Tuesday, January 16, 2018

#MeToo (Does the Bible give any Instructions about How to Treat the Opposite Gender?)

There has been a great deal of discussion lately about sexual harassment and assault. Hopefully, this discussion will result in a greater awareness of what is and what is not appropriate behavior. Because of this discussion, many are asking “what does God say?” Although the Bible does not use the phrase “sexual harassment”, there are some passages that speak to the topic. Please observe a few:
“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving”  (Eph. 5:4)
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude” (1 Cor. 13:4)
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God” (1 Thess. 4:3-4)
“For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Rom. 13:9)
In all of these passages it is very clear that Christian should live a pure life and treat others with love and kindness. 

One book of the Bible that very clear about treating the opposite sex in a godly way is 1 Timothy. 1st Timothy is a letter from an experienced older preacher (Paul) to a young single preacher by the name of Timothy. Timothy is serving the church in the city of Ephesus. Ephesus was noted for immorality and the worship of the fertility goddess Diana (which included erotic behavior and ceremonial prostitution). 

One would imagine that in a community like Ephesus, sexual harassment and impurity was commonplace. Timothy, however, is encouraged to live differently. He is told to not let “anyone look down upon” his youth and that he should be an example of “purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). When dealing with his congregants, he is encouraged to “treat the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity” (1 Timothy 5:2). He should not view the women as objects of lust, but instead as “mothers” and “sisters”. 

A godly son would not sexual harass their mother, but instead would respect her. Likewise, a godly brother would protect and cherish his sister. The solution to sexual harassment is to view each-other as family. You do not harass or exploit family. Family is to be loved and protected. 

The book of Song of Solomon may also speak to the idea of loving and protecting family. Although the book is a love song between as husband and wife, there is an interesting scene in chapter 8 that reads:
We have a little sister, and she has not yet reached maturity. What will we do for our sister to prepare her form her engagement? If she’s a wall, on her we will build a battlement of silver. If she’s a door, we will enclose her with planks of cedar. (Song of Solomon 8:8-9)
The imagery is of older brothers protecting the sexual purity of their young sister until marriage. Despite the fact that this passage is highly poetic, the idea of brothers protecting sisters is the expected behavior. Timothy was to treat women as sisters, and according to the Song of Solomon, sisters should be loved and protected, not harassed and exploited.

We are all children of the same Creator. All people, young or old, male or female were made in the image of God. All people should be treated with love, kindness and respect. All people should be treated like family. 


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

What did Paul mean when he said "Have you not houses to eat and drink in"? (1 Corinthians 11:22)

Sadly, selfishness and self-centeredness are sins that always seem to entrap the Christian and find their way into the collective activity of the church. Selfishness is a destroyer of unity! In the book of 1st Corinthians the apostle Paul uses the word “body” to describe the church numerous times. A body works together, a body is united and a body sees the value in every member. 

The collective worship of the church is to be a place of unity as well. The assembly should be a place where people from all backgrounds can come together as one group to praise God. Worship should be the one place that division is never found…yet, even in first century Corinth, selfishness in the assembly destroyed the church’s unity. This problem was specifically identified in regards to the Lord’s Supper. The Corinthians church need to restore the Communion to its proper purpose (ie. the remembrance of Christ). 

This post will first establish how the Corinthians had forgotten the purpose of the communion, and second, present Paul’s proposed solution to this problem.

Forgotten Purpose
The Communion meal is supposed to be a time of mutual fellowship between the members of a local congregation with God, and with each-other. The Corinthians had turned it into a time to selfishly fill their stomachs when they were hungry. The Lord’s Supper is supposed to be a time to remember Christ, yet they were only remembering their appetites.

By inspiration, Paul writes them in order to restore proper remembrance in the Lord’s Supper. In 1 Corinthians 11:18-21), he states:
For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you. Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk.
The intention of the Lord’s Supper is not to only be fed, but to celebrate and remember Christ with one’s brethren as a unified body. The church in Corinth was the complete opposite of a unified body. They were not even waiting for everyone to arrive to the assembly! In fact, it appears that some members were eating up all the food and drinking down all the wine before everyone could commune! This was a blatant corruption of what the Lord’s Supper was supposed to be! 

Just incase the Corinthians were still confused on the purpose of the communion, verse 22 makes it very clear by proclaiming;
What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you.
To paraphrase, the apostle is saying, “if you are hungry, eat at home”, “if you are thirsty, be sure to get a drink beforehand”, because when it is time to take the Lord’s Supper, it is not to fill your belly, but a time to remember Jesus with your Christian family. The Corinthians were thinking “food” when they needed to be thinking “Jesus”. It was time for them to restore remembrance to the Lord’s Supper.

