Archive for October, 2013

Jesus Would Be Called A Pharisee Today (2)

October 25, 2013

Even Christians make charges of Phariseeism that would condemn Jesus

In our last article, we pointed out that denominationalists over the years have accused Christians of being Pharisees. The same charges and many additional ones are now being made by those who are supposed to be members of God’s church. I believe that many, if not all, of those making these charges misunderstand what Phariseeism really was. According to their view of Phariseeism (as seen in their explanations for their charges) the "arch-enemy" of the Pharisees in Biblical times, Jesus Christ himself, would be considered a Pharisee! Notice that Jesus would have been accused of many of the most common of the charges now being made by Christians, which are listed following …

Jesus was a "legalist"

A simple definition for "legalism" would be, "strict adherence to law." According to this definition, Jesus was a legalist, because he believed in strictly following God’s law. About a still binding (at that time) old law, he said in Matt 5:19, "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Remember Nadab and Abihu in Lev 10:1-2? They worshipped God by burning incense, but were destroyed by God, because they didn’t do it exactly as God prescribed. It has been my experience that usually anytime the charge of legalism is made, the accuser is not willing to follow God’s law as completely and as accurately as the accused. Contrary to popular opinion, we should be legalists. We should learn from Jesus, and Nadab and Abihu that we must follow God’s law completely and in every detail. So the next time you are called a legalist, consider it a compliment.

Jesus was "picky"

Some Christians have been accusing their brethren of being too picky with some passages in the Bible. I wonder what they think of Jesus’ "pickiness" when he made an argument based upon just the tense of a verb in Matt 22:32? Was Paul too "picky" when, in Gal 3:16, he based a point on an old testament word not being plural? What about James? Would they think he was too picky when he said in James 2:10, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all?"

Jesus "debated the Bible"

It hasn’t always been this way, but many Christians have decided that debating the Bible is wrong, or at best a waste of time. "The Pharisees spent all their time wrangling over minor doctrinal points they might say." Don’t we realize it is not what we think, but what Jesus thought (and did) that matters? What would you call what Jesus did as recorded in Mark 12:13-37 if it was not debating the scriptures? Acts 15 even records a debate with Christians on opposite sides of the question in dispute. Acts 19:8-10 and 17:17 show that Paul spent a whole lot of time debating regularly. Aren’t these approved examples we should follow (I Cor 11:1)?

Jesus would be accused of having a "judgmental attitude"

It seems some Christians have confused preaching the truth against sin with having a "judgmental attitude." The truth is that quoting Mark 16:16 to one who has not been baptized is not having a judgmental attitude, and quoting Matt 19:9 and Rev 21:8 to someone in an unscriptural marriage is not having a judgmental attitude either.

Jesus was an "extremist"

Yes, Jesus was an extremist. His teaching was so extreme in John 6:53-58 that "many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him" (verse 66), because they thought it was such an "hard saying" (verse 60). Jesus taught we should be "extremely" forgiving of someone who sins against us (and then repents Luke 17:3) when he told us in Matt 18:22 that we should be willing to forgive "until seventy times seven."

Jesus believed in "law keeping"

Don’t let it be heard that you believe that we live under law to God today or somebody will accuse you of thinking that there is no difference between the new testament and the law of Moses, or accuse you of being a new testament Pharisee. We must not let that kind of persecution keep us from preaching Gal 6:2, "Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." It is amazing to me how someone who understands that Christians are to avoid sin, cannot understand from I John 3:4b ("sin is the transgression of the law") that Christians are to keep (not transgress) the law.

Jesus would be accused of having "too narrow a fellowship"

It seems that anybody who still believes in withdrawing from brethren that walk "disorderly" (II Thess 3:6) is said to have too narrow a fellowship. Some reason that as long as a church is on the "non-institutional churches of Christ" list, it must be okay. It seems that everyone but the so called "Pharisees" among us are ignoring passages like Rom 16:17 ("Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them") and II John verses 10-11 ("If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine [of Christ, verse 9], receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.")

