Friday, May 22, 2015

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday May 24, 2015

Over 78,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

THE GIFT OF LANGUAGES
(Speaking in other languages)
(Acts 2:1-12 & 1 Corinthians 14:13-19)

Strangely, it has always been a matter of considerable debate, just what the Apostle Paul means by “speaking in tongues”. In chapters 12-14 of his first letter to the Corinthians, he uses the Greek expression “glossa” (gloce-sah) 21 times for “Tongues” and it is by definition “the organ in one’s mouth that is used primarily for taste and speech”, and, it is “a learned spoken language or dialect, not naturally acquired”.
“Ecstatic (emotional) utterances (statements)”, otherwise known as “speaking in tongues” is non-sense utterances that have no possible interpretation, not even by the person who speaks them, and, is of no spiritual value, or no apparent spiritual benefit, to anyone who hears it. It finds its origins in the ancient pagan prophetesses known as “sibyls”, or “sibylla”. One sibyl in particular, the “Cumaean Sibyl”, was the most famous of the ten pagan sibyls in and around the Roman Empire in the first century. She was the priestess who presided over the Apollonian Oracle at Cumae, an important Greek colony located near Naples, Italy.
The word “sibyl” comes from the ancient Greek word “sibylla”, which means “prophetess”. Because of the importance of the Cumaean Sibyl’s position in the legends of early Rome (it is even codified in “Virgil's Aeneid VI”), she became the most famous of all the ten pagan sibyls in the Roman Empire prior to the first century and beyond.
These sibyls were believed, even by medieval Christians, to prophesy through the use of “ecstatic utterances” and thereby, they even began to gain spiritual weight and respect in the Christian Church of the first century. Their “Sibylline Oracles” sometimes called the "pseudo-Sibylline Oracles" are a collection of “oracular utterances” written in Greek hexameters, ascribed to the Sibyls, who uttered so-called divine revelations “while in a frenzied emotional state”. Fourteen books and eight fragments of Sibylline Oracles survive today. These collections of utterances have been composed or edited under various circumstances, probably between the 2nd and 6th centuries AD.
The Sibylline Oracles are a valuable source for information about “Classical mythology” and early first century Gnostic, Jewish, and Christian beliefs. Some apocalyptic passages scattered throughout these oracles seem to give “sketchy outlines” of the Apostle John's Book of Revelation, and other Apocalyptic literature. These oracles have undergone extensive editing, re-writing, and redaction as they came to be exploited in wider and wider circles as the years went by.
The satanic demon spirit behind ecstatic utterances is called “Cybele” (sounds the same as “sibyl”) known as “Magna Mater”, or, “The Great Mother” in Roman religion. The Roman State adopted and developed a particular form of her cult after the Sibylline oracle of Cumae recommended her conscription as a key religious component in Rome's second war against Carthage.
Later Roman mythographers channeled this demon up as a Trojan goddess, and thus an ancestral goddess of the Roman people by way of the Trojan prince Aeneas. With Rome's eventual military and political dominance over the Mediterranean world, Romanized forms of “Cybele's cults” spread throughout the Roman Empire. The meaning and morality of her “transgender” cults and priesthoods were topics of debate and dispute throughout ancient Greek and Roman literature, and remains so, even in modern scholarship.
The Apostle Paul was very much aware of the pagan sibyl’s influence in the Christian Church in its infancy, mostly through the work of “Gnostics” and antichrist Jews, and he knew that the Corinthians may have thought of ecstatic utterances as a spiritual gift from GOD. That is why in this first letter to the Corinthians, we find Paul using the word “glossa” 21 times between chapters 12-14 to demonstrate, and accentuate, the difference between “a learned language or dialect” (those gifts or abilities that come from GOD), and the “mumble jumble” emotional utterances of the pagan sibyls.   
Nowhere in its biblical use, or its Greek or English definition does the word “glossa” or “tongue” refer to “ecstatic speech”, not in any of Paul’s letters (used only three other times outside of 1 Corinthians), and, not when used anywhere else in the New Testament. Whether it is used “literally” of the physical organ (Mark 7:33, James 3:5, Revelations 16:10), or “figuratively” of human languages (Acts 2:11, Revelations 5:9, 7:9, 10:11, 11:9, 13:7, 14:6, & 17:15) the word is always the same.
