From Jim McGuiggan... Interpretation and Unity

Interpretation and Unity

The Bible generates tens of thousands of questions it never answers with explicit and exhaustive instructions or explanation. The people of God are left to interpret the biblical witness and move in peace in the direction of the central drift of the faith to the glory of God while they’re working with texts.

God tells Israel not to harvest the “edges” of their fields, leave them for the poor, but he doesn’t say what constitutes an “edge” or who exactly is to be seen as “poor”. He forbids work on the Sabbath but doesn’t bother to say what “work” is; he insists parents are to be honoured but says nothing about what “honoured” means under all circumstances (does it mean to believe everything they say or do all they tell us to do?). He forbids covetousness but doesn’t trouble himself to exhaustively define it. He calls for respect for the aged but who exactly are the “aged”? Peter speaks of modest dress but what constitutes “modesty”? Paul says we’re to obey the government—in everything? He says we’re to forfeit our rights in the presence of the weak—all our rights, and who are the “weak”?

At the Supper Jesus prayed over the bread and prayed again over the wine—must we have two prayers at the Supper because he did? He apparently passed one container and they all drank from it—must we do that? When and under what circumstances are examples permanently binding on us? We wrestle with such questions precisely because the Bible doesn’t answer them for us and if God’s Bible doesn’t settle the issue beyond dispute maybe we should be modest and confess that we can’t settle them beyond dispute either.

Maybe it’s okay to hold different views on a host of things since God via the Bible refuses to settle a host of things! Maybe our differences on these matters aren’t worth the time and energy we spend interminably debating them.

Yes, but surely we should try to discover the truth on such matters. Indeed, I’m certain we’re supposed to be “people of the Book” as we seek God’s face; but maybe there’s no definitive “truth” about many things. Maybe God allows us—even encourages us—to “work it out” among ourselves in a spirit that honours him and promotes peace and a united witness to his work of reconciliation in Jesus. Maybe some congregations will do “it” this way and others will do “it” another way.

[You understand I’m not talking here about jugular issues—truths that are manifestly central to the Christian’s faith and response. Even here there’ll be debate about what is jugular but shelving discussion on that matter for now, the mass of us are sure some teachings are soul-destroying and others are not. We take that view on some teachings because we have explicit scripture or scripture so nearly explicit as doesn't make any difference.]

It’s clear God’s people can’t stand still while we debate every point of difference until it's settled unanimously. We might not be able to agree on everything but there are some things we’re all agreed on and those we are to honour—now! Together!

Differences of viewpoint on non-jugular matters must not be allowed to obliterate or even undermine what we all agree are essentials. Where strictly non-essential questions are generating unrest and tension there's a really critical need for an assembly to affirm its unity in Jesus and draw close together, for the acid test of what they hold are essentials is whether they can and will by their promotion and protection of peace and unity bear witness to the reconciling power and purpose of Christ.

It's important for us to accept (after good-spirited and ample time for discussion over perhaps months) that there are some things we can't settle information-wise and so we must settle them at another level. It would help if a time limit were put on debate after which the leadership with the congregation’s full involvement decides the direction the church will go.

We debate some issues ceaselessly because we think they're sufficiently important and because we tend to think that the Bible gives an exhaustive answer to all our questions about how we should carry out this or that. We think if we just keep debating and searching for verses we'll come up with the definitive answer. This is part of our problem! There should come a time when the congregation as a congregation settles on a way to act on a given question even in the absence of a “here's how it must be done” text or argument; some proposal that the assembly can agree is at least acceptable. In doing this the assembly shows that it knows there are some things higher on God's agenda than congregational agreement on a non-jugular issue (one of those things being peace in brother/sister-hood). That way we’re free to move on with other matters we are all agreed on and are of critical importance to our witness to the community for Jesus Christ.

In such a scenario the major issue (peace and a united witness on the fundamentals of truth and response to truth) is given its rightful place—that’s what Jesus died to gain (Ephesians 2:11-end and John 17). A congregation that works like that has risen to a lovely spiritual and Christlike level.

