Archive for the ‘Theology and Doctrine’ Category

what-is-churchNo doubt, today many christians all over the world will attend a church building but what exactly is church? As many of you know, I am always banging on about being a Berean and have witten a few posts about How to be a Berean in practice. One thing that we as Christians are scared of is having our normal way of thinking challenged biblically. We hear so many times that ‘we are the church and not the building’ and most christians would not disagree with that. However, if we are honest, most believers center their christian life around the building and not around the people. We have a ‘Come and See’ mentality. We invite people to the building, we go to conferences in the building, we encourage people to come to the building for various meetings, people feel guilty if they do not go to the building on Sunday. But what about those people who never want to step foot in the building? How do we reach them? Most of what I have learnt in my Christian life has not been in a building but has been through me searching the scriptures through myself and allowing the Holy Spirit to enlighten me through correct interpretation and rightly dividing the word. Once I did that, I was able to filter out a lot of garbage that I heard whether that be in a building, on TV, on the radio or anywhere else. I’ve mentioned them before but my friends in America host a radio show called Real Talk Radio  and they address real issues and topics that your average ‘church’ do not talk about. None of them attend a church building but do participate in christian fellowship. 

Below is an article written by one of the hosts about ‘Church’.

The Greek word for church is “ecclesia”. Ecclesia, in the original Greek means “called out ones”, “congregation” or “assembly”. Every instance in the KJV where the Greek word “ecclesia”, is found, it’s translated as “Church”, (in most other versions as well) EXCEPT in 3 verses, in the 19th chapter of the book of Acts.

Act 19:23-41 (KJV)

23 And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. 24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; 25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. 26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: 27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. 28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. 29 And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre. 30 And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. 31 And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre. 32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the “ASSEMBLY” was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together. 33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people. 34 But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. 35 And when the town clerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? 36 Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly. 37 For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of “CHURCHES”, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. 38 Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another. 39 But if ye enquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful “ASSEMBLY”. 40 For we are in danger to be called in question for this day’s uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse. 41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the “ASSEMBLY”.

Here they are again:
Acts 19:32 some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the “assembly” was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.
Acts 19:39 But if ye enquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful “assembly”.
Acts 19:41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the “assembly”.

Also, please take notice of the following verse:

Acts19:37 “For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of “CHURCHES”, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.”

The actual word CHURCH(ES) is used here, but it is NOT, I repeat NOT translated from the Greek word, “ecclesia”. So WHY is “ecclesia” translated as “assembly” only these 3 times? Remember, every other instance in the KJV when the word “church” is mentioned, it’s translated from the Greek word “ecclesia”. The meaning of the “ecclesia” does not change. Let’s use the word “church” in acts 19 and see it makes sense.

Acts 19:32 some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the “church” was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

Acts 19:39 But if ye enquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful “church”.

Acts 19:41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the “church”.

Do these verses make sense to our western mind? If not, why? It’s because the term “church” is a mistranslation. Now let’s look at some verses where the word “church” is used in the KJV and see if it makes sense when we use the words assembly, congregation or called out ones. (unlike using “church” in acts 19)

Mat 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my “congregation”; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Act 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the “congregation” daily such as should be saved.

Act 8:3 As for Saul, he made havock of the “congregation”, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison

1Co 11:18 For first of all, when ye come together in the “assembly”, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.

1Co 14:4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the “congregation”.

Gal 1:13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the “congregation” of God, and wasted it:

Phm 1:2 And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the “congregation” in thy house:

3 John 1:9 I wrote unto the “assembly”: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.

Rev 2:8 And unto the angel of the “assembly” in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
Rev 3:1 And unto the angel of the “congregation” in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

I could go on, but you get the point. The word “Church” is a mistranslation of the Greek word “ecclesia”. William Tyndale was killed because he translated the terms “church,” “priest,” “do penance” and “charity,” to “congregation,” “senior” (changed to “elder” in the revised edition of 1534), “repent” and “love,”. Why was he killed for these translations by the Catholic Church? To protect their established religious order, and their power OVER the people.

Please don’t believe me, do your own research and ask God to reveal the truth to you.

