From Ed Healy... The Power For Success!

The Power
For Success!

Each day there are new challenges to face. I can look at them as obstacles or as opportunities; as stumbling blocks or as building blocks. The key to success and happiness is not found in the institutions of man but in God, Himself.

1 Pet 1:3-7 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-- kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith-- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.(NIV)

There will be conditions that affect me each day and sometimes are beyond my control. What I need is some way to have control that I can depend upon. The answer is God, who has all power to bring about success.

The first thing to do is to humble self and to return control to God. Having faith in His power, I need to cast all my anxiety upon God. I need to let go and let God. Faith begins and continues when I let God.
I need to be ready as a good soldier, sober and alert, knowing God's word. Know that the source of trouble is the devil who will try to keep me from knowing God and the truth of God's word.

I need to have confidence, knowing that I'm not alone or unique in my present trouble. Others share in the same kind of trouble and have overcome through faith in God. The result of success is approval by God, the God of all power.

Therefore, what is the power of my life. Am I self-propelled or God-propelled? How about you? Look to God!

Rom 8:28-31 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? (NIV)

Rom 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.(NIV)

From Jim McGuiggan... Enter the Dragon (3): Betrayal

Enter the Dragon (3): Betrayal

"But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ." So said Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:3.
In all our talk about Satan and sin we're not to give the impression that we aren't responsible for our sinful choices. The Bible tirelessly connects sin with Satan not to take the responsibility off our shoulders but to remind us of the nature of our evil—it is satanic; it is anti-God, anti-holiness and anti-life! 
Satan's agenda is driven by his ceaseless and rabid hatred of God and he means to seduce us into betraying the Holy Father. John Milton pictures him spying on the humans in the garden and taking delight and pleasure from their innocence and joy that he says just melts him. He even feels sorry for them, says he isn't really their foe and wishes he wasn't going to do what he has determined to do. Still, whatever it might cost the humans he purposes to ease his spleen on God by hurting what God loves and by using those that God dearly loves he means to grieve God. The humans are tools and nothing more. Satan makes it clear it's God he's raging against and not the humans. So though he says he isn't their foe and that he's feel sorry that they will lose so much, he means to use them against God by making a pact of mutual friendship with them and give them hell instead of Paradise (midway through Book IV).
To you whom I could pity thus forlorn,
Though I unpitied. League with you I seek,
And mutual amity, so strait, so close…
Hell shall unfold,
 To entertain you two…
Thank him who puts me, loath, to this revenge
On you, who wrong me not, for him who wronged.                          

