Tag Archives: truth

OH, THAT WRETCHED WORD ‘CHURCH’

English translators of the scriptures saw the New Testament with religious (catholic) lenses. So these obeyed the politico-religious powers and consistently translated the Greek word ekklesia into a current religious word, ‘church’ which everyone already knew, being taught and accepted as truth, instead of the real meaning of the Greek word, which is assembly or gathering—a word in the Ancient World which had no religious or institutional connotations at all. None.

This is clearly shown by the translators’ inconsistency in translating the same Greek word by assembly or gathering three times in Acts 19—the story of Paul’s gospel stirring up the silversmiths in Ephesus—instead of the c… word! Check me out. I kid you not.

Ekklesia always meant assembly or gathering in the Ancient World of the New Testament period. When Paul wrote to those gatherings of Jesus’ people in the New Testament period, he qualified the word ekklesia by e.g., the ekklesia in God the Father and His son at . . . . (wherever—Corinth, etc) or similar language. It had to be distinguished from all the other local gatherings—religious, political or commercial which abounded in great numbers.  Get it?

And if Paul was talking about more than one gathering of believers, he used the plural, ekklesiai, gatherings. So we read about the “assemblies or gatherings of Judea” and not “the gathering of Judea”. John does not address any “assembly of or in Asia” in the Book of Revelation but as “the seven gatherings in Asia”. Seven! And that’s because they are assemblies not denominations or institutional religious organisations.

In fact, a strong case can be made that ekklesia originally meant “a gathering actually gathered” so that when the assembly broke up there was no longer a gathering. For example the riotous assembly, Acts 19:41. Naturally for a group of believers meeting regularly it would continue in their minds as a spiritual gathering, a virtual one, which had a (hopeful) continuity while not meeting—though could never be guaranteed that it would gather again exactly the same as it did the previous time.

So it’s like our parliaments which sit for a period but then when not sitting, there is no parliament. And a city council is really only a council when it is meeting. The employees are not the actual council, are they?

William Tyndale in his groundbreaking 16th Century English New Testament translation, rendered ekklesia as ‘congregation’ which then had no traditional religious connotation. This led to his being persecuted and strangulated by the religious establishment—that’s 1534 English history.

So why did the English Bible translators three times translate ekklesia as ‘assembly’ in the story in Acts (Acts 19:32, 39, 41)? The word church clearly wouldn’t fit these three meeting contexts. But wearing their religious glasses, they consistently translated the Greek word in other contexts as ‘church’ as if this Roman Catholic term was its equivalent and not as the word was understood in the Ancient World.

A century later, the translators of the King James Version (KJV)  were commanded by James the King of England to abide by about 14 conditions one of which the Greek word ekklesia had to be translated as church. They had no option but to do what James wanted so he could maintain his political agenda. They did translate the word as assembly in the Acts 19 story.

You may be interested to know that now we can use a recent scholarly translation called World English Bible (WEB) which translates the Greek word ekklesia with the English word assembly in the New Testament. In this version, the word ‘church’ cannot be found.

What has kept English translators so long to correct this?

Tradition! which obscures the word of God.

We may ask: why did the apostles use the Greek word ekklesia (gathering) and not other words which had a similar meaning? They did not use the word synagogue for the obvious reason that their gatherings were distinguished from those of the Jews.

Now, the Hebrew word qahal (=gathering, assembly) had been used in the Old Testament over 100 times and in the Greek translation of the OT (called the Septuagint or “LXX”) this Hebrew word was translated ekklesia (gathering). The early New Testament writers widely used the LXX and so probably chose this word which was also used by Jesus (see Matthew 16:18 and 18:17—the only places in the 4 gospels).

Simplicity: Hold fast what you received

How simple it all is!

But so much has been added to the simplicity of Christ and as a result, that simplicity has disappeared.

In robbing us of that simplicity and embracing instead the religious ideas of human thinking, what has not been given to us, we have lost just about all.

I invite you to consider with me the utter simplicity of what was revealed to the first communities of Jesus.

For starters, consider these words from the mouth of Jesus to believers recorded for us in the book, Revelation.

 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus . . . . . ‘You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.’” Rev 2:4-5.

“I say to the rest of you in Thyatira ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, except to hold on to what you have until I come.’”  Rev 2:24-25

 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write  . . . . . . ‘I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.  Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.  Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.’”  Rev 3:1-3.

And “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia . . . .  ‘I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.’” Rev 3:1, 11

Consider also these words from the pen of apostle John . . .

Let what you have heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you have heard from the beginning abides in you, you will abide in the Son and the Father. 1 John 2:24

Need I comment?

Dare I comment?

If you have ears to hear, then please join me in hearing, that is, obeying.

WHAT IS TRUE DOCTRINE

There are hundreds of thousands of teachers who seek to make their opinions, their interpretations known. You could spend a lifetime reading or hearing countless theological systems, books on doctrine, the web is full of them. Thousands of YouTube videos and blogs. Countless organisations each with their statements of faith and mission statements claiming to be correct and biblical.

So who are you to believe? Where, how, from whom, do you find truth?

