Does The Bible Need To Be Interpreted?

January 30, 2023

Most believers think we ought to “interpret” the Bible the way this website (https://pickmeuppoetry.org/how-to-interpret-a-poem-a-few-great-tips/ ) says we should interpret a poem – “It is possible to interpret a poem in many different ways. No one interpretation is more correct than any other. No one can point to a famous poem and say this is what it means …and if anybody disagrees then they are just wrong. … How can it be possible to ‘correctly’ interpret a poem if its meaning can exist on so many different, subjective plains? Often, the struggle of interpreting a poem comes from the idea that there must be a single, unambiguously correct answer. To interpret a poem is to let go of this idea and embrace relativity.”

And that’s generally what’s meant when it is said we should “interpret” the Bible – “you have your interpretation and I have my interpretation” (and both can be right). But the Bible needs no such “interpretation” – as if it was written in code. Instead we can just read it and understand its message because it means what it says (Eph 3:3-4)

But I think I know why many suggest the Bible needs to be so interpreted, for example:

· Methodist Church preachers have to interpret “by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24) to reverse it to mean a man is justified by faith only.

· Most gospel preachers have to “interpret” Jesus’ command to “swear not at all” (Matt 5:34) to maintain their already held position it is right to swear in a court of law.

· Most denominational preachers “interpret” Jesus’ instruction “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16a) to mean one doesn’t have to be baptized to be saved.

· Most Christians “interpret” Jesus’ statement “whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of h-e-l-l fire” (Matt 5:21) to somehow mean it is okay to call a brother a fool.

· Presbyterian Church USA teachers interpret “neither homosexuals, nor sodomites will inherit the kingdom of God” (I Cor 6:10 NKJV) to mean homosexuals will inherit the kingdom of God.

· Many Christians interpret “the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:6c) to mean the iniquities of nobody were laid on Jesus. (documentation of this provided upon request)

· Similar to how Calvinists interpret “choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Josh 24:15) to mean nobody can choose whether to serve God or not.

· Liberal theologians interpret “God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen 1:1) to mean God didn’t create the heaven and the earth.

· Less liberal seminary professors interpret “in six days the Lord made heaven and earth” (Exod 20:11) to mean God didn’t create the heaven and the earth in six days.

· Many gospel preachers “interpret” Jesus’ cry “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46) to mean God didn’t forsake Jesus.

· Many Pentecostal preachers interpret “it is a shame for women to speak in the church” (I Cor 14:35) to mean it is not a shame for women to speak in the church.

· Some gospel preachers interpret “if he repent, forgive him” (Luke 17:3) to mean we should forgive others even if they don’t repent.

· Some “scholars” interpret “these shall go away into everlasting punishment” (Matt 25:46) to mean there is no such thing as everlasting punishment.

· Most gospel preachers interpret “For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will” (James 4:15) to mean there is no need to ever actually say “if the Lord will.”

· Baptist preachers interpret “ye are fallen from grace” (Gal 5:4) to mean one can’t fall from grace.

· Many gospel preachers interpret “know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you” (I Cor 6:19) to mean the Holy Ghost is not really in you.

· Faith Only preachers interpret “he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb 5:9) to mean even those who don’t obey Jesus will receive eternal salvation.

· Many Christians interpret “For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce” (Mal 2:16 NKJV, Matt 19:6) to mean God doesn’t really hate divorce … as long as you don’t remarry.

· Calvinists interpret “that … Jesus … by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb 2:9) to mean Jesus didn’t die for every man.

Conclusion: See what I mean when I say “interpreting” the Bible sometimes leads to believing the exact opposite of what the Bible actually says? Me thinks we need to do a little less “interpreting” of the scriptures, and more believing what they plainly say. Maybe this is why most gospel preachers are so afraid to defend publicly what they teach publicly (Acts 19:8-10). It is much easier to say “this is what the text says and that is what it means” than to have to say “I know that is what the text says, but here is why it doesn’t mean that.”

