• Christ and Church Life and Building Spirit and Bride

    基督與召會
    生命與建造
    那靈與新婦



    As a lover of Christ and a pursuer of truth, I write down my joys, memories and reflections.

    May God lead us all into the secret of His presence, and build us into the oneness of His body in love.
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Luke’s person and writings

Colossians 4:14
Luke, the beloved physician, greets you, as well as Demas.

2 Timothy 4:11
Luke alone is with me. Take Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for the ministry.

Philemon 1:24
As do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers.

Luke as a historical figure is usually under-appreciated among other prominent ones in the New Testament, such as Paul or Peter. In fact, other than the two books he authored, the entire New Testament only mentioned his name three times. However I always like the person and the character of Luke. Today, for a special reason, I would like to summarize his person as revealed in history and his writings.

Person

  • Author of two Bible books: The early church recognized Luke as the author of both Gospel of Luke and the Acts.
    • Luke’s authorship is evident from the style of composition of two books.
    • The two books were all one book at one time but was later separated into two books for ease of reading. As reading the end of the Gospel of Luke and the beginning of the Book of Acts, one can see that it is a continuous book that was intentionally written as one book.
  • Historian of the first rank:
    • The Gospel of Luke, the record of the life of Christ, was one of the best historical documents ever written.
    • Besides numerous mentions of things with historical and archaeological significance, he also mentioned 32 countries, 54 cities, 9 islands, dozens of other historical figures at the time.
    • Sir William Ramsay, one of the greatest archaeologists of all time, studied under teaching that the New Testament was written in the mid-200s AD, and not an historical document recorded in the first century. Believed in this teaching, Ramsay purposefully went to Asia Minor to find physical evidence to refute Luke’s biblical record. After 25 or more years of field study, he was overwhelmed with the evidence, that he completely reversed his view of the Bible and first century history, and eventually converted to Christianity. He wrote:

I began with a mind unfavorable to it…but more recently I found myself brought into contact with the Book of Acts as an authority for the topography, antiquities, and society of Asia Minor. It was gradually borne upon me that in various details the narrative showed marvelous truth…

Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy, he is possessed of the true historic sense…in short, this author should be placed along with the greatest of historians.

  • Faithful companion and coworker of Apostle Paul:
    • Beginning in Troas, he joined Paul in his ministry and accompanied him in his last three ministry journeys (Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-21:18; 27:1-28:15). He was a faithful companion of Paul until Paul’s martyrdom (Philem. 24; 2 Tim. 4:11).
  • Gentile: Luke was a Gentile, probably an Asiatic Greek
  • Physician (Col. 4:14)
  • Some Christian tradition also states that he was 
    • A native of the Hellenistic city of Antioch in Syria
    • Artist and Painter
    • Unmarried and without children
    • Martyr: He is believed to have died a martyr at age 84

Writings:

Allow me to use the beginning of the Gospel of Luke to illustrate the character of Luke and the methodology he employed in writing Gospel of Luke:  

Luke 1:1-4
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to draw up a narrative concerning the matters which have been fully accomplished among us, Even as those who from the beginning became eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, It seemed good to me also, having carefully investigated all things from the first, to write them out for you in an orderly fashion, most excellent Theophilus, So that you may fully know the certainty of the things concerning which you were instructed.

路加福音 1:1-4
提阿非罗大人哪,因为有好些人已经着手作书,述说在我们中间所完全成就的事,是照那些从起初亲眼看见,又将这道供应我们的人,所交付我们的;这一切的事我既从起头都详确考察了,就认为也该按着次序写给你,使你深知所教导你的事,都是确实的。

First of all, Luke wrote under the divine inspiration of God (2 Tim. 3:16). Hence, the Holy Spirit Himself guaranteed the accuracy of Luke’s gospel, including Luke 1:1-4. When introducing his Gospel, Luke indicated a few items concerning his account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, and in these verses God showed us how He used human (Luke) mind and ability for writing down the divine revelation.

  1. He acknowledged the precedent of other gospels
  2. He recognized the reliability of the narratives, for they were based on eyewitness testimony.
  3. He outlined the process he went though to accomplish his writings
  4. He revealed the purpose of he records

His Research and Writing Style

Luke indicated that his research was thorough. He said that he investigated ‘all things.’ Luke’s research was also comprehensive since he wrote that he investigated all things ‘from the first.’ Luke also indicates that he was concerned with the truth, not just a good story. When he spoke of the ancient world, he was accurate. When he used political terminology, he was precise. When medical insights were appropriate, his skill enabled him to paint a more vivid picture.

