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

Archive for July, 2017

All Sin, Mentioned or Not, Must Be Preached Against

“Happy is he that condemns not himself in that thing which he allows,” wrote Paul (Rom. 14:22). Liberals and perverters of truth, practicing some things “contrary to sound doctrine,” must exercise care that their inconsistencies are not too obvious to the public. Their preaching must be geared to their practice, not their practice to their preaching!

Some liberal minded brethren never preach on instrumental music in the worship. The reason being, they say, such practice is not mentioned in the Bible. They support religious activities for which there is not one verse of scripture to support them and they obviously know it. Furthermore, they know instrumental music in worship parallels such practice. They believe in one church sponsoring a work for which all churches are equally responsible. However, let them produce a scripture authorizing a sponsoring church! They believe that churches may monetarily subsidize human organizations to do the work of the church. However, let them produce a passage of scripture to authorize churches of Christ to to do so. They know the scripture makes the difference, and they also know their practice places them “in the middle”.

Any departure from the truth, though it may not be specifically named in the word of God, must be condemned. Paul shows the Ephesian elders that some from among themselves would arise “speaking perverse things” to draw away disciples (Acts 20:30). Do those “perverse” things have to be named before I can preach on them? There is only one gospel but many perverters of it (Gal. 1:6-12). The perversion of truth does not have to be specified in the scripture for one to preach against it! The gainsayers of truth must be stopped – they teach things which they ought not (Tit. 1:9-11). Paul told Timothy to charge some “that they teach no other doctrine” (1 Tim. 1:3). Does that false doctrine have to be named in the scriptures before I can rightfully preach against it? There are some things “contrary to sound doctrine” (1 Tim. 1:10) which are not specifically named in the scriptures – instrumental music in worship being one of them! Sins in the “such like” category must be condemned as well as the ones specified (Gal. 5:21). False teachers (2 Pet. 2:1) lead men away with error (2 Pet. 3:17). Instrumental music in worship is unauthorized and must be preached against, even if inconsistent preachers preach to the contrary.

The Converted and Unconverted

There are approximately 7.5 billion people upon the earth at this time (July 2017). This is a small number when compared to the many billions who have already passed on. Every rational creature that has lived can, and some day will, be placed in one of two classifications. We are either converted or unconverted. One is either saved or unsaved. The tragedy of all tragedies is to die unconverted. By studying cases of conversion and non-conversion we may enable ourselves to view our own condition more objectively, and thus guarantee that ours will be a case of conversion.

In the Bible we read about individuals and groups of individuals who were not converted, and the reason for their non-conversion is apparent. In many instances the reason for their failure to become Christians is the same as that of people today. In the past centuries there have been no drastic changes in the nature of people. It takes the same Gospel to save people today that it took in the first century, and many today reject this Gospel for the same reasons first century individuals did.

A Rich Ruler

In Matt. 19 we read about a certain rich ruler that came to Jesus. He had been attracted by the message that Christ spoke. “And behold, one came to him and said, Teacher, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why ask me concerning that which is good? One there is who is good; but if you would enter into life, keep the commandments. He said unto him, Which? And Jesus said, You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and your mother, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. The young man said unto him, All these things have I observed:. what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If you would be perfect, go sell that which you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. But when the young man heard the saying, he went away sorrowful; for he was one that had great possessions” (Matt. 19:16-22).

Here was a young man who devoutly had followed the Old Testament law, but wanted to live by the higher law of Christ. He was one that did not know what it would involve, or what it would necessitate. He had never thought that it would demand that he forfeit his riches to be a disciple of Christ. There is a class of people just like this rich young ruler. They would like to follow Christ, but they love the riches of the world too much. Some people acquire their money through wrong means, so they are not willing to give up their practice. The trouble with this class of people is that they have not really purposed to do the will of God. This man would like to be Christ’s disciple if he would dictate to Christ what would be expected of Him.

For one to ever please the Lord Jesus Christ, his attitude must be that I will forsake, and forfeit all for my Lord. We must say, “Where he leads I’ll follow, follow all the way.” Our heart must cry out, “Speak Lord, they servant hears” (1 Sam. 3:9); and I will obey. If we fail to do this, in the day of judgment we will go away sorrowfully into everlasting punishment.

Fulfilling Isaiah’s Prophecy

Then there is another class of people who are unconverted. They are people who close their ears and their hearts. They do not want to learn what God demands of them. There was such a class in New Testament times. Of this class Jesus said, “And unto them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which said, By hearing you shall hear, and shall in no wise understand; And seeing you shall see, and shall in no wise perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, And their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed: Lest haply they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should turn again, and I should heal them” (Matt. 13:14, 15). Are there not people today of whom these words may very aptly be spoken?

