Many Just Want Constant Reassurance That What They Believe Is The Truth

May 12, 2022

I saw the following on Facebook on 1-9-2015 – "Most people don’t really want the Truth. They just want constant reassurance that what they believe is the Truth." Many gospel preachers comply with that way too much. We call that "preaching to the choir" Consider the following passages …

II Tim 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears

I Kings 22:8 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesygood concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so

Isa 30:10 Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things

Acts 20:26-27,31 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. … Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

Ezek 3:18 When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

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The Unusual Case Where An Old Testament Verse Is Quoted By Another Old Testament Verse

May 5, 2022

When we talk about the Bible quoting itself, we are almost always talking about the New Testament quoting a passage from the Old Testament. A very unusual case would be the Old Testament quoting itself. An example of this would be Isaiah 53 twice quoting from the story of the scapegoat in Leviticus 16. Isaiah 53:6c “and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” is an obvious reference to Leviticus 16:21 “all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat” and Isaiah 53:11c “he shall bear their iniquities” is a quote of Leviticus 16:22 “the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities.”

What can we learn from this occurrence? First, the scapegoat is a type of Christ in the normal sense of the word; that is, an analogy / parallel is being made between the two by God’s word. Second, the way Jesus bears our sins is in the sense that our sins were laid on Him. We know this because that is the sense in which the scapegoat (the parallel) bore the Israelites’ sins; their sins were put on the scapegoat (in type).

In light of this type, how can so many gospel preachers deny Isaiah 53:6c that in reality God “laid on him the iniquity of us all”? What does that mean? I hesitate to say because Christians need to learn to accept what a verse plainly says even if they don’t understand its full import. But the just previous verse provides ample explanation: “The punishment for our well-being was laid upon Him” (NASB). “The punishment that brought us peace was on him” (NIV).

Are Our Feelings Reliable In Religion?

April 28, 2022

Are you sure you are saved? Are you sure because of your “feelings”? You should know our feelings are unreliable.

Read the account of the selling of Joseph into slavery in Genesis 37:28-35. Notice specifically verses 34-35. Didn’t Jacob feel like Joseph was dead? Did Jacob’s feeling prove Joseph was dead? Obviously not! So feelings do not prove anything.

Acts 8:36-39 shows the eunuch went on his way rejoicing after he was baptized (saved). This shows us our feelings are simply reactions to evidence (or information) but are never the evidence itself. The account of Jacob also shows us our feelings are based upon information: if the information is false our feelings will be false.

And II Thess 2:8-12 proves we better not be deceived by our feelings. God will send us a strong delusion (i.e. feeling) if we don’t have a love for the truth. The passage reads, “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be condemned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

You might feel like you are saved because a lot of people agree you are saved. Again, this is no way to tell. Matt 7:13-14 reads, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” If anything, large numbers on your side should hint to you that something may be wrong.

The only way to know you have eternal life is by what is written (I John 5:13). If you have done what the word of God says to do to be saved, then you can rest assured you are saved. God says a person must believe (Mark 16:16), repent (Acts 2:38), and be baptized (Acts 22:16) to be saved. Have you done what God says to do to be saved for the reasons He says to do it? If so, you are a Christian; if not, then do it. Let’s all be obedient to the Lord’s will (Hebrews 5:9).

Things We Learn By Approved Example

April 21, 2022

I have talked to a number of brethren through the years who say approved examples are not binding, and their reasoning is usually that it is sometimes hard to determine which examples are binding. I agree to some extent it is hard to tell, but that is backwards reasoning. That would be like saying since the command in II Tim 4:13 (“The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.”) is not binding today, therefore it is hard to tell which commands are binding, and so no commands are binding.

And how did we determine that command was not binding on us? That’s the same method we should use to tell if an example is binding today.

We don’t determine if something is right by how hard it is to carry out the instruction (else Abraham should have rejected God’s instruction to sacrifice his own son), but the way to determine if examples are binding is always going to be: Does the Bible teach examples are binding? Just because we are unsure of whether or not one or two examples are binding, doesn’t mean we can’t be sure about many others. As one of my mentors Carroll Sutton put it → Just because I don’t know everything, that doesn’t mean I am going to throw away what I do know.