Patrick Donahue

256-682-9753 cell

hear Bible Crossfire Sunday nights at 8:04 central on SiriusXM radio Family Talk 131 or at http://www.BibleCrossfire.com

Judgment In Four + Areas

January 19, 2023

God’s book teaches we will be judged in at least four areas – Doctrine (II John 9, Matt 15:9, I Tim 4:16), Morality (Gal 5:19-21, I Cor 6:9-11, Rev 21:8), Personal Evangelism (Acts 8:1,4, Matt 28:19-20, II Cor 5:11), and Helping Others (Matt 25:31-46, James 1:26, Gal 6:10). Just because we are sound doctrinally and morally doesn’t give us a pass on either of the other two. And just because we are active in charity work or evangelism, that doesn’t give us a pass on doctrine or morality. Christians have to be diligent in all four areas to receive a favorable judgment on the last day (II Cor 5:10, Rev 20:11-15, Acts 17:31).

I Peter 4:11

January 17, 2023

It is best by far to teach our Bible prospects using a vocabulary they are used to and understand best (Acts 2:1-11). I Pet 4:11 has nothing to do with requiring us to limit our scriptural teaching to the terminology of the KJV or any other translation of the Bible. Instead the verse would forbid these kinds of things:

– teaching any false doctrine John 8:32

– asserting what Bible figures represent (like such and such represents Antiochus Epiphanes or Mikhail Gorbachev) when the oracles of God don’t tell us what those figures represent

– asserting certain things are Bible types (like Joseph is a type of Christ) if the oracles of God do not say or imply such

– asserting “the Lord’s day” (Rev 1:10) is the first day of the week when the oracles of God never state such; it doesn’t even tell us it is a weekly event

If Possible, Unscripturally Divorced Should Seek Reconciliation by Dylan Stewart

January 12, 2023

In Matthew 19:9, Jesus lays out the only reason a person can seek divorce from his spouse – “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” Here, Jesus gives us God’s general rule on divorce and remarriage, then provides the only exception to that rule. If a person divorces his spouse for any reason other than sexual immorality (“fornication,” KJV) and remarries, Jesus says that person commits adultery. For people who have unscripturally divorced their spouses, what is the appropriate course of action?

Prior to giving the command in Matthew 19:9, Jesus, in defining marriage, says, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6). If we unscripturally divorce our spouse, then we unjustly separate what God has joined together. By inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul tells us that such separation should not take place, but if it does occur, then our response should be as follows: “To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:10-11). This passage teaches us that one who sins by leaving his spouse for any reason other than sexual immorality should seek reconciliation with (try to remarry) the divorced spouse, if possible. If we remarry another person after the unscriptural divorce, we must terminate that marriage since God does not recognize that marriage as honorable (Romans 7:2-3; Mark 6:18). However, since sin can often have long-lasting earthly consequences, it is not guaranteed that the divorced spouse will accept a plea for reconciliation. If a person seeks reconciliation from his divorced spouse and the spouse refuses to take him back, 1 Corinthians 7:10 requires the person to remain unmarried since God says the two are still bound together by His law – “For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man” (Romans 7:2-3). We must not loosen where God has bound (Matthew 16:19, 18:18); if we do so, corrective actions must be taken, including in the case of an unscriptural divorce/remarriage.

Conclusion

If we seek to follow the pattern set forth in the New Testament, we must respect the laws of marriage spoken by Christ and His apostles. 1 Corinthians 7:10 proves divorce and marital separation (unless on the grounds of sexual immorality [Matthew 5:32]) are wrong even if no remarriage follows (Matthew 19:6; 1 Corinthians 7:3-5; 1 Peter 3:7a). The proper response to address this sin is to ask God for forgiveness (1 John 1:9), bringing forth “fruit in keeping with repentance” by seeking reconciliation with the divorced spouse (Matthew 3:8; 1 Corinthians 7:10-11). If the divorced spouse will not accept reconciliation, we must remain unmarried.

What About Marriages Before One Was Saved?

January 5, 2023

I hear believers all the time try to make excuse for their current adulterous marriage by saying their previous marriage was before they were saved. What does that have to do with anything? Marriage was instituted in Genesis 2:24 long before Christianity started (Matthew 19:4-6). Jesus didn’t say in verse 9 “Whosover IS A CHRISTIAN and shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery;” Instead he said “WHOSOEVER” – and that gets everybody, every Christian and every non-Christian alike.

