Friday, April 28, 2017

PAUL'S SECRET POWER AND AUTHORITY




I recently received two advance copies of scholarly papers written by my friend Dr. Scott Bartchy.

Having already written about one of them earlier - Our Cultural Blind Spots -  I wanted to make sure to share what was in the second paper with you.

This paper deals with Paul’s statement in 1 Cor. 4:21 where he says:

“What would you prefer? Am I to come to you with a stick, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?”

The context of the statement is that Paul’s authority among the Corinthian Christians was being challenged, and Paul certainly felt that his grip on these people was slipping away as some of them began to follow other teachers.

Bartchy’s interest here is in the phrase “Am I to come to you with a stick..?”

Why? Because he’s curious what sort of “stick” Paul may have had when it came to exercising authority over the ekklesia.

As he points out, in a former life Paul [Saul] certainly knew what it was to carry the stick. He was once empowered by the Jewish authorities to knock down doors, arrest men and women, and even threaten them with death for blasphemy [as we see with the stoning of Stephen where he was an eye-witness to that event].

So, we know that Paul was well-acquainted with the power of a stick to motivate people by fear and even by harsh rebuke. However, Paul has gone to great lengths to distance himself from that former frame of mind, even to the changing of his own name, as an indication of just how completely he has become a new person in Christ.

Bartchy quotes from Kathy Ehrensperger’s book, “Paul and the Dynamics of Power” to support his contention that Paul did not seek to maintain power over his disciples, pointing out that Paul “only has authority in relation to them in as much as he is building them up.”

Ehrensperger also argues [per Bartchy] that Paul “did not aim or claim at establishing a position of domination or control,” and notes that Paul “repeatedly left behind the house churches he had founded. While later keeping in touch with many of them through letters and colleagues, he pushed on to the West.” (See Romans 15:14-29) and separated himself from his converts in the hope of their continuing empowerment by God’s Spirit in Christ.” [pg. 199]

Bartchy continues: “What hold do we imagine that Paul had on his converts, such that his disapproval, however expressed, could make a serious difference in their lives? What price could he make any of his converts pay for not obeying him? What do we suppose Paul could have done, if indeed he had come to the Corinthian covnerts ‘with a stick’”

This is the focus of the paper, and a fascinating question to ask. One that I have hardly heard anyone ever pose before, to be honest.

Later, in the second epistle to the Corinthians, Paul even warns them that he will “not be lenient” when he comes to them again (2 Cor. 13:1-4) and that he hopes he “will not have to be severe in using the authority” that the Lord has given him (v. 10).

But, Bartchy wonders, what exactly did Paul have in mind here? What would they have expected this to mean? Would Paul shout at them, or single people out to be banished, or would he just come to them with a bad attitude?

Well, we do see that Paul made a point to say that he did not want to shame anyone, (see 1 Cor. 4:14), so that removes a few options from our list, but what did Paul mean to suggest?

Bartchy notes: “Whatever means of punishment Paul thought to use, would he, by his own example, have been inadvertently hindering the transformation of his converts by the Spirit? If he came to them with a stick, even in view of the harshness and thrashings for which [teachers] could be known…would not such a negative example of interpersonal relationships have placed an unintended but significant barrier between his converts and his own goal of changing both their convictions and their behavior?”

What became apparent to me as I considered Bartchy’s questions was that Paul’s authority over these Christians in Corinth was quite obviously very loose. In other words, the very fact that the Corinthian Christians challenged Paul’s authority over them testifies to their freedom. They did not feel the “wrath of Paul” might come down on them for listening to other teachers. In fact, Paul’s “stickless” authority over them is, in itself, partially why they could entertain other ideas without feeling the need to run everything by Paul first.

Bartchy correctly notes that, when it comes to authority in the new testament, “it does not exist until it is granted by those who willingly give that power over them [to others]. While power can coerce, authority results from gained assent.”

My friend Jon Zens has phrased it as: “Authority is something you grant, not something you demand.”

So, the authority that Paul has is only that which has been granted to him by the people in the Body of Christ. In the beginning, they freely granted Paul authority to teach and to care for their spiritual health. Now, for some reason or the other, Paul feels that this authority may have been revoked, or perhaps even stolen, by other teachers.

Bartchy’s main thesis is that Paul would not likely come to them “with a stick” because to do so might play into their expectations of authority [as they might have been used to in their own previous experiences with so-called “leaders”]. Instead, Bartchy argues, Paul would have taken another approach – a “cruciform” authority.

As he notes: “Paul must have known that the key to his success in this regard was his own Christ-like, Spirit-filled behavior. As one who had been raised according to the dominant values and social codes in ancient Mediterranean culture, Paul must also have known that he had undertaken a super-human task as he sought to lead the Corinthians into a less arrogant, less competitive, less envy-filled way of acting.”

