March 28, 2009

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End Notes

“Work with Your Hands”




Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. (1 Thess 4:9–12 emphasis added)




To go beyond brotherly love (the love of Philadelphia), Paul instructed the brothers throughout Macedonia to live quietly, mind their own affairs, and work with their hands, all of which is good advice for endtime saints. Yet when brothers from Macedonia came to Paul at Corinth and saw his need, these brothers from Macedonia supplied those things that Paul lacked, those things which Paul wasn’t able to supply with the work of his hands. They intervened by giving to Paul what the saints at Corinth had not, thereby causing Paul to say, “I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you” (2 Cor 11:8).

What was it that the brothers from Macedonia saw that the saints at Corinth either didn’t see, or ignored?

Paul wrote in his first epistles to the Thessalonians, “[W]e had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts” (2:2–4).

Today, almost daily, I receive appeals from pastors and ministries who seek affiliation and support for their ministry or for the good work being done for God. Usually, these appeals come with flattery—Paul wrote, “For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed” (1 Thess 2:5). Usually, these appeals seek support for starving orphans …

Paul wrote,

For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. (1 Thess 2:9–12)

To the saints at Corinth, Paul wrote,

Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God's gospel to you free of charge? … And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. … And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. (2 Cor 11:7, 9, 12–13)

The pastors and ministries that come to me, seeking affiliation, do not come as Paul came to Gentile Thessalonians or Corinthians, but come claiming to be brothers, claiming to walk as Jesus did, as Paul did; yet they come asking for support, claiming that they are in need—and I don’t doubt that they are in need.

Is the purpose of Christian ministry the care of orphans?

James the Just writes, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (1:27) … what does James mean when he writes visit orphans and widows in their affliction? Does he mean to provide support for orphans and widows, caring for their needs, supplying some needs and ignoring others? Do not orphans need fathers and widows companionship?

Pure religion is to keep oneself unspotted, unstained by the world — this is the portion of what James wrote that gets overlooked, for this portion goes beyond brotherly love, goes beyond visiting orphans and widows.

When the brothers came from Macedonia to supply Paul’s needs at Corinth, were these brothers acting out of brotherly love? They were, weren’t they? Is not, then, supplying the needs of orphans and widows akin to supplying Paul’s needs? And were not these needs addressed when the brothers from Macedonia went to Corinth to see Paul? They were not addressed by Paul in a letter to the brothers at Macedonia; they were not made known to the either the brothers at Macedonia or to the saints at Corinth but were suffered in silence until the brothers from Macedonia came to stay with Paul and saw with their eyes the need evident.

Visiting orphans and widows in their affliction is not reading about these orphans or seeing photographs of these orphans and widows but actually visiting them, meaning that unless an American disciple is extremely wealthy and able to travel halfway around the world to visit orphans and widows in India or in Africa to see for the disciple’s self the need present, visiting orphans and widows is a local application of brotherly love. The orphans and widows to be visited are within one’s own community, with the definition of “community” beginning with one’s household and expanding outward to brothers and neighbors.

Paul makes asking for support the work of false apostles, deceitful workmen, who have disguised themselves as apostles of Christ … if Paul would not make himself a burden to the saints at Corinth, or to the saints at Thessalonica when he was among them, what justification does an endtime pastor have to make himself a burden to endtime disciples—and what endtime disciple should not supply the needs of the one who teaches him or her within the ability of the disciple?

It should not be necessary to tell saints that they are to exercise brotherly love within the household of God; that they are to visit orphans and widows who have no inheritance within Israel; that they are to provide the needs of the spiritual Levite who has no inheritance within Israel. The third tithe (i.e., the tithe of the 3rd and 6th years of a seven year cycle) was to go to widows and orphans and the Levite within the city gates, making widows and orphans and teachers of Israel equally valid recipients of the largesse of Israel. But Paul raises the bar: he worked with his hands to provide for himself and for those with him, and so too will everyone who builds on the foundation that Paul laid (1 Cor 3:10–11). But the work Paul did was not always enough to cover his needs.

Paul wrote about himself,

For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things. (1 Cor 4:9–13)

Certainly the many televangelists that publicly ask for seed to be sown into their vaunted ministries are not physically poorly dressed or homeless; they don’t labor with their hands. They are “public men” as legally licensed prostitutes in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1863 were “public women,” a commodity to be bought as Sin will buy and sell the children of Israel (wheat and barley — Rev 6:5–6) once the Tribulation begins.

