Sunday, January 30, 2011

Gasoline on the bonfire of my excommunication.

Now that the jello has hit the fan, I feel free to share some of the scripture that God has been talking to me about. The Bold type is scripture from the New American Standard Bible

Today I am going to explore a couple of things that I mentioned briefly in my blog post, regarding the situation at The Edge Church. I think it is important for all believers to have a healthy understanding of how God functions in regard to human authority and how we should respond to it. There are a lot of verses in the Bible that mention authority, its establishment and our response to it. A couple real easy ones are

Epehesians 6:1-3

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 
Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), 
so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.

This was originally found in Moses' commands to the people of Israel after conversing with God on mount Sinai and is quoted here almost word for word.

Romans 13:1

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 
Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 
For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 
for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 
Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 
For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 
Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

Now, these verses seem to indicate to some that there is never a time to question authority and yet, we also are told this story, about the early apostles and their conflict with religious leaders for teaching in the temple from Acts, Chapter 5

When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, 
saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 
“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. 
“He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 
“And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

Then we are also told to “test the spirits”, pay close attention to the last few verses for what I believe is the ultimate test. This is From 1st John, chapter 4

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 
and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. 
You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. 
They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. 
We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 
The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 
By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 
No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 
By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 
We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 
We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 
By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 
We love, because He first loved us. 
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 
And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

Regarding authority in the Church we are told in Epehesians Chapter 4

(particularly verse 11)

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 
Therefore it says,      “When He ascended on high,     He led captive a host of captives,     And He gave gifts to men.”
(Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 
He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) 
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 
for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 
until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 
As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 
but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 
from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

  So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 
being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 
and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 
But you did not learn Christ in this way, 
if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 
that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 
and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 
and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 
Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 
and do not give the devil an opportunity.

As to its exercise we have this from 1st Corinthians 12

For the body is not one member, but many. 
If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 
And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 
If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 
But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 
If they were all one member, where would the body be? 
But now there are many members, but one body. 
And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 
On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 
and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 
whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 
so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 
And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. 
And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. 
All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? 
All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? 
But earnestly desire the greater gifts.

AS to participation by members of a congregation, other than a pastor we have this in 1st Corinthians 14

Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 
For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. 
But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. 
One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. 
Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.
But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching? 
Yet even lifeless things, either flute or harp, in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the harp? 
For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? 
So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. 
There are, perhaps, a great many kinds of languages in the world, and no kind is without meaning. 
If then I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be to the one who speaks a barbarian, and the one who speaks will be a barbarian to me. 
So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.
Therefore let one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. 
For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 
What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also. 
Otherwise if you bless in the spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying? 
For you are giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not edified. 
I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; 
however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.

  Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature. 
In the Law it is written, “By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to Me,” says the Lord. 
So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe. 
Therefore if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad? 
But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; 
the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.
What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 
If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret;
but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. 
Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. 
But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. 
For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; 
and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; 
for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

Notice, that Paul does not suggest that anyone needs to “submit” these offerings before they are shared and that it is the prophets who are to pass judgment on their soundness and not the pastors.

The Idea of a “pastor driven church” was born in the seeds of the reformation, when people were coming out of the dark ages and being given a Bible in something other than Latin. Most of them were uneducated and could not read even the Bible's translated into their own languages. Ex-priests, leaving the catholic church began to serve as teachers for these congregations, who could not read and understand scripture for themselves, however this is an interesting passage in1st John chapter 2

These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. 
As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

(His, refers to Christ in the person of the Holy Spirit)

Or, how about 1st Corinthians chapter 2

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 
For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 
I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 
and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 
so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 
but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 
the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; 
but just as it is written,      “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,     And which have not entered the heart of man,     All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”
For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 
For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 
which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 
But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 
For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

The Idea of “Unity” also gets mentioned a lot, but, is it good just to agree to agree? One of the darkest scenes in human history grew out of “being in one mind”. This story occurs in Genesis 11, right after the flood, which you would think would still be fresh on everyone's mind:

Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words.
It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.
They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar.
They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”
The LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.
The LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.
“Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.”
So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city.
Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.

