Speaking where the bible speaks, and silent where the bible is silent.

Archive for April, 2017

Faith and Works

Many denominations are deceived and confused about the correlation of faith and works. In this lesson let us see the relationship that exists between faith and works, and then to observe the relationships of faith, works, and salvation.

Salvation and Works

There is a definite connection between salvation and works, for John says, “He that believes on the Son bath eternal life, but he that obeys not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (Jn. 3:36). John says that the curse of heaven is upon all those who do not obey God, and if one does obey, he works. So then, John is saying that all those who do riot work are to have the wrath of God poured out upon them. In the passage from James it was said, “You see then how that by works a man is justified and not by faith only” (Jam. 2:24). We can very readily see that there is some connection between works and salvation.

It is necessary that man does the things that God has required of him. If it is required by God, then it is necessary that man works in order to be saved, for to obey the commandments of the Lord is to do the works of the Lord. However, someone very quickly replies, “If it is necessary for man to work in order to be saved, then salvation is not of grace.” Let us consider this objection. Just what does it mean to be saved by grace? We read in Ephesians, “for by grace have you been saved through faith.” (Eph. 2:8). Before one can say that works would eliminate grace, first he must tell us what grace is. The word “grace,” simply defined, means “unmerited favor,” and so, when we are saved by grace, it means that we are saved when we did not deserve to be. In Rom. 3:23 we read, “for all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God;” since we had sinned, we were deserving of death. Peter says, “God spared not angels when they sinned, but cast them down to hell, and committed them to pits of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment . . .” (2 Pet. 2:4). God did the angels no injustice when he cast them down into hell because they sinned. When man sinned, just as justly as God cast the angels down into hell, He could have cast man into hell, but He did not. His mercy interceded and sent for us Christ Jesus. Inasmuch as man was guilty of sin he deserved to die, but the grace of God permitted him to live, and to receive forgiveness of his sins, if he will obey the commandments of God. Grace is not eliminated because God said that man must do certain things in order to be saved, for man could never have been saved without God’s grace. God’s grace was expressed in the giving of Jesus Christ. Man did not deserve Christ, and so Christ was God’s grace, God’s favor that was shown to undeserving men. That is grace. The commandments of God have nothing to do with excluding God’s grace, for grace has already been given in Christ Jesus and the scheme of redemption. If man did every single thing that God said do, his salvation would still be by grace, for “all have sinned.” Sin deserved the punishment of death. Thus, our salvation is by grace, for we are undeserving of it by ourselves. when independent of Jesus Christ.

Faith is Wrought with His Works

A problem that often arises when we study the subject of works, is how the Bible is to be harmonized when it says “we are saved by works,” and “we are not saved by works. ” Notice these passages from James 2 that state that we are saved by works. “Even so faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself” (v. 17. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son upon the altar?” (v. 21). “You see that faith is wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect” (v. 22). “You see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith” (v. 24.) If these passages teach anything at all, then they teach that justification comes by doing some kind of works. We shall study in a few moments what kind of works about which these passages are talking.

The Bible also says that we are not saved by works. “For by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works that no man should glory” (Eph. 2:8, 9); “. . . according to the power of God; who saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal” (2 Tim. 1:9). “But when the kindness of God our Savior, and his love toward man, appeared, not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:4, 5).

We make one more rather lengthy quotation to show that the Bible says that we are not saved by our own works: “What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has where of to glory; but not toward God. For what says the scripture? And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness. Now to him that works the reward is not reckoned as grace, but as of debt. But to him that works not, but believes on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness” (Rom. 4:1-5).

In what sense are we saved by works? We are saved by doing the works of God. The works of God are the things that God has commanded that we do. Anything that God has commanded man to do cannot be said to be a work of man. In Acts 10:48 we read, “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” Is baptism a work of God, or of man? Certainly it is a work of God. Today, though, denominationalists say, “If you say that one must be baptized in order to be saved, then you would have us saved by men’s works.” But anything that is commanded of God, is not a work of man, but it is a work of God.

