Rhema vs. Logos

I was disappointed.

I was disappointed to read a post on the social media page of a popular Christian author. He wrote on January 9.

For logos to be effective in your life, you must intentionally mix it with faith (Heb 4:2). Rhema, in contrast, comes with such vibrancy that it often releases faith with its delivery.

He refers to Hebrews 4:2. This verse contains a word that is translated from the Greek text. The Greek word is logos (λόγος). It can be translated as either “message” or “word.” However, Hebrews 4:2 does not say that a logos lacks vibrancy, nor does it say that a rhema (ῥῆμα) has vibrancy. Hebrews 4:2 doesn’t mention any vibrancy.

Just what does Hebrews 4:2 say?

(ESV) For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.

(NASB) For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also did; but the word they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united with those who listened with faith.

If such a thing as vibrancy exists, it would seem that the listeners of Hebrews 4:2 lacked that mysterious element. The word wasn’t inferior in any way, which is what the author is saying that the Scripture says.

The Scripture doesn’t agree with the author’s assessment of logos. The author is not in alignment with the Word of God.

There are two words for “word.”

The writer is pointing at two Bible words that are translated into English as “word.”

  • In Hebrews 4:2, the word used is λόγος (logos).
  • In some other passages, ῥῆμα (rhema) is translated as “word.”

The writer contrasts LOGOS with RHEMA, indicating that a LOGOS word is ineffective at first, but a RHEMA word is immediately effective to “release” faith. He cites Hebrews 4:2 as a source of this explanation.

There are multiple examples from Scripture.

Ephesians 6:17

…and receive the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word (RHEMA) of God

  • This RHEMA refers to the “Gospel of peace” in 6:15 which Paul introduced in Ephesians 1:13 as the “gospel of your salvation.” Paul writes, “…when you heard the word (LOGOS) of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” A written word cannot be heard unless it is a spoken word. Paul treats LOGOS and RHEMA as practical synonyms in this letter.

John 6:63

The Spirit is the one who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words (RHEMATA) that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. [a]RHEMATA is plural of RHEMA.

  • Jesus helps us understand that he is talking about the spoken RHEMATA by adding “that I have spoken.” If RHEMA is restricted to a spoken word, then Jesus was being redundant. His statement shows that we need clarification in this instance.

1 Peter 1:22-25

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for sincere brotherly love, love one another fervently from the heart, because you have been born again, not from perishable seed but imperishable, through the living and enduring word (LOGOS) of God. For “all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of the grass. The grass withers and the flower falls off, but the word (RHEMA) of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word (RHEMA) that has been proclaimed to you.

  • Peter uses LOGOS and RHEMA interchangeably. When the LOGOS was proclaimed to Peter’s audience, he called it RHEMA, not because Peter was using the power of confession to release the creative power of God, but because LOGOS was the message that was spoken.
  • Peter cites from Isaiah 40:6-8. “Grass withers; the flower withers, but the word of our God will stand forever.” In the time of Christ and Peter, the Scriptures, including Isaiah, had been translated from Hebrew into Greek. This “word” (Hebrew: DABAR) from Isaiah is translated into the Greek LOGOS, but Peter substitutes RHEMA for LOGOS. This translation is not a contradiction for Peter if he sees the two words as near-synonyms. If RHEMA and LOGOS are so distinct as suggested, then Peter was making a huge mistake. If RHEMA and LOGOS are as similar as they appear in the other Scriptures, then Peter is justified when he uses RHEMA in place of LOGOS for Isaiah 40:8.
  • RHEMA means a message or a proclamation. When the LOGOS is preached, it can be called RHEMA or LOGOS.

John 18:31,32

So Pilate said to them, “You take him and judge him according to your law!” The Jews said to him, “It is not permitted for us to kill anyone,” in order that the word (LOGOS) of Jesus would be fulfilled that he had spoken, indicating by what sort of death he was going to die.

  • These words of Jesus had not been written down at the time that he spoke them. LOGOS is not always a written word.
  • In the same way as John 6:63, a phrase is employed to clarify that RHEMA is speech in this incidence, “that he had spoken.”

