Group Number 103

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Shouldn't the plan of salvation be presented in every sermon -- like Acts 2:38?

1. Why not preach Acts 16:31? That was a response to an inquiring sinner.
2. Peter did not preach Acts 2:38. It was his response to the question "What shall we do?"
3. We have several examples of sermons, or messages, preached to those who were in a state of alienation (Acts 2:14-36; 3:12-26; 4:8-12; 5:29-32; 7:1-56; 10:34-43; 13:16-41; 13:46--47; 14:15-17; 17:22-31; 22:1-22; 24:10-21; 26:1-27). In these cases, baptism was never the theme of the preaching, but became a subject only upon inquiry, or firm evidence that the people had received the message.

 Right here, it is needful to understand the Scriptural philosophy of preaching. Preaching is not the mere conveyance of information. Nor, indeed, is the objective of preaching to outline what men are to do to be saved. Such an approach to preaching may be important to the maintenance of an institutional emphasis, but there is no such representation of preaching in the New Covenant Scriptures. That is why there is no consistent coverage of the "how to be saved" in the various Scriptural narratives. Acts 2:38 says "Repent and be baptized . . ." Acts 3:19 says "repent and be converted." Acts 16:31 says "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" . . . etc. On the day of Pentecost, before Peter responded to the question "What shall we do?" he held forth the promise, "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2:11). The things involved in, and associated with, that "calling" were opened up only after the message itself was received. 

 It is the calculated and determined purpose of the Gospel itself to stir up holy responses. Until those responses are evident, the subject of baptism has absolutely no relevance. This does not minimize the necessity of baptism.

 It is to be acknowledged that many contemporary Christian Churches do not stress "baptism" in their preaching as they once did. I suppose it can be assumed that this is because they no longer believe baptism is necessary, or that they want to cater to the insincere. However, it can also be because some have seen this is not a proper emphasis.

 It is true that any emphasis other than Christ Himself tends to take center stage, and become the dominant subject -- even upstaging the Person of Christ and God's great salvation. To me, that is why the Spirit is very precise in speaking about preaching and teaching, emphasizing the THRUST of the message rather than its various details. Thus, we read in the book of Acts of "Jesus Christ" being preached (Acts 3:20), preaching the resurrection of the dead through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:2), teaching and preaching "Jesus Christ" (Acts 5:42), preaching the word" (Acts 8:4; 11:19; 14:25 16:6; ), preaching "Christ" (Acts 8:5; 9:20), preaching "the things concerning the kingdom" (Acts 8:12), preaching "the word of the Lord" (Acts 8:25; 15:35,36), preaching "Jesus"{ (Acts 8:35), preaching "peace by Jesus Christ" (Acts 10:36), preaching and testifying that Jesus was ordained to be the "Judge of the quick and the dead" (Acts 10:42), preaching "the Lord Jesus" (Acts 11:20), preaching "the word of God" (Acts 13:5; 17:13), preaching "through this Man the forgiveness of sins" (Acts 13:38), preaching "the Gospel" (Acts 14:7,21; 16:10), preaching that men should turn from the vanity of idols "unto the living God" (Acts 14:15), preaching "Jesus and the resurrection" (Acts 17:18), and preaching "the kingdom of God" (Acts 20:25); 28:31).

 The Epistles also throw the spotlight upon the THRUST of preaching: "the Gospel" (Rom 1:15; 15:20; 1 Cor 1:17; 9:14,16,18; 15:1; 2 Cor 10:16; Gal 1:11; Gal 2:2; 4:13; 1 Pet 1:12,25), "the Gospel of Christ" (Rom 15:16; 2 Cor 10:14), "the cross" (1 Cor 1:18), "Christ crucified" (1 Cor 1:23), that "Christ" rose from the dead (1 Cor 15:12), "the Son of God, Jesus Christ" (2 Cor 1:19), "Christ's gospel" (2 Cor 2:12), "Christ Jesus the Lord" (2 Cor 4:5), "the gospel of God" (2 Cor 11:7; 1 Thess 2:9), God's "Son" (Gal 1:16), "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Eph 3:8), "Christ" (Phil 1:15,16,18; Col 1:28), and "the Word" (2 Tim 4:2).

