TAKE A PICTURE

The Reverend Jefferson Davis Tant, duly ordained in the Methodist ministry, became a circuit-rider in North Texas in the year 1880. His work as a Methodist minister was destined to be a short one. In 1881, he moved to Buda, Texas, where in August of that year, he heard W. H. D. Carrington, a minister of the Church of Christ, preach the gospel. He liked what he learned. In those days, the church was often referred to as “Campbellites.” The meeting ran from two weeks to a month. Tant decided to go back and hear what the “Campbellite” preacher had to say further. Carrington took the Bible, read the passages and explained them clearly, especially the verses that told what one must do to be a Christian or to be saved.

On August 14, 1881, Tant came forward in Carrington’s meeting and gave the preacher his hand. He was openly weeping as he did so, weeping from fear and from gratitude.

J.D. Tant preached all over the nation [abandoning the term reverend]. Gospel preachers were few and far between. He was in great demand, ordinarily receiving more than 200 invitations per year for gospel meetings and debates. His record was 269 invitations in a single year. Obviously, he could not hold more than 20 or 25 of these, since most of them were of two weeks’ duration.

The following account is from the book about his life; “TEXAS PREACHER.”

J.D. Tant’s last debate with Ben M. Bogard (his eighth) was in the Lone Star community about eight miles east of Greenwood, Arkansas, in the fall of 1937.

The proposition being discussed was that baptism of a penitent believer is (or in order to) the remission of past sins. In one of Bogard’s speeches of denial he took up his entire thirty minutes trying to prove that there are two figures (pictures) contemplated in 1Peter 3:21. Insisting that Noah and his family were saved by faith, and then pictured their salvation in the water of the flood, he declared that we are first saved by faith, and then picture that salvation by baptism. He dwelt at length on the fact that one could not have a picture of a thing or a person without first having the substance of the thing or person. He told of having a picture of his mother, and how highly he prized the picture; but he could not have had the picture unless he had first had the mother! His Baptist brethren seemed elated with this argument and felt that it was unanswerable.

Tant got to his feet and replied, “My good friends, remember that baptism is just a ‘picture’. Ben Bogard says it is, and since Ben seems to be the big ‘It’ among Baptists, that makes it so. Now, Ben, says baptism is a ‘picture’. That does not help Baptist doctrine at all; for it was Jesus Christ himself who said in Mark 16:16, ‘He that believeth and gets his picture taken shall be saved’.

And when those wicked people on Pentecost asked Peter and the rest of the apostles what they had to do, Peter replied, ‘Repent ye, and get your picture taken, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.’

And when Ananias came to Saul of Tarsus there in Damascus, he said unto him as recorded in Acts 22:16, ‘And now why tarriest thou? Arise and get your picture taken, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord’.

So, you can see, Ben, you, too, will have to get your picture taken or you can never be saved!”

There was a roar of laughter from the audience, and Bogard was obviously discomfited as his bit of sophistry was thus handed back to him.

Advertisements

Confessing Jesus

Cherry picking is the act of pointing at individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position. The practice of cherry-picking overlooks or even suppresses evidence that would lead to a different conclusion.

The term comes from the process of harvesting fruit. A picker (such as for cherries) would select only the best-looking fruit while overlooking or wrongly concluding that the remaining fruit is not yet ripe or of a poor quality.

It is one of many logical fallacies. When people cite anecdotal evidence, they tend to overlook large amounts of additional data. Selective gathering of evidence to support a personal opinion is misleading and incredibly damaging.

We all know that religious orders cherry-pick the scriptures to prove faith only.

One such example is…

“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.” [Mat 10:32]

Before we go on, you need to know that this article is not going to undo this passage. I hope you believe it and obey it. What we will do is ask the question, is this all that is said about confessing Jesus?

Another thing, those who cite this passage don’t actually define it biblically. They use it in a faith only sort of way. Note that the passage said, “before men.” Confessing Jesus is not a private affair, no sir, it’s a very public and ongoing activity. The implication is this, if you stop confessing Jesus before men, your eternal destiny is in jeopardy. Notice what was said about certain believers in Jesus…

“Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:” [John 12:42]

Another passage cited by believers only folks is Romans 10:9; “because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved:” This proof text is then driven home with verse 13: “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” They may even include Acts 2:21 which says the same thing.

