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What Denomination Should I Join? (By John M. Frame)

This article first appeared in the Viewpoint column of the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL, volume 36, number 02 (2013). The full text of this article in PDF format can be obtained by clicking here. For further information or to subscribe to the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL go to: http://www.equip.org/christian-research-journal/

People often ask what denomination is best, or what denomination they should join. Of course the prior, and far more important, question is: What should be our relation to Jesus Christ? The answer to that question is that we should believe in Christ as the Bible presents Him, and receive Him as our own Lord and Savior. Lord means that He rules our lives; Savior means that He, and only He, through His work on the cross, brings us divine forgiveness and salvation from sin.

After we have resolved that question, there is room to discuss many other questions. An important one is how we relate to the church; for Jesus did not die for us just to establish a one-on-one relationship. Rather, He baptizes us into one body including people of all backgrounds: Jews, Greeks, slaves, free (1 Cor. 12:13) and gives to each of us gifts of the Spirit intended to build up that body.

So new believers naturally want and need to know what church they should be part of. As we look around us, what strikes us are all the denominational names: Lutheran, Catholic, Baptist, Episcopal, Presbyterian. We therefore tend to ask the question of church membership in terms of denomination—hence the title of this article.

The Birth of Denominations. But if you look in the Bible, you won’t find anything about denominations. Look up “denomination” in a Bible concordance. It isn’t there. Denominations, as we call them today, play no role in the New Testament, and they have no part in New Testament church government; yet they are so very prominent in our contemporary church life. One recent study estimates that there are approximately forty-one thousand denominations in the world today.

How did this happen? According to the New Testament, Jesus founded one true church (Matt. 16). After His resurrection, the church was administered by apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers (Eph. 4:11). There were, from time to time, controversies and disputes among the believers. Jesus indicated what should be done when a believer accused another of sin (Matt. 18:15–20), and the apostles directed the churches to exercise discipline in moral (1 Cor. 5:1–13) and theological (2 Tim. 4:1–5; Tit. 1:13) matters. But the New Testament never suggests that when someone is unsatisfied with the church’s judgment, he should leave the body and start a rival church, a denomination. Indeed, in 1 Corinthians 1:10–13 and 3:1–23 Paul warns against the kind of rivalry that later produced denominations.

Despite such warnings, in time some church members failed to accept the provisions of the one, true church and left to form other “churches.” There were the Novatianists, the Donatists, and various groups of Monophysite and Nestorian bodies. Then there was the great schism between eastern and western churches in AD 1054, the sixteenth-century Protestant/Catholic split in the West, and the general inability of Protestants to achieve visible unity, leading in time to forty-one thousand denominations.

Some of these differ only by name and/or nationality. But many have, or think they have, substantial differences of doctrine or practice, so that they cannot worship together and/or operate under a common church government.

What Is Wrong with Denominationalism? Now I think we should be clear on this fact: denominationalism is sin. It is a refusal to resolve disputes in biblical ways and a rejection of the one, true church founded by Jesus. I am not saying that everybody involved in a “walkout” has committed sin. Sometimes, the sin is on the part of those who leave, and sometimes on the part of people who wrongly forced them to leave. More often, there is plenty of guilt on both sides.

This is not the unforgivable sin. The grace of Jesus covers such people (in church history they have been called “schismatics”) when they repent and trust in His sacrifice. But Christian believers should be at least a little bit sad about these divisions, these wounds in the body of Christ. Unfortunately, what many of us do is to celebrate the founding of our denominations. We praise the great wisdom and spiritual courage of our founders, the sacrifices they made, and so on. And we pledge that we will maintain their position in the continuing strife and in analogous battles taking place today. But I can’t believe that such denominational chauvinism pleases our Lord.

There are battles to be fought today, but the chief battles are against spiritual beings: angels and demons (Eph. 6:10–20), not other believers, definitely not other denominations. Certainly, we are to fight for righteousness, holiness, and truth (2 Tim. 4:1–5); but according to the New Testament, these battles take place within our own church bodies and in the unbelieving world.

Deciding on a Denomination. But the question persists, what denomination should I join? Let’s put the question in more biblical terms: what church should I join? Although there are no denominations in the New Testament, certainly there are churches. The church that Jesus founded is a universal church—a church embracing all nations. But there are also city churches, like the Church of Thessalonica, and house churches, like the one mentioned in Romans 16:5. I have the impression that the city church embraced many house churches, and all the city churches were part of the universal church.

Part of the problem today is that, because of denominationalism, there is no overarching fellowship in a city or throughout the world. The Christians in our cities are split up by denominational differences. If you join the Lutheran church, you will have limited fellowship with Baptists or Episcopalians. So when you make a choice to join one church, you will cut yourself off—not entirely, but somewhat—from fellowship with other believers.

Unfortunately, in the present time, a believer cannot join a church without joining a denomination. Even “nondenominational” churches are actually denominations of one.

