Hebrews 10:32, 33

“But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.”

     We are encouraged in many scriptures to remember things. We are to remember the LORD and His afflictions, death, burial, and resurrection when we worship, “This do in remembrance of me.” Through his second epistle, Peter writes to help his readers to keep certain things in remembrance. Remembering God, Who He is, and what He has done is vital.

     The author of Hebrews tells his readers to call to remembrance their afflictions. This is not what we want to remember. We would rather forget them. In context, the writer wants them to recall where they had been in their lives. He was concerned that they were in danger of leaving their faith, and returning to previous beliefs. He tells them in verse 35, “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.” They were in a position of confidence before God, and he didn’t want them to leave it behind. So, he told them to remember what they had endured when they first trusted in Christ.

     The author speaks of enduring a great fight of afflictions. This is more than snide remarks, but includes the full range of things Christians endure, including ridicule, shunning, torture, and even death. His readers had not yet endured death. But, they had endured a great fight of many other afflictions. The writer tells them that the reason they endured such things was because they were illuminated, or made to see. Using the same word, Paul told the Ephesians 1:18-20, “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places…” Their illumination was in the things of God through Christ. And because of this they “…were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions…” and they “… became companions of them that were so used.”

     The term gazingstock has the idea of being on stage. Someone who is on stage is the center of attention. Every action they take is observed and noticed. Everything that happens to them is seen by the audience, and evokes emotion. The Hebrews were put in the position of being gazingstocks because they were followers of the LORD Jesus Christ. Because of their faith in Him, they endured reproaches and afflictions. And, as if they were on stage, everyone knew what they endured. Their situation was known by everyone that watched. And, it was all because they were followers of Jesus Christ.

     At the same time, because they were illuminated, they “…became companions of them that were so used.” The readers of this letter were not the only ones that were paying this price. Everywhere the gospel was preached those who believed endured the ridicule and disdain of those around them. This is true to this very day. In times of trial it is helpful to know that we are not alone. But there is more.

This was exactly what Jesus said would happen. In John 15:18 Jesus told His followers, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” And, in Matthew 5:11, 12, Jesus said, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” There is reward for the things that are endured for the Lord by His people. The writer wanted his readers to realize that the things they endured would be for God’s glory, and to their eternal benefit.

But, the writer was warning his readers not to turn away from their standing before God through Jesus Christ. Their afflictions were because they were His, and they have the sure and certain hope of spending eternity with Him. Hebrews 10:34 continues, “… knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.” God sees and knows what His people endure. Their reward will be great. Trust God!

Blessèd are they that for His sake

Are persecuted and reviled;

Our Savior’s love a Heav’n can make,

When storms of earth are fierce and wild.

O, thoughts of Him who bore the cross,

Should teach our hearts to bear with joy

Their burdens, tho’ in pain and loss,

Whatever ills of earth annoy!

Whatever ills of earth annoy!

Blessèd are they!
Blessèd are they!

 

Blessèd are they that for His sake

Are persecuted and reviled;

May nothing here our courage shake,

While on we bear His yoke so mild.

O, still be faithful to the last,

Untempted e’en amid despair!

Tho’, round the faithful, snares are cast,

Theirs is Heav’n’s kingdom, bright and fair.

Theirs is Heav’n’s kingdom, bright and fair.

Blessèd are they!
Blessèd are they! (George Cooper)

The Trouble with our use of Church Terminology

Terminology can be extremely misleading. We use words sometimes without thinking of their meaning. Let’s take a look at the some of the words we use without really considering what they mean. Church for example: What does that word mean and what is its origin – Often times we forget that the new testament was written in greek and not Elizabethan English. Be that as it may, we might however be lead to believe that the word “church” has it’s origin in Greek. We’d be wrong to think that as the Greek word for church is almost always translated εκκλησια ekklesia ek-klay-see’-ah. The Greek and the Spanish are more closely akin to one another as in the Spanish vernacular “Iglesias” is the word for church. Thayer’s  lexicon would have it defined this way: 1577 ekklesia ek-klay-see’-ah from a compound of 1537 and a derivative of 2564; TDNT – 3:501,394; n f KJV – church 115, assembly 3; 118 1) a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly 1a) an assembly of the people convened at the public place of the council for the purpose of deliberating 1b) the assembly of the Israelites 1c) any gathering or throng of men assembled by chance, tumultuously 1d) in a Christian sense 1d1) an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting 1d2) a company of Christians, or of those who, hoping for eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, observe their own religious rites, hold their own religious meetings, and manage their own affairs, according to regulations prescribed for the body for order’s sake 1d3) those who anywhere, in a city, village, constitute such a company and are united into one body 1d4) the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth 1d5) the assembly of faithful Christians already dead and received into heaven For Synonyms see entry 5897. Why this has become a problem is because we use the word church synonymously with a building where christians meet. When in actuality the term means the christians who meet and has nothing to do with a brick and mortar building. Some who attend church in such a building have greater reverence for the building than for the ones who meet there. This is just one word — there are many others. What are your thoughts on “The trouble with terminology”?

Why an English speaking assembly in Korea?

At first it may seem strange to some that a missionary would want to establish an english speaking assembly in Korea when there are so many assemblies already established here. Well the short answer to this question is to respond to the Lord’s leading to establish an assembly to meet the needs of english speakers in Korea.

Currently there are over a million foreigners living in Korea and a large majority of them are living in Seoul. A large part of this people group are fluent in english making english language the best choice for establishing a new church.

When a church comes to order in the name of (under the authority of) the Lord Jesus Christ there is a practical necessity of understanding the language being spoken “For if the trumpet give an uncertain voice, who shall prepare himself for war?” 1 Corinthians 14:8. Although there able translators in many of the assemblies we have all heard the expression “something must have gotten lost in the translation.” This is all too evident when several minutes of speech is translated into a 30 second summation.

In addition to this issue comes the problem of english speakers being understood by the listeners while exercising their priesthood in prayer or in teaching. The apostle Paul sums it up this way: “Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.” 1 Corinthians 14:19. Now some of you are already to pounce on me for using this verse in this context and argue that Paul was talking about tongues, a spiritual utterance, but can you accept that it delivers the same point that I am trying to make without abusing the writers intended meaning? – That it is necessary  to understand what is being said in order for words to benefit the listener.

These are just a few thoughts on the reason for establishing an english speaking meeting in Korea. All that being said, the primary reason for this effort is that I believe it is what the Lord wants done.

Please let me know your thoughts on this subject. Thanks

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