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Thanks to Pastor J. for the Church Photo - Check out his blog - Lillie-Put: http://josephelonlillie.com/

Today – a short discussion of why many, if not most, Christians celebrate a Sunday Sabbath, and what the Bible has to say about it. I hope you will allow me a bit of word study here.

I will preface this post as I often do, stating that I am not a scholar. My info comes from study of concordances and other reference works, and some teaching I have received along the way, but I am not a Greek expert – or even a Greek student. So please take this as offered – my slightly informed opinion.

For starters lets get the dogma out of the discussion. Paul clearly says it does not matter how you celebrate your Sabbath. I am convinced that there were Saturday Sabbatarians and Sunday Sabbatarians in the early church, and Paul addresses it this way:

Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day-- things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. - Colossians 2:16-17

[We will have to come back and ponder the second half of this verse soon, since it hints at my question from last week – What was this Sabbath commissioned to do in the life of a Christian?]

Back to today’s question – Saturday or Sunday.

As I have been studying the Sabbath for the last couple weeks, I found that when I search the New Testament for the word Sabbath I get  61 matches in 56 verses. On the other hand, if I search the Greek word most often translated Sabbath, “σάββατον – Sabbaton” I get 68 results in 62 verses.

The funny thing is that the word is most often translated Sabbath or Sabbaths – like this:

And according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, - Acts 17:2

…but other times it is translated like this:

On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. - Acts 20:7

The only real difference is this little Greek word “εἷς - heis” which is translated first or one. If you will remember from our discussion last week, the names of the days in Hebrew (again – I read this, I am not a scholar) are simply numbers – first day, second day… except the Sabbath – the only day with its own name.

If you look at the word Sabbath in the NT, it is most often speaking of Jesus, or Paul doing something involving the Jews, either in the synagogue or temple, or someplace they were gathering on their Sabbath day.

So how do we get a Sunday Sabbath?

Check out this verse where it is actually used both ways in the same verse.

Now after the Sabbath [Greek- Sabbaton], as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week [Greek – heis Sabbaton], Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. - Matthew 28:1

You can probably guess what is happening in the context here, can’t you. This is the resurrection of Jesus Christ! This is the day of all days, when the Father, Son and Holy Spirit collaborated in the most important event since God started the clocks running in the beginning.

This day was so significant, that the Jews who followed their Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, began to celebrate The First day of the week – Sunday to us – as their new Sabbath. You will notice every time the New Testament translates this phrase “heis sabbaton” it is either referring to the resurrection or the gather of the saints.

So then this verse at the beginning of Matthew 28 is somewhat of a transition from a Saturday Sabbath to a Sunday Sabbath.

In reality, in the life of a believer, everyday is set apart for God, right?

This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. - Psalms 118:24

So in one sense there is no distinction. But I think we see in these couple of verses from early Church that Sunday was the day the Church gathered to celebrate the Lord’s Supper and share in community.

On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. - Acts 20:7

On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come. - 1 Corinthians 16:2

As we are the body of Christ, it is important that we spend time in community, in fellowship with other parts of the body. The early church ate together, they prayed together, they learned and were taught together, they shared what they were hearing from the Lord together, and they gave into the needs of the body, and to the poor together.

I urge you not to forsake the gathering of the body. Everything Christ commanded us has to do with our relationships. Let’s foster community where we can. [Tweet This]

Sorry – got off topic there.

You can celebrate a Sabbath any day you want, but I am sticking with Sunday.

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

Shine where you’re screwed in today.

Ben

Hey - if you enjoy these posts, and are on Facebook, would you do me a favor and click "Like" over on the side bar? Thanks!

6

question-mark

My friend Felecia Clarke posed this question on Facebook last week, and I decided to borrow it for my Friday Q&A. It’s a great question, and I would love for you all to give your insight too.

By the way, I highly recommend you check out (or better follow) her blog - A Life Sanctified
You can also follow Felecia on twitter, which is where we first met: @alifesanctified

Question:

We seem to purport a "once saved - always saved" mentality; but will that alone get someone into Heaven? If we receive the salvation of Christ and then never obey God's command - surely He will say to us at judgment, "I never knew you."

And what about most "Christians" who struggle with complete surrender? Are we doomed to Hell?

Pre-Answer:

To start, let me just say that these were the particular Red Letters from a sermon about the rich young ruler, culminating in Jesus’ strong words in the sermon on the mount, “I never knew you” that drew me from my religious darkness into the glorious light of relationship with Father. I can’t say it was fear that rose up in me, but a realization that though I espoused a personal relationship with God, I did not actually have any such relationship. Though I scoffed at “religion” as a way to the Father, I nevertheless was counting on my religious deeds and lack of bad works to gain me entrance to the Father’s house. The startling revelation that this rich young man who kept the commandments to the best of his ability, but held his life as his own, broke the heart of our Savior, and left him outside the kingdom, brought me to the realization that “I was that man.” Teaching Sunday school and leading Church groups may have been what God intended for me to do, but first I needed to know, and be known.

Answer:

That said, now to the question at hand.

I have heard more than one person defend their sinful life style and their future in heaven because they prayed a prayer in a church, which majored on assurance of salvation. One young man, who was living a life of promiscuity declared to me that he was going to heaven. I asked him how he could ever think such a thing and he told me with complete confidence of his Sunday school prayer. The only thing he had faith in was this one doctrine of eternal security. That prayer, would save him. He knew nothing of Calvary love, or being buried with Christ, and being raised up in newness of life. The breath of life had never entered his un-regenerate soul, and he had no relationship, nor did he feel any accountability to the One whose name he took in vain every time he referred to himself as Christian.