Jesus wants us to be part of the church, and to do that we must (with some sadness, I hope) also become parts of denominations. Here are some important considerations in making this choice:

  1. Does the church uphold the basic teachings of Christianity (as in the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds)?
  2. Is the church committed to the authority and inerrancy of Scripture?
  3. Does the preaching of the church fairly represent the teachings of Scripture (as you understand them, of course!) and apply them to the lives of its people?
  4. Does it administer the sacraments in a biblical way?
  5. Does the worship glorify God? Does it edify the worshipers?
  6. Does the church encourage and provide good opportunities for fellowship among the people? Does that fellowship convey the love of Christ?
  7. Does it meet the particular challenges of ministering to specific groups in the church: children, young people, old people, the sick and disabled, men, women, people of different races, income groups, and educational levels?
  8. Does the church reach out to bring the good news of Christ to the unchurched people of the area?
  9. Does the church display the love of Christ to the poor and needy of the area?
  10. Does the church encourage the ministry of the gospel around the world?
  11. Does the church stand for righteousness and against wickedness within its membership and throughout society?

You may notice that none of these criteria uses the word “denomination.” One can often make a wise decision about church membership without even inquiring as to what denomination the church belongs. But generally it is wise to take a church’s denominational membership into consideration.

Some denominations are better than others, in that they encourage churches to be more like the eleven descriptions above. You may sometimes find an excellent church within a weak denomination, or vice versa. But knowing the denominations and their histories can sometimes bring important facts to your attention and save heartaches later on.

For example, some denominations are very preoccupied with their histories and the controversies that led to their formation. That’s usually a negative indication, for the time spent celebrating these histories is usually better spent doing other things. Some denominations are historically Swedish, or English, or Scottish, or Dutch, or African-American, or some other background. That is fine, as long as the church welcomes people from other ethnicities; but often they do not. Sometimes denominations insist on particular emphases of doctrine or practice, which limit the flexibility of a congregation to minister in its present situation. Some denominations are more authoritarian than others in the degree to which they govern each congregation’s use of property, curriculum, missions support, colleges, and seminaries. In some cases that may be a good thing, but prospective members must choose how much authority they think the church should grant to a denomination.

Some denominations claim to be the one, true church, founded by Jesus and the apostles. Then they devote a large amount of effort and resources to persuading people of this claim and disparaging churches and people who belong to other bodies. As I have developed the argument of this article, I think such claims are all false. No denomination is equivalent to that one, true church. The one, true church today is the fellowship of all believers in Christ throughout history and throughout the world, with Jesus at the head. When a denomination claims to be the one, true church, that should be a danger signal to those who think about joining it.

Denominations are not the true church; indeed, denominations are not churches at all. We should get out of the habit of referring to denominations as “churches,” like “the Evangelical Lutheran Church” or “the Presbyterian Church in America.” What are they, then? They are makeshifts. The one, true church still exists, but it has lost much of its earthly unity because of human sin.

Denominations (and for that matter, also the often-criticized “para-church organizations”) are like duct tape or Elmer’s Glue—human attempts to restore something like, but not identical to, the unity of the original church. So one important mark of a good denomination is humility.1 —John M. Frame

John M. Frame is professor of systematic theology and philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.

 

