Monday, September 30, 2013

Answering David Cloud on the Church, pt. 4

Part One     Part Two     Part Three

In a context about listening to preaching, Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:21:  "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."   Teaching should be proven, tested, which is also a loving thing to do, because if it's wrong, it's not helping the person who believes it or the people listening to him.  With that in mind, consider the following tweet about one of this series:

For the bitter, carnal scoffer, the narrative must be that these IFBs eat their own ("cannibalize").  Does it deserve any analysis for its shallowness, hypocrisy, and fallaciousness?

Cloud implies that local-only proponents are false teachers, who start with a pre-conceived definition of church and then force it on every usage of ekklesia.  He buttresses that point by referring to three times in Acts 19 that the KJV translators translate ekklesia, "assembly."  In all three instances, it is not the ekklesia Jesus started.  However, the translation does more to damage Cloud's cause, since they translate it "assembly," because that's what ekklesia means.  Of course, ekklesia is not always a "church," but that doesn't mean that it is anything other than an assembly.  Cloud shows his ignorance of Greek, when he says a meaning of ekklesia is "called out assembly."  That's like saying, "pizza pie."  You're actually saying "pie pie," because the word "pizza" means "pie."  Ekklesia means "called out" (ek - out of, klesia - called).  Called out to what?  To assemble.  The original usage of the word was the citizens of a Greek city state called out of their homes to assemble for governing.  It still means assembly.

Cloud says that local-only advocates say that "church" must always be used as an assembly, because that's what the word means.  He says the Holy Spirit can adapt Greek words to mean something different than their standard usage in the first century.  What he is saying is true in certain instances, but not in very many.  Almost exclusively the word was used in the Bible the same way it was in secular literature.  In the case of ekklesia, this is true.  It is always an assembly, which is why that word was used.  We can easily see that ekklesia is used as an assembly.  We don't have one instance of a usage that would have us know that it means anything different than assembly.  Cloud doesn't give one in his article.

Then Cloud states that Ephesians 2 could be referring to a spiritual church in heaven that is gathered there already, since believers are already seated in the heavenlies.  He writes:

For example, Ephesians 2 says that every believer is made alive and risen from the dead and seated in heavenly places together with Christ (Eph. 2:5-6). That’s present tense.

If you look at the verbs in the Textus Receptus (or the critical text for that matter), they aren't present tense verbs.  They're aorist.  "Hath quickened," "raised us up together," and "made us sit together" are all aorist tense.  None of them are present tense.  None.   So the kind of action of those verbs is not continuous.  When you make a theological point, a teaching, based on the verbs being "present tense," and they're actually not present tense, that really does undermine completely your argument.  They are not said to be continuously sitting in heavenly places, as if you've got a functioning assembly already in heaven made up of all the saved people.  An obvious point is that you don't have the word "church" (ekklesia) appearing in Ephesians 2:5-6.  Cloud reads that into the text.  There is no doctrine of the church there.

Cloud starts then to answer questions about the church.  I'll talk more about those later.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Mark 7:4 & the “washing [baptidzo] . . . of tables:” Baptism is still Immersion in the Baptizing of Tables or Dining Couches

Mark 7:4-5 reads:

4* And when they come from the market, except they wash [baptidzo], they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing [baptismos] of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. 5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?

Many who reject the fact that the verb baptize necessarily requires immersion—a fact which is validated by the other 79 instances of the verb in the New Testament (Matt 3:6, 11, 13–14, 16; 20:22–23; 28:19; Mark 1:4–5, 8–9; 6:14; 7:4; 10:38–39; 16:16; Luke 3:7, 12, 16, 21; 7:29–30; 11:38; 12:50; John 1:25–26, 28, 31, 33; 3:22–23, 26; 4:1–2; 10:40; Acts 1:5; 2:38, 41; 8:12–13, 16, 36, 38; 9:18; 10:47–48; 11:16; 16:15, 33; 18:8; 19:3–5; 22:16; Rom 6:3; 1 Cor 1:13–17; 10:2; 12:13; 15:29; Gal 3:27), as well as the lexica—argue that in Mark 7:4-5 it is evident that baptize does not mean immerse.  “The Jews certainly did not immerse tables!”  it is argued;  “clearly they must have simply sprinkled or poured water on the tables.”  This argument sounds plausible at first, but, in fact, it simply is not the case.  The “tables,” or “dining couches” (kline, see BDAG—the word is used elsewhere in the NT for “beds”—remember that the first century custom was to recline to eat, not sit at a table of the modern sort), were indeed immersed by the Jews.