If marriage does not really exist between non-Christians, does that mean none of the couples before Christianity was instituted were married? Wouldn’t that mean married people in our world today are not really married if they are not Christians? Were Herod and Herodias Christians when John the Baptist told Herod in Matthew 14:4 “It is not lawful for thee to have her”? According to this position it should have been okay for these two divorcees to remain married each other because since they weren’t “saved” their previous marriages did not count.

Wendell Wiser wrote correctly “Some argue that God does not recognize a sinner’s marriage. Paul said a man can have a wife who is an alien sinner (I Corinthians 7:12). The Holy Spirit tells us Pilate had a wife. (Matthew 27:19). Pilate and his wife were alien sinners. The Holy Spirit tells us Felix had a wife named Drusilla. (Acts 24:24). Felix and Drusilla were not Christians. They were alien sinners (Acts 24:25).”

Many times we know this “but I wasn’t saved then” excuse is just that, an excuse, because the person in question thought of themselves as saved during their first marriage, but now that they want to marry a second person, they suddenly declare themselves as being unsaved previously. That way they can declare their first marriage invalid and marry again – contrary to what Jesus said in Matthew 19:9. And some keep doing this (declaring themselves unsaved and then saved again so they can remarry) over and over again. No, we see from I Corinthians 7:12-13 marriages to non-Christians are real marriages; they entail obligation just like any other marriage.

Rom 7:2-3 also helps us on this question. It reads “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.” Notice the text doesn’t say one is bound to their spouse if they are a Christian. It doesn’t say a second marriage is not adulterous if one was not a Christian during their previous marriage. No, one is bound (obligated) to their original spouse regardless of whether they were Christians at the time or not. If a sinner is in an adulterous marriage, that is one of the sins they need to repent of when becoming a Christian (Acts 2:38).

To Select A Bible Teacher Because He Is A Good Speaker Has The Wrong Emphasis

December 29, 2022

Almost without fail I hear the “he is a good speaker” reason for selecting which man to teach during church services. But that is not a sound Biblical reason for such. Just the opposite: Paul was one of the greatest gospel preachers of all time, but he was “unskilled in speaking” (II Cor 11:6a ESV), and he “came not with excellency of speech” (I Cor 2:1).

No, what makes a great gospel preacher is (among other things):

· He matches what he preaches with a good moral life Rom 2:3, Matt 23:3.

· He proves what he teaches with scriptures Acts 9:22, 18:28.

· He warns his audience about their false beliefs and practices instead of limiting his teaching to what they already agree with Acts 20:26-27,31, Ezek 3:18. It is always easier to preach about those who are not there than to have to tell those who are actually present they need to change their belief and/or practice on an issue.

· He defends publicly what he preaches 19:8-10, 15:2,7, Acts 17:17. How many today are still willing to do that?

· He is diligent in personal evangelism Acts 20:20, 28:30-31. He shouldn’t be preaching to the church if he doesn’t really love souls Prov 11:30b, II Cor 5:11. Paul made opportunities to teach the lost Acts 13:5; he didn’t always just wait for the lost to come to him.

Luke 6:26 reads “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.” So preachers the brethren think highly of (simply because they are good speakers) are not necessarily the ones God thinks highly of.

How To Judge A Sermon

December 22, 2022

It’s a common practice after a worship assembly for people to discuss the merits of the sermon just delivered. Many times there is agreement about whether the lesson was a good one, but every now and then there is disagreement. It seems people judge a sermon based upon different criteria. Just what does make a good sermon? Let’s go to the Bible to find out.

Most people judge a sermon based upon how good a job of speaking the preacher did. When discussing the sermon they talk about the style – “he yells to much,” “he doesn’t preach with a strong enough voice,” “you know he is sincere because he cries just about every sermon” (think Jimmy Swaggart in yesteryear), “he shows too much emotion when he preaches,” etc. The Bible teaches that this is not the way to judge a sermon. Who wouldn’t agree that Paul was an effective preacher? Yet Paul himself states in I Corinthians 2:1 that he declared the testimony of God, “not with excellency of speech.” How good a speaker the preacher is, has no bearing on how good his sermon is, according to the Bible.

