Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Taking A Position In Order To Help Fight False Doctrine

May 15, 2019

Many times I have seen preachers take a position on a topic or passage because they thought it would help them defeat a related false doctrine, and not actually because the merits of the case actually warranted them taking that position. First and foremost, this is an ungodly reason to take a position on a topic or passage. Truth is the truth regardless of what the consequences may be – John 8:31-32.

But quite frequently I have seen Bible teachers doing this when taking the incorrect view of a topic/passage actually hurt the cause of truth, not help it. The perfect example of this is when preachers fight the “Personal Indwelling Of The Holy Spirit” concept, the Biblical truth that all Christians even today receive a non-miraculous measure of the Spirit when they are baptized into Christ. Just a casual reading of Acts 2:38 would seem to prove this view that people today receive the Holy Ghost when they are baptized. But one gospel preacher recently wrote opposing this plain meaning understanding of Acts 2:38, in support of the view that Acts 2:38’s reference to receiving the Holy Ghost is miraculous and therefore does not apply today – “more importantly, this understanding of the statement … offers not one scintilla of support for the egregiously false blunderings of Pentecostalists and their supporters.” Do you see how this writer asserts that the “more important” reason to accept his position is that it will help us fight the false doctrine of the Pentecostals?

But this reason for taking his position on the issue boomerangs back on itself. The very opposite is true; if we take the position the “gift of the Holy Ghost” in Acts 2:38 refers to the miraculous measure, that actually helps the Pentecostals, not hurts them. Because the very next verse makes it perfectly clear the verse 38 promise is to every Christian for all time – “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” The phrase “unto you” refers to the Jews, “to your children” would get all Jewish descendants, “to all that are afar off” would refer to all the Gentiles (Eph 2:13,17), and “as many as the Lord our God shall call” would get all Christians for all time (II Thess 2:14). So if the “gift of the Holy Ghost” in Acts 2:38 refers to the miraculous measure of the Spirit, that would prove conclusively that people today can perform miracles, the very doctrine preachers are taking an incorrect position on Acts 2:38 to try to avoid.

In addition, if we say the “gift of the Holy Ghost” does not apply today (because it refers to the miraculous measure), then we have just opened the door wide open to the dispensationalists who say the “baptized … for the remission of sins” part of Acts 2:38 does not apply today either; that it only applied to the Jews at that time, and so baptism was at one time “for the remission of sins,” but it isn’t for that reason today. Do you see how taking an incorrect position on the personal indwelling view leads to the conclusion that baptism “for the remission of sins” was only a temporary thing, and is not valid today? If receiving the Holy Ghost in Acts 2:38 was only for that day, then the rest of the verse would logically only be for that day also.

Conclusion: What we should do is just believe what each Bible text leads us to believe, and let the chips fall where they may. Not only is that the only Godly way of learning from the scriptures, but won’t get us into trouble by helping any false teachers. Why? Because the Bible is super consistent. Trust the Bible, instead of manipulating it to try to make it consistent with our previous views.

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The Secret Things Belong To God

May 8, 2019

Deut 29:29 reads “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

Not only does this passage tell us we don’t know things pertaining to the true God’s religion that are not revealed by His word, but it sort of tells us to leave any such ideas alone. I am not sure how to put it into words, but the text says the “secret things belong unto the Lord our God,” as if we should not teach on those concepts; they belong to God.

Perhaps I could illustrate with a silly analogy. I am confident God could choose to look ahead and see the winner of next year’s Alabama-Auburn game if he wanted to, but he certainly hasn’t revealed the outcome to us if he has. So we might could say in a teasing sort of way that that future outcome of that game is a secret thing. Now is it wrong to speculate about who might win? I don’t think so; but if we were to teach who the winner is going to be as part of our gospel message/presentation, then that would not be letting the secret things belong to God.

But now let’s be serious. There is much speculation about what Paul’s “thorn … in the flesh” (II Cor 12:7) might have been, but unless I am mistaken, the Bible never reveals what the exact problem was. I don’t suppose it is wrong to speculate about what it might have been, but when we make our guess part of preaching the gospel, then it seems we are not letting the “secret things belong unto … God.”

The same thing is true about who the human pen was for the books of the Bible where such is not revealed. For example, I have seen almost whole Bible class periods spent on discussing who the author of Hebrews is. Again, wouldn’t that be not letting the “secret things belong unto … God”? Since the inspired text does not say, we ought to just say God is the author and leave it at that.

The same is true about the date of the books of the Bible. For example, the Bible does not tell us the year (or even a range of years) for when the book of Revelation was written. To teach the “date of the book of Revelation” as part of the gospel is ignoring the fact that the date is unrevealed and as such is unknown. It would be similar to the date of Jesus’ return (unrevealed Mark 13:32), so we recognize that we don’t know and shouldn’t teach a when.

