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

Archive for June, 2018

Eating In The Church

There has always been an issue between conservative and liberal brethren whether or not one can eat in the building in which they worship God. Actually, it is a misnomer. The issue is over having large social gatherings in a church-owned building where the facilities (e.g., a fellowship hall) and expendable goods (e.g., paper products, coffee, cups, cleaning material) are funded by the Lord’s treasury. I know of no significant opposition to incidental eating in the building, such as the preacher eating his lunch in the study or office, or workmen eating lunch while working on the building. These would, in my view, be covered by I Timothy 5:18, “For the Scripture says, ‘Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,’ and ‘The worker deserves his wages.'”

“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts” (Acts 2:46).

It is very odd that Luke specifically mentions a distinction of where the early Christians met to discuss the Lord and where they met to eat meals. Why mention the location of the meals at all? For that matter, why mention meals at all?

For the pagan world, temples were the location of many of the acts of debauchery rather than of the spirit. Pagans purposely go to the temple to eat. Paul described this in his discussion about meat in 1 Corinthians 8 where he notes that the connection between meat and temples is so strong that for some coming out of idolatry, it may be hard for them to now separate them. I think Luke wanted to make sure that the pagans understood that this new religion that was coming was not one based on food and drink, but on the spirit-filled life.

In Matthew 14 (the same story is in John 6) when Jesus fed the five thousand, it says that he fed them out of compassion because they had come to listen to him all day and it was still a distance to find food. I think it was commendable that the people would go out of their way to hear Jesus. Jesus offering to feed them would have just been a bonus. They could not have claimed that they came just because they expected to be fed because they were not promised food. However, once they ate, their whole disposition changed. They went from being pleasantly surprised to expecting it all the time. They shifted from coming to hear the Word due to their own interest to being self-absorbed. So in John 6:26-27, “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.’” From John 6:35-59 Jesus gives a discourse on the real bread. Jesus had a crowd that was following their stomachs and were not interested in the Word that they were supposed to digest. We can tell with our 20-20 hindsight that the crowd completely missed the point and were upset with the teaching. However, Jesus did not apologize nor did he give into their desire to be fed. He stated a hard principle in John 6:63, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” This had the obvious effect so that in verse 66, “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” Jesus understood that men tend to be drawn by their stomachs and that a strong draw like that is a distraction from getting to the real importance of the Word.

At best, therefore, it is unwise to associate food with the services. It is completely foolish to use food as an enticement to get people to come to services (a sometime reason given for having a meal after services). Jesus showed that men were easily swayed by food and once given food they were inclined to forget even recent spiritual concepts.

“In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not!” (1 Cor 11:17-22)

What has always stuck out for me in this passage is the rhetorical question of “Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in?” I’ve heard many point out that Paul was addressing an abuse of the Lord’s Supper and not a social gathering that occurs at a time completely unrelated to the Lord’s Supper. I would grant that. However, I think there were more issues at work than just the Lord’s Supper. He was chewing them out about the Lord’s Supper because they were not taking that part seriously enough. Again it was the issue of the stomach trying to encroach on the territory of the spirit. While we like to think of ourselves as being superior to the flaws of men of 2000 years ago, we continue to have the same problems and the same temptations.

Some preachers suggest that Paul was claiming that they were bringing in a common meal for this time, but I don’t see that Paul claims they had the wrong elements for the Supper. He only suggested that they participated in it like it was a free-for-all. They did not wait for everyone and some drank and ate too much and some did not get any. Basically, they forgot that the purpose of getting together on the Lord’s Day was not a matter of physical desires, but of a spiritual need.

Paul’s stated solution to the problem of the stomach versus the spirit is for meals to be eaten at home. I think a rational argument could be made for Paul’s statement to be hyperbole for a more generic “eat somewhere else” rather than a strict requirement to always eat at home, but it is pretty hard to get it to mean “you can still eat in the assembly, just not close to the Lord’s Supper.” He had the option of telling them to just eat at another time, which would then imply that it could be at the same place, just at a different time. Since he specified a place separate and apart from the assembly where they should be eating their meals, he eliminated the place of worship assembly as that location.