The Central Thoughts of Gospel of Luke: 

There are 3 central thoughts of the Gospel of Luke, as excerpted from Recovery Version Bible Footnotes:

  • Christ as a Perfect Man and Man-Savior: The purpose of the Gospel of Luke is to present the Savior as a genuine, normal, and perfect man. It gives a complete genealogy of the man Jesus, from His parents back to Adam, the first generation of mankind, and shows that He is a genuine descendant of man. Its record of this man impresses us with the completeness and perfection of His humanity. Hence, this Gospel stresses the Lord as the Man-Savior.
  • Universal Morality: Based on the moral principles that apply to all men, it presents gospel messages, as in 4:16-21; 7:41-43; 12:14-21; and 13:2-5; gospel parables, as in10:30-37; 14:16-24; 15:3-32; and 18:9-14; and gospel cases, as in 7:36-50; 13:10-17; 16:19-31; 19:1-10; and 23:39-43. None of these are recorded in the other Gospels.
  • Gospel to all People: It is the Gospel written to mankind in general, and it announces the good news to all people (2:10). Its characteristic is absolutely not Jewish but Gentile (4:25-28). It is a Gospel to all sinners, both Jewish and Gentile.

Footnote Reference

Summary

Here is my personal summary of Luke, which is not necessarily scriptural but are the reasons why I like Luke as a person.

  1. He is faithful follower of the New Testament ministry
  2. He is scientific; he writes down after careful investigation
  3. He is thorough and comprehensive; He investigates all things from the first
  4. He is precise and accurate; he writes with accuracy and certainty
  5. He is orderly; he writes and presents in an orderly fashion
  6. He is considerate and helpful; he help others to know the truth

References

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The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both.

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

黄樹分出兩條岔路
我遺憾未能二路皆行
獨自旅行的我佇立許久
極目眺望其中一路的盡頭
直至它拐進灌木深處

但我走了另一同樣美麗的路
它似乎是更佳的選擇
草長如茵,人跡罕至
儘管往來的足跡
對兩者的磨損相當

清晨兩路被落葉覆蓋
不見前人腳步 ,
啊我將原路留待他日
但知一路連至一路
不禁懷疑可否重遊

多年之後,在某處
我輕聲嘆息,回敘此事
一樹分出兩條岔路
我選了足跡較少的那條
因此造成了一切的截然不同

Robert Frost (1874–1963)

New Year Resolution

  1. Punctual for meetings and appointments
  2. Genuine and Nice
  3. Get up and go to bed early
  4. Think well of others
  5. Be ready for each meeting
  6. Read Old Testament once
  7. Exercise 3 times a week
  8. Morning Revival Every day
  9. Beat 1 fruit
  10. Shepherd 3 people

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. 

When my heart grows

My heart grows

when its center shifts from myself unto God

when it treasures the unseen more than the seen

when it discards earthly pleasure and pursues heavenly vision

when it seeks the light of truth than my own gains

 

My heart grows

when it knows Christ is my captain, not myself

when it realizes that Christ is my only cure to my incurable self

when it learns the secret to trust Christ rather than my strength

when it is empty before Christ, even when I have known Him

 

My heart grows

when it cheers for others’ success that I don’t share

when it does not expect others to do what I expect myself

when it does not judge what I consider unrighteous

when it is not provoked, even when there are good reasons to

 

My heart grows

when it despises my pride, even when I feel capable

when it would not discard a path because it is less traveled

when it is filled with love of God, not with self-love

when it abandons the need to feel superior than others

 

My heart grows

when it is honest even when being not truthful is easier

when it desires righteousness over popularity

when it speaks the truth in spite of its harsh sound

when its choice is not always the less suffering one

 

My heart grows

when I love my neighbors as myself

when I care others’ need as mine

when I labor not because of recognition

when I desire to be serving than be served

 

Amen.