Rev 1:10 mentions the “Lord’s Day.” Many Christians assume John means the first day of the week by that / others assume it refers to the Sabbath, but there is no scriptural proof for either. We don’t even know that it was a once a week thing; the Bible just not reveal any details about it. As such, it is a secret thing that we ought to let belong to God. We should just say we don’t know when the Lord’s Day was/is; it doesn’t matter anyway.

Have You Ever Wondered Why People Assume A Bad Motivation?

May 1, 2019

Have you ever wondered why some people assume bad motivations for scriptural actions? Texts like I Cor 13:7 (“Charity … thinketh no evil, … believeth all things, hopeth all things”) teach we should always assume the best of motivations, because we cannot read another man’s mind (I Cor 2:11).

Is it possible that some people wrongly assume that other people necessarily think like them, and therefore have the same bad motivations for their actions that they do? Why else would they assume a particular motivation for another’s action unless that would be their motivation in the same situation? If that is true, then whenever a person judges another’s heart and assumes a bad motivation for an action, it reveals that the person making the false judgment has that bad motivation whenever they perform the same action.

It may be hard to believe for some, but there are actually a number of Christians out there that try to emulate what Jesus and Paul did for the exact same reasons that Jesus and Paul did it – basically because they love God and their neighbor (Matt 22:36-40) and therefore want to help them. I guess people without an “honest and good heart” (Luke 8:15) just can’t imagine that ever being the case.

How Do We Know “Break Bread” In Acts 20:7 Is Referring To The Lord’s Supper?

April 25, 2019

Acts 20:7 reads “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” How do we know the phrase “break bread” in the verse is referring to the disciples coming to together to eat the Lord’s Supper (take communion) and not just a common meal to satisfy their hunger?

First, we can establish from I Cor 10:16 (“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ: The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?”) that the breaking of bread at least sometimes refers to the communion.

Second, we see that I Cor 11:21-22,34 (“if any man hunger, let him eat at home”) condemns eating a common meal (to satisfy hunger) in the church assembly, and since Acts 20:7 is referring to disciples coming together congregationally, therefore Acts 20:7 cannot be referring to just a common meal. So it must be referring to the Lord’s Supper.

Conclusion: Congregations today should eat the Lord’s Supper when they come together on the first day of the week, just like the first century congregations did.

The Two Reasons Jesus Told Peter To Put Up His Sword

April 18, 2019

In the midst of Jesus being taken for trial, John 18:10-11 says “Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. … Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” So one reason Jesus told Peter to put up his sword is because Jesus did not want to defend himself as that would tend to defeat the very reason He came to this earth – to be crucified for our sins.

But in Matt 26:52 Jesus gives a different/second reason “Then said Jesus unto him (Peter), Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” This reason in one broad stroke proves that self defense is wrong for a Christian. If we take up the sword to defend ourselves or others as Peter did, then Jesus condemns the action by asserting such will “perish with the sword.” Jesus is not intending to make this instruction optional; he commanded Peter to “put up … thy sword ” because “they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Wouldn’t the same apply to us if we “take (use) the sword” against another human being for any reason? Yes, we would come under Jesus’ censure “they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” for so doing. Anybody who “takes the sword shall perish with the sword”; that is a denunciation of doing so, not an allowance.

Does The Prohibition Against Women Preachers In I Cor 14:34-35 Not Apply Today Because Miraculous Gifts Have Ceased?

April 12, 2019

Since I Corinthians chapter 14 is filled with regulations regarding the miraculous gifts, and those gifts have ceased (I Cor 13:8-13), many Christians conclude the prohibition against women speaking in church in I Cor 14:34-35 does not apply today. Notice how gospel preacher Keith Storment expressed this false position in the magazine “Faith And Facts”:

· … the instructions in vs.33-35 would not apply to any assembly where … miraculous spiritual gifts cannot be exercised. Specifically, they would … apply to none of our general assemblies today (unless we align ourselves with the Charismatics and begin speaking in tongues!) [Apr 99]

· The overall context of this passage deals with the proper use of miraculous gifts that the Spirit gave to Christians in the first century. With the exception of the discourse about the Lord’s Supper, everything from the beginning of chapter 11 to the end of chapter 14 centers around this theme [Oct 98]

But this reasoning would prove the Lord’s Supper shouldn’t be practiced today, because:

· as Keith says, I Cor 11:17-34 (which discusses the Lord’s Supper) is also within Paul’s discussion of spiritual gifts

· also, Paul’s Acts 20:7 sermon was likely inspired and therefore that assembly can’t be duplicated in all respects

Wouldn’t the principle of speaking one at a time taught by I Cor 14:27,30-31 apply today to uninspired teachers? Even Keith teaches (Jul 99) I Cor 14:40 (“Let all things be done decently and in order”) applies today. Keith got it right when he said: “we can (not) just wave the magic wand of ‘miraculous spiritual gifts’ over these verses and dismiss everything they contain as having no relevance for us today.” (Oct 98)

I Cor 14:34-35 itself does not say one word about miraculous gifts, and therefore most certainly does still apply today. Let’s comply with it.