And for all his evil he blames God! He wouldn't want to conquer this new world or rob the humans of their innocence and bring them eternal loss if God hadn't forced him to do it. I find Milton's point here especially revealing. He has God's arch enemy refusing to take the blame. Though he earlier talks his hellish followers into a frenzied rage against God, swearing that they will do no good but only harm and will even work harm out of all the good that is—despite all that impenitent swearing he claims the higher moral ground and blames God for the whole calamitous result. And because that's his nature it is his agenda to lead the humans in the same path—blame everyone else! Especially blame God!
Harry Emerson Fosdick asked us to take another look at a well-known text. Speaking of Jesus it says, "he set his face steadfastly toward Jerusalem." We usually think about what that meant for Jesus but Fosdick wanted us to think about what it meant for Jerusalem. It wasn't only a moment of crisis for Jesus when he got to Jerusalem it was a moment of crisis for Jerusalem when Jesus got there. What would they do with him when he forced them to make a choice?
Something similar happens if we turn the cry of dereliction around and put it in God's mouth. Jesus in truth represented not only humans before God but God before humans. In Jesus Christ humanity could look at the world of judgement their sins had brought down on them and in agony ask their Holy Father why he had forsaken them. But there, looking down at them from the cross is their God who asks them in return, "My children, my children, why have you forsaken me?"
Astonishing truth this, that God was prepared to spill his blood to purchase our good will while the Dragon with hissing lies talked us into notions of godhood, of self-reliance and self-actualization. With arrogance and insolent ignorance we told God we had had enough of him and would take care of ourselves! "Freedom" tasted so good but it was a shameful freedom and a destructive liberty. Hugh R. Mackintosh, brilliant Scots theologian and preacher, preached a sermon he called Love's Refusal. In Exodus 21 Israel was told to let the fellow-Israelite slave go free in the seventh year. Many of them must have eagerly counted the days but there were times when the one who came as a slave (due to debt or some such thing) learned to love the master and to develop ties in that home; ties he didn't want to break. So he would refuse the freedom saying, "I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free."
At this Mackintosh responds, "Freedom is good and Christ gives it abundantly; but freedom without Christ, freedom rather to put Christ away is evil through and through. Freedom is sweet, but what are all its joys if to taste them we must leave our best friend behind? Whatever we must renounce is as nothing to that which we have found in Him."
The freedom offered by the sinister one could only be gained by base ingratitude, by a thankless and stupid heart that was blinded by corrupt and corrupting visions of false grandeur. It's foolishness, of course, to pity God for he doesn't need our pity, but isn't it legitimate to see his brazen rejection as the foulest kind of treachery? Had he been a tyrant, had he tormented and narrowed us, had his treatment of us made us rue the day he made us—if any of that had been true would we not now look back on our rebellion and think of it with pride? But it wasn't a brave insurrection, it was mean treachery. It wasn't a gallant assault against an arrogant and harsh deity it was an arrogant, self-serving and stupid desertion.
Betrayal is so hard to take. You only have to read the story of Absalom's treatment of his father David to sense the ugliness and shudder at it. Perhaps you came across the painful story some years ago of the woman who married an ex-con and loved him devotedly. A few years later he was accused of a very serious crime he didn't commit but as a result of poor defense work he was sentenced to something like thirty years without parole. His wife was assured that if they had the money to get a top-notch lawyer he could get a retrial and be released. She took on extra jobs, scrubbed floors in office buildings at night, took in laundry, kept up her day job and lived on too little. Some years later, exhausted, looking much older and very thin she had enough money to get the lawyer. She hired him, they got the case reopened, he was set free and a few months later he went off with a younger and prettier woman. Betrayal is so hard to take.
Psalm 41 tells a sad story. The psalmist is ill, worn out with the struggle against the affliction and what's worse he hasn't treated God right. His enemies watch him in the throes of his agony and pretend to care. When they come to visit it's really to see how quickly he's sinking so that they can go and spread their good news about his bad news and to insinuate evil about him. Naturally that filled him with pain but what hurt him most was this (41:9), "Even my closest friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me." There it is! And if the sufferer is king David, insult has been added to injury when the hero of the nation, the one to whom they owe so much, is despised. Lord Byron, poor man, who knew what it was to turn to ruin by turning from God had this to say:            
So the struck eagle, stretch'd upon the plain,
No more through rolling clouds to soar again,
View'd his own feather on the fatal dart,
And wing'd the shaft that quivered in his heart.
Keen were his pangs, but keener far to feel
He nursed the pinion which impelled the steel;
While the same plumage that had warmed his nest
Drank the last lifedrop of his bleeding breast.

Whatever mystery there is hidden in Christ's cry to God, "Why have you forsaken me?" there's mystery too when he turns his eyes on us and, speaking for God, wants to know from us, "Why have you forsaken me?" Can you explain it? (That entire issue needs developed.)
It is God who comes to our rescue, saving us from our sins (Matthew 1:21). He isn't our enemy; he's our redeemer. He and Satan are on opposite sides. It is Satan who would condemn the world and it is God who sent his Son into the world, we're told expressly, not to condemn the world but to save it (John 3:16-17). It didn't seem to matter to God that it was sinners he came to save; in truth, it was precisely because we were sinners and he knew it that he came to save us. It didn't seem to matter to him that we didn't want him—he wanted us! It didn't seem to matter what we felt about him; what mattered was what he felt about us. It didn't seem to matter that we didn't want to be saved or that we wanted him out of our lives; he wanted to save us and to enter our lives.
Wouldn't you think God would have more respect for himself? Wouldn't you think he would prize his honor more highly than to come looking for a race that has treated him so blasphemously? Has he no shame? Is that why we forsook him? Because he loved us too much? It's from that God that Satan works to cut us off.

