Tuesday, October 25, 2016

2 THESSALONIANS BEREAN BIBLE CHURCH WEDNESDAY NIGHT STUDY

This is Bible study being conducted on Wednesday nights at Berean Bible Church in Knoxville TN.  If you are in town, please join us.  I will be adding to the study each week until it is complete. The completed notes for 1 Thessalonians is HERE Feel free to comment on, share or use these notes. I hope this study is a blessing!

                                    2 THESSALONIANS



The letter we call the book of 2 Thessalonians was written only a few months after 1 Thessalonians. It would appear that this letter was written in response to some false teaching that had infiltrated the young church and caused them to believe they had missed the coming of the Lord. Once again, Paul commends them for holding up under persecution and this time, he gives some very specific admonitions. Obviously, Paul had heard from them after the first letter and this was a response.

  1. V.1-4 – Paul has obviously has heard reports of the conditions for the church and the believer's response to those conditions. The key passage here is in V.3 “your faith is growing abundantly and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.”
This is a way we can gauge our spiritual maturity by how we love others. The more we grow in our faith, the more others-centric we will be.

This week, imagine a scale where on one end you care only about yourself and on the other end, you never consider your own needs in regard to others. As you go about your daily business, note where your interactions with others land the spectrum. This can be your selfishness quotient. Often, we are unaware of how selfish we really are and usually we do not have someone in our lives willing to tell us.


  1. V. 5-10 –first we see that our worthiness comes from Christ.
    And no matter how bad things get in persecution, no matter how corrupt our government gets, no matter how marginalized we get as believers, God will avenge us against those who made life difficult and who perpetuated sin into the world. We may not see this in our lives but we know by faith that God sees the affliction of His children.
When we see the victims of Isis, we can know that God will avenge those deaths at the second coming. Look at what their end will be:
  1. 9 – they will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord.
  1. 10 – Paul also reiterates that the Thessalonians are secure in their faith because they believed. This is a great eternal security passage. By virtue of their having believed, they will be participants in Christ's glory(as we will also be) - no baptism, no works, or stipulations. We must be careful not to have the Gospel And – or faith plus something.
Popular theologian Francis Chan writes, “Failing to help the poor could damn you to hell.” So, if in light of Matthew 25, Chan is right, Paul is wrong in this passage. This is why exegesis and understanding end time events is so important. Clearly Paul is stating that we are saved because we believed.


III. V. 11-12 – the more we study scripture, the more we realize we can do nothing of eternal value, under our own power. Clearly, we can do good.
Luke 6:32-33 "If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same This is why we believe that man is basically evil with an ability to do good, while the world believes that man is basically good with a propensity to evil.

But, the real message here is, in Christ, we have unlimited resource to accomplish God's will. Though often misused, Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me., this passage shows that we do have unlimited power from God to accomplish what He calls us to do and to endure all He leads us through.
God calls us and equips us to do His will. Our part is to believe, submit, and abide. As we seek first His kingdom, meaning we are not making decisions based on what suits us or our own agenda.

It is a matter of retraining our thinking and our natural desire to be liked and to come out ahead.

Here is a scenario - you go to a car lot and buy a car, as you are making the deal, you feel naturally converse with the salesman and he inadvertently shares some things with you about which you are able to encourage him in a Biblical way. You walk away feeling happy about your new car purchase and that you were able to share your faith and plant some seeds with the salesman. After you get home, you do a little research and realize that you were burned on the trade and the price of the new car. How you react to this can be a test of your seeking first the kingdom.

You A) curse the salesman in your heart for making a fool of you
      B) are mildly miffed about being ripped off and recognize that the guy is a lost sinner and pray for him
      C) rejoice that you had the opportunity to share your faith and continue to pray and even follow up with the salesman

These are the most likely responses and is a good indicator as to your spiritual mindset.


NOVEMBER 9


II Thessalonians 2:1-8

This passage pertains to the return of Christ and is written to encourage the church members who had been deceived into believing they had missed the return of Christ and were somehow out of His grace. This passage sometimes raises more questions than it answers and we will look at a couple of different views on tis subject.

  1. V. 1-2 – apparently, false teachers told the church that they had missed the return of Christ. Paul is writing to reassure them that they had not missed the second coming and that some things would precede that event.

It is important that we remain aware of the fact that there are false teachers out there, some purposely deceiving and some deceiving due to their own ignorance.