A lot of times people judge a sermon based upon the wisdom (man’s wisdom) that they perceive was expressed by the speaker. One comment to a speaker after a lesson went like this once, “you used too much scriptures references and not enough of your own ideas.” A casual reading of I Corinthians 1:17-2:5, 13 shows this is not a good criteria upon which to judge a sermon. Notice especially Paul’s statement in I Corinthians 2:4, “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstation of the Spirit and of power.”

How then should we judge a sermon? Let the Bible suggest to us three points …

The truth must be preached. Only the truth sets us free from sin (John 8:32), not error. Christians are commanded to speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). If a Christian preaches anything but the gospel that Paul preached, “let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8).

Many Bible verses must be used in the sermon. Paul told Timothy to “preach the word” (II Timothy 4:2) not his own stories and jokes. Romans 1:16 tells us “the gospel … is the power of God unto salvation,” not good speeches. If the scripture itself is not read and taught, where does that leave God’s power? True faith only comes from hearing God’s word (Romans 10:17). The scriptures themselves are the only thing profitable for doctrine (II Timothy 3:16). How could we say a man is speaking “as the oracles of God” (I Peter 4:11) when he delivers a forty minute sermon and only refers to an oracle of God once or twice? Read Acts 2:14-36 and Acts 7:2-53 and notice how often inspired preachers made reference to the scriptures in their sermons. And if men whose very speeches became scriptures saw fit to quote the Bible so often, how much more should the uninspired Christians of today use the actual texts of the Bible in their lessons.

If the truth is preached, and many Bible verses are used, it should go without saying that the passages given should be used to backup the truth that is preached. Apollos “mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ” (Acts 18:28). Paul didn’t just assert that things were so, he proved it (Acts 9:22). How can a listener “prove”, or test a sermon if the speaker doesn’t prove what he says by the scriptures (I Thessalonians 5:21)? Have you ever wondered why some preachers read a verse and then proceed to talk about everything else under the sun except the passage read? Notice in Nehemiah 8:8 that the sense of the passages read was given, not a great explanation for the different experiences in the preacher’s past life. Commandments without proper scriptural support are simply “commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9) and nothing more. Unless verses are given, how would a listener know if the teaching was from heaven, or from men (Matthew 21:25)? A listener would certainly be under no obligation to obey such teaching (II Thessalonians 1:8). Even if he did, he would be obeying man’s word, not God’s. So if a preacher doesn’t prove what he teaches by God’s word, we should “let it go through one ear and out the other.”

Let’s remember what’s important and what’s not. God’s word is what counts and not “good words (or good ideas of men) and fair speeches.” (Rom 16:18) The next time you are shaking a preacher’s hand after his sermon, don’t tell him it was a good sermon unless the lesson was filled with Bible passages proving the truth of God.

The Jews Are No Longer God’s Chosen People

December 15, 2022

A parable the point of which is to show the Jews would no longer be God’s chosen people is found in Matt 21:33-46. In the story a landowner plants a vineyard, lets it out to farmers, and moves far away (33). The householder represents God and the farmers represent the Jews (45). When harvest time comes, the owner of the vineyard sends servants to collect his share of the fruit, but the farmers beat, kill, and stone these servants (35). These servants represent the prophets (Luke 11:47) God sent to the Jews through the centuries, and how the Jews mistreated such prophets (Luke 13:34). Lastly the landowner sends his son to collect, but the farmers kill him also. This son represents God’s son Jesus Christ of course.

Jesus asks his audience in verse 40 “When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?” His audience correctly answers “He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen ….” Jesus reaffirms this conclusion by stating in verse 43 “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” Precipitated by their longtime disobedience with the final straw being the killing of the son of God (Matt 23:37-38), the kingdom of God would be taken from the Jews and given to the Gentiles.

This doesn’t mean Gentiles are children of God automatically by physical birth (like the Jews used to be). Instead it means anybody can become a child of God (and heirs of the promise to Abraham) through faith by being baptized into Christ (Gal 3:26-29), and that most of those who end up doing so are Gentiles (Acts 28:28). Now – “he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” (Rom 2:28-29). Now – one is of the “Israel of God” not because of physical birth and circumcision, but by being a “new creature” (Gal 6:16).