In the words of the scholarly but very theologically liberal—and so hardly biased towards Bible-believing Baptists— Hermeneia commentary:

Verse 4b also mentions the custom of immersing dining couches.75 In the biblical period, most beds consisted of a mat, a quilt to lie upon, and a covering. The wealthy had ornamental bed frames that were raised above the floor. The beds of the poor probably included only a wicker mat and the owner’s day clothes.76 The situation was probably similar in the first century ce. Leviticus mentions that beds may become unclean and implies that they are to be dismantled and immersed, then being unclean until evening (Lev 15:4, 21, 23, 26). M. Kelim 19.1 presupposes the practice of immersing beds.78[1]

The following two citations from the Jewish Mishna provide representative proof from the original sources that the Jews immersed their tables/dining couches/beds:

Kelim 19:1      A.        He who unties the bed [mittah—a word used for “reclining at feasts” (Dictionary of Classical Hebrew), that is, for a “dining couch”] to immerse it-he who touches the ropes is clean.
            B.        The rope-from what time is it [regarded as] connected to the bed?
            C.        From [the time] that one will have knotted three [rows of] meshes with
            D.        And he who touches [the rope] from the knot and inwards is unclean. From the knot and outwards he is clean.
            E.         The loose ends of the knot-he who touches on [that part which is] needed for it is unclean.
            F.         And how much is needed for it?
            G.        R. Judah says, “Three fingerbreadths.”

Miqwaot 7:7   A.        [If] one immersed the bed [Heb. mittah] therein,
            B.        even though its legs sink down into thick mud—
            C.        it is clean,
            D.        because the water touched them before [the mud did].
            E.         An immersion pool, the water of which is [tool shallow [to cover the body]—
            F.         one presses down,
            G.        even with bundles of wood,
            H.        even with bundles of reeds,
            I.          so that the [level of the] water may rise—
            J.         and he goes down and immerses.
            K.        An [unclean] needle which is located on the steps of the cavern—
            L.         [if] one stirred the water to and fro—
            M.       after a wave has broken over it,
            N.        it is clean.

It is evident that baptidzo has its normal meaning in Mark 7:4-5, and that the “tables” or dining couches of the passage were indeed immersed by the Jews.  Mark 7 is the best attempt by the opponents of the Baptist doctrine of believer’s immersion to get out of the necessity of the plain meaning of baptidzo as dipping or immersion.  Since this attempt fails, the advocate of sprinkling or pouring is left without even a decent appearance of Biblical support for his position, but is immersed in trouble and drowning in difficulties.



The following citation from John Gill’s Commentary on Mark 7:4 provides further ancient evidence:

Ver. 4. And when they come from the market, &c.] In Beza's most ancient copy, and in one of Stephens's, it is read as we supply, "when they come": wherefore this respects not things bought in the market, a sense favoured by all the Oriental versions, for many of them could not be washed; but the persons of the Scribes and Pharisees, who when they came from market, or from any court of judicature, immersed themselves all over in water, according to the true sense of the word baptizw, here used: for,

   ``if the Pharisees touched but the garments of the common
     people, they were defiled, all one as if they had touched
     a profluvious person, hlybj Nkyruw, "and needed

and were obliged to it {u}: hence, when they walked the streets, they walked on the sides of the way, that they might not be defiled by touching the common people {w}:

wherefore, except they wash, they eat not, or immerse themselves in water, as well as used, Mydy tlybj, "immersion of the hands", or washing of the hands by immersion; and which, if only intended, is sufficient to support the primary sense of the word, "baptizo":

and, many other things there be which they have received to hold; by tradition from their elders;

as the washing of cups and pots, brazen, vessels, and of tables: and here the word baptismov, "baptism", is rightly used in its proper and primary signification; for all these things were, according to the traditions of the elders, washed by immersion:

   ``in a laver, (they say {x}) which holds forty seahs of
     water, which are not drawn, every defiled man dips
     himself, except a profluvious man; and in it Nyamjh Mylkh lk
     ta Nylybjm, "they dip all unclean vessels";''

"as cups, pots, and brazen vessels": very particularly brazen vessels are mentioned, because earthen ones that were unclean, were to be broken {y}; which were all washed before eaten in, even on a sabbath day, and that by dipping {z}:

   ``"dishes", in which they eat at evening, (i.e. of the
     sabbath,) they wash them, to eat in in the morning; in the
     morning they wash them, to eat in at noon; at noon they
     wash them, to eat in at the "minchah"; and from the
     "minchah", and forward, they do not wash again: but
     "cups", and "jugs", and "pots" they wash, and it goes
     through all the day; for there is no fixed time for

All such vessels, whether had of a Gentile, or an Israelite, or even a wise man, were to be immersed before used {a}.