Many have been the people who have closed their ears to other words from the Lord because they see where they are being led. Perhaps one is a member of a denominational organization, an organization of which one can read nothing in the Bible. When he begins to see enough of Bible truth to learn that to follow Christ, he is going to have to leave this human organization and be added to the one body, he turns away. Many people attend a few services of the Lord’s church enthusiastically, but they soon learn they must either obey the Gospel or continue to have their conscience pricked by the powerful Gospel of Christ. Hence, they come no more. Those who will attend no longer have closed their ears. They are exactly like these people of whom Jesus spoke in Matt. 13.

Christianity is founded and advanced by teaching. Jesus said: “Go you therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them…” (Matt. 28:19). Those who close their ears so tightly that the treasures of truth cannot penetrate to their heart, have closed the door to the only opportunity they will ever have to be saved. Billions have done just this.

Careless Hearers

In the parable of the sower, Jesus depicted another class of unsaved people and tells us why they are unsaved. Jesus told of a sower that went forth to sow, and as he went forth, some of his seed fell by they wayside, and the birds devoured them. To whom does this refer? Jesus tells us, “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. And those by the way side are they that have heard; then comes the devil, and takes away the word from their heart, that they may not believe and be saved” (Lk. 8:11, 12). The precious word of God was so carelessly handled by the recipient of it that the devil snatched it away lest he should believe. In Matt. 13 Jesus tells us that these people understood not the word. But there are many people who do understand the Gospel, but they handle it carelessly rather than burying it deeply in their heart. The seed that fell by the way side should have been properly buried in fertile soil, but it was not. Hence, it brought forth no fruit. Much preaching of God’s word falls by the wayside. Careless hearers let the word be snatched from them to their damnation.

There are many careless hearers who know exactly what God demands of them, but they continue to treat God’s truth lightly. They enjoy living in sin too much. So they let the precious word of God lie outside their heart; Waiting to be carefully buried in a good and honest heart, until Satan snatches it away from them. Thus, carelessly they go on their way to hell.

Preconceived Notions

Finally, the Jews as a nation represent another class of unsaved people. What was wrong with the Jews? Why did they reject Christ? John said, “He (Christ) came unto his own, and they (Jews) that were his own received him not” (Jn. 1:11). Again in speaking of the Jews, John said, “And you have not his word abiding in you: for whom he sent, him you believe not-” (Jn. 5:38). The Jews rejected and crucified the only Savior they will ever have. What caused these people to remain unconverted? How could they overlook the miraculous demonstrations of His divine power? The reason is a simple one. Jesus was not what the Jews expected Him to be. They have preconceived notions as to what the Messiah would be like. However, Jesus came just as God had said He would. And since He was not what the Jews thought He would be, they simply could not change their notion, so they rejected Christ.

The Jews expected Jesus to be a ruling monarch, and to lead them to victories over their national enemies, but He came meek and lowly, a crucified redeemer. Since Jesus did not measure up to their standards, they paid no attention to His commands. One of the big reasons for so many different denominations existing today is because people go to the Bible to try to prove what they already believe, rather than going to it to try to learn what it teaches. If my mind is already made up as I turn to the Bible for proof, I can never arrive at truth. The Jews could not, and neither can I.

People confidently affirm, “I know I am saved for I feel that I am”, rather than rationally studying what Christ and the apostles say one must do to be saved. One chooses a church, and then tries to prove it is the New Testament church, rather than first consulting the New Testament for a picture of the Lord’s church. One decides what he thinks one must do in order to be saved, rather than earnestly seeking God’s truth on the subject from the pages of His word.

Conclusion: Why are so many unconverted? We have noticed four reasons in this article. (1) They have tried to dictate to Christ rather than obey Christ; (2) They have closed their hearts; (3) They have handled the Bible carelessly; (4) They have preconceived notions.

How may one be converted? In every Biblical conversion, they heard the gospel (1 Cor 15:3,4 f; Rom 10:17), they believed and confessed Jesus to be the Christ (Rom 10:9,10), they repented of their sins and were baptized (immersed) in water for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38). They were added to the Lord’s church (Acts 2:47). They continued in the doctrine of Christ and His apostles (Acts 2:42 f; 2 Jn 9). This is the only way to be transferred from the class of the unconverted to the saved group. Which one are you in today?

The Man and His Plan

One cannot turn through the pages of the New Testament without being impressed with the nature of the miracles performed by Jesus while here on this earth. In contrast to those performed by so-called “faith healers” of today, they did not fail “for one’s lack of faith” and were able to stand the test of investigation. They did not have to be drug out until the person eventually was “healed,” but were instantaneous in their very nature. They did not deal with those things no one could see, but were obvious to all who saw what had happened. (1 Cor. 13:8-10).