Ways The Bible Authorizes/Teaches

Perhaps we should start by briefly mentioning some of the ways the Bible authorizes/teaches, and give an illustrative example for each:

· Command – Matthew 28:19-20 commands us to preach the gospel

· Statement – Mark 16:16 states that belief and baptism are necessary to salvation

· Approved Example – Acts 20:7 demonstrates we should eat the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week

· Necessary Implication – Hebrews 9:28 “Christ … shall appear the second time” necessarily implies His coming won’t just be a figurative coming in judgment (the 70 AD theory) – because that has happened many times in the past, not just once. It would have read the 9th or 14th time if that were the case.

· Question – I Corinthians 14:16 establishes God’s approval for saying Amen at the end of someone else’s prayer

· Assumed – Matt 6:16-17 Jesus assumed Christians would fast – that would be just as good as a command to do so

· Regulation – Deuteronomy 21:15-17 it is understood polygamy was allowed in the Old Testament because it was regulated

· Exceptive Clause – Matthew 19:9 teaches a person may divorce their spouse for fornication and remarry and not commit adultery

Consequently, let me hasten to point out that we don’t learn by example only. We should never smart-alecky say “Where is the example?” regarding any questioned practice, implicitly rejecting other means of authority.

Approved Examples Are Binding

Next let’s establish from Bible commands/statements that we are to follow approved examples:

· Philippians 4:9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

· I Cor 4:16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

· Philippians 3:17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

· II Thessalonians 3:9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us

· I Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

· Hebrews 6:12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

· I Thess 1:6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord

So the Bible says we learn by approved New Testament example, and we can’t just pick and choose which ones we like.

Next let’s go through some things we learn by approved example that we are all very familiar with …

First Day Of The Week Lord’s Supper

We’ve already mentioned Acts 20:7 which reads “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” Faithful Christians understand we are to eat the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week because of this approved example. Not because of a command, but by example.

Bread And Fruit Of The Vine On The Lord’s Supper

We learn by example that we are to eat bread and drink fruit of the vineas part of the Lord’s Supper. I Corinthians 11:23-26 says “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.” And Matthew 26:29 – But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.

Baptism Is Immersion

We learn by example that baptism is immersion from texts such as Acts 8:38-39 “And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.” Romans 6:4 teaches the same thing by statement.

A Christian Can Fall From Grace

We learn by example that a Christian can fall from grace. Notice Acts 8:

12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip …

22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.

Simon had believed also (genuinely just like the other Samaritans) and then was baptized → so he was saved just like all the others (Mark 16:16). He tried to buy the power to lay on hands (impart the miraculous). He needed to be forgiven, that is, he was “in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity” (he was in a lost state). Simon the Sorcerer is therefore an example of a Christian who fell from grace.

Perhaps The Most Approved Example In The New Testament

Acts 17:11 reads “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Can you think of a more approved example in all of the Bible? The Bereans compared what was being preached to what the scripture says. They are said to be noble for doing so. I am thinking all believers (true Christians and even denominational people) agree we should follow this example. So everyone admits we do learn by example – at least some examples.

More Verses From Which We Learn By Example

Following are some more verses from which we learn things by example:

· Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized …

· Acts 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

· Acts 9:26 … Saul … assayed to join himself to the disciples …

· Acts 10:25-26 … Cornelius … fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man

· Acts 12:5 … prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God …

· Acts 13:3 And when they had … laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

· Acts 14:23 when they had ordained them elders in every church … (if men are qualified I Tim 3:1ff, Tit 1:5ff)

· Acts 16:40 … when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them …

· Acts 20:27 I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

· Acts 21:5b … and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.