 

 

 

Lord Undo Me – by Blake Williams

I don’t really worship these day
I don’t really stand up to praise you with songs
Or prayers or actions
or with anything
I am full of all the right moves
I am full of all the right words
I am full of all the right religion
But it is all just illusion
I am really
Lonely
Lost
Calloused
Jaded
Cynical
Too religious
Too realistic
and well really just to lazy
to worship you anymore
I have lost my first love
I have lost the joy of your presence
But most of all I have lost the fear of your glory

Father I need to see you again
Like Isaiah I want to stand in awe of your glory
To fall down at your feet
To come face to face with your
Perfection,
Radiance,
Goodness,
Holiness,
Awesomeness
I want to stand before you and see you for who you are
and me for who I am
I want to be undone

I want to know me for who I really am
I want to see the depths of my heart
And know that you are the only way
You are the only truth
You are the only life
I want to see me and understand
What it really must have taken for you to
Love me
Care for me
See me
Speak to me
Want me
Communicate with me
Die for me
Die for me
Die for me

Lord, I want to stand in that place where all I can see is your glory
And my sin
Because in that place I can’t help but worship you.
Lord let me come undone
Undo my heart
Lord, undo my heart
break down these walls that I love so much
No, wait don’t,
I’m scared I don’t know if I can handle this
don’t
But I can’t live this way anymore
I can’t stand here in this half-life
this going through the motions life
this not really alive life
Father, I need you so come in and do what you must
Cut out the tumor on my heart
Break down the walls that I love
Lord let me come undone
Undo my heart
let me worship you again

*Blake Williams

http://www.klove.com/blog/jd/post/2011/09/15/Facebook-Prayer.aspx

王艾明:外界对倪柝声、李常受和召会的三种误读

2014年06月05日 09:06

王艾明(英文名Ambroise WANG)牧师,金陵协和神学院教授,瑞士巴塞尔大学神学博士,瑞士纳沙泰尔大学荣誉博士。现任金陵协和神学院副院长,中国宗教学会理事,《金陵神学志》主编、江苏省基督教协会副会长、中国基督教协会神学教育委员会副主任、辽宁大学区域经济发展研究中心研究员。
王艾明教授的主要研究领域为:系统神学(教义神学、伦理神学)、改教神学(路德研究、加尔文研究、清教主义)、神学解释学、教父学等。

– 小群教会,中国基督教教派之一,又被称为基督徒聚会处,聚会所,地方教会,召会等。从其教制形态,特别是其祈祷、团契、牧养和信仰表述等来看,是属于西方主流宗派教会之外的自由教会范畴。 1920年,原美以美会家庭背景的倪柝声在英国圣公会于福州南台开设的学校读书学习期间,受到当时中国著名女兴奋布道家余慈度(DoraYu,1873-1931)的影响,开始思考和摸索直接从圣经启示中领悟信仰的奥秘,而非承袭西方在华差会的布道和牧会模式,或者说以西方基督教的教义和教理传统为范式。 年仅17岁的倪柝声从此走上脱离西方差会,特别是大宗派教会传统而另建中国基督徒自立或自主型教会之路。1922年,倪柝声与海军军官王载夫妇三人第一次以新约教会的形态聚会掰饼,此可谓标志着中国基督教本土教会“基督徒聚会处”的萌芽。在随后的几年里,倪柝声与英国传教士和受恩等有密切的交往,完全认同她的信仰和实践的方式。接着,他两次访问英国,与英国本土公教会传统之外的英国兄弟会等自由教会传统的教会有很深的联系。特别是英国伦敦的“基督徒交通中心”的史百克(TheodoreAustin-Sparks,1885年-1971年)对倪柝声的认同和支持,决定性地帮助了基督徒聚会处在中国的全面兴起。 该教派在政教关系和基本教义传承上,类似于西方宗教改革前后的瓦尔登教派(Waldensianism)和源自瑞士苏黎世的重洗礼教派(Anabaptists)。史百克曾经师从的宾路易师母(Mrs.JessiePenn-Lewis,1861-1927),内里生命派的代表人物之一,其属灵观注重宣扬主观十字架的经历和属灵争战,可视为影响倪柝声最重要的人物。因此,在当时西方差会一统全国基督教格局的情形下,小群教会的出现,以一种特别的精神方式,吸引了大量的中国信徒。在严格的教义学层面看,小群教会其实才是真正的“三自教会”,完全符合三自原则原创者HenryVenn和Anderson在1850年提出此原则的最初意愿。 该教派传统坚持圣经教会的原初形态,注重“属灵生命之道”,以家庭聚会为主,不装饰十字架、圣像和历史教会的圣礼礼仪,亦不注重圣经记载之外的复活节和圣诞节;无历史教会的圣职传统,无按立圣事等,成员皆弟兄姊妹平等相助。每年7次特别聚会。在基督教教会史上,基督徒聚会处与门诺会、贵格会、兄弟会等公理制教派传统,存在着极多的相似性。后来的发展史表明,在1949年之后漫长的政治运动阶段,小群教会受到的严酷的考验。除了创始人一代基本上都在各次政治运动中受到不同程度的整肃或脱离,在海外的发展也应着冷战时期中美关系中断和台海两岸持续紧张关系而受到影响。比如,大陆80年代农村地区出现的许多秘密的邪教组织,盗用了小群教会的许多团契形态,甚至名号,结果在许多地方,人们将这些异端邪教与在海外受到法律保障的小群教会(即召会或地方教会)联系起来。这样做,最终受到伤害的是海外华人教会与自己的祖国之间的情缘和情感,唯一得益的就是异端和邪教,或者梦想分裂和肢解中国的一些极端政治团体。 而目前中国新教教会中的非体制教会中,真正在教义系统上具有相对自主,并在公民责任上达成自律的只有小群教会和北京新兴城市教会。我们要从神学和法学的层面,明确关于源自基督教伟大的灵修传统并经过宗教改革和现代工业革命而获得极大尊严和自治权的非体制教会其信仰理解上的纯正性和公民责任上的可信性。 就中国的政教关系而言,我们要澄清围绕着倪柝声、李常受和召会(又称,小群教会LittleFlock,或地方教会LocalChurch)的三种误读,从而要做出相应的切割。可以说,甚至在很大的范围和程度上,这三种误解正在演绎成谎言和诽谤,并最终危及这一特殊的基督徒群体的声誉和基本权利。