In fact, these miracles were so overwhelming that they readily bore evidence to the Jews of the power of God. When Nicodemus came to Jesus, he said, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him” (Jn 3:2). In John 9, as the blind man disputed with the Pharisees, he said, “Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes…. Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that any one opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing” (Jn. 9:30-33). The Pharisees themselves were forced to admit He was performing many signs (Jn 11:47), and the people asked, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” (Jn. 9:16-here implying they did not believe such a man could be a sinner, but had to be from God). The disciples were constantly amazed as they saw the power of Christ manifested in the miracles He was performing.

The sad fact remains that not all of the Jews believed. Did they deny that a miracle had been performed? Did they deny that someone had actually been healed? No! Just the opposite is true: they denied that such a miracle had taken place by the power of God, and instead attributed it to the power of the Devil (Matt. 12:24). They accused Him of being a false teacher and a sinner (Jn 9:16), but still asked how the miracle had actually been performed (Jn. 9:26). They could not deny that such had actually taken place (Jn. 11:47-48 f; Acts 4:16), or they most gladly would have produced that evidence to refute and expose Christ.

Let us note here another feature about these miracles that were being performed by Christ, that is, by doing these things, He was also making some rather bold claims, namely, that He was the Son of God. In fact, Jesus repeatedly turned to His miracles as direct evidence of this fact. In Matt. 11:4-6, He sends answer by John’s disciples that the miracles He did were all the testimony He needed to demonstrate He was the Christ. In John 10:37-38, He appeals to the miracles as clear evidence that will stand-even if they reject His spoken word. In John 10:25, He calls on them as clear evidence God was with Him. In John 15:24 He not only notes that the miracles He performed were of such a nature no man could reproduce them, but goes so far as to claim that because of them, those who rejected them would be lost in sin. Indeed these were some rather bold claims to be made as a result of what He was doing.

Many today are willing to come along and admit Christ was a great man, who did some great teaching, but like the Jews, they refrain from admitting He was the Christ. They claim the miracles were mere figments of the disciples’ imaginations. However, the disciples not only recorded them during the life-time of those who were eye-witnesses of them (and could thus have easily refuted them), but called upon them as testimony of the deity of Christ (Acts 2:22), and through the power of the Holy Spirit demonstrated what they preached was the truth (Acts 4:16 ff; Mark 16:17-20; Heb. 2:1-4). That which was revealed is too well established for modern day deniers to dismiss that easily.

What is the consequence of all this? What do these miracles tell us regarding the claims of Christ? Either He was what He claimed to be, or God bore witness through His miracles to what was a boldfaced lie! Since we know God does not lie (Tit 1:2 f; Heb 6:18), and would not substantiate a lie with such miracles which were appealed to as proof Jesus was the son of God (if the claim was false, God himself would have turned against him in refutation of that which was claimed. Acts 12:23), then we are indeed forced to accept the conclusion presented by Nicodemus, “We know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (Jn 3:2). Since He claimed and confirmed to be the Son of God, why will we not heed that which He has set forth (Lk 6:46)? In other words, if we believe Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God, then obey His plan of Salvation! The Man and His Plan are inseparable (Jn 12:48).

What Alcohol Can Do

Many people drink beer but have you ever asked yourself what is it good for? What can it do for your health or the health of others? What is the nutritional value of it? If you drink beer (or any other type of alcoholic, intoxicating drink), here are some things that your beer can do:

Kill and Maim

How many times have you recently read about a drunk driver who was out to “have a good time” but who ended up taking the life of a young mother or child while driving home under the influence? Ask a police officer how many times he has had to go to a bar or home to quell a disturbance that was caused by someone consuming alcohol. Ask him how easy it is to go to a home in the middle of the night to inform unsuspecting parents that their teenage son or daughter has been killed as a result of the reckless activities of a drunk driver. Many have thought that they could have “just a couple of beers” and it not hurt them. However, the Bible says, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Prov. 20:1).

Lead to Poor Decisions

In Isaiah 28, God pronounces his judgment upon the “drunkards of Ephraim” and announces that he will send another nation upon them because of their pride and drunkenness. The reason for this judgment is further explained when the Lord says, “But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment” (Isaiah 28:7).

The consumption of intoxicating drink will lead one to make decisions and judgments that will cause pain and sorrow for many years to come. In addition to those who think that a “few drinks” won’t harm their judgment while driving, there are many others who lose jobs, wealth, and even family and friends because of their attraction to alcohol. The names and numbers of wives and families who have been scarred by the sin of drunkenness are legion. The problem of alcohol helped lead to God’s judgment against Israel and their destruction by another nation (Isaiah 28:7).

