Posts Tagged ‘ Pharisee ’

Nothing New: The Church’s Foundation: Part 4: Legalists

I am currently the Youth Pastor for The Church Next Door in Prescott Valley, AZ. On Sunday, August 11, 2019, I took over teaching the adult Sunday School class (the foundation of why we learn from history) before the regular service. (If you find yourself in North Central Arizona, specifically the Prescott Valley area, come join in from 8:45 to 9:45 AM, and then stay for the singing and sermon at 10!)

The second and third lessons were combined in the post two weeks ago, with a look at when the Church was founded and the various forms of leadership Jesus dealt with. Previous was a look at how he rebuked those in leadership.

Again, here are my notes:

Nothing New: The Importance of Church History

Lesson 5: Christ and the Church’s Foundation – Modern Comparisons

The leadership in the time of Jesus included the entirely secular yet pagan Roman Empire, the hyper-religious Pharisees, the super-compromised Sadducees, the fastidious Essenes, and the rebellious Zealots.

Briefly, how do we see nothing new in our leadership?

Modern comparisons:

  • The Divided leadership (remember that there can be bleed-over from group to group):
    • Pharisees – Got a lot right, but added a lot.
      • Legalism – Follow our rules our way, or you are a heathen
        • Matthew 15:1-9 (quoting Isaiah 29:13)
        • Colossians 2:4-10
      • Expected a Messiah to come, but they were willing to work with the government.
        • Many expected two messiahs: conquering king and reforming high priest
          • Think Ezra and Nehemiah as precursors
      • Very similar to Post-millennial Christians and wanting the religious leadership in charge.
      • Modern equivalents: Roman Catholic, some Lutheran, believers in “Federal Vision” (the Church runs the government), New Apostolic Reformation and their 7 Hills/Mountains

Nothing New: The Church’s Foundation: Part 2


I am currently the Youth Pastor for The Church Next Door in Prescott Valley, AZ. On Sunday, August 11, 2019, I took over teaching the adult Sunday School class (the foundation of why we learn from history) before the regular service. (If you find yourself in North Central Arizona, specifically the Prescott Valley area, come join in from 8:45 to 9:45 AM, and then stay for the singing and sermon at 10!)

The second and third lessons were combined in the post last week, with a look at when the Church was founded and the various forms of leadership Jesus dealt with.

Again, here are my notes:

Nothing New: The Importance of Church History

Lesson 3: Christ and the Church’s Foundation – His Rebukes

The leadership in the time of Jesus included the entirely secular yet pagan Roman Empire, the hyper-religious Pharisees, the super-compromised Sadducees, the fastidious Essenes, and the rebellious Zealots.

Briefly, how did Jesus confront each of them?

Jesus clearly took issue with everyone:

  • Pagan Romans did not know what they worshiped, but they believed this life was worth leaving behind.
    • He called out their sinfulness and incorrect worship.
    • Matthew 16:18 may have taken place at one of the “Gates of Hell” popular with pagans and Jews alike
      • Jesus’ Church would prevail over death and pagan beliefs, meaning the Roman idea that death was preferable to life is directly refuted.
    • Likewise, when the Canaanite woman pleads with Jesus in Matthew 15 to heal her daughter, Jesus rebukes her that He came for the faithful.
      • Her humility in accepting that she is outside of the nation of Israel is a rebuke to Roman ideas that you can believe whatever you want. It is those who believe in Christ alone that find peace and eternal life.
  • The Divided leadership:
    • Pharisees – Were simultaneously too strict and not strict enough in their interpretations.
      • See Matthew 23.
      • See Matthew 5-7
    • Sadducees – Denied everything Christ was about while using His Scriptures.
      • Just about anything Jesus ever said to the Sadducees was a rebuke.
      • They can be included in Matthew 5-7 and 23.
    • Essenes – Largely cut themselves off from society instead of interacting with it to change it.
      • See Matthew 28:18-20
    • Zealots – Took devotion to the wrong extremes.
      • See John 18:36
    • Look at Matthew 21:12-16, Mark 11:15-19, Luke 19:45-48, John 2:13-22 – Jesus clears the Temple Courts
      • This was a handy rebuke of all of them:
        • The Sadducees most obviously allowed selling to happen in the courts
        • The Pharisees either allowed it and/or promoted it
        • The Essenes essentially ignored it
        • The Zealots liked Jesus’ actions, of course, but they were so focused on fighting off the pagans while neglecting the House of God
  • Read the Seven Letters from Revelation 2-3:
    • Notice the similarities of the churches with the leadership in Jesus’ time
    • Notice similarities to today’s churches

Nothing New: The Church’s Foundation: Part 1 (-ish)

I am currently the Youth Pastor for The Church Next Door in Prescott Valley, AZ. On Sunday, August 11, 2019, I took over teaching the adult Sunday School class before the regular service. (If you find yourself in North Central Arizona, specifically the Prescott Valley area, come join in from 8:45 to 9:45 AM, and then stay for the singing and sermon at 10!)

The second lesson ended up being rather short, so I decided to combine last week with this past week on here. So, here is the second-ish lesson notes:

Nothing New: The Importance of Church History

Lesson 2(a and b): Christ and the Church’s Foundation

When was the Church founded?