Just before the “stick” reference, Bartchy notes that Paul said: “When reviled, we bless. When persecuted, we endure. When slandered, we speak kindly.” [1 Cor. 4:12-13]

“Such counterintuitive responses make clear that Paul himself as a Christ-follower had been undergoing a very serious, Spirit-led re-socialization process, in sharp contrast to the values by which his parents and other significant adults had raised him.”

Then? Paul urges his converts to follow his own example and to imitate his Christ-like character. [See 1 Cor. 11:1]

So, why even mention the possibility of coming to them with a stick at all?

Bartchy suggests that Paul did this “…to stress in sharp contrast the alternative values that he had consistently lived by when he was among them…Was he assuming that some of them would really have preferred him to act ‘the old-fashioned way’ and thus ironically reminding them that he really did not have a stick anymore?”

Paul has already stressed his lack of power by saying: “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak but you are strong. You are held in honor but we are in disrepute.” [1 Cor. 4:10]

Bartchy says: “Paul’s stress in this passage is on his refusal to retaliate and use power for himself is unambiguously the behavioral context in which Paul urges his converts to imitate him…’not seeking his own advantage but that of many’.”

Interestingly, Paul does not play the “Spiritual Father” card. We know that he easily could have, but he does not.

In 1 Cor. 4:15 Paul reminds them that “they did not have many fathers [pateras]” in Christ and that “indeed, in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.”

Yet, the word often rendered as “Father” in our English translations betrays the reality of what Paul is saying here. He does not use the term “father” (Pater) in this sentence. Rather, what Paul wrote was “in Christ Jesus through the gospel I begot you” (egennesa).

By using this term, Paul carefully avoids claiming the title of “Father” (Pater) for himself. He also avoids the use in the letter to Philemon but again used the term “egennesa” instead to suggest that Paul wanted only to emphasize the nurturing caretaker side rather than the authoritative position of dominance typically associated with the term “Pater”.

If Paul had wanted to leverage the “Fatherly” aspect of his relationship with them, as one with an inherent authority over them, he could easily have done so by using the word “Pater”, yet he carefully avoids it and simply says that he has cared for them like a loving father-figure whose only authority would be granted in love by a child who reciprocated and appreciated that loving care.

As Bartchy notes: “What Paul did not do is claim ‘because I am your father you must obey me!’ In that sense, Paul never played his culture’s well-known ‘father card.’”

If anything, Paul appeals more to a motherly metaphor by comparing himself to a nursing mother [1 Cor. 3.2] and in other epistles used similar motherly images to refer to himself [see 1 Thess. 2:7; Gal. 4:19-20]

This comparison with a maternal figure automatically defers any and all paternal authority that Paul might have claimed for himself, and this is most obviously by design.

Bartchy closes his paper by saying: “No matter how weak his opponents perceived him to be, Paul knew that his strength was based on acting with agape love ‘in a spirit of gentleness.’ Paul at his best, according to his own transformed values, was indeed ‘stickless’ in Corinth.”

-kg





Thursday, April 27, 2017

ONLY ONE MEDIATOR




"For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus... – (1 Tim. 2:5)

The power of this statement really hit me recently.

Here, Paul the Apostle is clearly saying that there is one, and only one, mediator between God and man – Jesus.

Not your pastor.

Not your church.

Not your denomination.

Not your bishops, or elders, or deacons.

Just Jesus.

In fact, this verse means that Jesus – and only Jesus – is your mediator.

Only Jesus stands between you and God. 
Only Jesus connects you to God. 
Only Jesus reveals who the Father is, and what the Father is like.

So, no one – and nothing – else is stands between you and God.

Not even the Bible.

[wait…what?]

Yes, that’s right. Jesus – not the Bible – is the one mediator between you and God.

“But…the Bible is the Word of God!”

No, actually Jesus is the Word of God. [The Bible says so]

“But…you wouldn’t even know that if it wasn’t in the Bible!”

Yes, but just because the Bible tells me this information, that doesn’t mean I worship the Bible.

For example, if you called me and let me know you loved me, wouldn't it be weird if I attributed that to my phone and not to you? [But, I wouldn't even know that you loved me without my phone!]

So…I will continue to affirm what the Bible says:

That Jesus is the Word of God and that Jesus is the one mediator between God and man.

So, what does this actually mean in a practical sense?

It means that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and that His sheep can hear His voice. 

It also means that Jesus is more than capable of making Himself known and heard loud and clear.

