här att det faktiskt inte står att läsa någonstans. Det är förstås överraskande att inse att en tradition vuxit sig så stark att ingen egentligen ifrågasätter den. ”Alla” tror ju på syndafallet i alla länder, så vi tar bara för givet att Bibeln lär det. Men historieböckerna med citat från de äldsta kyrkofäder ljuger inte. Bilden är solklar. Ingen förutom gnostikerna (och senare Augustinus) trodde på en arvsynd.

Något att tänka på är att när Gud ville straffa de som gjort ont i hans ögon under ökenvandringen, så valde han att straffa de som var tjugo år gamla och därutöver.

3 Mos 32:11′Av de män som hava dragit upp ur Egypten skall ingen som är TJUGO år gammal eller därutöver få se det land som jag med ed har lovat åt Abraham, Isak och Jakob — eftersom de icke i allt hava efterföljt mig 12 ingen förutom Kaleb, Jefunnes son, kenaséen, och Josua, Nuns son; ty de hava i allt efterföljt HERREN.’13Så upptändes HERRENS vrede mot Israel, och han lät dem driva omkring i öknen i fyrtio år, till dess att HELA DET SLÄKTE hade dött bort som hade gjort vad ont var i HERRENS ögon.

Under domstolen

Om en mentalt handikappad vuxen person, med förstånd som en 0-3-åring, skulle ertappas med något brott så skulle ett normalt fungerande rättsväsende aldrig leda till ett åklagande mot en sådan person. Han är ju inte tillräknerlig eller vid sina sinnes fulla bruk. Han själv kan per definition inte utföra något brott, men möjligen en vårdare/anhörig som borde ta ansvar för honom. Ingen skulle komma på tanken att kalla en gravt mentalt handikappad person till en rättegång för att sedan låta en Domare deklarera att ”Ja, du skulle ju riskera minst ett års fängelse för det brott du begått men eftersom du är mentalt handikappad så är vi hyggliga här och låter dig  slippa det straff som du FÖRTJÄNAR”. Nej, personen i fråga skulle inte ens kallas till en rättegång, och inte heller FÖRTJÄNAR han något straff om han inte ens kan kontrollera sina kroppsrörelser eller ens mentalt förstå någonting om orsak och verkan. Om en sekulär rättsinstans agerar så humant, skulle då vår kärleksfulla Gud handla på ett mindre humant vis? Skulle han verkligen mena att små bebisar FÖRTJÄNAR ett straff och ser han sig själv som HYGGLIG när han inte utmäter straff på dem? Vad kan små bebisar rimligen ha gjort sin skyldiga till för slags brott?

Hur kommer synden in i människan och vad är synd?

Om alla är födda i synd betyder det att bebisar kan synda, men vad slags synder kan en en månaders bebis göra sig skyldig till? Även ofödda bebisar är i så fall också syndare eftersom en människa blir en person vid befruktningen. Men hur kan en bebis som fortfarande är i magen kunna synda? Om bebisar i magen kan synda så måste vi vara konsekventa och anse att en bebis som blev befruktad för en timme sedan också är en syndare och lagöverträdare – men på vilket sätt kan en cellsamling som får plats i ett nålsöga kunna synda utan hjärta, hjärna, hörsel, ögon, etc? Nedan kan vi läsa vad synd är och ingenstans passar bebisar in.

1 John 3:4. Var och en som gör synd bryter också mot lagen, ty synd är brott mot lagen.

Rom. 5:13. Ty synden var i världen innan lagen kom, men synden tillräknas inte där det inte finns någon lag.

Jakob 1:14. Utan var och en frestas, när han dras och lockas av sitt eget begär. 15. Därefter, sedan begäret har blivit havande, föder det synd och då synden är fullbordad, föder den död.

Jakob 4:17. Den som därför vet att göra det som är gott och inte gör det, för honom är det synd.

Matt 15:18. Men det som går ut ur munnen, kommer från hjärtat, och det orenar människan. 19. Ty från hjärtat utgår onda tankar, mord, hor, otukt, stöld, falskt vittnesbörd, hädelse.

Rom 2:13. Ty de, som hör lagen, är inte rättfärdiga inför Gud, utan de som GÖR lagen, de skall bli rättfärdiggjorda. 14. Ty då hedningarna, som inte har lagen, AV NATUREN GÖR DET LAGEN INNEHÅLLER, så är dessa, fastän de inte har lagen, sig själva en lag. 15. De visar sålunda, att lagens verk är skrivet i deras hjärtan, och därom bär deras samvete dessutom vittnesbörd, också deras tankar, som inbördes anklagar eller också försvarar dem, 16. på den dagen, när Gud skall döma över människornas hemligheter, genom Jesus Kristus, enligt mitt evangelium. 

Coming out of Babylon – which is always a spiritually lost state of mind

Coming out of Babylon

Make no mistake;  if someone tells you that you are in Babylon and this would happen to be the truth, then the Bible makes it painfully clear that you’re spiritually lost and on the way to HELL. You are not supposed to call a person who you believe is in Babylon for ”sister” or ”brother” because they are nothing but your enemy.

Babylon is of course a city which we can read about in the Bible, and was placed somewhere in the area which we today call Iraq. In Revelation however it’s more than just a city but a spiritually lost state of mind. The comparison with the wicked city of Babylon is not a coincidence. Revelation tells us her rule is worldwide and contrasted with the New Jerusalem (compare Rev 17:1 -Rev 21:9-10). The first is called the great prostitute and the other is called the bride the wife of the Lamb. She is covered in precious jewels, pearls and gold as is also the new Jerusalem. As the great prostitute, Babylon seduces and tempts men away from God.

Rev. 1:1And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. 2And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. 3For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. 4And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, COME OUT OF HER, my people, that ye be not partakers of her SINS, and that ye receive not of her plagues. 5For her SINS have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. 7How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. 8Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her. 9And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, 

It’s possible that some of what we can read here will take place literally to modern-day Iraq, but we are mostly reading about a lost state of mind:

17For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, 18And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city! 19And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate. 20Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. 21And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. 22And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; 23And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. 24And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

Clearly the above is not a pretty picture, and Babylon seems to be a worse place to be in than a combination of a brothel and a nightclub for gangsters. The idea of coming out of Babylon is similar to Paul’s comment in 2 Cor 6:16-18, which refer to separation and purity:

2 Cor. 6:14Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness15And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

Paul is quoting from Isaiah:

Isaiah 5211Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD. 

Babylon – the harlot

The problem with Babylon was her excessive luxuries, her pride, giving herself glory, etc. She seduced the kings and the merchants to follow her ways — to seek wealth and riches (rather than God).  God’s people are told to come out of her ”so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues” 18:4.  And her sins are piled up to heaven (Rev 18:5). Read about the abominable sins Babylon is guilty of:

Jeremiah 51:7 Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD’s hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad.

Rev 17:12With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. 3So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: 5And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH6And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

In our past the Catholic church has been claimed to be Babylon, but there have been other theories as well. Today there is a theory that ALL THE TRADITIONAL CHURCHES (which they call the Institutional Church) ARE IN BABYLON. This means that ALL assemblies in church buildings are evil (churches in homes are not included in the ”traditional church” so these people indirectly say that you only have a chance to be saved if you are OUTSIDE of the traditional modern church). As long as you’re in the church system you’re doomed and on the way to hell. They might be reluctant to admit that this is the only outcome of their theology views, but this IS their message which you have left after having removed all the ”fluff” and the excessive words.

Think about that for a moment. Church buildings have been a factor ever since the first synagogues started to be worn out and as soon as christians felt it was safe to start meeting in larger buildings instead of in their small homes, so from 150-200 AD until today ALL christians under the sun who have remained in a traditional church have been in Babylon and therefore lost. I can’t even count how many billions of christians we’re talking about here, but it’s for certain the vast majority of christians. This means that the Gate to God’s kingdom is only opened for a tiny little remnant (are we counting in thousands?) who have regretted any involvement they might have had with the Church. And out of those christians of course only those who have lived righteously will be saved. If you have your faith in Jesus and live righteously, it wouldn’t save you anyway if you’re in the traditional church – according to some of the anti-church-movement’s websites.

Let’s not complicate matters but admit that it’s not possible to be in Babylon and still be saved (as in ”spiritually alive”) and this applies regardless if you have heard the call to come out or not. We can never excuse any kind of sin with that we didn’t hear or understand the call to come out. You can’t be conformed to Babylon, drunken by her wine, be partakers of her sin, deserving her judgment, etc and still be spiritually alive and on the way to heaven. HOWEVER, these anti-church people are of course not correct in their assessment that the traditional churches are in Babylon. Examples of erroneous teachings:

 ”We must remember that God said to come out of Babylon not change it. It is impossible for us to change the Institutional Church. It is what it is. We can’t revive it because it was never alive to begin with. We can’t restore it because it is not what God is building. We can’t dress it up and make it acceptable because it is a product of judgment—the divinely divided false thing. We can only come out of it.” 

(Comment:  there is no support for the idea that we are unable to improve a church whether it’s in a church building or in a home. The wolves are supposed to come out of the church and not the sheep. If the sheep were supposed to leave, why didn’t Jesus and Paul leave the synagogues? Why is there NOT A WORD with a warning to us that the entire church system would be in Babylon? Had we been able to read one sentence about this from Jesus, then this could have saved billions of innocent souls of people who have had no other desire but to obey the Lord’s instructions whatever they are.)

”Members of the Institutionalized Church ARE in a Babylonian frame of mind (drunk with her wine, i.e., her teachings and doctrines, her hieratical structures, her programs, her system, etc…) and they are unaware of it. They cannot see or think outside of their own religious system or traditions.—We can either stay in it and conform to it’s traditions, it’s rigid structure and it’s man-made influences, or we can break free.”

(Comment: Yes, here again there are only two options. Stay and be doomed, or leave and get a chance to be saved.)

The  Bible of course doesn’t teach us to leave all church buildings as soon as we hear something that is incorrect. If that would have been what we are told to do, then we can’t have an assembly anywhere since the risk for false doctrines will follow us wherever we go. We have not escaped the peril and the judgment just because we hide in a home. Jesus, Paul, Apollo, etc always went into the synagogues to teach and speak to people, regardless of if the synagogue was ok or not. Sometimes they were thrown out and other times they were accepted.