There is not a single person living that would say that man is saved without doing some works. Everything that God has commanded is a work. They simply say that some of the works of God are necessary and some are not. I would be very fearful to say that any commandment of the Lord is unnecessary. The religious world would tell one that he is saved by believing, and not by works. But friend, even faith is a work; it is a work of God. In Jn. 6:29, Christ said, “This is the work of God, that you believe on him whom he has sent.” If man is saved without any kind of works, then he could be saved in unbelief for Christ said that faith is a work of God. Faith is a commandment of God, but repentance and baptism also are the commandments of the Lord. To be saved by doing the things commanded of God, is not to be saved by the works of men, but by the works of God. We are saved by one kind of works (God’s works), but are not saved by another kind of works (man’s works). So we can see that the Bible does not contradict itself. Man just fails to make the distinction between the works of man and the works of God.

Now we want to study the relationship that exists between faith and works. When we see the relationship existing between faith and works, we then will see what kind of faith it is that saves one. We are now going to consider the entire quotation from Jam. 2:14-26 and make some observations to see if the doctrine of salvation by faith, without any kind of works, could be harmonized with this passage. “What does it profit, my brethren, if a man say that he has faith, but have not works? can that faith save him?” Notice that this is exactly talking about the class of people we are referring to, people who have faith, but have not works. “If a brother or sister be naked and in lack of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Go in peace, be you warmed and filled; and yet you give them not the things needful to the body; what does it profit?” Suppose I came to you and told you that I was cold and hungry, and you said, “You have my sympathy, be you warmed and filled,” but did not give me any food or clothing. What good would it do? Did not the scripture command every Christian to do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith? (Gal 6:10). Therefore, would your sympathy satisfy my hunger and warm my body? Would your faith alone in Jesus save you without assisting the needy and poor (especially the saints)? Certainly not! However, if you truly had faith in Jesus, it would be revealed by you doing the works of God.

So James says, “Even so faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself.” As your sympathy would not help me without some action too, so also, faith without works is dead. Faith without works will not be enough. James is saying one must have the works, too. “Yea, a man will say, you have faith, and I have works: show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.” You cannot demonstrate your faith without works, but by my works I show my faith, James said. “You believe that God is one, you do well: the demons also believe, and shudder. But will you know, O vain man, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son upon the altar?” Abraham was justified by works, but Paul had said that it was not by the works of his own righteousness that he was justified. James stated that the particular work was Abraham’s offering up his son Isaac. This was the commandment of the Lord, and so Abraham was justified by works, the works of God, and was not justified by his own meritorious works. “You see that faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect; and the scripture was fulfilled which says, And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness, and he was called the friend of God.” What is the relationship between faith and works? It was stated in those last two verses. The relationship is that works make faith perfect.

Remember that this passage did not say that we are saved by works only, but it is when our faith works that we are saved. Anything that is a commandment of the Lord is a work of God; we are saved by these works of God, and not by our own works. Peter told the believing Jews on the day of Pentecost, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). This is a work of God. Because it is commanded by a God-sent apostle, it cannot be inessential and unnecessary.

We therefore conclude our lesson with a plea that you believe in Christ and obey God’s commandments that you might be justified by a perfect and living faith, a faith made perfect by doing the works of God.

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God’s Love Is Not Enough

The beloved John wrote, “We love him because he first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19). “By this we know love, because he laid down his life for us” (1 Jn. 3:16). “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son, the propitiation for our sins” (1 Jn. 4:7-10).

God’s love is astonishingly indescribable. Even so, his love is limited in that it cannot force anyone to be saved from his sins. That is the beauty of God’s love. He has created us to be morally free in choosing right and wrong.

According to Mark, “Now as Jesus was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before him, and asked him, `Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?’ So Jesus said to him, `Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, God. You know the commandments.’ . . . And he answered and said to him, `Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.’ Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, `One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow me.’ But he was sad at this word, and went away grieved, for he had great possessions” (10:17-22).

Notice Jesus’ love for this man. But even his love was not enough to remove the requirements necessary to be pleasing to God. He had to make an individually responsible choice. It was a choice we all must make. “But without faith it is impossible to please him, for he who comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6). “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).

There are those who deny the necessity of water baptism for the forgiveness of sins. They proclaim their absolute truth in God’s incorruptible love. Yet, they often forget that his love is incorruptible and cannot simply disregard such things as the command to be baptized for the remission of our sins (Matt. 3:13-17 vf; 28:18-20 ff; Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-14; Col. 2:11-12; 1 Pet. 3:21).

