Archive for March, 2014

II Thessalonians 2:13 And Election

March 28, 2014

The term “election” in the Bible refers to God choosing people to be saved. Nobody disputes the fact that election is taught in the Bible; the issue is – is our election unconditional (we have no say in the matter) or is it conditioned upon our response to the gospel? Notice how a passage like II Thess 2:13 clears the matter up for us. It reads “… God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.”

According to that passage, God choosing/electing us is conditioned upon:

· our sanctification (our holy life)

· our belief of the truth

The hard Calvinist position is that the elect are chosen regardless of how sanctified/holy their life is, and regardless of whether or not they ever believe the truth. Now you know differently! – our election to salvation is conditional.

Spina Absentia by David Tant

March 21, 2014

According to my 9th Grade Revised Latin, the title means “NO BACKBONE.” Physically, this devastates the body, making it impossible to function. This is tragic. But more tragic is spiritual “spina absentia.” This “spinelessness” is too common in the Lord’s body, and we need the “Great Physician” to stiffen the backbone so that the function of the body of Christ might not be impaired. Consider some of the disease’s symptoms.

FAILURE TO DISCIPLINE INFLUENTIAL MEMBERS – Many denominations are reluctant to practice discipline, for this may cause them to lose money, members and popularity. But could it be that some of us are have the same thinking? There are churches where influential members are guilty of flagrant sins, and nothing is done about it. Elders’ relatives, rich folks, preachers’ children, etc., are winked at in their sin because of a “don’t rock the boat” attitude. If such is not a “respect of persons,” and therefore a sin (James 2:1-9), then what is it?

FAILURE TO TEACH AN UNPOPULAR TRUTH – Is it possible that part of the problem with immodest dress in the church is because some teachers, preachers and elders are afraid to teach their convictions? Afraid they would have some upset people to deal with? Is there any connection to Paul’s urgent charge to Timothy to “preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (II Tim. 4:1-2)? Yes, Paul knew there would be “itching ears,” but they do not change the teacher’s responsibility to speak the truth in love. How many other unpopular subjects are left alone, which then harm the church, because error will not stay in the closet!

FAILURE TO STAND FOR RIGHT WHEN AMONG THOSE WHO DO WRONG – Peter got in the wrong crowd, and didn’t have the backbone to stand up for Jesus. Where is your tongue when you are among those who are gossiping, slandering God’s name and telling filthy jokes? What about the admonition to “reprove the unfruitful works of darkness” (Eph. 5:11)? If one is ashamed to stand up and be counted on the Lord’s side, perhaps a careful study of Matthew 10:32 and II Timothy 1:8 might prove to be helpful.

FAILTURE TO REBUKE OR EXHORT A FRIEND WHO IS IN ERROR – How misguided are such friends. If I am about to eat something contaminated with poison, should my friend warn me? Love should motivate us to do what is in the eternal interest of our friends, and it may mean correcting them, as Paul did Peter (Gal. 2:11ff). Granted, our words will not always be well received (Gal. 4:16), but a soul is worth more than a superficial friendship any day, isn’t it?

FAILURE TO CORRECT OUR CHILDREN – Dr. Spock’s philosophy of not saying “No” to our children for fear of warping their personalities seems to be common today. Even our government in some areas seems to consider a corrective tap on a child’s bottom to be a grievous offense. We are reminded of the evil that came upon Eli’s house “because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them” (I Sam. 3:13). Wise Solomon urges: “Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; He will also delight your soul” (Prov. 29:17). Children without discipline are considered as children who are illegitimate, i.e. without fathers (Heb. 12:8).

FAILURE TO BE A MAN AND ADMIT “I WAS WRONG” – What injury pride and ego bring when they refuse to allow us to humble ourselves and admit that we, too, are capable of error. How blessed are those who have the spirit of David and the prodigal son who were able to swallow their pride and say, “I have sinned.” It seems that this spirit of pride comes dangerously close to those in I John 1:8 who say they have no sin.

FAILURE TO TEACH SOUND DOCTRINE – With some the norm must be “Offend no one, be tolerant of all.” Obviously it should never be a Christian’s intention to offend anyone, but truth sometimes offends. It seems Christ offended some. “Then the disciples …said to Him, ‘Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?’" (Matt. 15:12). Paul must have offended some, which earned him being stoned, beaten and imprisoned. He even to called names (I Tim. 1:20, II Tim. 2:17), as did our Lord (Matt. 23:14, Mark 8:15, etc.). We must not be as those who told the prophets to “Speak to us pleasant words” (Isa. 30:10), but must be willing to endure sound doctrine, which sometimes “reproves and rebukes” (II Tim. 4:2).

There are many symptoms of “spina absentia,” and we need to learn to recognize the warning signs, and take preventive steps, lest we be overcome, and thus render the body of Christ a helpless invalid. Too much is at stake for us to allow this disease to go untreated.

