Archive for November, 2013

Scholars On The Covering Of I Corinthians 11:2-16

November 29, 2013

Some throw away the teaching of I Corinthians 11:2-16 because they assert scholars say it was just talking about a custom of those times in Corinth and therefore does not apply today. But scholars are not inspired so we should ignore them, and besides, scholars are disagreed on this point. Notice the following scholars which say the custom of those times was different than what Paul taught in this passage …

· Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges – In the remarkable fact that the practice here enjoined is neither Jewish, which required men to be veiled in prayer, nor Greek, which required both men and women to be unveiled, but particularly to Christians.

· W.E. Vine – Among the Jews the heads of the men were covered in the synagogue. Among the Greeks both men and women were uncovered.

· Expositor’s Greek Testament – Paul’s instructions do not agree … with current practice. Jewish men covered their heads; amongst the Greeks both sexes worshipped with uncovered heads.

· Morris in Tyndale Series – Jewish men always prayed with heads covered (as they still do). Greek women … prayed with head uncovered.

· Vincent’s Word Studies – The Romans (the men), like the Jews, prayed with the head veiled.

· Pulpit Commentary – Having his head covered … The Jewish worshipper in praying always covers his head with his Tallith.

· Moffat Series – Men and Women worshipped bareheaded in Greek rites.

· Robertson in Word Pictures – Greeks (both men and women) remained bareheaded in public prayer.

Since scholars disagree on this (and just about every issue), we are just going to have to accept God’s revelation on the matter!

The Covering Issue and the “Order Of Creation” Argument

November 22, 2013

I Corinthians 11:8-9 teaches that a woman ought to have the covering because of the ORDER OF CREATION: For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.

Likewise, I Timothy 2:11-13 teaches that a woman should not be a “pulpit preacher” (among other things) because of the ORDER OF CREATION: Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

Since it is the same argument for both injunctions, if the former instruction does not apply anymore, then neither does the latter.

That means if God’s covering requirement is not still binding today, consistency would demand acceptance of women preachers today.

The truth about the covering issue is what I Corinthians 11:2-16 says about it, not what men trying to get around it say.

Can We “Judge”? by David Tant

November 15, 2013

One of the most well-known and most abused passages in the entire Bible is Matthew 7:1: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” So many times, if any criticism is offered concerning any religious practice that does not measure up to what the Bible says, the retort comes, “The Bible says ‘judge not,’ and you’re judging.” I would be more financially secure if I had a dollar for every time I have heard that phrase.

Well, the Bible does say that, but the passage doesn’t stop there. It is always helpful when discussing a Bible topic to consider at least two matters. (1) What is included in the context? and (2) Are there other passages that help put the matter in perspective? Let us give some attention to these questions.

First, what is included in the context? “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:1-5).

Christ is telling us to be sure that we look at ourselves before looking at our brother with a critical eye. For example, what right do I have to criticize or judge another for his use of alcohol while I have a bottle of whiskey in my hand? Christ said that first I need to clean up my own practices by removing the “log” that is in my own eye, and then I can have better eyesight so that I can help my brother. Too many times when we condemn others, we may be practicing the same thing, or something even worse.

Romans 2:1 expresses the same idea. “Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.”

Clearly, our Lord is not telling us that we cannot criticize or judge others, but that we must do it in the right way. Could it be sometimes that those who proclaim that we should not judge do not want their own practices examined? Perhaps so.

Now, let us look at some other passages that may shed some light on the subject.

Our Lord spoke again concerning judgment in John7:24: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." Here he is clearly telling us that we have a right to judge, but it must be the right kind of judgment. We have a saying that we should not judge a book by its cover. We cannot judge a man’s heart or his motives unless by some means that is revealed. But we can judge sinful behavior.

Consider Paul’s charge to the church at Corinth. “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (I Cor. 5:1-5).

There are two significant things in this passage which deals with a matter of adultery that even non-believers would not sanction. (1) Paul criticized the Corinthian Christians in that they had an arrogant attitude. Did he thus “judge” them? Obviously. Who can deny it? (2) Paul then said he had “already judged” the man committing the sin. Did Paul violate Christ’s commandment? Who would so argue? He was not judging the man’s heart or motives, but was clearly judging the man’s sinful conduct, which was contrary to God’s teaching on morality.

This man was not the only one who received judgment from Paul, for he wrote to young Timothy concerning Hymenaeus and Alexander. “This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme” (I Tim. 1:18-20).