   ``He that buys a vessel for the use of a feast, of Gentiles,
     whether molten vessels, or glass vessels--Nlybjm, "they
     dip them", in the waters of the laver; and after that they
     may eat and drink in them: and such as they use for cold
     things, as "cups", and "pots", and "jugs", they wash them,
     Nlybjmw, "and dip them", and they are free for use: and
     such as they use for hot things, as "cauldrons" and
     "kettles", ("brazen vessels",) they heat them with hot
     water, and scour them, Nlybjmw, "and immerse them", and
     they are fit to be used: and things which they use at the
     fire, as spits and gridirons, they heat them in the fire
     till the crust (the covering of rust, or dirt) falls off,
     Nlybjmw, "and dip them", and they may be lawfully made use
     of. This is the immersion with which they immerse vessels
     for a feast, bought of Gentiles; and after that they are free
     for eating and drinking; for the business of uncleanness
     and purification is only from the words of the
     Scribes--and none are obliged to this immersion, but
     molten vessels for a feast, bought of Gentiles; but if he
     borrows of Gentiles, or a Gentile leaves in pawn molten
     vessels, (made of cast brass, or iron,) he washes, or
     boils, or heats in the fire, but need not immerse them;
     and so if he buys vessels of wood, or vessels of stone, he
     washes, or boils them, but need not dip them; and so
     earthen vessels need not be immersed; but those that are
     covered with lead, are as molten vessels, hlybj Nykyruw,
     "and need immersion".''

And not only such that were bought of Gentiles, but even that were made by Jews, and scholars too, were to be immersed in water.

   ``Vessels, (they say {b},) that are finished in purity, even
     though a disciple of a wise man makes them, care is to be
     taken about them, lo! these ought to be immersed:''

and also "tables", at which they eat; and because their posture at them were lying, reclining, or leaning: hence the word klinwn, is used for them here: these were capable of defilement in a ceremonial sense, according to the traditions of the Jews: one of their rules is this {c};

   ``every vessel of wood, which is made for the use of
     vessels, and of men, as, Nxlwvh, a "table", a bed, &c.
     receive defilement.''

And there were several sorts of tables, which, by their laws, were unclean, or might be defiled by the touch of unclean persons, or things: so they say {d},

   ``a table, and sideboard, which are made less, or covered
     with marble, if there is a space left, in which cups may
     be set, they may be defiled. R. Judah says, if a space is
     left, in which may be put pieces, i.e. of bread or flesh:
     a table of which the first of its feet is taken away is
     clean; if the second is taken away it is clean; if the
     third is taken away it may be defiled.''

Again {e}, every vessel of wood, that is divided into two parts, is, clean, excepting a double table, &c., i.e. a table which consisted of various parts, and were folded together when it was removed: and these were washed by covering them in water; and very nice they were in washing them, that the water might reach every part, and that they might be covered all over; that there might be nothing which might separate between them and the water, and hinder its coming to them: as for instance, pitch being upon a table, whether within or without, divided between that and the water; and when this was the case, it was not rightly washed {f}: but to washing tables by immersion, there is no objection; wherefore, to perplex this matter, and give further trouble, it is insisted on that the word should be rendered "beds"; and it must be owned that it is so rendered in the Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions, (in the Arabic version the clause is omitted,) and in many modern translations: and we are contented it should be so rendered. And these beds design either the couches they lay, or leaned upon at meals; or the beds they slept in at nights: these were capable of being polluted, in a ceremonial sense; for of such pollution, and such washing, are we to understand these traditions: for those things regard not the bare washing of them when naturally unclean, when they ought to be washed; and it is the custom of all people to wash them when this is the case. A bed, and bedstead, are capable of such pollution as soon as they are shaved with a fish skin, or are completed without polishing {g}; that is, as soon as they are finished; and there are several ways by which they are defiled. A bed is defiled, tm amj, "by one that is defiled with the dead" {h}; that is, who has touched a dead body, and he sits upon the bed, or touches it, he defiles it. Again, a bed that is made to lie upon, is defiled, ordm, "by treading" {i}; that is, it is defiled if a man, or a woman, that has a "gonorrhoea", or a menstruous woman, or one in childbirth, or a leper, should sit, stand; lie, hang, or lean upon it; yea, if any thing should touch it, which has been touched by any of these. Also, a bed which is not made for to lie upon, but to lay a dead body on, is defiled in the same way; and so are even the pillow and bolster {k}. Now these were to be washed when they had received any defilement, and that by immersion. Their canons run thus:

   ``hjm, "a bed", that is wholly defiled, if hlybjh, "he dips"
     it, part by part, it is pure {l};''

again {m},

   ``hjmh ta wb lybjh, "if he dips the bed in it", (the pool of
     water,) although its feet are plunged into the thick clay
     (at the bottom of the pool), it is clean.''

If it should be insisted upon, that it ought to be shown and proved, that the very bolsters and pillows on which they lay and leaned, were washed in this way, we are able to do it:

   ``ytokhw rkh, "a pillow", or "a bolster" of skin, when a
     man lifts up the ends, or mouths of them, out of the water,
     the water which is within them will be drawn; what shall he
     do? Nlybjm, "he must dip them", and lift them up by
     their fringes {n}.''