What Paul is saying in verse two of this chapter of 1 Corinthians 14, is that, if a person were sitting in a Church assembly in France, for instance, and everyone in the assembly spoke in the French language except that person, then, if that one person was to stand up and start speaking in, say, the German tongue, no one would be able to understand them but GOD.
And while that person, who may be gifted to teach in more than one language, or, “tongue”, and, could be uttering something that may be totally GODly and spiritual, it wouldn’t be of benefit to anyone in the assembly because none of them are gifted in the German dialect. They simply would not be able to comprehend what the, more gifted, person were saying, as it would sound to them like “utter non-sense” or “mumble jumble” (1 Corinthians 14:2).
However, one who has the gift of prophecy, which is a “Spiritual gift”, is helping people grow in the LORD, encouraging them, and comforting them (v.3). The person who speaks in various tongues, a “learned gift”, through GOD-given intellectual capabilities”, is only strengthened “personally” in the LORD, while one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire Church (v.4).
In verse 5 Paul says, “I wish you all had the gift of speaking in tongues, but even more I wish you were all able to prophesy. For prophecy is a greater and more useful gift than speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what you are saying so the whole church can get some good out of it”. Dear brothers and sisters, if I should come to you speaking in tongues, how would that help you? But if I bring you some revelation or some special knowledge or some prophecy or some teaching, that is what will help you (NLT).
Paul himself spoke in various tongues, in fact, the bible tells us that he was able to speak and write in at least three different languages, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. However, he tells us in verses 9-12 that “If you talk to people in a language they don’t understand, how will they know what you mean? You might as well be talking to an empty room. There are many different languages in the world, and all are excellent for those who understand them, but to me they mean nothing. I will not understand people who speak those languages, and they will not understand me. Since you are all so eager to have spiritual gifts, ask GOD for those that will be of real help to the whole church (NLT).
Languages that are interpreted can benefit the assembly (Acts 19:6) as well as prophesy, therefore, the gift of interpretation should be requested from GOD also. This means that someone independent of the person, who is speaking a different language, must be present and able to interpret what that person is saying to the assembly, not just the person themselves (v.13).
Gifts are not given by GOD, so much for personal use, as they are for use in helping others, and building them up. “Personal edification” is something that should be a by-product, or a result, that is reserved for someone who has shared their gift to help better the Christian community as a whole. Personal edification should not be a result of one helping himself, or taking advantage of others.
Some people try to make a distinction between the word “tongues” in this epistle, and the use of the word “tongues” in the book of Acts on Pentecost Day. However, there is no difference as the same Greek term “glossa” is used in both instances. The only difference is that the HOLY SPIRIT acted on several people on that Pentecost day, giving them special supernatural abilities to instantly communicate in other languages that was not their own, for the benefit of the many foreigners who were in Jerusalem at that time, and, who spoke in many different languages.
GOD wanted everyone in attendance that day, regardless of their native tongue, to participate in, and to understand the significance of this “distinctive act”, where HE first allowed HIS HOLY SPIRIT to embody all those who choose to believe in CHRIST JESUS.
Paul says in this particular passage of the book of Acts, that unbelievers view “strange tongues” as being some sort of a sign, while believers are not of that opinion (v.22). In order for unbelievers to become convicted of their sins, they must hear the Gospel in their own native languages before they can begin to comprehend the things of GOD.
The Word of GOD should convict and condemn by what it says to us personally, and it can’t do that unless it is first understood by those who hear and see it. However, among those who see, hear, and understand the Word, their secret thoughts are laid bare, and they can then, fall to their knees and worship GOD with their whole heart, as they should.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website







