Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sexual sin and the Pastor/Elder

When considering the qualification of a Pastor/Elder, it amazes me the different approaches some people take. Some treat them as absolutes while others treat them as suggestions or goals to be reached at some point during his life. The later would allow for clearly unqualified men in this office while hopefully striving to one day meet the standard. I do not see this as the purpose the Holy Spirit wrote through Paul.

First and foremost is the admonition of being above reproach. Both 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 lead with this character trait. It is in fact what the Pastor/Elder is to be first and foremost. What follows are the different ways this blameless character can be verified or witnessed. The word used for above reproach or blameless does not mean a sinless man. There was only one sinless man, and if this is what was meant we would never have Elders. The word anegklĂȘtos literally means “not to be called to account”. That a charge cannot be brought against the man.

In our poll this week, I ask if a man can or should be restored to the Pastorate if he has fallen into sexual sin or immorality? I believe he cannot! Once a man falls into immorality he may certainly upon confession and repentance be restored to God and to the fellowship of believers. However he has disqualified himself as a pastor. A charge can now be leveled against him in this and he has lost (or should have lost) a sense of moral leadership with his flock. The Pastor/Elder is to set the highest standard for his flock in every area mentioned in the passages listed above. He is the moral compass if you will. This has been lost in a case of such a sin. Again this should never be the unforgivable sin and should never stand in the way of restored fellowship. But it can never be that the man can function in the highest and most visible role Christ instituted for church leadership. Cast your vote.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Are you merely reading or deeply Studying?

This week’s poll I believe asks a very important question. Do you simply read your Bible or do you study it? Do you merely skim the stories like a fiction or novel or do you really dig to see what God is communicating to His people?

I believe Christians have never been weaker or more vulnerable than they are today for the simple reason that they depend on others to tell them what God has written rather then, Like the more noble Bereans, study the scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Scripture itself commands us to study to show ourselves approved. Did you know that was a command and not simply a suggestion? You would if you studied God’s word rather than merely reading it.

I asked a few people what tools they have at home for studying the bible and was amazed at the answers. The vast majority have no commentaries, bible dictionaries, lexicons, concordances, atlases or even a very basic bible handbook. Try reading the gospel of John chapter 21:15-17 without some of these tools and what you come away with is that either Peter is hard of hearing or Jesus often repeated Himself. However with some simple tools we come away with a rich back and forth dialogue concerning different types of love and what Peter was able to muster at the time, and Jesus’ commission of pasturing His small flock in a number of different way. That the difference between merely reading and studying Gods word and what will strengthen you and keep you firmly planted.

John

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Made in God's Image?

Well, Mike (another poster at a froum I frequent) and I are at it again. This time on the topic of Gods image. In Genesis 1:26 (NASB) We read this 26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

The topic of disagreement revolves around exactly what image is being spoken of here. Many believe it is not a physical trait (arms and legs etc.) but has to do more with free will, an ability to love and show compassion etc. However the word used there is "Tselem" in the Hebrew and conveys the idea of something physical and something that can be seen. We are forbidden to make any "Image or Tselem" of anything on the earth or in heaven or under the heaven for the purpose of worship. An image of love cannot be made nor can we make an image of the ability to show mercy or compassion. They are intangible traits. So the word the Holy Spirit choose must have a different meaning here.

To make the topic more difficult, the Holy Spirit also chose the word "Demuth" translated here as likeness, which literally means a form or a pattern of something. Both word convey a physical representation of another thing and not its character.

When the Alexandrian scholars and scribes undertook to translate the Old Testament into Greek (the Septuagint or LXX) when they came to this word "Tselem" used the Greek word "eikon" it refers to a coin stamped from a master die. The coin is an exact representation of the die it is stamped from. Again something that can be seen and examined. When they came to the word translated likeness, they used "charakter" where we obviously get our word character from, and it literally means a tool of engraving, a stamp or to impress a likeness as a coin or seal.
Now please do not read into what I am saying here. I am not saying that God looks just like us with hands and feet, but the word the Holy Spirit chose implies something that could be seen and examined. When Daniel wrote in chapter seven (7) that he says the Ancient of Days, what did he see? A spirit with no form or something he could both see and recognize? It is difficult to imagine God sitting on a throne without the physical parts that make sitting possible. God covered Moses with His hand to protect him as He passed is also something to consider here.

We may find the words of scripture difficult but this does not allow us to change what they actually mean and meant to those who they were delivered to. Rather then strike out, better we try to understand what the Spirit is saying. So what do you think?
John