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

Archive for August, 2017

How Many Roads Lead to Life Everlasting?

On a map or GPS you can see many roads lead into any major city. You can pick whatever route you desire. Many people think the same thing about variety among churches — “We’re all on different roads heading to the same place,” they say. Can this be true?

Do you believe we can follow different roads? What does the Bible say about it? The Bible speaks of only two roads. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus said, “… the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Yes, there are different roads, but only one goes to Heaven, and it is narrow.

In John 4, when the woman at the well met Jesus, she immediately pointed out that her people worshiped differently from His (Jn 4:19-20). Jesus did not reply that both roads led to the same place — He said that one road was right and the other was wrong (Jn 4:22), and that if she wished to please God, her worship must be “in truth” (Jn 4:24).

In Acts 15:1-31, the apostles disputed with some who believed in Jesus but taught error about what one must do to be saved. Instead of concluding that there were different roads, they gave notice to the churches that one road was right and the other was wrong.

The idea of “different roads” is used to avoid discussing different religious teachings and practices. After all, does doctrine really matter if your attitude is right? Indeed it does. The Bible says that there are doctrines that God hates (Rev 2:15), and that some doctrines are of demons (1 Tim 4:1). Taking heed to doctrine is necessary for salvation (1 Tim 4:16 f;  2 Jn 9), because obedience to God’s “form of doctrine” is what makes one free from sin (Rom 6:17-18). Even many who believe in Jesus are on the wrong road because they do not obey God (Luke 6:46 f; Matt 7:21-23).

Multiple roads result when men choose their own ways, but only God’s way is right. The “different roads” philosophy has led churches to abandon the question of what is right, and instead accept a wide diversity of belief. But we should not be ashamed to say that some beliefs are right, and others are wrong, because that is what God says. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov 14:12). If two people are on different roads, they both may be wrong, but they both can’t be right. We are only right when we obey the gospel of Christ and continue in His doctrine. This is the only road which will lead to life everlasting!

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Where Does the Bible Forbid Instrumental Music?

It is not found in the content of the Bible where God explicitly forbid the use of instrumental music in worship. Some find implicit condemnation in Amos 6:1-5, where the prophet writes, “they invent for themselves instruments of music, like David.” But upon a closer contextual examination, one must conclude that the self-indulgent and insensate idolator is condemned, not the instrument. Using for revelry what David had been commanded by God to use in worship (2 Chron 29:25-26) kindled the wrath of Jehovah.

To justify any practice upon the fact God has not forbidden it is to argue from silence. Silence never authorizes anything. Such endeavor to justify begins at the wrong place with the wrong emphasis.

For example, no one from the tribe of Judah, “as to which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priests,” could attend at the altar under the Mosaic Law (Heb 7:14). It was not that God said nothing against any family other Aaron being priests, for He clearly did (Num 18:7; 16:40). The emphasis is that he said nothing for the tribe of Judah attending at the altar. Since Jesus arose from the tribe of Judah and is priest, the lack of authority for such a combination necessitated the changing of the law, whereby a new order of priesthood is justified (Heb 7:12).

To argue from silence is to be presumptuous with Almighty God. Nadab and Abihu serve as sobering reminders of God’s attitude toward man’s daring presumptuous actions. They offered “strange fire before the Lord, which He commanded them not” (Levi 10:1). Notice that God did not say not to. He just gave no commandment. The price for assuming that God’s silence is permissive was enormous and frightening. Fire from God devoured the two priests (Levi 10:2). This is a lesson in and of itself, if we apply each instance that some churches assume God’s silence means God’s approbation in our worship and service to the Lord.

By His severity, God determines to teach that He will be sanctified among those who come before Him as priests, and be glorified among the people (Levi 10:3). Neither can be accomplished when men act upon what God has not revealed.

So, to justify any action merely because God does not forbid it is the wrong beginning place for authority, and causes the creature to stand before His Creator as audaciously presumptuous. Some proponents of worshiping God with mechanical instruments of music try to appear less presumptuous by stating that the instrument was authorized by the Old Testament. They reason since its use is not expressly forbidden in the New Testament, God still authorizes it in worship today.

