Category Archives: Scriptures

Churchianity v Christianity

A British theologian challenges the teaching in the church that evangelism, when wrongly understood as simply adding souls to the ecclesiastical structures and congregations, is an adequate representation of the mission of God in Jesus Christ.

So far, in his series on ‘Churchianity’, Dr Joseph Boot has argued that Christians need to develop a cultural theology grounded in the Bible and has addressed two common faults among evangelicals’ approaches to culture. In this third installment, he challenges well-meaning but errant thinking on the relationship between religion and politics and culture.

Read the whole article here:

http://www.christianconcern.com/our-issues/church-and-state/churchianity-or-christianity-part-3-an-example-of-churchianity

Answers to Questions in a Worldly, Post-Christian Culture

An open Bible

Who shapes our outlook on this life and the life to come? God and His Word, or the words of the culture around us, dominated by the prince of the air?

Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” When we don’t want to listen to the truth of Scripture we have ways of reasoning faith away by simply ignoring the Biblical teaching or by twisting it to mean something different from what it actually means. Christians have an obligation to teach those who accept the Gospel of Christ to obey all that He has commanded (Matt. 28:16-18). The Great Commission mandate is not just to listen to and marvel at the Lord’s teachings, but to instruct the nations to obey these teachings.

No one can teach obedience to Christ’s commandments unless they themselves obey His teachings.

A recent interaction with a long-term friend and supporter prompted me to post the following links which lead to articles and videos addressing issues that our ministry, and most Christians, engage with on a regular basis and issues which are of critical importance of understanding Christ’s teachings in these last days. There are a lot of publications on these subjects thus it is not necessary for me to repeat what others have already written or said on the subjects. The publications behind these links will raise a question or in some — just eyebrows. Yet the truth of the Word of God cannot be reinvented and laden with non-existent but culturally palatable meanings. Only proper reading of Scripture, led by the Holy Spirit will lead us to understand God’s will and to obey the commandments of Christ (which are not that hard: Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor!)

The publications address homosexual imperialism, homeschooling, the authority of women in the church, and the church’s relation to Israel.

The Homosexual Agenda in Our Public Schools

10 Biblical Reasons to Homeschool

What Does It Mean Not to Teach or Have Authority Over Men (1 Timothy 2:11-15)

Marching to Zion (a 1:48 hr documentary on youtube addressing the relationship of the people of God to contemporary Israel in view of the New Testament and the end times).

It is noteworthy that the said links are from and for the American context and cultural scenery. It may seem that the content does not relate to our missionary work. Nothing can be further from the truth. US Christianity has had and still has an influence on the church and missions worldwide. American popular culture, also affecting the American church, popular music, Hollywood movies, technology, and worldview with attached ideologies affect the whole world through the power of the media.

We cannot avoid the changed context of the global culture we live in.

That’s why we must address issues and ideologies geographically removed from us, yet brought home through technology and speed of travel. Christian mission overseas is affected by the state of Christianity in other places and especially in the U.S. to which many Christians and churches look up to.

To illustrate the importance of understanding the spiritual dynamic of today’s global and politicized world we should ponder the imperialistic mandate of the then British prime minister David Cameron, who in 2013 announced to the nations that he wanted to export the whole world the same-sex “marriage” his government had so proudly of introduced into their own legal system. Cameron’s arrogant pronouncement sounds like the Great Commission, just with the opposite moral quality.

The favorite phrase of the superheroes of American comic books and their Hollywood offshoots usually goes like this: “With great power, comes great responsibility.” How we, as the body of Christ, handle the “power” of cultural influences and the power of God’s Word is of great importance to the fulfillment of the Great Commission entrusted to us by the Lord.

Who is Your President?

United States presidential candidates in 2016

The United States presidential candidates in 2016

One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor, states Proverbs 29:23.

With political passions engulfing the globe one must ask if believers should stay away from politics? The answer is negative. Simply our “politics” is different. It is of the Kingdom of God, and not of the kingdoms of this world. When Christ declared to Pilate in John 18 that His kingdom is not of this world He did not mean that He is an escapist. Neither did He want that for His disciples. He  meant that the way He and His followers engage in this world defies its principles of corruption and rebellion. Just the opposite, Jesus’s own mission and the one He gave to the church is one of full engagement with the Gospel with all peoples and worldly powers (Matt 28:16-18)

We also need to remember that regardless of our well-devised political systems, and our preferences of one or the other, it is God who places rulers in place, and he removes them, per His own will. The principle of God’s ultimate sovereignty is well described in Daniel, chapter 4.

The Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes. (Daniel 4:25b).

The whole chapter speaks of the sovereignty of God. It overrides the so-called “sovereignty of the people” and of the sovereignty of a “nation.” Democratic elections are not the ultimate source of kingly appointments. See verse 17.

The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.’