· Acts 28:8 … Paul … prayed (for) … the … sick …

· II Cor 5:11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men …

When we don’t do other things the New Testament teaches by approved example, then are we betraying the fact that we don’t really believe we learn by example, but that instead it is just an excuse to bind the first day of the week Lord’s Supper? Let’s talk about three more Bible requirements in particular …

Personal Evangelism – Binding Examples

There are many occasions where New Testament saints tried to reach the lost. Some examples are:

· Acts 5:40-42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ

· Acts 8:1,4 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. … Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

· Acts 20:20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house

· Acts 28:30-31 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.

· Acts 5:40-42, 8:1-4, 20:20, 28:30-31 – “personal work” is approved of and should be done regularly

Personal Evangelism Is Therefore Required

Since we have approved examples of such, all Christians ought to follow that lead and use our time to spread the gospel to the best of our abilities. Our brethren follow the Acts 20:7 example like their lives depend upon it, but most neglect these personal work examples like not one soul depends upon it! Texts like Acts 8:4 make this activity required of all Christians – man, woman, and youth. It is probably the most important work a Christian can be doing, and yet how many are even trying to do it? Even many full time preachers don’t do it on a consistent basis. I doubt God is going to be pleased if all we’re trying to do is convert the boyfriends and girlfriends of our current members.

Debating – Binding Examples

Some approved examples of public religious debating include:

· Acts 15:2,7 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them … And when there had been much disputing

· Acts 17:17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.

· Acts 19:8-10 And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.

Debating Therefore Should Be Encouraged And Supported

Acts 15:2,7, 17:17, and 19:8-10 are very approved examples, yet most brethren oppose religious debating because it doesn’t seem right to them (Prov 14:12), or because they don’t think it does any good (Isaiah 55:8-9). But they would have a cow if I said – “observing the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week doesn’t do any good, so let’s don’t do that.” Either we should follow approved examples, or we shouldn’t. We can’t have it both ways.

Reasons We Should Publicly Debate The Bible

Some of the reason we should debate the scriptures include:

· because God says we should Phil 1:17, Acts 15:2,7, 17:17, 19:8-10, Matt 22:15-46, Jude 3

· to listen to the other side with an open mind Matthew 13:15

· to preach the truth as we presently understand it II Timothy 4:2

· to seek unity Ephesians 4:3, I Corinthians 1:10, John 17:20-23

· to reach the lost Mark 16:15-16

· to encourage study of the word of God II Timothy 2:15

· to get an audience with those who need to be warned Ezek 3:18

· to allow our position to be examined/tested John 3:19-21

Fasting – Binding Examples

We also have multiple examples of disciples fasting:

· Acts 13:1-3 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as … they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

· Acts 14:23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

· II Corinthians 11:27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

· II Corinthians 6:5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings

Fasting Is Therefore Required

Acts 13:1-3, 14:23, II Cor 11:27, and 6:5 are approved New Testament examples and therefore require us to fast. It’s hard for me to believe some preachers try to get around God’s fasting requirement by saying:

· “The New Testament never commands us to fast” – when they have other sermons that correctly point out we learn by command, example, or necessary implication.

· “The Bible doesn’t tell us how often or how long to fast” – but they understand prayer is binding today even though we are not told how often or how long to pray.

Other passages instructing fasting include:

· Matthew 6:16-18 If charitable deeds and prayer are still required today, why wouldn’t fasting be required today also?

· Mark 2:18-20 Jesus said his disciples would fast once he (the bridegroom) was gone. Isn’t the bridegroom (Jesus) gone today?

We Learn Other Things By Example

There are other approved examples we should follow – but I suggest each person search for themselves instead of depending upon me or anybody else to tell them what they are.

Conclusion.

We should contentiously apply this principle.  The Bible does command that we follow approve examples.

What Does “Put Away” Mean? – Translations

April 14, 2022

KVJ – Matt 5:32 … whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

So even when “apoluo” is translated “put away,” it is talking about “divorce.” One can tell that because the terms are used interchangeably in the KJV of Matthew 5:32.

NKJV (and NASV, RSV, NIV, ESV) – are all these standard translations of “apoluo” wrong?:

Matt 5:32 … whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.

