Heaven

‘Heaven’, ‘heavens’ and ‘heavenly’ are words that crop up in the Bible hundreds of times, and according to my New King James Exhaustive Concordance, the actual word ‘heaven’ is altogether mentioned in 49 of 66 books of the Bible.

Ask anybody, even those who do not believe in the existence of a god or gods, and they will have in their minds a picture of what heaven represents to them. Heaven is a nomenclature of the English language, as too, is hell. Without some common understanding with regard to their meanings we cannot communicate effectively when discussing them in their contexts.

All sorts of phenomena will have shaped our perceptions of both heaven and hell. Therefore we could have vastly different understandings of them.

From a biblical viewpoint, is not heaven the place where Jesus dwells and where the souls of His saints who have passed from this life reside (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)? Should we visualise heaven as a real, tangible place where Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father (1 Peter 3:22), a place where the resurrected Jesus is enthroned (2 Chronicles 18:18; Psalm 11:4; 103:19; Isaiah 66:1) ruling over His kingdom? To what extent is His Kingdom? Is it both physical and spiritual? Or is it one or the other? And what part does the Holy Spirit play in it?

Perhaps of pressing importance are the answers to the following questions: Who has access to the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21), and who is excluded? Who is already there, and who will be going there? And what about the new heaven and new earth, where ‘there shall be no more death, sorrow, crying and pain’? (Revelation 21:4)

The more questions we ask, the more questions arise. However, we can answer questions of which the Bible provides answers.

Firstly which heaven is being considered? In this instance, it is the one Paul the Apostle refers to in 2 Corinthians 12:2 and 4 where he stated: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago – whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows – such a one was caught up to the third heaven …….. how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which is not lawful for a man to utter.

Paul said this place was, ‘the third heaven’, and it was, ‘Paradise’. He couldn’t be sure if he went there in his body, or whether God revealed it to him through a vision (v 3).

In Jewish circles when Paul was living, this ‘third heaven’ was considered to be the abode of the LORD (2 Chronicles 6:30), along with His heavenly Host (2 Chronicle 18:18). This same heaven was also called the ‘heaven of heavens’ , as in Psalm 148:4 ‘Praise Him, you heaven of heavens, and you waters above the heavens!’ and in Psalm 115:16 – ‘The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’s; but the earth He has given to the children of men.’

What more do we know from the Scriptures about this heaven? The LORD, God Most High owns it (Genesis 14:22; Deuteronomy 10:14). It is there that God hears the prayers and supplications of His people (1 Kings 8:44, 45). The LORD made the heaven of heavens, along with His [angelic] host (Matthew 18:10) who worship Him (Nehemiah 9:6). Paul tells the Philippian believers they are already citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20), and that the Lord will transform their earthly bodies to be like His glorious, spiritual body (v 21).

Much is written in the Book of Revelation about heaven, and the new heaven and earth that are yet to be created (Revelation 21). These writings are highly figurative and symbolic, so how much to interpret them in a literal sense or a spiritual sense is open to question.

In Revelation 4:1-11 the apostle John paints a picture of One sat on a throne, around which there are twenty-four elders dressed in white robes and wearing golden crowns; they too are seated on thrones. There is an emerald rainbow around the main throne which has before it a sea of glass like crystal.

‘In’ the throne there are four living creatures full of eyes, front and back: the first is like a lion; the second like a calf; the third has a face like a man; and the fourth is like an eagle. They all have six wings which are full of eyes. These creatures never rest day and night and they cry, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is to come!” The elders cast their crowns before Him, saying the Lord is worthy ‘to receive glory, honour and power’ for He created all things, and by His will they exist and were created.

Are we now getting a clearer picture of what the third heaven is like? I doubt it, but don’t worry, if we are not! God has revealed to us who believe, all that is necessary for our salvation (Romans 1:16, 17). The Holy Spirit is the One who enlivens us (John 3:3-8) and helps us with our understanding (John 14:26; 15:26). Until we are fully like Jesus (1 John 3:2) with Him in the new heaven and earth, we shall only see and experience what has been revealed to us (1 Corinthians 13:9, 12). We have yet to ‘know’ the full glory* and majesty of the Lord. Meanwhile, we live by faith (Romans 1:17) in His kingdom (Philippians 3:20) in His Spirit (Romans 14:17) for obedience (Romans 1:5) to Him and to His glory.

*The Glory of God

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/01/07/the-glory-of-god/

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Debt

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law (Romans 13:8)’. Do not love money: ‘For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:10).’

