Religious Counterfeits

Paul, in his letter to the Galatians was taken aback that the Christians had turned away from the AUTHENTIC Gospel.

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” [Gal 1:6-7]

We’re still being surprised by this reality, that folks are turning away from Christ, to another gospel message, which is NOT a gospel that can save.

It is no surprise to the regular readers of this paper to learn that God has warned us to beware of RELIGIOUS COUNTERFEITS.

Who are RELIGIOUS COUNTERFEITS?

Paul wrote to warn Timothy about those, “Having a form of godliness,” who would be…

“…lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;” [1Tim 3:1-5]

He warned that they would creep in and lead away unsuspecting people. They would be constantly learning but never comprehending the truth. It reminds me of folks who regularly read the Bible but fail to see the basic truths about salvation.

A RELIGIOUS COUNTERFEIT comes in many forms. They would be wolves in sheep’s clothing. This means that they will appear as nice folks. This should also be of no surprise for we know, “For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” [2Cor 11:14]

Our Lord also warned: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” [Mat 7:15]

But He gave us hope in that we could know who they are. We can know them by their fruit. But we aren’t to stop there, for they will be doing many seemingly good things. Jesus said He would not accept those who haven’t obeyed Him…

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?” [Mat 7:22]

It’s not enough to observe their fruit, we must also observe their teaching and compare it to the written word of God. This was our Lord’s point, and later it was Paul’s point to the Galatians.

“If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” [Gal 1:9]

For us to be able to discover and to ward off the RELIGIOUS COUNTERFEITS, we must be skilled in God’s word. This will require us to be regular students of the Bible. God’s word is our only defense from the attacks of the RELIGIOUS COUNTERFEITS.

Advertisements

You’re Rich

Ingratitude is one of the worst diseases of the mind one can have. It stems from failing to recognize the good that we enjoy, failing to appreciate (see the value of) the things we have received and failure to recognize from whom we received these good things.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” [James 1:17]

Another part of ingratitude is perspective. We tend to only see what’s missing in our lives without ever looking to see what is missing in another’s life. This narrow perspective warps our attitude and hinders our ability to be happy. More importantly, it hinders our ability to serve.

I came across this ‘test’ developed by Robert Heilbroner, who studies world conditions of the poor. He suggests we do the following 12 things to give us a better perspective about wealth:

  1. Take out all the furniture in your home except for one table and a couple of chairs. Use blankets and pads for beds.
  2. Take away all your clothing except for your oldest dress or suit, shirt, or blouse. Leave only one pair of shoes.
  3. Empty the pantry and refrigerator except for a small bag of flour, some sugar and salt, a few potatoes, some onions, and a dish of dried beans.
  4. Dismantle the bathrooms, shut off the running water, and remove all the electrical wiring in your house.
  5. Take away the house itself and move the family into the tool shed.
  6. Place your “house” in shantytown.
  7. Cancel all subscriptions to newspapers, magazines, and book clubs. This is no great loss, because none of you can read anyway.
  8. Leave only one radio for the whole shantytown.
  9. Throw away your bankbooks, stock certificates, pension plans, and insurance policies. Leave the family a cash hoard of ten dollars.
  10. Move the nearest hospital or clinic ten miles away and put a mid-wife in charge instead of a doctor.
  11. Give the head of the family a few acres to cultivate on which he can raise a few hundred dollars of cash crops, of which 1/3 will go to the landlord and a tenth to the money lenders.
  12. Lop off 25 years of life expectancy.

Pretty sobering, isn’t it? Made me want to sing the song “Count Your Blessings” over and over again.

 

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?

Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?

Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,

And you will keep singing as the days go by.

Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,

Do not be discouraged, God is over all;

Count your many blessings, angels will attend,

Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Refrain:

Count your blessings, name them one by one,

Count your blessings, see what God has done!

Count your blessings, name them one by one,

Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

Johnson Oatman, Jr., pub.1897

Becoming a Butterfly

We may never know what is going on in the mind of a caterpillar. What we do know is that its singular purpose seems to be the devouring of every leaf in its path until such time that it stops eating, hangs himself upside down and spins around itself a silky cocoon. Within about two weeks, the caterpillar breaks out of its self-imposed prison emerging as a beautiful butterfly.