What might appear as less presumptuous is nevertheless presumptuous. The argument appeals to the Law of Moses, which was originally given only to the Israelites and which no Jew or Gentile is under today for authority (Deut 4:13; 5:3, 13 ff; Rom 3:1-2; 9:4; Heb 8:8-13). When forced to appeal to authority found in God’s new covenant in Christ, the proponent argues from silence: “God does not forbid it.”

If his line of reasoning is right, then we have “authority” for offering incense to God in worship today. It was authorized in the Old Testament and is not forbidden in the New. One partaking of the Lord’s supper could first eat a lamb typifying Christ and then partake of the unleavened bread and fruit of the vine. What a meaningful memorial, blending the old with the new! When asked for authority for such worship, one could reply, “It was commanded in the Old Testament and not forbidden in the New Testament.” For the authority that supposedly allows for the mechanical instrument in worship, will also allow for the lamb on the Lord’s table.

The reasoning that something is authorized if not explicitly forbidden never allows for the possibility that God has a peculiar design in mind. Only Aaron and his sons could handle or touch the ark of the testimony with rings and staves in order that it be borne by the sons of Kohath (Ex 37:5 f; Num 4:15). When David ordered the ark to be brought to him from nearby Kiriathjearim, he allowed the ark to be borne on a “new cart” (1 Chron 13:7). When the ark became unsteady, one of the two drivers, named Uzza, touched the ark to steady it and was struck dead before God (1 Chron 13:10). Take note of that the next time someone tells you that you can do anything the elders ordain, despite what the bible instructed us to do.

Later, David acknowledged, “no one is to carry the ark of God but the Levites,” not because God expressly forbade all others, but that He only authorized the one family of Kohath (1 Chron 15:2 f; Num 4:15). David confessed, “Because you did not carry it at the first, the Lord our God made an outburst on us, for we did not seek Him according to the ordinance” (1 Chron 15:13). God’s ordinance did not expressly forbid a “new cart,” but such silence did not authorize it either. The ark was designed by God for carrying on the shoulder, not riding on a cart. When the Levites “carried the ark of God on their shoulder with the poles thereon as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord,” the ark arrived at David’s destination without incident (1 Chron 15:15-16:1).

The proponents of mechanical instruments of music feel that they are justified in using the instrument of music in worship if God does not forbid it. Who thinks for a moment that Nadab and Abihu, Uzzah or David would agree? Does God have to tell us what He forbids before He can preserve only what He wants in worship? How much more sizeable the Bible would be if God approved of such reasoning!

God never says, “Thou shalt not use mechanical instruments of music in worship.” However, to assume that such silence is permissive is presumptuous. To establish what God desires in our worship today, we must begin with what God has commanded, not what He has not forbidden. The failure to do so is digressive, and is greeted with God’s ultimate wrath, not His approval.

What Is the Assurance of Our Salvation?

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him” (1 Jn 5:13-15).

John writes to tell Christians how to know we are saved. “…you who believe in the name of the Son of God…may know that you have eternal life.” This is the stated purpose of his letter. Throughout this epistle, John discusses the security and assurance of believers. Even so, a rejection of once-saved-always-saved doctrine leaves many people in a constant state of anxiety, doubting their salvation and therefore always being in dread of eternity. This should not be. So in this lesson, we will examine John’s message to learn how we can be sure we will get to heaven. Knowing what we do of God’s holiness (1 Jn 3:6) it should be no surprise this confidence is not to be based on the mistaken assumption that God will ignore some of our sins. Rather, John bases our confidence on our obedience. So really, this lesson will involve a discussion of how we can be confident that we are free of ignorant sins. Restated, if any sin will separate us from God, how can we be sure we have no sin?

To begin, just notice John repeatedly mentioning knowing we are saved:

And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 Jn 2:3-6).

And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him” (1 Jn 2:28-29).

By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us” (1 Jn 3:19-24).

These are just a few of the many times John mentions knowing, or having confidence, that we are saved. Each reference roots our assurance in our obedience. None of the passages mention simply being sincere or having the right attitude. Yes, these things are important, but they are not all that is included in keeping God’s commandments. According to John, knowing we are saved means knowing we are obedient.

So how can we know we are obedient? How can we know we have not sinned unawares?