To visitors, members of an assembly like that might say when a specific matter is raised: “Well, we couldn’t agree on the details because we couldn’t find scripture that settled the matter. But we’re all agreed on the essentials and don’t have the time or inclination to debate all the time. So we just worked something out that we all know is acceptable. It’s more peaceful that way, don’t you know, and we’re left free to get on with other vital and enriching matters.”

There might be something you judge useful here: 


From Mark Copeland... Christ's Qualifications As High Priest (Hebrews 5:1-10)

                      "THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS"

            Christ's Qualifications As High Priest (5:1-10)


1. A recurring theme in this epistle is that of Jesus as our High 
   Priest; He has been described as:
   a. A "merciful and faithful High Priest" - He 2:17
   b. The "High Priest of our confession" - He 3:1
   c. A "great High Priest who has passed through the heavens" - He 4:
   d. A High Priest who can "sympathize with our weaknesses" - He 4:15

2. This is in keeping with the overall purpose of the epistle...
   a. Which is to show the superiority of Jesus and His new covenant
   b. We have considered Jesus' superiority to...
      1) Prophets - He 1:1-3
      2) Angels - He 1:4-2:18
      3) Moses - He 3:1-6
      ...it is only natural that a comparison to Aaron and his 
         priesthood be made

3. The actual comparison with Aaron will follow later, but first there
   is a need to...
   a. Review the qualities required in high priests
   b. Establish that Jesus does indeed qualify as a High Priest
   -- Which is what we find in the text for our study today - He 5:1-10

[For non-Jewish readers who may be unfamiliar with the role of high 
priests, this section of Scripture can be enlightening and increase our
appreciation of Jesus as our High Priest.

We begin by noticing...]   


      1. The work of the high priest involves "things pertaining to 
         God" - cf. He 2:17
      2. He must "offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins" - cf. He 8:3
      -- Thus only God can rightfully select a high priest, even as God
         called Aaron - e.g., Exo 28,29; Lev 8,9; Num 16-18

      1. A high priest is selected "from among men"
      2. This helps to ensure a spirit of "compassion"...
         a. Toward "those who are ignorant and going astray"
            1) Note that the high priest was to make a distinction 
               between sins of ignorance and sins of presumption 
               (rebellion) - Num 15:22-31
            2) Sacrifices were to be offered in behalf of the former, 
               but not the latter
         b. For "he himself is often beset by weakness"
            1) A high priest who knew his own weakness would be more 
               likely to be understanding of his brethren
            2) It also explains why the high priest in the OT offered 
               sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of
               the people - cf. Lev 16:11
      -- Thus a high priest would need to be well acquainted with the 
         "human condition" (i.e., the struggle against temptation)

[The parallel between high priests in the OT and Jesus as our High 
Priest does not hold true in every minute detail (e.g., He 7:26-27).  

But certainly in the most fundamental ways Jesus has the qualities to 
be our High Priest, as we now consider...]


      1. Christ was Divinely called to serve as High Priest, just as 
         Aaron was
      2. As evidence of His calling, two Messianic prophecies are 
         a. His position as God's Son - cf. Ps 2:7
         b. His appointment as a priest after the order of Melchizedek 
            - cf. Ps 110:4
         -- As God's Son, sitting and ruling at the right hand of God
            (cf. Ps 110:1-3), His calling as a priest is only natural

      1. While "in the days of His flesh", Christ...
         a. "offered prayers and supplications with vehement cries and
         b. He prayed "to Him who was able to save Him from death"
         c. He was heard "because of His godly fear"
      2. That Jesus would have "godly fear" and offer such prayers 
         provides insight into the extent of His temptations and 
         sufferings in the flesh - cf. also He 2:18; 4:15
      3. Even though He was God's Son, by the things which He suffered
         "He learned obedience" - what does this mean?
         a. Certainly He knew obedience as the Son of God
         b. Perhaps it means He came to know what obedience involved as
            one "in the flesh" (i.e., the challenge of obedience in the
            midst of suffering, temptations, etc.)
      -- Through His suffering, Jesus certainly understands the "human 
         condition" which qualifies Him to serve as High Priest

[Qualified by virtue of His calling and His compassion to be a High 
Priest, what kind of High Priest is Jesus? The next two verses 
introduce two themes that will be developed much further later on...]


