Welcome!

We're glad you've chosen to visit us and hope you will find these pages useful and interesting. Our site-map will give you a good idea of what you can find here. In the course of time, we will be adding new features, updating existing ones and eliminating those you find least helpful - your suggestions are very welcome.

Soli Deo Gloria is the writing and teaching ministry of Baruch Maoz in Israel. Baruch is engaged in writing original commentaries on the Bible, and theological and practical works in Hebrew. Some of his books are available in English. His critique of the Messianic movement, Come Let Us Reason Together: The Unity of Jews and Gentiles in the Church, has been published by P&R, and his Devotional Commentary, Malachi: A Prophet in Times of Distress by Crossbooks. Both are available from Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Shepherd Press is now preparing to print his Devotional Commentary Jonah: A Prophet on the Run.

Baruch is also engaged in writing (in Hebrew) a commentary on Romans and Micah, futher books in the Devotional Commentary series, an Introduction to Systematic Theology, editing a modern translation of the Bible into Modern Hebrew and writing other expositional and theological books. In the pipeline are also books on church life and structure, How to Preach and Listen to Sermons, and daily Christian disiplines. To date, Baruch is the only author writing Christian literature n Hebrew.

Baruch and Bracha are Israeli Jewish Christians who have served in Israel for 5 decades now. Between April 1974 and December 2006 Baruch served with Christian Witness to , most of that time as Israel Field Leader. Betwen May 1975 and December 2008 he served as Pastor of Grace and Truth Christian Congregation in Rishon LeTsion, Israel. Our website reflects the experiences gained in the course of that time.

Our monthly newsletter, MaozNews, is available for the asking, with back-issues to be found on this website (Baruch's Writings/News From Israel). To subscribe, click address at the bottom of this page.

Baruch's Musings

Each year, my wife and I visit the US to see our family and visit churches interested in Gospel work in Israel, concerned over the Messianic Movement or simply open to hearing of another effort for the Gospel. Where relevant, I have been leading two-day expository seminars to study a biblical book in 4-6 sessions (books done so far are Jonah, Micah, Malachi, Romans, Galatians,Ephesians.) July 10-14 are still available in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. If you are interested in booking me during this time please write by return through languageservice4u@gmail.com


More from Colossians, April 7 2014:

"If in fact you continue steadfast in the Faith." 

In these days of new fads and fashions in which a constant hankering after something new has become a way of life, Paul’s if is highly relevant. Every two or three years the church stumbles over a new discovery: if only it was more contemporary, or more seeker-friendly, more evangelistic, or more family-orientated, more this or that or the other, it would become an amazing success. 

As a result, today’s church is running after its’ tail, spinning endlessly and getting nowhere. It has lost sight of the Gospel. It no longer believes that the message is, in and of itself, the power of God. Sometimes it gives the impression that God is altogether out of the equation, expect to bless us with riches, pleasure and happiness. 

The church has become so much like the world that is has no message and there is precious little reason for anyone to be attracted to it. But its’ duty is as clear as it is simple: "continue steadfast in the Faith." The rest is in the hands of God.

Give me that old-time religion,
Give me that old-time religion,
Give me that old-time religion,
It's good enough for me!

More from Colossians, April 7 2014:

"Whom we proclaim," says Paul, warning every person, Jew or Gentile, pleasant or difficult, wise or foolish, Charismatic or Reformed, Baptist or Presbyterian (Paul has individuals in mind). 

Paul had commended the Colossians for their inclusive love. He had also pointed to God’s ultimate purpose to gather everything in Christ. Like the Colossians, like God, Paul loved all of God’s consecrated ones and labored to ensure that they all continue in Christ and are subject to him in every way. To that end they must be focused on Christ.

There is an important tool to be use for this purpose, apart from which the purpose cannot be achieved: instruction. So, Paul continues to describe his strenuous efforts on the part of every individual in Christ by pointing at the means: "and teaching every person with a full measure of wisdom," carefully, gently, persistently, taking into account their ability to understand and realizing that ability had to do with more than just intellectual comprehension, "so as to present every person mature in Christ."


Paul does not tire of the phrase "every person." He wants to drive it home through repetition. All without distinction are to be the object of Gospel mercies. For that reason, every single one is to be the object of apostolic love and, to the extent that apostolic example has anything to teach us, every individual in Christ must be the object of our love and care. The spiritual health of every person in Christ should be the object of our sincere and loving striving.

That is the goal: the maturity of each individual for the welfare of the whole. No church is healthier than its weakest member. The commonly applied selective process by which churches rid themselves of the more difficult people, of those who differ, of the unkind, the immature and the unwise is contrary to the standard Paul here presents. Churches should care – sincerely and sacrificially – for every single individual who lays legitimate claim to saving faith in Christ.

Paul’s description of his efforts is quite striking. He teaches, with a focus on every individual, not only with a full measure of wisdom but by way of strenuous wrestling. The term Paul uses includes indicates an agonizing struggle, a wrestling match in which contestants lay hold of each other in close proximity, feel each other’s body heat, smell each other’s perspiration and exert themselves maximally, seeking a moment of opportunity to win the match. Paul engaged with each individual to an extent and in a spirit that could only be described in terms such of such exertions. What a picture of pastoral concern!

More from Colossians, April 2 2014:

Paul describes how God made the Colossians fit for such an inheritance: "the Father rescued us from the authority of the darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of his love." We were under "the authority of the darkness" until the Father rescued us. Note that Paul moves from "you" to us. He too partook of these saving blessings.

"The authority of darkness" is the realm where sin and Satan rule., to which realm mankind has been delivered because of the sin of Adam. Darkness is the opposite of the light in which the consecrated ones partake of the inheritance. As servants of darkness, we could only do what darkness commanded us to do, enjoying only those questionable liberties darkness allowed us. Nor could we save ourselves. But the Father could, and did. Not only so, but he has and "transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of his love."