Spending Time with Jim McGuiggan

Are There Modern-Day Apostles? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Are There Modern-Day Apostles?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The incredible diversity of viewpoint that exists in religion today is startling and disconcerting. We are witnessing a breakdown of respect for authority in American culture, as well as a tremendous increase in personal opinion and feelings as the standard of authority. Consequently, we now have a veritable smorgasbord of doctrinal variety in religion. Such is the nature of pluralism. One is likely to see anything and everything perpetrated in the name of religion and/or Christianity. The only solution to such a situation is to reaffirm the inspiration and authority of the Bible. The Bible is the only written document on this planet that is the standard of authority in life and in religion (see Miller, 1996, pp. 430-446,462-471).


Such being the case, we must go to the Bible to determine God’s will with regard to modern-day apostles. When we do so, we first learn that the word “apostle” comes from the Greek word apostolos, which means “one sent from or forth, a messenger, delegate” (Arndt and Gingrich, 1957, p. 99; Thayer, 1901, p. 68). The term is used in the New Testament in two distinct senses. It can refer to an individual who is sent by other humans to accomplish a particular mission or task. The term is so used to refer, for example, to Barnabas (Acts 14:14). He was an “apostle” in the sense that he accompanied Paul on an evangelistic trip. Jesus is said to be our “Apostle” in the sense that He was sent to atone for our sins (Hebrews 3:1).
The term “apostle” also is used in a second sense—what we might call an official sense. That is, “apostle” can refer to individuals who were officially and divinely selected to serve as Jesus’ original representatives—“ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Jesus handpicked the original twelve apostles (Matthew 10:1-5; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16; 9:1-2). Of these original twelve, Judas betrayed the Lord as predicted by the Old Testament (Psalm 41:9; John 13:18-19; 18:1-5). Instead of repenting, he cinched his apostasy by committing suicide (Matthew 27:3-5; John 17:12). Consequently, a successor to Judas was selected by divine decree (Acts 1:16-26).
Only one other apostle in the official sense is alluded to in the New Testament—Paul. His appointment to apostleship was unique and unparalleled in that he was chosen for a specific first century task (Acts 9:15; 22:14-15; 26:16-18; 1 Corinthians 15:8-9; Galatians 1:11-12,15-16). Christ selected him to introduce the message of Christianity to the Gentile world (Romans 11:13; 15:16; Galatians 2:8; Ephesians 3:8). Paul was careful to document the fact that his apostleship was by divine appointment (e.g., Romans 1:5; 1 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1,16).


When one assembles all the relevant New Testament data, at least three qualifications emerge as prerequisite to one becoming an apostle in the official sense (Hayden, 1894, p. 33, expands these credentials to seven in number). First, an apostle had to have seen the Lord and been an eyewitness of Christ’s resurrection (Acts 1:22; 22:14; 1 Corinthians 9:1). Second, an apostle had to be specifically selected by the Lord or the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10:5; Mark 3:13-14; Luke 6:13; Acts 1:26; 9:15; 22:14-15,21; 26:16). Third, an apostle was invested with miraculous power to the extent that he could perform miracles. The power to perform miracles included the capability to confer the ability to work miracles to other individuals through the laying on of his hands (Mark 3:15; 16:17-20; Luke 9:1-2; John 14:12,26; 15:24-27; 16:13; Acts 2:43; 4:29-31,33; 5:12,15-16; 6:6; 8:14-18; 19:6; 2 Timothy 1:6; Romans 1:11; Hebrews 2:3-4). Jesus referred to His bestowal of miraculous capability upon the apostles when He promised they would be “endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).