第一种误读:倪柝声和李常受是小群教会的神、主和崇拜核心,因此,是基督教世界中的异端;

无论是从文本分析和诠释来看,还是从影像文献来看,倪柝声和李常受从未确立其个人为基督信仰中的神。从系统神学的教义体系来看,逻辑慎密谨严的论证与演绎都可以帮助我们去确认这两位历史人物的基本信仰立场。世界福音派系统最具严谨神学立场的富勒神学院(FullerTheologicalSeminary),从2003年到2007年在加尔文主义神学背景的时任院长RichardMouw亲自主持下,组织院内外一批最优秀的来自不同宗派传统的神学家、学者和教会牧长,多次研究、考察和探究这一堪称中国基督教史上的“土著”教派之基本信仰、教义学归属、教会牧养方式和历史遭遇中的磨难、误会和坎坷,最终得出严肃的学术结论:小群教会不是异端教派,更不是政治性组织或团体,因此,也不是任何类型的邪教。 2007年1月27日,在香港中国神学研究院(CGST)和香港浸会大学,以“华人教会的正统信仰”为题,北美、香港、台湾和中国大陆一批优秀的学者聚集三天专题讨论和研究后,一直确认倪柝声、李常受等所代表的世界范围的基督教召会(即小群教会)不是传言中的异端。“根据大会现场派发的富勒神学院声明,指地方教会(LocalChurches)及其成员的教导与实践,在每个方面都体现(represent)那真正的(genuine)并合乎历史与基于圣经的基督教信仰。声明指,该院一批高层曾经与地方教会以及其出版机构水流职事站(LivingStreamMinistry)的代表进行为期两年的详细对话,并全面审视其主要实践与教导,特别是倪柝声与李常受的教导,而得出此结论。杨庆球指出,基督教信仰的范围不能超过圣经,而圣经来自使徒的教训;而历代教会的传统甚至教父的说话并不绝对正确,但只要仍在圣经的规范中,都值得尊重。而福音派信仰的特质是肯定信仰的对象是客观、真实、普遍的。他说,福音派并不拥有全部真理——他并补充说“因而有对话学习机会”——但肯定“这”真理,并有系统地趋近它。杨庆球说,在教义上教会绝对有权定违反圣经者为别异宗派,但这是消极做法,积极而言应以圣经为基础彼此沟通,寻出合一的真理。但他慨叹所谓“别异”者亦自视为“正统”,不与其他“正统”对话,结果对立持续,“这是主再来前的无奈”。”与会者中绝大部分都是拥有各自有别于地方教会传统的不同宗派背景的牧师和学者。如时任香港中神院长的周永健牧师(改革宗背景),美国洛杉矶CLE(美中教会人士交流协进会)总裁余国良博士(浸信会背景),美国圣公会会友和中国事务专家DavidAikmann,芬兰信义宗背景的富勒神学院教授Prof.Veli-MattiKarkkainen等。