UK Perspective

The average debt per person in the UK, excluding mortgage debt, is £8,000! Now, that’s an amazing statistic – more than a statistic, because debt adversely affects people’s lives. 6,000,000 Brits believe they will never be free of debt, and 62% are worried about their debt levels. These figures were recently quoted by Compare the Market dot Com, based on their own research.

10% of these people were ‘maxed out’ on their credit cards, and a similar number were overdrawn within the past 12 months. The Financial Conduct Authority says about 4.1 million people are in serious financial difficulty, and half of the population between 25 and 34 years of age are financially vulnerable.

The Office of National Statistics states that the average household debt in the UK is £12,887, excluding what is owed on mortgages ………. Wow!

What is making things worse is the ease with which people can obtain unsecured loans at exorbitant interest rates; for example, one online loan company charges 1,286% APR, another 1,291% and yet another 1,575%. This is criminal, and evil.

People can get into debt for many reasons, but once in that position they become monetary slaves of those to whom they owe money. This can result in misery, fear and acute worry. However, there are places where help can be found, such as StepChange* which offers free impartial advice for getting debt under control. National Debt Advice** also gives expert help for writing off up to 85% of debt and for facilitating low monthly payments, so that the borrower does not need to take out any more loans while paying back his debt.

Biblical Perspective

Now, how can these things be looked at from the perspective of biblical teaching on the subject of debt?

Firstly, if possible, never take out a loan that you know you can not pay back. In fact, it is better to never borrow money (Romans 13:8).

Borrowing ‘things’ is different, because they can be returned without incurring debt; however, the borrower has a responsibility to look after them (Deuteronomy 22:1-4). In respect of borrowing ‘things’, Jesus commands us to “Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away (Matthew 5:42).”

Mortgages are different, too, because one has to have a roof over one’s head, and it makes more sense to buy than to rent. When a mortgage is granted, the mortgagee must satisfy himself that he has the means to repay the loan. I remember back to when I first took out a mortgage, I had to prove to the building society that I had sufficient regular income for making monthly payments over the agreed number of years for paying off the loan and interest.

The greatest debt a Christian owes, but of which he is never required to repay, is his debt to Jesus for dying on a cross in his place (Romans 5:6-10; 8:32), and for giving him eternal life (John 3:16). Jesus sets the believer free of all debt (Romans 6:18), and I am reminded of these words of the Lord’s prayer, ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ Matthew 6:12 replaces ‘trespasses’ with ‘debts’: ‘And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors’. Luke 11:4 goes as follows: ‘And forgive us our sins (Ephesians 1:7), for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.’

Therefore, when it comes to unpaid debts, the Christian lender’s response must be forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35) just as Jesus forgives repentant sinners for their sins (Luke 5:22-24; 1 John 1:9).

* Step Change

https://www.stepchange.org

** National Debt Advice

https://nationaldebtadvice.org.uk

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Lending

How many of us have lent something to somebody and we never received it back? Most of us, I suspect! If we got it back, was it in the same condition as when we lent it? Were we grieved because we didn’t get it back, or because when it was returned, it was not in the same condition as when we lent it?

What was our response in either case? How did we feel? Did we respond in the way God would have wanted us to? Did we respond with patience, love (Galatians 5:22), forgiveness and compassion?

In His Word, the Bible, God gives us directives regarding lending and borrowing. He tells us unequivocally about lending and borrowing. In the third book of the Bible, Leviticus 25:35-38, we find these words: ‘If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. Take no usury or interest from him, but fear God, that your brother may live with you. You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.’

God’s words were directed to His chosen people, the Israelites of the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:2), but today the disciples of Christ apply the ‘principles’ of what was required of the Israelites to themselves. So, basically, if a church member is in need, and we know of his need, and we have the resources to satisfy his need, we should help him (James 2:15, 16). The same help is to be offered to strangers and sojourners, but when it comes to lending money to brethren, they are not be charged interest – especially exorbitant interest (Exodus 22:25). Indeed, we should give, rather than lend, and not expect anything back (Matthew 6:3, 4).

Our attitude is important. When we lend we should do it with compassion and love – never putting pressure on the borrower to return what was lent. Deuteronomy 24:10-13 testifies to this: “When you lend to your brother anything, you shall not go into his house to get his pledge. You shall stand outside, and the man to whom you lend shall bring the pledge out to you. And if the man is poor, you shall not keep his pledge overnight. You shall in any case return the pledge to him again when the sun goes down, that he may sleep in his own garment and bless you; and it shall be righteousness to you before the LORD your God.”