The Building

Generically speaking, we are told to assemble together. (1 Cor 5:4, 11:18, 20, 33). The fact that we are told to assemble by necessity means that there must be a place. We are not told much about where the early disciples met. We have examples of them meeting in the temple (Acts 2:46), in synagogues (Acts 13:5), outside by a river (Acts 16:13), in upper rooms (Acts 20:8), and in people’s houses (Romans 16:5). When Paul asked the question in I Corinthians 11:17-22, “Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in?”, he implies that the church in Corinth was meeting in a building that was not a home. That building could have been rented, donated, rent-free or owned — we don’t know and have no way of knowing. There is no indication that I can find that they ever built and financed their own buildings, but seeing how they freely used the Jewish buildings for the same purpose (the synagogues), they obviously displayed no moral objections over the use of buildings that were dedicated to the study of God. Jesus also taught in the synagogues (Matt 4:23 cf; 9:35 f; Lk 4:44) and never once complained of unauthorized spending on frivolous buildings. However, Jesus did talk about the abuse of such places of study.

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full” (Matt 6:2).

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full” (Matt 6:5).

Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi’” (Matt 23:5-7).

For some Jews, the synagogues were just one more opportunity to show off and to demonstrate their importance to the rest of the world. Church buildings and those that build them are very often fulfilling the same desire that the Pharisees used them for. Obviously, we need to avoid doing the same things they did. Some people erect architectural wonders for their place of service. For whose glory do that do such things, man or God? They often claim for God’s glory, but who are they really trying to impress? Take the Sistine Chapel for example. Who gets mentioned more often, God or Michelangelo?

Fellowship Halls

The New Testament does not mention fellowship halls. It seems to have quickly appeared somewhere in the 19th century. It made its way into the churches of Christ somewhere just after WW2. Regardless, it is not a very old innovation, an addition to God’s Word which is strictly prohibited (1 Cor 4:6).

Most people will call it a fellowship hall when in reality that is just another name for a dining facility. I can only surmise, but I have to assume that reason they are called “fellowship halls” and not dining halls is because there is a strong desire to give the impression that “fellowship” is the main reason for it and not eating. I would further guess that such designations were very important when they were first being introduced in order to give it an aura of biblical legitimacy. “Fellowship” is a biblical word and provides the needed connection. By naming them fellowship halls there is a quiet acknowledgment that directly trying to authorize a dining hall or kitchen is not possible to do (or at least very hard) and by renaming it makes it easier to justify.

Justifications based on a name alone should be very suspect. Just because a building has a biblical name on it (e.g., the church of God, the Baptist Church, the Methodist Church, etc.) does not mean that it will stand up to the test of actually belonging to God. So it is with fellowship halls. Just because we call it fellowship does not make it fellowship.

Church Financed Fellowship Halls

Let’s at least face the reality. We want our fellowship halls for the purpose of having a convenient place to have parties. These parties are for the purpose of filling our bellies and entertaining ourselves. These parties rarely have anything spiritual associated with them other than the “blessing for the food” and the fact that the people at them are going to be nice people. They are a long way from a necessity because every town has large places for rent — they are just inconvenient to coordinate. We want the “church” to build and pay for the facilities because we actually see the church’s money as the congregation’s pooled resources rather than as God’s money. We have convinced ourselves that there is no practical difference in the money collected at the time of the offering on Sunday and if everyone were to reach in their pockets and pay a $5 cover charge to rent a place (i.e., they are both the congregation’s pooled resources). We blur the line between what we want and what God wants for us and we blur the line between what we gave to God and what we kept for ourselves.