  1. V. 3-5 – Paul had apparently discussed this with the church but they seemed to have forgotten. We have to abide in the Word and in Christ or we are in danger of forgetting key things about our faith and relationship with God. It is when we forget truth, we are susceptible to deceit and lies from the enemy and his false teachers.
    Now we can look at the passage and attempt to decipher it. A cryptic warning is given with no further explanation – rebellion or falling away, depending on your translation. The Greek word used here is apostasia which can be translated as defection from truth. We get the idea that it is a falling away of those who claim to be of Christ. It is a rejection of truth by those who claim to possess it.
    We see a great defection of young believers taking place right now and that may be part of it, but I believe it goes beyond just people growing up and leaving the church. I believe it pertains to churches that retain their identity as “Christian” yet embrace sin and evil. We also see that taking place today on a grand scale.
    The Roman Church claims 1.2 billion adherents, about 50% of the Christian world. The Methodist Church, the Presbyterian USA, the Episcopal church, just to name a few, have embraced sin are weak on the exclusivity of the Gospel. J. Vernon McGee said, “the persecution of the church will be led by the denominational churches.” and I believe he was right.
    When someone like Hillary Clinton quotes scripture and gets up in front of a Catholic audience and says, “I'm not Catholic, but I am Methodist and we both know that salvation comes from faith and works.” and then we find out the top level people running her campaign are involved in occultic and satanic rituals, we can see the apostasy happening before our very eyes.

  1. V.6-8 - this is another very difficult passage to interpret as the Thessalonians apparently knew the identity of the restrainer, yet we are not given his specific identity.

Here is what we do know – the spirit of lawlessness that will fuel the Anti-Christ is already at work and there is one whom the Bible tells us is restraining his coming to power.

WHO DO YOU THINK THE RESTRAINER IS?


There are two schools of thought on who this might be one claims the Holy Spirit is the restrainer and concludes that a Pre-tribulaional rapture is necessitated. The other school believes the restrainer is Michael the Archangel and allows for all 3 rapture views. Next week we will look at both views in more depth and see what conclusion, if any, we come to.


NOVEMBER 16


2 Thessalonians 2:6-12


Last week we looked at a very well known passage pertaining to the second coming of Christ and the coming anti-christ. We saw that the anti-christ cannot come until the restrainer is removed. We discussed possibilities as to who the restrainer might be and the two most prevalent theories are that the restrainer is either the Archangel Michael or the Holy Spirit.

As we look at the original language, 2 words are used. To katecho and ho katecho. The first is gender neuter, in other words, an it, while the second is masculine referring to a definite him.


First we will look at the theory that Michael is the restrainer:

Paul writes to the Thessalonians as if they should be well aware of who the restrainer is and Paul references the anti-christ taking his seat in the temple. This event is most likely the abomination of desolation spoken of by Jesus and the prophet Daniel. Matthew 24:15-22 speaks of the abomination of desolation and references Daniel 12:1 - "At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.
Those who see Michael as the restrainer believe the word arise amad in the original language really means he is no longer restraining. Michael is the angel who guards over Israel and who, twice in scripture we see battling Satan. Once in Jude when he is battling over the body of Moses and once in Revelation when he is seen throwing Satan our of heaven once and for all.


Next, we will look at the theory that the Holy Spirit is the restrainer:

Because that which is being restrained is global, we would believe that the restrainer has global influence. The Neuter and masculine form used to describe the Holy Spirit is consistent with scripture. Pneuma, used to describe the Holy Spirit is neuter, and at the same time we know that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead, a definite He. AS Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit in the upper room at the last supper, He switched back and forth between neuter and masculine.

Problem with Michael theory:

Michael is a regional force, he is the angel over Israel. The anti-christ
is not a regional phenomenon and Michael is not omnipresent. Michael is never mentioned in neuter terms, though an angel, Michael is never referred to in neuter or gender neutral terms. In Daniel 12:1 we read - "At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. The word for arise amad is the same word used for “has charge of”. Amad is used in both instances and therefore precludes the first use of amad as being used to infer Michael releasing his protection over Israel.



Problems with Holy Spirit theory:

The passage in 2 Thessalonians seems to indicate that the church will not be gathered until after the man of sin is revealed. If that were the case, the church would be left without the indwelling as clearly the passage states that the restrainer will continue to restrain until he is taken out of the way. The Holy Spirit theory necessitates a pre-tribulational rapture model.