If we act with compassion God will count our actions as ‘righteousness’ before Him (v 13). If we lend as to the LORD, He will pay back what was given (Proverbs 19:17), and our descendants will be blessed (Psalm 37:26). Jesus tells us, our ‘reward will be great’, and we ‘will be sons of the Most High (Luke 6:34-36)’. Jesus is also forthright with us by saying, “Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away (Matthew 5:42).”

Ideally, both the lender and the borrower should only ‘owe’ love to one another (Romans 13:8).

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The Organic Church

Back in November of last year I published an article with the title, ‘Who are the Church?’* My purpose was to emphasise that the church is not a ‘physical’ building of bricks or stones, but a ‘spiritual’ building of God’s people, enlivened by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8; 6:63; Romans 8:11); it is a ‘holy temple in the Lord (Ephesians 2:21)’.

The true church of Jesus, the Spirit-powered (1 Corinthians 2:4, 5; Acts 1:8), Christ-centred church, is unlike many churches we find today. Numerous denominations claim they are the true church of Jesus, but they do not follow the pattern set by the early church fathers (2 Thessalonians 3:6-9). The New Testament churches were on the whole, small groups of believers who met together in their homes (Acts 16:40; Philemon 1:2) to break bread, worship and to praise the Lord. They shared things in common (Hebrews 13:16; 1 Timothy 6:18, 19).

They lived distinctively differently to their neighbours by being obedient to Jesus (John 15:14; Galatians 6:2), with the priority of making disciples as He commanded them (Matthew 28:18-20). They did so by taking opportunities of presenting the gospel to friends, family and neighbours, and by living Godly lives (Romans 12:1). I would call them ‘organic’ churches. They were similar, and yet they were composed of different people, and they would take opportunities for starting other similar churches; a bit like daffodil bulbs producing more bulbs every season. As season follows season, more and more daffodils fill the waysides, and the light (Matthew 5:14-16 ) of their loveliness is seen.

By contrast today in the UK, many churches are building-based. Their members meet regularly on Sundays, and for prayer and bible study on set days during the week. Usually there is a single pastor/minister who is assisted by deacons, and between them they lead the church and conduct meetings. These churches are affiliated to, or are members of an association of churches that subscribes to particular statements of faiths, creeds and confessions. Separate to these there are free churches which are usually self-governing, independent bible-based assemblies, but they too, are building-based.

These static, almost entrenched churches in their dogmas, primarily focus on serving one another, but of late an increasing number have become involved in social outreach by setting up food banks and helping those in need, such as the homeless in local communities. They have been opening up their buildings for community functions, things like playgroups, keep fit sessions, art and floral exhibitions etc.. This more outward, less self-centred movement could have a positive outcome, because the churches may re-examine their role to discover they are falling short of what Jesus commanded, i.e., to make disciples who will ‘make disciples of all the nations’.

‘And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and in earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).”’

Smaller, less formal, house churches have the advantage of not having to maintain buildings, and between them they can share the duties of instruction in the Word, the breaking of bread, caring for one another and outreach on the streets. They all get to know each other intimately, so as to appreciate individual needs and for the giving of their loving support (John 13:34).

The disadvantages of small churches include not having a full range of skills and gifts (1 Corinthians 12:1-11) that are normally available in larger churches. They may not have knowledgable and able teachers (1 Timothy 3:2) of the Word, and they may depend more heavily on one, or perhaps two of their members for leading and shepherding them (1 Timothy 3:1-14).

If they are to multiply they must have the desire (Romans 10:1; 1 Timothy 2:8) to reach out to the community, perhaps by leaflet distribution, advertising in public places and via the World Wide Web. They must encourage people to sample what is on offer by inviting them to Bible study sessions and their worship meetings. When they grow too large to meet in a house they must split to form new churches.

We then come to a point where some will say they need an umbrella organisation, giving them a hub for linking them together and a structure with terms of reference and guidance. What must be avoided is an authoritative body that approves and sanctions the membership of participating churches. Each church must maintain its independence and operate within the authority of the Bible and be guided by it alone – yes, and with the help of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14, 15). Each church must be independent and accountable to Christ alone, who is its Head.

Could these small ‘organic’ churches be the way forward? Could this be what God has planned for our times? In China, such churches are growing exponentially, and disciples are making disciples as Jesus has commanded. Even in the USA, the Simple Church Movement *** is growing in numbers.