Matt 19:3 The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”

Matt 19:9 Whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; & whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery

Mark 10:11-12 Whosover divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery

Luke 16:18 Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.

Do Christians Presently Possess Eternal Life?

April 7, 2022

Many times in debates on the Once Saved Always Saved topic, Baptists make the argument that the Christian possesses eternal life, and since that life is eternal, he cannot lose that life (his salvation). A common response to that argument is the Christian does not actually presently possess eternal life, but I think that response is a mistake.

The following passages say plainly a faithful Christian has present possession of “everlasting life”:

· John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (so a Christian has passed from death unto everlasting life [past tense] – that is conclusive)

· John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

· John 6:47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

· John 6:54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

· I John 5:11-13 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

As with any Bible subject, we should take the clear meaning of the above five passages unless something elsewhere in the Bible dictates otherwise. Many teach there is such justification (to reject the obvious meaning in this case) because of passages like the following that teach that we “hope” for eternal life:

· Titus 1:2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

· Luke 18:30 Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.

But we must not pit one passage in the Bible against another, meaning we cannot just accept these last two verses and ignore the previous five – they all must be true. Actually passages like these last two do not mitigate against the simple and obvious meaning of the first five proof texts above. Let me illustrate. Suppose our baseball team has a lead going into the fourth inning. I could truthfully say “we have the lead,” and at the same time say “we hope to have the lead at the end of the game.” You see, a team can have present possession of a lead at any point during the game, but until the end of the game, that lead is susceptible to loss. Because it is possible for the lead to be lost, we can presently possess the lead, and yet still hope to have the lead at the end of the game. This especially makes sense when we understand that having the lead during the game is good, but having the lead at the conclusion of the game is all that really matters in the end. The end of the game lead cannot be lost. That is the only score that will count in the final standings.

The same is true of eternal life. We presently possess it if we are faithful Christians. And our possession of eternal life means we possess something that lasts forever. But until our life is over (Revelation 14:13) our possession of eternal life is susceptible to loss, since it is possible to forfeit it (fall from grace, Galatians 5:4, etc.). If we lose eternal life, then we have lost something that lasts forever. It is important to possess eternal life presently, but what will matter in the end is if we possess eternal life at our death, and therefore in the hereafter, where we can’t lose it.

As I said, some say we only possess eternal life “in prospect” or “in hope.” But that is really saying we don’t actually possess eternal life here and now, and so that would contradict the first five proof texts this article begins with. And as far as I know, there is no passage forcing us to conclude we only possess eternal life in prospect while on this earth.

Some think there is a contradiction in the ideas of presently possessing eternal life and being able to lose it. But perhaps the following illustrations will help resolve that apparent difficulty:

· Adam and Eve possessed eternal physical life (as long as they ate of the tree of life) until they sinned, but they lost it when they sinned and were barred access to the tree of life (Gen 3:22,24). Likewise God can give someone eternal life and He can take it away. As a matter of fact, He can do anything He wants to; we shouldn’t try to box Him in. So it is a matter of what God’s revelation teaches, not what can or can’t be done according to our own human logic. And John 3:36 clearly teaches we can lose everlasting life (when taken in combination with texts like Heb 3:1,12).

· It is possible to possess something that lasts forever, but not to possess it forever. For example, a banker might own a mortgage that is to last 30 years, but would be glad to sell it for a fair price – then he wouldn’t possess it anymore. The mortgage is to last 30 years, but the banker does not necessarily possess it for that long.

· A famous expression is “diamonds last forever.” But you can lose a diamond, right? Similarly, eternal life is the kind of life (spiritual) that lasts forever, but you can lose it.

· If we have a watch with a lifetime warranty, that says the watch is guaranteed to last for our lifetime, but what if we lose the watch?

· Just because something is said to last forever, that doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be reversed. For example, does I Chron 28:9 (“… if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever”) mean it is impossible for one who falls away to ever return?

