Martin Luther didn’t finish his list of theses, since he only listed 95, and everyone knows when you get that close to 100 you need to come up with 5 more before your list will be considered complete. It would seem Luther left his list unfinished in order to invite others to help finish it. So here are 5 more:
- Jesus begs us, and our churches, to crawl out from under our safe, non-controversial “bushels” to where it is darkest, and shine the “light”, of what God says about Darkness across the whole “city”. Matthew 5:13-16. But American churches excuse themselves with Noninvolvement Theologies which rename the most grievous “darkness” as “politics”, and “shine your light” as “don’t get involved”, resulting in America’s Light darkening.
- Occasional sermons inside the “bushel” shed a bit of light, inspiring “bushel” members to “put feet to” those sermons by lobbying government, 1 Timothy 2:1, in order to strip the Darkness of its government support so Christians can live in peace, 1 Timothy 2:2. But then those Noninvolvement Theologies are invoked to stop members from reasoning together on church premises how to apply God’s Word to the details of public issues, and from strategizing how to publicly expose the Darkness, Ephesians 5:11-13. Not enough light in those occasional sermons leaks out from under the “bushel” to substitute for members’ discussion and action and stop America’s slide.
- Driven out of their “bushels” to shine into the Darkness the light hidden there, “bushel” members, now called “activists”, take “political positions” which they assume are appropriate applications of Bible principles to today’s issues. But they leave their “swords” back in their pews: almost never do Christian activists declare publicly the Scriptures which are the real reasons for their convictions, in those public forums where citizens decide whether to pattern our laws after the principles of Heaven or of Hell. Even less often do they debate together the proper application of Scripture to double check their application, and to avoid opposing each other
- God guarantees success to people who discuss and act together, not to audiences who listen to one man speak with no verbal interaction allowed, even if he speaks about action. Proverbs 15:22, Matthew 18:19-20. American churches strangle action-focused discussion by (1) making uninterruptible sermons the heart of primary meetings so that the most important service is ruled by one man’s views and priorities, (2) welcoming insufficient deviation from the preordained Subject to agree on any serious action in secondary meetings, and (3) having almost no goals outside the bushel requiring members’ consensus-building discussion.
- American churches make an uninterruptible “sermon” the defining feature of “worship” even though the ritual is nowhere described in the Bible, but the opposite: vigorous, penetrating, inspiring verbal interaction – a forum open to all present – is canonized by God as the essence of Worship. Reasoning was the “manner” of Paul, it is what “preach” meant then, and six of seven of Jesus’ messages involved verbal interaction, which He never discouraged.
Martin Luther introduced his 95 theses: “Out of love for the truth and from desire to elucidate it, the Reverend Father Martin Luther…intends to defend the following statements and to dispute on them….” Similarly, I offer below some defense of the preceding statements.
#96: What is darkest: which day you go to church and which words are said while you are baptized, or murdering unborn babies while strange men share public bathrooms with our daughters? What is darker than these government projects?
Where is it most urgent that we shine the Light of God’s Word? Where it is darkest and most hazardous, or just a little dark and much safer?
Martin Luther said “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Wherever the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that one point.”
Jesus warned, Matthew 5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Is Jesus’ calling only for individuals, and not for whole churches?
Help! Half of America’s Christians vote Democrat, doing things to America like killing babies and letting men into girls’ bathrooms which send souls to Hell. The other half votes to keep “the stranger” (immigrants) unwelcome, which Matthew 25:41, 46 warns is another road to Hell! Especially since the most promised tool for driving out “the stranger” is Mark-of-the-Beast tracking technology (Real ID, updated into E-Verify) which is the Bible’s surest road to Hell! (Revelation 13-14)
The response of “church”? Don’t allow members to pass voting information, in “church”, that might be “controversial”!
Can you help me find a CHURCH where it isn’t “controversial” for members to shine where it is darkest? If you can’t, will you help me start one? Let’s Shine!
#97: Does God call churches to exercise their influence to reduce oppression and deliver its victims? Is this part of the mission of every church? When churches won’t, what should Christians do?