We build our buildings using tacit approval from the synagogues, but then we want to go well beyond what the synagogues represented. The synagogues were places of prayer and study — somewhat like a mini temple (without the sacrifices). Jesus used them for at least study and teaching. In the actual temple, Jesus threw out those who desecrated the temple by doing things (which happened to be authorized and legal things to do) other than using it as a house of prayer (Mk 11:17). God actively encourages men to pray and study. He actively discourages men from getting carnal things like food mixed up with spiritual values.

There is not a biblical case for the church building fellowship halls. The stronger case is to do everything within our power to disassociate eating and parties from our communal obligations before God. Are we working with God when we use His money to build party facilities for us or against his desires for us? I honestly believe everyone knows the correct answer, but much too many have a desire to feed their belly and not their soul!

Calling Biblical Sins By Biblical Names

No matter how you disguise a lie, it is still a lie. You can dress up a pig in designer clothes, but it’s still a pig. We live in a society which has attempted to rename sin, but sin by any other name is still sin.

FORNICATION

Fornication is nothing more than when one has sex outside of the bonds of a biblical marriage. Today, cohabitation (living together), is considered normal.

The bible called fornication a sin ever since God instituted marriage in the Garden of Eden. The Bible calls all women who engage in fornication whores and all men whoremongers. The children of fornication are called bastards. The scriptures instruct us that the bed of fornicators is defiled (Impure), and will be judged by God (Heb 13:4).

ADULTERY

When Jesus was upon the earth some 2,000 years ago, he called them an adulterous generation. I wonder what he would call this generation? Today, adulterers are the self-righteous hypocrites who are governing the body of Christ as elders, deacons, and preachers. Today, adulterous marriages are regarded as legally married as long as they have a divorce given to them by a court of law.

Adultery was defined by Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul (Matt 5:32 f; Mt 19:9). Jesus said, anyone who marries for the first time to someone who has never been married (man and woman), are bound for life. The only exception given by Jesus to man was fornication. Paul said that a woman was bound to her husband so long as he lived (Rom 7:2 f; 1 Cor 7:39). All other kinds of marriages are prohibited and are not recognized by God as being legally married.

HOMOSEXUALITY

Homosexuality and lesbianism has been considered by God since the beginning of time an abomination. Today, they call all such who indulge in such behavior by a new name, Gay. In today’s society, such are regarded as normal as heterosexuals. They say they were born this way, and therefore should not be condemned. They say that they should be granted legal rights to marriage just like heterosexuals, and such is the law of the land in many countries.

It is such sins as these which caused God to rain down fire and brimstone to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Call them gays, call them normal, grant them an illegal marriage, but God still calls them an abomination that is worthy of death (Rom 1:32).

Conclusion: Sin, though properly disguised, is still sin. However, sin can’t be enforced by hypocrites who are committing sin themselves (Rom 1:1-4 f; Rom 2:21,22). It takes the perfect Word of God, and faithful Christians to be able to rid society of such sinful acts. Imagine a preacher who was living in adultery condemning gays and lesbians. Imagine a teacher who was committing fornication condemning abortion. This is what causes the Word of God to be blasphemed.

Paul said, “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” 1 Cor 2:13

It’s true that this world is corrupt with those who have hidden themselves under the anonymity, and cloak of righteousness. If we truly want to clean up the world and rid them of sin, we first need to clean up the church by getting back to calling biblical sins by biblical names. Only the Word of God as our only source of truth can ultimately cleanse the world from decadence. Until the manifold wisdom of God, the churches of Christ, get back to speaking where the bible speaks, and being silent where the bible is silent, we will be no better than the ones we condemn (Eph 3:10 ff;1 Pet 4:11; 1 Cor 4:6; Rev 22:18,19).

My Brother’s Keeper

Are we our brother’s keeper? Do the wealthy have any responsibility to assist the poor? In terms of Christians, do we have the responsibility of assisting anyone but ourselves? The bible has a very definitive answer when it comes to the question Cain asked in the very beginning, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

The Good Samaritan

In the story of the good Samaritan, Jesus was asked, who is our neighbor? He described 3 men who had come across a man who had been attacked by a band of thieves who had left him half dead. One man was a Priest, one was a Levite, and one was a Samaritan.