My theory:
This is a thumb nail sketch of a deep theological subject and I encourage you to research it yourself more deeply.

I fully, and even more strongly, believe the restrainer is the Holy Spirit, especially after having researched it more fully. I believe the problems with the Michael theory are insurmountable. I see no scriptural evidence to support a neuter term used for Michael, I agree with the fact that the restrainer is restraining on a global scale and Michael is a regional force. I also believe the word amad cannot, in any context, mean removed or taken away.

As far as the problems with the Holy Spirit, I believe in a pre-tribulational rapture, which fits with the Holy Spirit's ministry of restraining ending along with His ministry of indwelling. As far as the order of things found in this passage, there is no definite chronology given. Prophecy is often not chronological as it is given. When the prophets spoke of end times, they spoke as if they were not only immanent, but also coinciding with the coming of Messiah. Paul taught people to have an immanent expectation the return of Christ. There could not be an immanent return if there were prerequisites. Even when John ends Revelation, he ends with the cry to Christ, “come Lord Jesus.” John could not be calling for Christ to come knowing there were a minimum of 7 years of upheaval to precede His coming.


I am, obviously, not the final authority on this subject. There is room for disagreement. I encourage anyone interested in this subject to research it for themselves and see what God reveals.


The bottom line is that there is a real anti-christ that is being restrained by supernatural forces and one day that which is restraining him will no longer restrain him and he will rule over the earth.

This leads us to verses 9-10


  1. V.9-12 – the anti-christ will come by the power of Satan and he will be successful until Christ comes and destroys him. We wonder how he can be successful, well, we know from this passage that God Himself will send them delusion to believe what is false because they refused to believe what was true. These are not people ignorant of the truth, these are people who have rejected the truth and in so doing, making themselves enemies of God. God is not causing them to make a bad choice as much as He is greasing the tracks for them, helping them go faster in the direction they have already chose.



DECEMBER 7


    2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 – keeping in the theme of the second coming, we see Paul describing how we will be transformed and what we can expect after the resurrection.

  1. V.13 – Paul references the Feast of Firstfruits – Firstfruits was the 3rd of 4 Fall feasts fulfilled by the Christ in His first coming. We read about this in Leviticus 23:9-14 - And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest, and he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, so that you may be accepted. On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb a year old without blemish as a burnt offering to the LORD. And the grain offering with it shall be two tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, a food offering to the LORD with a pleasing aroma, and the drink offering with it shall be of wine, a fourth of a hin. And you shall eat neither bread nor grain parched or fresh until this same day, until you have brought the offering of your God: it is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
  2. Jesus fulfilled the Spring feasts at His first coming – Passover, Unleavened bread, Firstfruits, and Pentecost.

On the first Sunday after the 1st sabbath after Passover this Feast was to be observed by every Jew every year since the Exodus. Something very significant to our faith happened on the Feast of Firstfruits – the resurrection of Christ.

The idea was to celebrate what comes out of the ground naturally. Jesus, by nature of the fact He was God, came out of the ground and we, who are made a new creation are also destined to come out of the ground. 1 Corinthians 15:20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
So, in verse 13, we are called firstfruits, identifying us with Christ – which is important to remember as we go into the next verse.

    V. 14 – The Gospel called us to this resurrection and the glory spoken of here is referring to our state after we are resurrected.
1 John 3:2 – Beloved, we are God's children now and what we will be has not yet approached, but we know, when He appears, we will be like Him because we shall see Him as He is.
We shall be transformed – and we see what that looks like in the Gospel accounts of the transfiguration: Luke 9:29-32 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.
Peter, James and John saw, not only the glorified Christ, but the glorified Moses and Elijah as well.

Christ glorified was bright and shining so to, according to 1 John, will we be bright and shining after the resurrection.

Right now, we have the righteousness of Christ, but then, we shall share in His glory


III. V. 15-17 – Our future state should motivate us to live lives pleasing to God. We comfort in the hope of what is ours through grace. The Thessalonians were not comfortable, wealthy believers, they were persecuted and struggling, so, if they could take comfort in these things, how much more should we be not only comforted but busy doing the Lord's work. We have a scenario, which for the first time in modern history, and for at least the next 4 years, is unprecedented. We have a government which seems to be predisposed to our cause, at every level. We have an opportunity which will not last but which must be taken advantage of. If our country enters into a period of prosperity we cannot indulge our flesh, but must make the most of the resources which will be available to do the work of the Lord. We will, more than ever, be able to care for the poor and implement good outreach and discipleship programs. We may be entering a very small window of great opportunity and we cannot squander it. 