Maybe the mix-up started with someone else.

Kenneth E. Hagin said,

“Faith is always expressed in words. Faith must be released in words through your mouth. We can see that in all of these Scriptures we have read. When you speak something, that is action.”

The truth is that faith is expressed in obedient works and not by confession. The Book of James contradicts the idea that speaking words is action.

Word of Faith authors appear to agree with the author, saying that LOGOS is the written word and that RHEMA words are faith-filled spoken words that release the creative power of God when spoken.

When the Holy Spirit speaks to you, He quickens a Scripture verse or specific direction to you—a specific word for a specific time and purpose. [b]https://www.rhema.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2679:what-is-rhema

There is no great distinction between the two words.

The truth is that the New Testament does not demonstrate this distinction. Jesus is called the LOGOS, and he is not the written word. The creative power of RHEMA is a concept that comes from outside the Scriptures and has been substituted for the direct teaching of Scripture.

Consider this official position stated by the Assemblies of God:

There are two major problems with this distinction. First, the distinction is not justified by usage either in the Greek New Testament or in the Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament). The words are used synonymously in both. [c]The General Council of the Assemblies of God, Assemblies of God: Position Papers (Springfield, MO: The General Council of the Assemblies of God, 1972–2017).

Consider the full definition found in Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words.

Proponents of the LOGOS/RHEMA distinction depend upon a partial quotation from W. E. Vine.

rhḗma (ῥῆμα in Greek); that which is spoken, what is uttered in speech or writing;1 an utterance (individually, collectively, or specifically);2 the word by which something is commanded, directed, or enjoined;3 something that is spoken clearly and vividly, in unmistakable terms and in an undeniable language. In the New Testament, the word rhema carries the idea of a quickened word.[d]https://www.rhema.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2679:what-is-rhema

Vine includes more information that may be intentionally left out since it does not reinforce the strong distinction needed by RHEMA teachers. Vine tells us that RHEMA is not a completely different concept from LOGOS.

The significance of rhema (as distinct from logos) is exemplified in the injunction to take “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” Eph. 6:17; here the reference is not to the whole Bible as such, but to the individual scripture which the Spirit brings to our remembrance for use in time of need, a prerequisite being the regular storing of the mind with Scripture. [e]W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 683.

On the same page, Vine also gives a definition of LOGOS that includes spoken words.

logos (λόγος) denotes (I) “the expression of thought”… (a) as embodying a conception or idea… (b) a saying or statement…  (c) discourse, speech, of instruction. [f]W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 683.

Stay Alert

If you care about the authentic Word of God, don’t fall for tricksters that use the RHEMA/LOGOS false distinction that is contrary to the teachings of Scripture. They will want you to believe that this doctrine is original from the Bible, and it is not.

Stop living out of alignment with the Word of God.

Notes[+]

How to Ruin Christmas

Strip the nativity Bible narratives of all human traditions that have been added to the birth of Jesus.

  • Luke 2:4-7. Mary did not ride a donkey to Bethlehem.
  • Luke 2:9-15. There is no “innkeeper[a]However, if the house belonged to Joseph, and the guest chamber/κατάλυμα was already full, then Joseph clearly had a host who managed the house and residents while he was away in Nazareth. … Continue reading(and “inn” is a poor translation of the word for an “upper room”).
  • Matthew 2:9-11. The star was capable of standing still above a single house as a supernatural guiding light, not a giant incandescent body like our sun.
  • Matthew 2:9-11. We don’t know how many wise men. Three types of gifts are given.
  • Matthew 2:9-11. The wise men were not at the manger with the shepherds.
  • Matthew 2:11. The wise men visited a house, not a barn or stable.
  • Luke 2:9-15. There was no angel at the manger.
  • Luke 2:9-15. There was no angelic choir or singing to the shepherds.
  • Luke 2:16. There is no mention of a stable or barn. (Mangers were common features found inside houses.)
  • Luke 2:9-15. There were no animals at the birth of Jesus.
  • Luke 2:9-15. There was no drummer boy… or even a shepherd “boy.”
  • Luke 2:9-15. There were no talking animals not even at midnight.
  • There is no Santa Claus, Rudolph, or Frosty. No Christmas tree or Christmas stockings. There is no gift exchange.