You probably already have an idea of the 2 normal lessons of the caterpillar;

FIRST, it’s about devoting our time to nourishing our minds with the word so that we can go through our own metamorphosis.

Peter said, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:” [1Peter 2:2] He uses the metaphor of a newborn babe to express the same idea, that of devouring the word of God to grow and to change.

Jesus also used the idea of eating when He spoke about His word in John 6; I am that bread of life…I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” [48, 51]

THE SECOND typical lesson is about transformation. Romans 12:2a states; “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,” The Greek word ‘transformed’ is ‘METAMORPHOO’ which means to change. Just as the caterpillar goes through a metamorphosis, we also go through a transformation through the ‘renewing’ of our minds. This involves taking what we have devoured of the word and pondering it, thinking on it and learning it so that it causes that renovation of our mind.

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.” [2Timothy 3:14]

THERE IS ANOTHER LESSON we can learn from the caterpillar, it is the lesson about sharing. You see, the butterfly acts very much like bees in that they are pollinators for plants. Without the likes of these creatures, there would be no plants, no flowers and no food. In addition to this vital role, they are beautiful and share with us the splendor of God’s handiwork.

The lesson on sharing is, for me, the more fantastic of the lessons. The key to incredible and lasting growth is to share what you learn. Sharing has a certain transformative effect on the one doing the teaching.

As scary as it is, talking to people about God, Jesus & the Word has a powerful effect on your own personal growth. When you teach 10 separate people about the Gospel, they only hear it once, whereas you get to HEAR IT 10 TIMES! Every telling of the Wonderful Story of Love strengthens the next.

Another incredible benefit to you is when they oppose you with their denominational views. In your struggles to learn how to answer each one [Col 4:6] you become even stronger and more knowledgeable. These are the keys to lasting knowledge; teaching it and defending it.

It’s been said that a person who never uses what they learn will lose it. This agrees with the Scriptures. “For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.” [Mark 4:25] In children it has been identified as ‘summer learning loss.’

Each time you share the Good News, not only will you continue to be transformed, but the other person may as well. You may have caught them at the right time or because of your own relationship with them your words penetrated their otherwise closed heart.

Why else should we develop the transformative mindset? In the same principle that tells us to use it or lose it, it also teaches that we shall receive even more than what we already have!

“Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” [Matt 25:28-29]

The amazing thing about teaching is also found in love. It’s said that to receive even more love you must give it. The more you give, the more you get of love AND SHARING.

The bigger & better you get enables you to give even more, and the more you give, the more you will receive.

“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” [Luke 6:38]

Making the Best Choice!

“If you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

 

“Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.” Isaiah 66:10

God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, was very angry with His people because of their poor choices. It wasn’t as if He hadn’t given them clear direction on making good choices. God gave them, and us, all that we need for life and godliness [2Peter 1:3]. Look at what He spoke to the children of Israel about repentance and turning back to Him.

DEUTERONOMY 30:1-20

1-10 God had given clear direction to the children of Israel before He brought them into the land. If they chose to obey His commands, He would have compassion on them, protect them from their enemies and give them prosperity.

11-14 He tells them that His commands are never too difficult, never too far away, but are accessible by all so that they can keep it.

15-20 Here He makes a contrast between the BEST CHOICE and the worst. To Love the Lord thy God is the BEST CHOICE, and to walk in His ways and to Keep His commandments, statutes and judgements. By this He gives a promise of blessing.

However, by making a BAD CHOICE, that is, to turn away from hearing His commands, to worship false gods, then He will DENOUNCE them, remove His protection and not allow them to keep the land.

In verses 19-20, He makes it clear about the two basic CHOICES. Life is to CHOOSE GOOD, which is serving Him, or CHOOSE BAD, which is death. Choosing wrong is a matter of life or death.

“Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.” [Hosea 14:9]

THESE 2 BASIC CHOICES ARE STILL BEFORE US. Peter said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” [Acts 5:29]. Jesus said, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour” [John 12:26]. Do you see the connection of God’s blessing to the one who follows?