The United States presidential elections of 2016 are a perfect example of these truths. Donald Trump, a man laughed at and vehemently opposed by both the political and media establishments, won the elections. His victory should be a sign to all, especially to Christians, that God’s will is ultimate and He is no respecter of man. The eternal plans of God will override all human plans for life and society.

His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: “What have you done?” (Daniel 4:33-35)

Those who were laughing in arrogance at Donald Trump’s efforts to campaign for the presidency are not laughing anymore. They are crying (WARNING: Inappropriate language used by one of the featured political activists at the end of the video clip. Another one’s implied but soundless.).

Today’s planners of a future without God should learn from king Nebuchadnezzar:

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble. (Daniel 4:7)

Lord or Sir? Borthers or Sisters?

Christ meets Saul on the road to Damascus

Christ meets Saul on the road to Damascus

It is critically important that Bible translations remain true to the original text. The truth will set us free if it is presented…truthfully. Unfortunately, throughout the ages, as well as today, translators play with the cultural perception of the biblical message. Such playfulness often goes beyond the bona fide search for proper and adequate communication of the Word and changes the meaning of certain passages of Scripture. Such changes can confuse the reader or worse — lead to error and apostasy.

For example, this verse, Acts 26:15 has always grabbed my attention and made me ponder on its lack of logic:

And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. (ESV)

To put the verse in context: This is apostle Paul, explaining to high government officials his interaction with the Lord Jesus Christ on the way to Damascus. This is when Paul was still Saul and was severely persecuting Christians, the followers of the Lord. Saul did not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Secondly, the question is illogical since it contains the answer: : “Who are YOU (QUESTION), LORD (ANSWER)?” Why is Saul asking the Lord who He is? Obviously he knows him — calls Him “Lord.” If he did not know him, why why is he calling him “Lord,” then?  Or if actually does not know who he is talking to, Saul is asking an honest question, “Who are you really?” But then the address “Lord” does not make sense. “Lord” is meant to denote one and one only Person in the NT – THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. So is Saul (Paul) being hypocritical here, and all of a sudden acknowledges Jesus Christ as Lord, and still asks him who He is? Or is it the religious hypocrisy of the translators that has played a role in this mix up?

I suggest it is the second. The proper translation of the word “lord” which is capitalized by translators in this passage to give honor to Jesus Christ, Who indeed is speaking to Saul, is “sir.” Yes, the translators know that it is Jesus speaking to Paul, and try to honor His name by capitalizing Saul’s addressing Him. However, Saul seems to  not have an idea of who he is talking to. Saul gets even more confused when the person talking to him states that Saul is persecuting him! It only makes sense that Saul is using the term “lord” or “master” from which we derive today’s word “mister” and “sir” in that very sense. Saul is simply being polite to a stranger who is talking to him. Yes, under very strenuous for Saul and his companions’ circumstance, but still — a stranger.

Only 3 of over 30 translations, however, use the proper translation – “Who are you, sir?” The Complete Jewish Bible, God’s Word Translation, and the New Living Translation. Even the loose interpretive book based on the Bible original — the Message translates Saul’s address wrongly — “Who are You, Master?” The use of “Master” speaks that the author of the Message felt that Saul was aware of Christ’s Lordship, at least to some extent. Thus even the Message asserts the confusing question-answer statement posed by Saul to Jesus.

Following the true translation of Saul’s address to the unknown to him till that moment Jesus Christ, as “Who are you, sir?” then all becomes clear to the reader immediately. The traveler who hates Christians is in shock; he wants to know who is talking to him in such a powerful and authoritative way. However, we imagine in the older times when the view of God was higher and less focused on the human side of the Lord, the translators did not want to offend the divinity and authority of Christ, at the expense of blurring Saul’s words and interaction. Then the rest of the translators followed suit, cementing the confusion. 3 of 33 is not many.

However, no one is without sin. The same NLT, which so well translates the question of the confused persecutor of Christians to the appeared Lord Jesus Christ, does its own “cultural” misinterpretations and bad translating. Under the contemporary push toward “gender equality,” a Marxist and left wing socialist ideology, NLT inserts “sisters” where the actual writer of the New Testament book only writes “brothers.” Thus 1 Timothy 4:6 reads like this in ESV

If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.

The context is that the teachings of apostle Paul must be clearly explained to Christ’s followers. However, this becomes a different verse in NLT, which reads:

If you explain this to the brothers and sisters, you will be doing your duty as a worthy servant of Christ Jesus, one who is fed by the message of faith and the true teaching you have followed.

Given, the NLT editors have put in a footnote that the original only says “brothers.” However, putting words in the mouth and pen of biblical authors is no small offense. It seems that NLT publishers, and those of a number of other new translations  (NCV, NIRV, TNIV, NRS), are quite concerned about the lack of “gender sensitivity” of the biblical authors and in this case — Paul the apostle. Why is it that instead of footnoting their interpretations and musings on biblical interaction with contemporary ideological agendas, these editions change the original and create the platform for a significantly different meaning? Are Christian women so insecure and lacking self-identity that the Bible must be changed so that they feel politically and ecclesiastically accepted? Do Christian women even care about PC and “equality” of the type the world pushes, in which women must be, look, and act like men? (“Gender equality” is a concept dramatically opposed to biblical worldview of genders. Man and woman in the Bible are complementary to each other, not “class enemies” fighting for domination.)

