The Majors and the Minors

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The Majors and the Minors

by Ray B. May IV ~ March, 2018

It has been brought to my attention, that with some recent statements I have made, I may have made some subjects confusing, especially regarding my stance on those subjects. So, first I want to state, for the record, I whole heartedly believe every point listed out on the Believe Better Ministries’ Statement of Faith. I wrote this statement and each word describes my personal beliefs. This is where Believe Better Ministries started. I wrote a paper about feelings I had about Christendom (the special word I use to describe the religion of Christianity as it differs from the Bible and from the people who actually follow Christ).

I wrote this first paper over the course of one night and made this new blog to house it. I wrote it early, early in the morning (between midnight and three in the morning), I remember it vividly as a Thursday night/Friday morning. I had just had a long conversation with a close friend and I was angry, so, I wrote this paper out of anger (not the best frame of mind to be in when writing). This was not when Believe Better Ministries started, but it was when the seed was planted. Believe Better Ministries didn’t really start until the summer, about two years later. This is when things started to coalesce into what is now Believe Better Ministries. This is when I sat down and wrote out my beliefs in order to make sure I would not deviate from them.

I feel pretty secure in not having ever deviated from them over the last three and a half years. However, recently I have written some things which have made some of my brothers and sisters in Christ question whether I was already deviating, or was going to deviate, from them in the future. I must apologize profusely for this. I have never, I repeat never, meant to make anyone feel as if I was moving on ahead (or passed) the Christian Faith. This was not my intent, nor my goal. I was deeply shocked when I received e-mails on this subject.

I want to use this paper to explore contending for the Faith, and, so, I have to ask the question: What parts of the Christian Faith should we earnestly contend for? I had a long chat with two of the Elders of the assembly I attend, recently, and one of them gave me five points of the Christian Faith which he said (and I agree) must be agreed upon to even call one’s self a Christian. (Being nondenominational having these major doctrines to agree upon is so important for it allows us to meet together in love even if we disagree on pet doctrines or other minor points.) This made me think about the Statement of Faith I had written for Believe Better Ministries. I sat down and went through it and most of the points on Believe Better Ministries’ Statement of Faith do correspond to these five points, there are a few (exactly four) which don’t but I still believe them and they are important to me, I digress.

The five beliefs we must share in common are these: The Bible, God, Christ, the Work of Christ, and Our Common Salvation. These are the five which there must be no disagreement on. Confusion? Yes, of course, there will be confusion. Some of these points (as we will see) are pretty confusing. A lack of understanding is rather different from outright denial. (We can – for example – be confused – as I am – on how the Father and the Son are completely one, yet, the Father could turn His back on the Son, or how the Son, the Father, and the Holy Spirit being one, could separate the Son from themselves (themself?) in order to send the Son to Earth.)

Let’s look at each one of the points now:

1. The Bible: It all starts with the Bible, because everything we know about all the other subjects comes from the Bible. The Bible is the inspired word of God (2 Peter 1:21), which He breathed out (2 Tim 3:16). As I said, everything we know about all the other topics comes from the Bible, so if we cannot believe the Bible, what can we believe about any of the other parts of our faith?

2. God: The Bible takes for granted its readers believe in a deity. Being the Word of God, the expectation is you believe in at least a deity. But, as far as the Bible is concerned the God, who is revealed, is the uniquely one, triune God. We are told time and time, again, our God is one (Deut 4:35; Ps 86:10; 1 Cor 8:4; Gal 3:20; Eph 4:6; 1 Tim 2:15), but He is also triune, which means three in one. He, God, is made up of three distinct persons – Father, Son, and the Spirit – but He is not three gods, but one God. God being three is made clear if we read the Bible and the language it uses to refer to God. (See Matt 3:16-17, 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14; Eph 2:18, 3:14-17; Titus 3:4-7; Rev 1:4-6.) This triuneness is vastly important for two reasons: It is the very thing which sets God apart from other gods, and it is the crux of the matter, for with the Triune God being in a relationship (love) with each other (Himself) for all eternity-past (before the creation) He wants more relationships and so created us (See John 17:5, 10-11, 22-26). People can believe in any god they wish to, but they cannot call him/her/it the God of the Bible, unless He is the Triune God of the Bible.

3. Christ: The Lord Jesus Christ was the very God in eternity (John 1:1; Phil 2:6) who became a man in time (John 1:9, 14; Phil 2:7-8; 1 John 4:2). Because of the two natures – God (John 1:1; Phil 2:6) and man (John 1:14; Phil 2:7; 1 John 4:2) – He is complete in His divinity and perfect in His humanity. In his humanity He was anointed by God with the Spirit (Matt 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:29-34) to accomplish God’s purpose. Therefore, He is the Christ (from the Greek Χριστός – Christos which is the Greek translation for the Hebrew Messiah (מָשִׁ֫יחַ – Meshiach) which both mean “Anointed One”), the Anointed of God (John 20:31, 1 John 2:21-22).