DECEMBER 14

 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18

As paul wraps up his letter to the Thessalonian church, he leaves them with some final instructions. These are good instructions and should be followed by the church today as well.

  1. V. 1-2 – We need to pray for our leaders. The enemy know if you strike the shepherd, the sheep will scatter. When Jesus was arrested, only 2 of the 12 stuck with him and one of those denied even knowing him.

Big leaders fall big – Swaggart, Bakker, Coy, Haggard, Tchividjian, the list goes on and on.

If sin and human nature were not enough, wicked evil men also oppose leadership. Some people come into a church and have a good line of lies. These people attempt to gain positions of influence for less than spiritual reasons. We need to pray that men like this do not get footholds in the church or harm the leaders who are called by God.


  1. V. 3-5 – Notice that in all these things, it is the Lord who accomplishes them in, for or through us. Serving God has a supernatural component. We cannot, on our own, accomplish the things God has for us to do. We do not have the ability to love as God calls us to love, we do not have the power to stand up to the attacks of the enemy, Satan is a supernatural interdimensional creature and we are made of dust. God empowers us to overcome Satan.

In all that we do and all that we are, it is God who establishes us and it is God who sustains us as we submit to Him in faith. That is liberating, as we are free from works unto salvation.

This is the sabbath rest spoken of in Hebrews. Hebrews 4:9-11 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
  1. V. 6-12 – Here we have a warning against those who are idle. This is the second time Paul gives a warning to the Thessalonians about idleness. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all

In this passage, it seems Paul is speaking specifically about those who do not work but busy themselves in other's business. We see this today, even in the church, people who are perfectly capable of working but choose to rely on government assistance or the kindness of others. Clearly, Paul tells us we are not to assist people who can but won't. There are those who cannot and these should be helped, but able bodied but lazy people must learn to care for themselves.

I had a neighbor once, who owned his own business. He sold his business and moved in with his father, out of state. When his father died, he could no longer live off his father's pension. He did not want to work but he had a lifestyle and habit to maintain, so he told me that he was going to get a doctor to declare him unstable and get disability. He doctor shopped until he found one he could convince and got disability. This is the kind of person Paul is warning about.

When we help the lazy, we are perpetuating their laziness, we are enabling them to sin. Paul uses his own behavior as an example, when he was there, a stranger in the city, he was able to find work and provide for himself, not being a burden to other. Paul could, so he did.

  1. V. 13 – We are called to not grow weary in doing good. We can get discouraged when we see others prosper who are living in sin or actively harming others. When we try and try to accomplish good and see little fruit, we can get discouraged. Don't grow weary. God sees the good we do and He will reward our efforts, maybe not here, but certainly in heaven. Store up treasure in heaven where moth and rust cannot destroy, and where our treasure is, there will be our hearts.

  1. V. 14-15 – We know that Jesus gave us a formula to follow when shunning someone. We must first go to them, then go to them with a another, then before the church and then shunning. This is how we treat a brother and show him love. Shunning should be painful for both the shunned and the ones doing the shunning, if it is done properly. Unfortunately, today, we cut off someone for the slightest offense or perceived offense. We have a plethora of churches to choose from, so if we get chased away from one, we just go find another one with lower standards. Often going to a person in love will clear up a good deal of problems.

Not long ago, I felt I needed to say something to a ministry leader here at Berean. I sent a carefully worded email to that person, I did not let anyone outside my immediate family know what I was doing or why and the matter had a wonderful outcome. We were both obedient to scripture and things went very well. Had I reacted like a hothead or just said, “that's it, no more of that!” I would have been in sin and probably would have blown a mole hill into a mountain. Vice versa, the other party responded in a Biblical manner and every thing worked out – I have been on the other side of this scenario many times and my response was not always great.

