Meditations on “The Little Drummer Boy”

For as long as I can remember, I have appreciated the old Christmas song “The Little Drummer Boy.”

Come they told me

A new born King to see

Our finest gifts we bring

To lay before the King

So to honor Him

When we come

Little baby

I am a poor boy too

I have no gift to bring

That’s fit to give our King

Shall I play for you

On my drum

Mary nodded

The ox and lamb kept time

I played my drum for Him

I played my best for Him

Then He smiled at me

Me and my drum

NOTE: I removed the “pa pum pum” portions for the sake of readability.

But I have grown to like this song even more as I have thought about how it is almost allegorical of Christianity – I have no idea if the original author intended it to be that, however, so the ideas I am about to put forth are my own (be they poor or helpful).

Obviously the introduction sets the stage for us as our character is invited (presumably by the “wise men”) to go with them and see the new born King.

But the portion I appreciate most is the last half… however as I worked on this post after writing this first portion, I thought it might be better just to provide my “meditations” – if you will – rather than any other thoughts. So here they are:

“Little baby, I am a poor boy too.”

Our mighty and wise Lord laid aside all of His riches and veiled His glory to come among us, initially in the form of a normal baby born to poor parents.

And we, not even existing before our conception – let alone deciding our own births – are poorer still. We have less than nothing in our rebellion against the Creator of the universe. We may have more material possessions and prosperity than that of Christ during His earthly life, but no matter what we may “have” we – like the little drummer boy – are poor, before this Lamb of God; and we are more than destitute before the King of Glory.

“I have no gift to bring, That’s fit to give our King”

And here our character (and we) acknowledge and proclaim the worthlessness of any “gift” we might offer to the All-Mighty One, who clothed Himself in flesh and weakness to bring us salvation, forgiveness, and justification…

Even the drum in his hands and the clothes on his back were provided by something outside of the little boy; and for all of humanity, we cannot even claim ownership or creation of our ability to think or act, let alone the “gifts” (material or otherwise) that are in our keeping.

But in the presence of this oh so “normal” and weak-seaming Mighty One, the awe of God’s goodness inspires the boy’s next thought:

“Shall I play for you, On my drum? … I played my drum for Him, I played my best for Him… Then He smiled at me – Me and my drum”

And even in the creaturely weakness that corrupts and hinders us, the one who became weak to bring a people to Himself – begins to provide for us His strength that was manifested in His weakness. He fills and mends those things He gave to us that we wrongfully emptied and broke – and inspires us to take them up as He intended in our Hope to make Him smile…


An Additional Thought on the Office of Apostle

As I further considered the texts given in my last post, I realized that Acts 1:15-22 was the strongest Scriptural support/documentation of what an apostle is and what the criteria is for becoming one.

Specifically in verses 21-22 of chapter one in the book of “the Acts of the Apostles” – Peter provides the following criteria for their choosing of someone to replace Judas:

“So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” ~ Acts 1:21-22 (ESV)

Here we see where the tradition I mentioned in my last post comes from; the very pages of Holy Writ itself.

This criteria given by Peter – namely that the newly appointed apostle must be chosen from among those who were disciples of Jesus since His baptism until His Ascension.

This alone – aside from any of my reasoning in my earlier post – is enough to come to the conclusion that the office of apostle no longer exists today.

The Office of Apostle

Thanks (I think/believe) to a lot of uneducated, fanciful interpretational methods that were produced by proto-Pentecostal movements there is a lot of confusion about the office of apostle among a majority of professing Christians in our day.

And even within the more orthodox strains of the “charismatic” movement I have heard some odd explanations of how we should view the office today.

Little “a” apostles vs Capital “A” Apostles(?)

One thing I’ve heard from an individual who is more orthodox than those within the “New Apostolic Reformation” (a movement full of self-appointed “apostles” and self-proclaimed “prophets”), is that we should have a concept of two different “kinds” of apostles – the more authoritative, ancient Apostles and the less authoritative, modern apostles, if you will.

But does Scripture give warrant or precedent to this idea?

