Though there was one part I don’t quite understand. In connecting verse 2 with verse 3-5 as a ground you said “We are to fulfil Christ’s law by bearing each other’s burdens, because we only deserve commendation when we carry out our responsibilities.” I don’t understand how the ground clause functions. If we turn it around I don’t understand the logical connection; we only deserve commendation when we carry out our responsibilities, therefore bear one another’s burdens.
That’s a great question, Frog! (May I call you Frog?)
It’s a relationship I struggled with as well.
Verses 3-5 are saying that it is only by bearing each other’s burdens that we fulfill Christ’s law, not by merely thinking we are something special.
Here it is in a logical form: v. 3-5: Christ wants you to bear your own load of obedience to his will, and [this part is unstated] his will is that you carry each other’s burdens. v. 2: Therefore, carry each other’s burdens. Paul is motivating the Galatians to bear each other’s burdens by their desire to please Christ.
Does that make more sense?
Those are two very difficult passages! Nonetheless, the truth of the doctrine of perseverance is clearly taught elsewhere in Scripture. Whatever we do with 2 Peter 2:20-22 and Romans 11:22, we need to follow the hermeneutical principle (hermeneutics is the science of interpreting the Bible) that you interpret a difficult passage in the light of a clear one, not the other way round.
For example, the apostles exhorted new believers to persevere in the grace of God, to hold tightly to God’s grace (Acts 11:23; 13:43; 14:22). In his excellent book Run to Win the Prize, Schreiner summarizes their teaching well: "Recent Christians are not told that they will inherit the kingdom no matter what they do. Rather, they are urged to remain and continue in the faith” (Kindle ed., loc. 188).
The apostles also urged all believers to do the same (Phil 2:16; 1 Pet 5:8-12; Jude 21). This theme is especially prevalent in Hebrews (see 2:15-17; 12:15). In commenting on 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5, Schreiner points out, "Paul did not assume that the Thessalonians were truly believers merely because they had embraced the faith when he first preached to them. The authenticity of their faith manifested itself in their response to trials, so that their persistence in faith demonstrated that their faith was genuine” (ibid., loc. 188-204).
The message of the NT to believers is not, “Once you have trusted Christ for salvation, it is 100% for sure that you will go to Heaven, no matter how you live or what you do for the rest of your life.” The message of the NT to believers is, “Hold tightly to Jesus Christ; don’t turn away from him; and you will enter Heaven. If you abandon him and deny him, you will go to Hell.” Romans 11:22 fits perfectly with this (I’ll do a separate study and post on 2 Peter 2:20-22.)
Yes, salvation is by faith; yes, those who are saved can never lost their salvation; yes, God himself keeps those he justifies from falling away - but he uses warnings like these as a means to preserve his children. I love how Spurgeon explains warnings like these to believers (the following quotation is specifically about the warnings in Hebrews 6):
"“But,” says one, “you say they cannot fall away.” What is the use of putting this “if” in, like a bugbear to frighten children, or like a ghost that can have no existence? My learned friend, “Who art thou that repliest against God?” If God has put it in, he has put it in for wise reasons and for excellent purposes. Let me show you why. First, O Christian, it is put in to keep thee from falling away. God preserves his children from falling away; but he keeps them by the use of means; and one of these is, the terrors of the law, showing them what would happen if they were to fall away. There is a deep precipice: what is the best way to keep any one from going down there? Why, to tell him that if he did he would inevitably be dashed to pieces. In some old castle there is a deep cellar, where there is a vast amount of fixed air and gas, which would kill anybody who went down. What does the guide say? “If you go down you will never come up alive.” Who thinks of going down? The very fact of the guide telling us what the consequences would be, keeps us from it. Our friend puts away from us a cup of arsenic; he does not want us to drink it, but he says, “If you drink it, it will kill you.” Does he suppose for a moment that we should drink it? No; he tells us the consequences, and he is sure we will not do it. So God says, “My child, if you fall over this precipice you will be dashed to pieces.” What does the child do? He says, “Father, keep me; hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.” It leads the believer to greater dependence on God, to a holy fear and caution, because he knows that if he were to fall away he could not be renewed, and he stands far away from that great gulf, because he knows that if he were to fall into it there would be no salvation for him” (ibid., loc. 659-72, emphasis mine).
(I highly recommend Run to Win the Prize, because it clearly showed me what I saw for the first time, the doctrine of perseverance. For me, that short book was the door to open up the Scripture’s teaching on this.)