Jesus didn’t know that "it is better to love than to rebuke"

One brother said "the only ‘strategy for victory’ entails a proper balance between truth and love." Another has said that "love is more powerful than physical force, than sarcasm, than rebuke, than argument." I suppose many think the Pharisees were good on the truth and rebuke side, but not too good at love. As we saw in our last article, they were not good at any one of the three. The scriptures do not contrast truth, or rebuke, with love. To the contrary, we are to speak "the truth IN love" (Eph 4:15). Love is not the opposite of rebuke; instead it is the motivation for rebuke; they are inseparable. This can be seen from a reading of Prov 3:12 – "For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth."

Jesus would be thought of as being "too negative"

The "positive mental attitude" philosophy advocated by the world has permeated God’s people. More and more, we hear the demand (and the compliance with the demand) for more "positive" preaching, and less (if any) "negative" preaching. We are told the problem with the Pharisees is that they were too negative in their teaching. It is true Jesus’ message had positive elements in it, but it is also a fact that he was one of the most negative preachers in the history of time. Read for yourself his scathing rebuke of the Pharisees in Matt 23. Most churches today would not be able to take the negative preaching from Paul that the church at Corinth took. Among other things, he rebuked them for division in chapter 1, for harboring an adulterer in chapter 5, for taking the brethren to law in chapter 6, and for improprieties in the Lord’s supper in chapter 11. A desire for less negative preaching by Christians today could indicate that many people are tired of being made to feel guilty for the sins they are practicing. Brethren, we cannot afford to let up in our teaching.

Jesus believed in using a lot of “proof texts"

One "preacher" recently claimed "there is no book, chapter, and verse for book, chapter, and verse." Although they would not admit it in so many words, many of our more popular meeting preachers indicate by their preaching that they agree with this sentiment. They are "too good of a speaker" to just do like Paul and persuade "concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets" (Acts 28:23). It is indicated that "reasoning with them out of the scriptures" (Acts 17:2-3) would bore the audience and not hold their attention. Instead we are led to believe we need more stories and jokes to get the (so called) message across. I don’t know about you, but I think I will continue to do like Apollos, and show "by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ" (Acts 18:28). After all, the gospel is actually the "power of God unto salvation" (Rom 1:16).

Jesus was "dogmatic"

In today’s religious world, any person who "earnestly contends for the faith" (Jude verse 3) is thought of as dogmatic. If that is the case, I want to be dogmatic. Anything that is as important as God’s truth is certainly worth rigorously contending for. Evidently Paul thought so. Acts 17:17 reads, "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." From just a casual reading of the Sermon On The Mount (Mt 5-7), we can see that Jesus was very dogmatic about the truth he was bringing into the world. The audience sure knew it as verses 28-29 of chapter 7 read, "And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." If being dogmatic means we refuse to compromise the truth under any circumstances, then Paul was certainly being dogmatic as recorded in the context ending with Gal 2:5, "To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you."

Jesus thought of the Bible as a "book of rules," a "list of do’s and don’ts"

When one brother was questioned from the scriptures concerning a false position he took on the divorce and remarriage question, he replied, "you have the wrong approach to the Bible; you think of it as a book of rules." With that concept of the Bible you could make God’s word allow anything you want it to. It is obvious Jesus thought of the old testament as a book of rules. When asked by the rich young ruler in Matt 19:16, "Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?," Jesus answered in verse 17, "if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments," and further proceeded to name a few of them. Many non-Christians and Christians alike don’t like it and stringently object to it, but the Bible still says that "he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous" (I John 3:7).

Jesus believed it "only takes one sin to separate from God"

For "more security" and in order to allow "fellowship" with more people, many have come to the new conclusion that one sin does not necessarily separate us from God, especially if we are "sincere." I don’t see how they learned this from Isaiah 59:2 ("your iniquities have separated between you and your God") or Rom 6:23 ("For the wages of sin is death"). They certainly could not have learned it from the examples of Adam and Eve, Nadab and Abihu, Uzza, Ananias and Sapphira, and Simon the sorcerer, all of which were condemned by one sin. Security is nice, fellowship is great, but both are damaging when interpreted more loosely than the Bible allows.