In Romans Paul describes the same situation under different terms. Due to the sin of Adam, we were made subject to sin. We became its’ servants, obliged to do its bidding. Due to the righteousness of Christ – his perfect life on our behalf, his atoning death and resurrection – we are free from the guilt of Adam’s sin and therefore from its consequences. 

The apostle hints at the same imagery in his letter to the Romans when he says there that, in Christ, "we have the redemption." We are "free from the law of sinning and dying." Christ has made us free, and he has done that so we can serve God "in newness of spirit" by "fulfilling the righteousness of the law" in our daily conduct. "Sin has no authority over us". We are the children of God, subject to grace, and "if children, then heirs and joint heirs with Christ." "We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

Redemption speaks of the freeing of those once enslaved. Slavery was a status in Rome. Slaves could redeem themselves and achieve the status of freemen, but no sinner can redeem himself from the bondage of sin. The redemption we have is from God. As a result, our chains are broken. Our hearts are free. We have redemption. We do not have to sin. We do not have to obey the lusts of our bodies. We can lead holy, godly, spiritually minded lives, tend to the cultivation of our walk with God and grow in knowledge of him. We are longer under the authority of darkness; we have been transferred. We have been brought into "the kingdom of the Son of his love."

In a very real sense, the kingdom of God has come and we have entered into it. There is, or course, a sense in which the kingdom is yet future. Its’ fullest realization is yet to be. But what will be is founded on the basis of what has already come to be in Christ. The future is in fundamental continuity with the present. Eschatology is nothing less than salvation realized, in other words, Christology in full bloom. That’s is our inheritance, and it is yet to be realized in full (3:4).

Redemption, the forgiveness of sins is a gloriously full salvation, the product of the work of a gloriously full and capable savior. Forgiveness of sins, salvation, is equal to freedom from sin and submission to the lordship of Christ.

H. C. G. Moule on Colossians:

“The new voices at Colossae would have many things to discourse upon; and among these many things would be Jesus Christ. Be he would not be the magnetic Centre of their discourses. They would not gravitate to Him, and be as if they could never have done with setting forth his holy greatness greatness, and his vital necessity, and his ‘all-sufficiency in all things.’ 

His dying love would not set the speakers’ hearts and words on fire, nor would they dilate upon his rising power, and the double blessing of His presence, for his disciples upon the Throne, and His disciples in the heart. The wonder of His incarnation would be little spoken of, and the solemn joy of the hope of His Return as little. The favourite topics of conversation and of preaching would be of a very different kind. 

Circumcisions, a calendar of obligatory holidays, a code of ceremonial abstinence, a philosophy of unseen powers, and secret ways and rules for approach to them in adoration; these would be the congenial and really characteristic themes of this ‘other Gospel’.

“Now this, as we know, (thanks under God to our Colossian Epistle among other oracles of the Truth), is exactly unlike the authentic Gospel. What is the Gospel of the New Testament, or rather of the whole Scriptures, as the New Testament unfolds the hidden glories of the Old? It is not this thing, or that, and the other; it is our Lord Jesus Christ. It is ‘the proclamation of Jesus Christ’.


“No surer test, according to the Holy Scriptures, can be applied to anything claiming to be Christian that this: Where does it put Jesus Christ. Is He something in it, or is He all? Is He the Sun of the true solar system, so that every planet gets its place and its light form him? Or is He at best a sort Ptolomaic sun, rolling together with other luminaries around an earthly centre – whether that centre take the form of an observance, a constitution, or a philosophy?”

Today, Israel's highly popular former Prime Minister, Mr. Ehud Olmert, has been found guilty of corruption. He joins a long and shameful list of senior Israelis whom the courts have found guilty of crimes. These include an extensive row of mayors who accepted bribes, a former President now in jail for repeated rape, a former Minister of Justice declared guilty of indecent behavior, a Chief of Police found guilty of corruption, senior police officers, rabbis, city engineers and prominent entertainment celebrities.

I hang my head in shame in view of the corruption that has seeped into the fabric of our society. I thrill at the thought that the Israeli police and judicial systems have proven once again that no one is above the law. 

I hang my head in shame over those whose cases were dismissed merely for lack of sufficient evidence, and of unrepentant felons who, after waiting for the required time, have returned to our House of Legislature. This is a sad day in our history. When will morality become a consideration at the ballot box? 

I thrill at the thought that the Day is coming when the King of Truth and of Justice will be loved, worshipped and obeyed by all nations.

Even so, Lord Jesus, come.

 



Have you benefited from these selections from Colossians? Buy my devotional commentaries on Jonah and Malachi and my book on the sufficiency of Christ and the unity of the Church (Come Let Us Reason Together). All are available from Barnes & Noble and from Amazon. Help us get the word out: recommend these books to friends and to your church bookstall. Thank you, Baruch


More from Colossians (by way of Summary), March 31 2014;

Spirituality means living as God would have us live, and doing so willingly because we love God. God is an eternal fellowship of persons. Man, created in the image of God, must live in harmonious fellowship with others. Solitary confinement leads to derangement precisely because this is so. That is why salvation is not exclusively framed in terms of individuals but of communities – churches, families and nations. 

The whole world is in view, all creation (the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues, and they shall come and shall see my glory,‘’ Isa. 66:18. Creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God, Rom. 8:12). 

Spirituality, then, has to do with how we relate to others, and eschatology has to do with the world adoring God in Christ and submitting to his service. Christians cannot be Christians in isolation; they must live out their salvation in the various spheres of society and in relation to creation doing exactly that: adoring God in Christ and submitting to his service.