As Civil War public women did not belong to any man but could be bought for a price, public men do not belong to the Father or the Son but preach “God” for a price, selling their words for an offering, delivering messages that are popular, delivering the gospel in black lace and garters, delivering a defiled Madonna and child into Christian homes via a network of satellites hovering as spiders, their transmissions their webs in which they capture unsuspecting infant sons of God … these televangelists are spiritually the scum of the earth, the refuse of all things, but that is not how they perceive themselves; that is how they perceive Sabbatarians disciples who truly are poorly dressed and who labor with their hands.

If a disciple works on the same terms as Paul worked, how is this disciple not to be a spectacle to the world, held in disrepute, hungry, thirsty, poorly dressed, buffeted, homeless, laboring with hands, and considered the scum of the earth? Jesus said, “‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head’” (Matt 8:20). The writer of Hebrews adds, “Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth” (11:36–38) … if the world is not worthy of those who are homeless and destitute, poorly dressed and persecuted, then is not the world worthy of the glib televangelist, a public man, who preaches the doctrines of demons and the traditions of men because both are popular and will keep the money rolling into his vaunted ministry?

In his first epistle, John wrote,

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (2:15–17)

The things of this world, the things promised by public men for sowing seed into their ministries, the fine clothes and new homes and acclaim of this world are not of the Father but are from this world and its prince, the Adversary, making public men the servants of Satan (2 Cor 11:14–15).

But all televangelists are not public men/women, are they? Surely some of them teach what Paul taught?

Name one! I challenge you: name one televangelist who teaches what Paul taught.

But before you start mentioning names, perhaps you might want a refresher course on what Paul taught, beginning with what he wrote to the Thessalonians:

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. (1 Thess 2:13–14)

If former Gentile sons of disobedience at Thessalonica received Paul’s gospel as the word of God and became imitators of the churches of God in Judea, where the churches of God were identified as the sect of the Nazarenes, a sect of Judaism competing with the sects of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, then had not these brothers in Macedonia (living as Paul taught them) begun to live like Judeans? And if Paul taught them to live like Judeans, were they not Judaizers?

There is a New Covenant that will make the first covenant obsolete, but a quarter of a century after Calvary the writer of Hebrews says, “And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (8:13) … the first covenant, made on the day when the Lord took the fathers of Israel by the hand to lead the nation out of Egypt (v. 9), was becoming obsolete but was still in effect; it was ready to vanish away, but it hadn’t vanished away—and the covenant made on the day when Israel left Egypt remains in effect to this day, for the terms of the New Covenant will have the Torah (the five books of Moses; the Law of Moses) put within every Israelite, every Christian (Jer 31:33) when the New Covenant is implemented. There is no new Torah. And because the Torah is put within every Christian, all will Know the Lord; none will have to teach neighbor or brother to Know the Lord. There will be no need for Christian evangelism, for everyone will Know the Lord. And if Christians, under the New Covenant, have the Torah put into their minds and written on their hearts, then will Christians not live as Judeans, how Paul taught the Gentile converts at Thessalonica to live?

If “a Jew” is no longer a person who is circumcised outwardly but is a Christian circumcised of heart, a Christian who keeps the precepts of law [the just requirements of the Torah] (Rom 2:26–29), is this Christian not a Judaizer, someone who lives as a Judean?

And if a Christian walks as Jesus, an observant Jew, walked (1 John 2:6) and imitates Paul, an observant Jew who by his testimony committed no offense against the Law or the Temple (Acts 25:8), as Paul imitated Jesus (1 Cor 4:16; 11:1), is this Christian not a Judaizer, someone who lives as the churches of God in Judea lived?

If Christians “are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his [Christ’s] own possession, that [Christians] may proclaim the excellencies of him who called [them] out of darkness into his marvelous light’ (1 Pet 2:9), how are Christians to proclaim these excellencies without teaching Christians to live as Judeans?

When Jesus called Saul of Tarsus (Paul), then on his way to Damascus (Acts 9:4–6), Jesus entrusted Saul to “‘one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there’” (Acts 22:12) … if this Ananias was a devout man according to the law, was this Ananias not living as a Judean?

