Saturday, September 22, 2007

Gathering In The Name Of Jesus

Addressing this:

Matthew 18:20 (New International Version)

20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

I often grapple with this scripture. I suppose it comes down to deciphering what it means to gather "in my name". I mean I know of some folks out there that believe Jesus is divine and also a space alien who can give them sexual prowess and money and power if they just learn to meditate on the right frequency and wear the pyramid hat while doing so.

My personal model for living "in Jesus' name" comes from James chapter 2 (pay close attention to verse 24):

James 2

Favoritism Forbidden
1My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. 2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?
8If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself,"[a] you are doing right. 9But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11For he who said, "Do not commit adultery,"[b] also said, "Do not murder."[c] If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
12Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!
Faith and Deeds
14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,"[e] and he was called God's friend. 24You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
25In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
  1. James 2:8 Lev. 19:18
  2. James 2:11 Exodus 20:14; Deut. 5:18
  3. James 2:11 Exodus 20:13; Deut. 5:17
  4. James 2:20 Some early manuscripts dead
  5. James 2:23 Gen. 15:6
There is a class I have been attending that I am washing my hands based on these:

2 Timothy 3

1But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

Ephesians 5:
8For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10and find out what pleases the Lord. 11Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:
"Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you." 15Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. 18Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

What is the difference between legalism and/ or fundamentalism in their negative aspects and being true to the Word in spirit and deed? Where is the line between discernement and judging and/or condemnation?
When James 2:12 says this-

"12Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!" do I realize, internalize and exemplify this mandate and still be true to the entire context of scripture? This scripture cannot mean "anything goes- God's grace will cover it". One MUST seek truth and abide in it. Here we get into the whole topic of moral absolutes and moral relativism. For now I am not chasing that rabbit.

I have not judged anyone or said that anyone is bound for Hell- but I will say when I honestly believe someone is in the wrong and leave them alone if there seems to be no chance for change.

I was recently at a church group football watch party. During a commercial break one of the fellows asked the room what they thought about the Iraq war. Three people commented that "Well, I work at the Air Force Base on military hardware... so war is good for us... good for jobs... good for business... it feeds my family". Nods of assent went around the room. Then the commercial break ended and the home team was on cue with the ball in scoring position so that was the end of that.

Great googly moogly.

I didn't say a word.

I'm thinking that when its said "I am there with you also" it doesn't necessarily mean he's there agreeing, happy and/or pleased, wafting warm and fuzzy vibes instead of present and trying to break the death grip of the world on the souls of those who do not yet comprehend His way and His Word. My understanding of spiritual warfare and discernment is growing with every breath.

This writing may seem self righteous or even trenchant. But I REALLY struggle with these issues and REALLY seek the right way to handle them.

As for now:

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

--Reinhold Niebuhr
In loving memory of
Fr Bertram Griffin -- 1932-2000
Requiescat in Pace

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will direct your paths.

Proverbs 3, 5-6


S. Starr said...

I just don't know what to do about it all. I just don't wanna take the world on my shoulders and presume I can fix any of it. I can't. Its just like I have said of the church. Our job is not to fix the world because we can't. The erroneous teaching we have discussed represents the world. If I focus there... what about the good folks in the other classes? Its like you used to ask me...which of the many causes do I fight for? My answer was always ANY one you can...any one you choose. Right now I don't choose this particular battleground.

Still, I know me well enough to know that I will come up with a way besides sitting in this one class and making waves. My energy for any of this is waning right now. As you can probably tell... I am a mess in my own right.

I am getting to the point where I just wanna disconnect for a while and think about fishing or pretty girls. I have battle fatigue and am somewhat weary of whistling Dixie in a whirlwind with nobody listening.

Like I said... I know me... the cycle will regenerate eventually.

I like the verse you sent. I also like this one you sent:

Philippians' 1

15 Some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. 16 They preach because they love me, for they know the Lord brought me here to defend the Good News. 17 Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. 18 But whether or not their motives are pure, the fact remains that the message about Christ is being preached, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice. 19 For I know that as you pray for me and as the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will all turn out for my deliverance.

I just don't understand how it works like that. I can't see how if somebody tells you Jesus is a pro-American Militarist that they are still preaching Christ. They might as well be insisting he is from Venus and flies around in a UFO and is also the tooth fairy. How is any of the above still preaching Christ and how is it still conducive? This is something I really can't understand.

I can understand this:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him,and he will direct your paths.

Proverbs 3, 5-6

Right now, my path is directed elsewhere.

I don't surrender the matter. I will be gathering force and trying to figure out what I can do if anything.

Scott Starr said...

Well said. I am at a loss on how to deal with this. Its systemic and its widespread and its monumental.

Sitting in this chair typing is not helping those "closest" to us. Its not helping me either. I need to get out there and make direct contact somehow. Its pretty tough without an audience. The one hour once or twice a week thing just isn't enough.

I want to propose a regular series of big question dialogs on some evening of the week. I'm just having a hard time imagining it happening. I have so many ideas and so little time.

I would like to also build an American Indian Spiritual fellowship and a much bigger singles program. I don't really get how a singles program can really connect being run by someone who is not a single.

If any of this happens it won't be because i want it... but because its needed and God wants it. All I can do is pray for guidance and/or opportunities.

If I could I'd quit my job and work on these things as close to full time as possible. Unfortunatly i am a wage slave like everyone else I know.

Scott Starr said...

This seems to apply too:

'Do Not Judge'
1 Corinthians 4:1-7
Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God's mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God.

I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit, brothers and sisters, so that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying, “Nothing beyond what is written,” so that none of you will be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?

Scott Starr said...