Were the Levite and priest right in not assisting this man they had found? If one is not his brother’s keeper, what was wrong with their conduct? They did not strip the man of his garments, wound him, and leave him half dead. They passed by without doing him harm. However, they were responsible to help him. Why? Because one should love his neighbor as he loves himself (Mk 12:33). Paul wrote that no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourished it and cherished it  (Eph 5:29).

The Priest and Levite were devout followers of the law of Moses which command one to love our neighbor as ourselves, and yet they broke the law (Lev 19:18).

The Samaritans were enemies of the Jews. They had no dealings with each other whatsoever. The Priest and the Levite would not even help their own countryman. Yet, the Samaritan, who shouldn’t be expected to aid a Jew, overcame his hostility and helped the wounded man. He didn’t see a Jew, but rather he saw a wounded man, a neighbor, a brother, one who needed aid and did all that was necessary.

Jesus was pointing out that the righteous way too often knows the law, but rarely keep the heart of the law. He was pointing out that those who didn’t know the law of God were more apt to keep the heart of the law, which was to love our neighbor as ourselves. This Paul said fulfilled the law (Gal 5:14).

Jesus taught the same doctrine on his sermon on the mount when he said, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matt 5:44). Paul stated love fulfilled the law (Rom 13:10).

Paul stated we are to do good unto all men, especially fellow Christians (Gal 6:10). The beloved John wrote, “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 Jn 3:17-19).

The church itself, from its very conception, was a one for all and all for one institution. The early day church in Acts chapter 2 verifies that they sold their possessions and goods, and parted unto all men as they had need. Paul commanded that every church member give of their means each first day of the week in order to help the needy saints (1 Cor 16:1,2).

Selfishness and greed was the condemnation of Sodom and Gomorrah and was never a part of the churches of Christ. To this end, the story of the good Samaritan was not just written to the hypocritical Pharisees but was written to the church itself. As Jesus said concerning the Pharisees, whatsoever they bid, observe and do, but don’t do after their works, for they say and do not (Matt 23:3).

Conclusion: Jesus was not teaching us to violate the law or that we are saved by our good deeds, but rather that those who keep the law in truth do it both in words and in deeds (1 Cor 13:1-3 f; 1 Jn 3:19). Jesus was shaming those who knew the law, and yet were not keeping the weightier matters of the law of mercy and faith (Matt 23:23). True Christians are conservative concerning the doctrine of Christ, and are liberal with their charity to the poor and needy (2 Jn 9 f; 1 Tim 6:18).

Each individual in order to be saved must obey the gospel, and remain faithful unto death (Rom 10:9,10 ff; Acts 2:38; Rev 2:10). And to fulfill or complete our salvation we must do good unto all mankind (Gal 6:10). This we must do to friend and foe, sinner and saint, and all that are in need of our help, no matter how vile or evil they may be. As God has had compassion on us, we must also have compassion on the world. (Matt 18:33 f; Eph 4:32). Being our brother’s keeper is how the world knows us, and how God defines us as the children of God (Jn 13:35). After all, did not Jesus say, “It not more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35)?

Living To Die With The Lord

A fact of life is that death must occur in order that others might live. If animals didn’t die, where would our meat supply derive? If plants didn’t die, no one would have fruits and vegetables to eat. If the aged didn’t die, eventually there would be no place for the next generations. In all things in this present life, death is as necessary as life.

Christians must face the same fact of life. If Christ had not died, no one could attain eternal life. If the apostles and early day Christians had not sacrificed their lives, we would not have the gospel with us today.

Even so, we today must die in order to live again. Every Christian must lay down their lives, and be buried with Christ by baptism in order to walk in the newness of life (Rom 6:3,4). “Though we are dead in the flesh, we are made alive in the spirit by the power of God” (1 Pet 3:18). Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).