So I did exactly what they said. I reseached this myself and found it to be true. For those who want to (and should) do their own research, you will find that all places which use the word ‘church’ and the three examples above in Acts 19 use the greek word ‘ecclesia’ and if you want to check the Strongs concordance number it is 1577. However, in  Acts 19:37, where the it states “For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of “CHURCHES”, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.”, the greek word ‘hierosulos’ is used (Strongs concordance number 2417) which means temple depoiler.

Now am I saying that ‘church’ as is commonly know in and of itself is necessarily bad? Not at all. However, what I would say is that the heavy emphasis that we seem to put on the building seems to be unbiblical and you cannot help but wonder, like William Tyndale, why those words were changed and what was the ulterior motive.

If you haven’t noticed, a lot of what is known as preaching today is no more that ‘self help seminars’ masquerading as the gospel. A lot of this self help is how a person can have a financial breakthrough and will tell lies about supernatural wealth transfers and/or debt cancellations as can be sen below

Unfortunately when things do not materialise, many Christians turn a blind eye and do not ask questions.

On the BBC, there is a story titled ‘Who wants to be a millionaire?’ where it states:

In these tough economic times, thousands are flocking to wealth creation seminars and purchasing their products in the hope they will unlock the key to becoming rich and “financially free”, like their gurus. But are these courses costing attendees more than they are worth?

“According to the plan, I will be a millionaire in 10 years’ time.

“I owe £4,000 on my credit card, but I will be financially free. It’s going to happen,” says Janice Geddes, a 38-year-old nursery nurse from Ilford, Essex.

She has an unshakeable belief that the wealth creation courses she has paid thousands to attend will teach her the skills and mindset she needs to be rich.

Every day she wakes at 05:45 and spends her time doing a series of exercises known as “wealth conditioning”, before leaving for work at 07:00.

If you want to read the full article and see the video, click here.

The sad thing about this is that though this article is nothing about Christianity, you could easily go to a christian conference and you wouldn’t notice any difference. You will be told to decree and declare, and to speak positive confessions which in most cases give people false hope.

Unfortunately, there is truly a famine for the word of God all over the world. Yes we have many churches and yes we have many sermons but it really does take discernment to wade through the mess to know what is truly a word from God and the only way to recognise the fake is to know how to study the truth

2 Corinthinans 11:12-15 makes it VERY clear that Satan will come in the Christian arena disguised as the real deal with all the christian jargon etc but under it all, Christ has nothing to do with it.

12 And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

This is why one of the best litmus tests that I use is when someone is preaching, who is at the center stage. With the ‘gospel of you’, it is very man centered and even though this is expected in the secular world with their self help gurus and seminars, this should not be the case with biblical preaching and teaching.

One of the worse offenders of motivational speaking disguised as biblical preaching is Joel Osteen and you just need to put his name in the search bar on this blog to see some of my blogs about him. But if you think that his (and other self-help/motivational messages are biblically sound, click here to take part in a bible quiz.

Remember, at the end of the day, its all about Him and NOT you.

To be continued……

Did you know that you make the bible say anything you want? One of the main problems that we see from the pulpit and from Christians in general is that we used eisegesis instead of exegesis. What do I mean? What many people do is start with THEIR thoughts and their views and then read that INTO scripture instead of starting with scripture and read OUT of it, not having any pre conceived thoughts or ideas and letting the scripture speak for itself, taking into account the historical context. A typical example of eisegesis is with Pastor Clarence McClendon in this clip at the 1:15 mark

Here he starts with a view of the prosperity gospel and then reads INTO 3 John 2 where it states that:

” Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”

But you only need to go back one verse to see who he was talking to

The Elder,

To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth:

John was not trying to make a doctrine about prosperity here. All he was doing was greeting Gaius. It would be the equivalent of us today writing a letter saying “I hope everything is going well with you”. That is all

However, if I told them that the White Camelia Knights of the Klu Klux Klan use the same process to justify doing what they do, I’m sure they would not agree. For example on their website which can be viewed here, they have started with their racist views and then use scriptures such as the below to justify their views

Exodus 33:16 “So shall we be separated: I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the Earth”

Leviticus 20:24 ” I am the Lord they God which have separated you from other people”

Now some may say that this is extreme but it really no different than what is preached Sunday after Sunday in many churches. It is so easy for us in the western world to imprint our western thoughts INTO scripture which is where many false doctrines begin.