Having “eternal life” would not mean it is impossible to lose that life any more than “he that cometh to me shall never hunger” and “he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35) means it is impossible to lose our salvation and hunger and thirst spiritually again. Presently possessing “eternal life” would not mean it is impossible to lose it any more than “For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever” (Psalms 37:28a) means it is impossible to lose our salvation even though the verse says God will preserve his saints “forever.” Yes a saint’s preservation lasts forever, but he can lose that forever lasting preservation, because it is conditional. Likewise a saint’s spiritual life lasts forever, but he can lose that forever lasting life, because it is conditional.

A reading of John 6:29-58 would seem to indicate the terms “eternal life” and “spiritual life” are used interchangeably and refer to the same thing. Notice also “eternal life” is used in antithesis to spiritual death in Romans 6:23 (“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”). And I think the reader will agree I John 5:12 is talking about our present possession of spiritual life, and it is made equivalent to “eternal life” in verses 11 and 13. Since “eternal life” and “spiritual life” are equivalent, the question becomes – can we lose spiritual life? The reader will hopefully agree the answer is “yes,” and since spiritual life is proven to be equivalent to eternal life, logically we can lose that also.

Consider also the following two verses: John 6:53 says “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” That doesn’t make sense if the people who eat and drink of Jesus flesh and blood (appropriate His sacrifice to themselves) don’t have that life in them. And verse 54 shows that Jesus is talking about eternal life in verse 53. I John 3:15 reads “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” That doesn’t make good sense if non-murderers (who are also faithful in other respects) don’t actually have eternal life abiding in them.

As was pointed out earlier, eternal life is synonymous with spiritual life (John 5:24, I John 5:11-12) and therefore synonymous with salvation. We receive salvation now (Mark 16:16, II Tim 1:9, Tit 3:5), but also receive it in a more final sense in heaven (Rom 5:9-10, 13:11, II Tim 2:10, etc.). Logically then we can receive eternal life now, and receive it in a more final sense in heaven. So we receive salvation (eternal life) now, but in heaven we can’t lose it.

In conclusion, the Bible conclusively teaches faithful Christians are in present possession of eternal (spiritual) life. But we can lose that life/salvation, therefore we strive and hope to have the same at the day of judgment.

What Is Divorce?

March 31, 2022

The Meaning

The Greek word “apoluo” translated “divorced” in Matt 5:32 (also translated “put away” in the KJV of many of the other marriage passages) is defined by Thayer as “to loose from, sever by loosening, undo …. used of divorce.” Divorce is the opposite of marriage. It is to “undo” a marriage.

It appears there was no ceremony or legal requirement to get married in the days of Isaac (Gen 24:67), so evidently there was no legal requirement at that time to divorce either (if such were possible). Such may also be the case in some remote societies today. During the time of Moses however, divorce did involve a legal process (Deut 24:1 “let him write her a bill of divorcement”). Evidently the same was also true during Jesus’ day (Matt 5:31). It is certainly true today in the United States. In our society, both marriage and divorce require a legal process – and we must follow the laws of the land (I Pet 2:13).

Divorce Can Be Scriptural Or Unscriptural

Many Christians today act like it is impossible to get an unscriptural divorce. They reason that if a man unscripturally divorces his wife, a divorce has not really occurred, since if the man commits adultery against that wife (before or after the legal divorce), then the wife can put him away (mentally, not legally) and remarry. But Luke 16:18 proves this theory is not true. Among other things it demonstrates that if a man first divorces his wife and then commits adultery by remarrying, it is still adultery for another man to marry the first woman, even though her first husband is now cheating on her sexually.

An unscriptural divorce is a divorce, nonetheless. The problem comes when people try to equate the marriage with the bond, and likewise equate divorce with necessarily loosening that bond. They are afraid that if they admit an unscriptural divorce is really a divorce, then they are admitting the bond would be broken in such case. But that is not true; an unscriptural divorce is a real divorce, but it does not break the bond (obligation). Real divorce and breaking the bond are not necessarily the same thing. Rom 7:2-3 proves the marriage and the bond are not equivalent when it gives the case of a woman that is bound to her first husband, while married (but not bound) to a second husband. Divorce does not necessarily loose the bond, only divorce for fornication does that (and only for the “innocent party” at that, Matt 19:9).