不主觀

  • 主觀就是固執⾃⼰的意⾒,不接受別⼈的意⾒。在沒有聽⼈的意⾒之先,已經先有意⾒在;聽了⼈的意⾒之後,還是堅持⾃⼰的意⾒這個叫作主觀。
  • 主觀就是不容易接受,不容易改正從起頭就有⾃⼰的意⾒,也一直堅持這個意⾒,這個叫作主觀。在主沒有說話之前在事實沒有顯明之前在別⼈的理由沒有發表之前他已經有了成⾒;當主的話來了之後當事實顯明之後,當別⼈的理由發表了之後他那⼀個成⾒還是絲毫不動這個叫作主觀。
  • 如果⼀個弟兄或者⼀個姊妹是主觀的那就連聽話都聽不來。我們要從聽話來學習不主觀。只有你裏⾯是空的,主的話纔能聽得進去,⼈的話纔能聽得進去。作主的⼯作有⼀個基本的要求就是要會聽話知道別⼈的事情知道別⼈的難處。我們在前⾯已經說過,不能聽話是主⼯⼈的⼤難處。不能聽話最⼤的原因,就是主觀。
  • 主觀的⼈還有⼀個難處,就是他很不容易學東西。他裏⾯是這樣的有把握,他裏⾯是這樣的清楚,甚麼都清楚;他裏⾯是這樣定規好了, 甚麼都定規好了;他裏⾯是樣樣都有意⾒,樣樣都有把握;那你要他學⼀點東西,就非常困難。
  • 在屬靈的事情上要有進步,有⼀個基本的條件, 就是我們向著神是開起來的。我們的靈要向神開起來, 我們的⼼要向神開起來, 我們的思想也要向神開起來。向神開起來, 意思就是不主觀;基本的說,就是不主觀。
  • 主觀的⼈還有⼀個⼤難處,就是這個⼈不能得著神的引導。神的引導他摸不著,神的帶領他得不著。⼀個主觀的⼈,神叫他⾛,他不容易⾛;他既⾛了,神叫他停,就不容易停。這就是難處。
  • 請你記得,如果你作⼈主觀,那你不要想對神能客觀,你⼀輩⼦都是主觀 ,你不能⼀下⼦知道神要你作甚麼。如果我們能作到像⼀匹馴⾺⼀樣,我們以 為滿⾜了,但是,神說那是無知的騾⾺,還是不彀。總得作到⼀個地步,主的眼睛看到那裏,我們就⾛到那裏。
  • 明⽩神旨意的問題不是⽅法如何的問題乃是⼈如何的問題。不是我們將明⽩神旨意的⽅法告訴⼀個⼈了,他就能彀明⽩神的旨意。沒有這件事。只有對的⼈⽤對的⽅法纔能知道。⼈不對,就是⽅法對,還是不能知道。明⽩神的旨意,乃是你是甚麼種⼈的問題;明⽩神的旨意,不是⽤甚麼⽅法來明⽩的問題。
  • 關於主觀的問題,我們還要講⼀件事,就是,只有被神對付⽽不主觀的⼈,他纔能對付別⼈纔能被主帶領去作對付⼈的⼈。神不能信託⼀個主觀的⼈,神絕不能信託他。
  • 我們不⼲涉⼈。個⼈的⽣活個⼈的⾒地我們都不⼲涉。我們沒有意思要⼲涉任何的⼈我們沒有意思要⼲涉任何的事。 ⼀個事奉神的⼈必須被神帶到這樣的地步纔能被神⽤來代表神的權柄說話。我們要學習不把⾃⼰的意思駕馭別⼈。甚麼時候⼈不願意聽你的話你就把話收回來不勉強⼈聽。你在神⾯前有負擔,你告訴了弟兄姊妹,他們如果聽就好,他們如果不喜歡聽, 就收回來。不要把你的意思強加在別⼈身上。
  • 一個主觀的⼈在任何的事情上都主觀 ⼀個主觀的⼈, 就是喜歡⽀配⼈:⼀個主觀的⼈就是喜歡有意⾒;⼀個主觀的人, 就是喜歡發命令要⼈作這個要⼈作那個;⼀個主觀的⼈, 任何的事情他都知道怎麼作。
  • 主觀的⼈不⼀定是忠⼼的人。⼀個忠⼼的⼈說話,是因為需要說話。⼀個忠⼼的⼈說話,不是因為喜歡說話不是因為他有說話的慾。忠⼼的⼈說話是因為怕⼈錯了忠⼼的⼈說話不是因為有情慾要說話。忠⼼的⼈如果被⼈棄絕他也不難過他可以不說。主觀的⼈卻完全兩樣。主觀的⼈有情慾要說話他不說話覺得難受。他有⼀個習慣,碰著事情就說,非說不可。
  • 世界上最⼩的⼈就是主觀的⼈。只有當你在神⾯前受對付的時候, 當你的主觀受對付的時候你纔能彀作⼀個⼤的⼈。只有⼤的⼈纔能忍受與他不同的⼈。

倪柝声

Love each other 彼此相爱

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
While sometimes remembering the Lord’s great and first commandment to love Him, I often forget his second commandment to love one another (neighbor). Not a recommendation or suggestion but a commandment. Not just love but love as much as ourselves. May the Lord shine on us as we read His word, and may we touch His heart in His repeated commandments. This is not a supplementary but a primary issue. If we love the Lord, let’s love each other from a pure heart.
Praise the Lord for His commandments!

Lord’s commandment 主的诫命

Matthew 22:37-40 马太福音
And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

耶稣对他说, “你要全心、全魂并全心思, 爱主你的神。” 这是最大的, 且是第一条诫命。其次也相仿:”要爱邻舍如同自己。” 一切律法和申言者的教训都系于这两条诫命。

  • On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets

Mark 12:29-33 马可福音
Jesus answered, The first is: “Hear, Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord; And you shall love the Lord your God from your whole heart and from your whole soul and from your whole mind and from your whole strength.” The second is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.There is no other commandment greater than these. And the scribe said to Him, Well said, Teacher; in truth You have said that He is one and there is not another besides Him; And to love Him from the whole heart and from the whole understanding and from the whole strength and to love one’s neighbor as himself is much more than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.