God’s love is magnificently beautiful and pure. It is most powerful and majestic. Even so, despite the beauty and power of God’s love, it cannot save us by itself. We must love Him too. And, if we love Him, we will keep his commandments (Jn 14:15 f; 1 Jn 5:3). Jesus commanded everyone who wants to be saved to believe and be baptized in order to be saved. He that believes not shall be condemned (Mk 16:16). Christians are commanded to continue in the doctrine of Christ and his apostles (Acts 2:42 f; 2 Jn 9). If we are faithful in this unto death, we shall be saved by the love of God through His Son Jesus Christ (Rev 2:10 f; Jn 3:16).

Beware of False Teachers

The apostle Paul gave an ominous warning to everyone when he wrote, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world and not after Christ.” Again, we are warned by Christ in Matthew 7:15 – “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.”

In these two passages we are told to be careful and beware about what we are taught. We are warned that we can be led astray by those who appear to have our best interest at heart. Often, those we admire, can lead us into heresy and we may not even know it, because we are prejudiced by their good traits.

Let us notice some attributes of false teaching.

False Teaching

1. Often portrays itself as uncertain. Error claims to be a learning process, but it never comes to a steadfast conclusion (2 Tim. 3:7). Error teaches by questioning, and never takes a position that can be attributed definitely. It allows others to always wonder what the belief is.

2. False teaching is often done by those who view themselves as the free-thinkers of the day (Acts 17:21). In this passage we see the Athenians were forever interested in “some new thing.” One who teaches false doctrine often sees himself as an innovator, one who rejects all the “traditional ideas,” and is willing to mold for himself some new doctrine.

3. False teaching is deceitful. It does not advertise itself as dangerous and often on the surface seems innocent. When it is discovered for what it is and is challenged, it often goes underground until conditions are safe to surface again. Matthew 7:15 tells us that it appears as innocent as a lamb.

4. False teaching turns people against one another. It divides, shatters and splinters until a full path of destruction is laid. Then, sadly, there are some sad soldiers on the edges of the battlefield, who stand and wring their hands, and wonder what happened, and remember when someone admonished them to stand or be consumed, but it is too late!

5. False teaching would like for every issue to be a “matter of judgment.” It would have you believe that vital issues that are matters of doctrine are minor points, and that “we all come out at the same place anyhow, so what is the big deal?” Does that sound to you like your Baptist friend, when spoken to about baptism? He will say, “We both believe in baptism, what difference does it make, whether or not it is for remission of sins?” The live-and-let-live philosophy is gendered by false teaching. Sympathizers with false teaching often are “timid or submissive” Christians who will not agree with the error, but will not take an active stand against it. This makes them a partaker of the evil deeds accomplished by false doctrine (2 Jn. 9-11).

6. False teaching often portrays itself as being misunderstood. “You didn’t hear me right,” or “I didn’t mean it.” Much harm is done in the church because Christians get together to “study” and all that occurs is a mass pooling of ignorance, with everyone leaving more confused than when he came, but “feeling good,” because we have “studied without the shackles of tradition.”

All Christians should beware of false doctrine and be unafraid to oppose it. In order to do this we must be studious of the Word (2 Tim. 2:15), and prepared to contend for the faith (Jude 3) with biblical proof (1 Thess 5:21). We must be aware of the tactics of error, and be unafraid as David was when he met Goliath. When error is espoused, it is a slap in the face of our Savior who died to bring us salvation and hope, not confusion and uncertainty. I have never been accused of liking an argument, I have always done what I could to avoid one, but that does not mean indignation cannot come to the front when the Truth of God is challenged. Beware! and put your armor on! (Eph. 6:10-18)

When Is Too Young To Be Baptized?

When is too young to baptize someone? I don’t know of any member of the body of Christ who would condone infant baptism. Yet, many very young children are being baptized into the churches of Christ. Before you allow your child to be baptized consider a few things first.