Proposed Solution
After, explaining that the purpose of the Lord’s Supper is “remembrance” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26), the Apostle gets back to his corrective rebuke in verses (33-24). The passage reads:
So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment...
The Communion meal is different from other meals the church may eat together. The communion is a time of remembrance, sharing, celebration, praise and fellowship. The entire congregation is to participate in this observance. It is a shame there were some brethren in Corinth who turned it into an opportunity to quickly stuff their faces before everyone could participate.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Was Adolf Hitler the Antichrist?...What about Donald Trump or Barack Obama? What does the Bible teach?

The term “antichrist” is one that catches your attention. Throughout history, many have labeled different historical figures as “the antichrist” without ever once examining what the Bible teaches. Some of these ideas range from the Pope to Marilyn Manson, or Adolf Hitler to Donald Trump. The world’s idea of “the antichrist” or “antichrists” is very different from what the Bible actually teaches.

The Text(s)
Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. (1 John 2:18-24)
For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. (2 John 1:7).
The time of the Antichrist(s)
John introduces this section in his 1st letter by informing the reader that we are in the ”last hour”. The last hour is a metaphorical expression referring to the last period of time for earthly existence. This would be the time leading up to the 2nd coming. This would be anytime after the ascension of Jesus. We have been in these "last days" for approximately 2000 years. In summation, anytime until Jesus comes again should be viewed as “the last hour” or “last days”. It is in these last days that one will observe the activities of antichrists. 

Who is “the” Antichrist?
The word used here is the compound Greek word ‘antichristos’ which is defined as  “opposed to Christ”. There is no article (ie. “the”) in front of the word in the original Greek. The word is just “antichrist”. An “antichrist” is simply one who is anti/against Jesus. The Bible informs us that anyone can be an “antichrist” if they “deny Jesus”. Notice how these antichrists are defined in the following passages.
For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. (2 John 1:7).
This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. (1 John 1:22)
How many Antichrists are there?
Although many throughout history have tried to label different individuals “the antichrist”, the text makes it clear there are “many antichrists” (1 John 2:18). With this in mind, there is no possible way for just one person to be predicted in this passage. Anyone who “denies the Father and the Son” is an “antichrist”!

What is the origin of the antichrist(s)?
At one time these individuals were in the church! John says, “they went out from us..” (1 John 1:19). They have separated themselves due to their false beliefs about Christ. They are “against/anti Christ”. It may be that these people were never actually for Christ to begin with, John continues to note “they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us (1 John 1:19). If a person is “anti Christ” they cannot enjoy spiritual fellowship with God or the church.

There is not just one historical or future figure who can be labeled as being the true antichrist. Many people are antichrists. Anyone who denies Jesus is anti Christ. Antichrists are those who are opposed to Christ.

Cliff Sabroe
Quotes from NASB95 Bible

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Does Proverbs 22:28 mean we should not tear down Confederate Memorials?

There is a lot of discussion in our country right now regarding statues and monuments. Many find these monuments to be offensive because they are associated with the Confederacy and even slavery. This article is not about whether or not they should be removed, but instead this article intends to examine a passage that is often used in defense of not removing them.

The Passage
In seeking Biblical support of their position to not remove these potentially offensive memorials, some will quote (Proverbs 22:28) which reads: “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set”.

We must be careful to not quote passages we do not fully understand. The “landmarks” being referenced in this passage are not historical statues or military memorials, instead they are landmarks designating a property boundary. The Proverb writer is encouraging the reader to not rip someone off by encroaching onto their property by moving a landmark designed to designate the boundary. Most translations besides the KJV actually translate the term “landmark” as “boundary”, or “boundary stone”.

Here are some other passages that teach the same same command:

  • “Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless” (Proverbs 23:10).
  • "You shall not move your neighbor's boundary mark, which the ancestors have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the LORD your God gives you to possess” (Deuteronomy 19:14)
  • “Cursed is he who moves his neighbor's boundary mark.' And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’” (Deuteronomy 27:17)
Let’s use the word of God properly. Let’s never fall into the trap of making the Bible say what we want it to say. Instead of speaking for God, allow God to speak to you by using the Bible the way it was meant to be used. Never just grab a verse and assume it relates to whatever cause you are promoting. Instead ask, “what does it say” and “what does it mean”, before trying to make application to a modern situation.

Proverbs 22:28 and other passages like it are great passages to teach that one should NOT deceive their neighbor in order to take what does not belong to them. This is a passage that relates to cheating, fudging the numbers and ripping people off, it has nothing to do with tearing down or not tearing down Confederate statues.