The apostolic office was unquestionably a temporary office for the early church (though apostolic appointment was for life). Its essential purpose was twofold. First, apostles were commissioned by Jesus to launch the Christian religion (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-48). This purpose was achieved by means of the initial presentation of the Gospel to the whole world (Colossians 1:23), and the establishment of the church of Christ (Acts 2). Second, apostles were largely responsible for making the New Testament available—first in oral form and, more specifically, in written form (1 Corinthians 14:37; Galatians 1:12; Ephesians 3:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:14; 1 Peter 1:12; 2 Peter 1:12-21; 3:15-16).
These two central tasks are set forth clearly in the New Testament. In Matthew 16, Jesus declared that He would build His church after His resurrection from hades (vs. 18). He then explained that it would be the apostles who would instigate initial entrance into Christ’s church (hence the significance of “keys”—vs. 19). This commencement of the Christian religion and the church of Christ would be achieved by means of the apostles “binding” and “loosing” the doctrinal tenets and principles of Christianity that Heaven had previously bound or loosed [the Greek uses the perfect passive and should be translated “will have been bound/loosed in Heaven” as in the NASB (cf. Matthew 18:18-20; John 20:22-23)]. Peter and the apostles articulated the terms of entrance into the kingdom of Christ for the first time on the Pentecost that followed Christ’s resurrection (Acts 2:14ff.).
In Ephesians 4, after summarizing Christianity in terms of seven core concepts (vss. 1-6), Paul described the initial sequence of events that recounted the advent of Christianity (vss. 7-16). Paul noted that: (1) after His crucifixion, Jesus descended into the Hadean realm; (2) He then was resurrected; (3) He ascended back to Heaven; (4) upon His ascension, He dispensed gifts; (5) the apostolic office was included in the reception of these miraculous capabilities; (6) the purpose of these gifts was to equip and edify the church; (7) the preparation provided to the infant church by these gifts was temporary (“till” is an adverb of time connoting when the miraculous gifts were to terminate), in that the same preparation soon would be available through the completed revelation, i.e., “the faith.” [By “completed revelation” we do not mean completed canon. We mean that all of God’s communication to humanity would have been revealed. See the New Testament discussion contrasting “mystery” with “made known” (Romans 16:25-26; 1 Corinthians 2:7-10; Ephesians 3:1-11). In the meantime, the process of producing copies of the various New Testament documents and circulating them far and wide would have been occurring rapidly and extensively from the very moment of their production by the inspired writers (cf. Colossians 4:16, 1 Timothy 5:18, where Luke 10:7 is already known and classified as “Scripture,” and 2 Peter 3:15-16, where Paul’s epistles are already circulated and recognized as “Scriptures”). Further, the reference to “the faith” in Ephesians 4:13 cannot refer to a time when all people or all Christians will achieve unity in faith. Such a circumstance will never occur. Paul was referring to the time when all people would have access to all of God’s communication to man, thus giving them the potential for attaining spiritual maturity (“a perfect man” vs. “children“). See Miller, 2003].
Once all of the information necessary to the promotion of the Christian religion was revealed to the early church (through oral means made possible by the distribution of the gifts), the church would have the means available to grow and mature in Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13). While prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers [the words “pastors and teachers” share the same article in the Greek, and so should likely be construed to mean “pastor-teachers,” i.e., a single function in which pastors (those selected by the local congregation to serve as elders or shepherds) were endowed with the miraculous ability to teach inspired information not yet made available in written form] were part of this early development of Christianity (Ephesians 4:11), the office of an apostle was the primary means by which Christ accomplished the inauguration of His religion.
The apostles had the sole responsibility of executing the will of the Son of God in founding, organizing, and fully equipping the church of Christ on Earth, that she might fulfill her heaven-borne mission, until Jesus comes again (Hayden, p. 22). That is why Paul could say two chapters earlier that the household of God (i.e., the church) was built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20; cf. 3:5; Revelation 21:14). That is why he informed the Corinthian Christians:
God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? (1 Corinthians 12:28-30).
The apostles are said to be “first” in the significance and criticality of their divinely appointed role. The apostles specifically described their unique role in the early church as entailing giving themselves to “the word of God” and “the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:2,4).