耶稣回答说, 第一是, “以色列啊, 你要听, 主我们的神, 是独一的主。你要全心, 全魂, 全心思并全力, 爱主你的神。”其次, “要爱邻舍如同自己。”再没有别的诫命比这两条更大的了。那经学家对祂说, 夫子, 不错, 你说的是真实的, 神只有一位, 除了祂以外, 再没有别神; 并且全心, 全悟性并全力爱祂, 又爱邻舍如同自己, 就比一切的燔祭, 和各样的祭物好得多。

  • There is no other commandment greater than these.
  • Much more than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices

John 13:34-35 约翰福音
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

我赐给你们一条新诫命, 乃是叫你们彼此相爱, 正如我爱你们, 为使你们也彼此相爱。你们若彼此相爱, 众人因此就认出你们是我的门徒了。

  • The Lord gave us a new commandment to love one another
  • As He have loved us, that we also love one another.
  • If we have love for one another, all men know that we are His disciples.

John 15:12-17 约翰福音
This is My commandment, that you love one another even as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all the things which I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and I set you that you should go forth and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give you. These things I command you that you may love one another.

你们要彼此相爱, 像我爱你们一样, 这就是我的诫命。人为朋友舍命, 人的爱没有比这个大的。你们若遵行我所吩咐你们的, 就是我的朋友了。以后我不再称你们为奴仆, 因为奴仆不知道主人所作的事; 我乃称你们为朋友, 因我从我父所听见的, 都已经告诉你们了。不是你们拣选了我, 乃是我拣选了你们, 并且立了你们, 要你们前去, 并要你们结果子, 且要你们的果子常存, 使你们在我的名里, 无论向父求什么, 祂就赐给你们。我将这些事吩咐你们, 是要叫你们彼此相爱。

  • This is the Lord’s commandment that we love one another even as He loved us.
  • If we do what He command us, we are His friends.
  • These things He command us that we may love one another.

Apostle Paul’s teachings 使徒保罗的教导

Romans 12:9-10 罗马书
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Love one another warmly in brotherly love; take the lead in showing honor one to another.

爱不可假冒, 恶要厌弃, 善要贴近。爱弟兄, 要彼此亲热; 恭敬人, 要互相争先。

Romans 13:8-10 罗马书
Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves the other has fulfilled the law. For, “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, ” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this word, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does not work evil to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

凡事都不可亏欠人, 惟有彼此相爱, 要常以为亏欠, 因为爱人的就完全了律法。因为”不可奸淫, 不可杀人, 不可偷盗, 不可贪心, “以及任何别的诫命, 都总括在”要爱邻舍如同自己”这一句话里面了。爱是不加害与邻舍的, 所以爱乃是律法的完满。

  • He who loves the other has fulfilled the law.
  • If there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this word, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
  • Love does not work evil to his neighbor
  • Love is the fulfillment of the law.

Galatians 5:13-14 加拉太书
For you were called for freedom, brothers; only do not turn this freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

弟兄们, 你们蒙召原是为得自由; 只是不可将自由当作放纵肉体的机会, 倒要凭着爱互相服事。因为全律法都在”要爱邻舍如同自己”这一句话之内, 得以完全了。

  • For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

1 Thessalonians 3:12 帖撒罗尼迦前书
And the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we also to you,

又愿主使你们彼此的爱并对众人的爱, 都能增多洋溢, 正如我们对你们一样;

1 Thessalonians 4:9 帖撒罗尼迦前书
Now concerning brotherly love, you have no need for me to write to you, for you yourselves are taught of God to love one another;

关于弟兄相爱, 不用我写信给你们, 因为你们自己蒙了神的教导, 叫你们彼此相爱;

  • We ourselves are taught of God to love one another

2 Thessalonians 1:3 帖撒罗尼迦后书
We ought to thank God always concerning you, brothers, even as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly and the love of each one of you all to one another is increasing,

弟兄们, 我们应当常为你们感谢神, 这本是合宜的; 因你们的信心格外增长, 你们众人每一位彼此相爱的心也一直增加,

  • The love of each one of us to another increases

Hebrews 13:1 希伯来书
Let brotherly love continue.

弟兄相爱要持久。

Apostle Peter’s teaching 使徒彼得的教导

1 Peter 1:22 彼得前书
Since you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth unto unfeigned brotherly love, love one another from a pure heart fervently,

你们既因顺从真理, 洁净了自己的魂, 以致爱弟兄没有假冒, 就当从清洁的心里彼此热切相爱;

1 Peter 2:17  彼得前书
Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

务要尊敬众人, 爱众弟兄, 敬畏神, 尊敬君王。

1 Peter 3:8-9 彼得前书
And finally be all of the same mind, sympathetic, loving the brothers, tenderhearted, humble-minded; Not rendering evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing one another, because you were called to this, that you might inherit blessing.