And now in the UK there is a commendable website that tells of the Simple Church ** movement and the making of disciples.****

Links

* Who are the Church?

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2017/11/28/who-are-the-church/

** Simple Church

https://www.simplechurch.org.uk

*** Simple Church Movement in the USA

https://www.facebook.com/House2House/videos/123856435038/

**** Making Disciples! by Frederick Serjeant

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Make-Disciples-Evangelism-through-Discipleship-ebook/dp/B075NRNTLT/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519156300&sr=8-1&keywords=Make+Disciples%21

China’s underground churches head for cover as crackdown closes in

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2110433/chinas-underground-churches-head-cover-crackdown-closes

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Email to a Christian Friend

Theologies separate, denominations separate, but the Bible through the Spirit unites Christians in Christ (Ephesians 4:1-6; Colossians 3:11).

I have Christian brothers and sisters who are disposed to different theologies, but we worship together in harmony. We worship together in Christ in whom we are united. He is our Lord, and we love Him, along with His Father and the Spirit.

Our Guide and Companion is the Holy Spirit (John 14:26) who opens up the Word. We read it; we meditate; we pray. We seek knowledge and wisdom for applying them to our lives of service. God gives us joy and grace to continue, no matter what setbacks and obstacles may seek to hinder us.

Now and again, in our friendships and fellowshipping, we may find those who feel rather strongly about their theologies. They would rather worship with those who share the same theology; hence, there is division. They feel strongly that God is calling them to come out from a particular church and to worship elsewhere.

When every effort has been made to discourage their departure, but to no avail, the church has to leave the matter with God. He is Sovereign and He places people where He would have them. Nevertheless, it is always a sadness to those left behind. A member is missing – their talents, their gifts, their service and their love are gone.

I have experienced this loss and I have found myself grieving.

Not so long ago a person who regularly worshipped at the church of which I am a member stopped coming to services. I gather that the Lord was calling him to worship elsewhere. I know he was a staunch subscriber to Dispensational Theology.

Before his departure we had corresponded via email and he explained why he saw the Scriptures as he did. In response to his explanatory email I replied to let him know I used to be a Dispensationalist, but now see the Scriptures from the viewpoint of New Covenant Theology –

( https://thebiblicalway.blog/2017/11/06/my-understanding-of-new-covenant-theology-nct/ )

Here is a copy of that email, minus personal details which have been redacted and replaced with blanks like this ____ ________ .

Dear ____,

You have a big responsibility and load to carry with your ___ ministry. I pray that many _______ will turn to the Lord, be given life in Him and receive the blessings of His promise. That is my prayer too for friends and family who do not know Him. May the Lord bless you and uphold you in your work.

I really appreciate your views on items posted at my blog. Theological viewpoints are always open to debate.

I used to be a dispensationalist, having been brought up, as it were, under the teaching of John MacArthur. I used his study bible for many years; jolly good it is too, but heavily biased in the way he interprets God’s word……. Having a literal, historical, grammatical approach virtually to all books of the Bible. Hermeneutically, to me that does not hold water. The bible contains many genres, and it seems sensible to examine and interpret them within their modes of presentation, i.e., history, prophesy, symbolism, poetry, narrative, etc..

So much depends on who has been our tutor, and furthermore, has he been constrained by his own upbringing in a particular church, or has he been influenced by a certain seminary, maybe one that holds to the Westminster Confession of Fatih or the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith? Was he brought up to revere doctrines, creeds and confessions of faith?

As far as I’m concerned, sola scriptura, scripture only is the way to go.

We have to trust the Bible and be guided by the Holy Spirit. Today, we are blessed with many translations, all of which can be tested by reference to the original scripts freely available online. If we have the zeal of the Bereans we may come near to finding the truth.

The singular thing of great importance is that whatever our preferred systematic theologies we all love and obey Christ in faith. If we do, we have that bond of unity as brothers and sisters in HIm.

As I write this email ____ ________ is preaching on the subject of ‘unity’. He is using Ephesians 4:1-16 as his text. The passage states ‘There is one body and one Spirit ……. one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.’ (verses 4, 6)

That just about sums it up.

Bill.

Why have I published this article? To express the view that unity in Christ is what binds Christians together; not theologies and denominations which tend to separate through highlighting differences of biblical interpretation and practice.