Exod 19:5-6 said about the Jews “ye shall be a peculiar … people … a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” Of course this was always conditioned upon the Jews’ obedience (Exod 19:5). Their disobedience would lead to them being “plucked from off the land” (Deut 28:58,63). Now that the Jews have lost their status, I Pet 2:5,9 says the exact same thing about Christians “ye … are … a spiritual house, an holy priesthood … a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.” Christians are God’s chosen people now; it doesn’t matter anymore if one is Jew or Gentile (Acts 10:34-35). Spiritual birth is now the entrance to the kingdom (John 3:3,5).

Stepping On Toes by Dylan Stewart

December 8, 2022

So then many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, ‘This statement is very unpleasant; who can listen to it?‘” (John 6:60, NASB).

Whenever my grandad preached on a subject he thought might hit “close to home” with the audience, he would occasionally say something to the effect of, “Now I may be stepping on some toes here and if I do, that’s alright.” When a Bible teacher steps on people’s toes, that means he is aware the audience will likely not receive his message very warmly or positively. Yet, delivering the truth – and the whole truth – of God’s message is more important than the potential risk of raising the audience’s ire, so preachers and Bible teachers should be willing to step on people’s toes if the occasion calls for it.

Now, most people do not like when someone teaches something they disagree with or do not want to hear. Unfortunately, many Bible teachers, when they know their message will not be received well, will choose to teach something different that they know will generate a more positive response. For example, many gospel preachers will stick to preaching against false doctrines such as “once saved always saved” and “total depravity” because they know the audience will typically be in unanimous agreement with their stance on these subjects. They will preach on these subjects time and time again, all the while rarely (if ever) preaching on the more “controversial” topics, such as women’s absolute silence in the church assembly (1 Corinthians 14:34-35), self-defense being unauthorized (John 18:36; Matthew 5:43-44), the head covering (1 Corinthians 11:2-16), women being keepers of the home (Titus 2:3-5), or divorce and remarriage (Matthew 19:9). By skimping on these subjects and similar not-so-positively received topics, Bible teachers wind up feeding into exactly what Paul condemns in 2 Timothy 4:3-5: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” If our audience has the right attitude toward God’s Word, then they should always love and appreciate when the truth is taught. However, if all we hear from our audience is how much they love what we preach, then that likely means they have already heaped us up as their teacher, and woe to us!! “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26).

We need more people willing to speak the truth who do not neglect to declare the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), regardless of how the audience might respond. As an example, I know a brother who is to be commended for having this very attitude and approach to teaching God’s Word. Several years ago, this particular brother was invited to preach one night for a congregation during its week-long gospel meeting. When he arrived at the building that evening and saw how large the congregation was and how few women were wearing head coverings (only a couple women out of a few hundred members), he scrapped his original sermon and instead preached on 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. Instead of speaking “smooth things” that would be received well (Isaiah 30:10), this brother chose to preach what was needed rather than what was wanted. I personally commend this brother, but I know many brethren who would think it absurd for him to preach what he did, especially considering he knew the audience would likely not respond well. If you share this mentality, I point you again to 2 Timothy 4:3-5, this time noting the latter portion of that passage: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” This brother serves as a great example of one who was being “watchful in all things,” and by doing so he performed the “work of an evangelist.

To be clear, we certainly should never go about trying to make enemies with people by simply preaching the truth. The truth should always be spoken “in love” and from a desire to bring others to God (Ephesians 4:15; 2 Corinthians 5:11). That being said, God’s Word tells us that we may very well make enemies with people by standing for the truth. Remember Paul’s question to the Galatians – “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16). It is a very real possibility that we may lose friends, offend family, and cause others to think negatively of us by taking the proper stand for the truth (Luke 12:51-53), but we all should be willing to accept whatever repercussions may come our way. In fact, we have many approved examples in the New Testament showing how we ought to preach the truth – and the whole truth of God – regardless of the consequences.

John the Baptist

Do you remember why the John the Baptist died? He died for speaking the truth even though he likely knew that truth would not be positively received. John could have preached all manner of subjects to Herod, but he instead chose to preach against Herod’s unlawful marriage by saying, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife” (Mark 6:18). How many people would be willing to tell their governmental leader he is in an unscriptural marriage that God requires him to terminate? John did that very thing and the result, of course, was his beheading.

