Archive for January, 2015

The Proper Use Of The Old Testament

January 30, 2015

Nothing in the old testament serves as law for Christians today (Gal 3:24-25, Heb 7:12) – not principle, precept, ordinance, commandment, statute – nothing. The “new testament” is held out as our complete law for today (II Cor 3:6, Heb 9:15, Heb 7:22). But it is still so very important that we study the old testament regularly because there are vital things we can learn from it (I Cor 10:11) that help us understand the new testament. Some examples include …

John 3:14-15 compares Jesus being hung on the cross and the necessity of our belief in him to the Num 21:4-9 story of the brazen serpent being hung up and the necessity of the Israelites to look at that serpent in order to be healed of their snake bites. If we never study the old testament, how would we properly understand this parallel? And there are many other cases like that – where the new testament draws a parallel to the old.

I Tim 2:9-10 tells us to dress modestly and Gen 3:7,10,21 helps define for us what modest dress is.

Gen 1:1 tells us that God created the heaven and the earth. The old testament is littered with many such facts that (by definition) don’t change – since they are facts, not laws.

The new testament tells us homosexuality is sinful (Rom 1:26-27), but Lev 18:22-23 in the old testament informs us that God considers the sin like (in the same category as) having sex with an animal.

Ezek 3:18 helps us understand that we should warn those in sin as we have opportunity – though what is and what is not defined as sin has changed in some particulars since Ezek 3:18 was written.

We can’t learn how to worship God today from Lev 10:1-2 since it is part of old testament law, but we certainly can learn from the passage that God will be displeased with us if we don’t worship him the way he has instructed in his new testament law.

There are probably dozens and dozens of other illustrations, but the above should suffice to make the point. The old testament was written “for our learning” (Rom 15:4). Let’s not neglect it in our studies.

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Answering The “My God is Bigger Than That” Argument

January 24, 2015

Please read Matt 15:9, Mark 16:16, Isaiah 55:8-9, and John 8:31-32 and then read the following article by my friend James Luedecke …

I recently noticed the following Facebook post from a young lady in my area:

“What is a good church? I need God back in my life.”

Many well-intentioned people immediately commented on this post with a brief description of their church, how much they enjoyed it, and how warmly she would be welcomed should she decide to visit. In response to this, a local Baptist pastor posted the following:

“I’m amazed by this outpouring from so many people who love their churches so much. I’m also glad that God is big enough to be in all these churches.”

This is a classic example of a line of reasoning that I’m encountering more and more these days – the “my God is bigger than that” line of reasoning. Let’s stop for a moment and think about this Baptist pastor’s statement. Is God obligated to approve of every group that calls itself a “church” simply because if He chooses not to approve of this church or that church, it would render Him a littler or lesser kind of God?

Here’s another example of the same type of reasoning:

An evangelist for a church of Christ was having a religious discussion with a Baptist preacher. The evangelist presented several lines of Scriptural evidence supporting the belief that water baptism, when scripturally administered, is for remission of sins and, therefore, essential to salvation. The Baptist preacher simply replied, “Your God only saves those who get wet in a church of Christ baptistery, but my God is big enough to save everybody who puts their faith in Him.”

The implication here is this: “Only a very small God would insist that baptism is essential for salvation.” “Only a very small God would insist that baptism be administered in a Scriptural manner.” “Only a very small God would build one church and save people through that one church.” “Only a very small God would reject people who join man-made churches which preach man-made gospels and teach man-made doctrines.” “Only a very small God would disagree with me and my unscriptural religious beliefs.”

Is this the best that false teachers can come up with in defense of their false religious practices- “If God doesn’t do things my way, that makes Him a littler or lesser God.” Shouldn’t it be just the opposite? Shouldn’t it be more like this – “If I don’t do things God’s way, that makes me a littler or lesser Christian?” Are we really so irrational to think that our religious beliefs, whether right or wrong, can make God any bigger than what He already is? Do you think God appreciates being pulled into religious discussions in this manner? The debate lies not in how big or small God really is. The debate is, as it always should be, what is the truth of the Bible and will we accept that truth?

Sins Committed Along With Divorce or Separation

January 18, 2015

Romans 7:2 and I Cor 7:39 teach “the woman … is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth.”

The term “bound” simply means “put under obligation” according to Thayer.

So if a woman divorces or even just separates from her husband (except for the cause of fornication Matt 19:9), she is still bound/obligated to him since he is still living.

Moving to our point, following then are obligations that are violated at divorce/separation:

1. Husbands commanded to love their wives – Eph 5:25

2. Wives commanded to love their husbands – Titus 2:4

3. Sexual responsibilities commanded – I Cor 7:3-5

4. Wives commanded to submit to and be obedient to their husbands – Eph 5:22, Titus 2:5

5. Husbands commanded to dwell with their wives – I Peter 3:7

Question From A Reader About Divorce

January 10, 2015

Question from a reader about the below Jan 9 blog entry – Does he cause her to commit adultery if she never remarries?

Answer – Jesus is assuming what normally happens after divorce – unlawful fulfillment of sexual desire (I Cor 7:3-5) via remarriage or other. In the case where the put away woman stays chaste, her former husband has still sinned by putting her into a place of undeserved temptation (Matt 18:6). It would be like putting a jug of beer in front of a recovering alcoholic. If he drinks, you caused it. If he doesn’t, good for him, but you still sinned by tempting him. So Matt 5:32 proves divorce except for fornication is always sinful – even when no remarriage follows.

Is Divorce Itself Without Remarriage A Sin?

January 9, 2015

Some say it is scriptural for a man to divorce his wife (or vice-versa) for reasons other than fornication as long as he doesn’t remarry.

But notice how Matt 5:32 reads – “… whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery …” The NKJV has it this way – “… whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery …”

Notice that the remarriage on the part of the one doing the putting way (divorcing) is not even contemplated by the verse. In other words, if a man divorces his wife “for any reason except sexual immorality” he sins (he “causes her to commit adultery”) – even if he never remarries.

Conclusion: Divorce itself is wrong.

How Do We Purify Our Hearts?

January 2, 2015

Referring to the first conversion of Gentiles, Peter said in Acts 15:9 that God “put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” So sinners’ hearts are purified by faith. And I Pet 1:22 tells its readers “ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth.” So sinners’ hearts are purified by obedience. To most then it is obvious from such passages that we purify our hearts by faith and obedience, not one or the other. But some see a conflict and say we are purified by faith only, thereby ignoring clear verses like I Pet 1:22.

Instead of arraying the two verses against one another, why not just believe both are true? Let me illustrate how they are easily harmonized …

Suppose I went fishing and caught a big bass using a cane pole, 10 pound test line, and a live worm for bait. If somebody asked me how I caught that bass, could I not truthfully say that I caught it with a cane pole – if that is what I thought they were getting at? Would me saying that mean I didn’t use line or bait? Or if it was a big fish, and I thought the query was more about the strength of my line, I might respond to the same question by saying I used 10 lb. test to catch the fish. That wouldn’t rule out the fact that I also used a pole and bait, would it? A third way I might accurately answer the question about how I caught the bass is by saying I used a live worm. That response would also be correct, without conflicting with my previous two answers.

Do you see then how that when the Bible says we purify our hearts by faith and we purify our hearts by obedience, it means just that – we purify our hearts by faith and obedience? There is no good reason to look for a more complicated answer than the obvious. Faith and obedience are not mutually exclusive; instead, they work together like fishing rod, line, and bait.