 There is a distinctive meaning to be found in all of this rather academic information. Under the New Covenant, men are NOT motivated by what they are commanded to do. That was the manner of the Law, which focused upon the obligations of men. Now, owing to the extensive and effective work of Jesus, the Gospel itself motivates men to "press" into the kingdom, earnestly seeking what they are to do. This kind of approach was introduced by John the Baptist, who came preaching "the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins" (Mk 1:4), the coming of one "mightier" than he (Mk 1:7), and that a "kingdom" was "at hand" (Matt 3:2). People flooded out to hear John -- he did not come to them, they came to him (Matt 3:5-6; Mk 1:5).

 Jesus spoke of this significant shift in approach, and of the impact it had upon men. "And from the days of John the Baptist until the present time, the kingdom of heaven has endured violent assault, and violent men seize it by force [as a precious prize—a share in the heavenly kingdom is sought with most ardent zeal and intense exertion]" Matt 11:12, Amplified Bible. Luke also refers to this change (Luke 16:16). In John's case, the Gospel was "of the kingdom" -- a message of a coming Messiah who was superior to all of His competitors. That message moved people to do what Moses could never get them to do -- repent and be baptized while confessing their sins (Matt 3:6; Mk 1:5).

 This continues in Christ Jesus, even intensifying. Those who receive this Gospel will not rest until they are at peace with God. That is why those who had "murdered" Jesus cried out, "What shall we do?" The real transgression is not that Acts 2:38 is not preached, but that it is not given to those who have inquired what they ought to do.

 Everyone who preaches must settle in his mind what he intends to move the people. Is it Christ, or is it the delineation of what they are to do. Is it the good news of what God has provided, or is it an outline of human obligation? If it is true that "the Gospel of Christ" is "the power of God unto salvation" (Rom 1:16), then there is no question about its motivational power. When that Gospel brings a person to call upon the name of the Lord, those who, in their response, ignore baptism have done wrong, and have blocked the door of entrance. Including Acts 2:38 in every sermon is not the answer to that situation.

What happens at death? I know all are appointed to die. The body goes to the grave. Is the body resurrected from the grave?
Some say you go directly to heaven. I have trouble with that.Does the soul go directly to heaven?
John 3:13 says: No one has ever gone to heaven except the one who came from heaven; the Son of Man.
Rev. 8:9-11 says the souls are under the altar asking how much longer Sovereign Lord?
Is this altar in heaven? Are we taken to a holding place, paradise, until the judgement for the things we did on earth?
I upset a lady because she believes you go directly to heaven when you die. I need to know if I am wrong. Either way I need to apologize to her for I do not want to be a stumbling block to any one.
I know this does not pertain directly to salvation but I have heard this at so many funerals. If they interpret this wrong how much more do the do.

