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Psalm 85:8-13 1
8 I will listen to what God the LORD will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints—but let them not return to folly. 9 Surely his salvation is near those who fear him that his glory may dwell in our land. 10 Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. 11 Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. 12 The LORD will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. 13 Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.

clip_image106Background

The name Psalms or Psalter come from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, where they originally referred to stringed instruments such as the harp, lyre and lute.

The 150 psalms are divided into five books or collections which were added at four times after the initial worship book was compiled. This first worship book was assembled before David’s death and consists of his work. These are mostly personal psalms reflecting David’s own experiences. Book two (Psalms 42-72) were probably written during Solomon’s time. Books III (73-89) and IV (90-106) are from the days of Exile, and the final book (107-150), which contains the most liturgical of the psalms, were probably collected around the time of Ezra after the return from exile. There are many themes which run through the Psalms, including praise, history, relationships, calling on God to overthrow the wicked, repentance, and messianic psalms.

Biblical Truths

Sooner or later, God will speak peace to his people. If He does not command outward peace, He will suggest inward peace; speaking to their hearts by his Spirit. Peace is spoken only to those who turn from sin. All sin is folly, especially backsliding; it is the greatest folly to return to sin.

God’s salvation is never far from us, whatever our difficulties and distresses seem to be. Also, His honor is secured so that glory may dwell in our land. His people know the truth of His promises because our God has been merciful and sent us Christ. God’s justice is now satisfied by this great atonement.

Christ, the way, truth, and life, came to us from the earth as we all do and God, with His divine justice, looked upon Him and well pleased and satisfied. For His sake all good things, especially His Holy Spirit, are given to those who ask Him. Through Christ, the pardoned sinner becomes fruitful in good works, and by looking to and trusting in Christ’s righteousness, finds his feet set in the way of Christ’s steps. Righteousness is a sure guide, both in meeting God, and in following Him.

Items for Discussion

  • If it is God’s will and plan to create peace in the world, why then is the world filled with so much chaos?
  • How is God’s desire for peace useful in evaluating the various religions and faiths of the world?
  • Can world peace come without a universal belief in Christ?

Romans 16:16
16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.

Background

The letter to the Romans is one of the four letters of Paul known as the Hauptbriefe, which are universally accepted as authentic. It is typically dated c. 57 CE. Prior to the time of writing Romans, Paul had already written Galatians, and 1 and 2 Corinthians, in addition to 1 Thessalonians (believed to be Paul’s earliest epistle), and perhaps Philippians as well. Romans has contributed significantly to the history of Christian doctrine. Almost every influential Christian thinker has dealt with Romans. Origen, Thomas Aquinas, and Philip Melanchthon, to mention only a few, wrote noteworthy commentaries on Romans. And numerous theological notions have been derived solely or in part from Romans. Augustine acquired his idea of original sin from Romans 5, Luther gained his understanding of justification by faith alone from Romans 3-4, John Calvin obtained his doctrine of double predestination from Romans 9-11, John Wesley got his distinctive teaching on sanctification from Romans 6 and 8, and Karl Barth learned of the importance of the righteousness of God from Romans 1 and 2. In short, this epistle has exerted a powerful influence on all branches of the Christian Church, and its impact on the lives and thought of prominent Christian thinkers through the years has been second, perhaps, only to the canonical gospels.

Biblical Truths

In the early church there was a unique kinship among believers: “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” Also there was a unique kinship among assemblies of believers: “The churches of Christ greet you.” Believers had a special relationship one with another and assemblies had a special relationship one with another, all because of Jesus Christ.

In the New Testament the term “KISS” is mentioned five times in connection with greetings. Four times Paul speaks of “a holy kiss” (Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:26) and once Peter speaks of “a kiss of love” (1 Pet. 5:14). The Lord Jesus spoke of this custom when He gently reprimanded Simon the Pharisee: “You did not give me a kiss” (Luke 7:45). When Paul said farewell to the Ephesians they “They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him” (Acts 20:37 and compare the welcome of the prodigal son in Luke 15:20). The custom was to kiss on the forehead or cheek, not on the lips (it was in no way a sensual, erotic or romantic kiss). Since Paul exhorted them to “greet one another” with this kiss, could it be that the greeting was to extend to all believers, not just to members of the same sex.

It was a “holy kiss” indicating that God was involved and God was pleased in this warm and affectionate display of genuine love between believers: “it should never imply less than three parties: God and the two who kiss each other. The holy kiss symbolizes Christ’s love shared mutually between the parties. In our society and in most societies today, a warm and affectionate greeting is expressed in ways other than by a kiss. A warm and affectionate “holy handshake” would certainly be a God-honoring substitute for what the first century Christians did. We are brothers and sisters in Christ and we are to see that we love one another with a PURE HEART fervently (1 Pet. 1:22).

“The churches of Christ” sent their greetings to the church of Christ that was in Rome. The churches of the first century had a kinship and unity that we no longer find among churches today. This is because first century churches all shared in common the following:

  • SAME TEACHING “as I teach every where in every church” (1 Cor. 4:17)
  • SAME PRACTICE “each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches.” (1 Cor. 7:17)
  • SAME CUSTOM “If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.” “(1 Cor. 11:16).
  • SAME ORDER “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints” (1 Cor. 14:33).

Items for Discussion

  • In looking at the commonalities shared by the early Christian Churches, where do you think that the Church of today has gone astray?
    • Same Teaching; Same Practice; Same Custom; Same Order
  • Where are the areas that we remain in common agreement?
    • Same Teaching; Same Practice; Same Custom; Same Order
  • Why is a Holy Kiss, or a Holy Handshake or a Holy Hug more effective in exposing the love of a church than the words of its pastor or congregation?

Discussion Challenges

  • What must the Church do as a congregation to become more like the early church?
Additional Study Notes

Items for Discussion in Psalm 85:8-13

  • If it is God’s will and plan to create peace in the world, why then is the world filled with so much chaos?
    • “but let them not return to folly.”
    • “salvation is near those who fear him that his glory may dwell in our land.”
    • “Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.” – righteousness requires repentance and avoidance of sin.
    • “Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven.” – God requires Christ in the equation.
  • How is God’s desire for peace useful in evaluating the various religions and faiths of the world?
    • Look for the repentance and righteousness
    • Look for the peace that is generated by its believers

Can world peace come without a universal belief in Christ?

  • God says no

Items for Discussion in Romans 16:16

  • In looking at the commonalities shared by the early Christian Churches, where do you think that the Church of today has gone astray?
    • Same Teaching; Same Practice; Same Custom; Same Order
    • The prior questions are meant to stimulate dialogue on the Christian Church – there is no right or wrong answer.
  • Where are the areas that we remain in common agreement?
    • Same Teaching; Same Practice; Same Custom; Same Order
    • The prior questions are meant to stimulate dialogue on the Christian Church – there is no right or wrong answer.
  • Why is a Holy Kiss, or a Holy Handshake or a Holy Hug more effective in exposing the love of a church than the words of its pastor or congregation?
    • The human touch involves additional senses that are hard to fool. Therefore, hugs and kisses can both hurt and help communication how one feels about others.

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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