Once the church of Christ was established and Christianity was given its initial presentation (cf. Colossians 1:23), the apostolic office faded from the scene along with the age of miracles. As an eyewitness of Christ’s resurrection, Paul referred to himself in relation to the other apostles as “last of all” (1 Corinthians 15:8). Neither apostles nor miraculous gifts was needed any longer. They had served their temporary purpose (Mark 16:20; Acts 4:29-31; 13:12; 14:3; Romans 15:18-19; Hebrews 2:3-4; cf. Exodus 4:30). Miraculous gifts functioned as scaffolding while the church was under initial construction, and were removed once the structure had been completed (1 Corinthians 3:10; 13:11; Ephesians 4:13-14). The book we call the Bible is the totality of God’s written revelation to the human race. Consequently, people now have access to everything they need (2 Peter 1:3) to enter into a right relationship with God via Christianity and the church of Christ. The apostles “had no official successors. From the nature of their duties, there could be no succession” (Hayden, pp. 20-21).Apostles, quite simply, are no longer needed!


Unfortunately, several groups that claim affiliation with the Christian religion allege to have apostles among them, including Catholicism, Mormonism, and some pentecostal groups. This claim is unbiblical. No person living today can meet the qualifications given in Scripture for being an apostle. No one living today has been an eyewitness of Christ’s resurrection. Christ has selected no one living today for the apostolic role. No one living today possesses the miraculous capabilities of an apostle. We should not be surprised that people would falsely claim to be apostles. Jesus warned that false prophets would come in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they would be ravening wolves (Matthew 7:15). Paul described some of his opponents in these words:
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
Further warning was issued to the Galatian churches: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8). Anyone claiming to be an apostle today who teaches anything in addition to the New Testament is clearly not an apostle of Christ!
Peter added his voice on the same subject: “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1). No wonder John admonished: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1; cf. Matthew 24:11,24). In the Revelation, the church at Ephesus was commended because they “tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars” (Revelation 2:2).
Catholicism maintains that Peter was the supreme bishop, even over the other apostles, and that every pope since Peter is an apostolic successor to Peter. The pope is selected after literally hours and days of deliberation by cardinals in the Vatican. The only apostle in the Bible that was not handpicked by Christ in person was Matthias. Yet he was not selected by mere men deliberating and debating his potential. He was selected by the casting of lots—which was simply another way for Jesus to do the selecting (Acts 1:26; cf. Proverbs 16:33).
It is incredible to think that any human beings living today would presume to appoint apostles. In pinpointing the credentials of an apostle, Luke (Acts 1) made it abundantly evident that to qualify as an apostle a person would have to have seen the Lord and been an eyewitness of His resurrection. That is why Paul was careful to state: “Am I not an apostle? …Have I not seen the Lord?” (1 Corinthians 9:1, emp. added). In recounting his conversion, he quoted Ananias as having said, “The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard” (Acts 22:14-15, emp. added). What alleged modern-day apostle could make such a claim?
The New Testament also makes clear the fact that an essential characteristic of an apostle was that he had been selected by Deity. When Jesus was on Earth, He handpicked the first twelve apostles. After His departure from Earth, the disciples cast lots to select a successor to Judas. Their method allowed no input from mere humans—except in the recognition that two men possessed all the qualifications necessary to be an apostle. Casting lots allowed God to do the selecting. Divine control in the selection process by casting lots was common in Old Testament history (see Leviticus 16:8; Numbers 26:55; 33:54; 34:13; Joshua 14:2; 18:6,10; 19:51; cf. Acts 13:19; 1 Samuel 14:42; Nehemiah 10:34; Psalm 16:5). Solomon claimed: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:33). Indeed, Peter’s prayer on the occasion shows that the decision already had been made by the Lord before the actual casting of lots: “…show which of these two You have chosen” (Acts 1:24, emp. added). The summary statement regarding Matthias—“he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:26; cf. Matthew 28:16; Mark 16:14; Luke 24:33)—gives way to a return to the expression “the twelve” (Acts 6:2; cf. Acts 2:14). The text states: “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship” (Acts 1:24-25). Paul also was handpicked by Jesus—to be a “chosen vessel” (Acts 9:15). No human being on Earth today can claim he has been personally singled out and chosen by Jesus to be an apostle.
A third proof that no apostles exist on Earth today is the fact that New Testament apostles were empowered by God—not only to perform miracles—but also to convey miraculous power to other people who then could work miracles themselves. This characteristic is demonstrated in detailed fashion in Acts: “Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money” (Acts 8:18). The issue of modern-day apostles may be settled very quickly! To authenticate their claim to be apostles, they must be able both to perform miracles as well as confer miraculous power to others. The apostles of Jesus in the New Testament demonstrated their apostolic status without hesitation. Anyone today who claims to be an apostle should be willing to do the same. No such ability exists today.