When Jesus astonished the Jews in the Jerusalem temple with his surprising teaching and wisdom, they questioned how this Galilean could possibly have received such perfect understanding. So Jesus explained how. And his explanation was amazingly simple  . . .

 “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me.  If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. John 7:16–18

His teaching was actually not his at all. He had no input of his own.

Astoundingly, he had no initiative at all in what he taught.

At the same time, there was tremendous variety as He spoke by the Holy Spirit. His approach to people was different on each occasion.

He teaches us to “call no one Rabbi (that is teacher), you have One Teacher” (Matthew 23:8)

 

Are you seeking truth?  How important is truth?

Surely we are living in a culture where knowing truth is not cool.

Post-truth. Anything goes. How it feels is what guides. What works for me.

Back in the 1960’s Francis Schaeffer saw Post-truth coming and found it necessary to coin the term, true truth.

True truth. We all know there are physical laws that are always true which we ignore at our peril . . . defying gravity, eating poisonous substances and so on.

So there are meta-physical things that never change. Faith, love, righteousness, goodness, for example.

Does your belief system come from someone you respect, admire, even place as your guru, bypassing, shortcutting the Lord Jesus? Wrong beliefs can kill, can lead to destruction and damnation. Cursed, wrote Paul, of those who decide to be justified by law.

Your fav preachers may want to get admiration from men and not from God. They may seek recognition, praise, reputation, advancement. Their desires colour what they teach. No wonder we are in such a poor state spiritually.

 

How do we recognise true teaching? Jesus said to make God’s will your will—no other. If you desire to do the will of God, you will know what teaching is true—the one who teaches will not seek his own glory but God’s glory alone.  He will not speak from himself—the true teacher from God does not dare bring anything beyond what God has said in his son Jesus Christ.

Ultimately, the one teacher of righteousness is Jesus. Are you surprised?

 

So, just humbly following Jesus, we shall be like him. Being like him, listening to him, we will desire above all else, to will the will of God.

So, passionately desiring to do the will of the Father, we shall recognise the truth when we hear it, and the truth will set us free.

Simple, isn’t it.

So when will you abandon your own belief system, your treasured traditions, and begin to love His rule, His will?

TRUTH AND AUTHORITY

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law. (Mat 7:28-29)

Matthew ends Jesus’ great discourse out on the hillside with these words which immediately follow Jesus’ parable of the two house builders and their building foundation — see my last posting. Hearers were amazed at his authority.

We have often seen these words: GREAT IS TRUTH AND MIGHTY ABOVE ALL THINGS.

Yet, maybe there is indeed something greater than truth, beyond truth even. I speak of authority. We know that law-enforcers must have more than the truth of the law to command our submission. They must have authority. The airport worker with the ping-pong bats in his hands has authority over the aircraft captain in berthing the plane in the terminal.

What unexpected, out-of-this-world claims this man, Jesus, makes upon his hearers! How they must have struggled with his words. Yet they could not deny the authority of the words he spoke. His words were deadly serious and reached right down into the deepest recesses of their lives. They were utterly compelling, relevant, so different from the meticulous rules and regulations of religious heavies. And they were accompanied by his gracious acts of deliverance from unseen, enslaving powers by hundreds, possibly thousands of works of healing, even raising people from death.

And then the ultimate: though certainly dead, murdered by his religious enemies, and buried with such tight Roman security measures, Jesus came roaring back to glorious life, God confirming his authority.

Even the opposing rulers and leaders had to admit “No man ever spoke like this man!”

Come now, what measly excuses do you come up with to ignore the stupendous demands he makes upon the very core of your existence? Or how do you rationalise away the pointy ends of his shocking words?

And what reason are you going to give your Judge in the End why you have ignored these words as they come down to us in century 21 with undiminished force, though two millennia have come and gone? Time in this respect has stood still. He has not changed and his words have not changed. Neither has out humanness changed, our failure to find peace on earth, to master our own human natures, to do good the way we should, to honour our Maker.

He meant what he said and he said what he meant. God has not spoken since with such conviction, as he did in his only-son. Those of us who love history can easily demonstrate the unbroken links back to the time and place of these spoken and lived-out words. That’s history.

Are you like the religious leaders who condemned the best man who ever lived? Some said he was mad, or possessed by demonic forces. Do you honestly believe such a judgment can fit this unique life lived out before thousands of people? Neither can the conclusion others came to that he was a deceiver continually and deliberately misleading his hearers to join his pathway of error into virtual suicide, throwing away their lives for a lie.

Jesus calls on his hearers—and that includes you, dear reader—to not only hear his words but to obey them. In fact, to merely hear his words and not obey them is to invite disaster in your life. It is not enough to acknowledge the truth of these words or to applaud them as great teaching, amazing wisdom, admiring him patronisingly as some great teacher.

Do you call yourself a Christian? A believer? A follower? You will be destroyed if you merely accept his truth but not his authority to govern you. Sitting on some virtual fence won’t do – there is simply none to sit on. To not turn is to remain unturned.

His truth is one thing. His authority to command our attention and our obedience is quite another.