These TWO BASIC CHOICES, following God or turning away from Him, are before us in all our day to day decision making…

  • The WORK we choose to earn our living. Eph 4:28
  • The FRIENDS we choose to keep. 1Cor 5:6; Gal 6:7-9
  • Our choice of SPOUSE. 1Corinthians 7
  • In how we choose to spend our MONEY. 1Timothy 6:17-19
  • In the way we WORSHIP God. John 4:24
  • By the way we choose to spend our TIME. Eph 5:16; Col 4:5

Don’t be confused, all this is to point out that we have free will. Just because we have choice doesn’t mean that God will accept that choice when we go against His commands. We can choose to ignore them, and when we do, we will pay the consequence of our BAD CHOICE.

God is not, as some suppose, a micro manager. He isn’t deciding whether you go to a specific place or another. He is letting you make those decisions. Those TWO BASIC CHOICES are ever before you. To do GOOD or to do BAD.

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” [Colossians 3:17]

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life [John 11:25; 14:6]. When He appears, this world of sin and doubt shall be dissolved. Since this is true, Peter asked, “what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?” [2Peter 3:11]

“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” [Romans 6:17-22]

Ye do Err…

Jesus said this to the Sadducees who had made an error in reasoning. He then explains to them why they were wrong by citing the scriptures which they had failed to understand. We can make some of the same errors in our own reasoning.

Reason is the process of drawing a conclusion based on evidence. For an argument to be legitimate, it must be true and valid, and logical reasoning must be used to back it up. Many critics of the Bible err because their arguments are just wrong about the facts. This is a factual error. Denominational Christianity is practicing a another form of error called the “LOGICAL FALLACY.”

A ‘LOGICAL FALLACY’ is, in general, an error in reasoning. God said through Isaiah, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD:” [Is 1:18]. God wants us to use our heads when examining His word. He wants us to examine the evidence, the arguments and the facts about His will.

We face these fallacies every day in our interactions with folks from the denominational world, therefore we need to prepare ourselves so that we may give an answer. [Col 4:6] It’s to that end we will examine the most common Logical Fallacies.

10 COMMON LOGICAL FALLACIES

FAULTY CAUSE: the assumption that when one thing follows another then the first thing caused the second. Claiming water baptism is not essential to salvation by citing Acts 10, when the Holy Spirit fell on the family of Cornelius. This ignores the biblical record where Peter commands them to be water baptized. [Acts 10:47-48 can anyone forbid water…?]

SWEEPING GENERALIZATION: assumes if something is true in one case, it must be true about all cases. Paul argued against this form of generalization in Titus 1:12 when he cited one of their philosophers who had used this fallacy. They say, “The folks in the church of Christ have no faith.” We have faith, just more than a dead lonely faith [James 2:14-26].

HASTY GENERALIZATION: assuming one small bit of information represents the entirety of the subject. People will cite Romans 10:9 as proof of ‘faith only’ salvation. This ignores all of what is said about salvation. [Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38, 8:36; 22:16; Rom 6:1-4 & more]. If both confession and baptism are linked to salvation, then both are essential. We must also note these other things linked to salvation [Mark 16:16 Belief, Luke 13:3 Repentance, 1John 5:3 continued obedience].

FAULTY ANALOGY: finding one similarity between two things and assuming they must be alike in all ways. Using Acts 10 again, they use the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, as proof that the family of Cornelius must have all the qualities given the Apostles. We cannot base religious practices on assumption.

FAULTY SIGN: identifying one thing or event as a predictor of future events. Many claim, since miracles occurred in the Bible then it must prove that every believer will be able to perform miracles. This ignores the facts about how the gifts of the Holy spirit were passed to another [Acts 8:17-18] and it ignores that the Roman Christians had none which is why Paul wanted to visit them [Romans 1:11].