Well, one of the few epistles that mention anything generic about “apostles” in a teaching context is 1 Corinthians:

“Now, you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you still a more excellent way…” ~ 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 (ESV)

NOTE: I encourage the reader to visit the entire context of this passage – and especially to read the following chapter, as Paul has told us it contains instruction on a “more excellent” way of living in the light of God’s mighty work on our behalf.

Though the passage (quoted above) in 1 Corinthians contains mention of “apostles” within the larger context of God’s gifts to His children to build up and strengthen the church – see also Ephesians 4:11-13 – there is no clear instruction given here by Paul on what an apostle actually IS.

What IS an Apostle?

From the accounts in Acts and the authoritative nature of Paul’s instructions and commands in his epistles, one of the obvious things that the apostles were was leaders and/or authority figures in the primitive Church. They led the early followers of Jesus in belief and conduct.

But in the earlier portions of Ephesians we are given something a little closer to actual teaching on what an apostle serves as:

“…So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord…” ~ Ephesians 2:19-21 (ESV) … (see also Revelation 21:14)

In Ephesians Paul informs us that the apostles (along with the prophets of the Old Testament) serve as a “foundation” for the Church of God, but in what way do they serve this purpose, especially for Christians today?

I would argue that it is by the writing of Holy Scripture that the apostles and prophets – subservient to Christ as the all important “cornerstone” – serve to build the Church (or Temple, if you will) of God throughout the ages. I would argue this based upon the temporal, “one time” language that is used in reference to the purpose of the apostles in Holy Scripture – you only build the foundation of a building once. Also, as far as I can tell, most references to true “apostles” in Scripture and the ancient church fathers usually put in the qualifier of “the twelve.”

None of these texts so far, however, give us any specific teaching on how to identify an “apostle” – so what is it that makes someone an apostle?

The Criteria of an Apostle

I would suggest to the reader that there is one primary, time honored “criterion” for how we Biblically identify an apostle of Jesus Christ: an apostle is a man commissioned to preach the gospel by Christ Himself.

We see this exemplified in Acts 1:15-22, and the beginning of Galatians where Paul’s writing is undergirded by an explanation and outlining of his call and experience in becoming “the apostle to the Gentiles” by the commission of the risen Christ Himself… there is also a short reference to this by Paul in1 Corinthians 15:8-9. Also, throughout the Gospels and the book of Acts, there is no reference to “apostles” outside the twelve disciples who specifically participated in Jesus’ earthly ministry.

However, even if there are a few generic references to those who hold the office of apostle in the Church throughout the New Testament, this does not demand that the traditional criterion above is faulty – and thus require we assume some form of the office exists today. Why? Because, although 1 Corinthians 15:6-7 does not exactly say when Jesus appeared to the groups specified, this type of evidence for “apostles” outside the twelve and Paul still falls under the category of the office only being given to individuals who interacted directly with the risen Christ (and I think it is significant to note that except for Paul, all of these individuals interacted “physically” – I.e. Not in a vision – with Him in the presence of others who did likewise).

Another traditional criterion of true, orthodox and ancient Christianity is that the apostles had authority and power by the Holy Spirit to write Scripture (as I have said above, I would also argue this tradition from the text itself). What they said and wrote was authoritative as coming from God – just like the prophets of the Old Testament. (2 Peter 1:19-21)

Side NOTE: it can even be argued that every book of the New Testament is of Apostolic origin – the authors of Mark, Luke, Acts, and Hebrews all having clear connections to one of the apostles of Scripture.

That having been said – and no clear Scriptural evidence of any distinctive “levels” or “types” to the office taken into consideration – if one subscribed to the idea that we do have apostles today (or prophets, for that matter), consistently they would have to add that “apostle’s” writings or speeches to the Bible!

The last few paragraphs are a bit of a rabbit trail, but the ideas put forth within them have existed (been debated or discussed) since the days of the primitive Church, and no one among these modern day groups of “charismatics” seems to care that God’s people throughout history have had something to say about topics we discuss today!