第二种误读:小群教会内部最重要和最隐秘的部分就是呼喊派,因此,是法律层面和社会学层面的邪教;

据严格的考证和亲历者见证,晚年的李常受非常痛苦地意识到自己在中国大陆被一批违法犯罪集团冒用为教主。他多次公开明确反对一切形式的非法团体打着地方教会和他本人的旗号。“亲爱的弟兄姊妹,我得到确实的消息,说你们弟兄姊妹在你们那里把我当做神拜,称我为主称我为王。这话我实在觉得极不妥当。照着圣经的教训,你们绝不可把任何人当作神来敬拜。在圣经中从使徒行传十四章十一至十八节说:「众人看见保罗所作的事,就用吕高尼的话大声说:有神借着人形降临在我们中间,于是称巴拿巴为丢斯,称保罗为希耳米,因为他说话领首。有城外丢斯庙的祭司牵着牛,拿着花圈,来到门前,要向众人、要同众人向使徒献祭。巴拿巴、保罗二使徒听见就撕开衣裳,跳进众人中间喊着说:诸君,为什么作这事呢?我们也是人,性情和你们一样。我们传福音给你们是叫你们脱离这些虚妄,也就是拜偶像的事,归向那创造天、地、海和其中万物的永生神。他在从前的时代,任凭万国各行其道,然而为自己未尝不显出证据来,就如常施恩惠,从天降雨,赏赐丰年,叫你们饮食饱足,满心喜乐。二人说了这些话,仅仅拦住众人不献祭给他们。」所以圣经在这里清楚地给我们看见,即使是那样把恩典带给人的使徒们,人若把他们当作神来拜,使徒们也是非常不许可,禁止拦阻他们的。因此我借着这一点的话语,请求你们把这件事完全停下来。绝不可以把任何人当作神来拜,或称他为主、为王,这实在是等于拜偶像,更是亵渎神、得罪神的。我请求你们接受这一点的话,把这件事完全停下来,不可以再作了。并且请你们也为此费神转告,也许别处可能也有这种情形,请他们也停下来。这样在神面前有一个改过,才能讨神的喜悦。但愿神恩待你们,祝福你们,我也多多谢谢你们。再见!”(1991夏季李长受录制)。 从历史发展的形态学层面来看,二十世纪六十和七十年代的“文革”,可谓列宁主义-斯大林主义结合东方专制主义最现代的悲剧时期。除了极端的西方政治传统中的意识形态外,其它所有潜藏在中国文化传统中的恶与邪,都在短期内爆发出来了,其残酷、极端和非人性混杂着非常态的领袖崇拜和神话,构成了当时唯一的精神性和信仰性景观,并且独具政权的合法性与强制性。 尽管如此,中国最普通的民众出自本性的宗教信仰却从未完全被消灭,或者被清理出人性的心理、意识和精神深处。外在的有形的宗教组织自1949年以共产主义意识形态为国家唯一合法的精神和价值系统以来,宗教组织也按照“人民团体”被列入国家政治体制内,享有干部编制、特权福利和政治身份等一系列党和政府类型的特征性待遇。在这样的背景中,一切民间的、非共产主义的和异质的价值、理念、精神和宗教信仰都试试受到国家公检法和党务、政务及“人民团体”等全权政体的监督、控制和禁止。1949年之前所有的涉及到国家混乱、民族蒙羞和天灾人祸都被定性为违背“人民利益”的结果,从此,革命和人民,等于党的原则和利益,就成为排斥与镇压所有异己的崇高和正当的利益。党因此而高于国家和政府,并绝对地指挥和支配所有专政机器。历史文献表明,这一时期,大量的悲剧其实都是恶劣的人性以崇高的意识形态作为合法性借口和外衣得以实施和完成的。 于是,基督教,这种越是劣境和迫害,越是显示其顽强和非凡之生命力的宗教信仰和真理系统,同样也出现在这个特殊的时期。两千多年的基督教历史证明,最具真理的精神系统,特别是信仰系统,往往最易成为异端邪说和邪恶思潮的目标,或者伪装物,或者攀附物,或者直接的毁灭者。这就是为什么在中国1949年以来,以基督教为掩护的各种异端邪说从未真正地彻底地被清除出共产主义意识形态绝对统治下的社会各阶层。相反,几乎所有这些被通缉和围剿的邪教和非法精神团体都可以享有美国宪政体系内的一切权利保障系统,似乎美国社会和政府具有某种特质免于所有异质精神和价值系统的侵蚀和毒害。而中国似乎相反,任何异质的思想、念头、主张和个人审美、情感与直觉表达形态,都会被绝对地定义为有害人民利益和国家政权而遭遇到来自国家专政机器的绝对打击与毁灭。前者似乎总是络绎不绝地容纳和善待层出不穷的异端邪说,而后者则从未停止对所有一切异见的担忧和剿灭,但,总是越来越多。

