The Minister’s Sabbatical

  From 1988 to my retirement from the factory in 2008 I labored as a bi-vocational pastor. I continue to serve in the ministry of the gospel. (I’ll be 72 later this month.)  For a number of years I preached two messages every Lord’s Day and taught a mid-week bible study. It was five years before I could enjoy two weeks vacation. After 15 years I had earned three weeks of vacation and that number remained the same until my retirement. Most months of any given year I was scheduled to work between 44-48 hours a week so a little vacation was much appreciated. It was also during those years I gave much of the free time I had to doing digital ministry. The wife and I had five children. It wasn’t easy but we survived. I’m sure you know that this is leading up to something that I want to spit out. Sabbaticals Of late I have heard of a number of men in the ministry taking extended leaves. They describe these leaves as sabbaticals. A good bi-vocational friend of mine is taking a two month sabbatical. Another who is not bi-vocational is taking an extended sabbatical to write. Taking a sabbatical seems to be a growing trend. There are legitimate reasons for taking an extended leave due to health reasons. At the factory we would request a “sick leave” provided it was required by the family doctor. If we were injured on the job we applied for workmen’s compensation to meet our needs while we healed. There are few or no other options for the working poor.  For them a sabbatical is a pipe dream. Some years ago I knew a brother/pastor who confided to me that he received a brand new automobile from a generous member of his congregation. … Read More

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The New Way Of The Spirit

The Christian’s union to Jesus Christ cannot be compared to mere law keeping. That would not do justice. Jesus Christ is the Word of God who was made flesh thus He transcends words printed on paper or etched in stone. As important are the words on the printed page they are limited. The can only draw a word picture. There is a day coming when God’s saints will see their Husband face to face.

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What I Mean When I Say “Imperatives Not Required”

Yes. I said that. And I say that. And yes, it sounds dangerous and heretical. If it doesn’t, just listen again: “Imperatives aren’t required for a New Covenant saint to walk in paths of righteousness.” In order that I’m not misunderstood, allow me to explain why I say this. First, let me explain what I don’t mean. I don’t mean imperatives are to be ignored. The commands of Christ and His apostles are authoritative. If we love Christ, we will obey Christ. We won’t consider His instruction to us as optional and push it under the carpet. Not at all! Let me be abundantly clear. The Christian must obey Christ, i.e. His commands written in New Covenant Scripture. This is my position. That I don’t define these commands as the Law of Christ doesn’t mean I reject His commands. To make that conclusion is to make a wrong one, allowing a theological framework to undermine a Biblical distinction. According to Jeremiah, new covenant law is internal, not external. How then, can New Covenant law be understood to be outside us, written on a page? It’s my conviction that it cannot.[1] But it’s also my conviction, that though not law (which is good news for those of us who do not obey Christ perfectly), Christ’s commands are in Scripture to be heeded. So, what do I mean? It’s quite simple actually. When I say imperatives aren’t required I mean to say that “Christ in you” is sufficient for walking in a way that pleases God. Of course, appeal to the Scriptures is always required. Just listen carefully to these selected texts (italics and boldface mine): “Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,… Read More

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Which Stack of Paper… Controls You?

The truth of the matter is: Neither. The well intentioned illustrator got it wrong. The Bible, God’s written word, by itself cannot control a person.  The illustrator should have compared the love of money to love for God. The problem for mankind is that we are totally incapable of knowing and submitting to God and unless God by his Spirit makes us alive to Him we will never be able to know and submit to his perfect revealed will. We believe this is why it is important for a theology of the New Covenant to have a right understanding of Pneumatology (A Doctrine of the Holy Spirit). If we fail to understand pneumatology’s centrality to the believer’s doctrine of the New Covenant then we are no better off than the man who looks to the Bible with its leather bound covers and paper pages to make him holy in God’s eyes. You and I can read the Bible from cover to cover and never know God anymore than a picture of George Washington on your currency can enslave you to greed. So you see my friend, even if you are a theologian you can know about God yet never really know God. Union with God requires a life giving miracle. Of this miracle the apostle Paul wrote; You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.   But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.   If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through… Read More

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Five Reasons Why I Object to Classic NCT’s Definition of the Law of Christ

[box] CMC endorses Todd Braye’s viewpoint as expressed in this article.[/box] Handout Theology: The Law of Christ Defined Todd Braye Classic NCT defines the Law of Christ in terms of the commandments of Christ & His apostles found in the NT, written on the pages of Scripture, written in ink.[1] It’s defined, therefore, as something external, outside the believer. The attraction of this view stems from its objective nature – it is external and outside of us! However, the attractiveness of a view is not the proper ground or basis for acceptance; one’s theology must be shaped and grounded in exegesis of actual Scripture texts. This is not intended to be exhaustive, but only an outline driving at, and demonstrating the evidence for, a specific conclusion. This handout presupposes some knowledge of NCT. 1. Christ is the Old Covenant Law’s fulfillment. Matthew 5:17. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” The work the Father gave the Son to do, the Son did without fail and completely (cf. John 17:4; 19:30). 2. Christ is the Old Covenant Law’s Antitype. Col. 2:16,17. “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow [‘skia,’ a faint prototype, or representation] of the things to come, but the substance [‘soma,’ lit. ‘the thing itself’] belongs to Christ.” Christ IS the true Law, the substance, the thing itself! This is not to say the essence of the Law is Christ. One’s shadow is a mere resemblance, not his actual essence. God’s righteousness is fully revealed in Christ (the Son), not the Law (the shadow). Cf. Col 2:9. 3.… Read More

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