Temptation of Jesus (4 of 6)

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(Continued from yesterday)

ii) the 3 temptations by the Tempter: Dominion over the whole land (Kingship) / Turning Stone to Bread (Prophethood c.f. Elijah’s 40 days in the wilderness) / Jumping from the Temple (Priesthood), again somewhat different;

As is our practice, first observe the passages cited:
• Mt 4:8-9 Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” (See also Lk 4:5-6)
• 1 Kings 19:6-8 Then he looked and behold, there was at his head a bread cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again. The angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you.” So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God.
• Mt 4:5-6a Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down;

While it is natural to link the authority to give all the kingdoms of the world to kingship, the association of bread to prophethood is contrived. In fact, it is easier to connect bread to priesthood, as bread is used in offerings and the bread of the Presence was administered by priests.

Similarly, although temple is mentioned, to tie jumping off the pinnacle of the temple with priesthood is forced. Jerusalem is built on a hill, and the Temple on Mount Moriah (2 Chron 3:1) is the high point of the city. To jump off the pinnacle of the Temple is therefore from the highest point in Jerusalem, and bound to attract lots of attention. With 2 out of 3 associations doubtful, I feel interpreting the temptation of Jesus in terms of His threefold office to be artificial.

(To be continued)

Transfiguration (3 of 6)

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(Continued from yesterday)

But can these threefold roles be further expanded to interpret some other strange passages / events in the gospels? Examples are:

i) the 3 strange God-initiated events of Star of Bethlehem / Transfiguration (with Moses and Elijah the prophets) / Tearing of the Veil of the Temple were visual confirmation of His Kingship / Prophethood / Priesthood. So the interpretation of the Transfiguration will be somewhat different from the traditional view;

Let’s look at the references:
• Mt 2:2 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”
• Deut 34:10 Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,
• Mk 15:38 And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (See also Mt 27:51; Lk 23:45)

It is obvious that the star is associated with Jewish kingship and the curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place is associated with the high priesthood:
• Heb 9:7 but into the second [Holy of Holies], only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance.

But while Jesus Himself and some people identified Him as a prophet:
• Mk 6:4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” (See also Mt 13:57; Jn 4:44)
• Mt 21:11 And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.” (See also Lk 24:19; Jn 7:40)

and Moses was called a prophet in Deut 34:10, the most common immediate association of Moses is with the Law. So rather than interpret all three of Jesus, Moses and Elijah represent prophets, I believe a more natural reading is to interpret Moses and Elijah as representing the Law and the Prophets, with both testifying for Jesus:

• Lk 24:44 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
• Jn 1:45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
• Acts 28:23 When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening.

(To be continued)

Curse on Jeconiah (2 of 6)

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(Continued from yesterday)

b) the necessity of having 2 genealogies to resolve the conflict that the Messiah has to be both a descendant of David through Solomon to sit on the throne of David, and also a bloodline descendant of David (Ps 132:11; Isa 7:14 fulfilled in Rom 1:3) through Solomon’s brother Nathan (the pierced Messiah from David…Nathan…Levi…Shimei in Zech 12:10-12 vs. David … Nathan … Levi … Semein in Lk 3:26, 29, 31).

• Ps 132:11 The LORD has sworn to David a truth from which He will not turn back: “Of the fruit of your body I will set upon your throne.”
• Isa 7:14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
• Rom 1:3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh,
• Zech 12:10-12 “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land will mourn, every family by itself; the family of the house of David by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself and their wives by themselves;
• Lk 3:26, 29, 31 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda … the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, … the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David,

Again, the irreducible minimum is that the fruit of David’s body will sit on his throne. The promise was made to David and confirmed to Solomon. The necessary condition is that it must be a descendant of David according to the flesh; a descendant of Solomon is sufficient, but not necessary. Then why bother with the line through Nathan at all? It is because of the curse on Coniah in Jer 22:

• Jer 22:24, 30 As I live,” declares the LORD, “even though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were a signet ring on My right hand, yet I would pull you off; … Thus says the LORD, ‘Write this man down childless, a man who will not prosper in his days; for no man of his descendants will prosper sitting on the throne of David or ruling again in Judah.’”

