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The Epistle from Laodicea

The Epistle from Laodicea

By Paul R. Blake

            Colossians 4:16 - “Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.”

            An epistle “ad Laodicenses” (To the Laodiceans) exists in Latin, a very old copy of which is in the library at St. Alban's of Anjou. Bible scholars reject it as a brief and pointless forgery composed of verses from other epistles of Paul randomly cobbled together. However, the reference in Colossians 4:16 to an epistle of Paul to the church at Laodicea speaks of an authentic, apostolically written book that no longer exists, and in all likelihood, after accomplishing the purpose for which it was written, was Providentially permitted to be lost to posterity. In this, it is similar to the writings of Gad, Iddo the Seer, Nathan, the Prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and the Book of Jehu, etc. (2Chron. 9:29, 20:34; 1Kings 16:1), books that served the purpose of their writing and passed out of existence. There is no reason to believe that a Divinely inspired book may have been carelessly lost or that God was unable to preserve the fullness of His written word. There is no special sacredness in the written page or in the fact that inspired truth was at one time recorded that makes it critical to be preserved by the desire and actions of men. The oral teachings of Jesus were the inspired will of the Father, just as the writings of Paul or Peter, but only part of what He said and did was preserved in scripture (John 21:25). Yet no one believes there are critical gaps in Jesus’ teaching because not every word or deed was written down. Why should there be a fuss over whether an apostolically written book may also have been lost? And even if it has, how does that fact weaken the importance or the value of the scriptures we now have? Does the fact that a large part of the sermons of Christ were not preserved somehow diminish the value of the Sermon on the Mount or lessen His Divine authority?

            In truth, God revealed what He wanted revealed; He has that kind of power. Deuteronomy 29:29 - “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” In truth, God preserved what He wanted preserved; He has that kind of power. 1Peter 1:23-25 - “Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the LORD endures forever. Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.” God revealed what He wanted us to know, and He preserved that revelation in a form we can comprehend, and He will continue to preserve His whole word intact until this world ends.

            Are there other books mentioned in the Bible written by inspired prophets, but not preserved to this day?

The Book of Jasher (Joshua 10:13; 2Sam. 1:18)

The Book of the Wars of the Lord (Num. 21:14)

The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel and Chronicles of the Kings of Judah (1Kings 14:19, 14:29)

The Book of Shemaiah the prophet, and of Iddo the Seer (2Chron. 9:29, 12:15, 13:22)

The Manners of the King (1Sam. 10:25)

The Acts of Solomon (1Kings 11:41)

The Annals of King David (1Chron. 27:24)

The History of Nathan the Prophet and the Book of Gad the Seer (1Chron. 29:29; 2Chron. 9:29)

The Acts of Uzziah (2Chron. 26:22)

The Prayers of Manasseh and the Sayings of Hozai (2Chron. 33:18-19)

The Chronicles of King Ahasuerus and the Chronicles of the Kings of Media and Persia (Esther 2:23, 6:1, 10:2; Neh. 12:23)

            Why don’t we need them today? After they served their purpose, God in His wisdom determined that it was not necessary to preserve them for future generations. The books of the Bible He preserved are fully sufficient for all of our spiritual needs. Perhaps men should learn to be content with what God has already revealed and continues to preserve. 2Timothy 3:16 - “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Romans 15:4 - “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

A Moments Wisdom on Preaching

--If we preach the whole counsel of God, we shall be accused of extremism, not only by the world but also by a professing church that cannot endure sound doctrine.

--A preacher should have the mind of a scholar, the heart of a child, and the hide of a rhinoceros. His problem is how to toughen his hide without hardening his heart.

--The preacher who will not preach his heart out before a few people would be no good before a multitude.

--It is not enough to love to preach. We must love those to whom we preach. An awful lot of preaching misses the mark because it proceeds from love of preaching, not love of people.

--The task of the preacher is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

--I trust I am not one who pounds because he can’t expound.

--One should enter the pulpit as though it were the first time, as though it could be the best time, and as though it might be the last.

--Preaching the truth makes people either sad, mad, or glad. Too many people today leave church on Sunday neither sad, mad, nor glad; they go out as they came in. Better go out mad than just go out.

--Some preach the truth and don’t have love. Some preach love and don’t have the truth. Get the mixture right. The truth will keep you from dissolving into sentimentality; love will keep you from hardening into severity.

--The devil will let a preacher prepare a sermon, if it will keep him from preparing himself.

--Too many church services start at eleven o’clock sharp and end at twelve o’clock dull.

--If you want to be popular, preach happiness. If you want to be unpopular, preach holiness.

--Preaching a sermon that is strong on information but weak on application, is like shouting to a drowning man, “SWIM! SWIM! The message is true, but it’s not helpful.

Test Your Bible Knowledge of the Sons of Jacob

1. We avenged our sister Dinah __________

2. I was my father’s favorite __________

3. I was the eldest son __________

4. I was the youngest son __________

Upcoming Sermons

10/4/20 AM - “Be Quiet, Bartimaeus!”; PM - Singing Service: Faith in the Providence of God

10/11/20 AM - The Grace of a King; PM - God and Providence, Part One

10/18/20 AM - Six Biblical Baptisms; PM - God and Providence, Conclusion

10/25/20 AM - “Without Love, I am Nothing”; PM - Stumbling in Only One Point of Law (Requested)

  1. Sun AM Bible Study
    11/1/20 09:30am
  2. Sun AM Worship
    11/1/20 10:30am
  3. Sun PM Worship
    11/1/20 05:00pm
  4. 1st Sun Eve Singing
    11/1/20 05:00pm
  5. Wed PM Bible Study
    11/4/20 07:30pm
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