So my application for this is that if our pastor is not needy, we will give more to missions, street children or needy brother. Now, I will not feel guilty about all this, but can now give cheerfully.
I think that’s a good application: the Bible teaches that church members should take care of their pastors financially, thus freeing their pastors from the need to support themselves by working, and allowing them to spend much more time in the Scriptures and in prayer. And the Bible also teaches that we should support the needy (especially believers), praising people who do this, as well as praising those who help support missionaries.
I’m glad you understand better now!
Brother, please make me understand that line. I’m sorry, I did not understand it.
What I meant was that the Bible doesn’t teach, “You may only give money to the local church, not to missionaries or people in need directly.” Does that make more sense?
I’m not sure if I understand this right. “Allowing to join”, does this mean brother that before a person can join the church, he is first examined? Or does this mean that during the process of him attending churh, he is examined whether his life matches that of the Scripture?
The answer to your last question is “Yes,” because the Scripture is clear on this, as far as church discipline goes. When a member is committing public, serious sin that they refuse to repent of, then the church is to act in discipline and remove them from membership, because they are unable to put their stamp of approval on that person’s profession of faith as genuine.
In answer to your first question, the Bible doesn’t give clear examples or teaching to say that churches must examine the lives of people before they become members. However, the Bible’s teaching on church discipline, as well as the example of the early church in Acts, shows that people should not be allowed into the church until they both believe and are baptized.
Can we use Matthew 16:19 brother to pronounce people as “saved” or “unsaved”? Are we allowed Biblically to pronounce people as “saved” or “unsaved”?
That question needs a careful answer. Yes, the local church as a whole has authority from Jesus to pronounce, “You are a believer,” or “You are not a believer.” Matthew 16:19 and 18:17-18 are clear on this.
But the word “pronounce” is important, because the local church is not making that person a believer or an unbeliever! They are simply using the criteria that Scripture gives about believers (they profess Jesus as Lord, they are marked by holy lives, not continual, unreported sin) to pronounce a person as saved or unsaved, and as such to allow them into the local body as members, to forbid them from becoming members, to remove them from membership, or to readmit them to membership.
And it is the local church Jesus is talking to in Matthew 18, not individuals. No individual Christian has the authority to add someone or remove someone from a church.
Does that make things clearer?
My follow up question is that, can we divide our giving? Can we not give all to the offering box, but also give portion to missions, street children whom we are reaching out, or to the members of our church who are in need? Many of the pastors I know here in the Philippines get rich because of the offering, but we don’t usually see that they use the money from the offering box to help the needy or support missions.
Much of what Paul says about giving is related to a collection he was taking up from various churches to give to needy believers in Jerusalem (Rom 15:26, 31). This wasn’t a “tithe” at all, but was given through a faithful servant of God (Paul) to meet the needs of needy saints.
If a local church is healthy, led by faithful pastors who distribute funds to the needy and to missionaries, then it is perfectly fine to give the money in the offering box! But nowhere in Scripture are we commanded to give to the local church to the exclusion of giving to missionaries or street children or to other believers in need.
In all this, keep in mind that we should seek to “do good unto all men,” as Galatians 6:10 says, but should focus especially on helping other believers (“especially unto them who are of the household of faith”). That’s the case whether we give through the local church or not.
Timothy has committed himself to Paul’s way of life, including persecutions (10-13). He needs to continue his commitment, leaning on the salvation-producing and work-equipping Scripture (14-17).
Verses 10-13 are a statement of fact about Timothy’s past commitment. Verses 14-17 are an exhortation for Timothy’s present commitment.
I will focus on what this passage teaches about the authority and necessity of the Old Testament for the faith and practice of 21st-century Christians. We see that in verses 15-17, where Paul talks about “the sacred writings,” and “all Scripture.” Remember, when Paul is writing this, there is no New Testament. It is still being written! So “the sacred writings” and “all Scripture” is describing the Old Testament.
Of course, we can apply these verses to the New Testament, which is also “breathed out by God,” and also necessary for our Christian lives. But we should first see how the Old Testament is necessary for us for two reasons: 1) that is the meaning in the original context, and 2) it is less obvious how the Old Testament applies to us, specifically with its laws written to the nation of Israel.
In verses 14-15, Paul urges Timothy to hold fast to his commitment to the gospel, because he learned it from genuine believers, and because he knows its source in the Scriptures. Then, in verses 16-17, Paul expounds further on the nature of the Scriptures.
