Monday, April 18, 2011

The Greatest Week in History

This single week is probably the greatest week in the history of the world! In this week Satan was defeated and God reconciled the world to Himself. What love our Lord showed his creation in this week in history. The following summary will attempt to capture the events that ultimately lead to the crucifixion.

Mark’s Gospel describes in great detail beginning in chapter 11. Jesus’ public entry into Jerusalem, with its messianic overtones (Mark 11: 1-11; Matt 21: 4-5, 7-11, 14-17; Luke 19: 35-44; John 12: 12-19), begins the conflict between the Jewish and Roman authorities[1]. The purpose of this grand entry into Jerusalem was to present Jesus to Israel as her Messiah. It should be noted that the Gospels mention the presence of the nation’s leaders (Matt 14: 15; Luke 19: 39; John 12: 19). None of the Gospel references is positive.

If Jesus’ entry wasn’t enough, the cleansing of the temple (Mark 11: 12-19) that Carson and Moo call a strike at the heart of Judaism forces the issue[2]. There is also Jesus being questioned about the appropriateness of paying taxes to a Gentile ruler (Mark 12: 13-17) and about the implications of the doctrine of the resurrection (Mark 12: 18-27)[3] among other incidents.

After His betrayal by Judas and arrest, Jesus was taken back through the Kidron Valley and up the Hinnom to the steps that lead up the hill toward Caiaphas’ house. Jesus was first brought before Annas where He was questioned. After being questioned (and slapped for His answers), Annas sent Jesus bound to Caiaphas (John 18: 12-14, 19-24). It should be noted that it was during this time that Peter denied Jesus (John 18: 15-18, 25-27).

Jesus was then taken to Caiaphas where the high priest and the Sanhedrin. During what actually amounted to a hearing, the Sanhedrin and Caiaphas sought to find testimony to put Jesus to death but could not (Mark 14: 55-65). Like other peoples in the Roman Empire, the Jews were granted a great deal of self-government but the Sanhedrin lacked one important power. The Sanhedrin did not have the authority to order an execution this Jesus was sent to Pilate.

It is on this morning that Judas attempted to repent by returning the thirty pieces of silver and tell the chief priests and elders he had betrayed innocent blood. This fell on deaf ears leading Judas to take his own life (Matt 27: 3-5).

Upon Jesus’ arrival before Pilate, He was asked if He was the King of the Jews? Jesus answered “Thou sayest” (Matt 27: 11; Mark 15: 2; Luke 23: 3). Jesus was sent to Herod who sent Him back to Pilate after Jesus did not perform a miracle. Herod also lacked the power to order Jesus be put to death.

After being returned to Pilate, Jesus was declared to be innocent of charges and would be whipped and released but the crowds called for the release of Barabbas. Ultimately, Pilate relented though he desired to release Jesus. All told, Jesus was actually involved in a total of six trials.

A number of illegal things took place during the “trial” of Jesus. First, the Gospels tell us that false testimony was given against Jesus (Matt 14: 57-58). Of course the testimony necessary to convict Jesus and condemn him to death would have to have been false as the Savior was perfect and incapable of committing sin. Additionally, Jesus was not allowed to present a real defense. Overall, the Sanhedrin had to ignore Deuteronomy 16: 18-20 in order to place Jesus on trial and convict him.

[1] Carson and Moo 2005(pp. 171)

[2] IBID (pp. 171)

[3] IBID (pp. 171)

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Budget Deficits in the United States

Now if you don't believe the United States government has a spending problem, I can't think of a better illustration. I was unhappy with the spending of the previous administration to be sure. The current budget discussions in this country are long over due and the spending reductions necessary to address this problem will be difficult but are so necessary!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Conflict: Part 7 - Conclusion


Where there are two or more people involved, sooner or later there will be conflict. Conflict is not the end of the world not should it interfere with ministry. Not all conflict that arises in either the secular world or church world is bad conflict. There is constructive conflict that can serve to bring problems out into the open where they may be addressed. There are destructive conflicts that must be dealt with. In the secular world we see there is generally a mechanism in place to handle such problems. We have also seen that there is guidance in Scripture as to how conflict should be handled.

Too often conflict is avoided for the sake of sparing an individual’s feelings when there is clear biblical teaching that conflict should be addressed directly as Jesus did. There is a role for church discipline to play in the resolution of conflict. At what point can certainly be a matter of opinion. Obviously questions of immorality should be handled quickly but disagreements may not require the use of discipline. Too often there is conflict in the church over style or preference rather than substance. It is the opinion of this blogger that this is a huge mistake that consumes the time and talents in far too many churches.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Conflict: Part 6 - Church Discipline in Conflict

Church Discipline in Conflict

Does conflict reach a point where church discipline becomes necessary? Before this question can be answered, it is first necessary to define church discipline and understand its purpose. Church discipline is an ecclesiastical function mandated by the Great Commission. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20 ESV). A disciple is one who voluntarily places himself under the discipline of another. In the case of the church, this means the believer is learning to do all that Christ commands and the church is teaching the believer about the revealed will of God.[1]

The purpose of church discipline is threefold. First, church discipline should seek restoration and reconciliation of the believer who is going astray. Sin hinders fellowship among believers and with God. Parents teach children discipline (Prov. 13:24) just as God disciplines those whom He loves (Heb. 12:6; Rev. 3:19). When applying discipline, the church should also act in love.[2]

The second purpose of church discipline is to keep sin from spreading to others.[3] Restoration and reconciliation may or may not occur but we know from the author of Hebrews (12:15) that a bitter person can spread that bitterness to other people causing division within the church. The third purpose, much like the second, is to protect the purity of the church and honor of Christ.[4] A church member who continues to sin in a public way brings dishonor to Christ. This simply cannot be tolerated.

Since discipline in the church has been delegated to the church itself (1 Cor. 5:12-13; 2 Cor. 2:6), it must be the church that determines which conflicts rise to the level of requiring the use of discipline. Simple disagreements are unlikely to rise to such a point as to require church discipline but Scripture does give some general guidance in this area. If one sins against another (Matt. 18:15-17) or if someone is offended by us in some way (Matt. 5:23-24) could include minor matters between individuals. Something a bit more serious might include disagreements large enough to cause divisions within the church (Rom. 16:17-18; Tit. 3:9-11). These could include emotional conflict over essentially minor issues that members of the congregation feel strongly enough about to cause division.

Finally, something very serious such as false or perhaps erroneous teaching concerning the core doctrines of the Christian faith certainly rise to the level of requiring church discipline. The Apostle Paul addressed this very type of thing in his epistles to Timothy (1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim. 2:17-18). Teaching of false doctrine can never be tolerated and must be addressed quickly and firmly. It should be noted that this does not include differences of opinion concerning varying interpretations. Throughout the Bible there are passages that have more than one valid translated meaning. The hermeneutic used by an individual plays a large part in arriving at the interpretation of a passage.

There are conflicts that require discipline and there are biblical guidelines that are to be followed in the use of discipline. Matters of preference need not involve such discipline however, the behavior of those who are in disagreement can become such that discipline is necessary. Many a church has been divided needlessly over the color of carpet, style of music, or Bible translation used from the pulpit.

[1] Elwell, Walter A., ed. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology 2nd Edition. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 255.

[2] Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 894.

[3] Ibid, 895.

[4] Ibid, 895-96.