As far as I can see from Scripture, anyone who claims to be an “apostle” (or prophet, as far as I’m concerned) today is either a lying charlatan – like those in the New Apostolic Reformation(NAR); or they have not actually thought about what Scripture says about the office – and thus no one should be listening to them anyway, as that person is obviously a simpleton and shouldn’t have authority over anyone.

To drive this point home, I would encourage the reader to examine Paul’s arguments against the “super-apostles” in Corinth that had apparently begun to accuse Paul of “walking according to the flesh” (2 Corinthians 10-12)… particularly in chapter 11 Paul contrasts his own actions against those of these “super-apostles” using incredibly thick and biting sarcasm.

One of the points Paul makes about himself is his lack of demanding resources from the Corinthians in order to show himself trustworthy to them… I have never heard or seen any indication of a practitioner/leader of the NAR ever discouraging people from giving their money to them – in fact they do the opposite, they have entire doctrines about why and how Christians should be wealthy/prosperous (just look up “great transfer of wealth” in relation to this movement).

For the reader who might be involved in the NAR, I would encourage you to think hard on the following words of Paul before you follow/listen to anyone who claims to be an apostle…

“And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not surprising if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds…” ~ 2 Corinthians 11:12-15 (ESV)

Who is the “Thief” in John 10:10?

Now most people who have heard anyone quote/paraphrase the first half of the verse – “the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.” – know that most of those people they’ve heard quote it are intending the listener to understand the “thief” to be Satan.

The problem with this assumption is that nowhere in the text does Jesus mention “the devil.” Granted, the devil can fall into the category of “thief” that Jesus has created in this parable – but I believe we do harm to the text and misunderstand Jesus when we automatically interpret “the devil” in the place of “the thief.”

Side NOTE: I am fairly certain that Scripture nowhere attributes the title of “thief” directly to Satan…

So, who does Jesus have in mind?

Well, first off, if he has anyone in particular in mind, it seems to be any number of those within the decades before His Incarnation (and even within His own lifetime) who had risen up and called themselves the Messiah – trying to amass followers and liberate Israel from the Romans. (John 10:8)

Along with that, however, I do not think it would be too much of a stretch to think that Jesus also meant the Sadducees and Pharisees to fall under this category as well – although they may actually be closer to the “hired hand.” (John 10:12-13)

However, all of this is in keeping with the mistake of those who misquote John 10:10 in reference to the devil – it is missing Christ’s entire point in using this parabolic illustration.

The thrust and purpose of Jesus’ words is obviously HIMSELF. How HE is the door to life, how He is the Good Shepherd, and He is a faithful and mighty master. The thief and the hired hands only serve as a juxtaposing contrast to the goodness, faithfulness, and power of the Good Shepherd. (John 10)

To focus on the contrasting “images” instead of the subject of the parable (I.e. Christ) is an insult to our Lord – not to mention bad hermeneutics.

All of that said – it is true that held within this glorious example of the goodness, faithfulness, and intentional power to save of Jesus, there is an undercurrent of an assumption about the wariness we should have about false teachers and deceiving “leaders.” (2 Peter 2, Jude, Matthew 7:15-23, etc.)

So, is there a group that can fall into these contrasted to Christ categories today?

Well, yes, I believe it would be appropriate to put Kenneth Hagin, Jeff Taylor, Kenneth & Gloria Copeland, Benny Hinn, Todd White, Bill Johnson, Joyce Meyer, Paula White, Creflo Dollar, Paul & Jan Crouch, Oral Roberts, Rick Joyner, Joel Osteen, Joseph Prince, and all other leaders and “pastors” of the Word of Faith movement and New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) into the category of “the thief” who comes “only to steal, kill, and destroy.” And I believe men like Rick Warren, Robert Jeffress, Carl Lentz, and Brian Houston fall under the category of “hired hands” – not necessarily apostate wolves in sheep’s clothing, but certainly squishy and spineless on the Gospel.

Beware of such men and women, yes; and do not be ignorant of the devil’s devices and rebellious influence in the world, yes… but do not let those things twist your remembrance or reading of the Scriptures.

Christ is the Good Shepherd, and His sheep hear and follow His voice – because He is Able and Mighty and Faithful to save!

