JESUS CHRIST: The Great ‘I Am’

ego ami

    To present Jesus of Nazareth as, none other than the YHWH (יהוה, YHWH) of Old Testament Scripture is the sole purpose of this writing. The author of the Gospel of John recounts moments in the earthly ministry of Jesus where He identified Himself as YHWH. In the LXX or Septuagint (translation of the Hebrew Scripture into Koine Greek) the verb construction equivalent to the Hebrew Tetragrammaton, YHWH is ἐγώ εἰμί (egō eimi). It is precisely Jesus’s usage of egō eimi that will be considered here, for the expressed purpose of identifying Jesus as no less than the God revealed in Scripture.

Exodus-3-the-burning-bush  The construction of the Hebrew is not easy to discern. אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה is a form of “to be”. It has the sense of “I am” and “come to be”, at the same time. Yet the clearest usage of the utterance is presented within the context of Moses and the Burning Bush narrative of Exodus 3. Here it is used in this manner: “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’ ” (Exodus 3:14, NASB). “The Septuagint… renders the opening of the phrase in Exod 3:14 as ἐγώ εἰμί (egō eimi), which amounts to a title for God elsewhere in the Old Testament (e.g., Isa 43:10, 25; 45:18; 46:4; 51:12; 52:6)” (Miller 2015).

“When God would make His name known to mankind He could find no better word than ‘I AM.’ When He speaks in the first person He says, ‘I AM’; when we speak of Him we say, ‘He is’; when we speak to Him we say, ‘Thou art.’ Everyone and everything else measures from that fixed point. ‘I am that I am,’ says God, ‘I change not’” (A.W. Tozer ).

This could be interpreted to be prophetic, as if to say: “I AM and I AM to be”. “Grammatically, the imperfect form usually suggests a future or uncompleted state. Thus, the phrase can also be translated “I will be who I will be” (Miller 2015).Does this identification of אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) – GOD, indeed offer a prophetic glimpse forward to the incarnation of the second person of the Trinity? One thing is indisputable: God said that He is to be known by the name “I AM”. Therefore, I AM sent Moses to Egypt; I AM delivered the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt: I AM gave the Law to Moses; I AM delivered Israel into the Land of Promise; and it is IAM that promised Messiah.

 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” John 8:58

thDPKK7U3AContextually, it all began on the Feast of Booths. During the midst of the feast, Jesus cried out in the temple, “You both know Me and know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent Me” (John 7:28-29). Jesus clearly declared that the people of the feast knew exactly who He revealed Himself to be, and from Whom He had come. He left them with no way out of this blatant confrontation with His Messiahship. In southern terms; He essentially said, “You know good and well that I am God; you just simply don’t know God.” He argues that the reason that they don’t readily accept Him as come from God, is because they really do not know God. As a result of these statements; some believed in Him while others wanted Him dead. (Towns, 73) The confusion of the gathered crowds lead to a failed arrest of Jesus by the temple police and a few confrontations with the “Jews” (leaders of Jewish religious life).

splashing-water-cross With a divided multitude and a furious Jewish leadership; the context of the immediate passage is to be understood. Look now at the “crowning moment” (for our purposes); the grand discovery of Christ’s deity; the ageless reference to I AM. Probably four or five days after His mid-feast declaration, the Jews come to confront Jesus for causing such disturbance among the festival crowd. (Remember: Jesus had already declared that He was the Source of “Living Water” (Jn.7:37-38) at the pouring out of the water ceremony, on the Great Day of the feast.) The Feast of Booths had effectively been ruined by this Teacher from Galilee. The Feast had ended and all of the pilgrims were preparing to return to their homes (or had already dispersed). “The stage has thus been set for the major confrontation between the Pharisees and Jesus” (Borchert, 294). Now was the time for the Jewish leadership to shut this Jesus down, with their superiority and political pressure.

da8adb4fd9e64001360072ca9b736979 The Jews issue the argument that Jesus is not a credible witness, due to the fact that He has no witnesses to support His assertions. Their argument was provoked further by another of Jesus’ significant egō eimi declarations, to the lingering crowd. “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12). The sides are sharply drawn; the Jews reject Jesus outright, and Jesus knows who He is. Cosmically the absence of witnesses is an absurd objection as Dr Towns points out, “In the context of Jesus’ claim to be the light, the rules of evidence are irrelevant. One might as well argue that the sun is not shining if it is the only one declaring itself to be the sun” (Towns, 82). “Jesus picked up the theme of the wilderness wanderings and proclaimed for those who followed him that they would not walk in darkness but have the light of life” (Borchert, 296).