      1. "Perfected" by virtue of His sufferings "in the flesh", He has
         become the "author" of eternal salvation
         a. The word "author" comes from aitio, meaning literally, 
         b. Later, we will see how Christ is the "cause" of our 
            salvation - cf. He 7:24-27
      2. But for now, note that He is the cause of salvation for "all 
         those who obey Him"
         a. Is obedience necessary for salvation?  Consider these 
            1) Jesus will bring vengeance on those who have not obeyed
               the gospel - 2Th 1:7-9; cf. 1Pe 4:17-18
            2) Paul sought to bring about the "obedience to the faith"
               among all the nations - Ro 1:5; 16:25-26
               a) But not all had obeyed the gospel - Ro 10:16
               b) Yet he was grateful for those who had - Ro 6:17,18
            3) Those who have obeyed the truth have purified their 
               souls - 1Pe 1:22
         b. If obedience is necessary for salvation, are we then saved
            by works?
            1) Not if by "works" you mean "meritorious works" (works by
               which we EARN salvation)
            2) But if you mean by "works" the "works of God" (works by
               which we RECEIVE God's unmerited gift of salvation) 
               which God has ordained, then yes!
               a) E.g., believing in Christ is a "work of God" - Jn 6:
               b) Since repentance and baptism are likewise enjoined by
                  God, they too would be "works of God" that we must 
                  obey in order to receive salvation - e.g., Ac 2:38;
         -- Thus salvation "by grace through faith" does not preclude 
            the necessity of obedience to Christ and His gospel!

      1. Here we begin to learn the distinct nature of Christ's 
      2. As prophesied in Ps 110:4, the Messiah would be "a priest
         forever according to the order of Melchizedek"
      3. Thus His priesthood would be different from the Aaronic or 
         Levitical priesthood
         a. Different, but would it be superior?
         b. Would the difference be enough to persuade them not to 
            forsake Christ?
         -- The difference between the two priesthoods and the 
            superiority of Christ's over Aaron's is taken up later in
            this epistle (cf. He 7:1-28)


1. The spiritual immaturity of the Hebrew readers will necessitate a 
   temporary digression (cf. He 5:11-6:20)

2. But for the moment, the author has established "Christ's 
   Qualifications As High Priest"...
   a. He was Divinely appointed
   b. He is sympathetic because of His own sufferings

3. This makes Jesus suitable as the "author of eternal salvation"
   a. But don't forget that He is the author of salvation "to all who
      obey Him"
   b. Have you rendered obedience to the gospel of Christ? - cf. Mk 16:
      15-16; Ac 2:36-39