总之, 你们众人都要心思一致, 同情体恤, 弟兄相爱, 心存慈怜, 心思卑微。不以恶报恶, 或以辱骂还辱骂, 倒要祝福, 因你们是为此蒙召, 好叫你们承受福分。

1 Peter 4:8 彼得前书
最要紧的,是彼此热切相爱,因为爱能遮盖众多的罪。
Above all, have fervent love among yourselves, because love covers a multitude of sins.

Apostle John’s teaching and ask. 使徒约翰的勸勉和请求

1 John 2-7-11 约翰一书
Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you but an old commandment, which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you heard. Yet again a new commandment I am writing to you, which is true in Him and in you because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. He who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause of stumbling in him; But he who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

亲爱的, 我写给你们的, 不是一条新诫命, 乃是一条你们从起初就有的旧诫命, 这旧诫命就是你们所听见的话。再者, 我写给你们的是一条新诫命, 这在主并在你们都是真的; 因为黑暗渐渐过去, 真光已经照耀。那说自己在光中, 却恨他弟兄的, 到如今还是在黑暗里。那爱他弟兄的, 就住在光中, 在他并没有绊跌的缘由; 但那恨他弟兄的, 是在黑暗里, 且在黑暗里行, 也不知道往那里去, 因为黑暗弄瞎了他的眼睛。

  • He who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness.
  • He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause of stumbling in him.
  • He who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

1 John 3:10-11 约翰一书
In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest. Everyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, neither he who does not love his brother. For this is the message which you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another,

在此, 神的儿女和魔鬼的儿女就显出来了。凡不行义的, 就不是出于神; 不爱他弟兄的也是如此。我们应当彼此相爱, 这就是你们从起初所听见的信息;

1 John 3:14-19 约翰一书
We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brothers. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. In this we know love, that He laid down His life on our behalf, and we ought to lay down our lives on behalf of the brothers. But whoever has the livelihood of the world and sees that his brother has need and shuts up his affections from him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word nor in tongue but in deed and truthfulness. And in this we will know that we are of the truth, and we will persuade our heart before Him,

我们因为爱弟兄, 就晓得是已经出死入生了。不爱弟兄的, 仍住在死中。凡恨他弟兄的, 就是杀人的; 你们晓得凡杀人的, 没有永远的生命住在他里面。主为我们舍命, 在此我们就知道何为爱; 我们也当为弟兄舍命。凡有世上养生之物的, 看见弟兄有需要, 却向他塞住慈心, 神的爱怎能住在他里面?孩子们, 我们相爱, 不要只在言语和舌头上, 总要在行为和真诚上。在此就知道, 我们是属真理的, 并且我们在祂面前可以安心;

  • We know that we have passed out death into life because we love the brothers.
  • He who does not love abides in death.
  • Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
  • We ought to lay down our lives on behalf of the brothers.

1 John 3:23 约翰一书
And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, even as He gave a commandment to us.

神的诫命就是叫我们信祂儿子耶稣基督的名, 并且照祂所赐给我们的诫命彼此相爱。

1 John 4:7-8 约翰一书
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God, and everyone who loves has been begotten of God and knows God. He who does not love has not known God, because God is love.

亲爱的, 我们应当彼此相爱, 因为爱是出于神的; 凡爱弟兄的, 都是从神生的, 并且认识神。不爱弟兄的, 未曾认识神, 因为神就是爱。

  • Let us love one another because love if of God.
  • Everyone who loves has been begotten of God and knows God.
  • He who does not love has not known God, because God is love.

1 John 4:11-12 约翰一书
Beloved, if God has loved us in this way, we also ought to love one another. No one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

亲爱的, 神既是这样爱我们, 我们也当彼此相爱。从来没有人见过神; 我们若彼此相爱, 神就住在我们里面, 祂的爱也在我们里面得了成全。

  • If God has loved us in this way, we also ought to love one another.
  • If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

1 John 4:18-21 约翰一书
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear because fear has punishment, and he who fears has not been perfected in love. We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that he who loves God love his brother also.

爱里没有惧怕, 完全的爱把惧怕驱除, 因为惧怕含有刑罚, 惧怕的人在爱里未得成全。我们爱, 因为神先爱我们。人若说, 我爱神, 却恨他的弟兄, 就是说谎的; 不爱他所看见的弟兄, 就不能爱没有看见的神。爱神的, 也当爱他的弟兄, 这是我们从祂所受的诫命。

  • There is no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear.
  • We love because He first loved us.
  • If anyone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar.
  • He who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.
  • He who loves God loves his brother also.

1 John 5:1-3 约翰一书

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been begotten of God, and everyone who loves Him who has begotten loves him also who has been begotten of Him. In this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and do His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

凡信耶稣是基督的, 都是从神生的; 凡爱那生他的, 也爱从祂生的。我们若爱神, 并行祂的诫命, 在此就知道我们爱神的儿女。我们遵守神的诫命, 这就是爱祂了; 并且祂的诫命不是难担的;

  • Everyone who loves Him who has begotten loves him also who has been begotten of Him.
  • In this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and do His commandments.