Be divisive and argumentative about Christmas traditions.

…if you have no interest in bringing others to Christ, no interest in being a peacemaker, but only want to prove your own arrogance.

Here is advice from 2 Timothy 2:

Make every effort to present yourself approved to God, a worker having no need to be ashamed, guiding the word of truth along a straight path. But avoid pointless chatter, for it will progress to greater ungodliness…

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.

God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. [b]2 Timothy 2:15,16,23-26

We have many extra-biblical traditions every day of the year, not just at Christmas. We have birthday traditions, graduation traditions, sports traditions, family traditions, wedding traditions, and so on. Perhaps a person can consider human traditions as decorations or adornments that are useful for celebration without elevating those traditions as if they were the central truth.

Notes[+]

Should I live however the #*@% I want to live?

Recently, a medical colleague asked me if I thought that vaccination cards were the Mark of the Beast.

I knew that this was a reference to Revelation 13:11-18.

Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666. [a]All Scripture on this post is from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016. Print.

I responded that I believed that there must be some connection between the Mark of the Beast and allegiance to the Beast. I said this because of the worship of the Beast and judgment from God described in Revelation 14:9-11.

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

My colleague countered that vaccination cards will be required to buy and sell, therefore creating a control by an ungodly government regime which, in essence, is a forced allegiance.

So, I switched my tactic.

If this is the Mark of the Beast and these are the last days and Jesus is returning soon, “How should we live then?” because my mind pulled up 2 Peter 3:11-13.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

My colleague launched into an attack on the church. “Churches are the only ones who shoot their wounded.” Churches act hypocritically superior and self-righteous against any ordinary person who enjoys getting drunk and sleeping around. Jesus died to forgive all sins, so since I am a Christian, “I can live however the f*** I want to live.” This statement appeared to be the conclusion of the discussion as my colleague started for the door.

I knew that the expletive was intended to shock me. I knew that I could say 1,000 things in rebuttal. I also hoped that I would be able to provide a future testimony, so I ended with, “This was an interesting conversation.”

True faith is inseparable from faithfulness. True followers of Jesus Christ will be faithful to Jesus Christ. You cannot declare allegiance to Jesus while rejecting loyalty to Jesus.

A vaccine card is not worship of a false god. However, whether or not you believe vaccine cards are signs that we are closer to the return of Jesus Christ, what should we do? We should live more faithfully to Jesus Christ. We should live in holiness and godliness.

See the next verse, 2 Peter 3:14.

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.


Additional Scripture for Consideration

Matthew 25:1-13

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Titus 1:16

They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

Titus 2:11-14

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

1 John 3:2-6

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order 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.

Revelation 3:1-6

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “ ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Revelation 19:7,8

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

Revelation 22:12-17

“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.”
And let the one who hears say, “Come.”
And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.


Further Helpful Information

Claim: The Covid-19 vaccine contains luciferase (Lucifer Race) DNA and receiving an injection will damn your soul.
Truth: The Covid-19 vaccine does not contain luciferase, but it can be used in research related to viruses. Luciferace is an enzyme that causes luciferin to give off visible light. Luciferin is an organic substance, present in luminescent organisms such as fireflies, that produces light when oxidized by the action of the enzyme luciferase. So if you let your children play with fireflies, they have already been exposed. There is no spiritual component to either luciferin or luciferase. [b]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luciferin

Claim: The Covid-19 vaccine has the patent number 666 or 06 06 06 which is the Mark of the Beast. Taking the vaccine will damn your soul.
Truth: The Covid-19 vaccine does not have this patent number. There was a patent number WO2020060606 which was filed in June 2019 with the World Intellectual Property Organization by Microsoft Technology Licensing, LLC. This patent deals with a system of cryptocurrency mining through tasks assigned to human activity and does not mention injections or vaccines or Covid-19 in any way. [c]https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail.jsf?docId=WO2020060606

Notes[+]

How to Face a Jealous God

“If jealousy is a deadly sin, isn’t God sinful, since He is a jealous God?”