Cause Misery and Sorrow

Proverbs 23:29-35 says: “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has babbling? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not upon the wine when it is red, when it gives his color in the cup, when it moves itself aright. At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder. Your eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, you shall be as he that lies down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lies upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shall you say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.” Many seem to think that the consumption of alcohol and the resulting drunkenness is a comical matter. No wonder we have such a great problem in our society with alcohol when the behavior of those who practice drinking is laughed at.

The truth of the matter is, the result of alcohol consumption as identified in Proverbs 23 is a real problem. How many times do the revelers wake up after a night of drinking without the slightest idea of how they got where they are at? Some will find themselves with “strange women” (or men) or will have injuries that they cannot account for, all due to the effects of their pursuit of alcohol. The landscape of our nation is littered with broken families and lives as a testimony to the truthfulness of this passage.

The Bible says, “By their fruits you shall know them” (Matt. 7:20). The fruits of intoxicating drink are easily seen by the honest of heart. The beer companies like to portray those who use their products as young, energetic and filled with happiness. What they don’t show you is the broken homes, broken bodies, and broken minds of those who have used their products to their own ruin. Don’t be fooled. Be not deceived. Beer and wine as well as other intoxicating drink can wreck your physical life and destroy your spiritual life. You need to seriously ask yourself the question, “Can my beer do this?”

Triumphing With Truth

It was Abraham Lincoln who once said, “Let the people know the truth and this country is safe.” A greater authority than Mr. Lincoln put it even more emphatically. Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, then are you truly my disciples; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (Jn 8:31, 32). In every age and on every issue, there has always been an urgent need for men to speak, believe, and obey the truth. Solomon in his wisdom saw the need for one to “buy the truth and sell it not.” (Prov. 23:23). Our age is no different in this respect from any other. The basic trouble with the world today is the same as it was in the first century. Men have either “hindered the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18), or else they have (exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.” (Rom. 1:25). The condition portrayed by Isaiah is also prevalent in our day. “And justice is turned away backward, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and uprightness cannot enter. Yes, truth is lacking; and he that departs from evil makes himself a prey.” (Isa. 59:14, 15).

The importance of truth can be readily seen when we understand its potency in our lives. Jesus’ statement was a comprehensive coverage of the power of truth. “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” But the power of truth is derived from the process of incorporating it into our lives and this process is broken down and enumerated step by step in the teachings of Christ through His apostles.

1. Truth is the begotten power in the new birth. “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.” (Jam 1:18). Without truth, the new birth cannot be initiated, and consequently, cannot be culminated. It therefore follows as night follows day, that one cannot enter the kingdom of God without receiving the truth of his word. “And for this cause God sends them a working of error, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thess. 2:11, 12).

2. Truth is the purifying power of the soul. “Seeing you have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth unto unfeigned love of the brethren. . . .” (1 Pet. 1:22). When a person sets his mind to seek truth and obeys it step by step as it is unfolded to him, he is led into a life of purity and dedication. Jesus underscored this thought when he identified truth as the means of being sanctified or set apart to the service of God. “Sanctify them in the truth: your word is truth.” (Jn 17:17). The Hebrew writer instructs us that without this sanctification, “no man shall see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14). The man who will stand in God’s presence must be dressed in the white garments of truth. Without truth, we must stand before God naked and ashamed with our souls stained by the impurities of sin.

3. Truth is the stabilizing strength of the child of God. Peter wrote “Wherefore I shall be ready always to put you in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and are established in the truth which is with you.” (2 Pet. 1:12) John said, “Greater joy have I none than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth” (Jn 4). Truth is a part of the protective armor of a Christian soldier (Eph. 6:14). It is the power which enables the Christian to stand against all the forces of the Satanic world. With truth we triumph; without it we tremble and fall.

4. Truth is a conditioning factor of acceptable worship of God. Jesus said: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (Jn 4:24). Worship is the means man has of communing with God. It is the avenue through which he prostrates himself before his Creator and by which he derives strength from Him. Yet, if his worship is not according to God’s truth it is worthless and powerless.

It is evident from the foregoing considerations that a knowledge of and obedience to truth is absolutely essential for any relationship with God and for any true triumph over Satan. If we were to surrender truth, we would have neither cause nor strength to stand. We would have neither weapons to fight nor armor to protect. If we allow truth to fall in the street, we make it impossible for uprightness to enter and make ourselves an easy prey for the prowling of perilous powers. It is no wonder then that when the truth of God’s word was challenged, Paul would say: “to whom we gave place in the way of subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” (Gal. 2:5). The present condition of the world in general and of the church in particular make it imperative that those who truly love the Lord duplicate Paul’s action in this regard. We must feel with this courageous apostle that “we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.” (2 Cor. 13:8).

