Thursday, August 31, 2006

Great Treasure

One night a group of thieves broke into a jewelry store. But rather than stealing anything, they simply switched all the price tags. The next day no one could tell what was valuable and what was cheap. The expensive jewels had suddenly become cheap, and the costume jewelry, which had been virtually worthless before, was suddenly of great value. Customers who thought they were purchasing valuable gems were getting fakes. Those who couldn't afford the higher priced items were leaving the store with treasures.

Many treat the Bible and the world the same. What is of greatest worth is really seen as a fake and the fake is held up with great value. Ask yourself today, how do I look at God's Word? Begin today to treat it with it's true value.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

God's Will is Humilty

God desires humility in our lives. In fact, He promises exaltation to the one who is humble. Luke 14:11 says, "For whoever exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. Since humility is required for entrance into God's family (Mat.5:3), and to receive God's Word (Jas.1:21), let's "draw near to God" (Jas.4:8) and "humble" ourselves "in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up" (Jas.4:10).

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

God's Unholy Angels

In Revelation 12:4 it tells us that the dragon (i.e., the devil or Satan) "drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth." The "stars of heaven" is a reference to angels. These angels, Jude says "did not keep their proper domain, but left their own habitation" (1:6). Here we are introduced to the subject of fallen angels or demons. All angels, including Satan, are created beings.

Their Origin. When you consider the origin of angels there have been many views other than the one I just gave you from the Bible. The Spirits of Deceased Evil People. This was the view of Philo, Josephus, some early Christian writers, and ancient Greeks (Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, p.295). This theory is proved false because evil people are in Hades after death (Lk.16:23). The Spirits of a Pre-Adamic Race. This theory is based on the "gap theory" of an original creation of Genesis 1:1, rebellion and a fall of that originally created race between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, and the resultant chaos. Genesis 1:3 describes the recreation. The problem with this view is that it depends on a creation of humanity prior to Genesis 1 and 2 and there is no Biblical basis for such a view.

Fallen Angels. This view best supports the Bible. Their Number. A Third (Rev.12:4). Rev.12:4 says it was a "third of the stars of heaven" that Satan "drew." How many is a third? An Innumerable Amount. The Bible says that their are "innumberable company of angels" (Heb.12:22). Rev.5:11 says there are "many angels" or as the NIV says "thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand." A third of the angels would in this case be thousands. The Word "Demon" Appears 33 Times in the New Testament (NIV Quickverse). The Word "Demons" Appears 49 Times in Both the Old and New Testament (NIV Quickverse). Their Activity. They Can Inflict Disease. Luke 13:11 - "And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. Luke 13:16 says that she had been bound by Satan. They War with Believers - Eph.6:10-12 - Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (NIV) They Can Deceive the Church. 1 Tim.4:1-3 - Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. (KJV)

As we have seen Demons are fallen angels. These fallen angels work with Satan in inflicting disease, warring with believers and deceiving the church. As you go throughout your Christian life — remember they were created and they are not omniscient, omnipresent or omnipotent. They can only act as God allows them. 1 John 4:4 says, "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Responsibility of Elders

We have completed our look at what elders are to be and now we’re looking at what elders are to do. In doing that, I would like to define the term that is found in 1 Timothy 3:1. It is the term translated "bishop." The term "bishop" is not a good translation because "it carries modern ecclesiastical implications that are not consistent with its biblical meaning" (John MacArthur, Church Leadership, p.20). The word is episkopos and according to Greek culture was "a city administrator or finance manager. Some scholars believe that the New Testament usage of episkopos is based on that usage" (Ibid., MacArthur, p.20). But also existing during that time was the Qumran Community or the Essenes. The men who "preached, taught, and exercised care and authority were called episkopoi" (Ibid., MacArthur, p.20). Alexander Strauch says, "Episkopos denotes over-seer, inspector or protector. At the root of the word is the idea of one who supervises, protects, guards, and keeps watch" (Biblical Eldership, p.90). Applying this understanding to the episkopos in the church and you see that it referred to elders who had the responsibility of "leading, instructing, and shepherding the people." (Ibid., MacArthur, p.20). The episkopos also "heard and verified accusations against believers, and administered church discipline where appropriate" (Ibid., MacArthur, p.20). Each pastor and elder still has those responsibilities, and he is directly accountable to God for the quality of his leadership (Heb.13:17). James 3:1 says, "Let not many of you become teachers...knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment" (NASB). There are 6 areas elders are responsible for and the first is Leading the Church.

Elders Lead the Church (1 Timothy 5:17)

1 Timothy 5:17 says, "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine."

The word "Rule" is the Greek word proistemi which means "to be ranked first" or "to stand first" (MacArthur) or "to be at the head (of), rule, lead" (BAG). It means to "lead, direct, or guide" (Strauch), "superintend, to preside over" (Wuest). The word is translated "over you in the Lord" in 1 Thess.5:12. According to Romans 12:8 this is a spiritual gift given by the Holy Spirit. 1 Timothy 3:5 says elders or literally "overseers" "take care of the church of God."

Elders Lead the Church in Humility

Alexander Strauch says, "Christ’s teaching on humility and servanthood governs how we are to lead in God’s household" (Ibid., p.239). They do not "lord over the people" (1 Pet.5:2-3). They lead by "example." (1 Pet.5:3). 1 Tim.4:12 says, Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Tim.4:16 adds, Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

"Christ gives elders the authority to rule on His behalf using His Word. The church is not to be ruled by its congregation, but by those whom God calls for that task" (Ibid., MacArthur, Church Leadership, p.21).