We are not told what these men had done, but it is clear that Paul had made a judgment concerning them. It may have been some personal sins, or it may have had something to do with false teaching.

That raises the question, “Can we bring judgment against false teaching?” The answer is “Yes.”

Christ often spoke against the false religions of his day, excoriating the Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees time and time again. And notice John’s strong words in Matthew 3:7: “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said unto them, Ye offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” I would say that calling them the sons of snakes is pretty strong language. These sects claimed they were Jews, but they had their own set of rules in addition to what God had given, and thus we have these three “denominations” that had the Law of Moses, but their own doctrines in addition. Would that be similar today to the various denominations that have the Bible, but who also have their own creeds, manuals and catechisms in addition, which sometimes say things that contradict the Bible?

Christ went so far as to point out their error in Matthew 15:9: “But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.” Could we substitute “creeds, manuals and catechisms” in the place of “precepts of men?” If not, why not?

When Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia, he had some pretty strong words of judgment against certain ones. “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” (Gal. 1:6-8).

Paul said he didn’t care if an apostle or even if an angel came down from heaven flapping his wings and told them something different than the “faith once delivered” (Jude 3), he was to be “accursed.” The actual word for accursed in the original Greek is “anathema.” That is about the strongest pronouncement of judgment that can be stated. In fact, the translators of the American Standard Version (1901) couldn’t come up with a word in English that they thought really conveyed the seriousness of the judgment, so they just transliterized the Greek letters into the English and used “anathema.”

Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth dealt with some serious issues. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (I Cor. 6:9-11).

Now, do I have the right to “judge” a drunkard, a homosexual or a thief? The Bible tells me so! This does not mean that we treat those named in an unkind way, but that we try to help them come to Christ and change their lives. In fact, those mentioned had changed their lives, for Paul says “such were some of you.” (As a side note, that suggests that homosexuals can and did change by the power of the gospel, contrary to what the so-called experts say today.)

But when I try to call attention to sin in someone’s life, the response sometimes is, “You’re not supposed to judge!”

Another situation comes to mind when false teachings or practices are spoken against in denominations. Some get really upset when some church’s false teaching or practice is criticized. If they had been members of the church in Pergamum, they probably would have been mightily offended at the words John wrote. “But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.” (Rev. 2:14-16).

In this passage (1) a false teacher is named, (2) sinful acts are named, and (3) some members are referred to as following the way of the Nicolaitans. We don’t know what that false teaching was, but the saints at Pergamum certainly knew. It seems to me that some judgment was rendered here. Paul charged Timothy to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths (II Tim. 4:2-4).

It should quite obvious that in order for “sound doctrine” to prevail, false teachers and false practices would have to be revealed, rebuked and “judged.”

The apostle John enjoins Christians in these words of warning: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (I John 4:1). Question: How can we “test the spirits” without exercising some judgment? “Test” in the original Greek is from “dokimadzo,” and carries the idea of “to discern, examine.” How could we ever do that without making some judgments?

In a criminal court case, the jury hears the evidence, deliberates on the matter, and then makes a judgment. Would this not be similar to the advice John gives?

Consider a rather extreme situation. I read that some years ago in a Dallas church, the main attraction for the Sunday service was a strip tease act. Yes, you read that right. Some young woman stated that God had given her a beautiful body, and she wanted to share her gift with the audience. I understand they had an overflow crowd that Sunday. Now, by the thinking of some, we could not call that sinful, because that would be “judging,” and we are not supposed to judge!

Now, while other things may not be that egregious, if a church/denomination is practicing or teaching things that are not authorized in the Bible, then that is sin, and we have a right to point that out. Consider the words of our Lord in Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’”

Notice that these people believed in Christ and called him Lord. They were teaching and practicing things which they must have believed were good. But they were not doing the will of God. And how do we know the will of God? By reading and following just what the Bible says—nothing more, nothing less!

“Lawlessness” is an interesting word. It is from the Greek “nomos,” which is translated “law.” In English, we take the word “lawful,” and put “un” in front of it to make the word “unlawful.” The same is done in Greek, where what is called “the alpha privative” is put before the word to change the meaning from “lawful” to “unlawful.” Christ said these people were practicing things which were “unlawful,” that is, things that were “without authority” from the will of the Father. And they were “judged” for doing this.