2 John 1:5-6 约翰二书
And now I ask you, lady, not as writing a new commandment to you but that which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, even as you heard from the beginning, that you walk in love.

夫人啊, 我现在请求你, 我们要彼此相爱;我写给你的并不是一条新诫命, 乃是我们从起初就有的诫命。我们要照祂的诫命行, 这就是爱;你们要行在爱中, 这就是诫命, 正如你们从起初所听见的。

  • Not a new commandment but from the beginning, that we love one another. 
  • This is love, that we walk according to His commandments
  • This is the commandment that you walk in love. 

聖經數字謎題:雅各幾歲離家?

本文要暫時跳脫創世記的進度,討論一個有趣的問題,就是:雅各離開家的時候幾歲?答案不見得很重要,但是我是覺得東拼西湊找到證據,過程頗有意思。

在普遍印象中,雅各好像是個整天待在家的宅男,有一天媽媽突然偷聽到爸爸跟哥哥的對話,叫他假扮成哥哥騙取爸爸的祝福。得手了以後,雅各為了躲避憤怒的哥哥,只好離開家。這時的雅各,應該還滿年輕的吧?

事實上,如果創世記各處都記載無誤,而我也沒有算錯的話,雅各離家的年紀,應該是77歲左右。

「慢著,你說雅各當時是77歲的…老頭兒?」

容我算給你聽。關鍵線索是:約瑟的出生時間

  1. 雅各離開家,總共在拉班那裡作工20年(創31:41)
  2. 雅各作工7年後,娶了利亞、拉結。利亞生了6個孩子,中間還間隔拉結的使女辟拉生2個、利亞的使女悉帕生2個。然後拉結才有了第一個孩子 — 約瑟(創29:31-30:22)
  3. 約瑟出生之後,雅各開始打算離開拉班。所以他去找拉班商量,在這之後最多做了6年工,因為雅各說他為了拉班的羊群服事他6年(創31:41)。總之,約瑟出生時,雅各應該是離家第14年左右
  4. 約瑟見法老、當上埃及宰相時年30歲(創41:46)
  5. 當7個豐年及2個荒年,也就是9年過去以後,雅各來到了埃及見法老,當時他130歲。雅各130 – 約瑟39 = 雅各91歲生約瑟(創47:9)
  6. 所以約瑟出生時,雅各91歲,他離家已經滿14年左右,相減之下,可得雅各77歲時離開家,是個老頭兒,哈!
  7. 順帶一提的是,雅各對拉結一見鍾情,也是在他77歲的時候哪!

以下是我整理出的年齡表,供大家參考!出處指的是年齡數字的出處,粗體表示經文上有明寫數字,其餘一律是推算出來的。

亞伯拉罕一家年齡差距表
事件 出處 亞伯
拉罕
撒拉 以實
馬利
以撒 以掃 雅各 約瑟
亞伯拉罕離開唔珥 創12 75 65
+11 以實馬利出生 創16 86 76 0
+13 應許隔年生以撒、改名、割禮立約 創17 99 89 13
+1 以撒出生 創21 100 90 14 0
+37 撒拉去世 創23 137 127 51 37
+3 以撒娶妻 創25 140 54 40
+20 以掃雅各出生 創25 160 74 60 0 0
+15 亞伯拉罕去世 創25 175 89 75 15 15
+25 以掃娶妻 創26 114 100 40 40
+23 以實馬利去世 創25 137 123 63 63
+14 雅各離家 創31 137 77 77
+7 雅各取利亞、拉結(苦工7年) 推算 144 84 84
+7 約瑟出生(苦工14年) 推算 151 91 91 0
+6 雅各離開拉班(苦工20年) 創31 157 97 97 6
+11 約瑟被賣 創37 168 108 108 17
+12 以撒去世 創35 180 120 120 29
+1 約瑟見法老,豐年開始 創41 121 30
+9 雅各下埃及,荒年過二年 創47 130 39
+17 雅各去世 創47 147 56
+54 約瑟去世 創50 110

http://blog.13h.tw/2011/02/blog-post_16.html

主的道路(1)-應許與祝福

诗篇 128:1 凡敬畏耶和華、遵行祂道路的人,便為有福。

箴言 8:32 眾子阿,現在要聽從我;因為謹守我道路的,便為有福。

申命记 5:33 你們要行耶和華你們神所吩咐你們行的一切道路,使你們可以存活,得福,並使你們的日子在所要得為業的地上,得以長久。

1. 存活, 生命

申命记 5:33 你們要行耶和華你們神所吩咐你們行的一切道路,使你們可以存活,得福,並使你們的日子在所要得為業的地上,得以長久。
申命记 30:16 你若聽從耶和華你神的誡命,就是我今日所吩咐你的,愛耶和華你的神,行祂的道路,謹守祂的誡命、律例和典章,使你可以存活,人數增多,耶和華你神就必在你所要進去得為業的地上,賜福與你。
箴言 12:28 在公義的道路上有生命;其路徑之中並無死亡。

