How Should We Teach Those In Religious Error?

September 5, 2018

When we have a chance to have a face-to-face meeting with a person in religious error (such as a denominational person or fallen away Christian), we have a good illustration of how we should proceed in Acts 18:24-26. Here is that text in the NKJV – “Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” Notice Apollos was a religious man, but in error, so Aquila and Pricilla “explained to him the way of God more accurately.”

So there is nothing wrong with doing exactly that whenever we have opportunity. When a person is in error, it is our duty to warn them of such error (Ezek 3:18, Acts 20:31, James 5:19-20). As II Cor 5:11 puts it – “knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.”

It is a very, very good thing to read the Bible, but later Apollos’ teaching was not just reading the scriptures; instead it was “shewing by the scriptures” (Acts 18:28). In Acts 28:23, Paul didn’t just read out of the law and the prophets; instead he was “persuading out of the law … and … the prophets.” And in Acts 17:2-3, Paul didn’t just read the scriptures; instead he “reasoned with them out of the scriptures.”

It is every Christian’s responsibility to get out and try to reach the lost (Acts 8:4, Matt 28:19). Don’t let anybody convince you that how Aquilla, Priscilla, Apollos, and Paul did just that is a bad method. When someone is off doctrinally, there is nothing wrong with directly confronting their error (in a kind way), as Paul did with Peter in Gal 2:14, and as Jesus did on many occasions with those in religious error in His day (e.g., Matt 23).

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Remain Unmarried Or Be Reconciled

August 29, 2018

I Cor 7:10 reads “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband” – clearly teaching a woman should not depart (divorce or maritally separate) from her spouse. Some teach though that once the wife leaves her husband unscripturally, it is okay for her to remain apart from him after her repentance. They get this from the next verse which tells such woman to “remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband.” They reason that since Paul gave the separated woman two options, the two options must be equally acceptable – that remaining unmarried is just as acceptable an option (to God) as being reconciled.

But just because two options are given, that doesn’t necessarily mean both choices are just as acceptable to God. Compare to Rev 3:15 – ” I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” There John is chastising the Laodiceans for being lukewarm in their service to God. In doing this he tells the Laodiceans that it would be better for them to be cold or hot than lukewarm. Does that mean cold is as good an option as hot? Not on your life! Instead it means that cold is better than lukewarm, but hot is the best choice. We should be on fire in our zeal for the Lord!

Likewise in I Cor 7:11, remaining unmarried is a better choice than marrying a second person, because marrying another involves the additional sin of adultery, but the best choice is being reconciled to the original spouse. That is the only choice that does not involve continued sin. Some argue that if “be reconciled” were preferred over “remain unmarried,” then it would have been listed first. But Rev 3:15 has cold before hot; does that mean God prefers us to be cold rather than hot?

Here are a few Bible instructions that (when violated) involve ongoing sin as long as a marriage partner remains apart from their rightful spouse:

· I Cor 7:3-5 “Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.”

· Matt 5:32a “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery …”

· I Pet 3:7 “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”

Conclusion: Texts like I Cor 7:10 and Rom 7:2a (“For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth”) mean that God intends for husband and wife to stay together till “death do us part.” If they are apart, they need to repent of departing and get back together. The very definition of repentance demands it.  We should never compromise the I Cor 7:10 imperative.

Division (Differences) Among Christians Is Also Wrong

August 23, 2018

I Corinthians 1:10 is many times correctly used by brethren to prove denominationalism is wrong, that such religious division is sinful. But did you ever notice that verse is written to and about brethren? Here is the text – “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

On a number of occasions I’ve heard mature Christians indicate that when denominational people don’t believe and practice the truth on things such as baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and etc., they will be lost because of that, but that differences among conservative brethren won’t cause people to be lost. That’s a double standard if I’ve ever seen one.

Yes God also expects Christians to “all speak the same thing” (teach the truth) just as much as he expects denominational people to do so. It is not optional for anybody. To condemn those “outside my group” for not practicing the truth (James 2:10), but not do the same for those “in my group” is doing exactly what Matt 7:1ff (“Judge not, that ye be not judged”) is condemning – hypocritical judging.

We all must abide in the “doctrine of Christ” to have God (II John 9) – regardless of what church we belong to. If two gospel preachers (Christians) are teaching two different things (say like on I Cor 11:2-16), they both can’t be right. We must continue in God’s word and stand for the truth on every Bible topic in order to be set free from sin (John 8:31-32), not just topics that members of churches of Christ agree on.