To have a clearer understanding of what happens at death, we must have more than was observed by Job and Solomon. Their view of death was limited, because God had not yet brought such things to light. Both "life and immortality" have been brought to light through the Gospel, as affirmed in Second Timothy 1:10.
Jesus declared that the person who lived and believed on Him would "never die" (John 11:25). That does not contradict Hebrews 9:27, which affirms that it is appointed unto men "once to die." Jesus was speaking of the inner man -- the real person. Hebrews 9:27 is speaking of being separated from there body, which is the tabernacle, or tent, in which we dwell (2 Cor 5:1,4; 2 Pet 1:13).
In further elaboration of what happens at death, Paul spoke of being "absent from the body" (2 Cor 5:8). That is the same thing Peter referred to when he said he was shortly going to put off his tabernacle, or tent (2 Pet 1:13). Paul also declared that death was not an end of him personally -- he would live on, just like Jesus said. Here is how he put it. "We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord"  (2 Cor 5:8). We know that this in no sense refers to the region of the dead, for Jesus is no longer in that region -- in any sense. His body was not left in the grave, and his soul was not left in the unseen world (Acts 2:27).
When Stephen was dying, he actually saw the Lord Jesus standing at the right hand of God. That vision was not one to be aborted by death, for he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (Acts 7:59). He knew that to be "absent from the body" meant he would be "present with the Lord." Incidentally, his request for Jesus to receive his spirit was the same request Jesus made to the Father concerning His spirit when He died: "Father into Your hands I commit My spirit" (Luke 23:46).
We do not know all that is entailed in being "present with the Lord" when we die. We do know that presence is not in the fullest sense, for we will not be perfectly conformed to Christ's presence until He comes and the dead are raised (1 John 3:1-2). You must remember that "heaven" is a vast domain. It includes what John saw when he witnessed "souls under the altar." That was part of the open "heaven" into which John was peering (Rev 4:1-2). We do not know the details of that location, but in some sense it is "with the Lord," for "heaven" is where He is presently located (Phil 3:20; Heb 9:24).
When Jesus said "No man has ascended into heaven," He meant in the fullest sense of the term -- as He was when He came down from heaven.  We are expressly told that Elijah "went up by a whirlwind into heaven" (2 Kings 2:11). But that was not in the same sense and fullness as Jesus went up "into heaven" (Heb 9:24).
Think of heaven like the tabernacle. It had two parts, and the High Priest was able to enter into the holiest place once a year. The other part of the tabernacle was still part of the tabernacle, yet it was separate from the "Most holy place." Jesus is in heaven, but He is in the most central place -- where the throne is located, so to speak. If we say those who die "go to heaven," we mean they are in heaven, where the Lord is, and with Him, yet not in the throne room itself. They are "under the altar," not yet experiencing the fullness of being with the Lord -- yet they are with Him, like the priest was with the Lord when ministering in the general part of the tabernacle.
The best way to resolve differences like this is simply to say it like the Scriptures say it. For those who are in Christ Jesus, to be "absent from the body" is to be "present with the Lord." We readily admit that we do not know everything that is involved in that statement, but we do know it is true, and rejoice in it.
One other word on this. There are matters dealing with eternity for which we have not been provided great details -- only generalities. We must be willing to speak of them in those general terms without insisting on meticulous details, which, quite frankly, have not been made known.

A lady asked me a question about baptism yesterday of which I did not give the best answer.  She noticed that Jesus commanded that we baptize in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit from Matt. 28.  But yet in Acts, they are Baptized into the name of Jesus.
Is there any major point there to be considered?

The phrase "in the name of" is not speaking of a verbal formula. The idea is that of being baptized INTO the name, or into THE Persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is no record of anyone saying anything when an individual was baptized -- with the exception of the Father speaking when Jesus was baptized. As you know, the Greek word "eis" means "into, unto, to towards -- motion towards" -- and that is the word used in Matthew 28:19. The meaning there is that we are baptized into personal affiliation and identity with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
In Acts 2:38, the word "in" (the name of) is the Greek word "epi," which emphasizes cause: i.e., on account of the name of Jesus, or because of who He is. In Acts 8:16, the Greek word is "eis," meaning into the Person of Christ. In Acts 10:48, the Greek word is "en," denoting the position, or environ in which baptism takes place: i.e. within Christ. In Acts 19:5, the word "in" is also taken from the Greek word "eis," emphasizing "into." In First Corinthians, the word "in" is also from the Greek word "eis" -- i.e. "into."
None of these cases have anything whatsoever to do with what was said when a person was baptized, or with the proper nomenclature to be employed at such a time. The different uses all point to the Person of Christ.
1. "eis" puts the emphasis on our new environment, which is Christ Himself. Doctrinally it means we are "baptized into Christ" (Gal 3:27).
2. "epi" puts the emphasis on WHY we are baptized, which is because of Christ, or on account of who He is. Doctrinally this is accented in Paul's word to the Ephesian disciples, when he reminded them that John said  the people "should believe on Him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus" (Acts 19:4).
3. "en" puts the emphasis on the surrounding in which baptism takes place, which is within Christ. Doctrinally, we would say, "Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism" (Rom 6:4).
In Scripture, "the name" stands for the Person, as illustrated by Moses' request for the Lord to show him His glory. The Lord consented to do this, telling Moses He would declare  "the name of the Lord." When He declared that name, here is what He said: "And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, "keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation"  (Ex 34:6-7). His "name" was who He is-- His Person.

