Starting With A Conclusion And Reasoning Backwards

March 21, 2019

When learning the scriptures, we have to be careful not to start with a conclusion and reason backwards. Meaning we shouldn’t force an interpretation upon any passage so it will be consistent with our presupposition (Eph 3:3-4).

A classic example of this is the Once Saved Always Saved issue. Though there is a passage or two on practically every page of God’s book that proves it is possible for a Christian to “fall from grace” (Gal 5:4), and no scriptures to support the opposing position, many want Once Saved Always Saved to be true so badly that they can’t look honestly at any passage that teaches otherwise. In this case, “wishful thinking” drives their interpretation of God’s word instead of honest and forthright study.

Another example is the Personal Indwelling Of The Holy Spirit (I Cor 6:19, Acts 2:38) issue. It seems many take their position on this issue based less upon scripture and based more upon what would help us contend with the Pentecostals better. For example Bruce Curd wrote in Faith And Facts in defense of his position “… more importantly, this understanding of the statement (Acts 2:39) offers not one scintilla of support for the egregiously false blunderings of Pentecostalists and their supporters.” My first response to this is that a doctrinal point is either true or not true based on its own merits. We should never believe something because it may make it easier to answer a particular false teaching. I like how Mac Deaver put it: “I am not going to surrender one God-given truth in order to make it easier on any of us in our debates with Neo-Pentecostals and Calvinists. That is not the right approach.” Secondly, the charge is simply not true. The “personal indwelling” view does not effect the discussion of passages that tell the duration of the gifts, like I Corinthians 13 and Zechariah 13. To the contrary, my experience has been that it is far easier to debate Pentecostals when they don’t sense that we are just dodging the obvious meaning of the indwelling passages.

My third example is the Vicarious Atonement Of Christ issue. It seems many reject the plain meaning of scripture because they think accepting those texts for what they say would be Calvinism. Examples:

· Maurice Barnett – “It is said that Jesus took every sin of mankind into Himself on the cross … I deny that any … scripture says such a thing but to the contrary the scriptures deny it.” (Gospel Truths, July 2010)

· Jesse Jenkins – “Jesus took our sins upon Himself … It is plain Calvinism.” (Feb 21, 2014 email).

· Gene Frost – “To the Calvinist that means … they were put on Him … Where is the passage that says that God put the sins of the world on Jesus?” (March 2000 sermon, Louisville, KY).

How about Isaiah 53:6c? – – the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all

Calling Isaiah 53:6c Calvinism should bother us. In effect it is saying Calvinists hold the scriptural ground, and we must try to get around it. It’s never right to reject a doctrine simply because some false church believes it. That is a most ungodly reason. Should we reject what the scriptures teach on the:

· virgin birth of Christ – Isaiah 7:14

· deity of Christ – John 1:1

· resurrection of Christ – I Cor 15:4

just because John Calvin and many denominations also accept those truths? Then why should we reject Isaiah 53:6c just because John Calvin might have agreed with it?

My last example is the Covering issue. I Cor 11:15 teaches the woman ought to be covered with long hair all the time (and I mean long, not medium or short), and in addition the woman ought to be covered temporarily when she prays or prophesies (verse 5). Some disagree, taking the long hair only view, the custom view, or the spiritual gifts view. Some may do this honestly, but some may be just dreaming up any excuse not to believe the truth on the subject. I heard one preacher say the covering is not binding today, because hair is the only thing talked about in the passage and it was just a custom anyway and it only applied during the days of spiritual gifts. Well, surely it can’t be all three of those positions at one time! It seems this preacher had started out with the conclusion he wanted (no covering today), and then reasoned backwards – he said anything that was out there that might lead to the no covering today position.

Conclusion: It is never the right thing to do to start with a conclusion desired and then try to force scriptures to fit our presupposed conclusion. Instead we should be honest enough to accept whatever the Bible verses actually say on any topic, and let the chips fall where they may (John 8:31-32).

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Thinking Outside The Box … Religiously

March 15, 2019

We all agree being able to “think outside the box” is a good trait for a person to have. But what does that mean in religion?

Matt 13:15 talks about people who can’t think outside the box in religion when it says – “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” In religion those who can’t “think outside the box” are those who say they go by the Bible but really and truly judge what is right and wrong, what is good and bad, by what the people of the church they are a part of believe and practice. They just don’t have enough gumption to run contrary to the church they are apart of even when the scriptures clearly dictate they should. They judge how faithful someone is by how much that someone conforms to the Christians around them, even though their profession is that they make such judgment based upon how much someone conforms to the word of God.

I think we have a first century example of such. Evidently the Jewish brotherhood’s “box of thinking” was that the promised Messiah was to be a physical king, someone to lead them out of Roman bondage (John 6:15). Jesus tried to make it clear His kingdom was “not of this world” (John 18:36), but for the most part, Jews could not “think outside the box” and so rejected Christ for who He was in truth.