Furious over the implications, the Pharisees initiated a debate that resulted in Jesus declaring, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58). It is worth noting that the dialogue between them had returned to the mid-feast “set-up” statement, “You both know Me and know where I am from; and I have not come of myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent Me” (John 7:28-29). The implications are clearly honed in, by Jesus, to confront the Jewish leadership. Compare Jesus’ statements in this current dialogue with His original statement in 7:28-29. “Even if I testify about Myself, My testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from or where I am going” (John 8:14); “You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also” (John 8:19). It is evident here, that Jesus is again indicating that the Pharisees did not know the One who sent Him or where He came from. Jesus is effectively separating the leaders from the One who sent Him; thereby, drawing the conclusion that they are of a different stock than they suppose themselves to be.

Their argument ultimately came to a head with this identification of the unbelieving Jews. Their argument is made in vs 33, “We are Abraham’s descendants…”, and again, “They answered and said to Him, ‘Abraham is our father’” (John 8:39).  Jesus responded by revealing the truth that they, in fact, were not of Abraham; because they did not do the deeds of Abraham. Nor were they the children of God (vs.42). He goes on to say, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father…” (John 8:44). “The Jews obviously realized that he was rendering a judgment on their status, and they countered …” (Borchert, 305). In response, this infuriated collection of religious elitist, call Jesus a Samaritan and a devil (vs.49).

8-51 The dark hearts of the Pharisees were further convinced that Jesus was possessed of a devil after He put forth, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death”(vs. 51). Here we come to the “meat of the matter”. They understand Abraham and the prophets to be dead. Their question to Him, was then, in essence, Who do you think you are? “They suspect that Jesus is guilty of blasphemy as they charged in 5:18 in making himself equal with God. Later they will make it specifically (10:33; 19:7). They set a trap for Jesus for this purpose” (Robertson, Jn 8:53).The answer to this condescending bunch was no less than, “I Am God.”

Dr. J Vernon McGee describes this moment:

“They hate Him so much that they want to kill Him. They have murder in their hearts, and He has nothing but love in His. He is going to go to the Cross to die for them. They are thinking of death for Him, but He is offering them life. ‘If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.’ He is offering them eternal life, spiritual life. My friend, this Jesus is more than a man” (McGee, 144-145).

Jesus responds to this venomous crowd with these direct words of truth. “It is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. ‘Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad’” (Jn 8:54–56).

“The clear answer to their question was thus, that Abraham acknowledged the superiority/priority of Jesus and not the reverse” (Borchert, 308). But how could Abraham “see” Jesus’ day? Was he seeing it from Heaven? No, the text declares “and he (Abraham) saw it? This speaks of an action of the past, right? “Jewish speculation is not a clear indication of what Jesus meant by his statement, but the Jews realized they needed to deal seriously with him. The question was, How could Abraham have seen him?” (Borchert, 308). The answer is coming soon from the Savior.

“How did Abraham ‘see’ our Lord’s day, that is, His life and ministry on earth? The same way he saw the future city: by faith (Heb. 11:10, 13–16). God did not give Abraham some special vision of our Lord’s life and ministry, but He did give him the spiritual perception to ‘see’ these future events” (Wiersbe, 323). Obviously, these “supposed” children of Abraham did not exhibit the same faith of Abraham; therefore, they were bankrupt of any spiritual perception to see the “express image” of YHWH standing before them. In contrast, John testifies, “We saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The contrast could not have been sharper. Those who believed in Jesus were the faithful and believing recipients of Divine Light; while, the men of religious standing were void of any Light and reflected the nature of the devil.

Jesus reveals his greatest light to these “sons” of Satan. “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58). Here it is, the ultimate egō eimi! His statement found in John 8:58 can be translated, “Before Abraham came into being, I AM.” “Again, this was another affirmation of His divine sonship; and the Jewish leaders received it as such. He had once again made Himself equal with God (John 5:18), and this was the sin of blasphemy, worthy of death (Lev. 24:16)” (Wiersbe, 323). That is, unless this clear claim to deity; is, in fact true.  It is true, and it effectively demonstrates that Jesus deliberately ascribes eternal divinity to Himself.