The entirety of the Old Testament is the very Word of God. Therefore, it is profitable in four areas: teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. And that profitability has a purpose: the complete maturity of the believer for every God-pleasing action.
What does this mean for how the local church worships together? If we want to know what the Bible teaches about congregational worship, we must read what God commanded Israel in the OT. If we want to know how not to worship God, we must read what God commanded Israel in the OT. If we want to know how to fix our congregational worship, we must read what God commanded Israel in the OT. If we want to know how to grow in worshipping God in a way that pleases him, we must read what God commanded Israel in the OT.
And I hope no-one says, “Israel?! But that was the Old Covenant!” Yes, that was; but haven’t you read Romans 15:1-6, 1 Corinthians 9:3-14 and 10:1-13? These commands were written for us; warnings against Israel’s breaking the Law are warnings for us.
So if we read and grow in following God’s laws in the OT regarding congregational worship, we will become completely mature and pleasing to God as we worship him.
You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:10-17 ESV).
Hi @Mildred-Codilla! I’m sorry I missed this question back in July when you posted it. Here’s an answer!
The word “tithe” is commonly used to describe the practice of giving 10% of your income to God’s work through the local church. But nowhere in the NT do Jesus or any of the apostles or anyone else exhort Christians to tithe. The doctrine that Christians are supposed to tithe is rather an application of the Old Testament requirement of tithing.
But the requirement of giving for Christians today is not the tithe.
Let me explain: There are two passages in the OT before God gave the Mosaic Law to Israel that describe a person tithing: Abraham tithed to Melchizedek, a Gentile priest (Gen. 14:18-20), and Jacob promised to tithe to the Lord if God brought him back safely to the Promised Land (Gen. 28:20-22). But there is no mandate for tithing in either passage; Abraham and Jacob freely promised to tithe, but nowhere did God tell them to, or tell us to copy them.
Then, under the Law of Moses, Israel was required to tithe. There are three main passages in the Pentateuch that describe how Israel was supposed to tithe in obedience to God who gave them this requirement – Lev. 27:30-33, Num. 18:20-28, and Deut. 14:22-29. Tom Schreiner points out, in his book 40 Questions about Christians and Biblical Law, that “[i]t is difficult to work out the amount that was actually tithed” from these passages, for there were “two or three tithes” that Israel was to give “annually” (p. 219, 46). And the total percentage of what an Israelite made that he would tithe on may have been from 20% to 23.3% depending on how you calculate it (ibid., 219). This is definitely more than 10%! So even if we are supposed to tithe like Israel was, it would look very different than 10% of income! Therefore, we cannot say, “Christians must tithe 10% because that was in the Law,” because that wasn’t all that was in the Law!
Further, as Christians, we are not under the Law as Jews were; we are in the New Covenant era. Many principles and laws in the OT do apply to us, yes, in Christ; but just because a law was given to Israel doesn’t automatically mean we are to follow it.
In the New Testament, there are three passages that mention the tithe; however, two of them are in the gospels, when the Law was still in force. For instance, in Matthew 23:23, Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees and praised their tithing of “mint and anise and cumin” – however, that was under the Law. As Schreiner points out, “Jesus also commended offering sacrifices in the temple (Matt. 5:23–24), but no one today thinks such would be advisable if the temple were rebuilt” (ibid., 220).
The only mention of tithing outside the gospels, in an epistle written to Christians in the New Covenant era, is in Hebrews 7:10. In verses 1-10, the author of Hebrews shows that Abraham tithed to Melchizedek, who was a picture of Christ (v. 3), showing that his priesthood was greater than Levi’s, who was to descend from Abraham. Levi received tithes because the law commanded it (v. 5). However, now we have “a change in the law” (v. 12). So just because a picture of Christ received a tithe from Abraham (v. doesn’t mean that we must tithe like they did in the Law. Perhaps we should; but this passage doesn’t prove that, for everything in “the sacrificial system of the Old Testament and the priest and Levites of the old covenant,” including the tithes required by that system, “have passed away” (ibid.).
And when Paul wrote to the Gentiles, he didn’t tell them to tithe—based on the OT, or based on anything else! Besides, you can’t arrive at the modern idea of a 10% tithe from the OT!
My conclusion from all this is that tithing is not required in the New Testament era for us as Christians.
However, we shouldn’t conclude with relief, “I get to keep all my money!” Because the NT does teach that believers should “excel” in the “grace” of giving (2 Cor 8:7); that we should give freely and generously and gladly (2 Cor 9:7). And we should do that because, as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 8:9, “you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”