第三种误读:召会所使用的恢复版圣经不是基督教伟大传统中的圣经正典,而是倪柝声和李常受语录和被他们篡改过的圣经。

从严格的学术考证来看,目前世界各地召会(或聚会处)传统所使用的圣经(恢复本)其实是诸多种的汉译圣经正典之一,根本不是什么以讹传讹中的倪柝声和李常受语录。打开恢复本圣经,在首篇简说中,主译者如此写道:“本新约圣经恢复本,乃以华语中最通行的国语和合本为参照,尽力保留其语体、节奏以及人地名音译,各面的优美,并以英语中所有权威译本,以及华语中所有寻得的其他译本为参照,不但为得借鉴、启发,也为避免偏见、误断、凡较佳辞句,无不尽力采集,务求圣言中的启示,能在华语中,得到差异最少,达意最准的发表。” 那么为什么在国内外围绕着这一特殊的属灵团契会产生那么多纷争、误会,甚至争端?一个比较重要的原因是,召会完全有别于基督教历史上所有的信经型教会传统,与大公教会的信仰原则完全脱离。即使与内里生命会等英国和欧洲的极端避世的小教派有关系和渊源,也因着其在中国特殊历史情境中而更加强化了封闭发展倾向有关。他们内部完全是按照弟兄会的传统,形成圣洁、诚实和敬虔的弟兄之谊,完全脱离大公教会的等级制度和教义制衡体制。 严格地说,一个法治社会和宪政体制下,对这样的家庭聚会式的圣洁小团体是绝对的包容,根本不应该将之视为政府的威胁,同样,也绝对不会影响那些处处与国家政权相关联的其它大教会组织的实际利益和名誉。至于在中国许多地方兴起的新兴宗教中存在着打着倪柝声和李常受名号去敛财违法的灵恩小团体,那就应该另当别论,而不宜简单地将之一律划归入聚会处的名下。无论是教会论神学,还是圣礼神学,召会都演化出一整套完全有别于西方基督教传统的理解方式。若中国政府主管宗教事务部门真正能够从维护宪法制定的公民信仰自由权利,那就应该尽早地为倪柝声恢复名誉,或者,至少应该允许全国两会及其属下的神学院校将倪柝声作为中国基督教史上的先贤予以研究,其数十卷之巨的著述应该同意在中国教会公开发行和研究。 关于倪柝声所创建的聚会处传统,作为教会自治的实验,将具有巨大的国际影响力!原本地方教会就拒绝成立省市和全国性的领导组织体制,即使国宗局鼓励他们这样做,也不会改变他们独特的信仰实践之准则和方式。因此,勿用担忧聚会处(召会)有朝一日会威胁“全国两会”和任何一个政府扶持的宗教组织和团体。但是,必须看到,对于这样一种追求圣洁和成圣的小团契型教会组织的任何打压、中伤和排斥,最终受到损伤的只能是我们的中国政府。越早认识到这一点,越有益于国家形象和执政党威望的建立和维护。 本文作者王艾明牧师:金陵协和神学院教授、金陵协和神学院副院长。文章节选自《自治——中国基督教唯一合理的教制设计》,蒙作者许可使用,转载自 共识网

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