God told the Ephesian church, through Paul, that their mission was to “reprove” the Darkness. He told them that to expose evil is what He means by shining His Light on darkness: Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
Hebrews 11 is a list of heroes of faith held up as examples for us to follow. All of them were political leaders or they influenced political leaders.
Abraham was a “mighty prince”, Genesis 23:6. Sarah his wife birthed nations, v. 12. Isaac was “mightier than” a king, Genesis 26:16. Jacob was a terror to “all the cities round about”, Genesis 35:5. Joseph was the defacto world ruler, Genesis 41-50. And on and on. (See the whole list.)
1 Timothy 2:1 is often cited by churches to say we should pray for our rulers, but to pray only – at least on church premises. But the verse lists four distinct activities which God calls churches to do. They are designed, according to verse 2, to get government to stop harassing Christians. This will make it easier for “all men to be saved” according to verse 4. Which is God’s will according to verse 3.
The four distinct actions we are called to take are supplications, prayer, thanksgivings, and intercessions, as the KJV translates them.
* (δέησις) Supplications and (προσευχή) prayers: Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon compares the two: “(δέησις) [prayers are]…limited to prayer to God, whereas δέησις [supplications] may also be used of a request addressed to man.
* (εὐχαριστία). Thanksgiving is certainly owed to God, but it is also a powerful political tool, to thank a ruler for whatever good he does. In Acts 24:3 it describes thanking a man.
The word also means joy. It is used in Luke 15:5, where the lost sheep is found. Mat 2:10 the star is seen. James 1:2, Acts 5:41, and Mat 5:11-12, joy at being treated like the prophets! (Tortured.) Your faith that your prayers will be answered and your actions will succeed gives you joy. Joy is the opposite of fear. It is a magnet. It makes you a good salesman. It helps you succeed. It converts.
* (ἔντευξις) Intercessions. An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon says “intercessions” aren’t only with God: it means “a lighting upon, meeting with, converse, intercourse, with a person,…[or] a petition,,…intercession for a person….”
The Louw Nida Greek lexicon says it means “to speak to someone on behalf of someone else”. ‘who also intercedes on our behalf’ Ro 8:34. ‘for it is made acceptable to God through…your intercession’ 1 Tm 4:5.1”
ESL defines it, “1 a falling in with, meeting with. 1a an interview. 1a1 a coming together. 1a2 to visit. 1a3 converse or for any other cause. 1b that for which an interview is held. 1b1 a conference or conversation. 1b2 a petition, supplication.” (Although ESL, under synonyms, says that when the context makes it mean prayer to God, it means “childlike confidence, by representing prayer as the heart’s conversion with God.”)
So it is true that all four words, by themselves, can mean communication either with God or with man, so depending on context, they could mean merely four kinds of “prayer” to God.
But there is a huge danger in assuming there is nothing here to challenge today’s Noninvolvement Theologies.
James 2:17 says “faith without works is dead”. What are “works”? According to the example given in verse 15 it means “our own action”. Verse 15 describes a kind of prayer – a spoken expectation that God will accomplish the goal described – without the speaker’s own action. Is a prayer, without action, prayer?
Here are the verses: James 2:15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
According to that principle, if we merely “pray” that God will relieve oppression, but we take no action ourselves to “put feet to” our own prayer, then our prayer is useless, and our faith is dead.
But even if 1 Timothy 2:1 did call for prayer to God alone, without action, Matthew 18:19 says one of the keys to answered prayer is Christians not praying against each other. “…if two of you shall agree…as touching any thing that they shall ask…” requires discussion of what those two want God to do. Christians wildly differ in their vision of what government ought to do, making it impossible for God to answer their contradictory requests, which is one of the meanings of James 1:6-8. Discussion of disagreements is called “controversial”.
James 2 says if a child in your church is starving, you give him food. If he is taught that he is an animal, you witness to schools. If he is slain before he is born, you stop abortion. If he is taken from a good home by child abuse bureaucrats, you fix juvenile court. If he is denied liberty, you heal immigration laws.