When Paul was on trial before Felix at Caesarea, Tertullus accused Paul of being a ringleader for “the sect ["ÊDXF,TH] of the Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5) … would this not make Paul a Judaizer, for the Sadducees were also described as a sect ["ËD,F4<] (Acts 5:17), as were the Pharisees ["ÊDXF,TH] (Acts 15:5 – "ËD,F4< was used by Paul in Acts 26:5)? And if the Church [¦6680F\"<] was initially identified as the sect of the Nazarenes and a sect of Judaism, were not these early Christians outwardly living as Judeans?

The Church did not begin on Pentecost as is usually taught, but rather, began when Jesus breathed on ten of His disciples, saying, “‘Receive the Holy Spirit [B<,Ø:" ž(4@<]’” (John 20:22). When Jesus breathed on these ten, He formed a new synagogue; for according to the Mishnah’s requirements a new synagogue could be formed anywhere by ten male Jews. And if the ten upon whom Jesus breathed were a newly formed synagogue that “with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer [BD@F,LP±]” (Acts 1:14 — cf. Acts 16:13, 16 … the Greek word used by Luke is also the word used for the regular prayer assemblies of the synagogue), were these ten first disciples not living as Judeans?

If the early Church functioned as a competing sect of Judaism within greater Judaism, and its assemblies were meetings of a newly formed synagogue (a synagogue circumcised of heart, not necessarily in the flesh) was not the early Church an assembly of Judaizers?

Jesus said not to think that He came to abolish the Law/Torah: “‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law [<`:@<] or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished’” (Matt 5:17–18). And if He said His disciples were not to think that He had abolished the Torah but had come to fulfill the covenants of promise contained with the Torah, with all being accomplished not occurring until Israel by faith came to God when in a far land so that the hearts of Israel could be circumcised (Deut 30:1–2, 6), then it is always wrong for public men to argue that Jesus fulfilled the Law/Torah at Calvary and thus all is accomplished. By their argument, they exclude themselves from salvation; for the promise of the Torah is life or death, with both being placed before the children of Israel on the plains of Moab (Deut 30:15–20). Israel was to choose life: “‘If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live’” (30:16). Those who do not love the Lord enough to, by faith, walk as Jesus walked have chosen death—and this includes all of the public men who would have endtime Israel being a physically circumcised nation.

Death reigned over humankind from Adam to Moses, not from Adam to Jesus; for Moses was the mediator of the Second Covenant, the covenant by which the promise of life comes to the children of Israel.

The covenant of promise by which life is offered to the children of Israel is made on the plains of Moab, but life is offered to Moses forty years earlier when the Ten Living Words (Commandments) are given to Moses at Sinai. The Commandments were not spoken to Israel but to Moses: “‘Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever’” (Ex 19:9). Israel was to overhear what the Lord said to Moses so that Israel would believe Moses, but the Lord would not be speaking to Israel. Likewise, the two stone tablets upon which the Lord initially wrote the Ten Words were never read by anyone but Moses, for Moses broke the tablets when he threw them to the ground (Ex 32:19). Then when the second Sinai covenant was made with Moses and with Israel, the covenant is made and forty days later Moses comes down with the second set of stone tablets on which are the Ten Words that the people never read, for the people, because of the shining of Moses’ face, are afraid to come near him: Moses tells Israel what the Lord has said, and the people are to believe Moses who is as god to Aaron and to Israel (Ex 34:27–33).

If a person were to keep the Ten Words, the person would be without sin and by extension, without death; therefore, prior to the covenant of promise by which life is offered to the children of Israel on the plains of Moab, life is offered to Moses and to Israel through keeping the Ten Words, which would cause an Israelite to be without sin—none were without sin for all of humankind has been consigned to disobedience (Rom 11:32) because of the transgression of the first Adam. But if a person were to be without sin (the man Jesus, whose Father was not the first Adam, was without sin), the person would live without death.

But as Moses could not enter the Promised Land because of striking the rock in his anger at Israel, the man Jesus died at Calvary by taking on the sins of the children of Israel … Jesus is the prophet about whom Moses spoke (Deut 18:15, 17–18), the prophet who would speak face-to-face with God, and who would stand between Israel and the Lord so that Israel would not die (v. 16). And about this, Jesus said, “‘If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words’” (John 5:46–47). Elsewhere Jesus said, “‘“If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead”’” (Luke 16:31).