Friday, May 15, 2015

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday May 17, 2015

Over 78,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

THE HOLY SPIRIT CREATES ONE BODY
(All parts of the Body of CHRIST are important)
(1 Corinthians 12:12-31)

In 1 Corinthians 12, in verse 12, we see being summarized, a wonderful three-part wrap-up of the remainder of the chapter. Here Paul draws an analogy between the human body, and, the body of CHRIST, which is the Church. In this passage Paul explains that, just as the human body has many parts that work together, so does the body of CHRIST.
In the Church, the various body parts are those people possessing the various gifts and talents that GOD gives us, through the HOLY SPIRIT, and are contained in us. And like the various parts of the human body, each member in the body of CHRIST, or, each “body part”, has a different function or role to fulfill.  
All roles are equally important, in that, each function can only be performed properly by the member of the body which GOD expressly intended to perform in that role within the body. And like the human body, whenever a part is not functioning properly, or, is missing, the whole body feels, and knows, about it. And so, in this verse we see three specific truths;

·         The Church, like the human body,  is a unit
·         The Church, like the human body, has many parts
·         The Church, like the human body, works together as one
 
And so, before we get too puffed up about the importance of our role in the Church, we need to be mindful of the fact that, the HOLY SPIRIT, WHO gives all gifts, is also the ONE WHO makes the use of those gifts possible in the Church, and, HE gives them all equal value under CHRIST, WHO is the HEAD of the Church. In fact, those parts of the human body, and the Church, that seems to be the weakest and least important, are really the ones that are most necessary.
In the general makeup of the human body, those parts that we see as being less honorable are the same parts that we clothe the most carefully. It is also a fact, that, the most important parts of the human body, those parts that we absolutely cannot function without (i.e. the heart, brain, liver, etc.), are the very parts that we don’t physically see, even when we look at the human body in its full nakedness.
It is like that also in the Christian Church, where we do not physically see the most important parts. Those parts are without a doubt, GOD the FATHER, GOD the SON, and GOD the HOLY SPIRIT. The Church, like the HOLY TRINITY, should all be baptized in one SPIRIT, and everyone in the Church, the body of CHRIST, is of “equal” and “inseparable” importance.
The baptism of the HOLY SPIRIT is experienced by all who believe in CHRIST JESUS, and show it through their behavior. All believers, regardless of race, creed, color, nationality, or position in life, are automatically identified with CHRIST in that baptism.
Many parts are necessary to maintain the health and existence, of both, the human body, and the Church. It would be a mistake for any one part to see itself as being superior or inferior to the other, or, to desire to do the divinely assigned role of the other. It is GOD WHO determines the role of each believer, and those roles are carefully and perfectly assigned for maximum success under HIS plan.
Sometimes a person in the Church may seem to have a more important role than another and, through the antichrist influence, may fall under the delusion that he or she can function alone, without the assistance of others. However, one must come to realize, that, like with the human body, GOD places a “corresponding mutual dependence” on each member, or part, making it virtually impossible for any one person to function and succeed in a “lone wolf” capacity.
Paul used the illustration of the “human body” to show how the Christian community in general, and each individual church in particular, must be unified under CHRIST in order to succeed in the commissioned work that has been charged to us by HIM. All parts have a unique and divinely appointed role that is separate from, and yet, dependent on, each other, and all members are equally important to GOD.    

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, May 8, 2015

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday May 10, 2015

Over 77,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT
(The gifts of the HOLY SPIRIT, helps us to serve in the body of CHRIST)
(1 Corinthians 12)

In 1 Corinthians 12 the Apostle Paul turns his attention to yet another problem in the newly founded Christian Church at Corinth. Like most young churches, the church at Corinth struggled with a prevailing misunderstanding of true Christian spirituality. Paul believed that some in the church had issues that were due to their refusal to surrender their “worldly attitudes” to CHRIST, and also, due to the presence of false teachers, who preyed on their spiritual immaturity.
GOD wants us to be able to discern the difference between what truly comes from HIM (GOD’s nature), and, what truly comes from the worldly, anti-CHRIST influence that is controlled by satan (sin nature). Satan desires to penetrate the Church with his subtle influences that he knows will agree more favorably with the “sin nature” that we have already accepted from him during our first years of accountability to GOD. He wants to take those gifts that have been provided to us by the HOLY SPIRIT, and use them in his own evil service and agenda, especially in the Christian Church.
In verses 3-7, Paul explains very clearly that, no one speaking by the HOLY SPIRIT of GOD can ever curse JESUS, the SON of the living GOD. And, in fact, no one is able to even utter the words “JESUS is LORD”, except by the HOLY SPIRIT. There are many different kinds of spiritual gifts, but, the HOLY SPIRIT is the source of them all. In the same way, there are many different forms of service in the Church, but, it is the same LORD that we are serving. GOD works in each of our lives in unique ways, but it is the same GOD that does the work in each of us. GOD manifests HIS SPIRIT through each person in the Christian Church for the overall good of the entire Church.
In verses 8-11, Paul is lays out the various key issues regarding the spiritual gifts that are bestowed upon mankind by GOD. Here he explains;

·         Their common source, which is the HOLY SPIRIT,
·         Their variations,
·         Their equal value to the Church,
·         Their use in the service of a common superior, WHO is GOD the FATHER
·         Their use for the good of the Church body, which is CHRIST JESUS

