Archive for April, 2021

James Bales and “I, not the Lord” in I Cor 7:12

April 29, 2021

Mr. Bales’ Argument On I Corinthians 7:12

James Bales’ position was I Cor 7:15 (“but if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace”) allows another cause for divorce, scriptural remarriage following, other than divorce for fornication, this second cause being desertion. The first reply to this assertion is usually that Matt 19:9, because it uses the word “except,” shows that fornication is the only scripturally cause, thereby ruling out any other cause, including desertion. Parallels are usually made to John 3:5 and similar passages. Our brother Bales’ response to this reply is that Matt 19:9 is not addressing marriages involving one or more non-Christians, that it is only addressing marriages where both of the partners are “under covenant” to God. Mr. Bales’ proof for this assertion is given as I Cor 7:10-12. He understands (I think correctly) the phrase in I Cor 7:10, “I command, yet not I, but the Lord” is referring to the fact the Lord gave the command “Let not the wife depart from her husband” directly while on earth (presumably recorded in Matt 19:6-9), while the phrase in I Cor 7:12, “But to the rest speak I, not the Lord” is introducing an answer to a Corinthian question that was not directly addressed by the Lord while on the earth. Mr. Bales then reasons that since verse 12 begins a discussion of mixed marriages, therefore Matt 19:6-9 must not address mixed marriages, and cannot be used to refute his doctrine that I Cor 7:15 allows another scriptural cause for divorce and remarriage.

The Correct Understanding Of I Corinthians 7:12-16

The truth is I Cor 7:10-11 does not specify marriages involving two Christians only, it speaks to all marriages. Verses 12-15 do not show Matt 19:9 does not teach concerning mixed marriages, but shows Jesus in Matt 19:9 (or at any other time) did not specifically state what the Christian is to do if his spouse (an unbeliever would be assumed) leaves him. Paul answers that question in verse 15, “let him depart.” In other words, “Don’t go to the point of casting your pearls before swine in trying to convince him otherwise; even if the marriage is restored, who knows if you would be able to convert him to Christ anyway (verse 16)? If you (the believer) couldn’t do anything to help it, you have not sinned; it is not your problem” Verses 12-14, which precede Paul’s answer in verse 15, are Paul’s way of keeping the Corinthians from getting the wrong idea from his answer given in verse 15. Before giving his answer to the question, Paul first wants to make sure the Corinthians did not get the impression from his answer that a Christian could initiate the departing himself.

I might do something similar if my little daughter were to ask me if she could play outside. Before answering her question directly, I would probably precede the answer with, “now let me make this clear; do not go near the road. If your ball goes near the road, don’t go get it; come get Daddy and he will get it. Don’t go near the road!” Then I would finally answer, “Yes, you may go play outside.”

The question raised by the Corinthians would have been something like, “What if I’m married to an unbeliever, and he leaves me, would my desire/obligation to try to convert him demand that I make never ending efforts to convince him to come back to me? Just how far must I go?” That is the question that Jesus does not directly address in the Matt 19:9 type passages. Before Paul gives his answer to that question (such answer found in verse 15), he first wants to make sure the readers don’t get the wrong idea and think he is giving them permission to depart. So he precedes his answer with the warning that they may not leave their partner. The question and answer might have gone something like the following: “Paul, what do we do if our spouse leaves us? How far must we go in pursuing the continuation of the relationship in hopes of converting them? Corinthians, let me first make it clear that you must not ever leave your spouse, even if that spouse is not a Christian. But if they insist upon leaving you, that is not your fault/problem. Who knows if you would have been able to convert them anyway?”

So the thing I Cor 7:12 indicates Matt 19:6-9 does not address is not mixed marriages per se, but what must be done if my spouse leaves me against my will? Matt 19:6-9 does not explain the answer to that question in detail, but I Cor 7:12-16 does.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that both Matt 19:9 and I Cor 7:10 address all, not just two Christians, paired in marriage. They therefore demand, contrary to “Bales’ Doctrine” (same with Homer Hailey), that partners break up unscriptural (adulterous) marriages when becoming a Christian (anytime when repenting).

Backbiting

April 22, 2021

Perhaps one of the sins Christians commit more than any other is the sin of backbiting. The last part of Proverbs 17:9 reads, “he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.” How many times can you remember good friendships (or even kin relationships, Psalms 50:20) being torn asunder because of talk going on behind people’s backs?

Do you ever bite (talk bad about) people behind their backs? The Bible says in Proverbs 10:18 “he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.” We need to put away all evil speaking, and be “kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven” us (Ephesians 4:31-32).