Francis Chan explains the difference between eisegesis and exegesis below

I saw this video below which is mainly for those who are preaching sermons but the general princple here should be used by every Christian when interpreting the scriptures and I would encourage every Christian (not only preachers) to use these very useful tips and guidelines when studying the bible. It could put a lot of fasle teachers out of business.

So next time you hear your preacher talking of Blessings, Breakthroughs and Divine Favor and your destiny which seems to be the norm now, ask yourself, are they reading that stuff INTO the scripture or OUT of the scriptures?

1Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches. Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?”.He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:

‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men —the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.” He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban”—’ (that is, a gift to God), 12 then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, 13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” – (Mark 7:1-13)

In the scripture text above, the Pharisees thought that their religious acts was something that pleased God. These traditions were passed down from generation to generation. It had become the norm and nobody questioned it or the motives behind it. I mean, it must have been OK, right? Wrong. Jesus rebuked them for a number of reasons. As well as their hypocrisy, he stressed the fact (many times) that they had held up their traditions above the commandments of God. What they thought was pleasing to God was actually done in vain.

Well things have not changed. In Christianity today, there are many traditions that Christians have accepted as the norm from generation to generation and have not questioned it even though there is no biblical basis for them. It has become so entrenched in Christendom that we accept it on the same level playing field as the scriptures.

Capture

Well I have decided to address some of these traditions in my next series of posts. My goal is to challenge you not to ‘go with the flow’ of what everybody else is doing but to try and find these traditions in the scriptures yourself.  Start questioning what you have been taught and start studying (not just reading) the bible for yourself like the Bereans (Acts 17:11).

Related Posts:

The traditions of men making the Word of God of none effect (Part 1) : Pleading the blood

The traditions of men making the Word of God of none effect (Part 2) : Tithing

The traditions of men making the Word of God of none effect (Part 3) : Getting a confirmation from God

The traditions of men making the Word of God of none effect (Part 4) : Getting slain in the spirit

CaptureOn 14th December 2012, Adam Lanza killed his mother before driving to Sandy Hook school and opening fire killing twenty children, aged 6 and 7, and six adults. The obvious question that many people will be asking is why did God allow such a tragedy to happen? After listening to one of the fathers of the victims (who sounded like a Christian), why would God allow this to happen to one of his children? This would turn the doctrine of blessings, breakthrough and favor right on its head. If God knows everything in advance, why did he allow this to happen? Couldn’t he of stopped it? Is God evil for allowing this to happen? These are the type of questions that many people (including Christians) will be asking and nothing is wrong with that. The Psalmist asked many honest questions.  Got Questions addresses this question head on from a biblical viewpoint

Question: “Why does God allow evil?”

Answer: The Bible describes God as holy (Isaiah 6:3), righteous (Psalm 7:11), just (Deuteronomy 32:4), and sovereign (Daniel 4:17-25). These attributes tell us the following about God: (1) God is capable of preventing evil, and (2) God desires to rid the universe of evil. So, if both of these are true, why does God allow evil? If God has the power to prevent evil and desires to prevent evil, why does He still allow evil? Perhaps a practical way to look at this question would be to consider some alternative ways people might have God run the world:

1) God could change everyone’s personality so that they cannot sin. This would also mean that we would not have a free will. We would not be able to choose right or wrong because we would be “programmed” to only do right. Had God chosen to do this, there would be no meaningful relationships between Him and His creation.

Instead, God made Adam and Eve innocent but with the ability to choose good or evil. Because of this, they could respond to His love and trust Him or choose to disobey. They chose to disobey. Because we live in a real world where we can choose our actions but not their consequences, their sin affected those who came after them (us). Similarly, our decisions to sin have an impact on us and those around us and those who will come after us.