Stephen

Like John, Stephen could have preached all manner of subjects to the Cyrenians, Alexandrians, Cilicians, and high priest, but instead he rebuked them for their stubbornness by comparing them to their ancestors, calling them “stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears,” resistors of the Holy Spirit, and betrayers and murderers of Christ (Acts 7:51-52). What was the result of Stephen choosing to preach this particular truth to an unreceptive audience? Those on the receiving end of that rebuke gnashed their teeth, covered their ears, yelled, cast Stephen out of the city, and stoned him to death (Acts 7:54-60). Yet, in spite of the persecution, Stephen was not dissuaded from preaching the part of the truth his audience needed to hear. Stephen was not just “faithful unto death” (Revelation 2:10), but he also faithfully taught the truth in its entirety unto death. Could the same be said of us if we were in Stephen’s shoes?

Peter

At one point, Peter and some of the other apostles were imprisoned and specifically warned to stop preaching the truth because their teaching caused people to feel guilty and uncomfortable (Acts 5:17-42). In spite of these warnings, Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29), then he and the apostles “left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus” (Acts 5:41-42). If secular history is reliable, we can assume that Christ’s prophecy concerning Peter’s death, per John 21:18-19, eventually came to fruition as result of his willingness to boldly stand for the truth, much in the same way that comparably painful deaths were the outcome for the majority of the apostles. Peter counted it worthy to suffer for the sake of teaching the truth of God in its entirety. Can the same be said about us?

Paul

In his farewell speech to the elders of the church at Ephesus, Paul said, “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:26-27). Paul shared “the whole counsel of God” amidst great opposition – “I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents” (Acts 20:19). Yet, this opposition did not cause Paul to pause for one moment in teaching the whole truth of God’s word – “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:20-21). The result of Paul’s “helpful” teaching would lead to numerous scourges and imprisonments over the course of his life (2 Corinthians 11:22-32), and ultimately his death. Just think, Paul could have avoided all that trouble if he would have just taught on less “controversial” subjects, been a little less “rigid” and “narrow” in his doctrine, and stopped being so “argumentative.”

Jesus

When Jesus walked this earth, he lived as a man (John 1:1-14). In doing so, He suffered the same temptations all humans face, yet He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15, 2:18), thus never succumbing to the temptation of “watering down” the truth of God. Jesus is well-known for His “positive” preaching, and it is certainly true that His earthly ministry was filled with much of this type preaching. For instance, who can forget the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5:3-12? However, it is also an undeniable fact that the Messiah was simultaneously one of the most “negative” preachers in history. Remember Christ’s scathing rebuke of the Pharisees in Matthew 23? In that chapter, we can read of a series of “woes” Jesus pronounced on the religious leaders of His day. Using the logic of so many brethren today, Jesus should have just stopped being so “controversial” and “argumentative.” After all, if Christ would have simply chose more “positive” sermons to preach, He surely would never have been crucified. Yet, Jesus came to this earth to do the will of the Father (John 6:38), and God’s will included – and still includes – both “positive” and “negative” teaching, the latter of which contributed to Christ’s persecution and death. All Christians are required to follow our Lord’s example (1 Peter 2:21; 1 Corinthians 11:1; 1 John 2:5-6). Are we following His example in how we teach, regardless of the consequences?

Conclusion

The apostles preached the truth of God regardless of the persecution or any other negative repercussions they knew they would face. Today, those who are courageous enough to preach the truth when they know people will disagree are often called argumentative, divisive, quarrelsome, sowers of discord, and a whole range of similar pejoratives. They are called troublemakers in the same way that Elijah was once called a troublemaker – “Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, ‘Is that you, O troubler of Israel?’ And he answered, ‘I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and have followed the Baals’” (1 Kings 18:17-18). I am grateful to know a few such troublemakers who had and continue to have a profound impact on my life, but we need more even more troublemakers like Elijah. We need more people like John the Baptist, Stephen, Peter, Paul, and Christ Himself, all of whom were willing to fulfill their ministries by being watchful in all things and not just the parts in which we already agree. We must teach “anything that would be helpful” to our audiences (Acts 20:21), meaning we teach any and everything helpful for obtaining salvation and pleasing God, even if that means speaking some things that the listeners might not enjoy. Like my grandad used to say, “Now I may be stepping on some toes here and if I do, that’s alright.”