Is Your Preacher Really A Preacher?

Jesus commanded the apostles, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be condemned” (Mk. 16:15,16). In Romans 1:16, the apostle Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: For it’s the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” And in 1 Corinthians 1:21, it is written, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”

When we consider all the foregoing and remember that James said, “. . . Receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (Jam 1:21), it would seem that preachers would be awed and driven to fulfill their great responsibility to preach. You would think that every professed preacher would be motivated to accept the charge to “be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine (2 Tim. 4:2).

However, in our perilous times, it seems that many professed preachers have little time to preach. Many are so busy running off to “retreats,” going camping, taking the young people skating, to amusement parks and to workshops, that there is little time left to prepare or deliver sermons. Some are so busy promoting boy scouts, homecoming celebrations or blood donation programs that gospel preaching is neglected: Some are so busy with marriage counseling, community services or politics that there is precious little time left to tell anyone the grand old story about Jesus. Many are so involved in promoting schools, aggrandizing themselves as professed miracle workers or amassing money through secular endeavors, God’s word goes begging.

What a shame that the world’s masses are going off to hell in great numbers while the ones able to save them are abandoning their job! If you are a preacher, preach! If you have your mind on earthly matters, step aside and allow others to hold the one office that is so greatly needed in this present world_GOSPEL PREACHING!

Beware of False Teachers

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they, are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or rigs of thistles? Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matt. 7:15-23).

In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, he warned men of the danger of false prophets It isn’t enough for Christians to spread the wholesome teaching of Christ and his apostles, he must also warn against the dangerous influence of bad teacher.

The Danger of False Prophets

1. False Prophets Exist. Some people seem to think that all of the false prophets in the world perished in the first century. They did not. There are plenty of men who are false prophets and false teachers today whose doctrines will lead men to damnation.

2. The Danger False Teachers Pose to the Soul. Why do false teachers pose a threat to man’s soul? I confess that I do not know, if what some of my brethren have written is correct. They have taught that, so long as a Christian is good, honest, and sincere, his sins do not separate him from God. If a false teacher leads a good, honest, and sincere man into sin, according to these brethren’s doctrine, his sins would not be separate him from the grace of God and lead him to damnation. Hence, the false teacher would only pose a threat to the soul of a dishonest, insincere, and wicked man, who is already lost.

That is not what Jesus taught, however. He warned of “blind guides” of “blind men,” telling us that both would fall into the pit of damnation. He said, “They be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matt. 15:14). Hence, Jesus warned that false teachers (even good, honest, and sincere unintentional false teachers) lead men into the pits of hell.

He wears the clothing of the sheep, and does not do it for the conscious purpose of deceiving; but he is deceived himself, yet he is doing the odious work of the ravening wolf. Who can count the number of these deceived and deceivers, and the number of grievous wounds which these have made in the body of Christ in this one current half-century.

The false teachers discussed by Jesus in this text apparently were good, honest, and sincere. They called Jesus “Lord” (Matt. 7:21), prophesied, cast out devils, and did many wonderful works in Jesus’ name (Matt. 7:22). The text indicates that these false teachers expected to enter heaven. However, their iniquities caused Jesus to reject them. A false teacher can be the blind guide of the blind (Matt. 15:14); the term is not reserved to describe dishonest and insincere men.

3. The Appearance of False Teachers. One may be tempted to think that a false teacher is going to walk in the doors of a church building and announce, “I am a false teacher. I am here to lead men to hell. I want to announce my intentions beforehand so that I will be honorable.” That is not the manner in which false teachers operate.

False teachers appear in sheep’s clothing. Hence, they will transform themselves into apostles of light (2 Cor. 11: 13-15). They will look like good, righteous men. In our day, false teachers appear so sweet spirited (until one challenges what they teach); they are too spiritually-minded to engage in debates and discussions so that their teachings may be examined openly. They preach only positive lessons (unless they are knifing in the back those “keepers of the orthodoxy” and “guardians” of the party). They are as cunning as a snake, and just as venomous.

4. The Test of False Teachers. Jesus told us how to test false teachers – by their fruit. This implies that the following are not criteria for testing whether or not a man is a false teacher:

Tests of a Teacher Are Not their appearance, personality, reputation, claims, miracles, or professions.