More from Colossians Three, March 27 2014:

Churches (and Christian families) should be praying communities. This is so obvious that Paul does not exhort the Colossians to pray; instead he says, continue in your prayers, obviously assuming that they pray as a matter of course. Prayer should be the natural, frequent activity of church life. Be alert [as you pray], Paul exhorts. Don’t let your thoughts wander, and be ready to turn anything you hear into a subject for prayer. Often, when an individual prays in public, those who hear him simply wait until it is time to say “amen”, without really entering into the content of his prayer. Be alert means that we not only listen carefully to the contents of the prayer being offered, but that we engage our hearts and our minds in it as well. Contrary to the practice of some, there is room for an occasional “amen,” “yes Lord” and “hallelujah” as we are led in prayer.

Did you notice the term just used “as we are LED in prayer.” If one is leading, others are expected to follow. That is the very least of what I think Paul meant when he called on the Colossians to be alert as they continued to pray. One led, but all prayed; one voiced the praise, confession and requests of all, while all identified with the prayer presented by sharing in it.

Prayer should always involve giving thanks. Praise and gratitude are the inevitable consequence of understanding the Gospel. There is so much for which we ought to be thankful. God loads us daily with benefits seen and unseen. He watches over us with tender care. He has done so much for us by revealing himself to us, drawing us to himself and – need I spell it all out? “Count your blessings. Name them one by one, and it will surprise you [to see] what the Lord has done.”

We are too quick to submit our requests, too selfish to be as grateful as we ought to be. Once we’ve met the required standard of verbal gratitude and praise, we hurry to the real business of prayer, which we consider to be submitting our requests before God. Christian prayer should always be engaged in honest thankfulness. Nothing we have has been deserved; it is all a gift of grace. The food we ate, the air we breath, the soil on which we walk, the world in which we live, the rain and the sunshine – these are more are all gifts of God. We should be thankful.

Next Paul seeks the support of the Colossians. Praying also together with us that God would open to us a door for the message. Although an apostle, he did not consider himself one of the elite, the perfected ones. He needed the prayerful support of the least of God’s saints.

And what is his concern? Aunt Emma’s thyroid or Uncle Jim’s back pain? Bill’s search for employment, Corrie’s troubled pregnancy or Jacky’s choice of a college? These all are, of course, important topics. They affect our lives deeply. But Paul’s concerns are for issues that affect our lives even more deeply than that. Pray, Paul says, that God would open to us a door for the message. Don’t focus so much on your needs or on matters related to earthly things. Lift you eyes and look beyond your needs and those of the circle of your friends and family. Think of the Gospel. Think of the glory of God, of the extension of his kingdom, of the salvation of souls and of the health of the church. Pray that God would open to us a door for the message.

Paul now moves from the general to the somewhat more particular, from principle to practice. In the next few verses the apostle addresses specific areas of life, showing how the Colossians are to carry out his exhortation to to do all in the name of Jesus, giving God thank through him. In the first five verses of the next chapter Paul continues to speak of the spheres in which the principles of the Gospel are to be lived out, so they properly belong to the verses we are about to study in Chapter Three. I’m not sure there was any valid logic in the present chapter division any more than there was between Chapters Two and Three. For convenience, we will follow the pattern established by the chapter division, but it is important to note the connection between those verses and these which now follow.

The first sphere Paul addresses is the fundamental social context – the family. Human society cannot exist where family life is degraded. The family is the context in which, even in the Garden of Eden, man was able to find and to give the kind of constructive companionship that he needs. Wives: be submissive to your husbands as is consonant to being in the Lord. Paul’s view of marriage was quite non-modern and, lest we excuse ourselves on those grounds we would do to remind ourselves that they were also contrary to the common views of their time. We’ve already seen what Paul had to say about slavery, for example. His instructions tor and husbands are not the product of his time and culture; they are given under inspiration by the Spirit of God and, however contra-cultural they may be, are binding by virtue of their divine source.

Paul instructed married women to be submissive to their husbands. The biblical requirement is that wives should accept the leadership of their husbands, and that they should do so in a dignified manner. There should be no contentions, no nagging until one’s desire is met. Submission, however, is more than than. Submission is an expression of a woman’s acceptance of the order God has established; it does not make man better, or wiser; it simply resolves the issue of whom should lead the home. Even in a framework of two there are likely to be disagreements and contrasting viewpoints. Not proceeding until there is unanimity accords each side veto power and can easily paralyze function. God has determined, and legislated through the apostle, that the final word rests with the head of the household, who in turn is to answer to God for his decision.

Note that Paul does not instruct husbands to impose their authority over the wives. A wife should never bring her husband to the place in which he is justified in thinking that the only way to resolve a disagreement is for him to impose his will. Husbands’ on the other hand, should not be too ready to assert their authority and should avoid doing so too often. Wives are commanded to be submissive to their husbands; husbands are not instructed to suppress their wives.

There are areas in which husbands must accord their wives freedom of conscience and freedom of maneuver, without thinking that by so doing they are allowing their wives more leeway than it right. A husband who keeps tight control of the family finances and does not allow his wife the latitude to make day to do decisions with regard to the family budget is overbearing. A husband who demands that his wife inform him of every individual she meets, of every conversation she has and every detail of her routine is suppressing her. 

Husbands are to give their wives ample space (and ample reason, as we shall see) for them to choose to accept their leadership. They are not to impose it. Marriage is not a dictatorship, is is a covenant of grace and of mutual edification. Feminism is right on when it insists that women are equal to men in value. It is dead wrong when it seeks to obliterate the differences between men and women or to deny their respective, differing roles. Men are to lead, women to follow. This is God’s order and as is consonant to being in the Lord means that men and women accept their respective roles and seek to fulfill them with loving obedience to the Lord.

It also means that women are to not to follow their husbands into sin, nor to be forced to sin on the grounds of a husband’s authority. They must submit to leadership only as is consonant to being in the Lord. We learn, then, that there is room for disagreement between spouses. Women and men are to think for themselves, draw their own conclusions and embrace what they each believe to be true. Women are not to follow their spouses blindly, or gullibly. They are as much created in the image of God as are men, and as responsible before their Lord as their husbands.