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The Baptist Affirmation of Faith 1966

If you are a regular follower of this blog you will know of my conviction that concerning the Christian faith there is only one authority, namely the Bible. It is the infallible Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20, 21). What men say about it, including me, needs to be examined by reference to the Bible itself to ensure that what is said conforms to it (Acts 17:10, 11).

Sadly, men in their desire to clarify their beliefs, and for the conduct of Christians and for the running of churches, have written creeds and confessions of faith which do not hold water.

Prior to this I have written about two confessions of faith that do not, in part conform to the Bible. They are:

The Fallibility of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith?

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2017/11/08/the-fallibility-of-the-1689-london-baptist-confession-of-faith/  and

The Westminster Confession of Faith

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/02/08/the-westminster-confession-of-faith/ .

I wish to draw your attention to another confession of faith which does not entirely conform to the Bible, i.e., The Baptist Affirmation of Faith 1966. A PDF copy of it can be found here:

http://www.gracebaptistassembly.org.uk/gba2/wp-content/uploads/docs/1966Affirmation.pdf

As with the aforementioned confessions of faith, I’ll select a few instances where the supporting texts do not substantiate what is claimed.

The first discrepancy is found under the heading ‘The doctrine of God’, Section 3, ‘Creation’.

The doctrine of God

Creation (3)

God also created the first human pair, male and female. with intelligent and immortal souls, and made after the image of God, being perfectly righteous and holy, and completely able to fulfil the law of God implanted in their nature.

Gen. 1:1­2; John 1:3; Heb. 11:3; Psa. 19:1; Rom. 1:20; Gen. 1:27; Mat. 19:4; Gen. 9:6; James 3:9; Ecc. 7:29; Job 38 and 39; Psa. 104:24; 33:5, 6; Col. 1 :16; Rom. 11:36; Isa. 43:7; Rev. 4:11

Which of the supporting texts proves that God ‘implanted in their nature’ the law of God? How was that law defined? It certainly couldn’t have be the Torah, otherwise known as the Pentateuch, consisting of the first five books of the Bible. Neither could it have been the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), which some call the Moral Law.

Now, let’s look at:

The doctrine of the grace of God

The Covenant of Grace (2)

Having regard to man’s helplessness as a sinner, God, being both righteous and gracious, has taken the initiative to save his people by his own act of mercy. He has done this by means of a covenant, known as the Covenant of Grace.

Isa. 42:6; 49:7-­8; Jer. 31 :31-­34; Rom. 4; Titus 1 :2; Rom. 1: 1­2; Heb. 8:6­10; John 17:2, 9, 10, 24; Heb. 7:22.

With whom did God make a ‘Covenant of Grace’, and where is it recorded in the Scriptures?

Let’s examine the texts:

Isaiah 42:6 states that ‘You’ (Jesus) would be given as ‘a light to the Gentiles’. This giving would be ‘as’ a covenant. The eyes of the people would be opened. You might say that God was gracious in doing this, but He did not make a ‘covenant of grace’ with the Israelites or with the Gentiles.

Isaiah 49:7, 8 refers to the Redeemer of Israel, and to the fact He would be ‘a light to the Gentiles’ (v 6), and He would be given ‘as’ a ‘covenant’ to the people (v 8).

God is indeed gracious, but He did not make a Covenant of Grace with Israel or with Jesus. If you can describe the Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 19:5,6), it would most certainly not be described as a covenant of grace. It undoubtedly was a ‘covenant of works’. There was only One who could fulfil it, i.e., Jesus, because the keeping of it required a perfect person who was without sin (Hebrews 4:14, 15).

Jeremiah 31:31-34 refers to the New Covenant in the blood of Christ (Luke 22:20; 2 Corinthians 3:6). The New Covenant made the Old Covenant [Mosaic Covenant] obsolete (Hebrews 8:13). Both covenants are ‘biblical’ covenants, unlike ‘theological’ covenants which are not God-made, but are constructs of men. The New Covenant is indeed gracious; however, it is not described as such in the Bible.

Romans 4 speaks of salvation and righteousness through faith according to grace (v 16), but within it there is no mention of a Covenant of Grace.

Hebrews 8:6-10 explains how Jesus’ ministry was superior to that of Moses. He was the promised Priest who would be the Mediator of the New Covenant in His blood.

The other texts (Tit 1:2; Rom 1:12; John 17:2, 9, 10, 24; Heb 7:22) provide no substance to God making a Covenant of Grace with anyone.