None of the things mentioned here is legitimate means of determining whether or not a man is a false teacher. Rather, Jesus stated that the test of whether or not a man is a false teacher is his fruit.

Here are some fruit which need to be judged:

a. He will claim to receive revelation from God. Prophets are men who receive divine revelations from God; false prophets claim to receive revelations which they never received from God. They will say, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?” How many times have you heard tele-evangelists claim to have received revelations from God? When men begin claiming to receive messages from God, especially in an age when revelation has ceased (1 Cor. 13:8-10; Jude 3; 2 Pet. 1:34), you can detect that he is a false prophet. Also note that no man has ever heard God’s voice or seen his shape at “any time
(Jn 1:18 f; Jn 5:37).

b. He will preach a “wide gate. ” Jesus had just stated, “Enter in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:13,14). When men begin preaching a “wide gate,” they are false prophets.

A “wide gate” is a gate which makes entrance into the kingdom of heaven easier and/or other than Jesus revealed. Jesus said that the entrance into the kingdom is a “strait gate.” When men preach manners of entering the kingdom which Jesus did not reveal, they are false teachers. The conditions for entrance in the kingdom of heaven are revealed by Jesus (hear, believe, confess, repent and be baptized); when men start teaching that men are saved who have never complied with these conditions, they are false teachers.

c. He will preach a broad way. The false teacher will teach a “broad way.” The “broad way” implies that a man can live any manner he so chooses and still be approved of God. When men start releasing men from obligation to any of God’s law, they are false teachers. False teachers which preach a broad way include men who release men from responsibility to respect human life (abortion), sober-mindedness (allow social drinking), marriage (allowing divorce and remarriage for any reason), fornication (allowing men and women to live together as man and wife without being legally married), homosexuality (men with men, women with women), etc.

d. He may lead an immoral life. He may be full of covetousness, preaching what he preaches as a means of obtaining financial gain (2 Pet. 2). Some have perceived godliness as a means of gain (1 Tim. 6:5-6), having become teachers who tickle the ears of those who pay them. Some have become involved with “silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts” (1 Tim. 6:6). This fruit exposes them as false teachers.

e. He will leave a path of destruction in the churches with which he labors. Paul wrote of the Judaizers in Galatia who “trouble you” (1:7). False teachers will have that impact. They will raise questions which undermine faith, leading disciples away from the truth. When they are opposed by those who stand fast for the gospel, schism, dissension, and division will result. Hence, false teachers will leave a trail of churches torn apart by their false teaching. This is a “fruit” which men can judge.

A word of caution needs to be added. A false teacher might not manifest all of these attributes (for example, he might teach a strait gate and a broad way, he may not be immoral, etc.). However, these are some fruit which men can test in judging whether or not a man is a false teacher.

It Is Your Soul

A person should never be intimidated from testing whether or not what a person is teaching is from God. The Lord himself charged, “Beware of false prophets.” Consequently, men should “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 Jn. 4:1). God-fearing men will search the Scriptures daily to see if the things taught are so (Acts 17:11), regardless of how respected the man is who is teaching them.

Remember, I am responsible for my soul. If I allow some false teacher to deceive me, he will lead me into eternal damnation. Therefore, I am not going to trust my soul to some other’s imprimatur that what another is teaching is pleasing to God, regardless of how well intentioned he might be. Rather, I am going to exercise my God-given right to test every teacher to see if what he teaches is from heaven or from men (Mat. 21:25). Frankly, I do not care whether he likes being so examined or not. There is too much at stake for me to irresponsibly accept what he is teaching without testing whether or not it is from God.

Remember the words of Jesus, “Beware (be cautious and alert to the dangers of) of false prophets.”

Whose Praise Do You Desire?

“Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (Jn 12:42,43).  These many rulers were almost certainly among the better educated and more highly respected citizens in the land. They were men of influence, and they loved their chief seats too much to risk offending the Pharisees, which was the strictest sect among the Jews (Acts 26:5).

The Pharisees coveted the praise of the chief rulers, also (Matt. 23:1-7). Each group was happy to have the praise of the other. It was a matter of you praise us and we will praise you. You scratch my back and I will scratch yours. Was not that prize a vain thing? They paid a great price to obtain it. The chief rulers would not confess their belief in God’s Son. They pleased men rather than God.

There was no way to confess faith in Christ without facing the ugly sarcasm and hate of the Pharisees. The ninth chapter of John tells the story of Christ’s healing a blind man. That grateful man took his stand in defense of the One who had healed him, and his wisdom was evident in the answers to those who reviled him. His parents were like the many chief rulers who believed. They showed no gratitude to the One who had given sight to their son who had never seen.