A fascinating passage in the New Testament sheds further light upon this notion of modern-day apostles. That passage is Matthew 19:28. There Jesus informed Peter and the other apostles: “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” A related passage is Luke 22:29-30 which says, “And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as my Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
These verses are Christ’s figurative declarations describing the role of the twelve apostles in the establishment of the church and the dissemination of the gospel proclamation (cf. Bales, 1957, pp. 187-223). The “regeneration” refers to the Christian era, which began at Pentecost, during which time spiritual regeneration became possible through the blood of Christ (Titus 3:5). It is an equivalent expression with the “time of reformation” (Hebrews 9:10). The throne of Christ’s glory refers to His present location at the right hand of God (Acts 2:34-36; Ephesians 1:20; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:13; 8:1; 10:12-13). The “judging” done by the apostles refers to the rule that the apostles exerted while they were on Earth, setting in place the features of New Testament Christianity (Matthew 16:19; John 20:22-23). The “twelve thrones” refers to their complete authority from Christ to implement Christ’s will until the end of time—which they presently do today through their authoritative writings—found only in the New Testament. The “twelve tribes” is a figurative way to refer to the church—the spiritual Israel (Galatians 6:16; James 1:1; cf. Romans 2:28-30; Galatians 3:29).
Neither Christ nor the original apostles needs successors or representatives on Earth today. They continue to rule and reign over the kingdom through the work that they achieved in the first century, and that is preserved for all in the New Testament. Christ is now on His throne ruling and reigning. The apostles also are on the thrones assigned to them by Christ. To suggest that the apostles have modern-day successors is to discount and discredit the current rule of the apostles. Neither Christ nor the apostles has abdicated their authority or their current rule to any humans on Earth.
Additionally, the fact that Jesus declared that all twelve apostles would occupy thrones in the kingdom proves that Peter had no greater authority than the other apostles. The apostles were equalin their reception and wielding of the authority delegated to them by Christ. Yet the Catholic Church claims that the immediate successors to Peter were Linus (from A.D. 67 to 79), Cletus (from A.D. 79 to 91) and Clement (from A.D. 91 to 100). They agree that the apostle John would have still been alive throughout this period (see G.C. Brewer’s discussion as quoted in Bales, pp. 208-210). The doctrine of the primacy of Peter means that the first three of the alleged successors of Peter would have exercised authority over the still-living apostle John—who had been handpicked by Christ Himself! The very John whom Jesus placed on one of the twelve thrones would have been under the authority, knowledge, and power of three popes who had not been selected to be among the original Twelve! (see also Hayden, pp. 22-33). Hayden aptly summarized the New Testament position regarding modern-day apostles:
The thirteen apostles chosen, ordained and endowed by the newly crowned Messiah faithfully and fully executed their commission. When they entered into everlasting rest, the church was established, with all needful ministries to edify, extend and perpetuate it throughout all coming centuries. Then the extraordinary, which was necessary to found a new institution, was succeeded by the ordinary, which is sufficient to teach, regulate and govern the subjects of Christ’s kingdom according to the laws that went forth from Jerusalem. The revelation of God was completed. The word of faith is henceforth nigh every believer, even in his mouth and in his heart. The apostolic office ceased, and evangelists and pastors became the permanent teachers and superintendents of the church (pp. 33-34).