In short, it is a rule with the Jews, that

   ``wheresoever, in the law, washing of the flesh, or of
     clothes, is mentioned, it means nothing else than the
     dipping of the whole body in water--for if any man wash
     himself all over, except the top of his little finger, he
     is still in his uncleanness {o}.''

So that the evangelist uses the words baptizw and baptismov, most properly, without departing from their primary and literal sense; nor could he have used words more appropriate and fit. Various rules, concerning these things, may be seen in the treatises "Celim" and "Mikvaot". Hence it appears, with what little show of reason, and to what a vain purpose this passage is so often appealed to, to lessen the sense of the word baptizw, "baptizo"; as if it did not signify to dip, but a sort of washing, short of dipping; though what that washing is, is not easy to say, since vessels and clothes are in common washed by putting them into water, and covering them with it: this passage therefore is of no service to those who plead for sprinkling, or pouring water in baptism, in opposition to immersion; nor of any disservice, but of real use to those who practise immersion, and must confirm them in it. Nor need they have recourse to a various reading, which one of the manuscripts in the Bodleian Library furnishes with, which is, unless they are sprinkled; which reading must be wrong, not only because, contrary to all other copies, but also to the usages of the Jews in the washing of themselves.

{u} Maimon. in Misn. Chagiga, c. 2. sect. 7.
{w} Ib. Hilch. Abot Tumaot, c. 13. sect. 8.
{x} Ib. Hilch. Mikvaot, c. 9. sect. 5.
{y} Maimon. Hilch. Mikvaot, c. 1. sect. 3.
{z} T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 118. 1. Vid. Maimon. Hilch. Sabbat, c. 23. 7.
{a} Maimon. Hilch. Maacolot Asurot, c. 17. sect. 3, 5, 6.
{b} Maimon. Hilch. Abot Hatumaot, c. 12. sect. 6.
{c} Ib. Hilch. Celim, c. 4. sect. 1.
{d} Misn. Celim, c. 22. sect. 1, 2.
{e} Ib. c. 16. sect. 1.
{f} Misn. Mikvaot, c. 9. sect. 5. Maimon. Hilchot Mikvaot, c. 8. sect. 2.
{g} Misn. Celim, c. 16. sect. 1. Maimon. Hilch. Celim, c. 5. sect. 1.
{h} Maimon ib. c. 27. sect. 8.
{i} Misn. Celim, c. 18. sect. 5, 6. & c. 24. sect. 8. Maimon. ib. c. 27. sect. 7.
{k} Misn. Celim, c. 23. sect. 4.
{l} Maimon. Hilch. Celim. c. 26. sect. 14.
{m} Misn. Mikvaot, c. 7. sect. 7.
{n} Ib. sect. 6. & Celim, c. 16. 4.
{o} Maimon. Hilch. Mikvaot, c. 3. 2.

75 On the translation of κλίνη here as “dining couch” rather than “bed,” see BAGD, s.v. κλίνη; James G. Crossley, “Halakah and Mark 7.4: ‘… and Beds,’ ” JSNT 25 (2003) 433–47.
76 Milgrom, Leviticus, 1:909.
ce Common Era
78 See also m. Miqw. 7.7. These mishnaic passages use the term מטה (“bed” or “dining couch”) rather than משׁכב (“bed”), the term used in Leviticus 15. The LXX translates משׁכב (“bed”) with κοίτη (“bed”). Crossley has argued that מטה (“bed” or “dining couch”) is roughly equivalent to κλίνη (“bed” or “dining couch”) and that v. 4 shows that Mark had precise knowledge of the Law (“Halakah and Mark 7.4”).
[1] Collins, A. Y., & Attridge, H. W. (2007). Mark: A Commentary on the Gospel of Mark. Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible (349). Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.

Lebron James Reads What Is Truth

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Answering David Cloud on the Church, pt. 3

Part One          Part Two

The New Testament uses some form of ekklesia ("church") at least 117 times.  If you don't know what that word means, you're getting a lot wrong, and it won't stop there.  If you don't understand what a church is, you will disobey many other teachings of the Bible.

We have no basis in the text of scripture to believe that ekklesia means anything other than the one obvious thing you find in the text.  You have a large sample size, so it isn't difficult to see what a church is.  So what happened?  If you know history, then you also know why people get the meaning of ekklesia wrong.  Very early after the completion of the New Testament, very powerful influences had already distorted its meaning for obvious purposes.  There hasn't been a total apostasy on the doctrine of the church, but the false teaching has take predominance in the mind of professing Christianity.  Add David Cloud.