How serious are such offenses, abandoning the original meaning to insert a contemporary overtones of the Bible? Confusion in the case with “sir” and “Lord” as to the meaning of the verse and the interaction. As to the second part, Dr. Luis Marcos has a very interesting position which should be read in full here: I Now Pronounce You Human and Human: How Gender-Neutral Bible Translations Prepared the Way for the Christian Acceptance of Gay Marriage.

Any botched version of the truth, like rewriting the biblical text to fit contemporary mores, becomes breeding ground for error and apostasy. We must not forget the teaching of Revelation 22:18. It should remind us that even in a world and day when people think they can change their gender at will, God’ Word is eternal and any playfulness with it is playing with fire. Eternal one.

Freedom of religion and conscience in the Bible – Daniel 6

The Scriptures are filled with witness of how the believers’ faith collides with the deception of ungodly leaders in government and society. One such example we find in Daniel 6.

The excellence in Daniel’s work for the king becomes a source of envy for his “co-workers” in ruling the regions of the empire. They realize that they will not be able to catch him in a work-related blunder so they decide that his faith will be the reason for his fall. The anti-religious freedom lobbyists go to the king and ask him to pass a law that will mandate that for 30 days no one will pray to any other god but him, the king. “Not a bad idea,” the ruler thought.
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Vision

During our family worship time today Danny had a vision which he shared later with all of us. He saw in his mind’s eye a dark place and a rose. The rose was being watered and cared for but it was not blooming. Then the skies opened, the sunshine broke through and the rose then bloomed. Teresa gave the interpretation of the vision. She felt that God was encouraging us to see our work in Bulgaria as that rose. We may put a lot of effort and care for the work of the Lord here but the darkness does not allow it to release its full potential. It is a worthy effort but God’s shining light, His divine intervention, is the absolutely necessary resource to produce the complete fruit of the ministry. I agreed with her that this was the meaning unreservedly.

Unpacking the Great Commission

Lately I was reading (yet again) the Great Commission passage in Matthew 28:16-20. What struck me was that the authority that Jesus has, because of His ulitmate obedience to God, is also given to those who are sent as His witnesses for Him and the Father and the Holy Spirit.

This, of course, is not a new concept or teaching. As I dug deeper, however, I realized that the key to having Christ’s authority is that we must be involved in Christian work the way Christ defines it. Otherwise we have no authority from God, nor His endorsement to do what we do in His name. It may seem obvious but the subtlety of it is in the practical personal test of asking ourselves: do we really do the mission work the way Christ commanded us?What is the scope of the Great Commission? Here is the text:

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

Our main goal is to make disciples of Christ who come from among all nations. This is Christ’s commission. How can we do that? By baptizing them in the name of the Holy Trinity, which means that they have already heard the Gospel and made a confession of faith in Christ as the son of God (Acts 2:38). The second aspect of making disciples is teaching them to observe all of Christ’s commandments. This is a lengthier process of growing as a follower of Christ in one’s lifestyle and life-choices. Thus mission has two main goals – an outreach and an “inreach.”

The outreach aims to tell people about God and salvation in Christ. The second part of the missionary task, the inreach, is to help them grow into a Christ-like human being, one that is known to constantly apporpriate more and more obedience to Christ’s teaching into themselves.

If we fall wtihin these limits of the sending out given to us by Jesus, (1) reaching out those who seek God but don’t know about Hiim, and then (2) making sure the converts grow in their faith and develop ever deeper relationship with Christ, we will have God’s approval, His authority and His protection.

These limits are not actually limits – discipleship can take many formats and shapes; it can be done it innumerable various languages, settings, and time spans. The format is not that important; the motivation is and keeping the actual commission. After this evaluation is done, however, we must rest assured that anything that falls outside of the “disciple-making boundaries” will not be supported by God; it cannot be called “The Great Commission”; God’s authority will not be behind it. We may claim that God has given us the authority but this claim will not be true unless we are indeed making disciples of all nations by baptizing them in God’s name and teaching them full obedience to Him.

We have two encouraging observations to make to this brief study of the Great Commision: (1) the commandments of Christ are not difficult (In Matthew 10:30 Jesus stated that His yoke is easy and His burden is light – showing that with God’s help discipleship is not rocket science although it is much more valuable) and (2) they are all available for review and study in the New Testament. Those who want to see the backdrop of our faith can go for a more extensive study in the Old Testament of the Bible.

It will be a grave mistake, however, to attribute to ourselves as believers and Chrsitian workers, God’s authority for mission in this world, if we are not willing to follow the guidelines of His commissioning.