Dr. Towns points to the “double-truly(s)” of Jesus as always addressing the doubters and the unbelieving. The “before Abraham was” indicates a pre-existence of Jesus. The “I Am” reflects YHWH; just as it did in Moses’ day. Therefore, what the Jews heard from the divine lips of the Master was in effect, “You unbelieving doubters need to know that I am ever GOD; even before Abraham was formed in his mother’s womb. I am Abraham’s God.” The I Am is finite human vocabulary expressing the infinite. The “ever-eternally present” is indicated. This answers all metaphysical problems presented in the dialogue. Just as God ever “is”; so Jesus ever ‘is”  I Am. Morris points out, “Jesus is saying that it is important that those addressed come to trust him as the I AM, which looks very much like a claim to share in the nature of deity. People must see Jesus as one with the Father and trust him as such” (Morris, 123).He further remarks, “He was a man, but he was more, and passages like these bring out the ‘more’” (Morris, 124).

This statement of the Master brings an abrupt end to the conversation. “The claim to have been in existence before Abraham must be either delusional or a statement that the speaker was sovereign over time” (Morris, 124). Evidence suggested to the Pharisees that Jesus was “at the least” making a definitive claim to be sovereign over time. They indicate their thoughts by picking up stones, in order to stone Him for blasphemy. Yet, Jesus slips away, into the crowd.

Conclusion

The great apologist and Christian author, C.S. Lewis brings this entire series of events to its intended climax.

    “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to” (Lewis, 52-56).

As presented, Jesus stood up and cried out during one of the three most important feasts of the Jews; that each individual knew who He was and from Whom He had come (John 7:28-29). He rendered nearly the exact verdict upon the group of Pharisees. Taken as a whole; He announced the reason for their lack of understanding was due to their lack of spiritual knowledge of God. He repudiated the argument that these Jews were the spiritual sons of Abraham and God, based on the intent of their hearts. Essentially, He is saying, I am God and you are not. The altars are open. Come to Jesus. Accepting Him as deity was one of the two options placed on the table. The other option was to reject the YHWH.

    The absolute use of egō eimi in 8:58 expresses the unity of the Father and the Son (Morris, 124). No other conclusion could be drawn. It surely was the conclusion of the Pharisees who attempted to stone Him. The Gospel writer, himself, claimed this to be the intended outcome for those who read it. “But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).

MARANATHA,

Craig Layton

Bibliography

Borchert, Gerald L. John 1–11. Vol. 25A. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996.

Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. London: Collins, 1952.

McGee, J. Vernon. Thru the Bible Commentary: The Gospels (John1-10). Vol. 38. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991.

Miller, Jeffery E. The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham: Lexham Press, 2015.

Morris, Leon. Jesus is the Christ: studies in the theology of John. Grand Rapids: Wm. B.Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989.

New American Standard Bible:1995. LaHabra: The Lockman Foundation, 1995.

Robertson, A. T. Word Pictures in the New Testament. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1933.

Towns, Elmer . The Gospel of John: Believe and Live. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2002.

Tozer, A.W., and E. Marilynne Foster. Tozer on the Holy Spirit:. Camp Hill: WingSpread, 2007.

Wiersbe, Warren W. The Bible Exposition Commentary. Vol. 1. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1996.

 

Abortion American Idolatry

Abortion imageAbortion is a “hot-button” topic for many Americans today and has been for some time. “Pro-lifers and Pro-Choicers” square off in every imaginable venue, whether it is in the ivory halls of academia or the hallowed debate hall of government, or even in the living rooms in the average home. Everyone has an opinion on the matter. Some are well informed on the specifics personhood, right to choose and even abortion as a means of welfare.  But the problem still remains that “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.” Psalm 127:3. No matter what side of the issue one is on, the inescapable fact is the child cannot be formed in the womb, but by the hand of God: A gift from the LORD.

However, some have concluded that this gift is arbitrary and due to factors of inconvenience or interference, this gift can be mutilated and cast into the waste basket. Never minding the fact this human being, so abominably discarded was a love gift; a “reward” from a kind and generous God. Not to mention this precious human being was created in the image of God and for His Glory.

When considering this issue one has to look at the global community and see with a wide lens, just what is going on. Many countries such as China are executing the fetus for population control; others are using the killing machine for gender selection; but the main reason is convenience. Infanticide is nothing new; it was being practiced as early as idolatry itself. In fact I’ve come to the conclusion that this child slaughter is no more than a sacrifice of the idolatrous to the gods of self-interest and to the Baals worldwide hedonism. God speaks to this sort of wickedness in Ezekiel 16:21, “You slaughtered my children and sacrificed them to the idols.”