Cloud doesn't see how Ephesians 2:13-20 (he probably means 13-22) could fit a local only interpretation.  Earlier in his article, he talked about "we" and "ye."  This would be a good moment to go back to that thought.  In v. 10, Paul says that "we" are Christ's workmanship, created in Him, including himself with the same conversion as the church at Ephesus.  But in v. 11, he switches to "ye," giving a spiritual account of the church at Ephesus, talking about them, excluding himself, because he's talking about that church in that city.  Paul wasn't a Gentile or "uncircumcision in the flesh" (v. 11).  Then notice how Paul goes back to the first person plural, speaking about salvation again, in vv. 14-18.  He switches back to "ye" again, obviously speaking to the church at Ephesus again in v. 19, telling the story its membership.

Between verses 18 and 20, Paul uses soteriological terminology to tell the tale of what occurred in the conversion of the church at Ephesus, putting a special emphasis on how that God had saved them as Gentiles, and included them in the kingdom of God and the family of God, again soteriological terms.  The saints at Ephesus were now "fellowcitizens with the saints" (kingdom of God) and "of the household of God" (family of God).

Notice how in verses 18 and 22, Paul says "ye," excluding himself.  If the temple of God and the habitation of God were a universal church, then Paul would be saying that he was an unconverted non-member of the universal church.  He says "ye," because each local church is a temple of God and an habitation of God.  If Paul were talking about all believers everywhere or even any believers anywhere, he would say "we," just like he had earlier in the chapter.

There are some parallels between Ephesians 2 here and 1 Corinthians 3, both written by the Apostle Paul.  Speaking of the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 3:9, he says, "ye are God's building."  It was God who had given the increase (3:7).  Paul had laid the foundation.  How?  By preaching the gospel.  He talks about that later at the beginning of chapter 15.  He says that the foundation for that church is Jesus Christ (3:11).  Then he says "ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you" (3:16).  If Paul was talking about all believers, he would have said "we" in 1 Corinthians 3:16, and not "ye."  The church at Corinth was the temple of God.  The church at Ephesus was the "habitation of God."  Same thing.

In Ephesians 2:21-22, the church at Ephesus ("ye") was "a holy temple." They were not the only holy temple.  Other churches were also that, like the church at Corinth.  It too was the temple of God.

Cloud writes:  "This holy temple is a habitation of God, whereas there are unsaved people in the local churches."  That's actually another argument from him, like the one in which he said that the gates of hell prevail against individual churches, so the church couldn't be local only.   He's saying that because there are unsaved people in churches, they couldn't be God's holy temple and habitation.  The church at Corinth was the temple of God.  Argument over.

God dwelt with the "congregation of the LORD" (Jehovah) in the Old Testament.  Were there unsaved people there?  God chose to make Israel His holy habitation, even though Israel was rife with unbelief.   God's immanence doesn't corrupt or pervert His transcendence.  Can Cloud not believe that the church of Corinth was the "temple of God" because there were unbelievers in that temple?  The glory of the Lord finally left Israel, and Jesus' special presence will not remain in a church, as seen in the church at Laodicea, when He removed His candlestick.  There was a Jezebel in the church at Thyatira (Rev 2:18-28), but Jesus still dwelt in that temple, walked in the midst of that church.

There is nothing unique about Ephesians 2 to be a problem for understanding "church" like one would in any other of its usages, as local only.  This is a total stretch for Cloud to write what he does.

Cloud then goes into a few paragraphs broad brushing local only teachers, that many of them are bullies.  How?  Really.  This is the kind of argument that Cloud should keep to himself.  It does not add anything to his position.  Does he really think that his "universal/local" position is going to be less welcome than a "local-only" one?

The Catholic position is that the true church is universal (catholic) and visible.  The Protestant position is that the true church is universal and invisible.  If he believes the Protestant position, he should embrace it.  He says he doesn't believe in a Protestant universal church, but his position is a Protestant universal church position.  He has some unique twists to it, some oddities that do make him one of a few at least.  That doesn't help him.  It leaves him with something very, very confused.  He says the church started with the ministry of Christ, and he uses passages to indicate that.  But he takes a position on 1 Corinthians 12:13 that contradicts that.  If the church doesn't start until the Spirit baptizes into the one body, then it couldn't have started before Pentecost.  He gives an exegetical basis for saying that it had to start before Pentecost, some things that are very clear, and contradicts that by saying:

At the same time, I do not see this as a fundamental issue one way or the other. If the Lord had wanted to make the matter more clear, He could easily have done so, but He didn’t.

It is actually clear.  It's just not clear to David Cloud.  The Lord did make it clear.  The Bible is clear.

Cloud makes an incredible argument in these paragraphs.  Just follow it.  It's clear.  I'll put it in a logical syllogism to help you get it.

What is the truth, God promises David Cloud will know.
David Cloud knows the church is universal and invisible.
The church being universal and invisible is the truth.