 

Premise One: God is a Jealous God.

Nahum 1: 2 tells us, “A jealous and avenging God is the LORD; the LORD is avenging and wrathful.
The LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies.[a]Scripture quotations are from The New American Standard Bible: 1995 (The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA)

This is verified in Exodus 20:5. “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me…”

Premise One is verified. God is a jealous God.

Premise: Jealousy is a deadly sin.

What are the seven “deadly sins?” They are also listed as the capital or cardinal sins. They are pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth.

 

There are seven cardinal sins listed by Thomas Aquinas.

Some confusion enters our argument as envy is considered as a synonym for jealousy. A valid argument must have clearly defined terms.

In the New Testament, jealousy and envy come from very different words.[b]jealousy is ζη̂λος and envy is φθόνος Jealousy is similar to zealous. Envy is “the feeling of displeasure produced by witnessing or hearing of the advantage or prosperity of others”[c]W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 204. In this argument, jealousy is not interchangeable with envy. Even mere humans can be jealous without sin, as in the practice of loyalty between one husband and one wife in marriage.

A holy God can display a holy zeal without sin, so the argument fails.[d]“…unfaithfulness would result in judgment since the LORD … is a jealous God (cf. 4:24; 5:9; 32:16, 21). This means He is zealous to protect what belongs to Him alone. Jealousy in this … Continue reading

Divine jealousy should also be defined as a zealous intolerance of God’s enemies. There is only one true God. To demand that He must tolerate other gods is nonsense. When sin desires to rule our lives, God tells us that He alone serves as Lord and King and Master. Those who say that God’s jealousy is sinful are simply saying that His intolerance of sin is sinful. That is plainly an absurd and self-contradictory statement. The argument fails again.

Premise Two fails. Envy, not jealousy, is one of the cardinal sins.

There is also some further vagueness in the argument, in that Premise One is based upon Old Testament scripture and Premise Two is based upon New Testament scripture. In order to clarify the conclusion, we will concede that the eternal unchanging God is just as zealous in the New as He is in the Old. We do not have a contradiction of two different gods: a vengeful God of the Hebrews bible versus the loving God of the Christian bible.

Secret Hidden Premises Fail

However, we need to notice something about those Old Testament passages. In order to create a contradiction, it was necessary to limit the context of both passages in Nahum 1 and Exodus 20.

Look at the fuller reading of Nahum 1.

2 A jealous and avenging God is the LORD;
The LORD is avenging and wrathful.
The LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries,
And He reserves wrath for His enemies.
3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power,
And the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.

Then look at the fuller reading of Exodus 20.

5 “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,
6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

Now we need to understand the reason for leaving out “slow to anger” and “showing lovingkindness to thousands” in these scriptures. They were left out because the argument presumes that God is not good. The argument against God’s goodness is based upon Scripture that indicates that God is good and patient and loving and kind!

If God is independently good, as so many people say that He is, then there is another false statement secretly hidden in the assumed presumption. The person making the argument may feel that God is evil, but this argument does nothing to prove this unspoken belief. It is a matter of faith. The argument fails again because of a presumption that is not proven by the argument.

Faith in a bad god is very different than proving the nonexistence of all gods.

Facing God

If God is omnipotent, He has the power to destroy His enemies.

If God is good, He will demonstrate absolute justice in distribution of His wrath. No innocent party will ever be harmed as a result of God’s wrath.

The conclusion is simple. Do not be the enemy of God.

Because of His great love, God offers forgiveness and salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. God is so good that He offers reconciliation even to His enemies. You cannot deny the goodness of God. Don’t refuse the love of God.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.[e]New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), 2 Co 5:17–21.

 

Notes[+]

Should Christians Salute and Pledge to the U. S. Flag?

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Heil Boilermakers

Should Christians pledge loyalty to anyone but Christ?

Jesus said not to make oaths.

“Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil. z

How would this commandment apply to the following important oaths? Should Christians make oaths in some situations but not in others?

Marriage Vows. Should a Christian husband pledge to be true and faithful to his wife until they are parted by death? The Bible does not contain any record of marriage vows, yet it honors marriage.