Jesus believed in keeping the "letter of the law" as well as the spirit

Many have been labeled Pharisees because it is claimed they emphasize the "letter" of the law over the "spirit" of the law, as if such were possible. Men usually use this terminology with "letter" meaning what the words actually say, and "spirit" meaning what the words really mean. First of all, this way of using the terms is not the Bible way. For example in II Cor 3:6, the contrast of "letter" and "spirit" has nothing to do with keeping the law outwardly verses keeping the law inwardly; instead, it is a contrast between the old testament law (verse 14) and the new testament law (verse 6). Second, even granting the terminology as it is being used, it is impossible to keep the outward without having the right attitude, and vice versa. Matt 15:19 shows this by teaching that everything we do on the outside comes from the inside; either we have both a good outside and a good inside, or we have both a bad outside and a bad inside, there is no mix. Obviously, the only way we can know what Jesus really meant is from the words he actually said. Mark it down – Jesus not only believed in keeping the "letter" of the law, he believed in keeping the "jot" and "tittle" of the law (Matt 5:18-19).

Jesus would be thought of as being "too strict"

Everybody has heard many times that the Pharisees main problem was they were too strict with God’s law. This is simply not the case. Even the text used to show they were too strict, Matt 23:23, really shows that they were not condemned by Jesus for being too strict, but for not being strict enough. They were not rebuked for being good at keeping the "lighter" matters of the law; instead they were rebuked for not being good at keeping the "weightier" matters of the law. They were not condemned for doing God’s law, but for not doing God’s law. I imagine Uzza found out about the strictness of God when he touched the ark in I Chron 13:7-10. Jesus was so strict with the old law that he said in Matt 5:18, "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Jesus taught in Matt 7:5 that we are supposed to get the beam out of our own eye so that we can get the mote (smallest speck) out of our brother’s eye, not that we are just to completely ignore that speck. God’s way is a strict (strait and narrow) way (Matt 7:14), accusations of Phariseeism notwithstanding.

Conclusion

As has been shown, according to some Christians’ view of Phariseeism, Jesus Christ himself would be labeled a Pharisee. Therefore, we shouldn’t get discouraged if some call us a Pharisee for simply following in the steps of Jesus (I Pet 2:21). We must not let false accusations keep us from continuing to follow Jesus’ example, even if it does mean being called a Pharisee by some our own brethren. To you who are making the charges: realize that most of your charges could be levied verbatim against Jesus. Make sure you understand exactly what Phariseeism is before accusing someone else of being one. Don’t make emotionally filled charges just to get out of having to strictly follow the Bible.

Jesus Would Be Called A Pharisee Today

October 18, 2013

The charge of "Phariseeism" has been made by many in the religious world in recent times. I believe that many, if not all, of those making the charge misunderstand what Phariseeism really was. According to their view of Phariseeism, as seen in their explanations for their charges, the "arch-enemy" of the Pharisees in Biblical times, Jesus Christ himself, would be considered a Pharisee!

What really was Phariseeism?

Before we proceed further to prove our proposition that "Jesus would be called a Pharisee today," let’s look closely at the scriptures to see why the Pharisees were actually condemned. According to my Bible, the Pharisees were guilty of:

1. Thinking they needed no help (Matt 9:10-13, Luke 7:36-47, John 9:39-41, Luke 18:10-14)

2. Neglecting the weightier matters of the law (Matt 23:23)

3. Being hypocritical (Matt 23:3,5, Luke 11:47-48)

4. Trying to trick Jesus (Matt 22:15-22, 22:23-33)

5. Transgressing the commandment of God with their tradition (Matt 15:1-9)

The Pharisees were certainly sinners, but not in the way that most religionists view them today.

No doubt many Christians have been accused of being Pharisees by denominationalists. Notice that Jesus would have been accused of many of the most common of these charges, which are listed following.

Jesus taught that salvation is connected with obedience

Have you ever been looked down upon because you didn’t go along with the theory that "our works have nothing whatsoever to do with our salvation?" Take comfort in the fact that you are in the company of Jesus on this point. Notice that in Matt 7:21 Jesus taught, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Heb 5:9 reads, "And being made perfect, he (Jesus) became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him."

Jesus "argued the Bible"

Matt 22:15-46 could well be termed one long Bible argument between Jesus and the Pharisees. Thankfully, Jesus "won the argument" (verse 46). Jesus even argued the Bible with the devil himself in Matt 4:3-11.