How to cause a division in the Body of Christ 

Causing a division is sometimes inevitable (and even necessary), but causing a division in the body of Christ for no good reason at all is just not right. Wolves would like to scatter the body of Christ. We are repeatedly told wolves in sheep’s clothing will enter among us and teach us false doctrines, and there are also wolves who simply would like to scatter us, and of course they have no concern WHERE TO as long as we just leave the Church system. If people can just make us leave church and stay home alone, then they have achieved MUCH. Unfortunately people among us are helping the atheists out to warn us against Church

Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto YOURSELVES, and to all the FLOCK, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made YOU OVERSEERS, to feed the CHURCH OF God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in AMONG YOU, not sparing the FLOCK.

What advice would the devil give us to bring in heresies and cause division in the body of Christ? And how will the devil make the FLOCK – the body of Christ – dissolve and be scattered? Here are some suggestions what he might do. He might:

1) Try to make people believe that Paul didn’t really mean what he said with that all are not apostles, teachers, prophets, etc, but that just about anyone can do the teaching in a christian assembly.

2) Try to make people believe that it’s not that important to have qualified elders and that it’s a lot more important to have MULTIPLE elders. By allowing loads of people to do the teaching, false teachings will eventually slip in among us.

3) Try to make people believe that as soon as we are not allowed to be teachers and elders, and able to do what others can do, then it’s a ”hierarchy” and something bad.

4) Warn against church buildings and denominations and make sure to paint with a broad brush and use generalizations. Provide your own personal experiences when it comes to your own bitter experiences in church. Remember to make it sound as though you are describing the average church. Use video clips and articles where other people’s bad experiences are showing, and avoid material with people’s positive experiences.

5) Remind people of the verse ”For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them”, and hopefully they will ignore other verses which show that the body of Christ stayed together (physically) if they only could.

6) When church-goers won’t let you spread your material in peace but start to defend themselves, then turn it on them and make it sound like they are doing the attacks so it makes you the victim.

7) Stick to your agenda and look only for anti-church material to post and avoid all pro-Church stuff. Do not search for video clips which reveal abuse, false teachings and horrible treatments within home churches.

8) When Church-goers point out your errors, inconsistencies, lack of logic, hypocrisy and twisting of Bible verses, then try to keep it short, delete posts which are way too troublesome or end the discussion.

If we truly would like to warn people about dangerous doctrines, we could warn them about this instead of  church buildings.
There is no dispute that loads of churches are bad, but not all. My main blog article about Church can be read here

All are not teachers, and about submitting to elders and other authorities

We are to be present in the body of Christ – not just spiritually

As the body of Christ we are supposed to come together physically so that we can edify each other in various ways, like praying and prophesying for each other. (If we can of course, and if there is a decent assembly to join.) The Bible tells us that we are different members of the same body, and the body is likened with a human body. All are not an ear, an eye, a knee, etc. If all would be an ear, then something would be utterly wrong with the body of Christ. The Bible tells us for example that all are not teachers, so it’s wise to not let anyone rise up to teach in Church. The greatest risk to end up with false doctrines  would be if we let unqualified teachers do the teaching in a teaching situation within a christian assembly.

1 Cor.12:27Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all TEACHERS? are all workers of miracles? 

Rom. 12:6Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith7Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that TEACHES, onTEACHING;

We should of course always be prepared to share the word of God and try to make disciples in various ways, but in an assembly we should let the teachers do the main teaching. This doesn’t exempt us from our responsibility to always act like the Bereans and compare all that we hear with scriptures (and test all things), and we must be prepared for that qualified teachers could still be wrong. Peter was an elder who exhorted other elders. Even if all of us are not teachers, we can still contribute in an assembly in many ways. We are encouraged to speak in tongues if there is a translation, make prophesies, share revelations, sing songs, pray for one another,  heal someone if we have this gift, etc. But all must be done in order!  Just because we are encouraged to share, it doesn’t mean we are allowed to jump off from our seats and burst out in a song or make a comment whenever we feel like it. That would be very annoying both for the teacher and for the listeners.

Some could be better used for teaching than serving tables. But also those who were appointed to serve tables in Acts. 6 must be qualified for it. They would have to be of honest report and full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom:

Acts 6:2Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. 3Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 4But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. 5And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: 6Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. 

Jesus himself gave some to apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers:

Ephesians 4:10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 

And for what purpose?

12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 

For how long?

13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ

What would be the benefit of not allowing other people to be teachers?

14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine 

2 Peter 2:1But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.  

With other words there is a risk that we will be caught up with false doctrines if we let unqualified people teach. We should be on our guards! When listening to a teacher we should show him much respect. Most churches that I have attended have allowed people to say ”amen” or ”hallelujah”,  and making brief questions and comments even in the middle of the preaching. Thankfully the comments never got out of hand, but I’ve heard comments which should have been made after the sermon instead of in the middle of it.  We must always show respect both to the teacher and to other listeners so we won’t disturb anyone. Who would like to be constantly interrupted when having a little lecture? If there are 50 listeners and half of them have a question, then the teacher would be forced to deal with 25 questions and could easily lose his thread. That could very well lead to chaos and that is exactly what Paul warns us against. He even says:

1 Cor. 14:34Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. 35And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home:

James tells us to NOT be many masters (teachers, instructors), and when we are sick we are asked to call for the ELDERS so they can pray and put oil on the sick person:

James 3 1My brethren, be not many MASTERS, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

James 5:14Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders (presbyterous) of the church (ekklesias) ; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 

There are special rules, compared to others, when it comes to accusing an elder for something, and if he is caught in a sin.

1 Tim. 5:19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. 20Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

Peter seems to focus on exhorting the elders instead of exhorting the entire flock, since it’s the elders of a church who are supposed to be shepherding the flock in the right direction and feed it. The elders are compared with shepherds (so naming an elder ”pastor” makes perfect sense) and in a Church we are NOT supposed to take turns to be the shepherd. The elder/shepherd must be qualified and confirmed for this position, and no others should be elders. It would be great if there were more than one elder per church, but if that isn’t achievable then we would have to settle with one. The younger are asked to submit to the elder:

1 Peter 5 :1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock. 4And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. 5Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder

We don’t need to be qualified teachers in order to share something from the Bible also within an assembly, but I’m referring to the actual ”teaching” here.  There are of course loads of examples of churches where the pastor is teaching falsehood, but this only means he should never have been confirmed as an elder in the first place. Thankfully ALL churches don’t work in the wrong way. It’s possible that people with an aim to be ”democratic” would like to open up for others to do the teaching, but if we don’t follow Paul’s instructions about elders and teachers, there is a risk for deception and that is why many churches don’t work as they should:

Titus 1:10For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: 11Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. 

2 Tim. 4:2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves TEACHERS, having itching ears; 4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry

Hierarchies?

It’s possible that people are terrified for anything that might smell like hierarchies in Church, and while the NT does not support an assembly where people are of different levels of importance, we can’t get way from the fact that we are different parts of the same body, resulting in that not all are apostles, teachers, elders or shepherds. The shepherd is equal in value compared to the flock, but the shepherd is still supposed to guide the flock and not the other way around. This does not mean we should follow the shepherd blindly. All members of the flock have a free will and a responsibility to follow God (the Bible) more than man.

Below is an example of an issue which could not be settled in the local church but had to go ”up” to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem so they could settle the matter. The apostles and the elders had the authority to give instructions, decrees, exhortations and confirmation of churches:

Acts 15:2When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders (presbyterous) about this question. —6And the apostles and elders came togetherfor to consider of this matter.— 22Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas and Silas, chief men among the brethren:—25It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,— 30So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle:—31Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation. 32And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.

Paul and Silas delivered decrees for the assemblies to keep, which were ordained by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. We are not able to read that the assemblies complained about this procedure, as though it would be unfair that some people can decide which rules others should keep. You might call this a ”hierarchical system” and therefore something that should be forbidden, but we are to submit to authorities (if they are godly). If we had all obeyed those instructions at all times from the beginning, then the apostles would be able to teach a group of people and confirm them, who could teach another group of people and confirm them, and so on. Clearly we have not always obeyed the instructions concerning elders because today there are some assemblies where the elders have many shortcomings – in traditional churches and particularly in Home churches. Each one should make sure to ”lay hands suddenly on no man” (confirming someone to be an elder) as Paul also instructed Timothy: 

Acts 16:4And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. 5And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.

1 Timothy 4:14Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the HANDS of the presbytery.

1 Timothy 5:22 Lay HANDS suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.

Paul gave Timothy instructions to make sure the assembly in Ephesus teach ”no other doctrine”. Timothy should also make sure they would not give heed to fables. Hopefully the assembly in question accepted Timothy’s authority and didn’t tell him” Who do you think you are, trying to teach us all those things and exhorting us? Mind your own business because we can take care of ourselves, thank you. We don’t need anyone over us and we don’t believe in a hierarchical system”: 

1 Tim 1:2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. 3As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. 6From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; 7Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.

Timothy was to reprove, rebuke and exhort, and the reason was the risk for false doctrines which might sneak in:

1 Tim. One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)6Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

Read the above concerning some of the instructions for an elder. We are told that if his children don’t behave well, it’s doubtful he could keep the flock in the church of God. Being a pastor/elder in a church is likened with being the authoritative Father in a household. In a household a Father doesn’t take turns with his children to be the authority and the Head of the family. He should always be the authority! This of course does not give him the right to run his household in any way he wants, but he should always treat others the way he would like to be treated himself . Neither does it mean that he could not give his children a certain amount of liberty and responsibility. But it’s never the children who decides how much freedom and responsibility to give to their Father, but it’s always the other way around. 

The above verse is also yet another verse which confirms that a church gathering is often 1) away from home and 2) in a building and 3) RULED by someone. Here the church of God is CONTRASTED with a home, just like so many other verses.  We don’t always take the church with us, but we can GO to a church, and we can even be thrown out of a church by a person who is not even a true believer:

 3 John 1: 9I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 10Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.

The Holy Ghost has made some people overseers over a flock, to feed the church of God. Paul knows that after his departure grievous wolves will enter in among ”you” (the listeners here were the elders in the church of Ephesus, but this concerns all of us) and that’s why he wants them to take heed.