Some Thought-Provoking Articles by Kevin DeYoung

I believe active, critical thought is an absolute necessity for a follower of Christ to practice while consuming any form of media. A Christian’s worldview should effect not only how the view things, but what they choose to view.

This last August (2017) Kevin DeYoung made some very important and accurate observations about American Christianity and its inability to THINK about what it consumes – let alone offers praise for…

And his first post was: “I Don’t Understand Christians Watching Game of Thrones”

Which spawned a firestorm that caused him to write this incredibly good and pointed piece: “One More Time on ‘Game of Thrones'”

And since it is based from the same topic… I thought I’d also share this article posted at Desiring God in June of 2014 that I found amazingly helpful and convicting at the time: “Twelve Questions to Ask Before You Watch ‘Game of Thrones'”

The COMMAND of Christ Nobody Seems to Care About

“”You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”” ~ Matthew 5:27-32

“And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” ~ Matthew 19:3-9

No one in the U.S. knows how to take the words of our Lord seriously on this point… even sanctified, fruit-bearing Christians whom I have interacted with do not know how to respond to people or family in their lives that demand they have the right to remarry after a divorce – let alone that they have the right to get a divorce in the first place…

I am no better. I have attempted to speak my mind with a few as far as the clarity of Scripture on the topic – and those with whom I have conversed agree with my interpretation – but I have personally never had the courage or wherewithal to say anything to the face of a family member that commits this sin of divorce and remarriage… and as far as I know, no one I have ever met has actually said or done something about it either – or even if they initially did, they have eventually just capitulated and interacted with those in this sin on some form of normal basis.

I am too young and uninvolved with anyone I know who has chosen to partake of the sin of remarriage after divorce to feel I would even be given a voice… however, as far as I can see is my duty from Scripture, I WILL NOT be silent or follow in the paths I have seen taken if anyone within my sphere of influence shows signs of coming to divorce.

My wife and I have said often to each other, if we see any of our siblings struggling in marriage, we will do everything we can to help mend whatever wounds may exist… and if that is not possible – and their spouse still wants to leave and break the vows – we will do everything we can to help them stay faithful to their unfaithful spouse, and help them avoid remarriage unless that former spouse dies.

But why do professing Christians so often – and, seemingly, so easily – commit the sin of remarriage (sometimes so soon after the divorce)? Because they have bought the evil lie of AMERICAN “CHRISTENDOM” that they deserve to be “happy.” And, unfortunately, so many of their relatives have swallowed that same damning poison, and so they support them in their decision to sin against God for the sake of their own physical/emotional comfort on earth.

And thus, those of us who fear God and care for the sanctification and holiness of these people are called “unloving” or “ungracious” – we are insulted, whined at, and treated like we are terribly un-compassionate people by those who think they have the right to have things their way, even if it involves a slap to the very face of God.

May God have mercy on them… and may He have mercy on us, and gives us the strength and boldness to rebuke in love and with grace, and to follow through with our rebuke with firm, steadfast compassion for their souls.

Believer’s authority – Part 6

Further examination of the errors taught in Kenneth Hagin’s book “The Believer’s Authority”

After trying to pervert Ephesians 2:5-6 and confusing the believer with the Savior (see “Believer’s authority – Part 5”), on page 22 of his book “the Believer’s Authority” Hagin says:

“If the Church ever gets the revelation that we are the Body of Christ, we’ll rise up and do the works of Christ! Until now, we’ve been doing them only limitedly.

When we realize that the authority that belongs to Christ also belongs to individual members of the Body of Christ and is available to us, our lives will be revolutionized!”

Notice the fundamental assumptions in those statements: 1) the “revelation” that the Church is the “body of Christ” is something other than the metaphor used in Scripture. 2) the “works of Christ” are NECESSARILY something other/more than proclaiming Christ and Him crucified, feeding the hungry, clothing the destitute, visiting orphans and widows, and loving our fellow believers. 3) Christ’s authority is a right and possession that belongs to human individuals. 4) being saved by the Holy Spirit’s regenerative power through the gospel is not enough to “revolutionize” a person’s life.