Jesus didn’t affirm that "you believe like you believe, and I’ll believe like I believe"

Many denominational people say this when made to feel uncomfortable by the scriptures. I wonder if Paul was ascribing to this obvious cop out, when he said in II Tim 2:17-18, "And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some." Jesus obviously expected everyone to believe his one certain way, because he said in John 8:24, "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. Paul thought that it mattered what someone believes or teaches; he taught in Gal 1:6-9 that teaching any gospel different from what he taught would bring about a curse.

Jesus thought that "there is only one way"

Denominationalists teach that there are many ways to heaven, that it doesn’t matter what a Christian believes. Some call anybody who believes otherwise a bigoted, dogmatic Pharisee. Again, Jesus becomes the accused. He said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." Eph 4:4 says that there is but "one faith," many false teachers’ "good words and fair speeches" (Rom 16:18) notwithstanding.

Jesus taught that "his little group was the only one going to heaven"

Christians are sometimes ridiculed for believing that there is only one true body, or church. Evidently, Jesus thought the same, as he only mentioned one when he said in Matt 16:18, "I will build my church" (singular). In addition, Eph 4:4 states unequivocally that there is just "one body."

Jesus was concerned about the outside, as well as the inside

An acquaintance of mine once told an off-color joke in my presence. When I questioned him about it, he assured me that God was concerned about the inside, not the outside; that God knew that he had a good heart. My first thought was that it was too bad Jesus didn’t know that principle. Instead, Jesus said in Matt 15:18, "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man."

Jesus thought that "doctrine was important"

It seems that nowadays, anybody who thinks that it is important to be right about doctrine is labeled a Pharisee. Jesus will have to accept the same label because he said in Matt 15:9, "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Rom 6:17 reads, "But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you." II John 9 teaches that if one does not abide "in the doctrine of Christ", he "hath not God."

Conclusion

As can be easily seen, according to the denominationalist’s view of Phariseeism, Jesus Christ himself could be called a Pharisee. Therefore, we shouldn’t get discouraged if some call us a Pharisee for simply following in the steps of Jesus (I Pet 2:21). We must not let false accusations keep us from continuing to follow Jesus’ example, even if it does mean being called a Pharisee.

What Is The Plea Of The Churches Of Christ?

October 11, 2013

An illustration that has been used down through the years goes something like this: Suppose a sinner (John Doe) is converted to Christ in just the manner the Bible directs. His conversion is like the eunuch’s in Acts 8:27ff in that it isn’t associated with any church building per se. After hearing of his conversion the next day a Baptist preacher, Methodist preacher, and Presbyterian preacher all approach John each encouraging him to join their particular denomination. However John reasons that he has already been added to the Lord’s church (Acts 2:47) and so he refuses to join the Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, or any other denominational body for that matter. What would John be in that case? Wouldn’t he simply be a Christian (Acts 11:26), a Christian only, and following the Bible only? This is exactly what members of churches of Christ are trying to be. I suggest to you that same ambition is required by verses like I Corinthians 1:10 – “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

Colossians 2:11-13 Shows Water Baptism Is Required For Salvation

October 4, 2013

Colossians 2:11-13 reads, “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.”

verse 11 is talking about the forgiveness of sins

verse 13 is talking about the forgiveness of sins

verse 12 then (contextually) is obviously telling when forgiveness of sins takes place (when we are "buried with him in baptism"), else Paul changed the subject from verse 11 to verse 12, and then back again in verse 13

“With him” means "together, at the same time." But we don’t literally do these things at the same time as Jesus, as he actually did these things some 2000 years ago. How then do we do these things “with” Jesus? The answer is – when we are “planted together (with him) in the likeness of his death” (Romans 6:5). “Planted … in the likeness of his death” has to be water baptism:

· We are Buried together WITH HIM by being buried in water baptism which pictures his burial.

· We are Risen together WITH HIM by rising out of water baptism which pictures his resurrection.

· So we are Made Alive (“quickened”) together WITH HIM by being made alive spiritually ("forgiven") in water baptism which pictures his being made alive physically again (resurrection).

The reason it can be said we are made alive WITH HIM, is that we are made alive when we picture his being made alive, that is, when we are raised out of the waters of baptism. If we are forgiven before baptism, then we wouldn’t be made alive WITH him, we would be made alive BEFORE him (that is, before we picture his resurrection).

Conclusion: Colossians 2:11-13 proves forgiveness of sins occurs when one is baptized