Marrying and divorcing are things that man does. Binding and loosing are things God does. God binds (obligates) a couple when they become scripturally married. God looses that couple when one of the parties dies (Rom 7:2-3). God also looses the “innocent party” for remarriage, when a divorce for fornication occurs (Matt 19:9).

The Purpose Of ‘Doctrine Matters’

March 24, 2022

My purpose for sending out this “Doctrine Matters” weekly email I think is perfectly described by one of my mentors Carroll Ray Sutton’s stated purpose for his 50 something years in duration paper church bulletin “The Instructor.” About such CRS wrote …

It is our intention to do what we can to instruct others by means of this periodical. It is not our desire to ‘tell someone off or to ‘offend’ anyone. We have no personal ‘axe to grind’ with anyone. Our primary interest is in knowing and teaching others the truth which is able to make us free. (See John 8:32). THE INSTRUCTOR is designed to teach aliens the way of salvation and children of God their duties and responsibilities. We will be pleading for genuine faith in God and Christ as the Son of God. We will be upholding the Scripture as being the inspired Word of God! Our lessons will be plain and pointed because of their importance. We will endeavor to be fair and kind in the presentation of truth, but we will not speak to please men, but God, who trieth our hearts. (1 Thess. 2:4-5). It is our desire to be militant against sin wherever it may exist. We will not only point out the errors of denominationalism but also the erroneous and sinful practices of many members of the Lord’s church. If you find that we are not teaching or practicing the truth, we earnestly urge you to call it to our attention and point out by the Scriptures wherein we err. You will be our friend by so doing.

The purpose of The Instructor has not changed since its beginning. We are still striving to reach the same goals. Our attitude has not changed. It is still the same as expressed in that initial issue. We have endeavored to speak the truth plainly. We do not want anyone to misunderstand what we are saying, whether they agree with it or not. With the apostle Paul we say: “Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech.” (2 Cor. 3: 12).

It has been our intention from the beginning to teach all the counsel of God as we have had time and opportunity to do so. Our preaching and teaching through this and other media has been patterned after the teaching and preaching of Jesus and the apostles in that it has been presented both positively and negatively. In spite of what many learned, well-meaning brethren think, the Master Teacher and His apostles gave us an example that we should follow. Some of the teaching of Jesus on the mount in Matthew 5-7 is negative. For example, read Mt. 5:33-37; 5:38-42; 6:1-21; 6:24; 6:25, 31, 34; 7: 1, 6). Of course, much of it is positive. For some negative as well as positive teaching by the apostles read their epistles. NOTE: If we would simply ”preach the word” and preach “all the counsel of God” as it is revealed in the Scriptures, we would not have to be too concerned about whether it is positive or negative. (Cf. 2 Tim. 4:2; Acts 20:26-27). Let us never forget the charge to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” and to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Cf. 2 Tim. 4:2; Jude 3).

Does “Put Away” JUST mean to “Send Away?”

March 17, 2022

The Greek word “apoluo” is mostly translated “put away” in the KJV of the Divorce And Remarriage passages. In the NKJV and other standard versions, it is typically translated “divorce.” The following definitions for “apoluo” help show our modern day English word “divorce” is an accurate translation of this Greek word in the Bible context of marriage. Please look up as many of the given definitions as you can to make sure I am not overstating my case.

· Arndt and Gingrich – divorce, send away, one’s wife, or betrothed

· Colin Brown’s Dictionary of N.T. Theology – let go, send away, dismiss one’s wife or betrothed, divorce

· Thayer – used of divorce, to dismiss from the house, to repudiate

· Vines – to let loose from, let go free, is translated “is divorced” …; it is further used of divorce in …

· Wigram-Green – to set free, dismiss, relieve, (used) of divorce, let go

· The KJV translates apoluo as “divorced” in Matt 5:32

The following definition helps us to understand what our modern day English word “divorce” means: The Random House College Dictionary defines “divorce” as 1. Law, a judicial declaration dissolving a marriage in whole or in part. Cf. judicial separation. 2. any formal separation of man and wife according to established custom, as among uncivilized tribes.