Coniah was also called Jeconiah:
• 1 Chron 3:16-17 The sons of Jehoiakim were Jeconiah his son, Zedekiah his son. The sons of Jeconiah, the prisoner, were Shealtiel his son,

And Jeconiah is in Jesus’ genealogy in Mt:
• Mt 1:11-12 Josiah became the father of Jeconiah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. After the deportation to Babylon: Jeconiah became the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel.

Now we have a problem: No descendant of Jeconiah, who is descended from Solomon (Mt 1:6-7), will prosper sitting on David’s throne. So how can God’s promise to David be fulfilled? That’s where Nathan’s line and the Virgin Birth come in. Jesus’ genealogy in Luke 3 is traced through Mary, who is descended from Nathan (Lk 3:31). As such He is a descendant of David according to the flesh, but not in Solomon’s line through Jeconiah who is cursed. Mt 1 is very careful in stating “Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born” (Mt 1:16). It did not say “Joseph the father of Jesus.” Joseph was only Jesus’ legal father thus entitling Him to the throne, but not His actual father which means He would fall under Jeconiah’s curse.

The Virgin Birth reinforces the fact that Jesus is not Joseph’s son and therefore not in Jeconiah’s blood line. But tracing His lineage through Mary to Nathan the son of David would be sufficient as well.

I believe the Virgin Birth is necessary so that He can be born without sin to be our Savior, otherwise He has to offer blood sacrifice for Himself first:

• Heb 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
• Heb 9:7 but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance.

The necessity is not primarily to resolve the conflict between the roles of king and priest, nor between the Solomon and Nathan lines, although it certainly does that.

(To be continued)

Prophet, Priest, King (1 of 6)

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I have a friend who studies the Bible in detail. He has some non-traditional interpretations and asked for my opinion. Since his question reflects the fact that he had done a lot of thinking on the subject, I thought it would be best to present his query as is, section by section, then add the comments I have. His question is in italics:

The fulfillment of the threefold messianic roles (king, priest and prophet) by Jesus helps to explain some strange events / records in the gospels, e.g.
a) the necessity of Virgin Birth, so that He could satisfy Zech 6:12-13 by resolving the role conflict of both King and Priest (couldn’t be both descendant of Judah and of Levi; Heb 7:14), through following the order of Melchizedek (Ps 110:4), no fatherly genealogy and no beginning / end (Heb 7:3);

First, let’s observe the verses cited:
• Zech 6:12-13 Then say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the LORD. Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the LORD, and He who will bear the honor and sit and rule on His throne. Thus, He will be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices.”’
• Heb 7:14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests.
• Ps 110:4 The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
• Heb 7:3 Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.

To clarify the issue, to sit on the throne the Branch must be descended from David (2 Sam 7:16), of the tribe of Judah. To be a Levitical priest He must be descended from Aaron (Ex 28:1), from the tribe of Levi. How can He be descended from two tribes at the same time? Actually to satisfy both requirements all He has to be is to belong to a different priesthood, since Zech 6 did not specify Levitical at all. Priesthood according to the order of Melchizedek, an order higher than Aaron since it is forever, would satisfy that. The Virgin Birth is not necessary if we boil the dilemma down to its irreducible minimum.

(To be continued)

Baseball Spiritual Lessons

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My daughter treated me to a baseball game for my birthday. As a preacher, I’m always watching out for illustrations. So when the pace got slow, my mind drifted off to the connection between Christian life and a baseball game. Several thoughts crossed my mind. Here are a few:

There is a reckoning. Every other game I know of has a definite time limit. Basketball has 4 quarters of 12 minutes each; football 4 quarters of 15 minutes; hockey 3 periods of 20 minutes; and soccer 2 halves of 45 minutes each. But not baseball, which has 9 innings of indefinite time. If it’s a draw at the end of 9 innings, they go into extra innings. The average game is about 3 hours, with the longest major league game at 25 innings lasting over 8 hours. But there is an end, a last out, and then the game is over. Whoever has more runs wins.