These GOD-given gifts that allow us to perform at our own provided skill levels, both, in the Church, and, in our private and public lives, are not a credit to us, but rather, they are a credit to GOD working through us to accomplish HIS will in the Church, and indeed, in the entire world. The HOLY SPIRIT doles out these special gifts to whomever HE pleases, and HE also decides which person will receive which gifts, according to HIS OWN wisdom. HE acts upon each of us differently, and according to the will of the GOD the FATHER, for the body of CHRIST.
In verse 12 Paul draws an analogy between the human body, and, the body of CHRIST, which is the Church. Here Paul explains that, just as the human body has many parts that work together, so should the body of CHRIST. In the Church, the various body parts are those various gifts and talents that GOD gives us, and are contained in its members. And so, like the various parts of the human body, each member in the body of CHRIST, or, body part, has a different function or role also.
All roles are equally important, in that, each function can only be performed properly by the member of the body which GOD expressly intended to perform in that role within the body. And like the human body, whenever a part is not functioning properly, or, is missing, the whole body feels, and knows, about it.   
Before we get too puffed up about the importance of our role in the Church, we need to be mindful of the fact that, the parts of the human body, and the Church, that seems to be the weakest and least important, are really the ones that are most necessary. And the parts that we see as being less honorable are the same parts that we clothe most carefully. In fact, the most important parts of the human body, those parts that we absolutely cannot function without (i.e. the heart, brain, liver, etc.), are the parts we don’t physically see, even when we look at the body in its nakedness.
It is like that also in the Christian Church, where we do not physically see the most important parts. Those parts are without a doubt, GOD the FATHER, GOD the SON, and GOD the HOLY SPIRIT. The Church, like the HOLY TRINITY, should all be baptized in one SPIRIT, and everyone in the Church, the body of CHRIST, is of “equal” and “inseparable” importance.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website




Friday, May 1, 2015

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday May 3, 2015

Over 77,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

CO-WORKERS WITH THE TRUTH
(Are you a helper, or a hinderer, in the work of CHRIST?)
(3 John)

John’s third letter is actually a personal note to his friend and fellow Church worker, Gaius, who, according to Jewish tradition, served as the Bishop of Pergamum at the apostle’s request, in the latter half of the first century. In this letter John is encouraging and thanking Gaius for his faithful support of traveling Christian evangelists who preached and taught and spread the Good News about CHRIST JESUS, our LORD and savior.
William Barclay once wrote, “When history judges us, will its verdict be that we were helpers, or hinderers in the work of GOD”. In the first century, even the pagan world faithfully accepted “the responsibility of hospitality”, and it was only right that the Christian Church should honor one of GOD’s greatest directives also, by doing the same. In fact, to not do so, would actually dishonor GOD and hinder HIS work in the world. The Christian, above all others, needs to honor the concept of hospitality among believers, as it is expected of us by our creator, GOD the FATHER.
This third letter of the Apostle John, just like the previous two, places a strong emphasis on love, truth, and obedience to GOD. It also cites some of the challenges of the Christian Church in its infancy that really, still exists, in this day and age. In the first century, just like today, Church leaders tried to create their own denominations, and build their own personal kingdoms so that they themselves might rule over other men, under the guise of serving CHRIST, and promoting Christianity. They soon forget about being a part of the larger picture that requires us to obey GOD completely, and allow CHRIST to serve in HIS role as head of the Church we say we pledge allegiance to.
Also in the first century, innkeepers were not a beloved bunch, because they had long achieved the reputation of being rip-off artist, who thrived on those who sought shelter from the elements and criminal danger, while they traveled to and fro, throughout the Roman Empire. In those days, many people traveled by foot, to many locations, for the purpose of business, religion, and leisure. It became much less of a burden, if one had a friend that they could count on to show them hospitality along their travels.
In the “House church era” of Christianity, those who were traveling for the LORD were trained to accept nothing from unbelievers, and all Christians were taught to provide hospitality to those who were partners with them in the truth (the work of CHRIST). They were not however, to entertain, or show hospitality to those who sought to infiltrate the Church with worldly ideas, antichrist teachings, and worldly behavior. People who decided to join the Church had to come with the attitude that they desired to change their way of living, and were willing to adhere to the teachings of CHRIST JESUS going forward. In fact, anyone who denied the “deity” and “humanity” of JESUS CHRIST were not to be welcomed into the home, or the Church of Christian believers.
In this passage the Greek expression “agapetos” is used by the Apostle John no less than ten times, and it means “one that is a beloved dear friend”. Gaius had developed a reputation for being a beloved brother and reliable helper in the work of GOD. He often provided a safe haven for those Christian travelers who were in need of food, clothing, and shelter while serving on their various Christian missions.
In verse 9 of this short letter the Apostle John dishes out some strong criticism against a church leader by the name of Diotrephes who did not acknowledge his authority. He promised to elaborate further on the evil works of Diotrephes, who strived diligently to hinder the advancement of the Gospel of CHRIST through both word and deed, when he came to visit them later.
Diotrephes was not only one who refused to welcome the traveling Christian evangelists into the local church, but he also encouraged other members in the church body to do the same. And whenever he found out that someone in the church did help those workers of CHRIST, he would immediately oust them from the church. He steadfastly denied CHRIST, and continued to omit HIS teachings from Church doctrine.
In verses 11-12 John urges believers to not let the bad examples of Diotrephes influence them in their thinking, but rather, they should courageously follow the examples of Demetrius, a reliable worker in CHRIST, who was spoken highly of by everyone in the church. He went on to encourage them to do only what is good in the eyes of GOD, by adhering to the Word, the Gospel of CHRIST. Those who do this, he says, prove that they are “children of GOD”, and those who seek to do otherwise, prove that they do not know GOD.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website


