PARTNERS WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT: PART XXIV

In the eyes of God all men are equal! But, — not so in the eyes of man!

The founder of Christianity, Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, came to be equal to his followers. And Jesus taught his disciples to be and do as He was and what He did. The disciples did follow the teachings Jesus, but not their descendants. Their descendants, like the children of Israel, strayed away from the teachings of Jesus, which allowed them to be disciples of Jesus. And therefore, they became disciples of men, who set themselves up as the true representatives of Christ and of God. These men turned “baptism” into a magical power of salvation, which could be obtained at a price from one of the duly ordained priests of these divinized leaders. These elevated individual leaders of the Church, and not the world, would become the heartless persecutors of those who did seek to follow the teachings of Christ. These heartless leaders regarded those individuals who believed that they had direct access to Christ, as heretics. Jesus warned against such times, when men would drift from His example and pervert His teachings, very much like the Jewish leaders did in their days. Jesus, Himself, had not come to be served but to serve. And Jesus expected no less from the men He had chosen to emulate Him.

And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him (Jesus), and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we as of you.” And he said, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at you left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. And Jesus called the to him and said to them, “You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many ” (Mark 10:35-45).

When he (Jesus) had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have give you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. I am not speaking of you all; I know whom I have chosen; it is that the scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’

I tell you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receive any one whom I send receives me; and he who receives me receives him who sent me” (John 13:12-20).

A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master; it is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they malign those of his household.

So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden tat will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father whois in heaven.

Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than em is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who find his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it (Matthew 10:24-39).

And as he (Jesus) sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” And Jesus answered them “Take heed that no one leads you astray” (Matthew 24:3-14).

THE KINGDOM AND THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST IS AN INVASION INTO SATAN’S DOMAIN; SATAN COULD NOT STOP CHRIST BUT — SATAN DID MISLEAD CHRIST’S FOLLOWERS

Satan could not and can not stop God’s Kingdom and the Church of Heaven! However, Satan can misguide and mislead the the followers of Jesus — like he did Peter (Matthew 16:13-23). Violent men and violent women did and will force their way into the Church. And unfortunately, these violent men and violent women did replaced the “Law and the Will of God” with their own traditions. What the ungodly Jews did to Moses and to the prophets, the false leaders and false teachers did and will do to the Church of Christ. Whenever they did close one Church, the Holy Spirit will open one next door (I Corinthians 18:7-10).

The law and the prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and every one enters it violently. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one dot of the Law (God’s promise) become void (Luke 16:16-17).

Jesus appointed twelve men to be apostles. And Jesus sent them out to preach, and not to be bishops or elders (Mark 3:14-15). The Greek word is “apostolous” and it means to be an assistant to Jesus and who was sent out to proclaim his good news. Jesus gave them authority (exousian) over demons, but not over people. Paul and Barnabas, on their way back to Antioch, appointed “elders” (presbuterous) who were servants and ministers not heads or bosses (Acts 14:23). The terms “bishop” (episkopois) and “deacons” (diakonois) were shepherds and fathers, who cared for their flock; and the deacons served the widows and orphans (Philippians 1:1). Paul defined to Timothy and Titus what a shepherd and what a father’s image has to be like to qualify for a pastoral role in a congregation. He is to be accepted as leader for his life-style and not for his authority to delegate. The bishop was employed by the Church. And in that task the bishop was the servant and the Church was his master.

The saying is sure: If any one aspires to the office of of a “bishop” (episkopes), he desires a noble task. Now a bishop must be above reproach, married only once, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher, no drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way; for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil; moreover he must be well thought of by outsiders, or he may fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for gain; they must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then if they prove them self blameless let them serve as deacons. The women likewise must be serious, no slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be married only once and let them manage their children and their households well; for those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith which is in Christ Jesus (I Timothy 3:1-13).

This is why I left you in Crete, that you might amend what was defective, and appoint “elders” (presbuterous) in every town as I  directed you, if any man is blameless, married only once, whose children are believers and not open to the charge of being profligate or insubordinate. For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of goodness, master of himself, upright, holy, and self-controlled; he must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to conflate those who contradict it. For there are many insubordinate men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially the circumcision party; they must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for base gain what they have no right to teach. One of themselves, a prophet of their own said, “Cretans Are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’ This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, instead of giving heed to Jewish myths or to commands of men who reject the truth. To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure; their very minds and consciences are corrupted. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their deeds; they are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good deed.

But as for you, teach what befits sound doctrine. Bid the older men be temperate, serious, sensible, sound in faith, in love, and n steadfastness. Bid the older women likewise to be reverent in behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be sensible, chaste, domestic, kind, and submissive to their husbands, that the word of God may not be discredited. Likewise urge the younger men to control themselves. Show yourself in all respects a model of good deeds, and in your teaching show integrity, gravity, and sound speech that cannot be censured, so that a opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say of us. Bid slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to be refractory, nor to pilfer, but to show entire and true fidelity, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior (Titus 1:5-2:10).

JOHN ZEBEDEE BECAME SUCH A FATHERLY PASTOR

The Holy Spirit molded John from a young man desiring to rule over his fellow disciples as a “son of thunder” to a fatherly figure, who poured out his heart to the “Seven Churches in Revelation,” in the “Gospel of John,” and in his “Personal Letters.” In Revelation, John addressed the whole Church and not just a few members. A healthy Church consists of a family that has fathers, strong sons, strong daughters, and even children who need caring, guiding, and teaching. If that concept is disrupted, the Church or the family dies. The fatherly John wrote these words to protect his Churches:

Beloved, I am writing to you no new commandment, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new commandment, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and in it there is no cause for stumbling. But he who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness, has blinded his eyes.

I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever (I John 2:7-17).

CHRISTIANS OUGHT NOT GO TO THE WORLD TO SEEK JUSTICE

Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians is timeless for all people who seek justice at the hands of others, and Jesus’ advice is even stronger. He laid the problem at the fault-finder’s door:

When one of you has a grievance against a brother, does he dare to go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, matters pertaining to this life! If then you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who are least esteemed by the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no man among you wise enough to decide between members of the brotherhood, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?

To have lawsuits at all with one another is defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud, and that even your own brethren.

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were consecrated, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God (I Corinthians 6:1-11).

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in you brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:1-5).

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall 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 times seven” (Matthew 18:15-22).