This is why we need to pay attention to what the Scriptures teach. We are warned not to add to, or take from what God has revealed to us. The only way we know we can be pleasing to God is by following the revelation given to us by inspiration from the Holy Spirit. “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18-19).

Dear reader, let us not twist the Scriptures, but let us learn to judge in a right and discerning way. One final thought—when someone tells me “You’re judging!,” have they not “judged” me?

Before Denominations (Part 2) by Donald R. Fox

November 8, 2013

Most Americans love the sport of baseball. I played for the Police Athlete League (PAL) when I was a kid. The Brooklyn Dodgers were my favorite team. I spent many happy afternoons in the left field bleachers at ole Ebbets Field.

Years ago, I attended Winter Bible School classes at Gloster Street church in Tupelo, Mississippi. My teacher, John L. Wheeler was full of stories and illustrations to zero in on non-denominational Christianity. One illustration I remember was one about the game of baseball.

Let’s imagine that the game of baseball started to lose its appeal. People just weren’t interested in the game any longer. After the passing of some year’s people did not play baseball any longer. All ball field stadiums; baseball lots and the like were destroyed.

One, two, three hundred years passed and the memory of baseball was completely forgotten. It reminds me of one of the saddest verses in the whole Bible. “Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph" (Exodus 1:8). You see, in the passing of time people; nations forget.

One day, a man went to a large library to just browse around. He notices, high on a shelf a book that appeared very old. Removing this book from the bookshelf, he saw it was a complete rulebook on the game called baseball. “Never heard of such a game,” he exclaimed to himself. Fascinated, he checked the book out.

Our friend pored over the book, rules and regulations for the game of baseball. He decided to recapture, bring back this game. Using and following the data, information and rules contained in this book, the game of baseball was re-established.

Question: Do we now have a new game of baseball? Answer: No, we have a restored game. Such is the concept of pre-denominational Christianity. Going back past denominationalism to the New Testament and obeying this source will produce Christians only. In doing this we will negate, cancel all denominational creeds, doctrines and religious names that are unknown in the Word of God.

Such is the illustration. When honest, true truth seekers obey what the New Testament teaches, it will make them Christians and Christians only. They are added to the church as revealed in the New Testament. “…praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:47)

Before Denominations by Donald R. Fox

November 1, 2013

Many of us remember the funny and clean TV sitcom “Gilligan’s Island," running from September 1964 to September 1967, with the Skipper and Gilligan as the crew of the charter boat S.S. Minnow and the five passengers. It was supposed to be a three-hour tour, but a storm shipwrecked all of them on an uncharted uninhabited island. They were lost somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

The above reminds me of an illustration I heard years ago that helped me understand pre-denominational Christianity. I bet many of you that will read the below may chuckle and remember also.

Let’s say that several or more are shipwrecked on an uninhabited island. All survived the terrible storm. The type people marooned are just average type folks. They had one thing in common. They had absolutely no interested in religion up to this point in their lives. They were totally ignorant, completely unaware of all religions of this world.

As they recovered items from the wrecked ship, they found a Bible. No other literature, radio or the like was on the ship. As the days, weeks and months passed they started to read the Bible as a group. The Word of God was totally new to them. Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” They could grasp that this world, and all creation did not come from a huge big-bang explosion. Their common sense understood that from nothing comes nothing. Disorder never creates order.

The time passed and they studied the only book they had, the Bible. All of the survivors believed what they read, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:37)

The Word of God became their hope and their rock of stability. Belief in the God of the Bible was now a reality to them. For the first time in their lives, they understood that there were fixed standards of right and wrong. Reading and re-reading the Acts of the Apostles they became and were believers (Acts 15:7; Mark 16:15, 16). They repented of their sins, and they desired to be obedient to God Almighty (Acts 3:19). Recalling the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:26-40, they exclaimed one and all, “See, here is water: what doth hinder me to be baptized?” (Verse 36) They all believed and confessed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? (Acts 8:37). The group went to the ocean side, and they all were immersed, baptized for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38).

Further, they also understood that they, as new babes in Christ must live faithfully. “…be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10) “…as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby…” (1 Peter 2:2)

Now the question: Upon this obedience in accordance with what the Bible taught, what were they? The Answer: They were Christians, no more and no less. To what denomination did they belong? None, they had no conception nor understanding of denominationalism. It can’t get any simpler or clearer than this illustration.