In college, some concerned upperclassmen came to me and a couple of friends to discuss our recreational activities. They came because they were concerned, and did not want to see us get in trouble or ruin our lives. We responded in typical worldly fashion and as colorfully as possible told them to mind their own business. Our bad behavior caught up to us and we were all expelled and had some legal issues to deal with. God granted us an opportunity to reform and to fall under some discipleship, we chose the path of the flesh and that was a very bad choice.

When we confront or deal with a situation, our motive cannot be justice or putting someone in their place. Our motive has to be restoration. Our motive has to be seeing a brother or sister restored to proper fellowship with God and proper service in the Body of Christ. Our motive will certainly dictate our behavior and response to others.


  1. V. 16-18 – As Paul asks God's peace on his readers, may God's peace be on all who read this study. Jesus is coming for His church and if you are in the church, rejoice, if you are not in the church, or are not sure, please contact me or leave a comment below. I would love to talk with you about God's love and God's justice and how that pertains to you.


God bless and thank you for taking the time to read this study


Paul

IN DEFENSE OF SPORT BY MARC SIMPSON



It is not often that I have the opportunity to feature a guest blogger.  My friend, who happens to be a very wise and godly man wrote this as an essay.  I wanted to share this, so what follows are the thoughts of Marc Simpson


In Defense of Sport
An Antidote to Cynicism
by marc simpson


Premise: It is far more worthy, nay, more Christian to pursue sport than it is to pursue politics.

You may think I am an odd person to be writing this essay; to be making this argument. And I can argue for the elevation of the arts:
to have them brought up to the level of attention enjoyed by sports in our schools and culture. The value of the arts is an easy case to make in my world. They are a absolute reflection of heaven on earth, a pursuit of the divine. Two seconds of Bach and I leave this planet and am adoring my Lord.

But, as this political season wears on, the baseball season winds down, and the Vols string together several phenomenal games, I could not help but drawn to questions along the lines of:
What is the proper place of the pursuit of sport in the Christian’s life? Are we supposed to keep sports at arms length? Why are sports so appealing? Is it bad that they are? To this last question I say no.

For people of faith, particularly men, being a sports fan (and remember, fan is short for fanatic) can be a conflicted, sometimes embarrassing moniker. Starting to talk with great enthusiasm about one’s team at church on Sunday morning and you may encounter an unstated, understated or perhaps overt challenge to your spiritual maturity. An accusation of idol worship may even be implied. “Do you love sports more than Jesus”? “Why don’t you get as excited in Sunday morning worship as you do in the ballpark”? How much devotion/attention to sports is OK”? “How do we know when we’ve crossed the line”?

These questions deserve exploring. It is one thing to tout the benefit of sports for the participants, especially for students. Physical activity, learning teamwork, fair play, etc. are normal benefits listed for sports programs, but what of the observer, the fan, particularly the fan of professional sport. It is sad that the business of professional sports often overshadows the game itself. Who can forget the Baseball strike of 1994 that brought to a halt one of the most idyllic seasons ever begun. There are a myriad of negatives that have come to pervade pro sports in the last 25 years or more. One could name everything from financial greed (on the part of the owners and players), the cold practice of trading marquee, franchise identifying players to save money, the blight of PEDs (performance enhancing drugs) and on and on it goes. But none of the negatives are the fault of the games themselves. Sport, in and of itself, as an entity, as an activity, as an endeavor to pursue as a participant or an abserver is a good thing. Sport is noble, honorable and indeed, a lab, a type and a parallel of life.

Now we all have our preferences. For me the choice is clear and simple. Baseball, as a team sport, and golf as an individual sport offer the best of sport’s high ideals with the least amount of clutter. For instance, in baseball there is very little, if any, deceit. For sure a pitcher does not telegraph his pitches to the batter but his choices are relatively few and mostly known by the batter. Golf, of course, (no pun intended) offers no, nor allows any, deceit. The ideals of golf, upheld to the highest degree in the professional ranks, have players calling rules violations on themselves! Who can forget Hale Irwin calling his fellow competitor over to confess to ‘whiffing’ a tap in putt and then losing the tournament by 1 stroke, later saying he wouldn’t have it any other way. This kind of honesty woven into the game is but one example of the virtues that golf, if pursued by the rules, builds into it’s players. Even sports that pit teams against each other such as football, basketball, hockey, etc., have boundaries on the field of play that are hard and fast. If a football player’s foot touches the sideline in the least degree, he is call out of bounds. Draconian? Perhaps. But the rule is clear and clean. The limit is the limit. The noble, honorable ideals of sport are also clear and clean and can be seen in these sometimes physically violent games. Teamwork, sportsmanship, fair play, overcoming obstacles or discouragement, etc. still dominate these sports