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Bible Reading March 5

Bible Reading  

March 5

The World English Bible

Mar. 5
Exodus 15

Exo 15:1 Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to Yahweh, and said, "I will sing to Yahweh, for he has triumphed gloriously. The horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.
Exo 15:2 Yah is my strength and song. He has become my salvation. This is my God, and I will praise him; my father's God, and I will exalt him.
Exo 15:3 Yahweh is a man of war. Yahweh is his name.
Exo 15:4 He has cast Pharaoh's chariots and his army into the sea. His chosen captains are sunk in the Red Sea.
Exo 15:5 The deeps cover them. They went down into the depths like a stone.
Exo 15:6 Your right hand, Yahweh, is glorious in power. Your right hand, Yahweh, dashes the enemy in pieces.
Exo 15:7 In the greatness of your excellency, you overthrow those who rise up against you. You send forth your wrath. It consumes them as stubble.
Exo 15:8 With the blast of your nostrils, the waters were piled up. The floods stood upright as a heap. The deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea.
Exo 15:9 The enemy said, 'I will pursue. I will overtake. I will divide the spoil. My desire shall be satisfied on them. I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.'
Exo 15:10 You blew with your wind. The sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters.
Exo 15:11 Who is like you, Yahweh, among the gods? Who is like you, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?
Exo 15:12 You stretched out your right hand. The earth swallowed them.
Exo 15:13 "You, in your loving kindness, have led the people that you have redeemed. You have guided them in your strength to your holy habitation.
Exo 15:14 The peoples have heard. They tremble. Pangs have taken hold on the inhabitants of Philistia.
Exo 15:15 Then the chiefs of Edom were dismayed. Trembling takes hold of the mighty men of Moab. All the inhabitants of Canaan are melted away.
Exo 15:16 Terror and dread falls on them. By the greatness of your arm they are as still as a stone-- until your people pass over, Yahweh, until the people pass over who you have purchased.
Exo 15:17 You shall bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of your inheritance, the place, Yahweh, which you have made for yourself to dwell in; the sanctuary, Lord, which your hands have established.
Exo 15:18 Yahweh shall reign forever and ever."
Exo 15:19 For the horses of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and Yahweh brought back the waters of the sea on them; but the children of Israel walked on dry land in the midst of the sea.
Exo 15:20 Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dances.
Exo 15:21 Miriam answered them, "Sing to Yahweh, for he has triumphed gloriously. The horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea."
Exo 15:22 Moses led Israel onward from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.
Exo 15:23 When they came to Marah, they couldn't drink from the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore its name was called Marah.
Exo 15:24 The people murmured against Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?"
Exo 15:25 Then he cried to Yahweh. Yahweh showed him a tree, and he threw it into the waters, and the waters were made sweet. There he made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there he tested them;
Exo 15:26 and he said, "If you will diligently listen to the voice of Yahweh your God, and will do that which is right in his eyes, and will pay attention to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you, which I have put on the Egyptians; for I am Yahweh who heals you."
Exo 15:27 They came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water, and seventy palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters. 