Age of accountability is not an age at all, but a level of readiness and maturity. Parents, you must determine your child’s level of maturity. You have the most contact with them and can best evaluate their readiness to make a life long commitment. Here are some questions to ask or ways to help you determine if your child is ready:

  1. Is your child only afraid of going to hell at night? Or, do they express their fears and need during the light of day as well? Someone truly convicted will have concerns beyond the “night fears” that are common to children.
  2. Does your child want to put off getting baptized until some future day–at worship, for instance? If so, then they may not see the urgency of baptism. Someone truly convicted will not want to delay. (Acts 22:16 “And now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized….“)
  3. How long have they discussed the subject? Do they bring it up on their own or is it prompted by you or some other event (like someone else being baptized)? We need to be wary of the “bandwagon” effect.
  4. What sins do they claim to have committed? Have them write down all the reasons they feel they should be baptized. Keep their reasons for some future date when they may question whether they were baptized for the right reason.
  5. Ask them what would have been the Ethiopian’s reaction if Philip said he could NOT be baptized? (Acts 8:36) If they realize he would have had to have done it anyway, then ask them, “What if I said ‘no’ to you about being baptized?” Do they feel as if they would have to do it anyway? Are they willing to do God’s will before their parent’s will? Interestingly, Jesus at the age of 12 determined that he needed to be about his Father’s business. At the age his Father’s will was more important to him than the will of his parents (Luke 2:49).
  6. Ask them, “how will your life be different when you become a Christian?” Do they have an “old man of sin” that needs to be crucified? (Romans 6:6).
  7. Ask them are they prepared to be persecuted for the cause of Christ once they are baptized into the body of Christ (2 Tim 3:12; 1 Pet 4:16). You might be surprised how many aged adults do not know the saints of God will be persecuted. A young child in the faith won’t be able to stand up against the trickery of the devil as would a prepared adult in the faith (and them barely).

Consider This:

What would most parents do if their 9 or 10 or 11 or 12 year old came home and said, “Mom and Dad, I believe in Jesus Christ and I want to be baptized”? I think most Christian parents would be thrilled beyond words! They would rush that child down to the building and upon their confession of Christ, the child would be baptized. But now consider this:

If that same child came home and said, “Mom and Dad, I do not believe in Jesus Christ and I won’t be going with you to church services anymore!”

How would most parents respond? Would you say, “You’re not old enough to make that kind of decision! You’re going to church with us!”

Now parents, consider very carefully: If children are not old enough to decide against Christ, how could they be old enough to decide for Christ?

Another Consideration

Often we preach about baptism and children feel compelled to respond. They know the answers but can they live them? Too many children later get “re-baptized.”

Ask yourself this question: Would you let your 13 year old get married? No? Why? Because marriage involves a lifelong commitment. In much the same way, one commits for life to the Lord. Obeying the gospel is a spiritual marriage between us and Christ. A child does not yet understand the nature of such a commitment. Just as we would not approve of their marriage at a young age, we should seriously think about allowing them to commit to the Lord when they don’t know the nature of that commitment.

One Final Consideration

If your child should die under the age of 12 having not obeyed the gospel, do you honestly believe they would go to hell for having not done so? Remember, the gospel is for the lost, not those who have yet reached the age of accountability.

Conclusion: Teach your children daily the Word of God (1 Tim 4:13 f; 2 Tim 2:15). Teach them right from wrong. Pray to God for help in leading your children to make the right decision, at the right time.

The Differences Between a Pastor and a Preacher

A preacher is a herald; one who gives a proclamation or message. Noah is referred to as a preacher of righteousness (2 Pet 2:5). Solomon calls himself a preacher (Ecc. 1:1). Jonah was a preacher (Jon 3:2). Peter, James, John, Timothy, Paul and others were preachers. Paul said that he was ordained a preacher and an apostle, and a teacher (1 Tim. 2:7). Comparing that verse with 1 Cor. 12:29 and Eph. 4:11, we learn that Paul served in three different “offices” or capacities. He served as preacher, apostle, and teacher. A preacher is also called an evangelist. This word appears in Acts 21:8; Eph. 4:11 and in 2 Tim. 4:5. It means a messenger of good, and indicates a public proclaimer. A preacher is also a minister of the gospel (Acts 6:4; 21:8). In 2 Tim. 4:1-5 Paul tells Timothy to “preach the word,” to “do the work of an evangelist,” and to “make full proof of thy ministry.” It is true that all Christians are to be ministers of Christ, or servants of Christ, but all Christians are not ministers of the word of God in the sense that preachers are.