He is the Son of God (Matt 3:17; John 1:14, 3:16-18; 1 John 4:10), as such He is the image of the invisible God (John 14:9; Col 1:15), the effulgence of God’s glory (John 1:14) and the very image of God’s substance (Heb 1:3), subsisting in the form of God (Phil 2:6) and was equal with God (John 5:17-18), and all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him bodily (Col 2:9).

As the Son of God, He came in the flesh with the Father (John 6:46 – Greek παρά – para loses a lot of its meaning in translation, it means “from the very presence of” or “beside, in the presence of” or “alongside, of, with”), and in the name of the Father.

As the eternal God, He is the Creator of all things (Heb 1:2; John 1:3; Col 1:16), and as a man who came in the flesh (1 John 4:2), with physical blood, bone, and flesh, He is a creature, the first born of all creation (Col 1:15). Therefore, Jesus is both Creator and creature.

4. The Work of Christ: Christ first became a man in the incarnation (John 1:14; Phil 2:6-8), lived a genuine human life (as recorded in the Gospels), and died on the cross for our redemption (Phil 2:8; 1 Peter 2:24; Rev 5:9). Then, He rose from the dead for our regeneration (John 3:6; Rom 6:11; 2 Cor 5:17; Titus 3:5), ascended to the heavens to be Lord of all (Heb 1:3-4), and will come back (John 14:3; Rev 2:20) as the Bridegroom to the Church (2 Cor 11:2-4; Eph 5:22-33; Rev 21:2, 9-10) and the King of kings to all nations (Rev 5:9-10). No genuine Christian has any argument about these aspects of the work of Christ.

5. Our Common Salvation: A sinner must repent to God (Acts 2:38, 26:20; 1 John 1:5-10; This word repent is a very important, while misunderstood, word, most believe it means feeling sorry for what I’ve done, and so they repent many times – every time they sin – while really it is a changing of who we are to agree with God about our sin (and sin nature), and so it is really only a one-time thing) and believe in Christ (John 3:16; Acts 16:31) for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43; 1 John 1:7), for redemption (Rom 3:24), for justification (John 3:18; Acts 13:39; Rom 8:1), and for regeneration (John 3:6; Rom 6:11; 2 Cor 5:17; Titus 3:5) in order to receive eternal life (John 3:36; Titus 1:2; Titus 3:7; 1 John 5:11) to become a child of God (John 1:21; 1 John 3:1-2) and a member of Christ (1 Cor 12:27). This is our salvation by God through faith (Eph 2:4-9).

Okay, all of this to say what? This is all to show what we should defend, or contend for. I wrote a commentary on the Epistle of Jude, and Jude’s whole point is for us to earnestly contend for our faith (Jude 3). These five points make up a consistent set of beliefs which all Christians – regardless of denomination, ideology, or creed – should agree upon, we could label them the Faith. These, then, are what Jude exhorts us to earnestly contend for.

The word in Jude 3 is ἐπαγωνίζομαι (epagōnízomai) and Jude’s use constitutes the only use of this compound word in all of the New Testament. Jude here is actually putting two other Greek words together: ἐπί (epi) which is a preposition meaning “on, to, against, on the basis of, at”; and ἀγωνίζομαι (agōnízomai) which is a verb meaning “to struggle, strive (as in an athletic contest or warfare), to contend with an adversary”. Those two words when put together bring the meaning “to earnestly contend for”. The editors and translators of the NET Bible have this to say on the word: “the verb ἐπαγωνίζομαι (epagōnízomai) is an intensive form of ἀγωνίζομαι (agōnízomai). As such, the notion of struggling, fighting, contending, etc. is heightened.”

A heightened contention for the faith, then, against those “who crept in secretly” to teach falsities about the faith. The New Testament, again and again, tells us to defend the faith. Peter, the Apostle on whom Jesus built His congregation (Matt 16:18), put in his first epistle: “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you for a reason concerning the hope that is in you: (1 Peter 3:15). Always be ready! Why? Because in Peter’s own words: “Your adversary, the devil, walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Paul tells us to take no part in the works of darkness, but instead expose and/or rebuke them (Eph 5:11). (The Greek word ἐλέγχω – elegchō means both to expose and to rebuke, it is an expose as in a courtroom exposing something as being wrong, or someone as being guilty.) Paul, in his pastoral epistles (1-2 Timothy and Titus) is very harsh on false teaching, telling Titus to make sure all Elders/Overseers/Bishops must hold firm to the faithful word which they’ve been taught so they “may be able to exhort in sound doctrine, and to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9).