Do you believe a person can be in the process of becoming like Christ without being His disciple ? In your mind, what happens when a person is called ?

A person cannot be saved without being a disciple, nor can they be changed without being one. That is like saying we can be saved without xcomning to Jesus and learning from Him -- which is what a disciple does. Being a disciple, or follower and learner of Christ, is the means through which salvation is wrought out. It is true that being saved is distinct from the special ministries that are placed within the body. However, those ministries are all within the contect of salvation, and none of them can be entered into apart from salvation.
As to the call of God having nothing to do with salvation, that is a very clumsy statement. In a grand overview of salvation Paul stated, "Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified" (Rom 8:30). I am sure brother Chambers was limiting his comments to a call to specialized service. However, to say that has nothing to do with salvation is absurd. God does not call people to a special work independent of salvation. Further, the work itself has to do with God working salvation in the midst of the earth. The individual's personal work and faithfulness in his ministry also has to do with the salvation in which he has participated. This is seen in 1 Corinthians 3:9-15 and 9:27.
Technically, it is true, "for only one thing saves a person and that is absolute reliance in faith upon Jesus Christ." However, that absolute reliance in faith upon Jesus Christ bears directly upon the ministries to which we are called. That is where the reality of our faith is made known. You just as well say that Abraham leaving Ur, and offering up Isaac had nothing to do with his justification. They were the deeds in which his faith was validated, or shown to be true. They were not the cause of his justification, but the evidence of it. That means they did have to do with his justification, even though it was not in a causal way. A faith that cannot be perceived in what a person does is really no faith at all. That is the whole point of James' dissertation on faith and works (James 2:14-26). The works themselves do not cause salvation, just as our ministries do not cause it. However, those works confirm that our claim to have faith is true. They are the evidence of faith. To say they have nothing to do with salvation is the same as saying they have nothing to do with faith -- for that is the only possible way they could be divorced from salvation.

This series is very thought-provoking. I'm not disagreeing with you, but I'm wondering how you reconcile the passages you quote in this installment with Jesus' eating with "publicans and sinners," his compassion for the crowd and for individual sinners like the woman caught in adultery, etc.
Also, isn't it correct to say that God loves sinners (or at least the elect) from before the foundation of the world?