The reasoning for my conclusions are identified in the arguments of the pro-choice. Hear the words of an esteemed Chair holder in ethics at Princeton University Peter Singer, “When we kill a newborn infant there is not a person whose life has begun. It is the beginning of the life of the person, rather than the physical organism, that is crucial as far as the right-to-life is concerned.” Singer has reduced the life of a newborn infant to “not a person”. Why, because the doctrine of abortion is a doctrine of demons meant to deceive. He has gone so far to say that the already born infant is not considered a person, even up to 30 days after birth.

Although, Singer’s philosophy is more a ramp to launch eugenics, even more primal to the Pro-choice considerations is “the woman’s right to choose”. This is the thesis that the fetus is a part of the woman’s body and can be handled any way she chooses. Is it not true that the fetus is an individual human being with all the prospect of life and choice potentially in its future?  The fetus is considered an individual person if the pregnant woman is assaulted and her baby dies as a result. The assaulter would be charged with the death of a person, “homicide”. If found guilty, the assaulter could receive the maximum sentence of life in prison. So, why the double standard?  It is clear to me that abortion as a right to choose is nothing more than sacrificing the life of a child to the god of comfort and convenience. By definition this is idolatry.

A more pragmatic conclusion that I have arrived at has been mentioned above, “eugenics”. The definition of eugenics “is the bio-social movement which advocates practices to improve the genetic composition of a population, usually a human population. It is a social philosophy advocating the improvement of human hereditary traits through the promotion of higher reproduction of more desired people and traits, and reduced reproduction of less desired people and traits.” This was a widely accepted movement at the turn of the 20th century. “At its peak of popularity, eugenics was supported by a wide variety of prominent people, including Winston Churchill, Margaret Sanger, Marie Stopes, H. G. Wells, Norman Haire, Havelock Ellis, Theodore Roosevelt, George Bernard Shaw, John Maynard Keynes, John Harvey Kellogg, Linus Pauling and Sidney Webb. Its most infamous proponent and practitioner was, however, Adolf Hitler who praised and incorporated eugenic ideas in Mein Kampf and emulated Eugenic legislation for the sterilization of “defectives” that had been pioneered in the United States.”

Before these human breeders can begin to systematically cull society of all of the “undesirables”, it must first devalue human life. The Supreme Court made that first step for them in the Roe v. Wade decision. As I see it, this world is well on its way to taking the leap from killing fetuses to euthanizing the elderly and the disabled. As the hopes of the eugenicists go, then only the desirables will remain; population will drastically fall and the wealth will flow like water into the vessels of a mutated superior race. This will be the last final leap of human evolution. Yet this is still bowing to the altar of self.

As a pastor of God’s flock there is but one thing I can do with information such as this. Disciple! Disciple! Disciple! From the Word read, practice, and demonstrate God’s unfailing love for man. Reveal the love of Jesus, in the Gospels, for the little ones. Warn the sheep of the doctrines of demons that war for the minds of man. My heart is to preach the Book, Live the Book, and love as loudly as the Spirit of God allows.

Awareness of the spiritual underpinnings of America’s social issues is the beginning of our battle to pull down these demonic strongholds. Saints we have a duty to pray and watch with soberness. This country is on a slippery slope to apostasy. Issues such as these must not be ignored. Yet, we are not without hope. Our God is mighty to save and eager to hear the fervent prayers of his saints. Avail yourselves to prayer and let us sound the alarm to call the body to the pulling down of this and other strongholds in America.

Saints Be Encouraged,

Pastor C

 

Craig Layton is pursuing a BA in Christian Studies with a Great Commission Minor.  He is a conference speaker and Revivalist who speaks to issues from Christian Worldview issues to how to prepare for genuine revival within a body of believers.  He is senior pastor of Leary Baptist Church in Leary Georgia; which is presently experiencing a protracted season of true God sent revival..  Married for 6 years to his wife Kimberly, they have two children and two grandchildren.  You can follow Craig on Twitter at twitter.com/Pastor_COLayton. And on Facebook  at facebook.com/craig.layton72

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The If & Then of Faith

010-born-again-christian-bumper-sticker-vinyl-decalIn the Pastoral Letters one will find sundry of expected Christian living based on the Character and redemptive work of God. The author uses if-then statements to control the flow of his intentions. More specifically, Paul uses “Since” and “They Must”. This could be said to be true of all of Christian living. A general example of this literary device is Colossians 3:1-2Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. It shows cause and effect. Because we have been raised with Christ, then we set our minds on things from above.