Is Divorce (Not For Fornication) Scriptural, As Long As There Is No Remarriage?

December 1, 2022

Many gospel preachers teach it is scriptural to divorce one’s spouse for reasons other than fornication as long as no remarriage follows. As a matter of fact, this might be the majority view of Christians. Let’s examine a few of their arguments, and then prove their position false by God’s word.

Contingency Legislation, Not An Exception

I Corinthians 7:10-11 is a critical passage to examine in regard to this issue. It reads “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.” One key to verse 11 is to understand it does not contain an exception to verse 10, but instead expresses “contingency legislation.” Contingency legislation (‘if … then’ legislation) gives instructions about what to do if something occurs, but does not necessarily give approval for the something that has occurred. This is how I Corinthians 7:10-11 is parallel to I John 2:1. The two passages are parallel in that both passages follow a command with contingency legislation, that is, what do I do if I sin by violating the command stated previous? Neither passage gives an exception to the command expressed; contingency legislation does not necessarily imply an allowance. The only exception to verse 10 is found in Matthew 19:9, therefore it is wrong to separate/divorce from your spouse for any reason other than fornication, even if you don’t remarry.

Galatians 5:15 and James 3:14

Saying I Corinthians 7:11 shows it is not a sin for one to depart as long as she doesn’t remarry, is about like saying it would not be a sin to “bite and devour one another,” as long as you “take heed that ye be not consumed one of another” (Galatians 5:15). It would be about like saying it would not be a sin to “have bitter envying and strife in your hearts,” as long as you “glory not, and lie not against the truth” (James 3:14).

Does I Corinthians 7:12-13 Allow Departing?

More than one has made the argument that because “Paul says that if the unbeliever is content to dwell with the believer, the Christian is not to leave” (from verses 12-13), that “implies that if the unbeliever is not content to dwell with the Christian, then the Christian can leave.” But verses 12-13 do not imply what is claimed. The “if” construction does not necessarily imply it is okay to leave a spouse who is “not agreeing on an amiable relationship.” Notice a parallel passage, I Cor 7:28, “… and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned.” If the reasoning on verses 12-13 is correct, this verse would imply “if a virgin does not marry she hath sinned.” Notice also Matthew 11:14, “And, if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.” Again according to the divorce only advocate’s reasoning, this verse would imply “if ye will not receive it, this is not Elias, which was for to come.”

Notice also in I Corinthians 7:12 we have a conclusion based upon two conditions: (1) “If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and” (2) if “she be pleased to dwell with him.” If it is valid to assume the converse of the conclusion if the second condition is not met (but the first is), why would it not likewise be valid to assume the converse of the conclusion if the first condition is not met (but the second is)? Therefore, by the reasoning under examination, this verse would also teach “If any brother hath a wife that does believe, and she is pleased to dwell with him,” then the brother may leave. I doubt even Olan Hicks believed that.

The real converse of verses 12 and 13 is found in verse 15, “If they are not pleased to dwell with you” (verse 12), then “let them depart” (verse 15), not … then leave them yourself, or put them away. We should let the Bible interpret itself!

Does Luke 18:29-30 Allow For Departing?

The last common argument that I would like to deal with is from Luke 18:29-30 which reads, “And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.” Some argue this verse allows for another cause for divorce (“for the kingdom of God’s sake” – who knows what this could include) in addition to the cause of fornication. But I would ask the reader, “have you ever mentioned this passage when asked where the Bible ever tells a man to leave his wife in the case of an unscriptural marriage?” The point is – this passage does not provide another cause for divorce, it is just talking about a person leaving his spouse because they are in an adulterous marriage.

I Corinthians 7:10 Obviously Does Forbid Divorce

So far we’ve dealt with several arguments being made to advance the position of divorce without remarriage. Now let’s notice a few affirmative arguments against the position. First of all, after proving I Corinthians 7:11 does not provide an exception to verse 10 but instead only provides contingency legislation, I Corinthians 7:10 can now be used as conclusive proof that divorce is wrong, in and of itself. Paul states here the general rule that departing is wrong; Matthew 5:32 gives the only exception to that rule. Since divorce involves departing, then divorce is necessarily forbidden by I Corinthians 7:10.