Here too, Jesus is to be preeminent. Women are to relate to their husbands as is consonant to being in the Lord. Their every action is to be an expression of their love for and obedience to the Lord.

Husbands also have a duty within the family context: husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. One would have expected such a requirement to be made of wives – after all, are they not best known for their sacrificial love to the family? That may well be the reason why Paul calls upon the husbands to love their wives.

What does it mean to love one’s wife? What does it mean to love? God so laved that he gave (John 3:16). To love is to emulate God, to exemplify the Gospel. To love is to give, above all to give of oneself and husbands are to give of themselves to their wives. Sacrifice is not only a mother and a wife’s duty, it is no less a duty of husband’s (and fathers). To love is to value. The sacrifices love makes are an expression of the value attached to those for whom sacrifice is made. 

Husbands are to value their wives, respect them, nurture them, bear with them the sweet-heavy burden of running a household and bringing up children. It will not do to come home after work, change into our slippers and collapse into the couch with a book, the Bible or a newspaper. There are chores to do, dishes to wash, garbage to take out, children to play with, read to and educate. You might have had a hard day at the office, but did you listen when you came home and said, “Hi honey, how’s your day been?” Do you think of suggesting that she go out with her friends this evening while you babysit? And how about, “Honey, I really appreciate all the hard work you put into being a wife and a Mom. In appreciation, I’d like to take you out tonight?”

To love means to care, to be sensitive, to support. It means providing your wife with opportunities to cultivate her gifts and to grow as a person. Look for a moment at the woman described in Proverbs 31. This amazing woman manages the family finances, including investments, plans for the future, preparing for any eventuality while caring for the present and reaching out to those in need beyond the family circle. She does not have to run to hubby over every little detail but has the freedom to make decisions (presumably, within a given framework). To no small extent, her husband’s success is the fruit of her prowess. She is firm and dignified, wise and kind. 

Today we often vacillate between foolish male machoism and equally foolish gender indifference. On the one hand men are encouraged to be cowboy-like, never expressing affection, emotionally detached. They rope and brand the cows, fight the Indians and tame the horses while the women slave in the house and make sure they're pretty with their “man” comes home’ slings his pistol on the chair and sits down to gobble his food, wiping his heavy moustache with his sleeve. “Yes, Ma'am, No Ma'am, ” but women are not cherished, they’re used. On the other hand, men are expected to do everything but give birth and suckle, at times even to stay at home while the woman pursues her more lucrative career. Such “men” aren't men – they’re males but hardly men. 

Loving means protecting, and you have to be strong to be able to protect your wife because there will be many things that will threaten her: the changes involved in marriage, missing her parents, siblings and friends, financial responsibilities, the monthly period, bearing a child, gaining weight, suckling, sleepless nights, having to cope with the children, clean the house, shop and cook for the family, entertain guests, support her husband, discipline the children (Let’s see how unfazed YOU are after a solid day with the kids), look nice for church, turn the lights off, do the laundry, paint the hallway, tend the garden… and be pleasant when his majesty Mr. Breadwinner comes home from work. There will be times when she will be tired beyond words, and if you’re not sensitive you’ll never notice. Loving means that you make a point of noticing, and that you respond lovingly, protectively when there is need.

I know I don't hug my wife enough. I don’t tell her as often as I should that I love her. Even as I write, Bracha is out buying shoes. I should have offered to go with her. It’s not that I'd enjoy going from shop to shop, trying on an endless array of shoes, and finally returning to the first shop to make a purchase; it’s that Bracha would enjoy me showing more interest in her and in what she is doing.

Loving is the way to earn the right to be followed. Loving is the moral basis of a husband’s leadership role. I need to do better. Do you?


Did you notice that little phrase at the and of what Paul had to say to husbands? Love your wives and do not be bitter against them. Do not allow a root of bitterness to develop between you, gnaw at your relationship and destroy it. If there is an issue to discuss, do not let the sun set on your anger. Talk it over, pray together about it. You may not come to agree, but manage your disagreements as befits Christians. Love your wives, give them space and lead, above all, by example. Win them by your love and remember: there is no room in the family for the kind of elitism to which the Colossian Christians were encouraged to aspire.

Next come the children: children, obey your parents in every way because this is what much pleases the Lord. The children’s chief duty toward their parents has to do with obedience. Parents should not bribe their children into doing what they are told, nor should they be terrified into do so. They should be taught that obedience is their duty before God. Parents are not always right (and we’ll discuss a point or two in this relation soon), but they are always to be obeyed in every way, that is to say, not only by doing what they are told, but by doing it willingly, from the heart, because this is what much pleases the Lord. Obedience to one’s parents is part and parcel with obedience to God. It is a spiritual act, an act of worship.

There is a certain order in the universe, with God in Christ paramount. A time will come will children will have to duty and the right to educate their own children. That is when they can call the shots. But so long as they are minors, their safety is to be found in accepting the thoughtful, godly, loving guidance of their parents.

Such an attitude lays a tremendous burden on the parents; especially on the fathers: fathers, do not frustrate your children, so that they do not lose heart. What frustrates children more than anything else? What causes them to lose heart? Inconsistency on the part of parents, lack of fairness, unfulfilled warnings, arbitrariness, contempt and suppression all contribute to a child’s frustration and led to the kind of indifference that expresses despair. 

Children are taught to lie by parents who break promises and do not fulfill warnings. They develop a well-justified sense of injustice if their parents do not hear them out before reacting, treat one of their siblings differently or vacillate between forbidding and allowing the same kind of behaviour. They are frustrated when they do not know what to expect, because their parents’ reaction depends more on the parents’ mood than on what they have done. They rebel or sink again into indifference if their parents do not respect the image of God in them and therefore suppress initiative, repeatedly express lack of confidence in them and do not encourage them to think and to act on their own. What is the point of trying when there is never any encouragement and, however well the child performs or however much he or she has invested effort no compliment will be forthcoming?