2. 長壽

列王记上 3:14 你若行我的道路,謹守我的律例和誡命,正如你父親大衛所行的,我必使你長壽。

3. 盡都順利

列王记上 2:3 謹守耶和華你神所吩咐的,行祂的道路,照著摩西律法上所寫的,謹守祂的律例、誡命、典章和法度;好叫你無論作甚麼事,不拘往何處去,盡都順利;

4. 作子民歸祂自己

申命记 28:9 你若謹守耶和華你神的誡命,行祂的道路,祂必照著向你所起的誓,立你作聖別的子民,歸祂自己。

5. 人數增多

申命记 30:16 你若聽從耶和華你神的誡命,就是我今日所吩咐你的,愛耶和華你的神,行祂的道路,謹守祂的誡命、律例和典章,使你可以存活,人數增多,耶和華你神就必在你所要進去得為業的地上,賜福與你。

6. 主的同在

列王记上 11:38 你若聽從我一切所吩咐你的,遵行我的道路,行我眼中看為正的事,謹守我的律例和誡命,像我僕人大衛所行的,我就與你同在,為你建造穩固的家,像我為大衛所建造的一樣;我也要將以色列賜給你。

7. 保障, 穩固

箴言 10:29 耶和華的道路是純全人的保障,卻成了作孽人的敗壞。
列王记上 11:38 你若聽從我一切所吩咐你的,遵行我的道路,行我眼中看為正的事,謹守我的律例和誡命,像我僕人大衛所行的,我就與你同在,為你建造穩固的家,像我為大衛所建造的一樣;我也要將以色列賜給你。

8. 抬舉
诗篇 37:34 你當等候耶和華,謹守祂的道路,祂就抬舉你,使你承受地土;惡人被剪除的時候,你必看見。

9. 審理我的家,看守我的院宇

撒迦利亚书 3:7 萬軍之耶和華如此說,你若遵行我的道路,謹守我所吩咐的,你就可以審理我的家,看守我的院宇;我也要使你在這些站立在這裏的使者中間來往。

10. 地土

诗篇 37:34 你當等候耶和華,謹守祂的道路,祂就抬舉你,使你承受地土;惡人被剪除的時候,你必看見。
申命记 19:9 你若謹守遵行我今日所吩咐的這一切誡命,愛耶和華你的神,常常行祂的道路,就要在這三座城之外,再為自己加添三座城;

列王记上 2:4 好使耶和華堅立祂所說關於我的話說,你的子孫若謹慎自己所行的道路,全心全魂、誠誠實實的行在我面前,就不斷有人坐以色列的國位。

列王记上 8:25 耶和華以色列的神阿,現在求你向你僕人我父親大衛守住你的應許;你曾對他說,你的子孫若謹守他們的道路,行在我面前,像你行在我面前一樣,就不斷有人在我面前坐以色列的國位。

历代记下 6:16 耶和華以色列的神阿,求你向你僕人我父親大衛守住你的應許;你曾對他說,你的子孫若謹守他們的道路,遵行我的律法,像你在我面前所行的一樣,就不斷有人在我面前坐以色列的國位。

Don’t Gossip

Matthew 5:37 But let your word be, Yes, yes; No, no; for anything more than these is of the evil one.

你们的话,是,就说是,不是,就说不是;若再多说,就是出于那恶者。

James 3:2, 4-5 For in many things we all stumble. If anyone does not stumble in word, this one is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well….Behold, the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by rough winds, are directed by a very small rudder wherever the impulse of the pilot wills. So also the tongue is a little member yet boasts great things. Behold, how great a forest so little a fire ignites!

我们在许多事上都有过失,若有人在话语上没有过失,他就是完全人,也能勒住全身。…看哪,船只虽然那么大,又被狂风催逼,无论掌舵者的意思要往那里去,都能被小小的舵调动。舌头也是这样,虽是个小肢体,却能说夸大的话。看哪,多么小的火,能点着多么大的树林。

 

Proverbs 11:13 He who goes about as a gossip reveals secrets, But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.

往来搬弄是非的,泄漏秘密;灵里忠信的,遮隐事情。

Proverbs 16:27-28 A worthless man digs up evil, And on his lips there is a scorching fire.A perverse man spreads strife, And a whisperer separates close friends.

卑劣之徒挖出奸恶,嘴上仿佛有烧焦的火。乖僻的人播散纷争,传闲话的人离间密友。

Proverbs 20:19 He who goes about as a gossip reveals secrets; Therefore do not associate with one who opens his lips wide.