But what lies underneath these attributes. I would suggest such things as self control, gentleness, faithfulness – but wait, aren’t those listed in the Bible as the fruit of the Spirit? (Gal. 5:22) In fact, that list can be charted with an almost perfect parallel with sports ideals;

Love = Teamwork (Self sacrifice)
Joy = Overcoming defeat (Victory)
Peace = Getting in the “zone”
Patience = Never giving up (Don’t lose heart)
Kindness = Sportsmanship
Goodness = Honesty, (Fair play)
Faithfulness = Sticking to game plan, not giving up
Gentleness = Gracious losing
Self Control = Performing under pressure

You see, sport is an outworking, a practical exercise, in the pursuit of the faith. It is, or can be, a way to “keep our eyes fixed on what is unseen”.(II Cor. 4:18) Things such as faith, hope and love. Joy and peace. Politics, on the other hand, is the epitome of things that are seen. In fact, politics is “the world” in full view. Politics is transient. The ideals of sport are eternal. You immerse yourself in politics you are ‘in the world”. Of course we should be informed citizens and vote and strive to improve our society but when you start to think your security, your future, your well being is dependent on political outcomes you have crossed a line. So, take your sports seriously, you politics lightly. I know this seems backwards. After all, politics is serious but sports are just, well, games. And by taking sport seriously I don’t mean having to win or see your team win all the time. That is also having your well being depend on the outcome of the game. In that way sports should be kept at arms length. There is a great line in a book titled “Golf in the Kingdom” an old Scottish pro says, “Dinna worry about the score too much laddie, it is not the important thing”. The author was recognizing that golf is about unseen things.


Sports are appealing because they are about good things, the unseen things we are admonished to keep our eyes fixed on. Take advantage of that Christian. Enjoy you game and go Cubbies!   

Sunday, October 16, 2016

THE BELIEVER'S RESPONSE TO A TOXIC RELATIONSHIP

      Everyone has had hurt feelings because of the carelessness or outright mean behavior of others.  Often we are able to let go of slights or rude comments, but what about the times when the hurt cuts so deep it is not easily healed by time?  What do we do when we are harmed or mistreated by those from whom we expect better?  Is it permissible for a believer in Christ to hold a grudge or to harbor ill feelings toward someone?  Does forgive always mean forget and does turn the other cheek mean we are to allow others to hurt us over and over?  Is it possible to break fellowship and still love?  Is it possible that breaking fellowship or severing a toxic relationship is more loving than continuing a cycle of pain?  I would like to look at what scripture has to say on the subject and also show some examples from scripture of how Jesus Himself, handled such situations.  
 
   

      Must a follower of Christ forgive those who mistreat them? The short answer is yes, Christians are not permitted to hold grudges.  We are called to forgive, even 7 times 70 times.  Mathew 18:2-22  Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?"  Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Simple as that may sound, how does forgiving someone work when contact with that person always leads to heartache or even physical pain? Are we simply called to allow ourselves to be emotional or physical punching bags for others?  This is not so easily discerned through the clear teaching of scripture and we are often given bad advice by well meaning people who may have never experienced a toxic relationship.  

       Interestingly, the only implicit connection to forgiving and forgetting are in relation to God forgetting our transgressions.  Isaiah 43:25  "I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. We are never commanded to forgive and forget, we are commanded to forgive.  Toxic relationships are such when a person repeatedly brings harm and has established a pattern and reputation for doing so.  The best thing to do is to remove oneself from the relationship, sometimes permanently.  In scripture, we see Jesus removing Himself from a dangerous situation as the people of His hometown attempt to throw Him off a cliff. Luke 4:29-30  And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away. Also, after Jesus was crucified by the joint effort of the Jewish and Roman leaders, He called on the Father to forgive them, yet, after the resurrection, we do not see Jesus reaching out to the Roman or Jewish leaders, it would appear that He severed all ties to them, having spent 40 days going in and out among His followers. Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek, rather than retaliate.  Jesus also showed us that we can remove ourselves from a dangerous situation and that we can forgive and love others with out maintaining a personal relationship.