Matthew 19:3-9

Contrary to popular belief, Matthew 19:3-9 does not just condemn divorce and remarriage; it also condemns divorce all by itself. The initial question raised by the Pharisees in verse 3 pertains to divorce and not necessarily also to a remarriage. And Jesus answers the question of verse 3 (“Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?”) with a resounding NO (“what therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder”) in verse 6. Jesus then gives an additional thought (“And”) in verse 9, when he states if you divorce for a reason other than fornication and remarry, you commit the further sin of adultery. So Jesus provides the general rule that divorce is wrong in verse 6, and then gives the only exception to that general rule in verse 9.

Matthew 5:32

This same argument can be made even stronger from Matthew 5:32, because this verse does not mention the remarriage of the person doing the divorcing (as Matthew 19:9 does). Matthew 5:32 reads “But I say unto you, That 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.” This verse teaches it is wrong for a man to divorce his wife (not mentioning the remarriage of the man), and gives the only exception to that rule, fornication. Put in the words of the text, if a man divorces his wife (unless it is for fornication), he sins by putting her into a place of undeserved temptation (“causeth her to commit adultery”), regardless of whether or not he remarries. Anybody that can see Matthew 19:9 gives the one and only cause for “divorce and remarriage” by using the word “except” and therefore rules out Homer Hailey’ interpretation of I Corinthians 7:15, ought to be able to also see Matthew 5:32 gives the one and only cause for divorce (period) and therefore rules out any interpretation of I Corinthians 7:11, I Corinthians 7:12-13, or Luke 18:29-30 allowing divorce for causes other than fornication.

Two Options, But Are They Equal?

Some say it is wrong to leave, but if you do, I Corinthians 7:11 shows it is scriptural to remain apart. Besides flying in the face of what repentance means, this understanding is not born out by verse 11. Just because I Corinthians 7:11 mentions two options about what to do if someone departs (sins), that does not mean these two options are on equal footing. Notice a parallel verse that illustrates this possibility (that two given options are not necessarily “equal”) – Revelation 3:15: It says “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.” I raise the question “Did the Laodiceans have the scriptural ‘option’ to be cold?” If not, why not? (since two options are given) All understand God wants a person to be hot, but if he isn’t hot, God would rather him be cold than lukewarm. Now this verse is not parallel to I Corinthians 7:11 in every respect, but it is parallel in that both passages give two options where one option is preferable over the other.

In our passage, verse 11 could mean the person who departed is to be reconciled if possible, but if reconciliation is not possible (suppose their former spouse won’t take them back), then they are to remain unmarried; they are not to commit the additional sin of adultery via remarriage. The fact that verse 11 could mean this, means verse 11 cannot be used as proof that either divorce, or a refusal to return, is not sin. As a matter of fact, not only could verse 11 mean this, it must mean this considering what the previous verse says!

Must She Be Reconciled?

Not only does Matthew 5:32 teach you sin by divorcing your spouse (even if you don’t remarry), it also teaches that if you do sin by divorcing your spouse, you continue in sin as long as you refuse to return back to the marriage. Matthew 5:32 teaches you sin when you divorce your spouse saving for the cause of fornication, because you place your spouse in a position of undeserved temptation. This implies that as long as you have opportunity to reconcile and don’t, you continue to be guilty of placing your spouse in that position of undeserved temptation.

Repentance of sin always requires correcting the sin where possible. For example, a man repenting of stealing should return what was stolen. But sometimes, only limited correction is possible. If a person commits murder, he will never be able to bring back his victim from the dead, but he can still be forgiven upon genuine repentance. Likewise, repentance by a woman who sins by departing from her husband would demand she seek restoration of the marriage – God expects her to fulfill her marriage vows. But if the man refuses to take her back, then she has done all she can do; she is forgiven; she cannot do the impossible. If the man will take her back (like he should), but she is unwilling, then she hasn’t really repented of breaking up the marriage, has she?

Conclusion

Yes, God “hateth putting away” (Malachi 2:16), even if no remarriage follows. God expects husbands to “dwell” with their wives according to knowledge.” And duh, you can’t dwell with your spouse according to knowledge unless you are dwelling with them. The Lord commands, “Let not the wife depart from her husband” (I Corinthians 7:10).