Ezekiel 3:18 warns that God transfers the judgment of sinners to any church refusing to warn them.
If you want a car, will you only “pray” and not also physically take action likely to satisfy your desire, for example, work? Will you physically work only for luxuries, and not souls or lives? Will you justify selfish apathy by saying souls and lives don’t belong on the busy church calendar because that is “controversial”?
Another possible problem with interpreting “intercessions” as “prayer without action”, making us intercessors between God and other men, is a conflict with verse 5, “For there is one God, and one mediator [different Greek word but similar meaning] between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”. However, if this simply means that we are called to intercede with government on behalf of government’s victims, then there is no conflict. Humans routinely intercede for each other with other humans.
#98: Christian activists get nervous around other Christian activists who get “too bold” with Scripture out in public. which is why we virtually never hear a successful politician explaining publicly the Scriptural basis for his positions. Activists instead give every other reason for their positions than the one that actually persuaded them. They say “Don’t talk about Jesus. It will wreck your credibility. Just hold back so you can get elected. Then you can do some good.”
When even Christians think there is shame in naming Jesus, no wonder America is sliding away from God and away from the morals, laws, freedoms, and rights founded in His Word and in no other religion or thought system!
“There is POWER in the blood!” Hebrews 4:12 The word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It cuts all the way through, to where soul and spirit meet, to where joints and marrow come together. It judges the desires and thoughts of the heart. (GNB)
#99:God guarantees success to people who discuss and act together.
But churches have almost no goals outside their bushels which require members to build consensus through discussion, about whether to act – whether action would be right – and how to act together.
The occasional food and clothes giveaways, medical clinics, immigrant assistance, car shows in the parking lot, etc. are partial exceptions. Partial, because although they fall into the category of “helps”, one of the Holy Spirit Gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12, they are seldom harnessed as vehicles for broadcasting darkness-shattering Light into the community. And they are seldom controversial enough to require consensus-building discussion among members whether they should be done, or complicated enough to require the wisdom of “a multitude of counsellors” to succeed.
Proverbs 15:22 Plans fail when there is no counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. (TLV) KJV: Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.
A “multitude of counsellors” and “many advisors” is a way to describe a forum where everyone’s ideas are considered.
The goal of shining our Light in the Darkness will be reached through such forums, God promises: these “plans” will “succeed”. This “purpose” will be “established”.
Matthew 18:19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
#100: The Bible’s most detailed description of a worship service is in 1 Corinthians 14, which describes how to conduct an open forum where “all”, it says in seven verses, should participate verbally. Seven times, in verses 1, 5, 12, 24, 26, 31, and 39, the chapter calls on “all” of us to not just listen, but talk. The result vs. 24 tells us to expect sounds like a good description of Revival.
Most translations call this verbal interaction “prophecy”, the alliteration of the Greek “propheteuo”, but the universal meaning of the word – the meaning that fits all contexts – is “give a message to God”. Faithful to that definition, GNB translates verse 1 “the gift of proclaiming God’s message” and God’s Word says “the gift of speaking what God has revealed.”
In verse 3 the word is defined for the context of that chapter: to exhort, edify, and comfort, according to the KJV. An excursion through Greek lexicons indicates the three words encompass challenge and correction. Which is also described in Hebrews 10:24-25, which pastors often quote to get us to attend church, but which also tells us what kind of church to attend: one with real depth of verbal interaction where we can challenge each other to be better – to be “all that we can be”.
Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke [Greek: incite, or dispute] unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting [the meaning of the Greek is not limited to a relaxed, polite, politically correct appeal] one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Christian conversation is most likely to “proclaim God’s message” in a group that acknowledges God, and in an atmosphere of desire to be open to God’s leading. Of course we are human so we stumble, but God helps groups gathered in His Name by often speaking to us through each other. Prophets corrected each other in the OT, 1 Kings 13, 2 Samuel 12, and 1 Corinthians 14 says the spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets.
“Dialog” was how Paul “preached”. Reasoning with others in church was the “manner” of Paul. 1 Corinthians 14 isn’t just what Paul told Christians to do: it is what he did. That was Paul’s “manner”, Acts 17:2. In other words, that is what Paul did routinely.