Contrary to what Roman culture taught, children are not subject to the arbitrary whims of their parents. Nor are they extensions of the parents’ persona. Parents are not to live out their unfulfilled ambitions through their children, nor impose their views – not even their faith. True faith is the product of a work of God in the human heart, not the imposition of man. It is the God-given response of an individual to God; it can never be forced by human hands. If we are to avoid frustrating our children and causing them to lose heart, we must educate them to think independently and equip them with spiritual and moral standards. Such standards are best inculcated by way of example. Children who grow up in a godly home where faithful, tender affection is expressed, integrity preserved and God is lovingly feared will have the means to weigh and make their own decisions. God will draw to himself those among our children whom he sees fit.

The opposite of frustration and loss of heart is what we should seek for our children: a holy, humble, honest ambition to give full vent to whatever gifts the Lord has granted them, a caring attitude toward others, a sense of dignified integrity, vigor and happiness. When these are combined with God’s saving, sanctifying grace, our children will realise their full potential, and God will be glorified in them. What more could we desire?

The Colossian error encouraged its adherents to despise weakness and to lay claim to a mystical knowledge that lifted one above the level of common individuals. The Gospel teaches us, to the contrary, that we are to respect and love all, and to treat them as equals even when we have differing roles.

More from Colossians 3, March 23 2014:


Next, as the word of Christ indwells among Christians, they are to be engaged in "teaching and admonishing yourselves with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs." Here is a solid standard for song in the church. There is little, if any, distinction between psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, and commentators differ as to the distinctions they draw. Some might indicate singing with the accompaniment of music and others without, but the distinctions are really unimportant. According to Paul, singing has an important role in the life of the church. Is has to do with teaching and admonishing.

In other words, the main purpose of song in the church is not self expression but "instruction and admonition" (an archaic word for “rebuke” or “call to duty”). What we sing should, therefore have substantial content and the music should serve the words. It should never blanket them: if we sing without thought, or if we hear a song and cannot decipher the words, there is something fundamentally wrong. If the words are tacked on as a justification for the music, or if we sense that the words are forced onto the music rather than the music serving to express and emphasize the words, this is a transgression of biblical standards. The song is sub-Christian.

While there is definite room for emotion in the church (woe betide a church in which there is no emotion), there is no room for emotionalism; our singing should be full of biblical content. It should do more than say “hallelujah” or “I love you, Jesus,” or even "You’re holy.” It should focus on the biblical message and its application to our lives. It should speak of the glory of God, his majesty, being and attributes, of creation and the fall, of law and grace, of the incarnation, Christ’s life and teaching, his crucifixion, death, resurrection and ascension, of redemption and of conflict with sin, of hope, victory and the glory of God. 

Yes, Christian hymnody should be - dare I say it? - theology put to music. Hymns, psalms and spiritual songs should teach. They should inform us of our Faith, call us to our duties, rebuke us for our failures and express our comfort, longing. determination and hope in Christ to be all that God would have us be.

The next phrase tells us how we should sing: with grace in your hearts singing to God. First, we should sing with grace in our hearts, that is to say, out of the experience of the Gospel. Our singing should be an outburst of understanding what God did for us through the Gospel. Having been taught and admonished, and having come to a fresh or a refreshed comprehension of the wonderful grace of God, we sing. We simply HAVE TO sing! We simply to give vent to our renewed appreciation of God and his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Second, and this is part of the point of Paul’s letter to the Colossians as a whole, the “we” who should sing should be the community. Of course, Paul is not vying against individual worship. But the Colossian Christians were being encouraged to aspire to something beyond the normal experience of Christians. They were being told they should set themselves apart by adding to what they (and others) have received in Christ and take a still higher step. We’ve already seen that Paul has insisted that there is not higher step, one cannot climb higher than Jesus. There is nothing beyond what he has achieved for us. 

We’ve also seen Paul insist on the unity of the church. He would not have that unity expressed in song – they should be more “we” in our singing that “I.” We should sing as a community of the redeemed, conscious of the fact that we are not redeemed on our own, nor are we worshiping on our own. Our worship in song (and song is not the only way we worship when we come to church) should be a foretaste of what is yet to be for all eternity: "then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, 'Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns' ” (Rev. 19:6). 

Third and last, our singing should be to God. On the one hand, we teach and admonish one another in song and, on the other, we worship. We never entertain. We speak one to another (which leaves room for solos and for the choir) and to God. But we do not perform, and there is no room for clapping in appreciation any more than there is room for us to clap at the end of a good sermon.

ings


More from Colossians (Chapter 3) March 23 2014:

Paul proceeds to tell us further what we should put on: Above all of these, love. Of course, love is expressed in all the aforementioned characteristics: great sympathy, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, bearing one another and forgiving each other. It is the motive behind them all. But why should a slave love his master, and what kind of transformation must the master undergo to love his slave? Why should a Jew love a Gentile or a Gentile a Jew? How can they when they are so different from one another and have such a history of mutual exclusion? Of course, the answer is ready: They should do so because the of Gospel, which recognizes no such distinctions and calls upon people from every nation under the sun to love and worship God, and to do so, among other ways, in the way they love one another. 

That is why love is "the bond of perfection". Nothing binds better than love. Nothing blinds us more to other people’s faults, moves us to care for them, bear with them and sacrifice for them more than love. It is the perfect bond. It is perfection’s very special bond, capable of uniting diverse individuals who would not normally relate to one another by demanding of them’ exemplifying to them and motivating them toward a love that captures the heart and drives them to admit most willingly, as we already have, that we love because he loved us first (I John 4:19).