Believing A Lie

March 15, 2014

II Thessalonians 2:10-12 reads “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be condemned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

According to this passage, a wrong action (sin) based upon a belief in a lie leads to us perishing spiritually. It doesn’t matter how strongly a person believes in that lie, if it runs contrary to God’s will, it will cause that person to be lost.

This is well illustrated by the man of God in I Kings 13:15-22. He believed a lie, and committed a sin of ignorance (verses 18-19). He was slain for it even though he thought what he was doing was okay (verses 21-22ff).

Here are some lies that many religious people believe:

· doctrine doesn’t matter (II John verse 9)

· faith only salvation (James 2:24)

· it is okay to stay in an unscriptural marriage (Matt 19:9)

· women preachers are authorized (I Cor 14:34-35)

· homosexuality is acceptable to God (Rom 1:26-27)

· all churches are okay no matter what they teach or stand for (II John verse 10-11)

II Thess 2:10-12 shows us that the reason many believe such lies is because they don’t have a proper “love of the truth.” Love for the truth would motivate us to diligently seek God (Heb 11:6), his truth (John 8:32), and his righteousness (Matt 6:33). Instead many take the easy way out and don’t study as they ought, or they accept what they like or think the truth ought to be according to their own human reasoning. When we believe religious lies, that reflects upon our love for the truth.

Matt 15:14 says “if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” Make sure you are not a blind follower of a false teacher. Instead, accept all of what God’s word says on every subject, and put it into practice in your life.

Do The Two Greatest Commandments Render The Others Unimportant?

March 8, 2014

All my life I’ve heard the false idea that if we obey the two greatest commandments in God’s law (love God and love your neighbor – Matt 22:36-40), it is not so important that we obey all of God’s other commandments (baptism, the Lord’s Supper, telling the truth at all times, etc.). Certainly that is the emphasis of most denominational churches. But I was surprised recently to hear this taught on the radio by a preacher for a church of Christ. How far some brethren have fallen!

When Jesus says in verse 40 “on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets,” he is not saying all the other commandments are unimportant. Instead he is saying true love for God and man is a summary of, and will cause / motivate us to obey, all of God’s other commandments. Godly love manifests itself in obeying God’s New Testament law (John 14:15), not in ignoring any part of it.

If I were to say the efficient operation of a gas engine “hangs” on the purity of the fuel, it would be a correct statement, but I wouldn’t be meaning to say the carburetor, fuel line, sparkplug, crankshaft, etc. are not important. It is true these other parts do not function if there is no gas, but it is also true the gas without these other parts is rendered moot.

Likewise when God commands us to love him and our neighbor, he is not saying we don’t need to concern ourselves with praying (I Thess 5:17) or trying to convert the lost (Acts 8:4).  Instead what he is saying is praying to God and teaching our neighbor is included in loving God and our neighbor. And if we don’t pray as we ought or work at personal evangelism as we should, that reflects upon our love for God and our fellow man.

Are loving God and our neighbor the two greatest commandments? By all means! Does that mean we can ignore heaven’s other commandments? God forbid! (Rom 6:1-2a); Jesus said it was important to obey both the “weightier” and the lighter matters of his law (Matt 23:23).

Does The Great Commission Apply To Us Today?

March 1, 2014

I have been surprised in recent years that some gospel preachers are now starting to say the Great Commission of Matt 28:19-20 and Mark 16:15-16 was an assignment only given to the apostles and therefore does not apply to us today. Sometimes we don’t know the motivation of why certain people take certain positions, but the bottom line is nothing could be further from the truth. It is true this commission was addressed to the apostles, but inherent in the commission is that this assignment is to be passed on to all who are baptized. And that gets us, doesn’t it? Notice Matt 28:20 commands all of us to take on this mission to convert the world when it says that the apostles were to teach those baptized to “observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” If Jesus implied those baptized (us) should do all things he commanded the apostles in the same sentence as he had just commanded the apostles to teach the world, wouldn’t it only follow that going to teach the world would be one of the things we are “commissioned” to do?

To emulate the apostles in this regard is actually commanded in a number of passages like Phil 4:9 which reads “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” We certainly understand how this verse requires us to follow Acts 20:7 and the first day of the week Lord’s Supper; why don’t we apply the same logic to Matt 28:19? Consistency demands that the two teachings stand or fall together.

And don’t we see Christians other than the apostles in New Testament times fulfilling the Great Commission? If not, what do we make of Acts 8:1,4 where we see all the Christians at that time (man, woman, and youth), “except the apostles,” going “every where preaching the word”? If they were not doing their part in fulfilling Jesus’ instruction to preach the gospel to all the lost, I wonder what you would call it.

And this is exactly what Christians should be doing today. We all have a responsibility to contend for the faith (Jude 1,3), so let’s get out and work at it!