Arndt, William and F.W. Gingrich (1957), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
Bales, James (1957), The Kingdom: Prophesied and Established (Austin, TX: Firm Foundation).
Hayden, W.L. (1894), Church Polity (Kansas City, MO: Old Paths Book Club).
Miller, Dave (1996), Piloting the Strait (Pulaski, TN: Sain Publications).
Miller, Dave (2003), “Modern-day Miracles, Tongue-Speaking, and Holy Spirit Baptism: A Refutation—Extended Version,” [On-line], URLhttp://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2569.
Thayer, Joseph H. (1901), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1977 reprint).

From Mark Copeland... Beware Of Pretentious Scribes (Mark 12:38-40)

                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

                Beware Of Pretentious Scribes (12:38-40)


1. Teaching in the temple on Tuesday of the Last Week, Jesus has
   countered the doctrines of various religious and political leaders...
   a. The Pharisees and Herodians
   b. The Sadducees and scribes

2. Toward the end, He then addressed the practices of some of them...
   a. Especially the scribes - Mk 12:38-40
   b. But also the Pharisees - cf. Mt 23:1-39

[Mark’s gospel limits Jesus’ censure to pretentious (self-important and
affected, made to look or sound important) scribes, which we shall also
do in this lesson.  Let’s begin with what is said about the...]


      1. Their "flowing robes" were full-length prayer shawls with
         tassels attached to the four corners, in contrast to the
         colorful common Jewish dress. - J.R. Edwards (PNTC)
      2. Made of wool or linen, these blanket-like mantles, known as
         tallits, distinguished rabbis and scholars as men of wealth and
         eminence. - ibid.
      -- They relished the distinction of their robes and the attention
         it gave them

      1. "the formal salutations in the market-places, and to have the
         people address them as ‘rabbi.’ " - Hendriksen (NTC); cf. Mt 23:6
      2. What the men who are here rebuked were always longing for was
         not a mere token of friendliness but rather a demonstration of
         respect, a public recognition of their prominence. - ibid.
      -- They wanted to be addressed by titles that distinguished and
         elevated them

      1. Refers to the benches along the walls of the synagogues, and
         especially to the dais at the front of the synagogue, which
         faced the congregation seated on the floor in the middle of the
         synagogue. - Edwards (PNTC)
      2. These "first seats," as they were called in Greek, were
         reserved for teachers and persons of rank, and afforded the
         best position from which to address the congregation. - ibid.
      -- They loved the honor and attention such seats gave them

      1. Seating at banquets was either according to age or according to
         importance. - C.A. Evans (WBC)
      2. Jesus had warned against seeking out the best places at a feast - Lk 14:7-11
      -- They wanted privileges they felt due their position and stature

      1. By embezzling funds set up for the care of widows - Evans (WBC)
      2. By freeloading on the hospitality of widows - ibid.
      3. By mismanaging estates or wills of widows entrusted to them
         - ibid.
      -- They took advantage of widows who trusted them

      1. The scribes were capable of lengthy, eloquent prayers - Evans
      2. But this they did in pretense, consistent with their
         ostentation in dress and pursuit of honors and recognition
         - ibid.
      -- They paraded their religious knowledge and supposed piety

[Human nature being what it is, it should not surprise us that there can
also be...]


