Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: believers

Built upon the rock

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Mont St Michel, France

THE ROCK
“Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” There need be no mystery or speculation about what rock Jesus meant in this verse, He was simply referring to Isaiah 28:16, “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” Jesus is the rock upon which He is building the church.

THE CHURCH
What is it? The word Jesus used was ekklesia, which means called out. The church is the fellowship of those who have been called out of the world to a new relationship with Jesus and with other followers of Jesus.

Why is it necessary? The values and the goal of those who follow Jesus are different from the values and goals that we formerly had and of those who still do not know Jesus. We need to gather together to help and encourage one another and to be in a place where Jesus can continue to teach us His ways.

THE MISSION
“Go ye therefore, and teach (make disciples of ) all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

The mission given to the apostles, and to the church, is not simply to make converts, but to make disciples. A disciple is a learner, one who is willing to be taught. We are taught by the Word, by the Holy Spirit and by the church.

Jesus is building the church because we need to be in a place where we can be discipled and disciplined so that we do not lose our way and wind up back where we came from before we met Jesus. That place is where we are all united on the foundation of Jesus Christ and building upon that foundation.

Are we like oxen?

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(My father broke land with oxen when he homesteaded in southern Saskatchewan a little more than 100 years ago.)

Exodus 32:9 – And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people.

Stiffnecked was originally used to describe oxen who would not lower their heads to permit the yoke to be fastened in order for them to pull together. The term was applied to the Israelites a number of times during the Exodus. After forty years, when they crossed the Jordan, they were a united people, able to work together.

Matthew 11:29 – Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

If we are a stiffnecked people, we will resist with all our might having the yoke applied. Thus we will never be able to pull together with fellow believers and never experience the truth of Jesus’ promise.

Does the Bible say what you think it says?

This is a double-edged question, applying to believers and unbelievers alike. People today have all kinds of funny ideas about what the Bible says, ideas that they did not get from the Bible.

For instance, I once read a letter to the editor in a daily newspaper by a lady who claimed that the Bible commanded husbands to beat their wives and gave directions on how to go about it. I have read the Bible from cover to cover a number of times, in both English and French, and there is nothing that could possibly be construed to say such a thing. Possibly she got confused with the holy book of some other religion, but the teaching of the Bible is for husbands to love and cherish their wives as their own bodies and to give themselves for their wives.

Many Christians believe that the Fourth Commandment teaches that we need to attend a worship service once a week. There is nothing in the Ten Commandments, or anywhere else in the Bible, that says any such thing. All Israelite males were expected to attend the three main festivals in Jerusalem each year. Synagogues did not exist in the period covered by the Old Testament, thus there are no instructions at all in the Bible about weekly worship. (There is a verse in Psalms that says “they have destroyed all our synagogues.” Synagogue is a Greek word and does not appear in the original Hebrew text. Perhaps the translators got it right, but in this case I rather doubt it.) We worship once a week because we want to, not because the Bible tells us we have to.

The cure for all such misunderstandings is to actually read the Bible, not a verse or two here and a verse or two there, but the whole thing. That may sound like a tall order, but it is the only way to get the full picture of what the Bible is all about. If it sounds like too formidable a task to start at the beginning and read through to the end, then read a book from the Old Testament and then a book from the New Testament, with the goal of eventually covering the whole Bible.

The Bible should be read in bite-sized chunks so that you can absorb what you have read. A chapter at a time, or less for the really long chapters. That will take about four years to get through the whole book.

The more you read the Bible, the more you understand how it all is linked together and interprets itself. Context is the key to understanding the Bible. Trying to understand a verse, or a group of verses, apart from their context, is a recipe for misunderstanding.

A doctrinal scenario that relies on “rightly dividing the word of truth” should not be trusted. You can make the Bible say all kinds of weird and wonderful things when you cut it into little pieces and reassemble it according to such a scheme. If the Bible was supposed to be understood in that way it would have been written that way.

The apostle Paul’s instruction about “rightly dividing the word” should be considered together with the apostle Peter’s warning about those who wrest the Scripture to their own destruction. Wrest means to twist or tear apart. Rightly dividing means to deal uprightly. An honest approach to the Bible will uncover the rich treasures that it contains; the more we read, the more we will discover.

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