APPEAL TO AUTHORITY: supporting a weak argument by citing famous people or ‘experts’ who hold the same position. This is also an appeal to the majority. Mark 10 & 12 show how the religious leaders cited Moses [improperly] to support their positions. Any appeal other than to God’s word is an appeal to error. “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.” Galatians 1:11

SLIPPERY SLOPE: the assumption that when a specific step is taken it will always lead to similar steps resulting in a negative outcome. We have come to condemn sinless activities just because they might lead to sinful activities. This is no way to determine authority. Some will misuse 1Thessalonians 5:22 as justification. Let’s not accuse folks of sinning because of what may or may not happen.

RED HERRING: changing the subject by diverting attention to an emotionally charged situation. They will charge, “You don’t think God would send someone to hell for using an instrument in worship, do you?” This is often an appeal to emotion. Watch for the often subtle and emotionally charged subject change. You will see these most often whenever you cite; Mark 16:16; Eph 5:19; Col 3:16; Acts 2:38.

APPEAL TO IGNORANCE: the call to disprove a claim, and when the person is unable, citing it as proof their claim is right. “You can’t tell me that I didn’t feel the Holy Spirit’s presence” is used to justify the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Probably one of the most difficult challenges to overcome. In these cases, asking them how this might look in other situations. For example: “I’ve met folks from differing [often competing denominations] who have said the same thing. Each practicing and teaching doctrines contradictory to one another. How could I differentiate between all of you?”

Ultimately, every discussion needs to be turned to reading the scriptures. God’s word is the only sound source for all that we say and all that we do.

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Colossians 3:17

Rock Bottom

Everyone has some trouble in their life, some more than others. It may be self-caused, natural causes or externally caused. Regardless of the source, living on this planet can be rough.

Another interesting fact about living on this planet; nothing stops when trouble comes. Bills keep arriving in the mail, landlords still want their rent and don’t get me started about what the grocery store wants when you load up a buggy full of food.

Just because the world keeps moving doesn’t mean that we’re not weeping with you in your sorrow, neither does it mean there’s no compassion.

Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

[Romans 1:15]

Take, for example, Naomi. She was a young widow who was living with her widowed daughter-in-law Ruth. Back in those days it was very difficult for a woman without a husband. I can’t imagine that kind of sorrow, but we can study it and learn from it.

You see, Naomi was down, very down. You might say that she had hit rock bottom. We know she was down because of what she said to those back in Bethlehem;

“Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?” [Ruth 1:20-21]

Her sadness was so deep that she wanted to be called ‘bitter’ which is also translated as ‘grieved’ in verse 13. “for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.” Can you imagine the depth of hurt that you would rather people call you bitter, grief or sadness? Her words conveyed no sense of hope. Is it any wonder she wanted her daughters-in-law to return to their father’s home? [1:8-14]

FACE THE FACTS

Naomi just presented them with the facts of the matter. That’s a good place to start I suppose. Many folks try to hide from the reality of their pain.

In another story, Joshua had to face the facts when Moses died. The Lord spoke to him and said, “Moses my servant is dead.” Yeah, Joshua knew that, they had mourned the death of Moses for 30 days [Deut 34:8]. So why did God tell him again? To face the facts. God had something for Joshua to do and it was time for him to get after it. God follows up His restating of the facts by saying to Joshua;

“now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.” [Joshua 1:2]

Naomi, Ruth and Joshua were in mourning, but life was still moving forward. No one expected them to forget their loved ones, nor was anyone telling them to ‘get over it’ not even God does that. However, what He does expect from all of us, in particular those that are in sorrow, is to keep moving forward. He wants us to keep moving toward Him.

It’s when we understand this that we can have a better understanding of Matthew 6:27; “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” Christ then goes onto say;

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” [Mat 6:33]

He is saying, keep moving forward toward Him, and you will have the strength to discover joy again. This is what Paul learned with the trouble he faced while spreading the Gospel. He wrote to the Philippians;

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

[Phil 4:11-13]

With the help of Ruth, Naomi was able to face the facts and move forward. God retold the promise of Abraham & Moses to Joshua as motivation to keep him moving, and Paul found peace and contentment when he heeded the Word of God.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” [Phil 4:6-7]

Keep moving forward.

LEGALISM

One of the most manipulative criticisms of the members of the Lord’s church is that they’re ‘legalists.’