Acts 20:28Take heed therefore unto YOURSELVES, and to all the FLOCK, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made YOU OVERSEERS, to feed the CHURCH OF God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in AMONG YOU, not sparing the FLOCK.

De kom till tro, så många som var bestämda till evigt liv Apg.13:48 – Gud väljer INTE vem som ska tro

Apg 13:48När hedningarna hörde detta, blevo de glada och prisade Herrens ord; och de kommo till tro, så många det var beskärt att få evigt liv. (1917)

I Svenska Folkbibeln är  det grekiska verbet tasso (Strong’s 5021) – här i formen tetagmenoi  – översatt till ”bestämda”. Det som denna vers säger är att de människor som hade evigt liv var de troende.  Ett liknande påstående skulle kunna vara ”Alla de som vann sprang i loppet ”. Det grekiska ordet visar inte på någonting som är förutbestämt enligt Adam Clark (”Commentary on Acts 13:48”, och begreppet kan betyda föreskriva, dispositionera sig eller att sätta sig i verket. Adam Clarke menar att t man kan ha en disposition, eller villighet/öppenhet för att tro. Idén att Gud förutbestämmer vem som ska tro på honom – och att komma till frälsning –  motsägs redan två verser innan i samma kapitel. Människorna i Apg 13:48 och deras öppenhet att ta emot budskapet jämförs med judarnas, som hade chansen att tro och ta emot budskapet men valde att inte göra det:

Apg 13:46 Då svarade Paulus och Barnabas frimodigt: ”Guds ord måste först predikas för er. Men då ni visar det ifrån er och inte anser er själva värdiga det eviga livet, se, då vänder vi oss till hedningarna.  

De som inte ”anser sig själva värdiga det eviga livet” var de som inte trodde, men de som ”det var beskärt att få evigt liv” var de som trodde. Om de trodde eller inte var alltså beroende på om de de förkastade eller accepterade det budskap som predikades för dem. De som härdade sina hjärtan trodde inte, men de som ödmjukade sig gjorde det.  Om vi tackar nej till frälsningsbudskapet så är det vi som sänder oss själva till helvetet, och det är självklart ett mycket dåligt val.  Gud själv vill inte att en enda själ ska gå förlorad utan att ALLA ska omvända sig. Det är precis samma sak som det vi läser i Romarbrevet 1 och i resten av Bibeln.

Det finns ingen egentlig agent till verbet vilket betyder att det inte står klart vem som är aktör i meningen.  Det skulle kunnna vara subjekten själva, såsom ”de som satt sig själva till att klara provet klarade det”. Fribergs lexikon översätter  “as many as had become disposed toward eternal life” som en möjlig variant. Max Zerwick föreslår ”who had been set (in the way)” i ”Zerwick and Grosvenor’s A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament”. Det lexikon med den största autkoriteten för NT studier (BDAG) översätter inte verbet till ”predestinera” utan “to be in place”.  Henry Alford översätter med “as many as were disposed” i hans 4 volymer stora verk ”The Greek New Testament”.

Här nedan kan vi läsa om en trollkarl som GICK EMOT Paulus och Barnabbas och försökte hindra Guds vilja att ske:

Apg 13:Men Elymas, trollkarlen – det är vad hans namn betyder – gick emot dem och försökte hindra landshövdingen från att komma till tro. Saulus som även kallades Paulus, uppfylldes då av den helige Ande och spände ögonen i honom 10 och sade: ”Du djävulens son, full av allt slags svek och bedrägeri, du fiende till allt som är rätt, skall du aldrig upphöra att förvränga Herrens raka vägar? 11 Se, nu kommer Herrens hand över dig, och du skall bli blind en tid och inte kunna se solen.” I samma ögonblick föll ett totalt mörker över honom, och han gick omkring och sökte efter någon som kunde leda honom. 12 När landshövdingen såg det som hände, kom han till tro, slagen med häpnad över Herrens lära. 

Vad skulle ha hänt om Paulus och Barnabbas inte varit närvarande? Då skulle trollkarlen varit mer obunden att göra Guds raka vägar krokiga. Paulus ord får det att låta som det här inte var första gången som trollkarlen hindrade Guds vilja från att ske.  Vi kan också läsa att landshövdingen började tro pga det som han SÅG  Men om människor är predestinerade till att tro och bli frälsta innan jorden ens skapades, varför kopplas landshövdingens tro ihop med vad han såg och hörde?  Bibeln säger att tro kommer av att höra Guds ord och att vi förväntas åtminstone tro för gärningarnas skull:

Joh. 14:11 Tro mig: jag är i Fadern och Fadern är i mig. Om ni inte kan tro det, så tro för gärningarnas skull.

Vi kan läsa att ordet är sänt till bröder och söner av Abrahams släkt, och andra som fruktar Gud:

Apg. 13:26 Ni bröder, söner av Abrahams släkt, och ni andra som fruktar Gud, till oss har budskapet om denna frälsning blivit sänt.

Att ”frukta” är något som VI gör. Om det är Gud som väljer ut vem som ska tro på honom, varför kan vi aldrig läsa några verser som säger ungefär ”och Gud kommer se till att han placerar gudsfruktan i er så att ni kan tro”?

”Det glada budskapet” förkunnas för ”er”, och varför skulle ”er” inte desamma som nämnts i versen ovanför och i andra verser i samma kapitel?

Apg. 13 32 Och nu förkunnar vi för er det glada budskapet att det löfte som gavs till våra fäder, 33 det har Gud uppfyllt åt oss, deras barn, genom att låta Jesus träda fram, så som det är skrivet i andra psalmen: Du är min son, jag har i dag fött dig.

Paulus fortsätter här nedan att  säga ”bröder” (i den grekiska originaltexten står det ”män och bröder”) och att syndernas förlåtelse är predikat för dem. Vi kan även läsa ”var och en som tror förklaras rättfärdig i honom”. Ett fantastiskt erbjudande till alla. Vi är också varnade: ”Se därför till att det som är sagt hos profeterna inte drabbar er”.  Så Paulus säger att erbjudandet gäller alla, men det finns villkor för frälsningen som hänger på oss. Det finns alltid en risk att vi förlorar vår frälsning om vi inte vandrar i ljuset.

 Apg 13:38 Därför skall ni veta, mina bröder, att det är genom honom som syndernas förlåtelse predikas för er,39 och att var och en som tror förklaras rättfärdig i honom och fri från allt som ni inte kunde frias från genom Mose lag. 40 Se därför till att det som är sagt hos profeterna inte drabbar er: 

Det som Paulus varnar för kan hända med oss, som det hände med profeterna är att vi kan gå under om vi väljer att förakta frälsningsbudskapet.  VILL Gud att människor ska förakta honom och inte tro på honom?  Nej, saker och ting kan ske tvärt emot Guds vilja just för att han gett oss fri vilja.  Vi är också varnade för att vi måste FÖRBLI i Guds nåd. Det finns alltså en risk för att vi väljer en annan väg om vi inte passar oss.  

Apg 13:41 ”Se, ni föraktare, häpna och GÅ UNDER: en gärning utför jag i era dagar, en gärning som ni aldrig kommer att tro, när man berättar den för er”. —43 Och då man skildes åt, följde många judar och gudfruktiga proselyter med Paulus och Barnabas, som talade till dem och uppmanade dem att förbli i Guds nåd.

Här kan vi återigen läsa att frälsningserbjudandet ges även till hedningarna intill jordens yttersta gräns. Inte bara några lyckligt utvalda.

Apg. 13:47 Ty så har Herren befallt oss:Jag har satt dig till ett ljus för hedningarna, för att du skall bli till frälsning intill jordens yttersta gräns.”

Ordaining elders and pastors by laying on of hands

Illegitimate & Legitimate Ministries

1 Timothy 5:22 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.

1 Timothy 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

2 Timothy 1:6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

The Laying On of Hands

All of the references in first and second Timothy that I have listed above have to do with ordaining someone to the ministry.  In two of the cases the references have to do with Timothy’s calling in particular while in 1 Timothy 5:22 with those that Timothy would one day ordain.

The laying on of hands was the process used to publicly ordain an individual into a legitimate ministry.  In each of these scriptures the Apostle Paul mentions this process.  Laying on of hands was a visible sign to the Church that someone had the approval of the elders in the Church and that this person should be afforded the same respect that the elders had been given.   We would do well to follow the New Testament pattern as set forth by the Holy Ghost.

No one can have a legitimate ministry in the Church without having been ordained by a legitimate ministry.  It is chain passed all the way down from Christ to this present day. Anyone that launches a ministry and bypasses this process will have an illegitimate ministry.  An illegitimate ministry may look successful to the world around but such a ministry will never be anointed by the Holy Ghost.  It is absolutely essential that each ministry be legitimized by a legitimate ministry.

Today the world is full of illegitimate ministries.  Some one wakes up one morning and decides, “I think I will be a preacher” or “I think I will start a Church.”  Folks, it just does not work this way!  God must do the calling!  And whoever is called of God is not going to mind submitting under those that are called by God until they are mature enough to launch out on their own.  Anyone that is so arrogant that they feel this is not needed is going to be illegitimate.  Even Jesus recognized this process.  Really, no many could ever legitimize His ministry but John the Baptist, representing the Old Covenant, did baptize Jesus in the Jordan River.  What legitimized Jesus ministry was the landing of the Holy Ghost and the voice of His Father from Heaven.  Here is another verse that says much about our standing before God and man:

Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. 

Paul reminded Timothy that his ministry was legitimized by the laying on of hands of the Presbytery.  The word, “Presbytery” means “order of elders” and “seasoned elders”.  These leaders had the wisdom to recognize the calling, and to ordain those that were qualified to a legitimate ministry. Without the ordination of the Presbytery these new ministries would not be legitimate.

Paul cautioned Timothy, now a Pastor, to lay hands on no man suddenly.  This is not an admonition, as so many wrongly think, to refrain from striking a person but rather an admonition to not ordain a person too quickly.  The Elders should be cautious about who they recognize as having a legitimate ministry.  These new candidates for the ministry must first prove themselves faithful and must grow up under the watchful eye of an elder minister.  The word elder does imply age but we know that age alone cannot be the criteria, for there are those that are late coming to the faith, while at the same time there are those that have grown up from birth in the Church.