Mar. 5, 6
Mark 5

Mar 5:1 They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.
Mar 5:2 When he had come out of the boat, immediately a man with an unclean spirit met him out of the tombs.
Mar 5:3 He lived in the tombs. Nobody could bind him any more, not even with chains,
Mar 5:4 because he had been often bound with fetters and chaFrom Gary V. Womack... DANIEL - KEEPING YOUR HEARTins, and the chains had been torn apart by him, and the fetters broken in pieces. Nobody had the strength to tame him.
Mar 5:5 Always, night and day, in the tombs and in the mountains, he was crying out, and cutting himself with stones.
Mar 5:6 When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and bowed down to him,
Mar 5:7 and crying out with a loud voice, he said, "What have I to do with you, Jesus, you Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, don't torment me."
Mar 5:8 For he said to him, "Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!"
Mar 5:9 He asked him, "What is your name?" He said to him, "My name is Legion, for we are many."
Mar 5:10 He begged him much that he would not send them away out of the country.
Mar 5:11 Now on the mountainside there was a great herd of pigs feeding.
Mar 5:12 All the demons begged him, saying, "Send us into the pigs, that we may enter into them."
Mar 5:13 At once Jesus gave them permission. The unclean spirits came out and entered into the pigs. The herd of about two thousand rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and they were drowned in the sea.
Mar 5:14 Those who fed them fled, and told it in the city and in the country. The people came to see what it was that had happened.
Mar 5:15 They came to Jesus, and saw him who had been possessed by demons sitting, clothed, and in his right mind, even him who had the legion; and they were afraid.
Mar 5:16 Those who saw it declared to them how it happened to him who was possessed by demons, and about the pigs.
Mar 5:17 They began to beg him to depart from their region.
Mar 5:18 As he was entering into the boat, he who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him.
Mar 5:19 He didn't allow him, but said to him, "Go to your house, to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how he had mercy on you."
Mar 5:20 He went his way, and began to proclaim in Decapolis how Jesus had done great things for him, and everyone marveled.
Mar 5:21 When Jesus had crossed back over in the boat to the other side, a great multitude was gathered to him; and he was by the sea.
Mar 5:22 Behold, one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, came; and seeing him, he fell at his feet,
Mar 5:23 and begged him much, saying, "My little daughter is at the point of death. Please come and lay your hands on her, that she may be made healthy, and live."
Mar 5:24 He went with him, and a great multitude followed him, and they pressed upon him on all sides.
Mar 5:25 A certain woman, who had an issue of blood for twelve years,
Mar 5:26 and had suffered many things by many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better, but rather grew worse,
Mar 5:27 having heard the things concerning Jesus, came up behind him in the crowd, and touched his clothes.
Mar 5:28 For she said, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be made well."
Mar 5:29 Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
Mar 5:30 Immediately Jesus, perceiving in himself that the power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd, and asked, "Who touched my clothes?"
Mar 5:31 His disciples said to him, "You see the multitude pressing against you, and you say, 'Who touched me?' "
Mar 5:32 He looked around to see her who had done this thing.
Mar 5:33 But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had been done to her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.
Mar 5:34 He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be cured of your disease."
Mar 5:35 While he was still speaking, people came from the synagogue ruler's house saying, "Your daughter is dead. Why bother the Teacher any more?"
Mar 5:36 But Jesus, when he heard the message spoken, immediately said to the ruler of the synagogue, "Don't be afraid, only believe."
Mar 5:37 He allowed no one to follow him, except Peter, James, and John the brother of James.
Mar 5:38 He came to the synagogue ruler's house, and he saw an uproar, weeping, and great wailing.
Mar 5:39 When he had entered in, he said to them, "Why do you make an uproar and weep? The child is not dead, but is asleep."
Mar 5:40 They ridiculed him. But he, having put them all out, took the father of the child, her mother, and those who were with him, and went in where the child was lying.
Mar 5:41 Taking the child by the hand, he said to her, "Talitha cumi!" which means, being interpreted, "Girl, I tell you, get up!"
Mar 5:42 Immediately the girl rose up and walked, for she was twelve years old. They were amazed with great amazement.
Mar 5:43 He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and commanded that something should be given to her to eat.

From Gary... In unison

I have never seen the likes of this before.  Playing this instrument must be very difficult to do, as each individuals movement would affect the stability of the whole.  Three people playing one instrument- interesting.  Everything (and everybody) would have to do everything "just right" in order for this to work!!!  Read on, to see where I am going to take this...

Romans, Chapter 8
 16  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God;  17 and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him.  18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed toward us. 19 For the creation waits with eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but because of him who subjected it, in hope  21 that the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of decay into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.  22 For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.  23 Not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for adoption, the redemption of our body.  24 For we were saved in hope, but hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for that which he sees?  25 But if we hope for that which we don’t see, we wait for it with patience.  26 In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weaknesses, for we don’t know how to pray as we ought. But the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which can’t be uttered.  27 He who searches the hearts knows what is on the Spirit’s mind, because he makes intercession for the saints according to God. 

  28  We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.  29 For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  30 Whom he predestined, those he also called. Whom he called, those he also justified. Whom he justified, those he also glorified. 

  31  What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 

God make everything, and it was "very good" (Gen. 1:31). Sin enters the world and mucks up God's creation. God makes things all right again by creating a new heaven, Earth and man.  It may not look like it now, but it WILL happen!!! Exactly how this will happen is beyond my human comprehension, but since verse 28 (above) is in my Bible, I know that it WILL!!!  If a three-player violin seems complicated, just imagine the complexities of replacing a fouled up world with a new creation.  If you were to put THAT TO MUSIC- imagine the harmonies, the intricacies, the tempo and the overwhelming wonder of it all!!!  And, Oh, yes, HE is going to do all this - BECAUSE HE LOVES US AND WANTS TO RESTORE FELLOWSHIP WITH US FOR ETERNITY!!!