Legalism is defined as “strict, literal or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code” (Webster’s Dictionary). Another way of saying it is, “one who follows the rules.”

What is unique about the definition of legalism is that it’s subjective. What does “excessive conformity” mean, who decides what is excessive and by what standard are they determining what constitutes excessive.

If you were to poll the denominations in a local area about what is a legalist, and pit their views on sin against one another, you’ll find that they would each think the other were legalists.

It’s really a made-up sin for people who want to continue in it. Paul addressed this in Romans chapter 6…

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” Romans 6:1-2

Here’s the rub, the workers of the devil have convinced people that NOT COMMITTING SIN IS A SIN! If you were to suggest that a legalist is a person who places their trust in the rule keeping ONLY, then of course that’s wrong. God clearly teaches an obedience through faith. Jesus condemned the Pharisee’s, not for keeping the law, rather for keeping it without their heart. I’ve met no one in the churches of Christ who believes or teaches salvation by works alone.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these OUGHT YE TO HAVE DONE, AND NOT TO LEAVE THE OTHER UNDONE.” [Mat 23:23] emphasis mine.

A careful reading of the New Testament will find commands like…

  • Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: Mat 28:18
  • By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: Romans 1:5
  • …according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: Romans 16:26
  • For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. 2Cor 2:9
  • If ye love me, keep my commandments. John 14:15
  • For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 1John 5:3

I believe the confusion comes from a misunderstanding of passages that teach the keeping of the Law could not bring life [ie Gal 3:11; 5:1-4]. The context of these passages is speaking about the Law of Moses, not the Law of Christ. Later in Galatians 3:27 Paul wrote, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” In many places, the Inspired Writers and Apostles of Christ warned those, that still clung to the fulfilled Law of Moses, that it would lead to death. And nowhere will you find any similar condemnation of strictly following the commands of our Lord. Instead, they commend it.

Now, based on a poor understanding of Scripture, millions are being led astray believing that strict obedience to God is a sin called legalism. They’re being told that a faithful Christian is one who is not overly concerned with knowing or keeping God’s commandments. They will often cite 2Corinthians 3:6 as a proof text. However, when you examine the context (v7) you’ll find that what is under consideration is once again, the Law of Moses as it refers to “tablets of stone.”

Listen up, those who love God will keep His commandments [John 14:15]. What does it mean then if you refuse to keep His commandments? In his letters, John also wrote…

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” [1John 2:3]

To love God, to truly know God, is to keep His commandments THROUGH FAITH for it also says in His divine word…

 

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” [Hebrews 11:6]

THAT’S NOT PUNNY!!

that’s punny

We all groan when somebody tells a pun. For example; Where is the first baseball game in the Bible? In the big inning. Eve stole first, Adam stole second. Cain struck out Abel. The Giants and the Angels were rained out.

Merriam-Webster defines pun as, “a joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words that sound alike but have different meanings.”

Would it surprise you to know that some folks use bible puns to confuse and excuse sin? No, not the regular audience that reads this paper. It’s no joke, and it’s certainly not funny.

One of the most common ‘BIBLE PUNS’ is the word JUDGEMENT. When a person has a sin pointed out by another, who cares for them and wants them to go to heaven, they might tell this pun; “Judge not that ye be not judged.” Did you catch it? They switched the meaning of judge (to form an opinion or conclusion) with the meaning of judge (to condemn to death). To understand the difference, read these passages [Mat 7:1,2; 1Cor 6:1-5; 10:15; 14:29; 2Tim 4:1-8].

NOT FUNNY (PUNNY)

These kinds of Bible Puns aren’t very funny at all, as a matter of fact, they’re dangerous. Another common BIBLE PUN involves the word church and it goes something like this; “Quit bugging me about going to church, don’t you know that we are the church?”

Did you catch the switch on this one? They switched the scriptural idea and command of a local assembly of the church of Christ (going to church) with the also scriptural idea of the universal church of Christ (we are the church).