Life is like that. Some live only a very brief period, and some over a century! The average for many people is about 80 years. But whatever the age, there is a finality. The question is, what are you going to do with the time you have? What do you have to show for your life on earth?

No one is perfect. In baseball, the batters are the offense. The pitcher and the fielders are the defense. A good batter has a batting average (BA) of over 300, which means he gets 300 hits every 1000 times he is at bat, which also means he does not get a hit the other 700 times! A good pitcher has an earned-run average (ERA) of under 3, meaning he gives up 3 runs or less in a 9-inning game. As good as they are, few batters get a BA of over 400 over an entire season; and few pitchers get an ERA of under 2; the average being 4.5. No one has a career BA of 1000, or an ERA of 0. There is none in baseball history.

It’s the same with us. Compared to other people, we may do better in some areas, but fall short in others. But when compared to God’s standard of perfection required for heaven, every one of us fall short. All of us failed. None of us is perfect. No, not one. That’s why we need a Savior.

There are comebacks. Three weeks ago, our home team Toronto Blue Jays was a whopping 8 games out of first place in the American League East. Then they had an 11-game winning streak and climbed to 1/2 game over NY Yankees. Even though they fell back a bit, the season is not over. Comebacks are possible. It ain’t over till it’s over.

Life is the same. There are ups and there are downs. But so long as you get up where you fell down, you can start over again. There is repentance and there is forgiveness. You can rally and try again.

There are many other musings, but I don’t know much about baseball so I better stop here. The most exciting game I watched was when the Jays won the World Series in 1993. I can still remember Joe Carter dancing excitedly around the field. I hope they have the tenacity to go the distance again this season.

Jesus’ Two Natures (2 of 2)

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(Continued from yesterday)

What caused His distress and trouble? What made Him grieved to the point of death, such that His sweat became like drops of blood? The text clearly pointed to “this cup”. Jesus already referred to this “cup” prior to Gethsemane, so it wasn’t something He didn’t know about:

Mt 20:22-23a But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to Him, “We are able.” He said to them, “My cup you shall drink; …
• Mk 10:38-39 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.

He referred to it again during His arrest:
Jn 18:11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?”

What is this cup? It is not death because Jesus prophesied about His death quite some time ago. He was not afraid of dying. The cup is a well-known figure of the wrath and judgment of God in the OT, called “the cup of His fury” or “the cup of trembling”, poured out on His enemy:

Isa 51:17 Awake, awake! Stand up, O Jerusalem, You who have drunk at the hand of the LORD The cup of His fury; You have drunk the dregs of the cup of trembling, And drained it out.
• Isa 51:22 Thus says your Lord, The LORD and your God, Who pleads the cause of His people: “See, I have taken out of your hand The cup of trembling, The dregs of the cup of My fury; You shall no longer drink it.
• Jer 25:15 For thus the LORD, the God of Israel, says to me, “Take this cup of the wine of wrath from My hand and cause all the nations to whom I send you to drink it.

We as sinners are to drink of God’s cup of fury, but Jesus who knew no sin took our sins upon Himself and became sin on our behalf. He drank our cup i.e. took our punishment so that we do not have to drink it:
2 Co 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

The agony was not due to fear of pain that He was about to suffer from crucifixion, the most cruel form of torture invented by men, as He endured that with joy:

Heb 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

It was due to the weight of the sins of the whole world (1 Jn 2:2) crushing down on Him. Yet throughout His agony His words were “not as I will, but as You will”. He submitted to the Father’s will. He did not shrink back as a result of His human nature. There was no struggle between the two natures, as His humanity was submissive to His deity. That’s my opinion.