To ordain someone for the ministry is so serious that it requires years of observation, training, and much prayer and fasting, hence Paul’s words, “Lay hands suddenly on no man”.  To do any less is to court certain disaster.

Paul later told Timothy in more detail not to ordain anyone that was too young and inexperienced into the office of a Pastor. The term novice does not necessarily refer to chronology but definitely refers to spirituality.  Look at these words:

1 Timothy 3:6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

The Precedent of the Old Testament

We find this precedent in the Old Testament: in order for a new ministry to be legitimate it had to be acknowledged by a seasoned ministry.  This precedent is observed in many different passages.  We will look at the two of the more prominent relationships in scripture:

1.  Moses and Joshua- The great leader Moses had a young man that followed him for many years.  When Moses was 120 years old, and Joshua was 80 years old, Moses legitimized Joshua’s ministry.  This was done publicly at the Tabernacle.  It was this process that alerted the people to the fact that Joshua was now someone that would hold a spiritual office.

Deuteronomy 31:14 And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach that thou must die: call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of the congregation, that I may give him a charge. And Moses and Joshua went, and presented themselves in the tabernacle of the congregation.

2.  Elijah and Elisha- Who has not heard of the exploits of these two famous prophets?  Elijah chose Elisha years before and trained him, and upon his death, he passed the mantle on to Elisha.

2 Kings 2:9-10 9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. 10 And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.

When Elisha returned to the followers of Elijah bearing his master’s mantle this is what happened:

2 Kings 2:15 And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.

The Precedent of the New Testament

What is true in the Old Testament is also true in the New.  The same precedent is followed, though with emphasis on the “laying on of hands”.  Those wishing to embark on a ministry had to be ordained by the Elders or their ministry would not have been legitimate.

1.   Jesus and his Apostles- These Apostles were chosen and ordained by Christ to continue His ministry.  Jesus chose each one carefully and placed his blessing upon them.  They would be the ones after Jesus’ ascension to continue this apostolic succession (and no that is not a reference to the Pope).

John 20:21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

2.  Choosing the Deacons- In the book of Acts seven Deacons were selected and ordained in the early church.  Notice that the Apostles “Laid hands on them” to legitimize their office and ministry.

Acts 6:5-6 5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: 6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

3.  Paul and Barnabas chosen- Even Paul had to be ordained to a ministry that would spread the Gospel to the Gentiles.

Acts 9:27-30 27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. 29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. 30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.

4.  Paul and Timothy- At the beginning of this article we read the Apostle’s words to Timothy, who Paul often referred to as his “son in the faith”.  Paul reminded Timothy of his ordination and “the laying on of hands”.  The legitimate ministry of the Apostle Paul passed on a legitimate ministry to Timothy.

2 Timothy 1:6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

5.  Paul and Titus- Titus was another young man that came up under the tutelage of the Apostle Paul.  A specific reference to Titus’ calling is not recorded but there is very little doubt that Paul followed the same pattern set forth in the New Testament.  Paul, through his legitimate standing with God, had the authority to place Titus as the Pastor of the Church at Crete.

Titus 1:4-5 4 To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour. 5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: 

Final Words

It is so important that we take note that God calls who He chooses.  Sometimes the choice of God may not be that choice we would have made.  Any person that has the call of God on their life should submit to a legitimate ministry for tutelage and growth.  If someone refuses to then they will become puffed up, arrogant, and could even backslide.  At the very worse they will continue in some capacity of ministry and most likely do damage to many.

As a Pastor for the last twenty-four years I have seen many a “hot-shot” pass through ready to set the world ablaze.  They had the fire but they really had no discipline.  Some planted their feet and grew and today they have a fruitful ministry (to date we have young ministers that grew up in our Church working in the ministry in four different states), while others were impatient and thought they knew more than everyone else.  Most of those today have not only fallen from the ministry but have also fallen from the faith with their lives completely in shambles.

No matter how much fire you feel burning on the inside, there is never any harm in learning how to keep the fire burning.  If you want a legitimate ministry then you need to seek out a Moses or a Paul.  Only a legitimate ministry can ordain you into a legitimate ministry.  There are no exceptions.

The original article by my friend Mark. Herridge Sr. can be found here

Älska Gud av hela ditt FÖRSTÅND – Vikten av att ha kunskap om Gud

Ett varningssignal för att någon förordar en falsk lära kan vara när han/hon försvarar irrationella åsikter med ströverser såsom:

”Mina tankar är inte era tankar, och era vägar är inte mina vägar” (från Jesaja 55.8) eller ”Herrens vägar äro outgrundliga” kanske från Rom 11:32 (Hur outgrundliga är inte hans domar och hur outrannsakliga hans vägar) eller Ps.139:17 (Hur outgrundliga är inte för mig dina tankar, Gud, hur stor är inte deras mångfald)

Vilken kult som helst kan använda dessa verser för att försvara vilken paradox som helst. Men att ta dessa verser ut sitt sammanhang skapar en falsk bild av att Gud inte vill att vi ska förstå honom, och att vi skulle misslyckas om vi ens försökte. Det är sant att vi inte kan veta allt om Gud och förstå hela hans väsen (då skulle vi behöva vara gudar själva), eller förstå alla hans beslut, men Gud vill absolut att vi ska ha kunskap om honom och värdesätter det mycket högt. Om vi inte rent logiskt kan förstå oss på Gud så har vi svårt att evangelisera och försvara honom inför andra. Vi kan hamna i situationer när vi inte känner att vi har några bra svar, vilket är synd eftersom Bibeln ger alla svar vi behöver. Gud är fullständigt rationell och långt ifrån oberäknelig, ologisk och motstridig..

Både Matteus, Markus och Lukas menar att vi ska älska Gud bland annat av hela vårt förstånd. Exempel i Matteus:

Matteus 22:37 Han svarade: ”Du skall älska Herren din Gud av hela ditt hjärta och av hela din själ och av hela ditt förstånd.

Här kommer fler verser:

Rom. 1:28 Och eftersom de inte ansåg det vara något värt att ha kunskap om Gud, utlämnade Gud dem åt ett ovärdigt sinnelag, så att de gjorde sådant som är mot naturen.

1 Kor. 15:34 Nyktra till på allvar och synda inte. Några av er har ingen kunskap om Gud. Till er skam säger jag det.

2 Kor. 4:6 Ty Gud som sade: ”Ljus skall lysa fram ur mörkret”, han har låtit ljus lysa upp våra hjärtan, för att kunskapen om Guds härlighet, som strålar fram i Kristi ansikte, skall sprida sitt sken.

2 Kor. 10: 4 De vapen vi strider med är inte svaga utan har makt inför Gud att bryta ner fästen. Ja, vi bryter ner tankebyggnader 5 och allt högt som reser sig upp mot kunskapen om Gud. Och vi gör varje tanke till en lydig fånge hos Kristus 6 och är beredda att straffa all olydnad, så snart ni har blivit fullkomligt lydiga.Ef. 1:17 Jag ber att vår Herre Jesu Kristi Gud, härlighetens Fader, skall ge er vishetens och uppenbarelsens Ande, så att ni får en rätt kunskap om honom.

1 Kor. 2: 12 Men vi har inte fått världens ande, utan den Ande som är från Gud, för att vi skall VETA vad vi har fått av Gud.

2 Tim. 2: 15 Gör allt du kan för att bestå provet inför Gud, likt en arbetare som inte behöver skämmas utan rätt delar sanningens ord. 

Ef. 4:10 Han som steg ner är också den som steg upp över alla himlar för att uppfylla allt.11 Och han gav några till apostlar, andra till profeter, andra till evangelister och andra till herdar och lärare. 12 De skulle utrusta de heliga till att utföra sin tjänst att bygga upp Kristi kropp,13 tills vi alla når fram till enheten i tron och i kunskapen om Guds Son, till ett sådant mått av manlig mognad att vi blir helt uppfyllda av Kristus.

Hos. 6:6 Ty jag har min glädje i kärlek och inte i offer och i kunskap om Gud mer än i brännoffer.

Hosea 4:1 [ Herrens anklagelser mot Israel ] Hör HERRENS ord, ni Israels barn! Ty HERREN går till rätta med dem som bor i landet, eftersom ingen sanning och ingen kärlek och ingen kunskap om Gud finns i landet.

Hosea 4:6 Mitt folk går under i brist på kunskap. Eftersom du har förkastat kunskap, skall också jag förkasta dig, så att du inte längre är min präst. Du glömde din Guds undervisning, därför skall också jag glömma dina barn.

Jeremia 9:23 Så säger Herren: Den vise skall inte berömma sig av sin vishet, den starke inte av sin styrka  och den rike inte av sin rikedom.24 Den som vill berömma sig, han skall berömma sig av att han har insikt  och känner mig: Att jag är Herren, som verkar med nåd, rätt och rättfärdighet på jorden.Ty däri har jag min glädje, säger Herren.

Ordsp. 2:5 Min son, om du tar emot mina ord och gömmer mina bud inom dig,så att du låter ditt öra ta vara på visheten och böjer ditt hjärta till klokheten,ja, om du ropar efter insikt och höjer din röst för att kalla på klokheten,om du söker efter den som efter silver och letar efter den som efter en skatt, då skall du förstå HERRENS fruktan och finna kunskapen om Gud.

Ordsp. 11:9 Med sin mun fördärvar den gudlöse sin nästa, genom kunskap blir de rättfärdiga räddade.

Tack kära Jesus för den kunskap vi får av Dig!

Why christians should go to Church, and not forsake the assembly

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25)

When writing this I mainly have certain ghastly ”anti-modern-Church-articles” in mind, where authors on page after page throw dirt on the entire Church system, making it sound like ALL churches are rotten to the core, and that whosoever attends a church service in a church building is supporting the Harlot, and/or Babylon and does something that God hates. The authors might protest and say that this is NOT their point, BUT in that case they have totally failed to get their message across. If you write page after page with one bad example after the other, describing the entire Church system (or ”most” churches at best) as nothing but evil, not mentioning one single positive thing, then WHAT OTHER MESSAGE COULD THE READER POSSIBLY GET? The reader will NATURALLY get the impression he/she does something wrong simply by attending a church – any church.