“His parents answered them, and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: but by what means he now sees, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. These works spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him” (Jn 9:20-23). They were not as ignorant as they professed they were. They refused to express confidence in and gratitude for the One who had done so much for their son. This seems to be an incredible thing. What will some people do to win the praise of men?

The threats of the Pharisees and other prominent Jews had its desired effect. Many bowed before them and did not stand for their convictions. How many other such men were there in Israel in those days who were very quiet about their beliefs? No one knows, but there must have been many like the parents of the blind man and the chief rulers to which reference was made. If they had boldly proclaimed their faith in Christ the eyes of many others might have been opened through their influence.

There was some basis in the mind of Christ for selecting Peter, James, John and others to be apostles. They were not highly educated or socially prominent men (Acts 4:13). They did have some preconceived ideas about the kingdom that hindered their understanding of the mission of Christ (Matt. 20:20-28). Our Lord selected men who could be rebuked without turning back (Jn 6:66). They could hear truths that shocked them without losing faith (Matt. 19:23-25).

Jesus could say to the apostles: “Blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear” (Matt. 13:16). The god of this world had blinded the eyes of some (2 Cor. 4:4). They could not see because they would not look, and they could not hear because they would not listen. Preaching to people like this is somewhat like casting pearls before swine (Matt. 7:6; 13:15). Being willing to do the will of God has something to do with our ability to understand it. “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (Jn 7:17).

Nearly two thousand years ago there were men who would not pay the price to boldly teach the truth. Are there such people anywhere today? When men go out to sow the word, do they find the wayside soil, the shallow soil, and the thorny ground, as well as the good soil? Can there be any doubt? There must be many that know better than their behavior would indicate. “Therefore to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin” (Jam 4:17).

“Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mk 8:38). Paul was not ashamed of the gospel because he knew the power and love it involved (Rom. 1:16). Timothy was one of the truly great men of that first century, but he was warned not to be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord or of the persecuted saints (2 Tim. 1:8). If Paul needed the prayers of saints that he should speak boldly as he ought to speak, and if Timothy needed to be warned, surely we must need the same (Eph. 6:19,20).

“And, behold, there was a man Joseph, a counselor, and he was a good man, and a just . . . who also himself waited for the kingdom of God” (Lk 23:50,51). Joseph and Nicodemus gave our Lord’s body honorable burial. That must have taken courage on that day when the Christ had been mocked, scourged, and crucified by the mob, but what of Joseph’s record before. He had been a secret disciple for fear of the Jews (Jn 19:38). Joseph is mentioned as being rich and honorable and, on this special day, as being bold. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John mention Joseph’s good deed in the matter of the burial of the body of Christ. Think how much more beautiful it would have been if he had been a bold friend of the Christ while He lived rather than a secret disciple in those days.

Could we find men who are honorable counselors among the more liberal churches who realize that the praise of men is a dominant force among them? Would they like to stand with us if it did not entail being called an “anti” or some other such unpleasant name. Please, come on out of the darkness and stand in the light for the sake of your soul, your family’s welfare, and for the influence you could have on your neighbors. Love would cause you to obey (Jn 14:15,21,23).

It is still true that those who would live godly lives in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12). Men are needed who will do the work of an evangelist and endure the affliction that follows the good work. If you teach the truth as it is in Christ you will be called a legalist, a bigot, a troublemaker, and the such like, and you will be regarded as being narrow-minded, but you will please God. Choose you this day in whom you will serve. (Josh 24:15)

By The Word Of His Power

Do we underestimate the power of God’s word? It is far more powerful than any of us could imagine. However powerful you imagine it to be, it is greater. The power of the human word usually depends on the one doing the talking. We are to submit to “the powers that be” in civil government, but a higher power has told us to do that (Rom.13:1 f; 1 Pet. 2:13-15). It is contained within the gospel, God’s power to save (Rom.1:16).

Consider the spoken word of God. It is so powerful that God spoke the world into existence. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God (Heb. 11:3). By the word of the Lord were the heavens made .. . For he spake, and it was done; he commanded and it stood firm (Ps. 33:6, 9). In Genesis 1 the phrase “God said” appears ten times. Whatever God said, it happened! Keep in mind that it was his son “through whom also he made the worlds” (Heb. 1:2). “For in him were all things created … ” (Col.1:16). “All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that has been made” (John 1:3). Stand in awe at this power!

Consider also the written word of God. How powerful was it? The written Old Testament was available in Jesus’ day. It was so powerful that by quoting the written word Jesus resisted the devil. The devil never attempted anything like that again. Then the devil left him (Matt. 4:11). Furthermore, it was powerful enough to prevent the rich man’s five brothers from going to the place of torment (Luke 16:19-31).