Regarding Extra Biblical Sources Like The Church Fathers

April 3, 2019

II Tim 3:16-17 reads “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” So the scriptures make us complete – “thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

This clearly would mean non inspired writing should carry no weight when determining religious truth/doctrine. But the Catholics have weighted Church Tradition and Church Leadership up to the same level as scripture. And now many denominationalists and even some Christians are weighting the writings of the early Church Fathers almost the same as scripture. But if we truly believe Isaiah 55:8-9 (“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”), then we will understand that what the Church Fathers said is not even a tinsy smidgen of the standard we go by in determining God’s will.

What the uninspired “very early Christians believed” carries no weight because the difference between being inspired or not inspired is the difference in God saying something and man saying something. The difference between God saying something in religion and man saying something in religion, is far greater than the difference between Einstein saying something on the theory of relativity and an ant saying something on the theory of relativity. What the ant says should carry absolutely no weight.

If letting something extra Biblical (like the Church Fathers) carry weight leads us to the same conclusion we would have concluded from the Bible alone, then the extra material is absolutely unnecessary / superfluous. If on the other hand, that extra Biblical material leads us to a different conclusion than what we would have concluded from the Bible alone, then that extra Biblical material has led us astray. Therein lies the grave danger. We are to only contend for the “faith” (Jude 3), not for anything we learn outside actual scripture.

Passages like II Tim 3:16-17 teach the scriptures are our sole authority in religion. Period.

What About The Church Providing For Food, Fun, And Frolic?

March 28, 2019

John 2:13-16 tells us what Jesus thought about adulterating the spiritual: And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.

The congregation is not authorized (Col 3:17) to provide for food, fun and frolic. Families ought to be the ones providing for that, as long as it is good clean fun.

Starting With A Conclusion And Reasoning Backwards

March 21, 2019

When learning the scriptures, we have to be careful not to start with a conclusion and reason backwards. Meaning we shouldn’t force an interpretation upon any passage so it will be consistent with our presupposition (Eph 3:3-4).

A classic example of this is the Once Saved Always Saved issue. Though there is a passage or two on practically every page of God’s book that proves it is possible for a Christian to “fall from grace” (Gal 5:4), and no scriptures to support the opposing position, many want Once Saved Always Saved to be true so badly that they can’t look honestly at any passage that teaches otherwise. In this case, “wishful thinking” drives their interpretation of God’s word instead of honest and forthright study.

Another example is the Personal Indwelling Of The Holy Spirit (I Cor 6:19, Acts 2:38) issue. It seems many take their position on this issue based less upon scripture and based more upon what would help us contend with the Pentecostals better. For example Bruce Curd wrote in Faith And Facts in defense of his position “… more importantly, this understanding of the statement (Acts 2:39) offers not one scintilla of support for the egregiously false blunderings of Pentecostalists and their supporters.” My first response to this is that a doctrinal point is either true or not true based on its own merits. We should never believe something because it may make it easier to answer a particular false teaching. I like how Mac Deaver put it: “I am not going to surrender one God-given truth in order to make it easier on any of us in our debates with Neo-Pentecostals and Calvinists. That is not the right approach.” Secondly, the charge is simply not true. The “personal indwelling” view does not effect the discussion of passages that tell the duration of the gifts, like I Corinthians 13 and Zechariah 13. To the contrary, my experience has been that it is far easier to debate Pentecostals when they don’t sense that we are just dodging the obvious meaning of the indwelling passages.

My third example is the Vicarious Atonement Of Christ issue. It seems many reject the plain meaning of scripture because they think accepting those texts for what they say would be Calvinism. Examples:

· Maurice Barnett – “It is said that Jesus took every sin of mankind into Himself on the cross … I deny that any … scripture says such a thing but to the contrary the scriptures deny it.” (Gospel Truths, July 2010)

· Jesse Jenkins – “Jesus took our sins upon Himself … It is plain Calvinism.” (Feb 21, 2014 email).

· Gene Frost – “To the Calvinist that means … they were put on Him … Where is the passage that says that God put the sins of the world on Jesus?” (March 2000 sermon, Louisville, KY).