Earning Salvation By “Doing Something”? by Andrew Richardson

August 16, 2018

Traditional thinking influenced by the reformation era is that men are not to “do anything” (like be baptized) in order to be saved because this is “earning” salvation or “adding to the finished work of Christ,” despite the Bible commanding water baptism as a condition of salvation (John 3:5; Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38). Most denominationalism holds this view to some extent, especially Calvinism.

God does NOT share this thinking. Let’s observe …

Gideon, who led God’s army in Israel, was told by God to deplete the army’s numbers until a small number of men was reached (Judges 7). Why? God did not want them “claiming glory against God,” thinking that their own hand had saved them. So God depleted them to such a small number that only God could be seen as giving them victory. God gave them victory over the Midianites.

Here’s the point. God did not think that in order to claim glory, He had to require no works or conditions from the men. God believes, contrary to denominational thought, that He can give a gift (war victory in this case) with conditions that men must obey in order to receive. God believes He has the right to require men to do “works” (combat in this case) to get a gift from Him, and still yet His glory is not diminished by the fact that they had to do “something” to get His gift. God had men “do things” and “works” for the purpose of glorifying Himself.

Today people say water baptism cannot be a prerequisite for salvation because that would mean we get the glory. God disagrees, as proved by the Gideon story. Let me say it again. God actually glorified Himself through commanding men to “do things.”

One last note. Engaging in warfare is a lot more “work” than being baptized. Yet salvation is infinitely greater in value than the military victory Israel got. If Israel had to do A LOT of work for a relatively less valuable gift — military conquest — and God still got the glory, then how can it be said that God does not get the glory by us doing a LITTLE work for a much greater gift–salvation?

Saved By Faith Only Rules Out …

August 9, 2018

The false position that salvation is by faith alone would rule out the following as being necessary…

· Repentance – If it is belief alone, that rules out repentance (Acts 3:19). That would mean the gay preachers I have debated are saved even though they have never repented of their sins.

· Confession – Rom 10:10 teaches confession is necessary to salvation, but it is obvious a person cannot truthfully confess he believes in Christ until after he believes in him (Acts 8:35-37).

· Calling On The Name Of The Lord – Everybody admits “calling on the name of the Lord” is necessary to salvation (Rom 10:13), but “calling on the name of the Lord” occurs after one believes (Rom 10:14-15), at least three days after belief in the case of Saul (Acts 9:6, 9, 22:16).

Now do you really believe salvation comes at the point of faith?

Is Rom 1:26-27 Only Condemning Same Sex Inversion?

August 2, 2018

Rom 1:24,26-27 clearly condemns homosexuality – “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: … For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.”

The gay church’s response is that Romans 1 would condemn a heterosexually “oriented” person performing homosexual acts, or even a homosexually oriented person performing heterosexual acts. They would be doing what is “unnatural” for them.

But Rom 1:24,26-27 does not say anything like that. The passage calls all homosexual activity unnatural; the Bible never calls heterosexual activity unnatural. The text condemns people for going against nature period, not for going against “their” nature, as the gay church would have you to believe. “Nature” here is explained by the fact that the body parts don’t fit in gay sex, and by Matt 19:4-5: … he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife

Romans 1:27 says men “burned in their lust one toward another.” This shows their desire (orientation) was for men. They were not going against their desire/orientation; instead they were satisfying their desire (orientation), and God called that desire (“affections”) vile, and the sexual acts uncleanness, dishonour, and error – it was still sinful!

Homosexuality in all shapes, forms, and fashions is condemned by God.

Katakalupto Covering Is Glory To Man While Long Hair Covering Is Glory To Woman

July 27, 2018

According to I Corinthians 11:2-16, the wearing of the “katakalupto” (the Greek word) covering by the woman is tied to the glory of man, and is worn to honor and show subjection to him:

verse 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as … the woman is the glory of the man

verse 5 … every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head (man) …

While the “peribolaion” (long hair) covering is worn for the woman’s glory:

verse 15 … if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her …

Just another indication two different coverings are being referred to and required by the passage.

What Are The “Not By Works” Passages Saying?

July 18, 2018

The “not by works” passages (like Eph 2:8-9, II Tim 1:9, and Tit 3:5) teach that works are not the earning basis (Rom 4:4) for our salvation (Jesus’ death is what earns it). But they do not teach we don’t have to meet God’s (non-earning) conditions in order to be saved. That would contradict James 2:24 (“Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only”), and would rule out faith being necessary since John 6:28-29 says faith is a work (“This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent”).