You catch this line of reasoning from him.  This logic is flawed.  Knowing it doesn't make it true.  I would actually be more concerned about agreement from my church (1 Tim 3:15).  You are not always better off studying something out on your own with no one else involved, and then depending on a kind of subjective validation of that knowledge, crediting God for giving that to you.  As well, does a person who writes a Bible encyclopedia know what words mean?  I have a few Bible encyclopedias.  Half a dozen of those tell me what a church is and I don't believe them.  There is something to preaching the truth to a congregation, and getting the input and fellowship of a church, if someone is humble to other's instruction and correction, that brings objective accreditation.

Look also how Cloud is saying that because it isn't clear, it isn't a fundamental issue.  It seems that what he's saying is that the nature of the church isn't a separating issue, because it isn't fundamental.  And again, the reason it isn't fundamental is because Jesus didn't make it clear what His church was or when it started.  That all sounds very familiar.

More to Come

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Answering David Cloud on the Church, pt. 2

Part One

As you read through the New Testament, you read phrases like the following.

Acts 8:1:  "the church which was at Jerusalem"
1 Corinthians 1:2:  "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth"
Galatians 1:2:  "unto the churches of Galatia"
1 Thessalonians 2:14:  "the churches of God which in Judaea"
2 Corinthians 8:1:  "the churches of Macedonia"
Revelation 1:4:  "to the seven churches which are in Asia"
Colossians 4:15:  "the church which is in his house"

Those all fit into what we know ekklesia, the word translated "church" in the King James Version, to mean, that is, assembly.  Assemblies are in particular locations.  An assembly is always local.  Then you read the New Testament, and you can see that churches are local.  You would have no reason to think that church is anything but an assembly in a particular location, in a town, like "at Jerusalem," "at Corinth," "in Judea," or even "in his house."  Nowhere does the Bible define the church as otherwise.

David Cloud, however, says "there is more to Christ's church than the assemblies."  He says that he has "examined [1 Corinthians 12:13] repeatedly, and the only thing [he] can see [t]here is a Spirit baptism and a spiritual body."  His first actual argument is that Paul uses "we," including himself with the church at Corinth, so he must be part of the same body as the church at Corinth.  There are a lot of arguments against 1 Corinthians 12:13 speaking of Spirit baptism, but as an argument for Spirit baptism, his "we" argument doesn't hold up.

First, I agree that Paul is including himself with the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 12:13 when he says "we."   Paul was baptized into one body, just like the Corinthians were.  The point of "one," however, was not one in number.  "One" is being used as one in unity.  1 Corinthians 12 is about the unity of a church, using the analogy of a body.  It is a common usage of Paul.  He says, "one mind," "one mouth," and "one spirit," and uses those, not to say that there is only one in number, but that they are one in unity.  Does anyone think that when Paul writes that a church has "one mind" that is he saying that they have one in number?  Cloud calls this verbal gymnastics, but it's actually just syntax.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:16-17:

 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.  But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.

Here is a similar usage of "one body."   A man is joined with a harlot.  Are these two now numerically one body?  Of course not.  They are one body in unity during the time they are physically joined, yes, but not one in number.  Two physically unified people are now one.  And then the Lord is one Spirit.  The saved person is one spirit.  But they are unified into "one spirit" through salvation.  They are still two in number, but one in unity.  The verbal gymnastics are on the side of Cloud.  They have to be, because scripture doesn't teach what he is saying.   To do so, the Bible would contradict itself in numbers of different ways.

Just because 1 Corinthians 12:13 says "one body," doesn't mean that there is numerically "one body" on earth.  If you are going to use that as some kind of grammatical rule, then consider 1 Timothy 3:12, my favorite example of this:

Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife.

Is anyone going to think that there is only one woman in the world who is married to all of the deacons in the entire world?  To be consistent with Cloud's logic, there would have to be.

Cloud is in trouble in 1 Corinthians 12:27 with "ye are the body of Christ," Paul excluding himself, especially after Cloud has himself stuck with his "we" understanding.  The way that he deals with this is by saying that "body" is used in two different ways in the same chapter, so that body means two different things there.  Cloud is saying that in the same chapter there is a universal, invisible body and then a local, visible body, and you know it simply by Paul's usage of pronouns:  "ye" means local and then "we" means universal, according to him.  Paul says "the body of Christ" -- "the body," not "a body."  He doesn't write, "Ye are a body of Christ."  That point seemed to be lost for Cloud.  It is tell-tale.  Anyway, I would wonder at what point Paul made the switch between the supposed "two meanings of body."  That would be some good information to know.  It's, of course not available information, because it does not exist.

The analogy of the "body" that Paul uses is local.  A person uses "body" as an analogy because he wants to communicate something local.  It's a body because it actually is in one place.  Bodies are in one place.  You don't have a foot in Kansas, an eye in New York, a hand in Oregon, and a knee in North Dakota.  You've got them all in one place by the very meaning of body.  If you want an idea that is non-local, you don't use body to get it.  God uses body as an analogy to show the unity of a church, it's oneness.  There is diversity in a body, many body parts, but a unity in that those body parts are all there together, attached, working together.