First, Jesus did not eat with publicans and sinners out of a personal preference for them. The Scriptures inform us that they came to Him (Matt 9:10; Mk 2:15; Lk 15:1). His enemies charged Him with preferring such company, but this was not the case. Jesus rather saw in the "publicans and sinners" who CAME TO HIM as those who knew what they were, and were not content to remain that way. That is why He said, "Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you" (Mat 21:31). It was certainly not because their manner of life gave them any advantage, or endeared them to Christ. In fact, it was a manner of life that would bring forth the wrath of God, and result in condemnation. However, when those inquiring souls confronted Jesus, the light emitting from Him confirmed their real condition, and elicited a desire within them for better things. That is why consented to eat with them.
The woman caught in the act of adultery was obviously of a tender heart, and thus the Lord showed mercy to her. A proper questrion would be why He did not show it to those who cast her down at His feet. Why was no "love" expressed toward them? What was there about them that withheld any Divine expression of compassion toward them? That is the point with which I am dealing in this series.
Christ's compassion for the multitudes was glorious -- but it was not owing to His personal attraction to them as people.  Matthew says He had compassion on them because they were as "sheep without a shepherd" (Matt 9:36). He also says that same compassion moved Him, to "heal their sick" (Matt 14:14), and to feed them (Matt 15:32).
The qualities that attracted Jesus to people included the presence of "honest and good hearts" (Luke 8:15). That is what He saw in the "publicans and sinners" that came to Him. He did not have a similar attraction to the scribes and Pharisees, but delivered blistering rebukes to them, giving no indication whatsoever of any kind of tolerance for them (Matt 23).
The proper question is not why Jesus ate with "publicans and sinners," but why He was so intolerant with the scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and lawyers. Why did He say, "Let them alone" (Matt 15:14),? Why did He say to the unbelieving Jews, "You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do" (John 8:44,49)?
There is a vast difference between Divine love that is "toward us" and one that is "for us." God commended His love "toward us," not "for us" (Rom 5:8; 1 John 4:9). That is, His love was not an attraction to our persons, but a desire for us to be purified for Himself. This kind of love is uniquely toward man, who is His own "offspring." He directs no such love toward Satan and his angels. This is a provisional love: that is, in love He has provided for man's extrication from the dilemma of sin. Further, God's love "toward" man is only in Christ Jesus. That is why His love for the world is always mentioned in the past tense -- localized, as it were, in the Son (John 3:16). Even when Paul referred to Christ's loved for Him, he traced it back to the cross, affirming the Son of God "loved me and gave Himself for me" (Gal 2:20).
Neither God nor Christ are ever said to be loving the world (active tense), or all men. In all of the preaching in the book of Acts, there is not one single reference to the love of God. In fact, no translation of the book of Acts contains the word "love." That is not what the Apostles and holy men preached to sinners. That single cuircumstance is worthy of serious consideration.
This is certainly not to suggest that the love of God is of no consequence. God forbid! However, this is an inside view of God dealings with humanity, not an outside view. His love pertains to His desires for men, not His personal affection for them. The nation of Israel stand as incontrovertible proof of this. When it comes to the actgive love of God for people, it always pertains to those who are chosen by Him, or are in Christ Jesus.
Jesus told His disciples the Father loves those who love the Son (John 14:21). He told them the Father loved them because they loved Him (John 16:27). Jesus also said He Himself would love the one who loved Him (John 14:21). He added that if a man loved Him and kept His words, the Father and Himself would love him (John 14:23). That same love will be experienced by anyone who comes to the Savior, even if they are a publican or harlot. It is also true of those, who like Corinth, WERE fornicators,  idolaters,  adulterers,  feminate,  abusers of themselves with mankind,  thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, or  extortioners (1 Cor 6:9-10).
There is not a single expression in all of Scripture of Divine love embracing any soul engulfed in sin -- not so much as a single one. In Christ Jesus, God's love is "toward" such a person, making peace and pardon available. But not so much as one spark of that love will be experienced until the person comes to Christ. Then, and only then, the Divine floodgates will be opened, and copious measures of grace will be experienced that abound "much more" than the sin which formerly dominated them.
As to God loving the elect "from the foundation of the world," that statement is never made in Scripture. Humanly speaking, it may be deduced from Ephesians 1:4, but even there Divine INTENTION is the point, not the active love of a people.
I understand that much of this kind of discussion tends to rely upon man's theological view. However, I have chosen to couch my expressions in direct statements of Scripture. I fully realize that may lead to some misunderstanding.

Hebrews says if we ask forgiveness God will forgive us and remember our wickedness no longer.  So why and what will I be judge on?
If by chance I need some sort of answer before tomorrow night bible Study if at all please come through for me once again.
I know we will be judge, I take it as the things we failed to do for the Lord and it will be the outcome of our rewards ????? Will you help?