The authors might very well scare readers into avoiding ALL churches, but sadly staying at home would be even MORE anti-Biblical and might very well cause weak christians to start living in the world. The problem with those anti-Church-authors (apart from being so one-sided and painting with a broad brush) is that they don’t provide a solution. Yes, some of them present a ”better way” and how a church is supposed to be, but where is this perfect Church? Oh, WE are the Church? Yes that is true in part, but the reader is still ALONE! Where does he find other christians who can encourage him with words and through prophesies, who he can sing with, socialize with, breaking bread with, pray with and spreading the Word with? I wish all those anti-Church authors would understand how much harm they do when they like bulldozers run across the entire Church system and scare people away from something that would benefit them greatly to take part in. I can refer to them below as AMCP (Anti-Modern-Church-People). I might very well use ”church” with the meaning of a certain building containing an assembly of christians.

If someone starts off a series of articles by writing ”I’m not against Russians and I know all of them aren’t bad BUT….” and then writes page after page about his own bad experiences when it comes to Russians, and how evil he feels they are, how mean,  nasty, corrupt, unreliable, dangerous, etc, – and not a single word about GOOD Russians – then is it a surprise that the reader will get the message that Russians are people to stay away from? If someone starts off with ”I’m not a cessationist, BUT…” and then writes page after page with examples of the misuse of tongues, then is it a surprise that the reader will get the idea that speaking in tongues is evil and something to avoid? Let’s not deceive ourselves.

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt 18:20)

Few christians are unaware of this verse but AMCP act as if this verse comes as a surprise to many. This verse doesn’t change the fact that the Bible shows that getting together with other christians (loads more than 2-3) is the norm, and something that is taken for granted. (Look in the end of this article for verses.)

Some feel that sitting in front of the computer alone and watching a church service online equals ”not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together”, but could this be what Paul had in mind (even if internet was not invented during this time)? Some AMCP erect a strawman to battle, and they paint a picture of a REALLY poorly functioned church and either say that ”most” churches are like that or the entire ”church system”. Unfortunately people might believe them and run away from church and believe they can be home alone and still be spiritually fine. It’s a chance they will make it just fine, BUT it’s a huge risk they won’t. Especially if they are babes in Christ, if they have no others to be encouraged by on their walk, if they don’t have the discipline to pray and read the Bible and if they have ”friends” who are influencing them to live in the world.

How about a little more balanced presentation of the Church? How about spending some time describing what MARVELLOUS transformations that have happened to people thanks to their experiences in a church? There are christians out there who do their utmost to get people IN to Church, but AMCP try to get people OUT of the Church whether this is their aim or not. ”No, WE are the Church, you don’t have to go anywhere to get to church!” they might say, but we cannot be an assembly of christians all alone and I’m afraid the work of certain ambitious AMCP leads to very lonely christians. Make sure you’re not only spreading negative things about Church. Do add some positive things as well (and you don’t have to lie since there are loads of good churches out there) because all are not as strong as you are in the faith. Leaving Church might be the LAST thing babes in Christ need. And don’t say ”I’m not asking them to leave a good Church but I’m just warning readers about bad churches” if the case is that you haven’t written anything but negative things about Church. Shouldn’t Jesus be enough? Say this to those who have lost their faith and/or who have started to live in the world due to tempting influences and too little christian support.

Sure, you might have reasons to remove yourself from church, like due to a general lack of churches in your area, due to disability or due to work – but why encouraging others to take the same route? Do you really feel you are doing something that God wants by leading people away from church rather than TO church? That might not be your aim, but this is what you’re doing if you paint with a broad brush.

The first churches were far from perfect

Some might believe the first churches were perfect and contained no errors, but that is far from the truth. They suffered from all kinds of minor or major problems, and that is why Paul sent out all those letters to them – to warn, exhort and correct. We can also read about bad behavior in the christian assembly in other letters, as well as in Acts. In Revelations we can see how Jesus exhorts most churches, and this was during a time when the apostle John was still living. The closest we can come to harmony in the early church is in the below verses, but it’s hard to forget what happened to Ananias and his wife Sapphira. As soon as people are involved, there is always a risk that individuals act against the will of God. Sometimes because they don’t know any better, and sometimes because they do know the proper behavior but still decide to be disobedient for selfish reasons. Notice while reading the verses:

1) Christians stayed together and had fellowship with each other. 2) 3000 people were saved and added to them this particular day. Naturally they could not all fit into one house to worship together, so the solution must be to use several houses and/or a large building. 3) Baptism and breaking bread with others couldn’t be possible unless christians stayed together. 4) Wonders and signs wouldn’t get a large impact unless they were seen by others. 5) They did not abandon the temple, even though they could of course meet up also in homes.

Acts 2:41Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls42And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and FELLOWSHIP, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles44And all that believed WERE TOGETHER, and had all things COMMON; 45And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46And they, continuing daily with one accord in the TEMPLE, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

So ”ekklesia” means ”assembly of believers” or ”called out ones” and not a building of believers. WHAT’S THE BIG DIFFERENCE?

Talk about splitting hairs and causing a division for the sake of causing a division! This is pure semantics. It’s not always wrong to cause a division, but then it better be about something important and worth while – like concerning a doctrine. It’s absolutely nothing wrong with saying ”going to church”, and we can find similar expressions in the Bible.

1 Cor. 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

When we say ”let’s go to church” we normally mean: meeting up with an assembly of christians who are inside a certain building, and together with them listening to one or more preachers teaching something from the Bible. We might also associate ”church” with general worship, singing christian songs, receiving and giving edification in form of interpreted tongues and prophesies, as well as socializing with other christians. All this is very biblical, so don’t fear those who try to intimidate you when you say ”go to church”. When you say ”I will go to church now”, you wouldn’t normally mean to go to an empty church building, but rather to meet up with the assembly of christians. So the word ”church” for this particular building is an EXCELLENT choice of word. I suspect AMCP ALSO express themselves with ”he went to church this morning” and ”look what a beautiful church!” and ”what church do you go to?” even though they complain about others who do the same.

Biblical christians assembled together to almost 100% inside BUILDINGS for quite obvious reasons. They would have roof over their heads in case of bad weather, the preachers would be heard much better, they would be able to sit more comfortably and they would be closer to other important facilities.

James 2:2For if there come unto your assembly (synagogen) a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:

People might say they are ”going to SCHOOL”, and by that they mean a certain building with both teachers and students. Without teachers and students it wouldn’t be much of a ”school” but we could still call it a ”school” also during those times they are empty. We could use the same reasoning when it comes to a gym, a library, a hairdresser  or a store. Remove some of the essential contents from those places and there wouldn’t be much of a gym, a library, a hairdresser or a store. The same applies to CHURCH. Many christians are well aware of what ”ekklesia” means and they find no reason whatsoever to express themselves any differently about ”going to church” than what they have always done. Has there really been much confusion about this so far? When a person says ”I’m going to church this morning”, do you stand there with a puzzled look and ask ”What on earth do you mean?”

The Bible doesn’t give much instructions about the proper way to meet up for worship, so I believe we have some freedom. Below are some verses which show that Paul and the other disciples in no way tried to boycott the temple/synagogues just because they were now Christians. If they wanted to show that the synagogues were ”bad” in any way, then they could have settled to meet people outside the buildings, and also take the chance to explain why they do this. But instead they went to the temple/synagogues to pray, to preach/teach, to worship, to dispute, etc. They often kept track of times for the Sabbath day and/or prayer meetings, and they went through some jewish purification rituals. Jesus was constantly in the synagogues, and never can we read any negative statements about the synagogues themselves. Naturally you could find wicked rulers of the synagogues (and wicked doctrines), but you could also find the opposite, and people who accepted the new teaching. Just like synagogues, churches are merely buildings. They aren’t good or bad in themselves and they are what people make them to be. The first thing Paul did in Damascus after his conversion was to preach in the synagogues, so why couldn’t we today seek out churches and try to influence people in the same way? Is it really a better idea to sit at home and complain about the entire church system without providing a better alternative?

Godly people in the Bible erected altars (like Noah, Joshua, etc) and they did not sin by doing so. Neither is it a sin to build a synagogue or a church. Also wicked people could naturally erect altars and buildings for ungodly purposes. There is a synagogue of God and a synagogue of Satan:

Psalm 74:8 They said in their hearts, Let us destroy them together: they have burned up all the synagogues (meetings) of God in the land.

Rev. 2:9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

Nowhere in the Bible can we read that it’s wrong to build synagogues or churches in order to make more room for christians and their worship.

Luke 7:3And when he heard of Jesus, he sent the elders of the Jews unto Him, beseeching Him that He would come and heal his servant. 4And when they came to Jesus they besought Him earnestly, saying that the one for whom He should do this was worthy,5for he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a SYNAGOGUE.” 6And Jesus went with them. And when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying unto Him, ”Lord, trouble not Thyself, for I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof.

Below are more verses that show that going to the temple/synagogue was natural for believers, and many people got their lives totally changed for the better thanks to their visits and exhortations. Why don’t we do the same instead of remaining at home alone? Jesus and his disciples were constantly in the synagogues, regardless if they were good or bad, and we could have the same approach about Church today. In some places Paul and his company might not have been allowed to preach that much due to hostile leaders, but it seems like they succeeded most of time, and they could also continue to discuss outside of the synagogues. In other cases the rulers of synagogues were God-fearing people:.

Acts 3:1 Now Peter and John went up together into the TEMPLE at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

Acts 4:1 And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the TEMPLE, and the Sadducees, came upon them, 2Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

Here the angel of the Lord asked the men to stand up and speak in the temple, which they obeyed, in combination with also preaching in whatever synagogue they could find. The angel didn’t tell them to only preach in GOOD places:

Acts 4:19 But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, 20Go, stand and speak in the TEMPLE to the people all the words of this life.

Acts 4:42 And daily in the TEMPLE, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

Acts 9:19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. 20And straightway he preached Christ in the SYNAGOGES, that he is the Son of God.— 26And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.— 27But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.— 30Which when the brethren knew, the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.