Where there is no sin, there is no death; hence death reigned from Adam to Moses, who brought to Israel in the Ten Living Words the means by which death can be overcome. However, because the children of Adam have been consigned to disobedience (Rom 11:32), there were none without sin (Rom 3:10; Ps 14:1, 3) until the Logos [Ò 8Î(@H] entered His creation (John 1:3) as His only Son (John 3:16), the man Jesus of Nazareth (John 1:14), whose father was not the first Adam.

Those public men will scoff at the idea that they are expected to walk uprightly before the Lord; they will quickly point to Romans 6:14 (italicized in the following citation),

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. / What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Rom 6:12–16)

Concerning sin, John writes,

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:4–10)

The person who is under grace does not make a practice of sinning, of transgressing the commandments; for by making a practice of sinning, the person presents him or herself as the obedient servant of sin, thereby putting him or herself under the law and subject to death — the person makes him or herself into a child of the devil.

Now, returning to our scoffing public men, Jesus said, “‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness”’” (Matt 7:21–23).

Are not our scoffing public men those who prophesy in Jesus’ name and do mighty works in Jesus name while teaching disciples to break the commandments? Yes, break the commandments, for what day is the Sabbath? It is the seventh day, is it not? And on what day are disciples to take the sacraments of bread and wine? Are they not to take them on the day when Jesus was betrayed (1 Cor 11:23–26)? And was not Jesus betrayed on the dark portion of the 14th day of Abib?

But if a disciple has no idea when the 14th day of Abib occurs, then our scoffing public men can pass off any lie without infant sons of God knowing that they are being spiritually starved, killed as surely as if they were human infants left to die in trash cans.

The children of Israel who chose life on the plains of Moab would follow Joshua [Gr: [0F@Ø] across the Jordan and into God’s rest, with these children of Israel forming the shadow and copy of the third part of humankind (Zech 13:9) that will follow Jesus [Gr: [0F@Ø] into salvation … Moses changed Hoshea the son of Nun’s name to Joshua (Num 13:16) so that in Greek it matched what the angel Gabriel told Mary to name the Lord (Luke 1:31). The angel Gabriel told Zechariah to name his son John (Luke 1:13) so that as a witness to the Truth John the Baptist would form a type of the Apostle John who was also a witness to the Truth with both men forming a shadow and type of Jonah (the enunciation of John places aspiration before the nasal consonant “n” whereas the enunciation of Jonah places aspiration behind the consonant, movement that conforms to the movement of breath typified by receiving a second breath of life). Likewise, Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter so the Greek enunciation of his name in relationship to the enunciation of petra would conform to the movement of breath typified by receiving a second breath of life. But these are not the things about which television’s public men preach.

If television’s public men were to work with their hands and not ply their trade worldwide on 24/7 broadcasts, they might cleanse themselves “from what is dishonorable” (2 Tim 2:21), but they won’t. They like the things this world has to offer too much to repent and turn to God and be healed. They are as public women were once they had tasted of the good things that could come by selling themselves to the Adversary.

The standard Paul established in the 1st-Century for determining false from genuine apostles remains valid: the one who will not work as Paul worked is of the Adversary. The one who asks for money, thereby making him or herself a burden on others is of the Adversary. The super-apostle who delivers spellbinding sermons but who asks for money is of the Adversary. And you, an infant son of God, can identify who is and who isn’t of God by simply listening to see if the person asks for your tithes and offerings. If the person does, flee as fast as you can because the person will spiritually kill you if he or she can.

Brotherly love requires that every son of God supply the needs of those who are genuine ministers as the son of God ascertains those needs and has the ability to assist. In doing so, the son of God has “received” the righteous person or the prophet and will thereby receive the reward of the righteous person or of the prophet. The son of God takes nothing from the righteous person or the prophet but gains what the righteous person or the prophet will receive when judgments are revealed. It is a win-win situation for all involved, whereas sowing into the ministry of a public man is as leaving one’s seed in a public woman, who seeks to prevent that life from growing to maturity by whatever means are available to her.

Let the one whose heart is desirous to serve the Lord work with his or her hands as Paul worked, not being a burden on anyone, not being a thief, not being a liar, a murder, an adulterer, giving to demons the worship that rightfully belongs to the Father and the Son.

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"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

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