Rather than engaging in conflict, competition or the tendency to compare themselves with others, Paul calls upon the Colossians, "let the peace of the Christ rule in your hearts". Be at peace with one another by virtue of the Gospel. Be at peace with one another as Christ has made peace between you and the Father. Could there be a greater difference than that between him and us? He is holy and we are unclean. He is wise beyond measure, and we are foolish beyond anything we imagine. He is good and we are selfish. He is righteous and we are quick to take advantage of others'’ weaknesses. He is eternal and we depend on him, on food, drink, air and sleep. We rebelled against him, corrupted his word and abused his world, worshiped the creature rather than its’ Creator and preferred temporal pleasure to eternal holiness. Yet he loved us with an everlasting love and, at the price of his Son, established peace between us.

That peace should "rule" in our hearts, so that we are unruffled by those who differ from us and never feel threatened by another opinion or a contrary custom. Bedouin custom requires one to belch at the end of a meal to show satisfaction. Try that at a dark-suit dinner party in say, France or England. Who is to say that one custom is better than another? Middle Easterners embrace and kiss, why is that any less acceptable than a handshake? AfricanoBOis sway as they worship while “cultured” whites stare frozen at the preacher. Which is more appropriate? There should be peace among us. More than that: the peace that Christ established between the Father and us should rule our hearts. It should govern our reactions to those whose are so different from us.

"To the which (Peace, Paul says) you were actually called in one body. "There is a reason, the apostles insists, that we were actually called in one body. After all, God could have chosen to create two – or more – bodies of Christ. He could have established a Gentile church and a Jewish church. He could have established a church for freemen and one for slaves, one for women and one for men, one for Spanish speakers and one for those who know English (or, for that matter Greek, Korean or Hebrew), one for blacks and for whites. Oh yes, and one for Presbyterians and one for Baptists, one for Arminians and one for Calvinists. But he didn’t. He established one church for all. Those divisions are man-made; and they run contrary to God’s purposes, contrary to the Gospel and contrary to the essential nature of the church. 

The church is to be one. ONE! The church is a fellowship of grace to which, on the grounds of which grace and only on those grounds, can anyone belong. There is no room for the compartmentalisation of the church. There are no biblical grounds for the generally accepted division of the church; the church is to include Gentiles and Jews, freemen slaves, women and men, Spanish speakers, English speakers, Greek and Hebrew speakers, blacks and whites, Baptists, Presbyterians, Calvinists and Arminians. These all are to mesh and clash and be sanctified and grow together as they worship God and serve him together. They are to learn from and love one another sincerely in spite of their differences and the difficutlies that the differences create. God’s intention is to "gather all up into one". His "plan for the fulness of time" is "to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth" (Eph. 1:10). He is doing that through the Gospel. 

All Christians acknowledge this truth. We pay it frequent lip service and sometimes even reach over the fences that our lazy preference for comfort and our sinful pride have created and consider ourselves exemplary, large-hearted and exceptionally kind. The truth is that we betray the Gospel by allowing those fences to exist. 

We are called into one body to exemplify a peace that transcends all differences and that gives expression to God's ultimate eschatological goal: to undo the consequences of sin, to create a united, redeemed humanity, the members of which live together on the grounds of God’s grace and enjoy a harmony that is God-centered and that gives him glory; the restoration of Eden at the expense of the conflict that is the fruit of sin.

Is Christ not sufficient to unite us? Are we to allow culture, language, race, social strata or doctrinal differences that do not touch upon the essence of the Faith to divide what God has united in Christ? Is our culture or language, or comfort more important than the Savior? The church is to be a harbinger of what is to come, a demonstration of the power of God and of the grace of the Gospel. It is to be a visible enactment of the future, when the wolf and the lamb will lie together and the ox and the bear will feed beside each other. What are we saying by our divisions? What message are we conveying to the world?

Our next mission is indicated in Paul’s injunction, and be thankful. Let’s put that in context: 

As God’s holy chosen ones, and having been loved, put on great sympathy, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, bearing one another and forgiving each other If anyone has a complaint against anyone – just as the Lord forgave you, you forgive as well. Above all of these, love, which is the bond of perfection, and let the peace of the Christ rule in your (plural) hearts, to the which you were actually called in one body, and be thankful.

Thankful for what? Thankful for being called in one body. Thankful for the privilege of belonging to the church of Christ. Thankful for the fact that grace and not merit is the grounds of our belonging. We do not need to learn another language, adopt another culture, improve or reduce our social standing or subscribe to a denominational confession in order to be Christians. We do not need to do these or anything else to belong to the one body of Christ. Nor need we embrace the Colossian error, worship angels or adopt Jewish custom. If we truly trust in God through Christ for salvation, if we acknowledge his glory and seek to love and serve him, we belong to Christ and are therefore members of his one body. Nothing more is required.

"As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, 'Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?' [And Philip said, 'If you believe with all your heart, you may.' And he answered and said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.'] And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him" (Acts 8:36-38, NASV " 'If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?' When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, 'Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life ” (Acts 11:17-18). 

Hallelujah! There is "no difference."

More from Colossians March 17 2014:

Paul wants the Colossians to love God and keep his commandments. He wants them to avoid dependence on the legitimate pleasures of the world, which they can do if they but put God first in the orders of their priorities. He wants them to have a broad, deep understanding of the power of Gospel by way of a broad, deep understanding of the glories of Christ’s majesty and accomplishments. In short, he wants them to concentrate on what God did for them rather than on what they can do to scramble up the imaginary ladder of spiritual achievement.