Acts 13:4So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. 5And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the SYNAGOGES of the Jews:and they had also JOHN TO THEIR MINISTER.-–14But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the SYNAGOGUE on the sabbath day, and sat down. 15And after the reading of the law and the prophets the RULERS of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and BRETHREN, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.–

Acts 13:42 And when the Jews were gone out of the SYNAGOGUE, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. 43Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. 44And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.

Acts 14:1And it came to pass in Iconium that together they both went into the SYNAGOGUE of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude of both the Jews and also of the GREEKS believed.

Acts 18:4 And he reasoned in the SYNAGOGUE every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the GREEKS.— 7And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God,whose house joined hard to the synagogue. 8And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.

Acts 17:1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a SYNAGOGUE of the Jews:2And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,—10And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.—-17Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.

Acts 18:17 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat.And Gallio cared for none of those things.18And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow. 19And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the SYNAGOGUE, and reasoned with the Jews. 20When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; 21But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus. 22And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch. 23And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.

Here is a man called Apollo which we should take after. Just like Paul, after his conversion, this man began to speak boldly in the synagogue. Aquila and Priscilla were God-fearing people who heard him (both good and bad people might attend a synagogue) and they  took him unto them and taught him even more. Apollo did the right thing, and Aquila and Priscilla as well, by hanging around in a synagogue. Thanks to Apollo’s actions he mightily convinced the jews. Would he have succeeded to do this if he would have chosen to sit at home, content with reading theology books and complain about the entire synagogue-system? I don’t think so:

Acts 18:24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus..25This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. 26And he began to speak boldly in the SYNAGOGUE: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.27And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: 28For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.

Acts 19:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,—8And he went into the SYNAGOGUE, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. 9But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. 10And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.—37For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.

Acts 21:26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the TEMPLE, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them. 27And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the TEMPLE, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,

Acts 22:17 And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the TEMPLE, I was in a trance;18And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. 19And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every SYNAGOGUE them that believed on thee:

Acts 24:11 Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship. 12And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city:—18Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the TEMPLE, neither with multitude, nor with tumult.

Church (ekklesia) is sometimes used in CONTRAST to a group of individual believers!

Paul gives instructions to the assembly of christians (Church) concerning the treatment of widows. He would prefer if widows could be taken care of by individuals rather than having the CHURCH providing for them. In this way the Church could focus on those widows who are really in need and who don’t have anyone else providing for them. The idea shouldn’t be ”I let the Church provide for my elderly mother and/or aunt, and in that way my household won’t have to provide for them”.

1 Tim. 5:3 Honour widows that are widows indeed. 4But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God. — 9Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man. 10Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. 11But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;—16If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church (ekklesia) be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed. 17Let the ELDERS (presbyteroi) that rule well be counted worthy of DOUBLE HONOUR, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.—19Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. 20Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

The man Diotrephes refused to receive the brethren and even cast them out of the CHURCH. So the true brethren are mentioned in contrast to the Church also in this case. The wicked person cast them out of the Church. Clearly ”church” can sometimes be a place (place for the assembly of God) since the wicked person here casts true believers out of church:

3 John 1:6 Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: — 9I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 10Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.

If we can never say ”I’m going to Church” because WE as christians are always the Church, then neither does the below verse make any sense. Here we can read that Paul, Barnabas etc were ”received” by the Church. It’s a shame that Diotrephes (above) didn’t make the same choice. Of course it’s better to receive godly men into Church, instead of casting them out.

Acts 15:4And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church (ekklesian), and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.—

Paul contrasts ”we” with ”the Church” here below. He is also talking about ”when ye come together in the Church”. This is a very close ring to ”going to Church” which the AMCP so often complain about. Apparently Paul takes for granted that we are GOING AWAY when we ”come together in the Church” because he complains about people who take the chance to eat a lot of food while being in the Church. Paul asks ”have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?” and ”if any man hunger, let him eat AT HOME”.

1 Cor. 11:1Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.2Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. 4Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.—16But if any man seem to be contentious, WE have no such custom, NEITHER the churches of God. 17Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. 18For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. 19For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. 20When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. 21For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. 22What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? what shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.—30For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.—33Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. 34And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.

Paul says women should be silent in a teaching situation in Church and in this instance he is speaking of a place and not a metaphor for people because he then gives permission for them to speak at home.

1 Cor. 14:33For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 34Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. 35And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

More examples of various churches:

1 Cor.16:1Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 2Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.— 10Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do. 11Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren. 12As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.—15I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) 16That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth. 17I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied. 18For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.19The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. 

2 Cor. 2:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:

2 Cor. 12:Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? 8I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. 9And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.—12Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. 13For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.

2 Cor 8:1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 4Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.—14But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: 15As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.17For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you.18And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches;19And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:—23Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ. 24Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.

The church is pictured as the BODY OF CHRIST and christians are supposed to be physically TOGETHER in order to edify each other

Paul explains that each part of the body exists to meet the needs of other body parts. In the same way, God intends each of us to meet the needs of other believers, using our strengths to help in their areas of weakness.  A Christian cannot claim to have all the body parts himself, being self-sufficient. In the OT we can read about a few godly believers who are rather alone in their faithful walk with God, but we can never read that this is according to their own desires. They didn’t have much choice! Neither are they evidence of that we can be just as fine without other christians, because there might be OTHER single believers out there who have drifted away due to no support from others. We are to comfort one another (1 Thess. 4:18), build up one another ( 1 Thess. 5:11), confess our sins to one another (James 5:16) and pray for one another (James 5:16). Probably because we need it to stay strong and to not lose our faith. How can we obey these directives if we stay away from the gathering of believers?

The body of Christ has many members and as believers we are all in the same body even though we might feel we are not as important as other members because we are not the ”arm”, or the ”head”, etc. All are not apostles. All are not teachers. If we were all having the same task, who would do the other important tasks which are needed for the body of Christ? God has placed apostles, teachers, prophets, etc, in the CHURCH (assembly). If you’re at home alone, it’s impossible for you to have any of these roles, and it’s equally hard to make use of spiritual gifts, such as healings and prophesies for the edification of others. You need to be physically involved in an assembly of christians:

1 Cor. 12:11But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 12For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.14For the body is not one member, but many 15If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?— 25That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. 27Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all TEACHERS? are all workers of miracles?

Romans 12:4For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another6Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith7Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that TEACHES, on TEACHING8Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

Below we can read more about edification of the Church. Most of Paul’s instructions about behavior in the Church would be totally useless unless we are together with other christians. Paul says we should aim to edify the CHURCH by various spiritual gifts, and that is of course impossible for those who are home alone. Also Paul’s instructions about women being quiet in Church and instead asking questions to their husbands AT HOME, indicates he is talking about an environment with other christians, normally away from home.

 ”When ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation”. Not IF you come together but WHEN you come together:

1 Cor. 14:3But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. 4He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.-–12Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.—16Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? 17For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.19Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.—23If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? 24But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:— 26How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. 27If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. 28But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.—33For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 34Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. 35And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

We are told that Jesus himself gave some to apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, and this was for perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry and for edifying of the BODY OF CHRIST. These different positions were to continue ”Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”. This has not happened yet:.

Ephesians 4:10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Conditions and tasks for an elder, and note that not ALL people qualify for this task. Elders MUST be professionally trained.

God designed the church as a place where spiritual leaders could watch out for our welfare, just like a shepherd who guards the sheep (1 Peter 5:1-4, Hebrews 13:17). A Christian who answers only to himself can easily rationalize sinful attitudes. Regular contact with other Christians can keep us sharp. In an assembly, it’s not right to let whosoever rise up to teach others. Christians are rather free to share witnesses, prophesies, songs and translating tongues (but we are still told to test all things), but the TEACHING should only be made by those who qualify. Read below about how elders are ordained and that not all people are to be trusted when it comes to teaching. The wrong person preaching could lead to doctrinal errors being spread, so be careful to NOT let people preach in your assembly just to be ”kind”. Naturally we should all spread the gospel to unbelievers (we are all told to make disciples), but when it comes to a situation where the assembly of God is supposed to be taught the truth in order to build up others, then it better be from a qualified teacher. Obviously we should always act like the Bereans regardless of who are doing the teaching and compare what we hear with scriptures, but not all have the ability to read and/or cover that much text, why it’s important that our teachers are qualified for their task.

Below we can read that Titus has been appointed to ordain elders in every city. There are loads of restrictions and rules tied to an elder. The elders are responsible to exhort and to convince the gainsayers, because some mouths must be stopped. That is because they subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not:

Titus 1:4 To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour. 5For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders (presbyterous) in every city, as I had appointed thee6If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. 7For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate9Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers10For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: 11Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.

In Acts 6 we can read about the twelve disciples not feeling it was right for them to ”serve tables” and they preferred that others took this responsibility so that they themselves could focus on spreading the word of God. They gathered the other disciples who chose seven faithful men to take care of the daily ministration. This doesn’t mean those who served tables were less important since we are ALL needed to advance God’s kingdom and we are all different parts of the same body. However, ALL are not supposed to do the preaching in an assembly. You can call this a ”hierarchy” if you want, but that would be a negative word about a biblical solution:

Acts 6:1And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 2Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. 3Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 4But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. 5And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: 6Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. 7And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

Here Barnabbas is exhorting the church of Antioch to cleave unto the Lord. Seems he was the man to do this type of exhorting:

Acts 11:22Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the CHURCH which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. 23Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. 24For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. 25Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: 26And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

Here the apostles had ordained certain men to be elders in every church, and they prayed, fasted and commended them to the Lord. This shows the great importance involved.

Acts 14:1And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the SYNAGOGUE of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.—4But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.—23And when they had ordained them ELDERS (presbyterous) in every church (ekklesian), and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.— 27And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. 28And there they abode long time with the disciples.

Hierarchy or not, but the church in Antioch brought Paul, Barnabas and certain others to Jerusalem to solve a certain question by the apostles and the elders there. Apparently they felt these men were more suitable to act in the matter. The church in Jerusalem ”received” them AND the apostles and the elders did as well. They decided to send some chosen men – CHIEF MEN among the brethren – to Antioch. These chief men exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.

Acts 15:2When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders (presbyterous) about this question. 3And being brought on their way by the church (ekklesias), they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. 4And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church (ekklesian), and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.—6And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.—21For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. 22Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas and Silas,chief men among the brethren:—23And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia.—25It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,— 30So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle:—31Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation. 32And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.— 36And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the LORD, and see how they do.—40And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. 41And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.