I ask the reader, are those assumptions primarily and fundamentally Biblical? It is my contention that those assertions are not only UN-Biblical, but completely ANTI-Biblical.

We see this not only in Hagin’s abuse of the Ephesian passages already addressed in previous posts, but in his further abuse of passages from 1 & 2 Corinthians following the assertions quoted above.

In his book – on pages 22 & 23 – Hagin quoted 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27, and 2 Corinthians 6:14 & 15. And in his quotation of verse 12 of 1 Corinthians 12 he inserts this blasphemous interpretation/remark: “[We are Christ. He’s calling the Body, which is the Church, Christ.]” That – along with the piecemeal, “proof-texting” quotations – disqualifies Hagin from any respectable position as “Bible teacher.” However, to further help the reader, let us examine those texts in context.

First let us remind ourselves that in 1 Corinthians Paul is writing to a group of Christians who have come out of utterly pagan religious systems that had them doing all manner of bizarre and evil things as part of their regular “worship” – and so Paul must write to them to correct them where they have reasoned that they could hold on to some of their old ways of public “worship” in the Church that they are now a part of. By what modern translators have sectioned as chapter 12 of the letter, Paul has begun to move into instruction on “spiritual gifts” under the broader category of the unity of the Church. And it is within this category of “manifestations of the Spirit for the common good” (v 7) – under the broader scope of the unity of God’s people because of their being “empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as He wills.” (v 11) – that Paul introduces this metaphor of the children of God being made “one body” in and under Christ.

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the war should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together…” 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 (ESV)

NOTE: The reader is welcome and encouraged to continue to follow Paul’s teaching and trail of thought beyond what I have quoted – but for the sake of brevity, I shall stop here and continue my critique of Hagin’s erroneous reading of the text.

As we read the entirety of Paul’s thoughts and follow his instruction we find less and less ground to come to Hagin’s conclusions that this metaphor puts the believer on par with or in the position of Christ himself. Paul’s entire point in using the metaphor of a body is to at once point out believers’ unity and diversity as a corporate group graciously saved and built by God for His own pleasure and glory.

As for the passage Hagin quotes from 2 Corinthians 6 (verses 14 & 15) – I see very little relevance to Paul’s metaphor in the first Epistle, except that Paul is emphasizing again that God has built a temple/people for Himself – and He has made it holy and is sanctifying it for His own pleasure and glory.

After quoting these passages out of context and seeming to completely miss the point(s) – or deliberately twisting their meaning – Hagin doubles down on his man-made “revelation.”

“First Corinthians 6:17 says, “But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.” We are one with Christ. We are Christ. We are seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High. All things have been put under our feet.” – Kenneth Hagin, “The Believer’s Authority” (page 23)

I would submit to the reader that the interpretation given of the text used in the quotation above is utter – damnably heretical – blasphemy.

Here is the text in context:

“”All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food” – and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 (ESV)

First, the reader will note that everything in the context of this passage makes it completely impossible to interpret any of it in a strictly “literal” manner – to do so would be to deny fundamental facts of the reality of how God constructed the physical universe. Second, again the reader will notice that the future tense of verse 14 implies that our true union with Christ will not come until we die or the Judgement.

Once again, an honest reading of the text that seeks the author’s intent devastates Hagin’s assertions – and, in this case, placed his ideas in the realm of blasphemy against the supremacy and uniqueness of Christ.

Nowhere do the Biblical authors imply – let alone explicitly teach – that the world ruling, creation upholding, divinely innate authority of Yahweh (Matthew 28:18, Ephesians 1:20-23, etc.) is available to, shared by, or invested in the believer in Christ Jesus. Though I cannot see into the hearts of men, I would be willing to argue that anyone who says otherwise is either a deceived and/or delusional heretic, a liar and a charlatan, or a demon possessed individual.

The statements of Kenneth Hagin following his blaspheming on page 23, though making it possible to hope he didn’t mean what he said, further display his confusion on other key doctrines of the faith… but considering the current length of this post – and the “random tangent” nature of how Hagin closed his chapter – I’ll pause here…