First, Hebrews (which is quoting Jeremiah 31:31-34, does not say if we ask forgiveness God will forgive us. Here is what is says:
"For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."  (Heb 8:12)
"then He adds, "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."  (Heb 10:17)
"And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."  (Jer 31:34).
This promise more closely parallels John's statement in First John 1:7: "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). This is more an overview of our life rather than a sin-by-sin view. This is a view that was foreshadowed in a remarkable statement made by Balaam concerning God's view of Israel: "He has not observed iniquity in Jacob, Nor has He seen wickedness in Israel. The LORD his God is with him, And the shout of a King is among them" (Num 23:21). There was a point of view in which God did see sin in Israel. However, from the standpoint of the Messiah coming forth from them, He did not regard them as a heathen nation, but as one that He had chosen.
The idea is that of being reconciled to God rather than being His enemies. This by no means suggests that we are not to confess our sins, but is looking at newness of life from another perspective -- that when God looks at those who are really in Christ, and have availed themselves of the atonement, He sees them as His sons.
The emphasis is not on our approach to God, but on His approach to us. When we see this in our hearts, the confession of sins is attended with a joyful confidence that God will not leave our guilt upon us, and sin will have not more power over us.
Concerning the day of judgment: the purpose for the day of judgment is not to determine who is saved and who is lost. This is the time when God will be shown to be righteous and true in his judgment of men. For the godly, their sins will be seen as something they confessed and abandoned, thereby glorifying God. You have an example of this in some of the godly men of Scripture. By inspiration, the whole world has heard about David's secret sin with Bathsheba. This was not a public sin, but one committed behind closed doors. Yet, God moved Samuel to write it down, so that the whole world has known about it -- something like a miniature day of judgment. However, He also moved David to write the 51st Psalm in which he confessed, lamented, and forsook his sin. God was glorified in this.
That is how it will be on the day of judgment. Those who have availed themselves of God's great redemption will be seen as those who not only sinned, but who also confessed and forsook their sins. There will also be those who sinned and did not do this.
On the day of judgment, every single instance in human history where the thoughts and deeds of men conflicted with those of God will be exposed. It will be shown that God was true in every one of those instances, and man was wrong. David referred to this in the confession of his sin with Bathsehba: "Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight; That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge" (Psa 51:4). Paul brings this very thing up in the book of Romans. "Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: "That You may be justified in Your words, And may overcome when You are judged" (Rom 3:4).
This is the purpose of the day of judgment -- to confirm before an assembled universe that God is true, and that nothing that He required was wrong. It is to show that every single time man was in conflict with God, man was wrong. Now, in this day of salvation, we are preparing for that day. That is why we confess our sins -- we have seen that God is true and we were not. That will make the day of judgment a glad day for us -- a time when we will be bold because we have been forgiven. Therefore John writes, "Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world" (1 John 4:17).
The day of judgment also has to do with rewards for the righteous, and degrees of punishment for the wicked, as you have suggested. There will be whole generations that had remarkable advantages in the Gospel, yet did not avail themselves of them. Jesus gives us a little glimpse of how the day of judgment will be for such people. ""The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here"  (Mat 12:42). There will be masses of people who were given opportunity to repent, but did not do so. Here is how the day of judgment will be for them. ""The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here" (Luke 11:32). There will be others who were busy in religion, but their heart was not in what they did, and they did not live by faith. Here is how that day will go for them: "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'  (Matt 7:22-23). Praiuse God, there will also be those who were faithful to the Lord. For them, the day of judgment will be a happy occasion. Of them we read, ""His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord" (Matt 25:21).
For those who have lived by faith, walking in the Spirit, and seeking the things which are above (Col 3:1-2), here is what they are promised. "Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,  To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen" (Jude 1:24-25).
Now, take these things and proclaim them with power when you see them. Our churches and preachers have done a miserable job in making these things clear. The children of the King need to hear them.