The audience of the Pastoral Epistles is given moral ideals from Scripture because its moral perspective is not relativistic. Sins, such as murder, idolatry, fornication are not only wrong in certain geographical locations; but, are universally sinful. Yet it is the technique of the PE’s to make statements about their relationship to their Lord that gives the basis for his charge to them of their redeemed conversations. Take Titus 3:1-7 for an example of what we can also call “gift-task” language. The instruction that Christians “be subject to” the civil government indicates that such authorities are part of God’s overall order for human society. A proper Christian attitude toward the state requires the Christians “to be obedient”.This idea is a practical outworking of Jesus’ teaching concerning being “the salt of the earth … and the light of the world … that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt 5:13–16). Paul then presents the theological basis for the charge presented to them in vs.1&2. Paul described the degenerate condition of the pagan society in which Christians had to live. Interestingly, his comments focus on the human condition within the society.The verb “were,” placed at the beginning of this sentence, emphatically contrasts the Christian’s former degenerate condition (“at one time,”), which is described in v. 3, with the present regenerate condition (“but when,”), which is described in vv. 4–7.

This expression of humanity’s depraved condition marks the beginning of the third outstanding theological statement in this brief letter. Having initiated a contrast at the beginning of v. 3 with the words “At one time we too were,” Paul completed it in vv. 4–7, beginning with the words “But when.” “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,” Because kindness and love are noted in their usual application to God, being noted as the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:22) the fact that Paul expressly stated that man does not naturally possess this attribute makes the case of this argument all the more forceful.

Paul then follows with, “he saved us,” in v. 5 which constitutes the main verb in this lengthy sentence (vv. 4–7). It is the fact of God’s saving action in Jesus Christ that is amplified and explained by each additional clause and phrase. It is his saving grace that enables the believer to live above the human depravity of the past and of that around them. In this passage of Scripture, coincidently is the most explicit reference of the regenerate life.

One of the many reasons for the writing of the Pastorals is to encourage the readers / listeners to be reminded that because their lives had been radically crucified with Jesus, then their words, thoughts and deeds would display the life and resurrection of their Risen Lord.

Craig Layton is pursuing a BA in Christian Studies with a Great Commission Minor.  He is a conference speaker and Revivalist who speaks to issues from Christian Worldview issues to how to prepare for genuine revival within a body of believers.  He is senior pastor of Leary Baptist Church in Leary Georgia; which is presently experiencing a protracted season of true God sent revival..  Married for 6 years to his wife Kimberly, they have two children and two grandchildren.  You can follow Craig on Twitter at twitter.com/Pastor_COLayton. And on Facebook  at facebook.com/craig.layton72

A Pastor’s Perspective of the Pastorals part 2

sovereignty of GodThe Pastorals are flush with the works of God in his plan of Salvation. Paul presents the mighty hand of God in the Pastorals to initiate and perform the salvific plan in the now and in the eschatological future.

It seems rather plain that the churches of Ephesus and Crete are under some sort of attack of false brethren and their false teachings. It would be wise to surmise that Ephesus was more directly impacted by the false theology than was Crete at the time of the writing. Paul’s writing to Titus in Crete seemed to be more preventative than corrective in nature. Ephesus appears to be inundated with teachers claiming that the resurrection of the Saints had already passed. It would further seem that these “teachers’ in Ephesus were drawing there teachings from the law and turning the redeemed from the working out of the salvific purpose of God which sees its fullness in love. “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Ti 1:5)

Paul seems to stress the Sovereignty of God in the working out of that Salvation in the churches despite the hindrances of these false teachers. In all three letters it is as if Paul was telling the young and capable men to “stick to the script”. In 1Timothy and in Titus it is clear that the initial charge to both men was to appoint capable men to leadership positions, who were able to forward the “true” gospel deposit which was entrusted to them. The implied message is that truth preached and taught will prevail over the cunning and crafty winds of doctrine that would blow through the churches. Paul asserts that nothing has changed in God’s saving work, even though the antagonists teach otherwise. The Apostle’s letters strongly affirm that correct theology should prevail as the shaping force in the life of the community and in the Church.