     Forgiveness is non-negotiable, but placing ourselves in danger is not necessary.  Scripture is clear that there are times when we are to sever ties or disfellowship with others.  Jesus gave us explicit instructions about breaking fellowship.  Matthew 18:17  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Later, the Apostle Paul gives us instructions concerning disfellowship, making a marked distinction between believers and unbelievers.  According to the following passage, there is good reason to break fellowship, with believers, for the sake of the person in sin.  1Corinthians 5:5&9-13 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord... I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—  not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.   But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.   For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?  God judges those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you." 

     Though we are permitted, even commanded, by scripture, to break fellowship, we must be careful it is with much prayer and counsel and for the sake of restoration, not necessarily personal, but spiritual on the part of the offending party.  We can forgive and love from a distance.  We can pray and  hope for the good of people we with whom we no longer associate.  Sometimes there can also be personal restoration after true and proven repentance. The point is, ending toxic relationships is Biblical and sometimes necessary. 


     



     

Sunday, October 9, 2016

MY DEADLY GENETIC DISORDER



  A number of years ago, I was made aware that I have a deadly genetic disorder, inherited from my parents.  I discovered that left untreated, this disorder would surely lead to my death.  Unfortunately, this disorder is either undiagnosed, misdiagnosed or mistreated, leading to the unnecessary death and suffering of many.  Thankfully, I was able to get inoculated against the death caused by this disorder, but I am still plagued by the daily symptoms which can only be treated by a fundamental lifestyle change.  My willingness to alter my lifestyle directly impacts the severity of the symptoms and how they affect me and those around me.  Though I am technically a victim because I was born with this disorder, I am also a participant in how this disorder disrupts my life. My disorder is far more prevalent than most people realize and many suffer needlessly, therefore I am taking the time to write about my crusade to not only properly diagnose this deadly disease, but to treat it as well.  The good news is, there is a cure for the mortiferous aspects of this disease, and treatment for the lingering side effects.

     My disease is called SINNATURE.  You may have heard of it.  In fact, most have heard of it but choose to ignore it.  Sinnature is responsible for 100% of all the suffering in the world.  Every war, every other illness known to man and every selfish act committed by every person is directly attributed to sinnature.  In fact, every person is infected with sinnature because it is written into our genetic code, I believe it is coded into our Y Chromosomes since the only person born without a human father was immune from and not infected with this disease. Our mother provides us with the X chromosome and the father contributes either an infected X or a Y determining the sex of the offspring.  The XX combination produces a female and XY produces a male. Jesus Christ was born with His mother's X chromosome but got His Y from His Father Yehova, thus, no sinnature.  

    The only remedy for sinnature is adoption by the Father of Christ, through which my diseased Y Chromosome can be healed, to the degree that sinnature is no longer fatal. John 3:3 says "Unless a man is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven."  This means, a person in his natural state, suffering from sinnature is excluded from eternal life, but will suffer spiritual death.  Spiritual death is really not death in the sense of ceasing to be, but death in the sense of eternal separation from God in a lake of fire designed for Satan and his angels.  Not a very exciting prospect.  

     Jesus, who had no sinnature took my place on the cross so that I could overcome the death sentence sinnature placed on me from birth, and for this I am eternally grateful.  Unfortunately, I still suffer the physical manifestations and symptoms of sinnature, which makes me naturally selfish and self centered. The only way to overcome the symptoms of sinnature is an overall lifestyle change.  Even this is made possible by the rebirth and adoption I received from the Heavenly Father because in my cure for sinnature, I am given the very Spirit of God to empower me against and protect me from sinnature's symptomatic control over my life. 

     I am on a crusade against this deadly disease, because it affects the entire human race and most people are unaware of or powerless against it.  I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to the Great Physician who can make you free from the fatal effects of sinnature.  Prayer is the doctor's office and the Bible is your medicine cabinet.  The Father can make you well, but you can only come to the Father by the Son, John 14:6 records for us the words of Jesus, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, and no man comes to the Father but by Me."  By placing my faith in Jesus Christ, I overcame the deadly results of sinnature and by abiding in Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, I am able to  hold the symptoms of sinnature at bay, allowing me to love others instead of myself.  I do not always live symptom free, but that is my fault, because I do not always follow the regimen given me by the Great Physician.  

   My prayer is that everyone recognizes this deadly disease that we are all born with and can all be made free from by placing our faith in Jesus Christ.