Friday, April 24, 2015

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 26, 2015

Over 77,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

WATCH OUT FOR DECEIVERS
(Love and obedience keeps us from deception)
(2 John)

In the Apostle John’s second letter to the Christian Church he expresses the need for Christians to beware of false teachers and teachings that arise out of the antichrist influence that has long existed in the world. In fact the antichrist influence predates the creation of mankind, as satan himself, has inhabited the earth since being ejected from Heaven by GOD the FATHER, long before HE created any other living beings on this planet.
The purpose of this letter is to encourage true Christians to continue in love, as well as to warn them against those whose job is to deceive believers in matters concerning their faith. Here John charges the believer not to participate in those evil things that deceivers bring into the Church from the world, under the guise of saying that “they are trying to attract people to CHRIST” by employing a “worldly familiarity”, or method.
CHRIST does not have, recognize, or endorse any worldly way of doing things, HE only recommends those GODly strategies that are already laid out for the Church in biblical literature. There is no room for “human ingenuity” in the Church (John 6:63b). Things that contradict the SPIRIT of GOD should be left outside the Church when people join, and those who pledge themselves to CHRIST must also pledge themselves to living “a changed life” that coincides with the teachings of JESUS CHRIST, the LIVING WORD.
Those who choose to come to CHRIST must do so by accepting the GODly idea of “katharisomen” into their spirit. Katharisomen is a Greek term that means, “separation from all people and things that defile”. It is a term that is discussed more in debt in 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1. When we join the Church where Christ JESUS is the head, we make a vow to change and no longer live as partners with those people and things that are intent on doing and promoting the lifestyles that GOD deems as evil.   
In the first century and beyond, heavy persecution dictated the Churches use of “code words, or expressions” whenever they communicated to each other in the various towns and cities where they had established Christian congregations (mostly house churches in hidden locations). Here in this letter, in verse one, we find the code words “favorite mistress”, or “chosen lady”, in the Greek “eklektos kyria”, and her “children”, in the Greek “teknon”, being used to hide the identity or exact location of the church from those who sought to infiltrate it with worldly ideas and false teachings, to the ends that the Church might be destroyed before it could take roots. GOD does not wish for us to mix the “holy” with the “profane” (i.e. “miming” with “praise dancing” in today’s Church), and the early Church went to great lengths to keep that from happening.
John begins the letter (v.4) by expressing his joy in how the newly founded church had been dedicating themselves to the righteous living and truth that they had been introduced to through the Word of GOD. Apparently John had recently met with some members of that particular church, and wanted to express how pleased he was with their Christian behavior in a public forum. He reminded the church to also stay in keeping with the commandment of CHRIST JESUS that we “love one another”.
John also reminded the church of how some had gone out of the church, who, did not truly believe their reports about CHRIST, and were giving the world a bad impression of how true Christian really behaved. They did not believe the “human example of perfection” that was presented by CHRIST during HIS life on earth, which was intended to show the world that “Christianity really does produce the best men and women”. In this letter, John urged the church to be diligent so that they might receive the full reward that they had worked so hard for (v.8). He tells them that they must never wander away from the teachings of CHRIST, and always keep their fellowship with GOD, and CHRIST, intact (v.9).
In verse 10 John warns Christians that if anyone comes to their church and does not teach the truth about CHRIST, don’t even invite them into your house, or encourage them in any way. JESUS perfectly obeyed GOD as a 100% human being and HIS very life tells us that we should too. Anyone who encourages a deceiver, or false teacher, becomes a partner with them in their evil work.
All of the central teachings of Christianity hinges on the 100% humanity and 100% deity of JESUS, our LORD. HE is the one and only “Hypostatic Union”, and the only way to GOD. HE is the one and only truth, and the one and only source of “eternal life”. No one, who doesn’t teach the humanity and deity of JESUS CHRIST, can ever be held up as a teacher of the Christian truth.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website