Every Christian must lose this life, and sacrifice it so that others might have hope of eternal life. Christians must cease to live in the pleasures of sin and do the works of God. We must study the Word daily in order to be approved of God, workmen who rightly handle the Word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). When we as Christians put on the whole armor of God, we are not only set to defend ourselves against sin but also able and set to defend the gospel of Christ (Eph 6:11-18 f; Philip 1:15-18). We must be able to teach and to preach in season and out of season the unadulterated gospel of Christ (2 Tim 4:2-5).

Christians not only suffer for preaching the gospel but also suffer just because they are a Christian. They can expect to be slandered, hated, despised, mistreated, imprisoned, and even killed just for being a child of God. They can expect to endure the hardships of poverty, diseases, persecutions, and trials (1 Pet 4:12,16).

Yet, with all this, death has no power ever again over the Christian. As Paul said, “O death, where is your sting, O grave, where is your victory” (1 Cor 15:55)?  For to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philip 1:21). But thanks be unto God which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ“ (1 Cor 15:57). Therefore we must be the more steadfast and unmovable in the work of God that our labor be not in vain (1 Cor 15:58).

In this life we can either get busy living, or get busy dying, that is, either get busy living in sin or get busy dying for Christ. It’s a huge mistake to attempt both (Rev 3:15,16).. If we want to live again with the Lord Jesus Christ, we must die to sin, and live unto the righteousness of the Lord (Rom 6:12,13). We do this by obeying the gospel of Christ (1 Cor 15:1-4). We must believe that Jesus is the Christ and confess this belief before men (Rom 10:9,10). We must repent and be baptized for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38). Then, and only then are we added to the Church which Christ built, the church of Christ (Act 2:47 ff; Mt 16:18; Rom 16:16). And last, but not least, we must remain faithful unto death, continuing in the doctrine of Christ (Jn 8:31 f; Rev 2:10); A death which frees us from our mortal bodies to live again with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Tim 2:12). Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord (Rev 14:13)!

We All Have The Choice To Sin

In America, we have freedom of choice. Most will tell you that this is America’s greatest freedom of all. However, under the law of Moses, this was not so. If one sinned, they were punished for it immediately, even killed. If one were caught committing adultery, they were stoned to death. The same applied for homosexuality and a host of other sins listed in the Pentateuch. Under the old law, Israelites had no freedom whatsoever to sin. Therefore the name for the law of Moses was so deemed as the ministry of death (2 Cor 3:7).

Under the law of Christ, we have the freedom of choice. If one commits an abomination such as adultery or homosexuality, the church nor it’s individual members has the right to kill them or to do any harm to them whatsoever. All the sins that mankind commits will be punished by God under the law of Christ. Thus the name, the perfect law of liberty (Jam 1:25).

In the days of Christ, the Jews were not allowed to kill a man for breaking the law of Moses, as in the days they were a kingdom unto themselves. This was because they were under the captivity of the Roman Empire. Therefore, when the time came that they wanted Jesus to be killed for allegedly breaking their laws, they took him before Roman officials such as Herod and Pilate.

In modern society, this same practice continues to this very day. The church has no jurisdiction in any country to take the law into their own hands. In fact, they have no jurisdiction whatsoever to kill a man according to the laws of God. Yet, many seek to circumvent the laws of God by turning to man’s law. They will vote for elected officials to gain restrictions upon homosexuals and lesbians, and abortionists in order to circumvent what God condemned. God made it perfectly clear that the church, nor it’s individual members has the right to take vengeance upon any man. God said, “Vengeance belongs to me, I shall repay” and again he said, “The Lord shall judge his people” (Heb 10:30).