UNIVERSAL & LOCAL CHURCH OF CHRIST

Before we go on, it’s vital we understand the difference between the universal church of Christ and the local churches of Christ. [Rom 16:16]

God adds to the UNIVERSAL church, believing & obeying people [Acts 2:38-47]. This UNIVERSAL church includes every living Christian (CHRISTIAN is another pun the ridiculer tells, but that’s for another article). It also includes all the dead in Christ. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:” [1Thess 4:16]. To be in Christ is to have ‘put on Christ’ in faithful baptism [cf. Gal 3:27]. John was told; Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth [Rev 14:13]. So, the UNIVERSAL CHURCH includes every Christian both alive and dead. Because the UNIVERSAL church of Christ includes both the living and the dead in Christ, we are never and can never activate the UNIVERSAL church for any work. All work is done by the LOCAL churches of Christ.

The LOCAL church of Christ is where the living Christians of a city or town assemble (church means assembly cf. Acts 19:32,39) as commanded by the Lord. [John 4:24; Acts 20:7; 1Cor 11:17-34; 16:1-2; Heb 10:25]. Saul of Tarsus had been added to the UNIVERSAL church of Christ when he obeyed the gospel [Acts 22:26] but had to join the LOCAL church of Christ with the aid of Barnabas. “And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join (kallao = to cleave, keep company) himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple” [Acts 9:26,27]. Then later, Barnabas brought Saul (later Paul) to Antioch and, “that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” [Acts 11:26].

MORE THAN SEMANTICS

This bible pun is more than just a subtle distinction, it has a profound impact for 4 reasons.

  • As was pointed out it confuses the scriptural teachings about the church of Christ. [Mat 16:18]
  • It implies that a Christian has no command to assemble with the LOCAL church of Christ because they are a part of the UNIVERSAL church of Christ, which is a violation of God’s will. [John 4:24; Heb 10:25]
  • It condemns any who, out of love for another, tries to encourage them to worship with the saints. [Gal 4:16] (Ironically, it violates their own view of the ‘judge not’ bible pun.)
  • It lets everyone know that you’re unhappy with the church of Christ (His members and His doctrines 2John 1:9). No one ever says we’re perfect, we need help, and you are demonstrating to us all that you don’t want to help. [Gal 6:1-2]
LOVE THE BRETHREN

We ought and DO love one another, but we often fail to do it well. Christ said that our love for one another would be a demonstration of our discipleship [John 13:35]. Part of that love is to encourage one another for love and good works. And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works [Heb 10:24].

We’re not saying we’re perfect when we try to encourage one another to do better or to assemble. No, we’re poorly saying, “we need your help.” No, none of us is perfect. Part of the reason we assemble is to get better, and we need all the help we can get.

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ [Eph 4:12-13]

I love you all.

THAT’S SO FRUSTRATING!!

We all face frustrations in our lives. It’s a part of life for just about everyone. It comes because of unresolved problems or unfulfilled goals, desires, or needs. [These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33] The definition of frustration is;

(n) the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something.

Frustration is often manifested by feelings of discouragement, anger, and annoyance. Since each of these is condemned by scripture, we need to learn how to handle frustrations in our lives.

I’d like to offer a modification to the current definition of frustration:

the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because they DON’T KNOW HOW to change or achieve something.”

ANGER:  Col 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

DISCOURAGEMENT:  Ps 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

The regular definition has a feeling of inability, helplessness and hopelessness. That’s just not true. We DO HAVE ABILITY to do something about those things that frustrate us. There is hope.

OVERCOMING FRUSTRATION: Below are a few ways we can minimize or even eliminate frustration using the example of evangelism.

LEARN / GROW: Ask Yourself, “What Is Working?” Arguing with folks is very counterproductive. Has anyone ever been won over by an argument? Evangelism used to be frustrating when all I ever did was use conjecture without ever opening the Bible. When we study, we can turn to passages and show them to people. Their anger with us then becomes anger at the Bible and they know they can’t do that.

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. [2Peter 3:18]

LOOK AHEAD: Many sorrows come upon us because we just don’t pay attention. When speaking with someone about salvation they often jump around from subject to subject. Knowing ahead of time about this, we can prepare ourselves to remain on the subject at hand.