Jesus’ Two Natures (1 of 2)

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Q. All Christians should have experienced what Paul felt regarding the struggle between the two laws inside him (Rom 7:21-23). Some say that Jesus appeared to be well aware of His Dual Nature, e.g. Satan repeatedly reminded Him as Son of God in the temptation, but He refused to perform miracles and willingly subjected Himself to the trial as a man. Another example is when Nathaniel affirmed Him as the “Son of God”, He replied using the term “Son of Man” (Jn 1:49, 50). Hence the conclusion is Jesus’ Dual Nature is in perfect harmony, so unlike Paul and us, there is no struggle. Is this true? How about His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane?

A. Paul’s struggles and ours are between the sinful nature (Rom 7:18, 25), the old self (Rom 6:6; Eph 4:22; Col 3:9) and the new self (Eph 4:24; Col 3:10). Jesus had no struggle as He does not have a sin nature by virtue of His Virgin Birth. In theology the union of Christ’s two natures, namely His divinity and His humanity in one substance, is called the hypostatic union. He is 100% God and 100% man.

Your question reminded me of a very controversial movie years ago, “The Last Temptation of Christ“, which depicted a very human Jesus struggling with his self-identity. The film, based on a novel, showed Jesus to be uncertain of his role, and suffered internal conflicts between his being called by God and his human desires. Nothing is further from the truth, as the Gospels indicate that He was never in doubt as to who He was, even at the age of 12 when His parents lost Him in the Temple:
Lk 2:49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”

Then what about His agony in Gethsemane? Let’s examine what the Bible says. His agony is recorded in all 3 Synoptic Gospels:

Mt 26:38-39, 42 Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” … He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.”
• Mk 14:33-36 And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled. And He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”
• Lk 22:42-44 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.

(To be continued)

Unclean Foods

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Q. I understand your point about Christians not being subject to Jewish food laws. But why would God give the Jews the laws in the first place and lift the restrictions later? Why bother? What’s the point?

A. Lev 11 and Deut 14 give only the criteria for determining which land and water animals and insects are clean, and list clean and unclean birds without giving the rule. They did not give the specific reasons why God declared certain foods clean and others unclean. Some commentators believe the purpose is in v 44, to set the Israelites apart:
Lev 11:44 For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. And you shall not make yourselves unclean with any of the swarming things that swarm on the earth.

This was certainly the case for Daniel and his 3 friends:
Dan 1:8 But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.
but then shouldn’t Christians be set apart too?

Others believe certain animals e.g. pigs are used as sacrifice in pagan worship and God forbade the Jews to follow their example and eat the meat. This may be true for some animals, but does not explain the prohibition for many other land, sea and air creatures not used in pagan sacrifices.

In hindsight, we can make some educated guesses based on hygiene:
• Some land animals are hosts for parasites e.g. pigs; others are disease carriers e.g. rodents;
• Some water creatures are bottom feeders e.g. shellfish and have high cholesterol bad for our health;
• Some birds are predators e.g. eagles, kites, falcons etc. or scavengers e.g. vultures, buzzards, ravens etc. and carry all kinds of bacteria.

In general the restrictions protected the health and welfare of the Jewish people. But if there are intrinsic health concerns about the unclean foods, why would God lift the restrictions for Christians? Why didn’t He continue to ban them?

Some scholars suggest the principle of progressive revelation. Just as we provide lots of rules for children for their protection but gradually relax them as they grow up, God kept His people from certain foods until they learned to discern for themselves. Others believe the foods are clean in themselves provided you cook them properly. God placed the restrictions on the Jews to teach them to obey even though they may not know the reasons behind the prohibitions. He wanted them to trust Him, not the reasons. Or it could be all or none of the above. The Bible simply did not spell it out fully.

Cost-Effectiveness of Churches (2 of 2)

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(Continued from yesterday)

Lk 13:6-9 And He began telling this parable: “A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’ And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.’”

I know this parable probably refers to the Jewish nation since it follows Lk 12:1-5 where Jesus taught the Jews to repent. However, it clearly shows the owner’s expectation of fruit may also apply to individuals as well. Make no mistake about it, God expects more fruit:

Jn 15:2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.