Moving on to:

The doctrine of the Christian life

The Lord’s Day (2)

We believe that God has set apart one day in seven and its observance is binding upon all men. It is to be kept holy and is designed also for man’s benefit. The Church has a warrant to observe the first day of the week as the Lord’s Day, because it is the day of our Lord’s resurrection. No detailed instructions are given in Scripture as to the way in which this day is to be kept, but ample allowance is made for works of mercy and necessity. The day is to be used for rest from secular labour and worldly recreation, and for the occupation of the whole person in the worship and service of the Lord.

Ex. 20:8­-11; Luke 4:16; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1­2; Rev 1:10.

Exodus 20:8-11 was a legal requirement for the Israelites. They were to keep the last day of the week holy and do no work on it. This is not so for believers who are in Christ (Romans 6:11), since He instituted the New Covenant in His blood which made the Mosaic Covenant obsolete (Hebrews 8:13).

Luke 4:16 – Jesus fulfilled the Mosaic Law (Matthew 5:17) on behalf of those who would believe in Him; therefore observing the Sabbath was right and proper for Him until the time of His crucifixion. In fact He was Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8), and He explained how it should be kept, i.e., with ‘mercy and not sacrifice (v 7)’.

The disciples met on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), but no scripture confirms they did it because Jesus rose to life on a Sunday. Even if there was confirmation, other scriptures point out that no day has to be observed or made special. Paul said, “You observe days and months and seasons and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have laboured for you in vain (Galatians 4:10).” He also said, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ (Colossians 2:16, 17).”

1 Corinthians 16:1, 2 has nothing to do with a directive for observance of the Lord’s Day. Paul ordered individual members of the Corinthian church to put aside money on the first day of the week for supporting the saints in Jerusalem (v 3).

Revelation 1:10 tells of John’s account of what happened when he was in the Spirit, which happened to be a Sunday.

Nowhere in the New Testament is there a directive for Christians to observe Sunday as the Israelites were obliged to keep their Sabbath (Exodus 31:16). Neither is there a directive as to how it should be observed by Christians.

Let us skip to the:

Appendix

Statement of Faith

The doctrinal standards of the Assembly are the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 and We Believe’, the Strict Baptist Affirmation of Faith (second edition 1973).

As mentioned at the beginning, I have previously identified shortcomings of the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689. Here’s a link to that article:

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2017/11/08/the-fallibility-of-the-1689-london-baptist-confession-of-faith/

Conclusion

Be like the Bereans who diligently searched the Scriptures for the truth (Acts 17:10, 11).

Test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

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Self-control

When we were children we questioned our parents asking them why we couldn’t do this or that. They had experience of life and wished to prepare us for it. They knew what we didn’t know or appreciate; therefore they disciplined us for our good.

It isn’t until we are older and gain experience of life that we realise the value of what our parents taught us. Without being disciplined to accept and comply with rules and regulations we would be hopelessly lost. We would not be able to cope from day to day.

As we mature we understand the value of being self-disciplined; for without self-discipline we collapse into a state of dissolution. We fall apart, not knowing which course to take, or what to do, or where to go.

We fail to look after ourselves – our bodies and our minds. Then we are no good for anything, and we become liabilities to others.

Now, Paul the Apostle, in his biblical writings, often referred to ‘self-control’, which is practically the same as ‘self-discipline’. He spoke of it in 1 Corinthians 9:26, 27: ‘Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.’

Paul recognised the need for controlling his body and his mind, and he wanted others to be like him (1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1). He wrote, ‘I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service (Romans 12:1).’

His reason was clear. His desire was for the Roman Christians to be a ‘living’ sacrifice. Their bodies were temples of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20) set apart to God, unlike those of the unconverted. Christians were distinctly different.

Paul’s mind was renewed to ‘prove’ God’s will (Romans 12:2). His course of action was clear.

To be an example to others and to please God, Paul exercised self-control. Thus, when advising Titus about the appointment of bishops he told him a bishop must be ‘self-controlled (Titus 1:7, 8)’.

All around us on a daily basis there are many who lack self-control. We only need watch the news on TV to see and hear of men and women  who fall into disgrace because of their lack of self-control. They are the sort of people Paul wrote about in his second letter to Timothy, Chapter 3, verses 2 and 3: ‘For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without self-control, ……’

Their distorted morality reveals their lack of self-control. By contrast, believers through the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13) display the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ as presented in Galatians 5:22, of which the ultimate fruit is ‘self-control’.

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