In my note to you I made mention of "the preacher/pastor as the chief elder...." By that I was actually thinking of the 1 Tim. 5:17 passage which refers to the teaching elders being worthy of receiving double honor, esp. those who labor in the word and doctrine. In a sense, there seems to be a more involved role by those who do more teaching and nurturing.... more of the shepherd on a deeper level than those who may not be doing as much teaching. In that sense I was referring to the "chief elder", not so much by a higher office but by time and effort spent for the whole body in and on the Word. In the same context, it refers to support being given to such worthy men, as being okay to "receive wages" in order to survive. Does this then provide the framework for the "pastor" elder (the teaching elder(s) being supported by the body in a full-timer capacity to do that task...? This has been the general understanding I have had as I look over the overall structure in most churches -- even if not all actually embrace the whole church polity as a whole, they still support and have a preacher/pastor/teacher who is given varying degrees of sustenance.

I appreciate your faith and godly perspective. it is not common in these parts.
I appreciate your faith and godly perspective. It is not common in these parts.
First, the Restoration Movement has imposed a meaning of "elder" upon Scriptures that I do not believe is there. Their emphasis has little or nothing to do with teaching, or speaking the Word of God. They have created a handy approach to the matter that has “elders” choosing and controlling the one who DOES speak and teach the Word of God. However, that is a purely fictitious view, for God nowhere allows for a speaker and teacher of His Word to be subordinate to the whims of others. The closest thing to that would be a prophet, while he was speaking, yielding to another prophet to whom some relevant morsel of truth had been revealed (1 Cor 14:29-32).
Second, there have always been “elders” among the people of God. Israel had “elders” while they remained captives in Egypt (Ex 3:16,18; 4:29; 12:21). They had “elders” after they left the land Egypt and commenced their journey toward Canaan (Ex 17:5,6; 18:12). Moses delivered the words that God had commanded him to “the elders of Israel” (Ex 19:7). They were key figures during the giving and exposition of the Law (Ex 24:1,9,14). They were involved in various ceremonies of the Law (Lev 4:15; 9:1). The seventy men that were chosen to assist Moses, and upon whom was placed “of the spirit” of Moses, were taken from among “the elders of the people” (Num 11:16,24,25). These seventy elders, from among the greater number of elders, gathered together with Moses (Num 11:30). The elders of Israel “followed” Moses (Num 16:25). There were elders “of the city” (Duet 22:15-18). There were elders of each tribe (Deut 31:28). During the time of the Judges there were “elders” (Judges 8:14,16; 11:5; 21:16). There were “elders” during the time of the Kings (1 Kgs 8:1; 20:7; 2 Kgs 23:1). There were “elders” after the Babylonian captivity (Ezra 5:5), even “elders of every city” (Ezra 10:14).  David referred to the “council of elders” (Psa 107:32). Solomon spoke of “the elders of the land” (Prov 31:23). Isaiah wrote of “elders of the priests” – “leading priests” (NIV), or “senior priests” (NRSV). Jeremiah wrote of “certain elders of the land” (Jer 26:17). He also classed elders with priests (Lam 1:19). Ezekiel wrote of “the elders of Judah” that sat with him (Ezek 8:1), and “certain of the elders of Israel” (Ezek 14:1).
In the time of Jesus, there were also “elders” among the people of Israel who had fabricated certain traditions (Matt 15:2). As during the time of the prophets, “elders” were also associated with priests (Matt 16:21; 21:23). Together, the “chief priests and elders” pushed the death of Christ forward, convincing the people of its necessity, as they saw things (Matt 26:59; 27:1,3,20). During the time of the Apostles there were also “elders” in Israel that opposed them (Acts 4:5,8,23; 6:12).
Who were these “elders?” It is generally understood that they were men of understanding and wisdom, who were theoretically capable of delivering understanding to the people, interpreting the Law, administering the ordinances, etc. All of them were not same, as evidenced by the choice of “seventy” among the many “elders of Israel,” who assisted Moses in administering judgment to the people. There were also “chief elders,” who were above their peers in understanding.