The conclusion of this article is indicated by the emphasized portion of the above definition. When Jesus talks about “divorce” in Matt 5:32 and the parallels, He means “divorce,” not a sending away only.

What Does It Mean To Disfellowship A Brother?

March 10, 2022

There has been a lot written in the last several years about who we should fellowship based upon which issues are disagreed upon. This article is not intended to try to answer that tough question. Instead, this article’s focus will be on what the Bible teaches we are to do when we do have to disfellowship an erring brother in Christ.

Most of our brethren understand part of what it means to “mark” a Christian who has gone off in sin. For example, they won’t invite a false teacher to hold a gospel meeting, or call on him for prayer in the public assemblies (Ephesians 5:11). However it seems many brethren don’t follow through on other steps that are equally required by God’s word. I Corinthians 5:9 and II Thessalonians 3:14 show we are not to keep (social) company with brethren we withhold or withdraw fellowship from. I Corinthians 5:11 goes so far as to say we are not even to eat with them. Many seem to ignore these last two requirements. It seems many believe in obeying Romans 16:17a (mark brethren in error), but not Romans 16:17b (avoid brethren in error). I recently heard of a preacher who moved into a congregation and ate with a sister who had recently been withdrawn from, saying he had a right to eat with anyone. Needless to say, he split the congregation over his lack of a stand for truth.

Some make a distinction between “not having fellowship” and “withdrawing,” but the Bible makes it clear in the above verses that the latter must necessarily follow the former. Some say we can’t eat with brethren from the local church who have been withdrawn from, but the same wouldn’t apply to brethren elsewhere … As if our responsibility to love our brethren changes based upon our physical location. Paul sometimes withdrew from people from where he (Paul) was not a local member (I Timothy 1:20, I Corinthians 5:3). God’s rule in I Corinthians 5:9-13 is that a person “called a brother” who is a fornicator (etc.) is one you shouldn’t keep company with or not eat with. His rule doesn’t include the part about the person having to be a part of your local congregation. I Timothy 6:3-5 tells us to withdraw from certain people and it does not specify the requirement that they be fellow congregational members. II Thessalonians 3:6 says we are to withdraw from “every” brother that walketh disorderly (not just brethren in our local congregation). So whatever “walketh disorderly” means, we cannot keep company with such a brother, regardless of what congregation he is a member of.

Suppose your best friend is a faithful member at a congregation 10 miles away. Suppose you and he are used to getting together for lunch once a week or so. Then suppose out of the blue, he openly decides he is a homosexual, and the congregation where he is a member withdraws from him when he won’t repent. Aren’t many saying the members of that congregation couldn’t eat with him, but you could? Suppose that congregation then asks you be their regular preacher. You accept, so then you have to stop eating with him. Then five years later, you leave that congregation, so now you can start eating with him again? Do you really think that is what Paul taught? If he taught that, where does he mention it?

One preacher recently preached “I don’t think that by the phrase ‘not even to eat with such a one’ that they can’t be … at the same table … when you are eating.” Can someone explain go me how you can eat at the same table with someone, but not eat with them? I guess I can’t be sure exactly what that preacher had in mind, but it sure sounds like he is trying to figure out a way you can eat with a brother who has been withdrawn from, even though the Bible clearly says not to.

Some teach you can eat with the one who has been disfellowshipped as long as you don’t give them the impression that you think they are in a right relationship with God. Some say you can eat with them if you are doing it for a spiritual purpose. Aren’t these are all just excuses to do what God has expressly forbidden; eating with them? Besides, a faithful Christian is supposed to do everything he does with a spiritual purpose, right?

For many Christians, it appears that disfellowshipping brethren in sin is just a lot of talk, but no real action. They claim they withdraw fellowship for this or that, but in actuality they never withdraw from anybody. If we really love our brethren, we will follow through on all the actions that God requires to be involved in their discipline.