往来传闲话的,泄漏秘密,所以大张嘴的,不可与他结交。

Proverbs 26:20 For lack of wood the fire goes out, And where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down.

缺了柴,火就熄灭;没有传闲话的人,争论便止息。

Romans 1:28,30 And even as they did not approve of holding God in their full knowledge, God gave them up to a disapproved mind, to do the things which are not fitting, Whisperers, slanderers, hateful to God, insolent, arrogant, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

他们既然不以认识神为美,神就任凭他们存可弃绝的心思,行那些不合宜的事,…又是谗毁人的,背后说人的,憎恨神的,侮慢人的,狂傲的,自夸的,捏造恶事的,违背父母的,

1 Timothy 4:12 Let no one despise your youth, but be a pattern to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

不可叫人小看你年轻,总要在言语、为人、爱、信、纯洁上,都作信徒的榜样。

2 Timothy 3:2-3,5 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, savage, not lovers of good, … Having an outward form of godliness, though denying its power; from these also turn away.

因为那时人要成为爱自己者、爱钱财者、自夸者、狂傲的、毁谤者、违背父母的、忘恩负义的、不圣的、无亲情的、不解怨的、好说谗言者、不能自约的、性情凶暴的、不爱良善者、… 有敬虔的外形,却否认了敬虔的能力;这等人你要躲开。

關於祷告的十個點 10 points concerning prayer

以弗所书-Ephesians
6:17-18 还要藉着各样的祷告和祈求,接受救恩的头盔,并那灵的剑,那灵就是神的话;时时在灵里祷告,并尽力坚持,在这事上儆醒,且为众圣徒祈求
And receive the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which Spirit is the word of God, By means of all prayer and petition, praying at every time in spirit and watching unto this in all perseverance and petition concerning all the saints,

以弗所這處經節基本上包括了祷告的重要的點

  • 藉着祷告接受救恩的头盔
  • 藉着祷告接受那灵的剑,那灵就是神的话
  • 时时祷告
  • 在灵里祷告,
  • 尽力坚持祷告
  • 祷告上儆醒
  • 为众圣徒祈求

1. 我們應當常常祷告,不可灰心 always 

路加福音-Luke 18:1
耶稣又对他们讲一个比喻,是要人常常祷告,不可灰心,说,
And He told them a parable to the end that they ought always to pray and not lose heart,

2. 我們應當不住的祷告 Unceasingly 

帖撒罗尼迦前书-1 Thessalo 5:17
不住的祷告,
Unceasingly pray,

3. 我們應當同心合意,坚定持续的祷告 steadfastly with one accord

使徒行传-Acts 1:14
这些人同着几个妇人,和耶稣的母亲马利亚,并耶稣的兄弟,都同心合意,坚定持续的祷告。
These all continued steadfastly with one accord in prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

4. 我們可以为万人祈求, 代求, 感谢 Petitions, intercessions, thanksgiving

提摩太前书-1 Timothy 2:1
所以我劝你,第一要为万人祈求、祷告、代求、感谢;
I exhort therefore, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings be made on behalf of all men;

5. 我們可以請人為我們祷告 

帖撒罗尼迦后书-2 Thessalo 3:1 
末了的话,弟兄们,请你们为我们祷告,好叫主的话快快传开,且得荣耀,正如在你们中间一样;
Finally, brothers, pray concerning us, that the word of the Lord may run and be glorified, even as it is also with you;

希伯来书-Hebrews 13:18
请你们为我们祷告,因我们深信自己良心无亏,愿意凡事都行得好。
Pray for us, for we are persuaded that we have a good conscience, desiring in all things to conduct ourselves honorably.

6. 我們可以将所要的告诉神

腓立比书-Philippians 4:6
应当一无挂虑,只要凡事藉着祷告、祈求,带着感谢,将你们所要的告诉神;
In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

7. 神聽祷告

约伯记-Job 22:27
你祷告祂,祂就听你;你也要还你的愿。
You will pray to Him, and He will hear you; And you will repay your vows.

8. 我們可以独自祷告 alone

马太福音-Matthew
14:23 既解散了群众,祂就独自上山去祷告。到了晚上,只有祂单独在那里。
And after He sent the crowds away, He went up to the mountain privately to pray. And when night fell, He was there alone.

9. 我們可以長時間的祷告 whole night 

路加福音-Luke 6:12
那些日子,耶稣出去上山祷告,整夜祷告神。
And in these days He went out to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.

10. 我們可以禁食祷告 Fasting

尼希米记-Nehemiah 1:4
我听见这些话,就坐下哭泣,悲哀几日,在天上的神面前禁食祷告,
And when I heard these words, I sat down and wept, and I mourned for some days; and I fasted and prayed before the God of heaven,

但以理书-Daniel 9:3
我便禁食,披麻蒙灰,面向主神寻求,祷告、恳求。
So I set my face toward the Lord God to seek Him in prayer and supplications with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.

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