Here we can read about decrees being delivered for others to keep, and these decrees were ordained by apostles and elders in Jerusalem. We can’t read about anyone complaining about hierarchial systems. The churches increased in number:

Acts 16:1Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: 2Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.—4And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. 5And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.

Timothy was sent out to make the churches remember the way of Christ, and also to make sure they teach no other doctrine, or give heed to fables and endless genealogies. Timothy was ordained to ministry by the laying on of hands by  Paul and the presbytery, and he was told to not lay on hands on others to soon. Not all people qualify to be elders :

1 Cor 4:17For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church. 18Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.

1 Tim 1:2Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. 3As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. 6From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; 7Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.

2 Tim. 2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

1 Tim 4:6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. 7But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.—13Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the HANDS of the presbytery.

1 Timothy 5:22 Lay HANDS suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.

2 Timothy 1:6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my HANDS.

Unfortunately christians will heap to themselves false teachers, and that’s why it’s so important to have qualified teachers around us, who have been trained and accepted by the presbytery before them, and who can reprove, rebuke and exhort based on the true doctrine:

2 Tim. 4:2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves TEACHERS, having itching ears; 4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry

1 Tim. 5:19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. 20Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

Here are more rules for those who would like to become a bishop – for instance; a novice is not a good candidate. Also; ”Let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.” There are even rules for how the wives of the bishops should act:

1 Tim 3:1This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop (episkopes), he desireth a good work. 2A bishop (episkopon) then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)6Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.—10And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.11Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 12Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.—15But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

Authority…:

Titus 2:15These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

When a person is sick, he should call for the elders of a church and let THEM pray over him and anoint him with oil. We are told to confess our faults to one another and pray for another that we may be healed. This is impossible to obey if you’re not among other believers:

James 5:13Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. 14Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders (presbyterous) of the church (ekklesias) ; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. —19Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; 20Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

Peter is an elder who exhorts other elders. Elders are supposed to feed the flock as shepherds and be good examples. When the chief shepherd shall appear (Jesus) they shall receive their crown. Peter says the younger should submit to the elders. Nothing is wrong with having shepherds and elders, or submitting to them. The problem arises when churches neglect the instructions for elders, and when they accept teachers who are not qualified and thereby welcome false doctrines in their midst:

1 Peter 5 :1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock. 4And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. 5Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.— 13The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son. 14Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.

2 Peter 2:1But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 

So apparently elders are referred to as shepherds, so what is so horrible about calling elders ”pastors” today? How about warning about dangerous false doctrines instead of splitting hairs?

”didaskaloi” –  means a master, a teacher or an instructor acknowledged for their mastery in their field of learning. Not all meet the requirements.

The word is used below, and a similar word is used for the actual ”teaching” of these ”teachers”. Note how particular the task of being a teacher is:

James 3 1My brethren, be not many MASTERS, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

Acts 13 1Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and TEACHERS; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 3And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

Eph. 4:11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists (euangelistas); and some, pastors (poimenas) and TEACHERS (didaskalous); 12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Hebrews. 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be TEACHERS, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

Romans 12: 6Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that TEACHES, on TEACHING8Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 

1 Corinthians 12 28And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly TEACHERS, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all TEACHERS? are all workers of miracles? 30Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? 31But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

1 Timothy 5 1Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; 2The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity. 3Honour widows that are widows indeed. 4But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God. — 17Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and DOCTRINE18For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. 19Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. 20Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. 

Plurality of elders

Nowhere in the Bible will you see a verse which claims there must always be more than one ”elder” in an assembly. Those who claim this have the burden of proof to show it. Paul says that not all are apostles, teachers, etc, and he is very clear about that not all are qualified to be an elder. Let’s go through some of the verses which are often used as ”proof” for the idea that there must always be multiple elders in a church.

Acts 14:2 21And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, 22Confirming the souls of the DISCIPLES, and exhorting THEM to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. 23And when they had ordained THEM ELDERS in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

Comment: Many places are spoken about and many disciples are mentioned. Those who were ordained elders were the disciples so the word should be in plural. It would be incorrect to say that they made them all ”elder in every church”. One person can not be several elders.

Acts 20: 16For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.17And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the ELDERS of the church.

Comment: There happened to be several elders in the church of Ephesus.

Acts 20:225And now, behold, I know that YE ALL, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.26Wherefore I take YOU to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27For I have not shunned to declare unto YOU ALL the counsel of God.8Take heed therefore unto YOURSELVES, and to all the FLOCK, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made YOU OVERSEERS, to feed the CHURCH OF God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

Comment. These verses speak against those who say there are always multiple elders in each church. The text says nothing of the sort. Paul is talking to a certain group of people (disciples) and they have all been made overseers by the Holy Ghost. THEY are therefore responsible, much like shepherds, to feed the flock which is the church of God (all christians). Not all people are called to be shepherds. Most of us are in the ”flock”. Paul also warns the disciples about grievous wolves which will enter in among them, not sparing the flock. This is exactly what might happen in churches that refuse to adhere to Paul’s rules about not letting whosoever become elders and teachers, and shepherds are responsible for not letting this happen. All are not apostles, teachers, prophets, and that means we should not allow people to be elders who are not qualified. Disobeying Paul’s instructions about this order will risk false teachers and teachings to enter in among us. In summary; don’t let anyone stand up and teach in your church!

Peter 5:1The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:

Comment: Several elders are spoken about here too, so it should be plural.

Phil. 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons

Comment: Not sure how large Philippi was during this time (I’ve been there myself but about 2000 years later), and how many churches (assemblies) there were and how big each assembly was, but apparently the assemblies were big enough and blessed enough to have many bishops and deacons. It doesn’t say anywhere here either that there MUST be multiple bishops and deacons in each assembly.

Titus 1:5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain ELDERS in every city, as I had appointed thee

Comment: Paul didn’t restrict Titus to always settle with ONE elder per city. It would not make sense if Paul told Titus to make one single person an elder for multiple cities. Naturally then ”elder” should be in plural. Titus of course had instructions to follow, and he couldn’t make people elders who did not qualify for this. The qualifications for an elder follow right after Titus 1:5. If multiple people qualified they could be elders (likely the case) but if only one person qualified in a city, then Titus had to settle with him in order to be obedient to Paul’s instructions.

 James 5:14Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:

Comment: What if Paul instead wrote that we should call for ”the elder” of the church. That would make it sound like Paul takes for granted there is never more than one elder per church. But there could absolutely be more than one elder per church, and this might very well be the most common case. More than one person could be qualified to be an elder in one and the same church. Clearly then Paul must use ”elder” in plural and not singular.

In summary; there are no verses in the Bible which say there can never be only one elder in a church. The best scenario would be if there were more than one, but if people did not meet the standards, apart from just one, then this one person would be the only elder. Paul in Acts 7  is the only one mentioned doing the talking for several hours, until daybreak, and that didn’t seem to be a problem.

Finally a few verses with ”elder” in singular (just because there are those who claim there are none):

1 Timothy 5 1Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; 

1 Timothy 5:19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.

1 Peter 5:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed

1  Peter 5:5  Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

2 John 1:1 The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;

Not all churches are lead by one (despotic) pastor, so please do not paint with a broad brush

Not all churches are run by ONE pastor who is teaching a bunch of falsehood before a crazy crowd of people who only go to church for the wrong reasons. There ARE godly pastors out there who feel the calling and the responsibility to keep the assembly clean from falsehood, and there are pastors who do NOT want to be idolized in any way. In some small areas there might not be enough christians who qualify to be preachers/elders, and Paul puts a lot of emphasize on how important it is for a teacher to meet the requirements. Having an assembly in a church building or in a home with only one elder is FAR better than not having any assemblies at all. I’m glad there are no ”church inspectors” who come knocking on doors just to check that there are at least 2-3 elders present, or else the assembly must be dissolved. I’d rather have one good qualified pastor/elder/shepherd/bishop/presbytery (or whatever you would like to call him) than multiple elders who are not qualified when it comes to teaching. However, a church could of course have multiple administrators/helpers (some call them elders) who might not be qualified as teachers but qualified when it comes to other tasks. This is very common in our churches

Below we can read about Paul who alone did all the preaching when the disciples joined together. They apparently gathered in a large house because Eutychus fell down from the third loft. Paul also explains to the elders of the church how important it is that they keep the flock together. Unfortunately Paul also knows that there will be men of their own, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them. This is always the risk when leaders of a church in an attempt to be ”democratic” allow various people to rise up and preach even though they are not qualified. Preaching to others in a christian assembly is a great responsibility. Single pastors don’t equal selfish monsters with the only aim to spread falsehood around them. Paul spoke for hours upon hours in the below verses, and no one suggested it was selfish or unfair.

Acts 20:1And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.— 7And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. 8And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. 9And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. 10And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. 11When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.— 17And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. 18And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,—20And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house,—28Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers (episkopous), to feed (poimainein) the church (ekklesian) of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

Are there any Bible verses against paying pastors – if this is what a group of believers would prefer?

Temples couldn’t have been totally free to run, and we know that the Levites got help from the other tribes when it comes to food and other products in order to work full-time in the tabernacle/temple. If some preachers were paid in the NT – perhaps if they accepted some collected money during their visits – we don’t know. We DO know that the bible nowhere forbids it. We must keep in mind that things were much different in the beginning when it comes to persecution, ability to work and get money, and the general culture. Changes don’t have to be wrong (except if they are against the Bible). What’s wrong with paying those who serve full time and put their entire lives into the ministry? Where is the sin? What is the better alternative knowing the culture of today?