First, we must realize God is on our side. He is not waiting for us to slip up so that He can kill us on the spot and send us straight to hell. Instead, He is “is patient … not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Pet 3:9). God wants us to do what is right and will do everything consistent with His nature to help us do what is right. After all, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom 8:32). This divine aid brings us back to our text where John mentions a specific way to know we are saved: PRAYER.

Our text states that if we ask anything according to God’s will, and believe that He will grant our requests, He will. It is God’s will that we repent of sins, confess them and ask His forgiveness (Acts 8:22 f; 1 Jn 1:9). Therefore, when we ask God to reveal any sins of ignorance so that we may repent of them, and truly believe that He will answer our prayer, He will. Understand that we can neither repent of, nor confess, sins of ignorance. Repentance involves turning away from something. How can we turn away from an action we think is right? For example, how can we repent of a sinful marriage if we are ignorant of God’s law on divorce and remarriage? How do we turn away from drunkenness if we do know it is sinful? How could we confess we have sinned through drunkenness if we do not know drunkenness is a sin?

What are the consequences of not having faith in our text? Unbelief in 1 John 5:13-15 is not only sinful, and therefore damning in and of itself, but this refusal to accept the truth leads to the additional sins of heresy or worry (Philip 4:6). If we teach God will simply overlook our sins of ignorance, we may have peace in this life, but we will not have salvation in the life to come. Unless we repent of teaching false doctrine, we will be lost.

When The Church Was Built

Denominations give all kinds of different dates as to when “their” church(es) were established. Members of the churches of Christ need only to be concerned with one church – the church that Jesus built. Therefore, let us take a look at when the church of Christ was established.

Jesus Stated that His Church Would Be Built

In Matthew 16:18 Jesus clearly stated to Peter: “upon this rock I will build my church…” When Jesus stated this, His church had not yet been built because He said “I will build” not “I have built”. So we know that it was His church that was to be built at some future time as stated by Jesus Himself.

In A.D. 32 is when Jesus said “I will build my church” and His church was realized in A.D. 33 on the day of Pentecost when people were “added to the church.” It was then that Jesus’ church had been built and the “Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47).

Paul References that the Church Is Built

In the writings of the apostle Paul we can see clearly that the church of Christ had been built. In Ephesians 2:20 he says: “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” Paul’s reference to “are built” occurred after Pentecost when the Lord’s church was established.

For one to be in the church that Jesus built it has to rest on His foundation – not man’s! Paul stated: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 3:11). To lay a foundation is the first work in the erection of a building. What did Paul do first when he went to Corinth? He laid down the foundation of Jesus. He told them: “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4). Before one can build upon the word of God the foundation must first be laid. This basic foundation was also laid down at Pentecost when the Lord’s church was established (Acts 2).

Jesus Was Made Head of His Church After He Was Raised

In Acts 4:10-11 we read: “let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.

Here are some basic facts that we can learn about the church that Jesus Christ built and is now head of:

  1. The church couldn’t be built till the foundation was laid (1 Cor 3:11).
  2. The foundation could not be laid till the foundation was tried (Isa 28:16 ff; Mk 3:27; 1 Cor 15:14-17).
  3. The Stone could not be tried till rejected (Mk 8:31).
  4. The Stone was tried and proven in His resurrection (1 Cor 15:3).

It must follow that the church of Christ could not be built before Christ was raised from the dead. Therefore the church of Christ was built after the resurrection of Jesus Christ – not before.

The Sum of God’s Word is Truth

Psalm 119:160 says, “The sum of Your Word is truth, and every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.” The emphasis is on totality. Everything God says is right. Every one of His ordinances is binding. The truth about any subject is determined by adding up all He says about it and reaching a biblical conclusion. This is all under the restraints of rightly dividing the Word of truth (2 Tim 2:15).

The principle of adding together all God’s revelation is vital in Bible study. It is easy to err if one teaches a conclusion before weighing everything the Scripture says on a topic. Consider a few examples:

Some people act as though Matthew 7:1 says everything there is to be said about judging: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” They seem to think this verse prohibits any and all judgments that one might make about another. However, 1 Corinthians 5:12 requires churches to judge their members with reference to fellowship. Jesus Himself said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (Jn 7:24). The fact is, there are a number of situations in which we must assess one’s character, position, or conduct.