And this also (Amplified Bible)pay special attention to verses 15-17:

1 Corinthians 3
1HOWEVER, BRETHREN, I could not talk to you as to spiritual [men], but as to nonspiritual [men of the flesh, in whom the carnal nature predominates], as to mere infants [in the new life] in Christ [[a]unable to talk yet!]

2I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not yet strong enough [to be ready for it]; but even yet you are not strong enough [to be ready for it],

3For you are still [unspiritual, having the nature] of the flesh [under the control of ordinary impulses]. For as long as [there are] envying and jealousy and wrangling and factions among you, are you not unspiritual and of the flesh, behaving yourselves after a human standard and like mere (unchanged) men?

4For when one says, I belong to Paul, and another, I belong to Apollos, are you not [proving yourselves] ordinary (unchanged) men?

5What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Ministering servants [not heads of parties] through whom you believed, even as the Lord appointed to each his task:

6I planted, Apollos watered, but God [all the while] was making it grow and [He] gave the increase.

7So neither he who plants is anything nor he who waters, but [only] God Who makes it grow and become greater.

8He who plants and he who waters are equal (one in aim, of the same importance and esteem), yet each shall receive his own reward (wages), according to his own labor.

9For we are fellow workmen (joint promoters, laborers together) with and for God; you are God's [b]garden and vineyard and field under cultivation, [you are] God's building.(A)

10According to the grace (the special endowment for my task) of God bestowed on me, like a skillful architect and master builder I laid [the] foundation, and now another [man] is building upon it. But let each [man] be careful how he builds upon it,

11For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is [already] laid, which is Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

12But if anyone builds upon the Foundation, whether it be with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,

13The work of each [one] will become [plainly, openly] known (shown for what it is); for the day [of Christ] will disclose and declare it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test and critically appraise the character and worth of the work each person has done.

14If the work which any person has built on this Foundation [any product of his efforts whatever] survives [this test], he will get his reward.

15But if any person's work is burned up [under the test], he will suffer the loss [of it all, losing his reward], though he himself will be saved, but only as [one who has passed] through fire.(B)

16Do you not discern and understand that you [the whole church at Corinth] are God's temple (His sanctuary), and that God's Spirit has His permanent dwelling in you [to be at home in you, [c]collectively as a church and also individually]?

17If anyone [d]does hurt to God's temple or corrupts it [[e]with false doctrines] or destroys it, God will [f]do hurt to him and bring him to the corruption of death and destroy him. For the temple of God is holy (sacred to Him) and that [temple] you [[g]the believing church and its individual believers] are.

18Let no person deceive himself. If anyone among you supposes that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool [let him discard his worldly discernment and recognize himself as dull, stupid, and foolish, without true learning and scholarship], that he may become [really] wise.(C)

19For this world's wisdom is foolishness (absurdity and stupidity) with God, for it is written, He lays hold of the wise in their [own] craftiness;(D)

20And again, The Lord knows the thoughts and reasonings of the [humanly] wise and recognizes how futile they are.(E)

21So let no one exult proudly concerning men [boasting of having this or that man as a leader], for all things are yours,

22Whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas (Peter), or the universe or life or death, or the immediate and [h]threatening present or the [subsequent and uncertain] future--all are yours,

23And you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.


1. 1 Corinthians 3:1 Literal translation: "non-speakers."
2. 1 Corinthians 3:9 Johann Bengel, Gnomon Novi Testamenti.
3. 1 Corinthians 3:16 Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Holy Bible.
4. 1 Corinthians 3:17 The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges.
5. 1 Corinthians 3:17 Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Holy Bible.
6. 1 Corinthians 3:17 The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges.
7. 1 Corinthians 3:17 Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Holy Bible.
8. 1 Corinthians 3:22 Marvin Vincent, Word Studies.

Cross references:

1. 1 Corinthians 3:9 : Isa 61:3
2. 1 Corinthians 3:15 : Job 23:10
3. 1 Corinthians 3:18 : Isa 5:21
4. 1 Corinthians 3:19 : Job 5:13
5. 1 Corinthians 3:20 : Ps 94:11

Scott Starr said...

I believe that in a certain sense that teacher does teach such a thing. Actually though, my point in these scriptures is that God will be the judge. Each of us will be accountable for our own words and deeds-as in: from 1 Corinthians 4
"It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God."

Thus, I feel no compulsion to address every situation directly with force to correct people to "my way of thinking". Still, I do feel that it is necessary to apply discernment and conscience to the equation and stand up where I am led to stand up.

The money end of the scripture from
is: also from 1 Corinthians 4

" that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying, “Nothing beyond what is written,” so that none of you will be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?"

The trick is to tactfully address items that are "beyond what is written" out of love and compassion. Visit the new post "Nailed to the Door".

These are the specific issues which I believe are at hand. I would not make the case that these errors are outside of grace... but as one who comprehends such things I feel the need and/or responsibility to speak just as anyone else who desires to teach, speak, seek or address any kind of sin or injustice does. It IS a matter of conscience and discernment. I am prepared,as always, to be wrong. I don't believe I am and thus far- few have attempted to make a case otherwise or at least few have seen the dialog through to any kind of consensus except you.

The essential question is, "Do these things matter- considering God's compassion and grace?"

I believe they do. I cannot count myself among them that "know not what they do". Thus, I must follow where I am led. At the gathering I did not say a word. Now I have. Everyone that was there has now recieved the 95 theses.

How do you suppose that is going to go over?

The word pariah comes to mind. I am willing to accept that. I am willing to pay that price to warn my brothers and sisters of the pit.

I do not relish bearing this burden. I would much rather be talking about something else.

You were on hand Sunday. Many of our brothers have bought the great myth. You know of that which I speak. God have mercy on us all.