The way to stop one who “privily slandereth his neighbor” (Psalms 101:5) is to stop listening to him (Proverbs 17:4). Don’t take stock in what a person says about another behind his back. Remember, if Ralph is talking to you about Fred behind Fred’s back, then you can rest assured Ralph is also talking about you behind your back. What do you do if you find out someone is speaking evil about you? Do you return the evil? No, you return good for evil (I Corinthians 4:13, Romans 12:19-21).

Backbiting was condemned by Psalms 15:3. Remember that whisperers, backbiters, and revilers are worthy of death; they shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Romans 1:28-32, I Corinthians 6:10).

The Appearance Of Unity

April 15, 2021

Many passages teach God desires unity among the believers. One such passage, John 17:20-23, goes so far as to tie our success in converting people, at least to some extent, to this unity. Notice Jesus teaches this connection in verse 21b as it reads, “that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”

Unfortunately, unity among believers has not been widely achieved. In the face of this division, and knowing the connection that Jesus made in John 17:21 between unity and our success at converting others to Christ, many Christians think hiding our differences is the next best thing to unity, that though we are divided, if we can somehow hide this from our neighbors, then we can still have the success in converting our neighbors that Jesus conditioned upon actual unity in John 17:21. The only problem with this point of view is that God desires actual unity, not the appearance of unity. Jesus never promised the appearance of unity would help us convert the world; only actual unity will help.

There are at least three categories regarding division and our religious differences. The first one is perfect unity. This is of course what God desires (I Corinthians 1:10), and is therefore possible to obtain. It is rarely achieved however. This is similar to the fact that God desires each Christian to live perfectly, without sin (I John 2:1). It is therefore possible to live without sin; it is just that no man, except Jesus, has ever achieved it (I John 1:8,10).

Lacking perfect unity, most denominations have taken another course of action. They have become content with and accepted their division/differences as okay. This is a violation of passages such as Eph 4:3 that teach us to strive for unity.

That brings us to the third category. Knowing there are differences, many Christians are taking the correct action; they are striving for unity. But of these, many think it is God’s will that we hide our differences in the mean-while from non-Christians. They evidently think John 17:20-23 teaches that, lacking true unity, covering up our differences will help us in trying to convert the lost. They usually justify their actions with old adages such as, “we shouldn’t air our dirty laundry before unbelievers,” or “we need to put our best foot forward.” But hiding our differences, covering up our disunity, is dishonest (Rev 21:8), and hypocritical (Matt 23:3). Jesus did not teach in John 17 that the appearance of unity will help in our teaching the world; only true unity will help that.

Lacking true unity, God does not desire us to hide our divisions. Acts 15 records a debate between Christians, trying to settle their differences/division, and God put it right smack in the middle of the New Testament for the whole world to see, including non-Christians. If we are not united, then it is better for non-Christians to see us striving for unity, rather than for them to find out later we were not honest with them, that we were hiding something from them. Our non-Christian prospects need to know what they are getting into, if and when they choose to obey the gospel. It is better for non-Christians to see us discussing our differences, trying to obtain unity, than for them to think we are just content with and accept our divisions as okay.

I am not saying we should flaunt our differences unnecessarily, but I am saying it is dishonest to cover up our differences. Jesus did not teach in John 17:20-23 that the appearance of unity would help us convert the world, he taught that only true unity would help in that regard. God desires actual unity, not the appearance of it.

Is Israel Still God’s Chosen Nation?

April 8, 2021

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 landowner 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 saying 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 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).

Accepting Jesus Christ As Your Personal Saviour?

April 1, 2021

Many churches teach that to be saved, all a person has to do is “accept Jesus Christ as his personal savior.” Assuming they mean the same as believing “with all thine heart” (Acts 8:37), accepting Christ as your personal savior is a good thing. The problem is “accepting Christ” is not all a person has to do to be saved.

To show this, we can substitute “accept Jesus Christ as personal savior” for “believeth” in Mark 16:16a. The passage would read “He that accepts Jesus Christ as his personal savior and is baptized shall be saved.”

The truth is accepting Christ and obeying Christ are both required. Talking about Jesus, Hebrews 5:9b reads “he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Matthew 7:21 proves the same as it says “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.” Acts 10:35 teaches “he that … worketh righteousness, is accepted with” God. James 2:24 says “by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” Revelation 20:11-15 reads “they were judged every man according to their works.” Obedience is required to become saved (Acts 2:38), and obedience is required to stay saved (Revelation 2:10b).

Galatians 5:6 teaches that what avails is “faith which worketh by love.” We must have all three attributes. Leaving off faith won’t work, even if we possess the other two attributes. Neither will leaving off working. And neither will leaving off love.