2) God could compensate for people’s evil actions through supernatural intervention 100 percent of the time. God would stop a drunk driver from causing an automobile accident. God would stop a lazy construction worker from doing a substandard job on a house that would later cause grief to the homeowners. God would stop a father who is addicted to drugs or alcohol from doing any harm to his wife, children, or extended family. God would stop gunmen from robbing convenience stores. God would stop high school bullies from tormenting the brainy kids. God would stop thieves from shoplifting. And, yes, God would stop terrorists from flying airplanes into buildings.

While this solution sounds attractive, it would lose its attractiveness as soon as God’s intervention infringed on something we wanted to do. We want God to prevent horribly evil actions, but we are willing to let “lesser-evil” actions slide—not realizing that those “lesser-evil” actions are what usually lead to the “greater-evil” actions. Should God only stop actual sexual affairs, or should He also block our access to pornography or end any inappropriate, but not yet sexual, relationships? Should God stop “true” thieves, or should He also stop us from cheating on our taxes? Should God only stop murder, or should He also stop the “lesser-evil” actions done to people that lead them to commit murder? Should God only stop acts of terrorism, or should He also stop the indoctrination that transformed a person into a terrorist?

3) Another choice would be for God to judge and remove those who choose to commit evil acts. The problem with this possibility is that there would be no one left, for God would have to remove us all. We all sin and commit evil acts (Romans 3:23; Ecclesiastes 7:20; 1 John 1:8). While some people are more evil than others, where would God draw the line? Ultimately, all evil causes harm to others.

Instead of these options, God has chosen to create a “real” world in which real choices have real consequences. In this real world of ours, our actions affect others. Because of Adam’s choice to sin, the world now lives under the curse, and we are all born with a sin nature (Romans 5:12). There will one day come a time when God will judge the sin in this world and make all things new, but He is purposely “delaying” in order to allow more time for people to repent so that He will not need to condemn them (2 Peter 3:9). Until then, He IS concerned about evil. When He created the Old Testament laws, the goal was to discourage and punish evil. He judges nations and rulers who disregard justice and pursue evil. Likewise, in the New Testament, God states that it is the government’s responsibility to provide justice in order to protect the innocent from evil (Romans 13). He also promises severe consequences for those who commit evil acts, especially against the “innocent” (Mark 9:36-42).

In summary, we live in a real world where our good and evil actions have direct consequences and indirect consequences upon us and those around us. God’s desire is that for all of our sakes we would obey Him that it might be well with us (Deuteronomy 5:29). Instead, what happens is that we choose our own way, and then we blame God for not doing anything about it. Such is the heart of sinful man. But Jesus came to change men’s hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit, and He does this for those who will turn from evil and call on Him to save them from their sin and its consequences (2 Corinthians 5:17). God does prevent and restrain some acts of evil. This world would be MUCH WORSE were not God restraining evil. At the same time, God has given us the ability to choose good and evil, and when we choose evil, He allows us, and those around us, to suffer the consequences of evil. Rather than blaming God and questioning God on why He does not prevent all evil, we should be about the business of proclaiming the cure for evil and its consequences—Jesus Christ!

Let us pray for all of those who have been directly or indirectly affected by this shooting. I honestly do not know how I would be if my children were the ones left in a pool of blood.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn – Romans 12:15

Related Posts:

 Why does God allow evil?

 Why does God allow evil? – Part 2

 Why does God allow evil? – Part 3: Pain and Suffering

 Why does God allow evil? – Part 4: If God is so powerful and so good, why do bad things happen?

If God knew people would sin, why did he make them?

I mentioned this verse when I talked about Yo Mama. Please listen to Voddie Baucham explain it in more depth

Recommend reading:

Never Read a Bible Verse by Stand to Reason

Related Posts:

Ten Rules of Biblical Interpretation

Bible: The Users Manual

Why is it important to interpret the bible objectively?

If like me you are a black Christian, the chances are that you have either come from a black pentecostal type background or you are still part of it. You can read a bit of my background from my About Me section and from my post ‘Black church, White church : The dangers of being in a single-raced church’.  I left that style of church some time ago now and would say that I am more in the reformed camp now. As a person, my goal was one thing and one thing only. I just wanted to hear truth. Period.

The interview below is very enlightening and addresses some of the challenges between historically black churches and gospel-centered theology. Take a listen