The members of The Edge Church were asked to believe that it would be difficult for the members of our elder's board to agree unanimously to oust a pastor on a whim. I argued in favor of language in the bylaws to hold them accountable to the pastor and congregation in some small way. You can see where that ended if you read yesterday's post. BTW, for those of you keeping up with the “drama” during that meeting, I was out of line when I interrupted Greg. I was harsh and immediately said so, and asked his forgiveness.

In contrast to the story of Babel, a story that we did not delve into from our pulpit can be found in Acts chapter 1, starting in verse 15

At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said, 
“Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 
“For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry.” 
(Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. 
And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 
“For it is written in the book of Psalms,      ‘Let his homestead be made desolate,     And let no one dwell in it’; and,      ‘Let another man take his office.’
“Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us— 
beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” 
So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. 
And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen 
to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 
And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

We, at The Edge, heard two or three weeks of teaching,  from this chapter without this story, one of the few physical snap shots of actual first century church "community" in action, even being mentioned. It seems to me that this kind of being, “in one accord” took everyone into account. It was not done in secret, between a few members, no matter how they were appointed. The 120 were in the same room throughout the entire process, a pattern you will find throughout the New Testament, that not everyone was welcome to say whatever the hell came to mind whenever, but they were welcome to witness God at work in the Apostles, even with a situation as sticky as Annanias and Saphira. (If you don't know, look it up, online is fine, but it is best to read the whole thing from the Bible, with the surrounding context) They decided on their criteria, had to have walked with Jesus, etc, put forward the two candidates who best fit and then they cast lots, flipped a coin, drew a straw, to keep human opinion at bay, they so trusted in God's providence that they risked it all.

I know, you think it's crazy or isolated, but...

Proverbs 16:33

    The lot is cast into the lap,     But its every decision is from the LORD.

And this from: Got Questions .org

The Urim "lights" and Thummim "perfections" were gemstones that were carried by the High Priest of Israel on the ephod / priestly garments. They were used by the High Priest to determine God's will in some situations. Some propose that God would cause the Urim and Thummim to light up in varying patterns to reveal His decision. Others propose that the Urim and Thummim were kept in a pouch and were engraved with symbols identifying yes / no and true / false.

It is unclear whether the Urim and Thummim were on, by, or in the High Priest's ephod. No one knows the precise nature of the Urim and Thummim or exactly how they were used. The Bible simply does not give us enough information. References to the Urim and Thummim are rare in the Bible. They are first mentioned in the description of the breastplate of judgment (Exodus 28:30; Leviticus 8:8). When Joshua succeeded Moses as leader over Israel, he was to receive answers from God by means of the Urim through Eleazar the High Priest (Numbers 27:21). The Urim and Thummim are next mentioned in Moses' dying blessing upon Levi (Deuteronomy 33:8). The following Scripture likely also speak of the Urim and Thummim: Joshua 7:14-18; 1 Samuel 14:37-45; and 2 Samuel 21:1.

Weird, huh? Apparently there are times when God calls His people to trust so much in His Divine Providence that they take themselves out of the equation.

I know that some Edgers are thinking that I am suggesting that I wanted them to flip a coin to see if Britton or I should be pastor. Why would I want to take over a failing congregation? My motive in speaking up was simply that God told me to and would not let it go. I wanted to help save the congregation my family had come to consider as family, from the mess we were all in. I know mentioning this kind of “weird” stuff will get me labeled, but what the heck, I mean I already published a public “prophecy”, how much weirder can it get?