Nor is this an isolated incident, as both the parable of the Talents and the Ten Minas showed that God expects us to put what He entrusted to us to work and have fruit to show for it:
Mt 25:27 Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.
• Lk 19:23 Then why did you not put my money in the bank, and having come, I would have collected it with interest?’

What am I saying? That it is neither “results alone” nor “faithful regardless of results” for all times, but being obedient to what God called you to do for that specific time. I believe I am not in a position to “judge” that senior and renowned pastor. Only he and God knew what God had called him to do, and whether he is obedient. I do not know what’s in the heart to say what he should have done. Does cost-effectiveness come into play at all? As stewards we are always accountable to God as to how we use the limited resources He entrusted to us, but pay attention to His call or special assignment which overrides the general call.

Philip the evangelist had a highly successful campaign in Samaria:

Acts 8:6 The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing.

But an angel of the Lord pulled him out in the midst of his campaign to speak to one Ethiopian eunuch (Act 8:26-27). Not preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans (Acts 8:25), just one man. Was it cost-effective, not from our MBA mentality, but Philip was obedient and that is what counts.

If I have to make a choice, I would choose obedience over cost-effectiveness.:

1 Sam 15:22 Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

God knows better. We can use the best of our knowledge to serve Him, but be prepared for His changing our plans at any time. He’s the Lord, we are only unworthy servants. He sometimes asks us to leave the 99 to find the one going astray. Just listen carefully, as He may speak in a still small voice (1 Kings 19:12).

Cost-Effectiveness for Churches (1 of 2)

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Q. A very senior and renowned pastor took up a pastoral job in a small church. When asked why he did so because with his fame and charisma, serving in a mega church should reap more souls and in return the mega church would give him a more generous pay, so it would be a win-win situation. Even setting the remuneration aside, shouldn’t reaping more souls be the primary concern of a pastor? His reply was that a mega church could afford to hire many powerful ministers and evangelists while this small church was one deprived of resources. It was in great need for revival but lacking a powerful minister to help them out on this. Whose statement is more valid, and should the “cost-effectiveness” principle be applied in reaping souls? It seems that the Lord teaches us that He is willing to leave the 99 sheep to find the lost one.

A. Just last week a relative asked me a related question – whether a church should review her programs’ performance. He said they are the largest church in the city. Whenever a Christian celebrity is in town, they would be asked to host a concert, drama, or evangelistic meeting as outreach. This consumed a lot of resources, and those who are results-driven questioned whether it is worthwhile. However, others answered that “God asks us to be faithful, not successful; so we shouldn’t count too much.” Who is correct?

On the one hand, many church leaders now are people in management or professionals in their secular career. They are successful in their jobs and used to management by objectives, strategic planning, performance appraisals etc. When they see the low effectiveness/efficiency in the church, they want to run the church like a business to improve her performance as an organization. On the other hand, there are “old school” leaders who believe that a church is a big family and relationships are most important. They feel so long as they are doing God’s work faithfully, God will take care of the results and they need not worry too much. Who’s right? I believe the answer is somewhere in between, not either/or, but both-and.

If early missionaries and mission boards counted short-term quarterly results like contemporary businesses, Africa would never have opened to the gospel. Hundreds and thousands of missionaries went to the “dark continent”, some with coffins as trunks carrying their earthly belongings, knowing that they may never come home again. Many died from tropical diseases within a few months after arrival, never seeing a single convert. Yet they were faithful and kept going, often with little results to show for their sacrifice. They persevered knowing that God called them and they need to be obedient. The same is true now for missionaries to restricted countries. You can’t measure pioneer work by standards for large organizations.

1 Co 4:2 says “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” Stewards must be faithful. That’s a minimum requirement, but when circumstances change from pioneer work through development phase to growth, does God look for anything else? Is that still the only requirement? I believe He does, as illustrated in His parable of the fig tree.

(To be continued)