I think one of the strongest passages about defending the faith comes out of Paul’s strong defense of the Gospel he preached to the Galatians (of which in Galatians 1:7 he says there is not actually another Gospel besides it). Paul says here in Galatians 1:8-9 this person – whether they be Paul, himself, or an angel from heaven – let a curse be on him! He is so emphatic here he says this statement twice. How much more emphatic can Paul be? He even calls a curse upon himself if he were to come to them preaching a Gospel other than the one he already preached. Can we mince words with Paul? I don’t think so, for Paul is the man who said of a brother in Corinth: “deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord” (1 Cor 5:5, read 5:1-5 to see full context and the extent of Paul’s words). Of those who are divisive Paul said to warn them once, then twice, then have nothing more to do with them (Titus 3:10).

To Finally circle back to where I started all of this I want it known I will earnestly contend (epagōnízomai) for these five points, for the Faith. This is part of the reason for Believe Better Ministries, and why it was named such. I want to help the people of the world to Believe in Something Better. This is where this whole journey of blogging started. I have learned so much along the way, and I consider myself to still be learning. I will put forth those doctrines of the Faith and cleave to my Lord Jesus Christ.

I will try to help you believe in something better.

Sources:

  1. “Majoring on the Majors”, Zuber, John, 2018
  2. ESV Study Bible, Crossway, 2008
  3. NIV Study Bible, Zondervan, 2002
  4. Recovery Version New Testament, Living Stream Ministry, 1991
  5. NET Bible®, Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C., 1996-2018,
  6. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, Bible Hub, 2004–2018

To read the first article I wrote click here. I have since removed the article which gave me so many e-mails to wade through about whether I was changing my beliefs or not. As always if you would like to chat, feel free to e-mail me.

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Notes and Outlines

OK, everyone, we are planning for the future!

To that end the Believe Something Better Page has been updated! You can now see a little of what we are planning with it. We plan on having the Notes and Outlines (free material we’re providing) up and available for download. This coupled with the BOGV provides a kind of study bible experience. We hope to have these study notes completely available over the course of the next two years. You’ll get to see the page evolve as more content is finished.

We are currently working on the finishing touches to 1 John-Jude, the first volume which will be made available in the Believe Something Better Commentary Series. We are really excited to be getting so close to actually making something available and having fruit for labors.

In this we want to give all the glory to God. We can do nothing through our own strength and only God is the one with the strength who has accomplished this!

Pray for us as we continue to move forward with this goal of finishing the series of commentaries and for volunteers. We are actively seeking volunteers to get involved in the Ministry. If you feel as though you would like to be involved please e-mail us. We are also open to taking donations please e-mail us about this option as well.

Thank you so much!
RB

A Few Finished Items

Well as we are working on new projects. I am have specifically moved onto working on 1 John and am working on the study notes and commentary of this epistle. With that happening we are looking back at a few of our projects which have already finished (at least as far as the extent of the project was concerned). The first was Jude. You can see our post about Jude here, but there is also a part of this project which you may not know about. The second is Obadiah. We have made a commentary and study notes of these two books. These study notes which were made available as part of the Commentary Project were also given to Breath of God Ministries which were added to the BOGV (and here Paraphrase) as part of the Breath of God Study Bible.  You can get a taste of this Study Bible in both Old and New Testaments (with Obadiah and Jude, respectively) in BOG Ministries’ most recent post.

We hope you enjoy.
RB

The Epistle of Jude – Believe Something Better Commentary Series

Well we are excited to announce the first commentary in the Believe Something Better Commentary Series has been finished. (It is important for you to understand this is not the first volume of the series but rather the first commentary of the series.) The commentary on the Epistle of Jude is finished.

We are posting three things on this blog here today for you to see. The first is the commentary which has recently been finished. We are always open to hearing feedback on anything we post here and you can give us your feedback through e-mail or comments here on the blog. The second thing we’re posting is a set of study notes and an outline for Jude (as you will see the outline is in the commentary as well). These notes are based on the commentary and a set very similar will be made available for each book of the Bible. They are meant to be supplementary to the commentary. These study notes would allow you to have notes available while you study the Bible. The third and final thing we are posting is a complimentary copy of the Epistle of Jude (from the Breath of God Version). This will allow you to refer to this version of the Epistle as you go through the commentary or notes.