Let’s now look at the spoken word of Jesus. How powerful is it? It is powerful enough to sustain the universe and keep it operating. He is upholding all things by the word of his power (Heb. 1:3). Imagine the tremendous amount of power it takes to sustain this universe! And “in him all things consist” (Col. 1:17). Marvel at such power.

The spoken word of Jesus was so powerful that the centurion’s servant was healed the same hour without Jesus seeing or touching him (Matt. 8:8-13). Some of the fake healers of today will nearly squeeze one’s head off and the person is still no better than when he first began.

It was the spoken word of Christ that calmed the sea (Mk 4:35-39). None of today’s so-called miracle workers would even attempt to control the weather.

It was by the spoken word of Christ that the dead were raised: (1) son of the widow of Nain, “Young man, I say unto you, arise” (Luke 7:14). (2) Jairus’ daughter, “Maid, arise” (Luke 8:54). (3) Lazarus, “Lazarus, come forth!” (Jn 11:43). Truly, the word of the Lord is exceedingly powerful. This is because of who he is (Matt.28:18).

Finally, consider the written word of Jesus. How powerful is it? The gospel was put in written form that it might be more easily preserved. It also is more conducive to each person having his own copy of this valuable treasure. The written word of Jesus is just as powerful as his spoken word. The Scriptures make no distinction in the power of either. The written record of Jesus’ works was so powerful that John said one could have life by believing the written record of it. “Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in his name (by his authority or power)” (Jn 20:30, 31). The gospel is the written word (Eph.3:3, 4 f; Rom.1:16).

Just as the written word of Moses and the prophets could have prevented the rich man’s brothers from torment in flames, so can the written message of Christ prevent us from such a fate. Abraham said, “They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them” (Luke 16:29). Remember, it was the writings of Moses and the prophets to which Abraham referred. Jesus said if they would not believe the written word neither would they believe if one rose from the dead (v.31). There is no difference in the power of God’s spoken word and his written word!

They had Moses and the prophets. It had already been written and confirmed (Gal. 3:15). Men today have Christ and the apostles. What they said has already been written and confirmed (Heb.2:3, 4). We stand in the same relationship to Christ and the apostles as the five brothers did to Moses and the prophets. If men won’t believe the written word of Christ and the apostles, neither would they believe if one rose from the dead. Incidentally, one did, and his name is Jesus Christ.

How the Church Relates to Salvation

Where is the passage that says one must be a member of the church of Christ to be saved? The apostle Paul wrote: “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the savior of the body” (Eph. 5:23). This statement by the inspired apostle is in every properly translated New Testament. Yet, it is generally overlooked and disregarded. Christ is head of the church and savior of the body. There is one body (Eph. 4:4), and that one body is the church (Eph. 1:22, 23). These passages make no mistake about the importance of the church to our salvation. Christ is the savior of the church. Therefore, we must be a part of the church to be saved.

The Church is God’s Family

Paul wrote, “These things write I unto you, hoping to come unto you shortly; but if I tarry long, that you may know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:14, 15). The word “house,” as used here, means “family.” Paul is not expressing concern about conduct in a church building; but rather he is speaking of one’s conduct as a member of the family of God. The church is that family.

Christ is a Son over God’s House

He is called by the writer of Hebrews an Apostle, High Priest, and Son over God’s house (Heb. 3:1-6). The Father gave Him to be head over all things to the church (Eph. 1:23). He has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18).

Reconciliation to God is in the Church

The mystery of the salvation of the Gentiles and their reconciliation unto God was revealed by Paul. How God planned to save the Gentiles was a mystery until it was fully revealed by inspired men. In Eph. 2:11-22, Paul tells how both Gentile and Jew are presently reconciled unto God. “But now in Christ Jesus you that once were far off are made near in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself on the two one new man, so making peace; and might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (vs. 13-16). Notice that reconciliation to God of both Gentile and Jew is “in one body.” We have already shown that this body is the church.

The church is a Habitation of God

Paul speaks of the “household of God” and calls it a  “holy temple” and “a habitation of God” (Eph. 1:19-22). Again, we note that he is not talking about a material building, but those whom he calls “fellow-citizens, the saints.” These are the household of God. They are the church. This is where God dwells.

The Lord Adds Those who are being Saved to the Church

“And the Lord added to them day by day those that were saved” (Acts 2:47, ASV). In the KJV we read, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” When one repents, is baptized, and receives remission of his sins, he is immediately added by the Lord to the church. The Lord adds people who are being saved to His church, not to the churches of men. Hence, there are no present day, accountable, saved people outside the body (church) of Christ. No not one!

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