There are crimes which man can govern which keep society civil. Thus, most every nation have penalties for murder, rape, incest, robbery, etc. However, there are other immoralities which cannot be governed. It is practically impossible to prevent homosexuals and lesbians from indulging in their abominable behavior. Society can slow abortions from happening, but if history is any indication, it is nearly impossible to stop most of them from occurring.  Adultery and fornication are abominations before God, but how many prisons would it take to contain all of them? Let’s get real, we would have to jail nearly all of Congress and the President himself if adultery was a crime. Man can’t do what God can do. If mankind misuses their personal freedom, God will have his vengeance. As Christians, we must put our faith in God, and not man, for Christians walk by faith, and not sight (2 Cor 5:7).

Though the church can restrict who worships with them, and avoid contact with an unrepentant sinner, they have no right to do more than that (Matt 18:15-17).  So when the churches do as the Jews did in biblical times, they have sinned because they have not stolen such powers from mankind, but from God, and have joined allegiance with the world to do so. This too is an abomination, for they have not robbed man, but God (Rom 12:19).

The responsibility of the church is to teach and preach and convert, for contained therein is the manifold wisdom of God (Eph 3:10).  Lot was a man such as we are, who dwelt in a land of great wickedness. Yet, he didn’t seek to condemn Sodom but protected his righteous soul daily from their wicked deeds (2 Pet 2:7,8). In fact, Abraham, who was called a friend of God, begged God not to destroy those wicked cities in hopes there were at least 10 righteous souls among them. He was wrong and it was God who rained down fire and brimstone upon them (2 Pet 2:6).

Today, we live in very wicked times as well. Only God knows if America and the countries which emulate America, are more wicked than Sodom and Gomorrah. Instead of trying to pass laws to punish the wicked by joining forces with the world, we should be teaching and preaching to them the gospel of Christ (2 Tim 4:2-5).  No wonder why Jesus said, the harvest is truly plentiful, but the workers are few (Lk 10:2).

It is God who establishes governments to contain the wickedness of mankind, and faithful Christians have no need to fear them. Therefore, we pay them taxes, for they the are ministers of God. We have the obligation as Christians to be good citizens and obey every law of man that doesn’t conflict with God’s law, and to teach everyone to do the same accordingly by God’s Word (Acts 5:29 f; Rom 13:1-7). We can instruct, and be a good example, but we are not allowed to force anyone to obey God (2 Tim 2:2 f; 1 Tim 4:12). Thus was the sin of the Pharisees who crucified our Lord.

God’s kingdom is not of this world. If it were so, the Saints of God would fight (Jn 18:36).  As Christians, we must not become involved with the affairs of this world in order that we might become good soldiers of Jesus Christ (2 Tim 2:4). Let every Christian never be ashamed of the gospel that we might be able to save and convert the sinner, and yes, even our very soul (Rom 1:16 ff; Jam 5:19,20; Acts 2:40). No one can be forced into being moral, or forced into becoming a Christian. They are given a freedom of choice. A choice that is given to all who will obey the gospel or refuse it (Jn 12:48). To those who choose to obey the gospel, a promise of eternal life is given (Mk 16:16 f; Tit 1:2). To those who reject the gospel, a promise of hell and damnation (2 Thess 1:7-9). Remember, mankind has the freedom of choice, and God has the freedom to judge the world (Rom 2:16). If we are wise, we will choose to serve the Lord (Josh 24:15).

God Will Not Compromise With Mankind

Every nation under the sun is in constant negotiations between each other to bring peace upon the earth. We have seen it recently between the United States and North Korea, and if the world stands we shall see it many times more between other nations. Man will compromise his ideas in the hope to gain in part what they are seeking in whole. Such are the ways of mankind, but not with God. God’s refuses to compromise with mankind. It’s God’s Way or no way at all.

The one who holds the power controls the rules of the game. The psalmist David wrote that “Power belongs to God” (Ps 62:11). It was God who created man, and not man who created God (Ps 100:3). It was God who sent forth his Word, and the earth was created, and man came forth from the dust (Ps 33:6). The Lord spoke and it was created, he commanded and it stood firm (Ps 33:9).