A pastor (Eph. 4:11) is the same as an elder or bishop, and in this verse is distinguished from the evangelist or preacher. A pastor is a shepherd, one who tends a flock. Israel had its spiritual leaders who were called pastors (Jer. 2:8; 3:15; 10:21; 23:1, etc.). In the New Testament every church, when fully organized, had a plurality of pastors to oversee the local flock. Pastors guide as well as feed the flock; Acts 20:’28, indicates that this was the service committed to elders (overseers or bishops); Also in 1 Pet. 5:1, 2 they tend the flock . . . exercising the oversight. These flock-tenders are also called elders and “the presbytery.” These flock-tenders, or elders, are referred to as bishops or overseers in Acts 20:28 and Phil. 1:1. They are pastors (shepherds) because of their care for the flock, in tending, guiding, feeding and watching.

When A Preacher Is A Pastor

If a preacher of a given church is also selected by that church as one of the elders, then the said preacher is also a pastor. But he is never “the” pastor in the sense of being a one-man overseer. He may serve with others, along side other men, as a pastor or as an elder in a church. Obviously Simon Peter was both a preacher and an elder (1 Pet. 5:1-4). He was also an apostle (Matt. 10:2). All preachers are not pastors any more than all pastors are preachers. According to the “qualifications” for elders laid down in 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1, Peter could have been selected as an elder while the apostle Paul could not. Paul had no wife, no family, etc.

When A Preacher Is Not A Pastor

A preacher is not a pastor or elder unless he meets the Bible specifications and unless he is appointed as such by the local congregation. We have the record of Timothy preaching at Ephesus (1 and 2 Timothy), but there is no record of him ever being an elder. Paul preached three years at Ephesus (Acts 20:31) and was never called a pastor. The denominational concept of making “the preacher” of a church “the pastor” of that church (or “the elder” of that church) is foreign to the teachings of the Scriptures. A preacher (evangelist) and the elders (pastors) are distinctly different appointments and should not be confused as being one and the same. See again Eph. 4:11-12. They are different “offices” in name and different “offices” in function. The pastors oversee the work of the local church, all of it. A preacher (under the oversight of the pastors) does his own work of preaching and teaching publicly and from house to house (Acts 20:20).

Not only do the denominations confuse the preacher-pastor position with reference to name, but also with reference to function. Some of our brethren are very particular to use the names correctly but are confused as to their work or function. I have run into situations where the local churches expect the preacher to do the work of the pastors (with regards to discipline problems, visiting the sick, taking care of new converts, etc) while the elders drop down to the next notch and perform the work the deacons ought to be doing (benevolence, counting money, keeping books, caring for the property, etc.). This results in the preacher doing the work of the pastors, the pastors doing the work of the deacons, and the frustrated deacons doing nothing but twiddling their fingers. This is a most solemn matter, and each congregation should seriously reevaluate its practices regarding pastors, preachers, and deacons.

Virtuous Unity

Virtuous unity is both identifiable and achievable, and the Lord makes both possible. A part of Jesus prayer as recorded in John 17 sets forth principles that are applicable. A part of this prayer pertains to “believers” (verses 20-23), with unity being the principal subject. A study of expressions used should convince that here is both a pattern for unity and a process for achieving it.

1. The unity prayed for is one of agreement. “. . . . that they may be one, even as we (Christ and the Father) are one” (verse 22). Harmony of positions characterizes the relations of Christ and the Father (Jn 10:30). Neither the Son nor the Father holds views that are in conflict with those of the other. The unity here endorsed and prayed for is a unity in which genuine agreement, not artificial tolerance is evidenced.

2. The unity (agreement) prayed for is one in which the agreement is with God. “As you, Father, are in me, and I in you that they also may be one in us” (verse 21). The Lord prayed, not just that all believers be in agreement with one another, but also that they be in agreement with Christ and the Father. The only meaningful unity pertaining to spiritual relationships is that which has to do with acceptance of, and accommodation to arrangements of God. Thus, attempts to arrive at unity among believers while disparaging or ignoring unity with God cannot be that to which the Lord is here referring. Any “fellowship” that is arranged for by contrived compromise of men, while depreciating complete compliance with the Lord’s will cannot be the unity for which the Lord prayed. For such effort refuses to take into consideration the part that God plays in the matter of unity.