      1. Distinctive clerical garb, without NT authority
      2. Religious titles (Reverend, Father, Pastor, Preacher) - contra Mt 23:8-10
         a. Apostle, prophet, pastor, elder, evangelist, teacher are
            descriptive terms in the NT
         b. They are never used as religious titles in the NT
      3. Reserved seating in worship
      4. Preferred treatment at social gatherings
      5. Unaccountable control of financial resources
      6. Always being asked to lead public prayers
      -- Even well-intentioned respect can easily lead to

      1. Preferring to wear distinctive clothing to stand out, gain
      2. Expecting others to address them by religious titles
      3. Demanding special seating in worship
      4. Assuming preferred treatment in social settings
      5. Embezzling church funds, taking advantage of widows
      6. Praying long, showy prayers by rote
      -- Ministers of Christ are called to be humble servants - Mt 23:11-12


1. The words of Jesus should serve as a warning...
   a. Not just to those who might be led astray by the pretentiousness
      of religious leaders
   b. But by religious leaders themselves, lest they no longer serve as
      true ministers of Christ

2. It is not just religious leaders who can have problems with
   a. The average Christian can easily be ostentatious in their conduct
      and clothing
   b. Thus we should give careful thought to these words of Jesus:

   And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles
   himself will be exalted. - Mt 23:12

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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From Gary... Bible Reading January 16

Bible Reading 

January 16

The World English Bible

Jan. 16
Genesis 16
Gen 16:1 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, bore him no children. She had a handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.
Gen 16:2 Sarai said to Abram, "See now, Yahweh has restrained me from bearing. Please go in to my handmaid. It may be that I will obtain children by her." Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.
Gen 16:3 Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her handmaid, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to Abram her husband to be his wife.
Gen 16:4 He went in to Hagar, and she conceived. When she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.
Gen 16:5 Sarai said to Abram, "This wrong is your fault. I gave my handmaid into your bosom, and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes. Yahweh judge between me and you."
Gen 16:6 But Abram said to Sarai, "Behold, your maid is in your hand. Do to her whatever is good in your eyes." Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her face.
Gen 16:7 The angel of Yahweh found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.
Gen 16:8 He said, "Hagar, Sarai's handmaid, where did you come from? Where are you going?" She said, "I am fleeing from the face of my mistress Sarai."
Gen 16:9 The angel of Yahweh said to her, "Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hands."
Gen 16:10 The angel of Yahweh said to her, "I will greatly multiply your seed, that they will not be numbered for multitude."
Gen 16:11 The angel of Yahweh said to her, "Behold, you are with child, and will bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because Yahweh has heard your affliction.
Gen 16:12 He will be like a wild donkey among men. His hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him. He will live opposite all of his brothers."
Gen 16:13 She called the name of Yahweh who spoke to her, "You are a God who sees," for she said, "Have I even stayed alive after seeing him?"
Gen 16:14 Therefore the well was called Beer Lahai Roi. Behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.
Gen 16:15 Hagar bore a son for Abram. Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.

Gen 16:16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.


From Gary... Sin, procrastination and destruction

This is my kind of picture!!! Attention getting (for the dog), surprising (that the cat would do this) and enthusiastic (check out all those exclamation points!!!). And there is an important message there as well....

James, Chapter 1
12  Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to those who love him.  13 Let no man say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God,” for God can’t be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one.  14 But each one is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed.  15 Then the lust, when it has conceived, bears sin; and the sin, when it is full grown, produces death.  16 Don’t be deceived, my beloved brothers.  17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, nor turning shadow. 18 Of his own will he gave birth to us by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

And the message is: Don't procrastinate- when you recognize something as being sinful- DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT (for sin is KILLS)!!! And be very careful of how you use the GOD's name- for HE IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN REALLY HELP WITH YOUR SIN PROBLEM!!!  One last thing....

1 Corinthians, Chapter 10
 13  No temptation has taken you except what is common to man. God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but will with the temptation also make the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.