“One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do riot mean the Church as we see her spread but through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes I our boldest tempters uneasy.”
-C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, Letter 2, pp. 5-6 (HarperCollins, 1996)

Founded in Eternity, but also in time:

  • Matthew 16:16-18 – Is this the start?
    • Ekklesia – from ek (think of our “ex” or “out of”) and kaleo (kah-leh-oh – “to call or invite”)
      • i.e. “The Called Out Ones” or “The Invited Ones”
      • Not to be confused with Apostle – Apostolos, “Sent one”
  • Acts 2 – Is this the start?
    • Vv. 1-4 – The Holy Spirit is given to the gather believers for the first time
    • Vv. 14-40 – The first sermon is given
    • Vv. 41-47 – The first post-resurrection converts, meeting together, and group worship with new converts.
  • The Church is apostolic:
    • Matthew 28:18-20
    • We have been called out of the world to be sent back into the world.
      • On Christ’s authority
      • 2 Corinthians 5 (especially v. 20)

What did the Church grow from?

  • Roman occupied Palestine
    • Jews wanted freedom from pagan rituals and deities.They expected the Messiah to militarily drive out the pagans.
  • Divided leadership
    • Pharisees (means “separated ones”) – Believed in the full Hebrew canon (our OT), spiritual beings, the resurrection, and strict adherence to the Law.
    • Sadducees – Believed in the Law of Moses, denied spiritual existence, denied a resurrection, were willing to compromise beliefs with the government to avoid confrontation (and stay in power).
    • Essenes – Believed much the same as the Pharisees, but focused more on relationships and community, setting themselves apart to live communally and to copy the Scriptures, fully expecting the Messiah to come soon.
    • Zealots – Much like Essenes, but instead of copying Scriptures sought to fight the occupying government, even by violent means.

Next Time:

Christ confronts each of these groups, and we still see their mirrors today.

The Core Facts: Converted Conspirator

For some words of wisdom, head over to Proverbial Thought!

To keep up to date, do not forget to go back and read the first two Core Facts that show why Christianity is based on truth and reason: Jesus’ death on the cross, the despair of the Disciples, and the change in the Disciples. I give my usual reminder that this is not meant to be an exhaustive study of the arguments, but these posts are primers to get you thinking. If you are interested in a more in-depth look at these points, look up my wonderful youth pastor, Jesse Bollinger, at Fervent Youth.

Now for the third of The Four Core Facts:

The Conversion of Saul/Paul

All of the facts build on each other, building to the point that none work without the others, especially and most importantly because of #1.

Without the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ there is no despair in the Disciples. Either there was never a Jesus of Nazareth to have followed and have taken away, or Jesus was just a good leader and the Disciples could have found another great leader.

Without the Resurrection after the Crucifixion there is no reason for the Disciples to change. The could have easily gone back to their old lives. The Disciples would have had every reason to abandon the mission, especially if a body could have been presented.

There would have been no reason for Saul to hunt down blasphemers, and he would not have been able to see the Resurrected Jesus.

The Apostle Paul is one other person whom should not be doubted as having existed. I can understand people who think Paul was the creator of Christianity. He covered a lot of land in a relatively short span of time, and he impacted countless lives.

However, before he was Paul the Apostle, he was Saul the Pharisee. I will let his own words explain:

“The Jews all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee.”
Acts 26:4-5, NIV

If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
Philippians 3:4-6, NIV

This man did his best to be a really good Jew. He even went so far as to literally hunt down people who defied his fellow religious leaders.

This man was allowed to study under Gamaliel, one of the greatest Rabbis in history. He is renowned within Judaism for his strict adherence to and reverence of the Law of Moses. This is not just the 10 Commandments, but all of the 613 laws found in the Torah, or the first five books of the Bible known as the Books of Moses.

Our man says “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God” (Acts 22:3) (Emphasis added, and, yes, I admit to shortening the verse by a few words.).

There should be no doubt that Saul was a man seeking to work his way into God’s good graces, who was passionate about God’s Law and the teachings and holiness.

Saul was a man who was so devout that he did his best to never be defiled in any way and went as far as to hunt down, arrest, torture, and even kill (at the very least through other people while he approved, as stated in Acts 8:1) those who claimed God became a man.

But then it all changed.

Why would a man so devout to following every letter of the Law to the point of feeling a need to persecute others to protect it suddenly join those he was hunting?

This Saul of Tarsus would have had to have had a truly life-altering event take place.

What would send Saul (meaning “prayed for”) into synagogues to preach the Gospel and the desert wilderness for some time to study to eventually come back as Paul (meaning “small”)?

Other than brain-washing, the only possible explanation is that he saw a vision of the Resurrected Jesus.

It is possible to claim he hallucinated, however when taken with the other three Core Facts that seems unlikely.

In fact, the conversion of Saul the Pharisee in to Paul the Apostle of Jesus Christ and one of the greatest missionaries and church-planters ever also falls under the third Core Fact.

Next month I move on to our youth group‘s Four Core Values:

  1. Desperate pursuit of God
  2. Diligent prayer
  3. Consecrated heart
  4. Focused life

Thoughts?