There are other issues for 1 Corinthians 12:13.  "Baptism" is only water everywhere in 1 Corinthians up to 1 Corinthians 12:13.   Even greater, 1 Corinthians 12:13 doesn't fulfill the model or prediction or prophecy for Spirit baptism in Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, and John 1:33.  In every instance of the model for Spirit baptism, Jesus does the baptizing, already saved people are being baptized, and the Holy Spirit is the medium.  1 Corinthians 12:13 doesn't read that way, because it isn't Spirit baptism.   1 Corinthians 10:2 says, "And were all baptized into Moses."  Is that Spirit baptism?  Were all of the children of Israel placed into Moses at that moment spiritually?  Even if you are looking for Spirit baptism, you don't find it in 1 Corinthians 12:13.

I understand that universal church advocates "find" a universal church in 1 Corinthians 12:13.  I understand David Cloud believing that it is in there, because so many people have taught that.  He, however, did not come to that position from solely reading and studying the text.  He was influenced by universal church teaching to come to that position.

More to Come.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Applications of the Truth that the Just Shall Live by Faith, part 2--“The just shall live by faith”— A Study of the Relationship of Faith to Salvation in its Justifying, Sanctifying, and Glorifying Fulness, part 25

How truly “blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.”  How truly “blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” (Romans 4:7-8)!  Oh Christian, marvel in the blessedness of the forgiveness of your sins.  They were innumerable, and each of them an infinite evil, but now they are all gone.  You were black, but Christ has made you white.  You were pressing down to hell under an intolerable weight of transgression, but Jesus Christ has forever removed your load.  You were in bondage, but Christ has made you free.  You were certain of everlasting torment, but Christ endured all that torment for you, so that you might enter into inconceivable and eternal blessedness.  And not only so, but the Lord Jesus has brought you into an intimate union with Himself, and with God through Him.  Say to yourself, “How can it be that I have been brought into union with Jesus Christ—that infinitely lovely and precious One?  Oh, what am I, that the God of glory, the Creator of the heaven and earth, God the Father, Son, and Spirit, would reveal Himself to me—to me, who would not, of myself, take even the smallest step towards Him!  And not reveal Himself only, but in Christ suffer the shame, the bitterness, and the torment of the cross, to bring my wretched soul to Himself!”  Yes, Christian, because of God’s mere grace alone—not of yourself, not of your works, not of your striving, not of your preparation for grace, not of anything you ever did, have done, or will do, you have been brought into union with the Lord Jesus Christ.  How you ought to treasure the fact of this union, and glory in Him with whom you have been united!  How you ought to esteem and love Jesus Christ, the blessed and ever-overflowing font of all spiritual treasures, graces, and blessings that you ever have received, or ever will receive, to all eternity!  Do you do so?
Glory, then, not in your own righteousness, but in Christ and His righteousness.  All your righteousnesses are filthy rags, and all holiness imparted to you in sanctification is only and entirely a product of God’s grace, power, and love.  Indeed, you need Christ to sanctify the iniquity clinging to your very holiest things (Exodus 28:38).  You have nothing to glory in yourself.  The evidential just character of the redeemed is solely a product of Divine grace and power, and your faith is not a meritorious instrument, but simply the means through which you embrace God and receive all freely from Him.  Indeed, the more inward holiness God creates within you, the more you will see how wretched, vile and hateful you really are, and with the greater strength you will cleave to Christ and His righteousness only as your perfect standing before God. Yet notwithstanding all your unworthiness, the Lord Jehovah says to you:  “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD” (Isaiah 54:17). Have you received His priceless righteousness “without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1)?  Then hearken to the Scripture:  “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10).  Oh blessed imputed righteousness of Christ, the glory and the ground of exceedingly great rejoicing of the saints of all ages from the foundation of the world to today, the trust of all the spiritual sons of Abraham from the time of the conversion of that abominable idolator until today, when it becomes the perfect standing for such wretched sinners as you are!
You should earnestly strive to have God’s view of your own fleshly tendency towards self righteousness—seek to see it as the abominable and destestible wickedness that God considers it.  Also recognize the hateful and abominable character of all false religions of works-righteousness, whether Romanism, Quakerism, cults such as the Watchtower or Seventh Day Adventism, or all other systems of salvation by works and merit.  Be astonished, be horribly afraid, be overwhelmed with indignation that any would dare to exalt his own righteousness against the righteousness of the infinite Jehovah.  What rebellion, what blasphemy is this!  And, alas, oh God, what is this tendency to such self-exaltation that I see within my own fleshly heart!  Purge me, oh God, and I will be clean—wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Recognize that it is God’s blessed decree that you actually grow increasingly righteous over the course of your earthly pilgrimage, and the consummation of that creative work of righteousness is certain in the coming kingdom.  