If one reads Jesus’ teaching about divorce and remarriage only in Mark 10:2-12 or Luke 16:18, he would conclude that divorce and remarriage is not allowable for any reason. Any remarriage following a divorce would constitute adultery. However, Matthew’s account reveals one exception for the man: he can divorce and remarry if his wife has committed fornication (Matt 19:9). If we read the writings of the apostle Paul, twice he stated that a wife was bound to her husband as long as he lived, but if her husband be dead she was at liberty to marry again and not be considered an adulteress (Rom 7:2,3 f; 1 Cor 7:39). We must not be guilty of doing what denominations do by reading your favorite part and leaving out what is undesirable for you.

When the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas what he must do to be saved, they replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Is that all there is to it? Many seem to think so. But when the Jews on Pentecost asked Peter the same question, He answered, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). Further reading in Acts 16 implies that Paul went on to tell the jailer the same thing. Also we find that Christians must abide in the doctrine of Christ to be saved (2 Jn 9). Last, but not least, John made it clear that all Christians must remain faithful unto death in order to receive a crown of life (Rev 2:10). Neither Acts 16:31 nor John 3:16 nor any other verse contains all that God says about salvation. The sum of God’s word is truth.

Why Christians Don’t Abide By The Old Testament

Our Bibles are composed of two major parts, an Old Testament and a New Testament. A testament is a will or a covenant. We still use the word today when we speak of a person’s “last will and testament.” These names indicate that the Bible is composed of two wills of God — an old will and a new will.

The change in wills is discussed at length in the letter to the Hebrews. In Hebrews 1:1-2, the author says, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” God has changed the manner in which he directs his people. This change was foretold in Jeremiah 31:31-34: ““Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”” Notice that God said the covenant (or testament) would be different from the law given at Mount Sinai. Why would God change his law? Did he change his mind? No! Rather, the change in the law was planned from the very beginning. Before the world was created, God planned to send his Son and that through Jesus we would obtain salvation (1 Pet 1:19-20 ff; 2 Tim 1:9; 2 Thess 2: 13-14). Such a salvation through Jesus Christ could not take place under the law given by Moses.

The Hebrew writer lists several proofs that the covenant between man and God had changed.

There Was a Change in the Priesthood

The author of Hebrews proves that Jesus is now our High Priest (Heb 5:1-10). However, Jesus was not a descendant of Aaron — he was not even of the tribe of Levi. Rather, we find that the order of Aaron was not meant to be permanent (Heb 7:11). Hence, a change in the order implies there was a change in the Law (Heb 7:12-17). Suppose for a moment that the Law of Moses was still in effect. We would be forced to say that Jesus violated the law when he became our High Priest. However, no violation of the law has occurred because there is a new law in effect.

There Was a Change in the Covenant

There was a problem with the Old Testament__the people did not keep it. There was nothing wrong the Old Law itself, but it did create a dilemma. The law defined what sin was, but it brought no relief from sin. It could only offer a future hope of salvation (Rom 7:7-13). The law bound sin to men, but Christ freed us from sin (Gal 4:21-31 cf; 5:1-4).

There Was a Change in Sacrifices

The Old Law had yearly sacrifices which could not free us from sin. The New Law had a single sacrifice that did free us from sin (Heb 9:16-28 cf; 10:1-8).

Jesus Fulfilled the Law (Matthew 5:17-18)

In other words, He brought it to its completion (Romans 10:4). Before Christ, no one could perfectly keep the law, but Jesus proved that it was possible to keep the law. Jesus showed that God’s law was good, it was man who was the sinner.

When Did This Change Take Place?

Paul said that the Old Law was nailed to the cross (Col 2:14). In Ephesians 2:15, we are told that it was put to death on the cross. Hence, the law changed when Christ died on the cross at Calvary. The author of Hebrews put it this way, “For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives.” (Heb 9:16-17). At the acceptance of the Old Law, Moses sprinkled the people with blood (Ex 24:8). The new covenant also began with the shedding of blood — Christ’s death on the cross. Christ’s testament could not come into effect until he, as its author, died.