In all three Pastoral Letters; but especially in 2 Timothy, Paul stress the confidence that he had in the perfect salvation plan of God.  He writes to a young man in whom he has entrusted a major work of “troubleshooting” with affirming words of encouragement and cautioning. It does not seem that Timothy has been caught up in the antagonist’s disordering of the gospel; but rather that he was feeling the weight of such false teachings. Paul reminds young Timothy that they are devoid of power and only have a form of godliness; while Timothy, on the other hand, has the gift of God which was in him  through the laying on of Paul’s hands. He tells Timothy to stir that gift up; to do the work of an Evangelist: and to endure the present hardship as a good soldier. All of this was to affirm in Timothy the heart of the Christian warrior that Timothy was called to be.

The present heresies could in no way hinder the saving work upon God’s people. The foundation could not be shaken that had been laid by the Spirit of God. The whole of mankind would be judged by what they did with Christ and the faithful would be rewarded. Therefore, it was imperative that Timothy and Titus preach persistently his unaltered word whether the audience wanted to hear it or not. God would prevail in His plan and nothing or nobody would prevent God’s sheep from the saving graces of the Good Shepherd.

 

Craig Layton is pursuing a BA in Christian Studies with a Great Commission Minor.  He is a conference speaker and Revivalist who speaks to issues from Christian Worldview issues to how to prepare for genuine revival within a body of believers.  He is senior pastor of Leary Baptist Church in Leary Georgia; which is presently experiencing a protracted season of true God sent revival..  Married for 6 years to his wife Kimberly, they have two children and two grandchildren.  You can follow Craig on Twitter at twitter.com/Pastor_COLayton. And on Facebook  at facebook.com/craig.layton72

A Pastor’s Perspective of the Pastorals part 1

passiing the gospelIt has been stated that the Pastoral Epistles contain poor literary structure and are only useful for the immediate recipients. It can be clearly shown that the Pastoral Epistles are filled with purpose and are essential in leading churches to order the household of God.

Each Pastoral Epistle is controlled by the extended metaphor of the household. More particularly God’s Household (1 Timothy 3:15).The concept of this household theology is not a new one; it has been upon from a more or less degree from the first. It is derived from the concept of the ancient oikos. This metaphor is the theological key that envisions a divinely organized pattern of life within the church.

It is evident that the household of God is not confined to Crete or Ephesus. For it is stated, by Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:2, “with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:. It is certain that he was addressing not only the Corinthian church; but also all other churches in every place. Is not “all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ” speaking of the households of God.

It is obvious that Paul has dispatched Titus to Crete and Timothy with definite instructions. They do have specific tasks in their respective cities. For Titus it is, “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you”— (Tt 1:5) For Timothy it was, “remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine” (1 Ti 1:3). However it appears from the text that there are other purposes for writing the Pastoral Letters, as well.

All of these secondary purposes are charged with “Household” language. In 1st Timothy it is the unit endings that charge Timothy to “Guard the deposit which has been entrusted to him.” Timothy and Titus are considered as the “despot of the oikos” or keeper of the home.  In Titus, Paul speaks to the theological basis for correct behavior within the household (2:11-15)

In regard to 2nd Timothy there is certainly more of a personal feeling; however, there is much practical instruction within for all young ministers in every age. There is warning of “perilous times”, even the inference of trusted fellow servants leaving his side. Although the ad hoc element was to summons Timothy to Rome; the broader element is to remind the man of God to “Guard the Valuable Deposit!” These instructions are based on the life and ministry, which serve as an example, of the man of God who is soon departing.

If Paul were to die before Timothy arrives in Rome, this 2nd letter to Timothy would be a reminder of a life well served in the witness and ministry of Jesus Christ. Maybe most importantly, it would reflect on a “deposit” held in faithful trust till the end.

The Pastorals are a glowing reminder, to the minister in any stage of life, that he is entrusted with the gospel deposit from Christ and is responsible to be a faithful steward until which time his Master returns.

 

Craig Layton is pursuing a BA in Christian Studies with a Great Commission Minor.  He is a conference speaker and Revivalist who speaks to issues from Christian Worldview issues to how to prepare for genuine revival within a body of believers.  He is senior pastor of Leary Baptist Church in Leary Georgia; which is presently experiencing a protracted season of true God sent revival..  Married for 6 years to his wife Kimberly, they have two children and two grandchildren.  You can follow Craig on Twitter at twitter.com/Pastor_COLayton. And on Facebook  at facebook.com/craig.layton72