I told this young man of that great city Nineveh which repented under Jonah, and was given a reprieve, but then a little over a century later was worse than ever, and suffered judgment without warning under the ministry of the prophet Nahum. It is a striking story.

Do I believe that you can lose your salvation? No, I don't think God will ever leave you or forsake you, but much of what we call Christianity, in our culture, is nothing like the saving faith that will carry you into the arms of the Lover of your Soul.

Many have left the word “Christian” of late due to negative connotations in the popular culture, and it has been replaced by Jesus lover, or Christ follower. I am good with those, but I find myself, particularly in writing, referring to folks as in a "covenant relationship with Jesus Christ.” I see this idea of being the bride of Christ as central to my understanding of what it means to have a relationship with God.

I see this walk of the Christian walk as a progression from our first meeting of Christ, where we take the identity of “slave” or “servant” or “bond slave” or even “love slave” of Christ. I don’t think we ever leave this status, as you can learn from so many of the writers of the New Testament refereeing to themselves as servant of Christ. The next step in our progression might be friend, then son of God and brother of Jesus, and finally as Bride, and partner in relationship and ministry with the Lover of our Souls.

Those who know nothing of relationship – any stage of relationship – can really not expect to be greeted by any other words than, “I never knew you.” However, you would have to know very little of scripture to think that a faith that falters now and then excludes you from the kingdom. We see if from the earliest days of faith of any kind. From Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Lot, David etc., right through to Peter and Paul contenting with one another, and Paul leaving Barnabas and going off with others.

So – to sum up – I do believe that once you are in a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ, it is for keeps, and I do not believe that failings of the faithful put them in jeopardy of hell fire.

Hope that helps.

Hey – do you have another opinion? I would love to hear it and consider your take on these matters.

Ben NelsonShare please

Thanks for coming by.

Ben

I want to share a wonderful book I read (listened to) this week.

I met Steve Bremner on Twitter this week, and for signing up for his newsletter I received an audio copy of his book:

Six Lies People Believe About Divine Healing

I love this book. Steve does an outstanding job bring the light of the Bible to some extremely common misconceptions about divine healing.

He does word studies from the original language and teaches from both Old and New Testaments to expose six common errors of interpretation.

Here are the lies he debunks:

It’s Not God’s Time to Heal Me

I’m Not Good Enough to Deserve Healing

God is Teaching Me A Lesson Through Sickness

Sickness is Merely the Way Some of Us Die

I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be Healed

I Didn’t Get Healed the First Time Around so it Must Not be God’s Will to Heal Me

If any of these statements ring true with you, I would highly recommend this book. Read it with an open mind and an open Bible and see what Steve has to say.

If you, like me, already believe in divine healing, but would like to see more, and gain a deeper revelation, give this book a read.

Steve’s casual writing Style makes it an easy read.

But here is the big news – This Tuesday Amazon is giving the electronic version away for free!

Ben NelsonEnjoy!

Ben

 

The Preacher

I have been pondering 1 Corinthians 15 for a while, and would love to work through some of it here in this wonderful forum. So I am taking a break from Matthew and going to poke around here in the beginning of 1 Corinthians 15 for a bit. Here goes:

Paul is going to define the gospel for us in this passage. This is actually to my knowledge the only place in the Bible where it comes right out and says, “This is the gospel.” For me, that is cause to sit up and take notice.

Before we get to the gospel itself, let’s look at the delivery method:

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

1)    The gospel was preached
2)    The gospel was received
3)    Those who receive stand
4)    Those who receive are saved
5)    Those who receive hold fast

Let’s take each of these one by one.

The gospel preached

There are those who quote Francis of Assisi as having said:

Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words. ~ Francis of Assisi

We love this. Friendship evangelism. And you know what? As groundwork, to earn the right to speak into people’s lives, it is often the right choice. We like to quote Jesus’ own words for this one:

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. ~ John 13:35

Please notice here, however, Jesus did not say, “by this all will become my disciples,” but that they will know where you stand.

Our love for one another, and for the lost are integral parts of our Christian walk and testimony, but they do not replace the preaching of the gospel.

Consider Paul’s words in Romans 10.

“WHOEVER WILL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”
How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed?
And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard?
And how shall they hear without a preacher? ~ Romans 10:13-15

Check this out:

it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:21

And of course from our passage today:

The gospel which I preached to you, ~ 1 Corinthians 15:1

This is what Jesus did, and what the taught the disciples to do.

And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons; freely you received, freely give. ~ Matthew 10:7-8

God has chosen preaching as the vehicle to deliver this wonderful commodity. It can not actually be caught rather than taught. As we will see in the next day or so, there are words involved in the gospel, so it cannot be passed on wordlessly.

What is Preaching?

There are actually two words for preach in the New Testament. The more common is the word “kēryssō,” which means to proclaim with authority. This is the word used when we are commissioned by Jesus at the end of Him ministry to:

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. ~ Mark 16:15

But that is not the word used here in 1 Corinthians 15. The funny thing is that the word for preach here, is virtually the same word as gospel.

The word for gospel or good news in the Greek is “euaggelion,” while the word for preached is “euaggelizō.” It is as though Paul good-newsed them with the gospel, if you get what I mean.

It is not unlike the way we use “evangelize” today.

The evangelicals evangelized those who had never heard the “eveangel” (gospel/good news)

Here this: None of the love and good deeds, kind words, smiles and random kindnesses are wasted, or go unrewarded. They are just not the gospel.

So here is the question for the day:

Have you good-newsed anyone lately?

[Please don't take this word as a condemnation of where you have been. I only ask that you open your spiritual antennae to the Holy Spirit today and look for divine appointments. Listen for the words which He will give you. That is the only basis on which we can preach - the words He puts in our mouth - deal?]

Ben NelsonMore tomorrow

See you then,

Ben

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