It also means that we don’t need to go to another person – a pastor, a teacher, a guru, or anyone else – to hear the voice of God or to discern the will of God for our lives.

Dare I say it: Jesus is capable of revealing Himself to us today by His Spirit. 

He is not limited by ancient texts or scholarship. We can come to Him to receive life directly. 

"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life." -Jesus [John 5:39-40]

Jesus also promised us that He would send the Holy Spirit to us and that it would be better for us than if he remained with us in person. [See John 14]

That’s a pretty big claim.

Jesus says that having the Holy Spirit live within us is better than having Jesus remain with us in the flesh.

Take some time to meditate on that. I’ll wait…

To review:
Jesus is the one mediator between God and man.
Jesus is capable of speaking to us clearly.
We are capable of hearing Jesus speak to us.
We do not need anyone else to tell us what God is like, or to reveal what God wants to say to us.
Jesus is exactly what God has to say to all of us.

So, let’s spend as much time as possible with Jesus. 

He is alive. He is within us. He is the one and only mediator between us and the Father.

This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” - God [Matt. 17:5]

-kg



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

JESUS THE PROPHET: Introduction [Part 1]


In this first video in our new series on Jesus and Prophecy, Keith explains what the scope of the study will be going forward.

*Key prophecies about the Messiah from the OT
*44 Prophecies Fulfilled by Christ 
*The Name of the Messiah Revealed in the OT
*70 Weeks of Daniel: Messiah's Arrival Predicted In Advance
*The Olivet Discourse: Jesus the Prophet
*The Abomination of Desolation
*Details about the Destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70
*The Date of Revelation [When was it written and what does it matter?]
*The Mark of the Beast Explained
*"Where the eagles are there the vultures will gather" explained
*Tisha B'av: What is it? Why does it matter?

And more!

CLICK IMAGE ABOVE TO WATCH THE VIDEO, OR VISIT KEITH'S YOUTUBE CHANNEL HERE>

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

FINAL: Dispensationalism Refuted - Summary


In this final video of our series on Dispensationalism, we take time to recap what we have learned about what Dispensationalism teaches and how these ideas are not only not supported by the New Testament, but they are actually soundly contradicted and refuted by Jesus and the Apostles. 

As referenced in the video, the documentary "With God On Our Side" [the complete film] is available here:
https://youtu.be/vQHTx9nNHg0

Also: Steve Gregg Responds to Critics of "Replacement Theology":
https://youtu.be/fP6_cq4EuOY

BONUS: If you would like a copy of the 2 documents mentioned by Keith in the video, please contact him via Private Message on his Facebook or Twitter pages:

FACEBOOK:
https://www.facebook.com/keithagiles

TWITTER:
https://twitter.com/keithgiles

Monday, April 24, 2017

DISPENSATIONALISM REFUTED [Part 12] - The Restoration of the State of Israel?


In 1948 the State of Israel was restored, in part. 

Doesn't that "prove" that the Dispensationalists are right when they suggest that there are prophecies still to be fulfilled about Jerusalem and the Jewish people?

Wasn't the restoration of Israel a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy?

Not exactly.

Take a few minutes and listen as Keith explains what prophetic scriptures say about the restoration of Jerusalem in both the Old and the New Testament scriptures.

Click the image above to watch the video, or visit the YouTube channel here>

Friday, April 21, 2017

DISPENSATIONALISM REFUTED [Part 11] - Rebuilding The Temple?


According to Dispensationalism, the Temple in Jerusalem must be rebuilt to fulfill prophecy.

But is that true?

Not according to Jesus, Paul, Peter and the New Testament scriptures.

 The Temple has already been built, and it's YOU! 

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.”
(Ephesians 2:19–22)



More about the Temple of God in the New Testament:
“Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.” (1 Cor 3:16–17)

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Cor 6:19)


“What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I will Dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people’” (2 Cor 6:16).

Thursday, April 20, 2017

DISPENSATIONALISM REFUTED [Part 10] - The Problem of the New Covenant



Dispensationalists have a problem. It's called the New Covenant.

Here's why: Because according to Jeremiah 31:31, this New Covenant will be made with the "House of Israel", and Jesus fulfilled this at the Last Supper when he took the cup and said, "This cup is the New Covenant in my blood".

Those Disciples to whom Jesus made this Covenant went on to establish the Ekklesia [the Church] and then they taught those Christians to remember this New Covenant promise as often as they gathered together.
 
Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, taught Gentile Christians in Corinth [and elsewhere] to share this Lord's Supper together and to remember these promises which are applied to them - the Ekklesia - and effectively, as the "New Israel" of God.

Watch the video to learn more.

Click on the image to watch, or go to Keith's YouTube channel here>