How about Isaiah 53:6c? – – the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all

Calling Isaiah 53:6c Calvinism should bother us. In effect it is saying Calvinists hold the scriptural ground, and we must try to get around it. It’s never right to reject a doctrine simply because some false church believes it. That is a most ungodly reason. Should we reject what the scriptures teach on the:

· virgin birth of Christ – Isaiah 7:14

· deity of Christ – John 1:1

· resurrection of Christ – I Cor 15:4

just because John Calvin and many denominations also accept those truths? Then why should we reject Isaiah 53:6c just because John Calvin might have agreed with it?

My last example is the Covering issue. I Cor 11:15 teaches the woman ought to be covered with long hair all the time (and I mean long, not medium or short), and in addition the woman ought to be covered temporarily when she prays or prophesies (verse 5). Some disagree, taking the long hair only view, the custom view, or the spiritual gifts view. Some may do this honestly, but some may be just dreaming up any excuse not to believe the truth on the subject. I heard one preacher say the covering is not binding today, because hair is the only thing talked about in the passage and it was just a custom anyway and it only applied during the days of spiritual gifts. Well, surely it can’t be all three of those positions at one time! It seems this preacher had started out with the conclusion he wanted (no covering today), and then reasoned backwards – he said anything that was out there that might lead to the no covering today position.

Conclusion: It is never the right thing to do to start with a conclusion desired and then try to force scriptures to fit our presupposed conclusion. Instead we should be honest enough to accept whatever the Bible verses actually say on any topic, and let the chips fall where they may (John 8:31-32).

Thinking Outside The Box … Religiously

March 15, 2019

We all agree being able to “think outside the box” is a good trait for a person to have. But what does that mean in religion?

Matt 13:15 talks about people who can’t think outside the box in religion when it says – “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” In religion those who can’t “think outside the box” are those who say they go by the Bible but really and truly judge what is right and wrong, what is good and bad, by what the people of the church they are a part of believe and practice. They just don’t have enough gumption to run contrary to the church they are apart of even when the scriptures clearly dictate they should. They judge how faithful someone is by how much that someone conforms to the Christians around them, even though their profession is that they make such judgment based upon how much someone conforms to the word of God.

I think we have a first century example of such. Evidently the Jewish brotherhood’s “box of thinking” was that the promised Messiah was to be a physical king, someone to lead them out of Roman bondage (John 6:15). Jesus tried to make it clear His kingdom was “not of this world” (John 18:36), but for the most part, Jews could not “think outside the box” and so rejected Christ for who He was in truth.

Think back to the days of Alexander Campbell. At that time, the only ones who believed baptism needed to be “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38, etc.) were the Catholics who didn’t really baptize at all but only sprinkled infants. But Campbell and his colleagues were able to study the Bible for themselves, “think outside the box” so to speak, and accept what the Bible clearly taught on the purpose of baptism when almost nobody else probably in centuries had been able to – since that teaching was not the norm for the churches they were a part of.

Today I am many times frustrated by Baptists’ thinking on the Once Saved Always Saved issue. It doesn’t matter how many scriptures we give them that conclusively prove a Christian can “fall from grace” (and there is such a scripture on just about every page of the Bible, e.g., Gal 5:4), they will doggedly hold onto to their view without any scriptural support whatsoever. It has been so engrained in their mind – “that is the way it is; that is the way it has to be.” They can’t “think outside the box;” they are tied to the teaching of their church no matter come what may.

Even “conservative” Christians are not immune to this way of thinking. I can think of many examples, but one clear one would be the practice of knocking on doors to get Bible studies. Just a few decades ago, many Christians did that regularly to get Bible studies with non-Christians. Now if you do that, you are considered almost weird by most other Christians. It is considered good to do a personal evangelism study once in a while (Acts 8:4), or to approach people challenging their beliefs (Ezek 3:18) every now and then, but if you are bold in doing too much of that, you might be considered strange. Another example is religious debating. This scriptural practice has most definitely “gone out of style” in the Christian brotherhood in the last several decades. Scripture after scripture can be piled up (Acts 19:8-10, etc.) proving God approves of such, but most Christians won’t enthusiastically join God in approving of debates.  Instead they will say they don’t like them or they don’t do any good (Prov 14:12). What matters to them is that all “cool” brotherhood preachers shy away from participating in them – so they must be bad. Another example: Most congregations aren’t considered complete unless they have a regular pulpit preacher. It’s like it is considered sinful to do it any other way. Don’t people ever stop to think that the biggest name preacher of that day did secular work (Acts 18:3)?

Conclusion: If continuing in Jesus’ truth (John 8:31-32) means “thinking outside the box” of our church’s standard teaching, then we must do exactly that to be freed from our sins. Abiding in the doctrine of Christ is what is required to be right with God (II John 9), not abiding in the normal behaviors of our church.