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, [Ephesians 5:15]

TRY AGAIN: We will face Mockers which can be very aggravating. However, it’s not new, Paul faced mockers when he preached [Acts 17:32]. What did he do? He kept on preaching, he just took those who wanted to hear and spoke with them.

So Paul departed from among them. Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed. [Acts 17:33-34a]

AUTOPILOT: Critics of the Lord’s church will use about 10 of the same arguments (i.e. thief on the cross, just love, the Roman road etc.). Rather then let that bother us, prepare an answer. If we’re going to get the same objections from most everyone we preach to, learn the answers. Now, instead of frustration, it makes me smile which always improves the interaction.

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. [Col 4:6]

STOP FIGHTING GOD: We often believe that just because we’re having a conversation with someone that we’re doing God’s will. Not so. When we face the mockers, the disinterested or the haters we end up in an argument and, fighting against God. Jesus explicitly told us not to do this.

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. [Matthew 7:6]

REMAIN POSITIVE: We need to acknowledge that we can’t change people, they must want to change. Once we admit that the only way things will change is when we change, then we can have a new perspective about frustrations and recognize them as just challenges to overcome. Challenges are good and very rewarding. [Mat 5:10-12]

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. [John 14:27]

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. [Philippians 4:6-10]

A life of frustration is no way to live and can never glorify God because it contains no joy, it has no hope and it leads to sinful attitudes.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. [Galatians 5:22-23]

What the Bible DOESN’T Say

It’s a very good thing to find out what the Bible has to say. This is the only way to discover the will of God for our lives.

Bible students also know that when God is silent about something, that He is not giving His approval.

For example, when David came up with the idea to build a permanent temple to God in replacement of the tabernacle, God sent Nathan to him and asked; “Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the LORD, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in? Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle. In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build ye not me an house of cedar?” [2Sam 7:5-7]. The point God was making is clear, if He hasn’t revealed His will on the matter He has not given His approval.

We see this same thing in the New Testament in Acts 15:24 when the Apostles wrote a letter to the gentiles over the issue of circumcision. They applied this same principle from God when they wrote, “to whom we gave no such commandment.” Silence prohibits.

Unfortunately, people are doing all sorts of things contrary to this principle by saying, “God never said we can’t.”

THINGS NOT FOUND IN GOD’S WORD.

Thinking about this principle, what are some things we see in modern day religious activities NOT FOUND IN THE BIBLE.

  • Denominational church names – Rom 16:16; Acts 20:28; Heb 12:23
  • When any Denomination Began – Dan 2:44; Mat 16:18; Acts 1:5-8, 2:1-47
  • Where anyone ever ‘JOINED’ a church – Acts 2:47; Mark 16:15-16
  • How to become a member of any denomination – The N.T. only tells us how to become a Christian Acts 2:38, 47; Acts 22:16, Gal 3:27
  • Where any were ever voted on.
  • There is no description of any denomination or how to begin one.

If there are no instructions for denominational names, beginnings or how to join one, WHY BE A MEMBER OF ONE?

JUDGEMENT BEGINS – at the house of God [1Pet 4:17]

LOST – obey not the Gospel [2Thess 1:8-9]

US, THE CHURCH – ground & pillar of the truth [1Tim 3:15]

UNGODLY – ungodly men [2Pet 3:7]

RIGHTEOUS SCARCELY SAVED –  1Peter 4:18

SINNER – But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. [Rev 21:8]

SALVATION IN CHRIST – And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. [1John 5:11]

CONDEMNED – Mr 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

1Peter 4:17-18

Bible believers understand that there will be a judgement [2Cor 5:10; Ecc 12:14; Heb 9:27]. Peter said, “judgment must begin at the house of God.” Who are they? Those who have obeyed the Gospel. Note the contrast at the end of v17. This alone ought to end the discussion that one can be saved outside of the church.

Finally, look closely at v18; “And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”

The Bible never tells us one thing about a denomination, as a matter of fact, it condemns it [1Cor 1:10]. However, it tells us everything we need for life and godliness [2Pet 1:3-4]. Let’s do that.