These three things are the first in many posts you will see in the future (Lord willing) giving you similar announcements. We do not plan on posting the commentary every time we finish one, but rather just giving a general announcement. We also have the books lumped together to allow for publishing.

We hope you enjoy this and we look forward to seeing feedback from you. Please not this is not the final layout for the commentaries, just an easy layout for it to be presented here on our website for you.

Jude to Come

So the Believe Something Better Commentary Series is about to have its first entry finished. The commentary on Jude is going through its final round of editing then it will be read to be unveiled as the inaugural entry in the series. We will be posting a version of it here under a creative commons license. We also plan on recording it as a free audio teaching here. We plan on putting Jude up here for you to see what things are going to look like.

As far as the rest of the series goes we will only be publishing the audio for free as well as notes and outlines. We plan on having these study aids available for free for everyone to download and use. The commentary series will be available for purchase as an ebook or hardcopy book with all proceeds going back into the ministry to help produce more content and upgrade the website.

All in all this update is here to let everyone know to keep your eyes peeled to see Jude coming out. We have a plan in place as far as getting through the rest of the Bible as well. We look forward to putting this forward soon.

Upcoming Plans

Hello everyone, from Believe Better Ministries!

As we come up on Thanksgiving (in the United States) and Christmas there are a lot of things that I am currently working on. The first thing that comes to mind is the Christmas Thought for this year. I am planning on making it a tradition that I post a Thought (more information on exactly what that means later) for New Years, Easter and Christmas – at least – any other Thoughts will be posted but those three days will get special thoughts. (Some years they may not be thoughts but full essays, we’ll see.)

I am continuing through my punch list of things that I am working on. This includes Ruth, Jude and all the others on my list. I’ve also got a few new things in the pipes for the upcoming year. The first of which is the Believe Something Better Newsletter. This is the premier newsletter from Believe Better Ministries and will be coming out monthly. It will either be at the end or beginning of the month (that is to be decided later) and it will feature articles that have already been posted or new articles Thoughts as well as poems and other nuggets. One thing that is on my heart is prayer and I am hoping to have a section in the newsletter where we can include prayer requests. I will be praying for them and I hope other readers will be as well. The first issue of this will be coming out in January but you can sign up now by clicking the link over on the right had side of the page.

This links to the second new thing coming down the pipes for 2016 and that is the Believe Something Better Podcast. This will be a monthly podcast that will feature similar content to the Newsletter but will be rolled out more like a radio show. I plan to have as much content being put into your hands as possible. I have ideas going into the recording for the first episode already.

Finally on the agenda for this post is that Believe Better Ministries is looking for volunteers. We are looking for editors for works that will be coming down the pipes in the future, as well as (possibly) producers for the podcast, and we would are looking for someone to take over the formatting and publishing the newsletter. If you feel called to any of these positions – remember that they are volunteer positions – please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Believe Better Ministries through e-mail at BelieveBetter.Ministries@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you. (On a side note as I am connected with Breath of God Ministries I know that they are currently looking for volunteers as well you can e-mail them at TheBOGMinistries@gmail.com to find out more information.)

Finally: What is a Thought? A Thought is what I am calling a short writing (or micro essay) that I have made on any given subject. It could be something that I write a longer piece on later or it could be something that I’ve already written on but have a new idea. Really it is what I am calling my little ramblings and ideas that come to me as I study the word of the Lord.

Thanks!

––
RB May IV
Leader of Believe Better Ministries

Life Changes

Well I’ve been silent recently and I apologize for that. I have been putting a lot of time in on other projects. The biggest thing that has happened here this month is my wife and I are now parents. We welcomed our little girl, Sophia, into our family on the 6th. We are so excited, there aren’t even words to express what we both feel about her.

This has led to the Psalm that I posted earlier this week and I have a new Thought in the works to express some of what I’ve been feeling and learning. This should be up tomorrow or sometime soon this week.

Really though what I have been up to has been working on the Epistle of Jude. I have been running it through edits and writing notes. As I am part of the Editorial Team over at Breath of God Ministries I have been putting a lot of time in on that book. I also wrote a commentary on the book that I will be coming out with shortly, but has been used to make study notes for the Breath of God Study Bible. You can read all about what we have done on their post about the project. The next thing to tackle on that front will be Ruth. You can find more information on their website.

My goals for the next few weeks are

  1. Finish my Thought that I have already started.
  2. Put the Commentary on Jude through its last few rounds of editing, then Post it here
  3. Continue working on the Gospel of John
  4. Work on Ruth

I hope that you will appreciate what I have to say regarding Jude and what I have been learning.

RB