Think back to the days of Alexander Campbell. At that time, the only ones who believed baptism needed to be “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38, etc.) were the Catholics who didn’t really baptize at all but only sprinkled infants. But Campbell and his colleagues were able to study the Bible for themselves, “think outside the box” so to speak, and accept what the Bible clearly taught on the purpose of baptism when almost nobody else probably in centuries had been able to – since that teaching was not the norm for the churches they were a part of.

Today I am many times frustrated by Baptists’ thinking on the Once Saved Always Saved issue. It doesn’t matter how many scriptures we give them that conclusively prove a Christian can “fall from grace” (and there is such a scripture on just about every page of the Bible, e.g., Gal 5:4), they will doggedly hold onto to their view without any scriptural support whatsoever. It has been so engrained in their mind – “that is the way it is; that is the way it has to be.” They can’t “think outside the box;” they are tied to the teaching of their church no matter come what may.

Even “conservative” Christians are not immune to this way of thinking. I can think of many examples, but one clear one would be the practice of knocking on doors to get Bible studies. Just a few decades ago, many Christians did that regularly to get Bible studies with non-Christians. Now if you do that, you are considered almost weird by most other Christians. It is considered good to do a personal evangelism study once in a while (Acts 8:4), or to approach people challenging their beliefs (Ezek 3:18) every now and then, but if you are bold in doing too much of that, you might be considered strange. Another example is religious debating. This scriptural practice has most definitely “gone out of style” in the Christian brotherhood in the last several decades. Scripture after scripture can be piled up (Acts 19:8-10, etc.) proving God approves of such, but most Christians won’t enthusiastically join God in approving of debates.  Instead they will say they don’t like them or they don’t do any good (Prov 14:12). What matters to them is that all “cool” brotherhood preachers shy away from participating in them – so they must be bad. Another example: Most congregations aren’t considered complete unless they have a regular pulpit preacher. It’s like it is considered sinful to do it any other way. Don’t people ever stop to think that the biggest name preacher of that day did secular work (Acts 18:3)?

Conclusion: If continuing in Jesus’ truth (John 8:31-32) means “thinking outside the box” of our church’s standard teaching, then we must do exactly that to be freed from our sins. Abiding in the doctrine of Christ is what is required to be right with God (II John 9), not abiding in the normal behaviors of our church.

Does Rom 6:3ff Refer To Holy Spirit Baptism?

March 8, 2019

Because Romans 6:3ff teaches one is “baptized into Christ” and “baptized into His death,” Baptists lately claim the text refers to Holy Spirit baptism instead of water baptism.

Strangely, in disputing with Methodists, Baptists have historically used Rom 6:3ff to prove water baptism is a picture of the burial and resurrection of Christ and therefore should be an immersion (as opposed to just sprinkling). So it is contradictory and inconsistent for them to now turn around and say Rom 6:3ff is talking about Holy Spirit baptism when arguing against the necessity of water baptism to salvation.  Either Rom 6:3 is referring to water baptism or Holy Spirit baptism; it can’t be both depending upon which subject you are debating!

Fact: Holy Spirit baptism doesn’t picture the burial and resurrection of Christ, but the baptism of Rom 6:3ff, and water baptism, certainly do.

Point: Baptist teach Gal 4:6, Acts 8:17, Acts 2:38, and such are referring to Holy Spirit baptism, but those passages condition the Holy Spirit because/after one is saved, not in order to salvation like Rom 6:3ff does baptism. So Rom 6:3ff can’t be referring to Holy Spirit baptism.

A cardinal rule in understanding the Bible (or anything else) is that we must take words in their primary and literal sense, unless the context or some other verse demands a secondary and/or figurative meaning. Therefore we must take Rom 6:3ff to be talking about a literal (water) baptism, not the figurative (Holy Spirit) baptism, since there is nothing in the context here dictating a figurative use of the word baptism.

Question: If Rom 6:3ff is talking about the Holy Spirit as the element of the immersion, then what is the condition of the person when he is raised up out of that element (verse 5)? So a brand new Christian is raised up out of the Holy Spirit?  Doesn’t work, does it?

Conclusion: Rom 6:3ff teaches one must be baptized in water in order to get “into (fellowship with) Christ,” in order to get “into (the benefits of) His death,” that is, to be saved!

The Spiritually Fearful

March 1, 2019

The following is said about the John 9 blind man’s parents in verse 22 “These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.” Many Bible teachers are scared to preach what their audience needs because they don’t want to risk falling out of favor with those audiences. Instead they are careful to preach what their audience already agrees with and/or practices.

Something similar is in seen in John 12:42-43 “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” Many who hear the truth are not willing to follow where that truth leads (John 8:32) because they don’t want to lose family, friends, or church.