When Paul spoke in synagogues, in church, or in court, he did not give sermons (lectures which no one could interrupt or even discuss together afterwards), as we do today. He “reasoned” with people who disagreed with him. He “engaged” people. He addressed objections. (1 Corinthians 14:29, Titus 1:9)
He had “dialog”. Our English word “dialog” even comes from the Greek word for what he did: dialogos.
He “reasoned” in Thessalonica (Acts 17:2), Athens, (Acts 17:17), Corinth (Acts 18:4), Ephesus (Acts 18:19 and 19:8-9) , at Caesarea when he was on trial (Acts 24:25), and in Troas in church (Acts 20:7, 9 – KJV says Paul “preached” there, but it is the same Greek word).
“Dialog” was how Jesus “preached”. The recorded teachings of Jesus were not uninterruptable sermons, but verbal interaction. Of the 146 situations in which Jesus taught, He was reacting to others, answering questions and addressing criticism, in 126 of those situations – 6 out of 7 times. Only 1/7 of the time, in 20 situations, no verbal interaction or interruption was recorded.
But even in some of those 20 times, counted as “no verbal interaction” because one of the gospels reports a teaching without reporting verbal interaction, another gospel reports the same teaching with verbal interaction. For example, Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7 are called “The Sermon on the Mount” by later church leaders (even though the word “sermon” is not in the Bible.) They are a collection of teachings reported without any verbal interaction. But Luke reports several of those same teachings with verbal interaction.
So at most, only one seventh of Jesus’ sermons were not answers to questions or charges, and were not interrupted. Interaction was the rule, and NEVER discouraged, so it would have been welcome the other 20 times too. God was happy to dialogue with humans even farther below Him than laymen are below pastors.
“Preach” didn’t mean “give an uninterruptible sermon” in Bible times, the way it does today. The Greek words euaggelizo and kehrusso, usually translated “preach” in the KJV, are used in Luke 8:1 to describe Jesus’ ministry, and Paul was the only New Testament figure called a “preacher” in the New Testament, (1 Timothy 2:7, 2 Timothy 1:11), showing those words should not be translated as an uninterruptible sermon.
Other than this context clue, the words are not defined in the New Testament. In other Greek literature they describe representatives of kings who travel the kingdom negotiating with the people – addressing complaints along with dictating conditions – a process impossible without a lot of reasoning and two-way communication. (For an exhaustive study of the relevant Greek words, see “Preachers in the Bible did not do Sermons“)
God’s way is to reason with people who disagree, 1 Peter 3:15, but the world’s way is to silence disagreement.
So we displace God’s ideal worship service with our own tradition: uninterruptible “sermons”. We make this man-made ritual, an institution added to the Bible, the principal thing we “go to church” for – the defining element of whether we are “going to church”. See Jesus’ judgment in Matthew 15:6-9 against displace the commandments of God with our own traditions.
How about cell groups in a few churches where sermons are discussed by a small group? Does that satisfy the call of 1 Corinthians 14 for robust verbal interaction by “all”?
If the pastor isn’t even present, then there is still no opportunity to correct or clarify anything for anyone, beyond making a few guesses, much less for the whole group. Another limitation faced by such groups is that if they don’t meet immediately after the sermon they will struggle to even remember what they are talking about. Considerable research documents that only 5-10% of sermons are remembered even a few days later, compared with 90-95% when participants are involved in the reasoning, and in actions authorized and/or inspired by that reasoning.
In God’s system, correction is invited even in the middle of a presentation, when every detail of what is corrected is remembered by everyone and needn’t be argued about.
But the main objection God has to uninterruptible sermons, in my understanding, is not that they are quickly forgotten and are for that reason inefficient tools for discipling, but because they utilize only 1% of the available brainpower – in a group of 100. It is “In a multitude of counsellors” that “purposes are established”, Proverbs promises. That is what God wants for CHURCH: action. Successful action!
Successful action in, for example, shining the Light of what God says about Darkness across the deepest Darkness.