He has covenanted to perform that work in you by His own Almighty power, the same power that created the world and regenerated you.  Both the initial bestowal of faith, and the increase of faith, are supernatural gifts from God, not autonomous products of your will, and the Lord has committed Himself to work in you both to will and do of His good pleasure until the day of Jesus Christ.  Therefore, with confidence pursue the means of sanctification, recognizing that it is by such means that God will transform you.  Passionately treasure the Word.  Read it, study it, memorize it, meditate upon it, hear it preached, discuss it with others.  Reject all theologies of sanctification that deny that God produces real inward holiness within His people.  Indwelling sin is not merely to be counteracted, but progressively eradicated;  inward holiness is not just to be maintained, but to grow.  You are crucified with Christ—you are legally dead to sin, and its dominion has been shattered.  Then reckon it to be so, and strengthened by the Spirit, put to death the remnants of indwelling sin.  At the moment of your regeneration, you overcame the world—manifest that victory through ever greater conquests and desolations of your already defeated foe.  Settle for nothing less than what God has promised.  Recognize, nevertheless, that the fulness of perfect holiness will not be obtained short of your entrance into eternal rest.  How this fact should make you treasure heaven!  For the eternal dwelling of the redeemed is not just a place of peace, happiness, and freedom from pain, but of holiness—blessed, perfect, desirable, sweet, and glorious holiness—the dwelling of that Holy One who makes it so.  There you will see your Jesus, and be like Him, seeing Him as He is.  There you will be pure, even as He is pure.  There you will be fully embraced by and enter into the fellowship of the eternal Trinitarian love.  There you will enjoy, with all the purchased saints, fulness of communion with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for ever and ever and ever.  Let your soul cry out, “Oh come, Lord Jesus—take me, and all thy purchased pilgrims, home to be with Thee!  Or if it is not yet Thy appointed time to return, oh, how I long to be with Thee and see Thy face, not only by faith, but in full sight!  When is it, oh my Father, oh my Redeemer, that I will be forever with Thee?  Thou art all my hope, my joy, and the desire of my heart, now and for ever.”
Furthermore, the propositional and practical elements of the faith are inextricably intertwined—faithfulness includes fidelity to both.  The devils know doctrine, and a natural man can have a kind of unspiritual pleasure through an intellectual apprehension of the theological system of Scripture—a system that he, nevertheless, refuses to practice.  Mere nature can also lead others, who hate the beauty and glory of the theological system of the Bible—which to hate is to despise the mind of Christ and the Wisdom of God—to the practice of a kind of merely natural morality.  The saints must avoid both errors, and passionately embrace both the totality of the propositional revelation of Himself that their Father has commanded them to love with all their minds and the totality of the practical duties that are the necessary concommittants of true submissive assent to the Scriptural revelation.  Is your faith genuine—unfeigned, and unhypocritical?  Do you both believe and do?  Do you earnestly contend for both propositions and praxis?
            Since “whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23), be sure that you can act out of faith in all that you do.  Do not look for gray areas or take refuge in what is not clearly wrong, but “merely” doubtful.  Take the higher ground.  Practice only what is unquestionably right.  Stay far away from any violation of Scripture, and consider very carefully the testimony of your conscience.  You will, without any doubt, have to give an account to God one day.  If you would, in the things that pertain merely to this life, take great pains that your gold, silver, and precious stones were not stolen and replaced with wood, hay, and stubble, how much the more ought you to take heed that you do not lose eternal treasures for the sake of some doubtful and fleeting temporal pleasure?
Do you believe?  Then speak—open your mouth and preach the gospel! (2 Corinthians 4:8-13).  Is not the Lamb who was slain worthy of a greater number casting their crowns before Him?  If you believe, you will not keep silent.  Those who believe in their hearts will confess Christ with their mouths.  Does your testimony to your family, neighbors, and coworkers, evidence that you believe?  Are you going house to house preaching repentance and faith, as the first century Christians were (Acts 20:20-21; 5:42)?  Are you filling your local area with the gospel?  What are you doing so that everyone in your area—and those even to the uttermost parts of the earth—hear the gospel of the Lord Jesus?
Do you speak, because of faith, against compromise, error, and false doctrine of all kinds, or do you allow leaven to spread unchecked and unwarned about?  Do not deceive yourself into thinking that your silence, your refusal to follow the practice of Christ and the Apostles in specifically identifying, marking, warning about, and separating from all false teachers and false teaching is generosity, kindness, a friendly spirit, charitableness, or any other good thing.  No, God’s view of your silence is very different.  His view is that you are a faithless rebel and a coward.  If you would follow the Apostolic example, you will speak, because you believe.  You will boldly, unashamedly, and purely set forth all the truth, without adding or taking away anything.  That is living by faith—and that is true love.

This post is part of the complete study here.