Though the laws are different, can’t we follow both of them? Does it make any difference which law we turn to, since both laws came from God? God said that he took away the first to establish the second (Heb 10:9). We became dead to the Old Law, so that we might be joined to a New Law (Rom 7:4-6).

We cannot even keep a select portion of the Old Law. The first problem is: How do we determine which portion to keep and which to discard? We know that we are inadequate to make such a decision (Jer 10:23). Besides, it wouldn’t work. If we justify ourselves by one part of the Law, we obligate ourselves to uphold the whole thing (Gal 5:3). It is this very point that caused Paul to argue so strongly against the false teachers of his day. Some Christians, who came from the Jewish faith, were teaching that those who were once Gentiles, must become Jews. However, notice Paul’s strong words, “You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” (Gal 5:4).

Why then is the Old Testament still a part of our Bibles? Romans 15:4 tells us that it was written for our learning — to bring us patience, comfort, and hope. It contains examples for us, so that we will not be caught unaware and make the same mistakes that the Israelites made (1 Cor 10:1-12). In Galatians 3:24-25, we find that the Old Law is our schoolmaster, to bring us to Christ. Now that Christ has come, we are no longer under its dominion. Therefore, we see that we can learn from the examples found in the Old Testament, but when we must determine what God would have us to do today, we must turn to his current will — the New Testament.

Dangers of Alcoholic Beverages

Alcohol is an accepted part of American society. After all, so many popular, fashionable, and successful people are known to drink. Also, commercials, movies, advertisements, etc.. Plus, it has become so socially acceptable that one can be led to think it necessary to fit in. Indeed, many Christians work with or have as relatives those who cannot think of a social gathering without a bar or a “bring your own bottle” type of invitation. When we add to all of this the seemingly endless number of brands of hard liquor, wine, and beer available, the picture is complete. Intoxicants are popular, acceptable, and accessible in our world as it is today.

In light of the above facts, why would the child of God or any other person want to refrain from drinking? After all, it seems like a proper activity for anyone. Are there facts which would give us a view more balanced than that so apparent in our world? What are the dangers of alcohol?

Alcohol Perverts Judgment

(Isaiah 5:22-23)

King Ahasuerus, when “merry with wine,” attempted to show his wife off before a crowd of his subjects (Est 1:10-11). Lot would never have committed incest had he been sober (Gen 19:32-35). People “utter perverse things” under the influence of alcohol (Provs 23:33). Marriages are entered into by people who have met and courted under the influence of alcohol; they later dissolve or lead to the kind of terrible homes that abused spouses and children, and criminals come from. Alcohol can cause one to wrongly invest or spend his money, think he is capable of driving, enter into strife, or make a multitude of other mistakes. Alcohol-influenced judgment leads to other sins! By contrast, sober minds are necessary for one to live the life of a Christian (1 Thess 5:6 f; 1 Pet 5:8).

People Become Dependent on Alcohol

The Bible warns against being “given” or “addicted” to wine (1 Tim 3:3). The pull of drink is clearly seen herein: After experiencing the effects of it the man arises from his stupor and says, “I will seek it again” (Prov 23:35). When hard times come, as they will to all, the one who depends on alcohol will turn to his “help.” The Christian must remember the song that says, “Savior in my joy or sorrow I will ever go to thee” (Philip 4:11-13). If I become dependent on alcohol it will endanger my relationship with God from this standpoint alone.

Alcohol Ruins Lives

(Proverbs 23:29-30)

As one considers how popular alcohol is among the stars of Hollywood he would do well to also consider the high rate of divorce, alcoholism, and drug abuse among these people. I had a distant cousin who was well learned in the scripture. Some say he had a photographic memory and could quote the entire bible by memory. He was a very effective preacher in every respect. He even made it to the governor’s mansion as a top advisor in the state of Kentucky back in the early 1960s. It was there he became a social drinker at social gatherings. At first, he said he could control his drinking. Eventually, his drinking controlled him. He died in his early fifties in the Fulton County jail from alcohol withdrawal. Christians are stewards who must be found faithful (1 Cor 4:2). They must keep themselves from the blight of alcohol if they are to lead faithful lives and be a good example to unbelievers.

Conclusion: Why would any Christian want to use alcohol knowing these facts about its effect on our body and our soul?

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