Oath in Court.  Should a Christian swear to tell the truth in court? The Bible tells us not to take a brother to court, but it does not forbid giving testimony in court. Most of us are familiar with the scenario when a witness places his right hand on a copy of the Bible to say, “I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” The Bible is no longer required for this swearing in, but a refusal to take the oath is considered contempt of court.

Oath of Office. Should Christians make an oath to fulfill their duties when they are elected and employed by government? The Bible does not address the required oath of office taken by those elected to government positions, such as the oath of office for the U. S. Senate.

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses, a millenarian restorationist nontrinitarian movement labeled as Christian despite their unorthodox beliefs based upon a peculiar translation of the New Testament, teach that a Christian should not vote or seek election, “they remain resolutely neutral with regard to the political affairs of the nations.”* This politically neutral stance has been adopted by a number of mainstream Christian pastors and churches in America. JWs  also believe that bowing down to a flag or saluting it, often in conjunction with an anthem, is a religious act that ascribes salvation, not to God, but to the State or to its leaders.

Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America. Should Christians from other nations take an oath to become citizens of the USA?

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

Take Oaths Seriously.

Jesus spoke against taking false oaths or taking oaths lightly. It should not be necessary to swear by any other power in order to convince someone of the value of your word. Your integrity and honesty will speak for you.

All Oaths are Subordinate to Faithfulness to God.

Christians in the United States have enjoyed a constitutionally fundamental freedom of religion since 1791. The Declaration of Independence attributes our inalienable rights to the Creator along with the necessity for government to have the consent of the governed. This consent of the governed is solemn enough to deserve an oath. This is not an oath that supersedes our loyalty to God but an oath that is subordinate to our faithfulness to God.

The New Testament Encourages Respect Toward Civil Government.

Is it appropriate for Christians to show disrespect in the name of Christ? We are not at liberty to ignore Romans chapter 13.

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 [d]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.

1st Timothy chapter 2 indicates that Christians have a duty to support their specific secular government with prayer.

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

1st Peter chapter 2 makes it clear that honoring a human government is not a betrayal toward God and is recommended to demonstrate true Christian character within this world.

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

The US government is not the kingdom of God. It is not the Church of Jesus Christ. It is a civil government established and maintained through human effort. Where there is liberty for men, there will be liberty for some to abuse that human law for sinful objectives. Somehow, God’s sovereignty is higher and greater than all this. God is higher and greater than the US government, yet he asks his followers to be respectful and honor human government.


Christians Should Be Cautious About Their Political Identification.

Refusing to salute the flag is political activism. The greater question is, “Should Christians join this type of movement?” Christians should be cautious about identifying themselves with opinions that are expressed by the enemies of Jesus Christ and that clearly go against Scripture, God’s higher authority. Christians have been observed wearing scarves that identify them with solidarity of militant organizations that have set a goal of the death and destruction of all Jews. Consider your ways. Don’t just follow fads without thinking.

Celebrate Your Liberty to Disagree with the USA in the USA.

Why is this political action (Christians refusing to salute the flag) only recommended in America? Because we see the absurdity of asking Christians of other nations to respect the flag of their own nation. Within the USA, you can speak against the government, this is your safe place to rant or pour out your emotional opinion. Nobody will storm your home, jail your children, or behead you for your dissident opinion. Thank God for your liberty to do so here. (Kinda makes me want to salute the Red, White, and Blue right now…)

How to Be Deplorable

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton insulted American voters by categorizing many of them as a “basket of deplorables”.  She did this on both Saturday and Sunday.

One of the reactions has been to call her speech “hate speech”. Therefore, she offered an apology for her choice of words.

However, I may agree with many of the words that she used. I have observed that some Donald’s Trump supporters actually do hate people of other races, nationalities and ethnicity.

And then I think that Mrs. Clinton was ill, possibly running a fever, when she made the statements.

Donald Trump has been accused of speaking his mind plainly. He is also been credited with “telling it like it is”. The fact is that Donald Trump simply speaks his mind, he talks like a lot of Americans talk, off-the-cuff, casually, emotionally. I don’t think he is particularly skillful at presenting the truth in an understandable fashion. He certainly doesn’t sound like a New York billionaire. (Cue “Green Acres” theme song.)