Now, about elders: I do not believe that the men who serve The Edge Church were properly ordained, or screened for Biblical qualification to this office. This is not a personal attack, it is a simple statement. Just as you have to be a natural born citizen, 35 years of age to run for President of the United States, which, thank God, may be the only thing standing between “Arnold” and the whitehouse, one of the few things concerning Church “government” ( a term that gives me the willies and conjures up all kinds of stories of abuse by these types of institutions, and no I am not talking about The Edge, when I am I will say so) that was set in place by the Apostles were the necessary credentials for eldership:

Here's a little more on that from a blog I found here:

(Strong's, mentioned here, is Strong's exhaustive concordance of the Bible, which is a list of most words in scripture, with their Greek or Hebrew equivalent and a list of everywhere that that word is used in a particular meaning, it's like a Bible dictionary on Steroids, get one! Or use the online version for free, here:

The Strong’s number for “elders” is 4245. The transliteration is “presbteros” and means “an old man, elder.” The translators used the English words “elder, elders, men of old, old men, older, older man, older ones, older women, and women” when translating this word. That, in a nutshell, is our word study.

We see that there was a list of qualifications in Titus,

I am adding these verses to the writing, since the author is referencing another blog post:

Titus 1

For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 
namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. 
For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, 
but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, 
holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

--Now back to the Blog--

but we’ll see what else we can find out about Elders. To do that, we need to do some Cross-Referencing, which means to look in other parts of scripture where Elders are mentioned. We see from the Strong’s that “elders” are mentioned quite a few times – notice that they are mentioned in the New Testament before the birth of the church, as well as in the Old Testament. In looking through those scriptures, we see that the title “Elder” was one used in the Jewish religion, then borrowed and used in the Church. Because we’re studying the church and the positon of elder that would have pertained to Titus (and to us), we’ll look at the references of Elder after the birth of the Church in Acts 2.

In Acts 14: 23, we see Paul and Barnabas visited cities and appointed elders for them in every church. That lines up with Paul’s direction to Titus to appoint elders. In 1 Timothy 5: 17 it says that elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of a double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. We need to add those three things to our list: Elders rule, preach, and teach.

James 5:14 gives us more things to add to our list of elder’s jobs – elders pray over the sick, anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord (and should be available to come when called). You see that we’ve actually got two lists going – one of the Elder’s jobs, and another of his qualifications to be able to do those jobs. Interesting.

1 Peter 5: 1-4 gives us more information that falls under the “Elder’s jobs” list. They are to 1) shepherd the flock of God among them and 2) exercise oversight with a proper attitude. If they do that, they get an unfading crown of glory from the Chief Shepherd, which they will take off in Revelation’s accounts of elders.

What about an Overseer – Inductively

One of the things we wondered about in Titus was the use of the word “overseer.” Is he a different guy, or is “overseer” a different title for “elder”? Overseer is 1985 in the Strong’s and is transliterated: episkopos. It means superintendant or overseer. Let’s start a new list of things we learn about the overseer. 1 Timothy 3: 1-11 has a list of qualifications – above reproach, husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from love of money, manages his household well, not a new convert and have a good reputation with those outside the church. That sounds a lot like the list in Titus!

But we still are wondering if Elders and Overseers are the same guy, or are two guys. Acts 20: 28 will clear it up for us. In Acts 20: 17, Paul calls the elders of Ephesus to him and gives them his last words – he’s sure that he won’t see them again, so he hits them with his final wishes, and in doing so, answers our question. In verse 28, while talking to Elders, he says, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God.” So Elders and Overseers are the same guy! Now you know how to write your list of qualifications in Titus – all of those qualifications go to an Elder.

Okay, I am back and am adding this to avoid it biting me, because some will see me described here, and I am not above being subjected to scrutiny, and may be wanting in some of this, however, I do not believe this is referring to what I have done, pray, ask the Holy Spirit and make up your own mind, if you are even part of this situation. If not, sit back, laugh and enjoy the show, but please pray for The Edge Church, the Pastor, and Elders and the congregation.

Titus 1 continued

For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 
who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. 
One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 
This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, 
not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. 
To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 
They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

Geesh, Paul, what a gossip monger, ratting this guy out for teaching falsehood.

Okay, well, I have lots more to share and will continue to do so. If anyone takes issue with my use of scripture, or my opinions, correct me, please! Please leave a comment, or email me privately at I want to do this Church thing right in the future.

May the God of Peace Guard Our Hearts and Minds in Christ Jesus

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