All power both in heaven and in earth was given to Jesus Christ (Matt 28:18). It was by this power Jesus commanded that the gospel be preached to all nations (Matt 28:19,20). Jesus said, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believes not shall be condemned (Mk 16:16). Jesus gave commission to his apostles to teach the same gospel with a curse to those who teach contrary to it (Gal 1:8,9).

Paul wrote that God will avenge the righteous, and punish all who know not God and obey not the gospel of Christ with an everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord (2 Thess 1:7-9). There is only one path which leads to life everlasting, and that is the strait and narrow way which God gave direction for man to follow (Matt 7:13,14).

There is a way which seems right unto mankind, but the ends thereof are the ways of death (Jer 10:23). Solomon wrote, “A man’s steps are of God, how can man understand his own way?” (Prov 20:24). David said, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way” (Ps 37:23).

The children of God are taught by God, for his children hear his voice, and will follow no other (Jn 6:45 f; Jn 10:27). “Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your heart…” (Heb 3:7,8). Israel provoked God to anger, and God allowed their carcasses to fall in the wilderness. God had led them by the hand of Moses out of Egypt and had given them a law, but they obeyed not. Even so, Christ died on the cross for our sins, and has given us a law to follow (Acts 20:28).

God’s law is the truth, his word is pure, and is perfect (Ps 119:142 ff; Ps 12:6; Ps 18:30). Solomon wrote, “I know that whatever God does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, and nothing can be taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him” (Eccl 3:14). This applies to the universe, and all that is contained therein, including GOD’s WORD. Man is forbidden to add to the WORD, or to remove anything from it (Rev 22:18,19 ff; 1 Cor 4:6; Deut 4:2). All the doctrines and traditions of men are rejected by God for they are vain, and turn us from the truth (Matt 15:7-9 f; Tit 1:14). This is the same infallible WORD wherein the GOSPEL is contained, abides forever, and shall JUDGE the world (1 Pet 1:25 f; Jn 12:48). Partial truth, half-truth, and compromised truth is no truth at all. God’s WORD was, and is, and always be non-negotiable. (Ps 119:89 ff; Mal 3:6; Heb 13:8).

Neglecting More Imperative Parts Of The Law

Mankind often places great importance on frivolous things, which in God’s eyes are meaningless. For instance, it’s meaningless what style of clothes that you wear. It’s meaningless what kind of car you drive. It’s meaningless what kind of house or apartment you dwell. It’s meaningless what genre of music you listen to. Mankind often places focus on things that have no meaning, and then bring that kind of dogma into the church.

Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: Justice and Mercy and Faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matt 23:23-24).

Jesus said that they were precise in detail in doing small matters which the law had not expressly commanded, (paying tithes for herbs), while they omitted the greater things (Justice, Mercy, & Faith). They had forgotten justice to others, as magistrates, neighbors, and citizens by giving to all their just dues. They neglected to show compassion to the poor and needy. They were faithless because they showed no confidence in God.

Jesus said that the Jews took great pain to avoid breaking the minute’ matters, superstitiously observing the smallest points of the law, while they don’t even try to avoid great sins of hypocrisy, deceit, and oppression.

How often do many today keep the mechanics of the law of Christ, while neglecting the needs of fellow saints. They are quick to give their money for softer pews and softer preaching while neglecting the poor and needy saints.

Jesus knew that the multitudes followed him because he fed them, even so, he also fed them the bread of life. The church has many needs that need to be filled such as preaching and teaching of the gospel of Christ. However, if we neglect the needs of the saints, the church will have few to preach to except the rich and affluent.

Let us not be guilty of favoring the rich or affluent over the poor saints. Remember the words of the apostle James, “ Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?” (Jam 2:5-7).

Let us not be like the Pharisees who forgot Justice and Mercy and Faith, and the fact that mercy triumphs over judgment (Jam 2:13). Let us never forget the primary reason why the church takes up the contribution from the saints (1 Cor 16:1,2). Let us not forget the weightier matters of the law of Christ.

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