Followers of Jesus Christ must be different. Let’s not be conformed to any of this. Let’s be Spirit-transformed people who will transform our culture by the presence of God’s Spirit in our own lives. Some people may find us deplorable. So what.

Let’s Be More Reasonable With Each Other

Recently, a friend posted:

Reasonable people can see the same facts and come to different conclusions.

People can be wrong without being stupid, deluded or evil.

If you have opinions, you should actively seek the best and most principled people who disagree with them to test whether you are correct.

If your argument takes the form of “the same people who say thing X also say thing Y and that makes them hypocritical” you’re only attacking the worst advocates of thing X, rather than making a good case for what you believe.

Do not be scared of changing your mind. If seeing solid counter-arguments to a thing you believe in upsets you, then you have an emotional investment in the thing you believe in and that’s usually quite a bad idea.

Let’s be more reasonable with each other.

I would define my friend as an atheist from England. He was probably posting about the opinions of those supporting and opposing the recent  referendum by British voters to exit the European Union.

However, I like his advice for open-mindedness in general, like a set of rules for any open debate.

  1. Expect others to arrive at their own conclusions.
  2. Presuppose good will and intelligence. Demonstrate respect and humility.
  3. Acknowledge that the person with the worst opinions and weakest arguments may not typically represent everyone that opposes you.
  4. Ally yourself with a conscientious worthy opponent and examine what you believe.
  5. Override personal emotional attachment to your conclusion.
  6. If an opposing argument is valid, adopt the new conclusion and revise your previous viewpoint.

Are Church Elections Biblical?

smooth-shepherd

In a church election, the physically attractive candidate is most likely to be elected.

 Do you look at things from the outward appearance?
[2 Corinthians 10:7]

The Deacon board and voting membership will believe with all their heart that they are looking for a candidate who knows the word of God, prays fervently, preaches effectively and has a heart to take the gospel into all the world. The nominating committee will convince you that they were led by the Spirit of God. The church board will know that they know that they have heard the voice of God.

Perhaps most people are not even aware that they are choosing the most physically attractive person, but who doesn’t want a tall and handsome person as the face of your fellowship to the community?

I am suggesting that Christians mistake physical attraction for the leading of the Spirit. They do it with gusto. They make whole-hearted high-stakes decisions this way.

The congregation is a flock, and they will follow like sheep. They will follow a leader because of his appearance and eloquence before they will follow a leader because of his spiritual qualifications for ministry.

sheep


samuel was rejected

But the thing was evil in the eyes of Samuel, because they said, “Give us a king to govern us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. The Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in relation to all that they say to you. For it is not you they have rejected, but Me they have rejected from reigning over them.
[First Samuel 8:6,7]

Israel was motivated by pagan nations

But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But surely a king will be over us!  So that we also will be like all the nations! And so that our king will govern us, and will go out before us, and will fight our battles.”
[First Samuel 8:19,20]

Saul was an attractive person

Kish… had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice and handsome man, and there was not a better looking man among the children of Israel. From his shoulders and up he was taller than any of the people.
[First Samuel 9:1,2]

Samuel nearly made the same mistake

 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees. For man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
[First Samuel 16:7]

God’s criteria are different than men’s criteria

26 For observe your calling, brothers. Among you, not many wise men according to the flesh, not many mighty men, and not many noble men were called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. 28 And God has chosen the base things of the world and things which are despised. Yes, and He chose things which did not exist to bring to nothing things that do, 29 so that no flesh should boast in His presence.
[First Corinthians 1:26-29]

The approval of men is not the same as the approval of God

For am I now seeking the approval of men or of God? Or am I trying to please men? For if I were still trying to please men, I would not be the servant of Christ.
[Galatians 1:10]

Pastors should follow the Great Shepherd

I exhort the elders who are among you, as one who is also an elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, take care of them, not by constraint, but willingly, not for dishonest gain, but eagerly. Do not lord over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of glory that will not fade away.
[1 Peter 5:1-4]