It seems to me that our understanding of “elders” must be obtained within the framework of these considerations. In Christ, there are also key men – men the Holy Spirit has made “overseers,” to feed the flock of God (Acts 20:28). These are men of understanding who can handle the Word of God and traffic in the truth. Paul argues that those who so labor are to derive their support from the Gospel – that is, from the people who embrace and profit from what they teach (1 Cor 9:5-14). This does not apply to apostles alone, for he references Barnabas in that very passage (verse 6).
Just as Paul “labored more abundantly” than the other apostles (1 Cor 15:10), and just as there were “senior elders” (NRSV) among the people of Israel, so there are some elders who “labor in the Word and in the doctrine, outstripping their peers. This does not mean that they study more, and are more scholarly – although that will no doubt be very true. Those who “labor in the Word and in the doctrine” are those who teach and preach more – who have seen more and have more to say. They do no go from place to place saying the same things over and over, but labor “among” the saints, guiding and admonishing them (1 Thess 5:12).
While care must be taken to avoid a stereotyped clergy-laity system, care must also be taken to avoid the notion that all believers are on equal footing when it comes to spiritual understanding and communicating the truth of God. The person who feeds the flock of God insightfully and faithfully is, in fact, a pastor, shepherd, and elder. It makes no difference what the people think about it. That is the person or persons God has set over His people. He never places ignorant and unlearned people over the assemblies of Christ, any more than He did in Israel.
Not only is it appropriate to give “wages” to those who labor in the Word and doctrine, it is a contradiction of Divine intent not to do so. If this is not the case, then Paul’s words in First Corinthians nine make no sense at all. He accounted for his refusal to receive remuneration from the Corinthians by saying, “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void” (1 Cor 9:14-15). He did not refuse the offerings of the Philippians (Phil 4:16-18). He did not refuse the assistance of Phebe (Rom 16:2), or Onesiphorus (2 Tim 1:16-18), or Onesimus (Philemon 1:13), or Mary (Rom 16:6), or Lydia (Acts 16:15), etc. It was the miserable condition of the Corinthians themselves that moved him to refuse support from them. They had questioned his apostleship, and even denied some of his key teachings.
Also, when Jesus was among men, there were certain who ministered regularly of their substance to Him (Luke 8:3). Among other things, His reception of this ministry sanctified the activity.
I have always been intrigued by the fact that Jesus did not send the letters to the seven churches to “the elders.” Instead, they were sent to “the angel” of each congregation (Rev 2:1,8,12,18;3:1,5,7,14). I cannot conceive of this being an “angel” as ordinarily conceived. That would have an angel giving John a message to give to another angel, which appears to be to be a stretch of one’s imagination, not to mention that men are never represented elsewhere as giving messages to holy angels. As you already know, the Greek word “aggelos” means “messenger.” This is the very word James used to describe the men of Israel who visited Rahab – “the messengers” (James 2:25). Also, Jesus, referring to John the Baptist, employed the same word when saying, “Behold I send My messenger” (Matt 11:10). Mark uses the same word and terminology (Mark 1:2). Certain men sent by John to Jesus are also referred to as “messengers” (aggelos) – Luke 7:24. Jesus also sent “messengers” (aggelos) before him, to prepare the villages for His reception (Luke 9:52).
Taking the word “angel” to mean “messenger” of each church in Asia, we have apparently a single individual to whom the letter was addressed, who was to deliver it to the congregation of which he was a “messenger.” He would be a premier elder, like the unique elders in Israel – no doubt one who did, in fact, “labor in the word and in the doctrine.” While this view contradicts a lot of religious folklore than has been perpetrated among our brethren, I see no valid alternative to it. We know that God has placed certain gifts in the church, including “teachers,” who are ranked third, superceded only by apostles and prophets (1 Cor 12:28). Among these, there are men who rise higher than others, like Paul did among the Apostles, or the seven men of Acts six did above their peers. There are men who, because of these superior labors, are “worthy” of remuneration. That remuneration should precisely parallel the worth of their work.
You are precisely correct in your persuasion. I have only taken this time to confirm that the word of God, together with the nature of God’s dealings with His people, fully justify that view. 




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