Are we spiritually “fearful” in such ways? Rev 21:8 reads “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Should We Take The Intersection Or Union Of The Conditions Stated In The Salvation Passages?

February 21, 2019

Let’s first use the account of the rich young ruler as a test case:

· Mark 10:17-22 says the man was “rich

· Matt 19:22 says he was “rich” and “young

· Luke 18:18,23 says he was “rich” and a “ruler

If we just take the intersection of the adjectives describing the man, we could only conclude he was rich. But if we take the union (everything said), we conclude he was a rich young ruler, correct?

Now let’s apply the same reasoning to the Salvation passages:

· John 3:16 only mentions belief as being required for salvation

· Acts 11:18 only says repentance is required

· Acts 22:16 and I Pet 3:21 only show baptism is necessary to salvation

· Mark 16:16 makes our salvation contingent upon belief and baptism

· Rom 10:10 requires belief and confession

· Acts 2:38 conditions forgiveness upon our repentance and baptism

So in answering the question, “what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30), should we take the intersection or union of the conditions stated in the verses listed in the salvation passages above?

· What did we do in the case of the rich young ruler?

· If we did take the intersection of the conditions stated, what would it be? Nothing, right?

· But if we take the union of the conditions in the salvation passages, what do we come up with?

Matthew 4:4 Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

John 1:1 Refutes Both The Christadelphian And Oneness Positions

February 14, 2019

John 1:1 reads “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Notice “the Word” in verse 1 is shown to be Jesus by verse 14 – “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” As a matter of fact, “The Word Of God” is actually just another name for Jesus according to Rev 19:13 – “And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.” So “the Word” in John 1:1 is referring to Jesus himself.

And so in the beginning, “the Word was with God.” That shows Jesus and the Father are two separates beings or persons. That refutes the Oneness position that Jesus and the Father are the same.

And John 1:1 goes on to say “the Word was God.” So Jesus was God/divine also. That refutes the Christadelphian position that Jesus was only a man.

God Never, Ever Forgives Sin Without Repentance

February 6, 2019

II Pet 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

Acts 17:30 “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:”

Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Acts 3:19 “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”

Acts 11:18 “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.”

Eze 18:21 “But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.”

Acts 8:22 “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.”

Luke 13:3 “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

Matt 15:14 And Sins Committed In Ignorance

January 31, 2019

Matthew 15:14 reads “… if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”

What happens according to this verse to a Christian who sins in ignorance by blindly following a false teacher? Does he make it across the road because he is “sincere?” No, he falls into the ditch (spiritual condemnation).

We can sure apply Prov 14:12 and Matt 15:14 to the denominations, but what about applying them to ourselves?

Prov 14:12 And Sins Committed In Ignorance

January 25, 2019

Proverbs 14:12 reads “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

The text presents a perfect description of a “sin of ignorance”:

· ignorance – “way which seemeth right”

· sin – “end thereof are the ways of death

Question: What happens to a person who commits a sin of ignorance?

Answer: Spiritual Death

Should Congregations Have A Regular Contribution?

January 18, 2019

For about the last 30 years, I have known about “church at Birmingham” type congregations starting up. And the one thing they all have in common is that they don’t have a regular collection … because they interpret I Cor 16:1-2 to be only a one-time thing for a one-time need. I cannot and will not judge anybody’s heart in particular, but there seems to be an ulterior motive at play here (for some). You could see how those who are tired of giving a considerable part of their income for the Lord’s work as they should (Matt 6:33) might be attracted to such type churches. I doubt there would be enough people for these type congregations to exist if it weren’t for this one issue.

Their argument is that (per I Cor 16:1-2) we should only have a collection when we see a particular need. Well, isn’t there always a need to preach the gospel? Through the years the North Huntsville congregation (where I attend) has used almost all of our income for supporting preachers in different places, radio programs, benevolence, etc. There has never been a time when we didn’t see a need in one or more of these areas.

If congregations back in the first century only had a collection (and resulting treasury) every once in a blue moon when a specific benevolent need came up (as the church at Birmingham types say), then how did the first century congregations have the money to support preachers as recorded in passages such as Phil 4:15-16 and II Cor 11:8? How did they finance regular (ongoing) benevolent needs like we read about in I Tim 5:4-16 and Acts 6:1ff? Don’t those four passages (and others like them) imply the church had money (in its treasury) and therefore imply they had some means of getting money into that treasury? And there are other passages like Acts 4:35 which talk about a collection. Perhaps they are not as well known because they don’t mention the first day of the week.

So texts like I Cor 16:1-2 and Acts 11:27-30 tell us how to get money into the church treasury, and those and other passages tell us how that money should be spent. Meaning I Cor 16:1ff is not the only passage that tells us how to spend church money. Let’s don’t let a “love of money” (I Tim 6:10) get in the way of us serving the Lord faithfully.