Illustrations of non-earning conditions …

“I’ll give you a new Cadillac. All you have to do is pick up the keys.” The giver earned the Cadillac. All the receiver had to do was meet a condition in order to receive it.

A will that metes out the inheritance upon certain conditions required of the heir (like if she finishes college, or remains single until age 21). Who actually earned the money though?: obviously the one who died, not the heir.

In II Kings 5:9-14 Elisha said to Naaman – “Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.” God is the one who cleansed Naaman, but Naaman had to meet God’s conditions for doing such.

Joshua 6:2 reads “I have given unto thine hand Jericho.” Did they earn the taking of the city by walking around the city for seven days? Did the sound waves crumble the walls naturally? No, they would have had to use battering rams and sledge hammers to knock those walls down themselves. Instead the falling of the walls was a miraculous gift from God. But the Israelites had to meet God’s conditions. The walls “by faith .. fell down, after they were compassed about seven days” (Heb 11:30).

In Num 21:5-9 the Israelites had to look upon a brass serpent on a pole to be healed of their snake bites. Is looking what actually healed them, or was looking just a stipulated condition of God healing them?

Conclusion: Eph 2:8-9, II Tim 1:9, and Tit 3:5 are not saying we don’t have to do anything to be saved. That would contradict passages like Heb 5:9, Matt 7:21, and etc. that say we do. Instead they are saying we don’t earn our salvation by what we do, not even by meeting God’s conditions. The earning basis for our salvation is the blood of Christ. God is the one who saves us. But we do have to trust and obey God in order to receive the salvation provided for by the blood of Christ (Rev 22:14). We might say meeting God’s conditions provide “access into … grace” (Rom 5:2).

Isaiah 53:6,5 Teach Jesus’ Substitutionary Death – Reject These Verses At Your Own Peril

July 11, 2018

Maurice Barnett said “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). Gene Frost said “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.

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

Look at one of the phrases in Isaiah 53:5 – “the chastisement of our peace was upon him.” Think about what that is saying. Chastisement means “punishment.” God the Father placed our chastisement (punishment) upon Christ so we could have (spiritual) peace with God. In other words, Jesus took the punishment for our sins so we wouldn’t have to.

Our sins on Jesus instead of on us – that’s substitution.  Elaborating, our punishment on Jesus instead of on us – that’s substitution.  Doesn’t that settle this issue?

Is The Best Preacher The One Who Doesn’t Make Anybody Mad?

July 5, 2018

The other day I heard a mature Christian indicate the best gospel preachers were the ones who preached without making anybody mad. Nothing could be further from the truth. Notice who sometimes made their audience mad enough to stone them by preaching and standing for the truth …

· Old Testament Prophets Luke 13:34

· Jesus John 8:59, 10:31, 11:8

· Stephen Acts 7:58

· Barnabas Acts 14:5

· Paul Acts 14:19

· John the Baptist lost his head Mark 6:16-18

I guess the above were not very good preachers because they sometimes made their audience mad?  I guess Jesus was not a very good preacher because his teaching in Matt 15:3-12 “offended” the Pharisees?  Just the opposite – Jesus’ preaching is so good because it is always directed to what the audience in front of him needs, instead of what somebody who is not there needs.

It is easy to preach to not make anybody mad. Just be careful to avoid saying anything your audience disagrees with, i.e., avoid stepping on your audience’s toes. I’ve heard a few gospel preachers teach many times without once saying anything their audience would disagree with – they simply preached every time to the choir (https://bibledebates.wordpress.com/2016/03/18/preaching-to-the-choir/ ), and at people who were not there; they pandered to their audience (https://bibledebates.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/pandering-to-our-audience/ ).

The outstanding gospel preacher is defined by passages like Acts 20:26-27 and Ezek 3:17-21 – they declare the whole counsel of God (practicing kind and tough love) so both their listeners and themselves will be saved. When somebody does not believe or practice the truth on a particular subject, are we doing them a favor by always preaching on what they already agree with, avoiding the very thing they need? This method of preaching is perfectly described by II Tim 4:3 – “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.”

We should always be kind and gentle in our teaching (Col 4:6), but when we preach the “truth in love” (Eph 4:15), sometimes someone is going to get perturbed with us (Matt 13:57, John 6:60-66). If not, something is wrong with our preaching (Luke 6:26, Isaiah 30:10, I Kings 22:8).  If we preach the truth that our audiences need, we will make enemies (Gal 4:16).