Because you died and your life has been hidden with the Christ in God. Dying is about all a person can do in this regard, and even that did not come at his initiative. Remember: the death of which Paul is speaking here is not death in sin but death to the Law in the death of Christ. Sin rendered them subject to the Law and its condemnation. That condemnation came about both by revealing their sinfulness and pronouncing their judgment because of that sinfulness. They were then subject to rules that forbade foods, drinks and the touching of various objects. But the Colossian Christians died with Christ and, in consequence, died to the Law. They have also risen with Christ and the life they now live, they live by faith apart from dependency on the Law for salvation or from holiness – except for the fact that the moral aspects of the Law continue to serve as a guide and a standard. They are no more subject to the ceremonial aspects of the Law than Christ is subject to them.

They are now hidden, secure with the Christ in God. That is where their real life is to be found – not in the crass issues of life but in the glorious realities of which they now enjoy a foretaste and that are yet to come because what they now have is a guarantee and a harbinger of what they are yet to have: whenever the Christ, our life, is manifested, then also you with him will be manifested in glory. 
What they are to have is glory. This is a repeated theme in Paul’s letter and an important aspect of salvation as Paul would have us understand it. The apostle will make further reference to this glory in verses 4 and 10 of this chapter, and has already made reference to it in 1:27. 

In Paul's other letters we learn that glory honor, immortality and peace await those who seek to do good (Rom. 2:7, 10), whereas sinning leads to a corruption of the divine image in man (Rom. 3:23), in which man was created (I Cor. 11:7). Our hope is to be brought by grace to share again in the glory of that image (Rom. 5:2, 8:21, 15:7, I Thess. 2:12, II Thess. 2:14, II Tim. 2:10), stupendous though it is (Rom. 8:18, II Cor. 4:17, II Tim. 4:8), to which purpose the elect have been prepared (Rom. 9:23) and which is to be realized in the coming of Christ (Col. 3:4) and the resurrection (Rom. 8:18-21, 29, I Cor. 15:23), but which is presently being worked in us by the Spirit (I Cor. 15:39, II Cor. 3:18). That is how God has chosen to glorify his Son as Savior, redeemer and Messiah (II Thess. 1:10, 12. See also Rom. 8:29).

It really is quite a glorious thought: Man was created in the image of God. That image was scarred and distorted by sin. It is to be renewed and enhanced as the ultimate of our salvation: we shall be glorified in and by him, bear his image and become a source of heavenly amazement. Beatified with his beauty, made holy with his holiness, clothed with his righteousness and granted an eternal share in his majestic, happy perfections – with an important difference: our beauty is granted; his is inherent. Ours is contingent; his is eternal. Ours is by grace, his is by nature.

If you have been helped, encouraged or moved to thank God by these thoughts from Colossians, please help me promote my other books, in which similar truth and sentiments are to be found: COME LET US REASON TOGETHER (An assessment of the Messianic Movement and a call to the unity of the church on the grounds of grace); JONAH; A PROPHET ON THE RUN, part of my devotional commentary series. Reviews on blogs, Barnes & Noble and Amazon help greatly, as do recommendations to church bookrooms and to Christian bookstores. Your help is needed. 

Thank you,

Baruch

More from Colossians March 16 2014

It is characteristic of a kind of prideful fundamentalism, Jewish or otherwise, to be known primarily for its rejections and prohibitions. Christians don’t do this and don’t do that; they avoid modern pop music and secular books, do not drink, do not dance (probably do not watch CBS or CNN) and do not cultivate friendships outside their own circle (unless they are involved in that form of hypocrisy that purports befriends people, only so as to preach the Gospel to them). 

True Christian holiness involves a kind of freedom that is wholly taken up with moral purity in the fear of God and boldly enjoys the gifts God lavishes on us for our enjoyment, without making them a priority or becoming in any way addicted to them.

Since, then, you were co-raised with the Christ. Paul’s letter is addressed to Christians, to those who have a part in the death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. Since implies consequence. So far as the apostle is concerned, none share in Messiah’s death without sharing in his resurrection as well, and none who share in his resurrection are free to live in any way but as consistent with that transforming reality. So he appeals to the Colossians: seek things that are above, where the Christ is sitting at the right hand of God.

You will recall that in 2:8-10, 20-22 Paul pointed out that, in contrast to their claims of a higher spirituality, the false teachers in Colossae were actually earth-bound materialists. That is what Paul is speaking of here. Of course, by way of wider application, it is possible to see in this statement a call to spirituality in other areas as well, but Paul’s immediate concern is with the false spirituality the Colossian heretics were promoting. He wants the Colossians to focus on Christ, on true spirituality, on heavenly things rather than on matters such as touch not, taste not, handle not as a means to spirituality. Keeping kosher or any other form of ceremonial purity never made anyone holier.

More from Colossians March 16 2014

Col. 2:13-19
Participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus, in the present context, has its’ primary reference to the Law, to ceremonies and to what Paul describes as the basic elements of the world. This perception is akin to what Paul had to say in Gal. 2:19-20: through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (see also Rom. 7:1-5). The apostle now turns to speak of yet another death that was the Colossians’ lot: death in sin (which was due to their participation in the death and sin of Adam). At the same time, the resurrection of which he speaks is to a new life by faith in the Son of God and by virtue of the new powers God has unleashed in the believer, so that he delights after God’s law, longs to keep it and is enabled to do so:

And you, Paul reminds the Christians in Colossae that they are included in this wonderful reality, being dead in your intrusions and in the uncircumcision of your flesh. The apostle’s twofold description of their former situation is fascinating. The Greek term I have chosen to translate “intrusions,” is commonly translated by the well-known English term, “trespasses.” That is an excellent rendering of the meaning of the word, but for one factor: it is so common that we have become inured to its’ meaning. Wanting to draw your attention to that meaning, I chose to startle you with a term you would not expect to find in this context. 