Today the normal situation for a family is that both the man and the woman have to work full-time to make ends meet, and that means you’re away from home most of the day since you also have to commute to and from work. An hour in each direction is not uncommon. When you get home around 6 pm you have to get the kids from the kindergarten, fix dinner, do some laundry and spend the little time you have left with your kids even though you’re TIRED and just want to go to bed. With other words, forget about doing any preaching or evangelization Monday-Friday. Now we have the weekend left. On Saturday you really need to do some major grocery shopping so you won’t have to do that during the rest of the week when you’re too busy. This might also be the only day of the week when you actually have time to do something together as a family, like going to the park and maybe the kids are doing some sport activities. You also have some cleaning to do, more laundry to handle, and a large pile of clothes to iron. You might also need to visit some relatives. So only SUNDAY is left. Of course you can try to fill it with preaching and evangelization, but you also need some time in prayers and private Bible studies, and you always have your family that requires your attention. Of course the situation will be easier once the kids grow up, but we’re still down to SOME hours during the weekend. Maybe it’s a better idea to PAY a person who is qualified for preaching? He could do this FULL TIME. If preachers, eager to spread the gospel, had to settle with Sundays, there is a risk that their fire might be quenched.

The world has changed also in other ways. 2000 years ago people took care of their own elderly parents and handicapped family members but today people are getting paid for it. This system is hard to change over night, and if someone still wants to change it, I’d like to hear how this could be achievable.

1 Corinthians 9:13Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?14Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.15But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.

Paul brings out how the Levitical method of provision for Priests carries over to the Ministers of the gospel. He says ”The LORD ordained it”. A priest could not effectively do what he was called to do if he worked a secular job as well. Why should we expect anything different for ministers of the gospel? Paul also brought out how that even though he had all right to receive money, he chose not to. He DID NOT say that it was wrong for others to do so. This would have been wrong of him, since his situation was different from theirs, as he was a traveling evangelist who was single, whereas others had families and homes. He clearly states that a man who preaches the gospel should also live of the gospel. As it says in other versions, ”the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel”. Unlike Paul, Peter had a family to take care of so some of his time and money must have been required to meet some of their needs.

The fact that we’re not able to read much in the Bible how preachers made a living could signify that we have some freedom to settle this matter ourselves. Or do you have a verse where it says we do not have this type of freedom? To label innocent pastors as a bunch of greedy, lazy parasites just because they live on salaries is beyond rude. Many pastors/preachers sacrifice secular jobs with good salaries just for the sake of making others disciples of God. I repeat from another section about Double Honor:

1 Tim. 5:16If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church (ekklesia) be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed. 17Let the ELDERS (presbyteroi) that rule well be counted worthy of DOUBLE HONOUR, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.18 For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.19Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. 20Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

Above, we can see that Paul would prefer if widows could be taken care of by individuals rather than having the CHURCH providing for them. Continuing in the same subject of providing for others, Paul also says that ELDERS should be given DOUBLE HONOR and especially those who are doing it well (consistent with doctrine, etc). This goes together well with verses such as

And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need”.

”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”

”and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need”

An elder with a family to provide for, and who spends a lot of time keeping the flock together, handles the administration, shares the true doctrine to others, makes other people disciples and even new ELDERS, would be in great need of some financial help, even though he would naturally do whatever he could to NOT be a burden to the Church. It should be a common interest for all of us to not be a burden to the Church, but to take all opportunities to make money.

Things don’t have to be wrong just because they are not mentioned in the Bible

There are numerous ways to spread the word of God, and we don’t have to fear that we are doing the wrong things just because they are not explicitly mentioned in the Bible. We might make performances like skits or dramas in open air, sing christian songs in parks or outside shopping malls, take part in worship teams, participate in choirs and make concerts to the public, march around cities proclaiming Jesus and announce church meetings, make ads in newspapers/radio/TV, do street preaching and hand out leaflets and church invitations, place evangelist material in mail boxes, write christian books, start christian newspapers/magazines, show christian films on huge outdoor TV screens, make christian websites, write christian blogs, etc. Some things could not be mentioned in the Bible because they were not invented yet. We get GREAT help from copy machines, computers, cameras, video-players, DVD-players, CD-players, MP3, streaming, microphones, cell phones, amplifiers and credit cards, because we can reach many more people thanks to them and our work goes so much faster and easier. PRAISE GOD for new technology now when time is getting near for the return of Jesus Christ. Thanks to new technology also translating Bibles into foreign languages goes so much faster.

The bible doesn’t say it’s a sin to view people as ”church members”, and it doesn’t say it’s wrong to have conditions for being a member. After all, we are told to not even eat with people who call themselves christians but who live unrighteously, so we certainly wouldn’t want anyone to be a ”member” among us. Today a matrix with members makes a lot of sense since you could use it to send out newsletters and other information.

A meeting doesn’t have to be in a building (even though this was most common) and there are no specific rules how the interior of the building must look like. We can read about not giving the ”better seats” to someone just because he appears rich and has nice clothes. To have an ”altar”, or ”podium”, or a little high ”table” where the speaker could stand with his notes, a microphone and a glass of water makes perfect sense.

Neither are there rules for how much you should decorate the church building or a home for these meetings. The tabernacle and the temple in Jerusalem were really costly and beautiful, but it doesn’t mean we have to have luxurious buildings for our meetings. One positive aspect of going away for a church meeting into a specific building for this purpose (just like the temples were used) would be to get away from your regular every-day-life in your home and feel particular in a special environment which is linked to GOD. Of course we can pray, sing and worship anywhere, but for certain regular church meetings it might not be a bad idea to do this in a certain building away from home. Moreover, today you might live in an area where people live in small apartments, and if ten people are gathered together the apartment might be full! Actually, there are usually limited space also in a house, because apart from multiple bed rooms there might only be one room left, and if you gather 10-15 people there, it’s packed! So if you feel there should be no meetings unless there are at least 2-3 elders present, then this might result in 3 elders, your family of 5, and 2 more friends before you run out of room. The case could be that none of them has the gift of prophesy or other gifts. Perhaps a church building would therefore be a better option, and part of this building could also be used as a resident for an elder with his family. This is in fact not uncommon. Then this elder might be able to pay for his part of the building, reducing the burden for the assembly.

Are Anti-Church-People poor victims?

No, they are the ones attacking the church system, which could indirectly mean they are criticizing also those who attend church services. I hope it won’t lead to persecutions. When church-goers defend themselves, the AMCP might feel attacked, and some might even be offended that all christians won’t boycott the church system and stay at home alone as THEY do.

Are Anti-Church-People hypocrites?

Why would God call people out of a system for the reason that it’s unbiblical, just so they can live in an even MORE unbiblical way? That doesn’t make any sense at all. Why being so alarmed over people who live in an unbiblical environment when they themselves live in more unbiblical way? If a person complains about people who say ”go to church” and/or ”What a pretty church” and use the same expressions themselves, then they are hypocrites. It must be tiresome to always use quotation marks when saying ”going to church” even though the rest of the world understands perfectly well what they mean even without quotation marks.

Jesus Christ should be enough, so we don’t need to go to Church?

Can we really afford this mentality when it comes to babes in Christ? What if you go knocking on doors and succeed to make a person a christian by telling him about Jesus. Is it really enough to give him a Bible and some evangelist material and then leave, hoping he will continue on the narrow road? Isn’t it more likely he will remain on the right path if he hangs around with other believers, like in a church?

Spreading legalism

By making church goers feel bad by condemning the entire church system and denying  believers any freedom to arrange assemblies in their own way – even though they are not against any Biblical instructions – the AMCP are spreading legalistic influences. There ARE indeed multiple churches which are not according to Biblical instructions, but AMCP let these poorly functioned churches represent the entire church system.

When should we leave Church? 

Jesus often spoke in the temple and in the synagogues, and a rule came up, that if any man confesses that Jesus is Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. This was clearly an ungodly rule, but this didn’t cause Jesus to start boycotting the synagogues due to ungodly rules and leaders.

John 9:22 These words spoke his parents, because they feared the Jews; for the Jews had agreed already that if any man confessed that He was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

John 18:20 Jesus answered him, ”I spoke openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue and in the temple whither the Jews always resort, and in secret have I said nothing.

When the man in 1 Cor. 5 acted in the wrong way, then HE was supposed to be eliminated from among them. Not the others. There are indeed churches out there which are not working very well, but what if there are no other churches to join? Maybe it would be a good idea to stick to one ”ok” church than no church at all, just so you can influence others and make friends? We are supposed to make disciples and encourage one another in the truth. Not turn our backs on people we know are misinformed and deceived. Paul always tracked down churches during his trips, and if they didn’t work that well he tried to exhort and correct them. It’s true that we are not apostles like him, but the point is that we might be better off being in a church (at least once in a while) than in no church at all. The latter option would be MORE unbiblical than the former. And of course God would know that you have issues with various elements in the church because you feel they are unbiblical. God knows it’s not YOUR fault so he isn’t going to hold you accountable for them, but maybe you would be in his will if you tried to influence elders or some church members in the right direction (without being too self-righteous about it).

Verses about coming together as an assembly (apart from verses above)

Paul made numerous trips, and if there were christian colonies in those places where he went, he always managed to track them down. He also knew that his letters would reach the christians, because they stayed together and could share the content. Acts 20:7 reveals the practice of the early church: ”And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached to them.” For Christians in every location, regular gathering was a part of life. Wherever Christians are within range of each other in the New Testament, they meet.

Acts 1:13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. 14These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

Acts 2:1And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

Acts 4:31And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. 32And 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.—33And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. 34Neither 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, 35And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.—11And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.— 14And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)

Acts 12:12And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying. 13And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.

Acts 21:3Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden. 4And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem. 5And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed. 6And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again. 7And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day.—17And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. 18And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.

Acts 28:30And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, 31Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.

1 Cor.2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their’s and our’s:—10Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.11For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

1 Cor.3:3For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?—4For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 5Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 6I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. — 9For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

1 Cor, 5:1It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 2And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.—6Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

1 Cor 6:1Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? 2Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?—7Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?

1 Cor 7:17But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

2 Cor 7:14For if I have boasted any thing to him of you, I am not ashamed; but as we spake all things to you in truth, even so our boasting, which I made before Titus, is found a truth. 15And his inward affection is more abundant toward you, whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him.

2 Cor.11:4For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. 5For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.— 8I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. 9And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.

2 Cor. 12:12Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. 13For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong. 14Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.—19Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying. 20For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: 21And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.

Phil 1:5Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints;— 7For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.

2 Corinthians 13:1This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.

Heb  3:13But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

1 Peter 4:8And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 9Use hospitality one to another without grudging. 10As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

1 John 1:3That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

1 John 2:19They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

Jude 1:3Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 4For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.