3. The unity prayed for is one that stems from provisions of Christ. “The glory which you gave me I have given them; (so) that they may be one, even as we are one” (Verse 22). The exaltation experienced by Christ, with the blessings and authority – connected therewith, has as its design, among other things, unity of believers. Every divinely authorized endeavor for Christians is thus a divine provision that encourages unity. By its very nature, the gospel is promoter of proper unity. Nothing else can encourage the unity for which Christ prayed. Additions to, deletions from, or an ignoring of any of the Lord’s provisions do not promote this unity. Participation in all and only such provisions does.

These general principles pertaining to unity are particularized in Ephesians 4:3-6. Here the “divine chain of unity” is presented, every “link” vitally involved in the process of attaining and maintaining the “unity of the Spirit.” They are:

1. One body (church – Eph. 1:22-23; 2:16): one “fellowship” in which all Christians are partners;

2. One Spirit: one Life to animate all who are of that one body;

3. One hope: one ultimate aspiration and objective to be held by all;

4. One Lord: one Master to be served by all;

5. One faith: one system of truth (the gospel) to be accepted by all (Jude 3 f; Rom. 1: 16) and in which that one Lord is to be served by all (Rom. 1:9);

6. One baptism: one means by which entrance is obtained by all into that new relationship;

7. One God: one source of blessing and object of worship for all.

These “ones,” so essential to virtuous unity, are fully adequate for such unity, and all are adequately revealed in the Scriptures. Thus the Scriptures are essential to obtaining and maintaining virtuous unity

 

Who Is Telling You The Truth of God?

Truth is being attacked every day and on every level. When one defends the truth against compromisers and their sympathizers, it is charged that, “He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof comes envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness” (1 Tim. 6:3-5). In effect, those who seek to expose the errors of the day are called egotistical fools who do nothing but stir up stink and strife and surmisings and suspicions. They know nothing. Their minds are perverted and corrupt; so, “from such withdraw yourself.” These things are all mouthed and mumbled against gospel preachers who seek to terminate errors of denominationalism before they can germinate any further in the Lord’s church. In truth, anyone who fights any false doctrine at any time will be so accused and accursed.

But did you notice who Paul was describing in the text quoted above? He was not painting a picture of those who “fight the good fight of faith.” Whose portrait is it then? Who is the one that “is proud, knowing nothing?” Who is the man who generates “questions and strifes of words, whereof comes envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings?” Paul answers that it is the man who dares to “teach otherwise, and consents not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness” (1 Tim. 6:3). He is the guilty party. The one who will “teach otherwise;” the man who will “consent not to wholesome (sound) words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ;” the man who will not submit “to the doctrine which is according to godliness,” that man is your troublemaker!

Brethren have often unwittingly denounced faithful Christians who were standing in the ranks for the cause of truth. However, if you are one who does it, from now on it will not be because you do not know better. You will be doing it because of hatred and bitterness against the faithful who stand and fight while you lie down and gripe, or you will be doing it because of your sympathy for the errors that are being broadcast. Either way, some one has your license and pedigree, for it is the one who teaches “otherwise” who is the cause of strife, surmising, and slander.

Paul so eloquently asked, “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” (Gal 4:16).  Liars and false teachers often accuse truth tellers of the exact same thing of which they are being accused. Even so, the Word of God (the truth) endures forever, while lies die with the ones who use them to falsely accuse (1 Pet 1:23-25). The prophet Elijah so profoundly confronted King Ahab, who had accused him of being the troublemaker of Israel, by saying, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and have followed the Baals” (1 Kin 18:18).

Therefore, if you want to know the truth of God, it is contained within the pages of the Word of God (Jn 17:17). If a gospel preacher is telling you the truth, the Word of God will confirm it. This is the way the Bereans determined who was telling them the truth. “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). A gospel preacher will give you book, chapter, and verse to prove what he says is truth (Col 3:17 f; 1 Thess 5:21). A false teacher will give you his opinion and assumption based upon his or other’s human experience. Beware of them! (Col 2:8). “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world: (1 Jn 4:1). A true teacher of God’s Word welcomes scrutiny, while a false teacher will throw false accusations. “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (Jn 3:20,21).

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