Insight from Paul’s talk to the Ephesians

Paul’s warning still applies to us in 2016: Cling to the King! Do not let go. The rewards are out of this world – eternally in the presence of the Trinity on the new heavens and earth.

It is interesting that people do what the Bible predicts.  In this blog we want to discuss how true it is especially of those who criticise the Bible.  Let us look at Paul’s advice to the Ephesian elders.

#  On his way to Jerusalem, he called them and advised them.

‘Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.  Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood.’ 1  Notice that he says God bought the church with His own blood.  We know it is Jesus who died on the cross.  So it is evidence that Jesus is God.

#  Paul warns about savage wolves and it is still relevant today.

‘I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.  Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.’ 2

  • This still happens in our time.  Many ‘scholars’ like Bart Ehrman initially professed faith in God and then left Him.  Another very interesting example is Dan Barker.  He was a pastor who defected (like Demas who left Paul because he loved the world 3).
  • What do they do now?  Bart Ehrman teaches at a theological college, although he professes that he is an agnostic and atheist.  Dan Barker is co-leader of the Freedom from Religion Foundation.  He opposes Jesus with all his might.  What do they and many others like them prove?  Paul’s warning through the Holy Spirit, is true.  People still do what Paul prophesied.  They leave the faith and distort the truth.  Is that not a sure sign that Scripture is Holy Spirit inspired?

#  People lose big time when they believe those who distort the truth and leave the faith.

They will be eternally separated from God.  They will not be part of the Bride of Christ who will live in the peace and comfort of the Bridegroom.  That is why Paul writes, ‘So be on your guard!  Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.’ 4  Why is Paul so serious about it?  Because, ‘…the word of grace can build people up and give them an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.’ 5

Conclusion

Paul’s warning still applies to us in 2016: Cling to the King!

Do not let go.  The rewards are out of this world – eternally in the presence of the Trinity on the new heavens and earth. 6

References

  1. Acts 20:28
  2. Acts 20:29
  3. 2 Timothy 4:10
  4. Acts 20:31
  5. Acts 20:32
  6. Revelation 21-22

How bad is the Bible for women?

50 Questions
Guy Harrison

Women no goodThe chapter (’Is Christianity Good for Women?’ ) in Guy Harrison’s book,1 discusses the terrible treatment women get in the Bible. For example,

# 1. The curse on the woman (because of her disobedience to God, Genesis 3:16), “To the woman He said, ‘I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’”

  • He doesn’t mention that the male, Adam, got an even stiffer ‘sentence,’ ‘Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life…. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food….’ 2  It is not as if all the burden is on the woman and the man can gaily sit in the sun and enjoy himself.

# 2. The wife should submit to her husband.

  • What about the command to the man, ‘Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them?’ 3 It is not as if the husband can selfishly do as he likes. He has to care for and love his wife.
  • Both male and female are made in God’s image. They are made of the same ‘materials.’ Adam said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh….’ 4  According to God’s design there will not be male and female in heaven. The citizens there will be like angels. 5  So God cannot give preference to males to the detriment of females, though He assigns them different roles (see the curse when both were disobedient: the male will be the breadwinner and the female will reproduce).

# 3. The role of women in the church.  A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.’ 6 The idea is promoted that God is unfair to women, shut them up and cannot care less about them. It is not true.

  • Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, gave those instructions to Timothy, because there was a problem with false teachers with wrong doctrine in Ephesus. Some of the women were the primary advocates and promoters of the heretical teaching which upset the accepted patterns of congregational and home life. Paul wanted to rectify the situation.
  • So Paul’s restrictive words must be understood within the context where false teaching was the issue. This is the exception. It cannot be applied as the norm in the Church, although it has been done throughout the ages. 7  That, however, is not God’s fault, but man’s disobedience and in many cases, plain jealousy because some women are gifted.
  • In other places Paul talks about women in prominent positions in church life, like Phoebe, Priscilla,  Junias, Euodia and Syntyche. 9 In Judges 4 we read about Deborah the judge. Today there are international women preachers like Joyce Meyer and I am sure most men are pleased with her ministry (otherwise there would be no men in her audiences).

People do bad things because of sin (disobedience to God’s Word). For example, sin causes men in the Church to abuse women. That, however, does not mean that Scripture is wrong. People’s exegesis might be wrong and then it leads to the false charge that God allows women to be abused. It is rubbish. God loves women as well as men. Both genders are made in His image.

References

  1. G Harrison, 50 Simple Questions for Every Christian, Prometheus Books, 2013, kindle location 1809 – 1862 of 5739
  2. Genesis 3:17-19
  3. Colossians 3:25
  4. Genesis 2:23
  5. Matthew 22:23-30
  6. 1 Timothy 2:11
  7. WC Kaiser et al, Hard Sayings of the Bible, InterVarsity Press, 1996, p 665-667
  8. Romans 16:1,3,7
  9. Philippians 4:2-9

The apostle Paul and Pollyanna

The book, Pollyanna (by Eleanor H Porter, 1913), is the delightful story of the little orphaned girl who Tower of Pisalearned a game from her missionary father. As a young child she desperately wanted a doll, but they were too poor to buy one. They received gift boxes on the mission field and in one of them was a pair of crutches (instead of the desired doll). Pollyanna was very disappointed, but her father taught her that there is something to be glad and thankful for in every situation. In that case they were glad they did not have to use the crutches.

 

Wherever Pollyanna went she spread the message and people changed for the better. When I again read the apostle Paul’s amazing Holy Spirit inspired attitude, it reminded me of Pollyanna: ‘…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.’  1

 

The name Pollyanna is even in the dictionary! It means ‘a person who is constantly or excessively optimistic.’  That applies to the apostle Paul, who despite severe tests (prison, floggings, shipwrecks, in danger of bandits, stoned, beaten with rods, et cetera 2), still claimed that he was content in every circumstance.

 

As I read the story of Pollyanna to some of my grandchildren, it struck me how guilty I have been through my life. I would have saved myself tons of trouble and anguish by just being glad and thankful in every ‘crisis.’ I wasted so much time and energy to fret over nonsense, instead of looking for the good in situations like Paul.  The story of Pollyanna is, in a sense, a parable of what we often find in life. People mope and complain and miss a good life (‘All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast’ 3).

 

Conclusion

When we look at the Bible and its message, it is wonderful how diverse it is. It prepares us for eternal life, but also teaches us to be glad. There is no need to worry, because there is always something to be thankful for.

 

Maybe the atheistic message on some of the buses in London should be changed from, ‘Relax and enjoy life! There is probably no God,’  to ‘Relax and enjoy life! There is a God and He wants you to live like Paul (and Pollyanna).’  Which means, ‘Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’  4 

 

References

  1. Philippians 4:11-12
  2. 2 Corinthians 11:23-29
  3. Proverbs 15:15
  4. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

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