Fundamentally, Paul is actually referring to trespassing, that is, to an unlawful intrusion into someone else’s territory. This term (paraptoma in Greek) means exactly that. It is one of the many terms scripture uses to designate the various aspects of sin. It means the arrogation of rights that belong to someone else, in this case to God. Every time we set ourselves up as the goal of our lives, every time we reach out to take forbidden fruit, every time we transgress a border God has established, we are trespassing and will have to give account to God. The Colossians had trespassed in the past by living for pleasure, regardless of whether that pleasure was legitimate or no

The Recent MaozNews

2013-04-12   17:55:23

 

MaozNews No. 74  March 2014 

to access, click below

 

Baruch's Biography, continued 
Ministry and Family News

 

 

 

To read our most recent issue, or any backissues, please click on the link below this box

Baruch and Bracha are engaged in their 2013 tour of the US, in the course of which they expect to be driving through Oregon, Montana, North or South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisianna, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Washington State.

Baruch is available for ministry in most of these states, He is prepared to preach, report on the scene in Israel, or offer an expository seminar on a biblical book. If your church is interested, please write to languageservice4u@gmail.com

 

Breaking News

Each year, my wife and I visit the US to see our family and visit churches interested in Gospel work in Israel, concerned over the Messianic Movement or simply open to hearing of another effort for the Gospel. Where relevant, I have been leading two-day expository seminars to study a biblical book in 4-6 sessions (books done so far are Jonah, Micah, Malachi, Romans, Galatians,Ephesians.) July 10-14 are still available in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. If you are interested in booking me during this time please write by return through languageservice4u@gmail.com

 

April 7, 2014

Israeli System gives Virtual Sight to the Blind

http://www.haaretz.com/business/1.583912

 

April 4, 2014

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4506139,00.html 

 

 

The elite Iranian force behind Arms Transfers

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4496168,00.html

A Disturbing Trend: 

http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world-news/.premium-1.578288

Israeli officer proposes to girlfriend at Florida gala:

http://www.jpost.com/Defense/WATCH-Surprise-proposal-at-IDF-charity-gala-in-Florida-343933

Israel's Technion ranked one of the 100 top Universities - Hebrew U. not far behind:

http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.578215

In seizing Gaza-bound missiles, Israel prevented a game-changer:

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.578156

Secular Judaism is still Heart of Zionism

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4493444,00.html

 
Testimonials

I have deep respect and love for Baruch Maoz, and the work that he is carrying on in Israel, despite obstacles and opposition. He has been a dear friend for many years. I’ll never forget doing a conference for him in Israel several years ago. I pray that God may use his sound theology, helpful preaching, excellent books, and numerous gifts for the conversion and spiritual maturation of thousands of Israelis and for the abundant glory of God. Rev. Joel R. Beeke, Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation, Author

*

Baruch Maoz has been a minister of the gospel, author, publisher, and voice for believers in the land of Israel for four decades. I have seen firsthand the fruit of his ministry and I cannot recommend it too highly. Baruch’s preaching, teaching, and writing ministry should be supported by all who care about the gospel and its impact in Israel and beyond! Pastor Jerry Marcellino, Audubon Drive Bible Church, Federation of reformed Evangelicals – Laurel, Mississippi

 *

Knowing and embracing our Lord’s clear directive to bring the Gospel to the “Jew first” I, along with BPC have been extraordinarily blessed to work in partnership with the effective biblical and faithful ministry of Baruch Maoz. His ministry of evangelism, discipleship, along with his strategic and insightful writing/translation projects, only enhance my opportunity to recommend him and his ministry. Rev. Harry Reeder, Senior Pastor, Briarwood Presbyterian Church (PCA), Birmingham AL

*

Tom Ascol of the Founders Movement writes: "Baruch and Bracha Maoz serve in the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Baruch has served as a pastor, publisher, author and church reformer in his homeland of Israel. He has ministered several times with our Grace Baptist Church family in Cape Coral and our people have come to love Bracha and him dearly. I highly recommend his and his ministry to any church that values expositional preaching and the gospel of God's grace." Dr. Thomas Ascol, Grace Baptist Church (SBC), Founders Movement, Cape Coral FL

For more, see below.

You can Help !

It has been encouraging to receive responses to our monthly issues of MaozNews. Many readers distribute copies of these to friends and fellow-church members. We will continue to offer special comment and urgent bulletins whenever events in our region justify such. Our bulletins are separate issues, unrelated to the monthly newsletter.

You can help by following us on Twitter (@BaruchMaoz), retweeting our tweets, recommending us to friends and Facebook contacts, and clicking "like" on our Facebook page.

You can help by following us on Linkedin (BaruchMaoz) 

Above all, please pray for us!

TAX-deductable support for our ministry should be written to the order of Berean Baptist church, P.O. Box 1233, Grand Blanc, Michigan48480-3233. Direct bank transfers may be made to Franklin Bank, 24725 West Twelve Mile Road, Southfield, MI 48034 USA, Routing Number 241271957 Berean Baptist Special Account No. 567495976.

Please inform Mr. Craig Cooper at Berean Baptist Church of the details of the transaction (including date, transaction number and sum) at coopmobile31@gmail.com

All contributions are tax deductable. Receipts are sent at the end of the calendar year or at the donor's request.

Please do not send contributions directly to us – we consider accountability important.

Funds sent for the ministry will be used exclusively for that purpose. We reserve the right to use for the ministry funds sent for personal use.

IMPORTANT NOTICE Our email address is bmaoz@themaozweb.com Please edit your Contacts List and henceforth direct all mail to that address.

Periodic bulletins are made available to MaozNews readers should the situation justify such. Briefer bulletins are provided when called for via Twitter (@BaruchMaoz). Subscribe to MaozNews by writing to bmaoz@themaozweb.com follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn and retweet our messages to others. We are also available on FaceBook.

Subscriptions
Subscriptions to MaozNews may be had for free at bmaoz@themaozweb.com.
Back-issues are available at http://www.themaozweb.com
New subscriptions are welcome - Join our growing number of readers!