That’s where they stop. They’ll go on to make some grand point about Christs love (He does love you) and how salvation happens at your Lazboy when you begin believing.

This is cherry-picking, for they willfully or ignorantly overlook passages that changes the picture completely. You see, the audience of Acts 2 went on to ask, “what must we do?” They were told, “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins.” [2:38]

Saul of Tarsus, when He believed in a risen Jesus, was told what he must do. Ananias came to him and said…“And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name.” [Acts 22:16].

Did you see what happened? When we gathered more information (picked all the fruit) we find out when calling on His name occurs. When we are baptized (buried in water) we are calling on the name of the Lord.

Some would argue, “if someone accepts Christ as their Savior but dies before the baptistry they are saved.” No. Look again at the evidence. No one has accepted Christ as their Savior until they have obeyed His gospel which includes baptism into Christ for the remission of sins. [Gal 3:27; Rom 6:1-4; 1Peter 3:21]

Hear, Believe, Repent, Confess, Be Baptized and continue to live a life of continual confession of Christ with godly behavior. [Acts 2:42; Rev 3:10]

The Tears of Jesus

It matters naught where one lives, in what culture or what era, tears and laughter are a universal language of the world.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ shed tears for the very same reasons as we. The THREE accounts of our Lord’s weeping are representative of life.

HE WEPT FOR THE SORROW OF OTHERS…

The first account is found as Jesus approached the tomb of Lazarus and found his family weeping.

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping who came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him? They say unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept.” [John 11:33-35]

Jesus’ weeping was much more than sympathy, He had empathy for their loss, He felt as we feel. [Heb 4:15]

HE WEPT OVER JERUSALEM AND THEIR MISSED OPPORTUNITY…

The next scene occurs as Jesus approaches Jerusalem the week of His crucifixion.

And when he drew nigh, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known in this day, even thou, the things which belong unto peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, when thine enemies shall cast up a bank about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,  and shall dash thee to the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” [Luke 19:41-44]

It’s from this scene that we notice His sorrow for those who have wasted the most important opportunity of their lives, believing and obeying God’s sacrifice for our sins [John 1:29].

IN THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE…

The final scene is on the night of His betrayal that would result in His unjust conviction, scourging and crucifixion on a cruel cross.

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became as it were great drops of blood falling down upon the ground” [Lu 22:44; cr. Heb 5:7].

The context of His tears is for the battle He was about to face as He shed His own blood for our sins. It’s hard to imagine what He endured, for He was keenly aware of things before they happened. We face battles as they come, and only know the difficulties after the fact.

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM HIS TEARS?

The scenes of His tears can teach us about CONCERN. How concerned are we for the THREE biggest tragedies in a person’s life?

  • The sorrow of a deceased family member (for those not in Christ cr. 1Thess 4:18)? The reality that many a loved one has died outside of Christ compels me all the more.
  • The sorrow for those who have spurned the Gospel, or for our wasted opportunities to preach Christ? If you believe the first pain, this second one hurts nearly just as much. May someone’s rejection never be because of my failures.
  • The deep concern in prayer each night knowing that we MUST fight the Good fight of faith but realizing that the message will be rejected by most and we’ll be persecuted by many. Never allow the possibility of persecution prevent the preaching of Christ.

In the scene at Lazarus’ tomb, the witnesses said, “Behold how he loved him!” They saw how much our Lord loved him, and we know that He loves us. [cr. Jno. 3:16; Rom 5:8; 1Jno. 4:9]

You see, the weeping of Jesus demonstrates to us His concern for our soul, and if we’re to be like Him, we should be just as concerned for the souls of others.

This concern, our tears, will be seen by those we’re trying to reach. Perhaps a few more tears shed will win a few more to Christ.

The Beverage Station church

 

We’re all familiar with the ‘BEVERAGE STATION’ found at many eateries. The self-service place one pours their own drink. A beverage station is nothing more than a place to get a version of WATER.

Jesus said to the woman at the well, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” [John 4:10]

Jesus is the provider of ‘living water.’ Unfortunately, many find His water unpotable, that’s where the ‘BEVERAGE STATION’ comes into play.

For some, they need a little flavor in their water, so to the ‘BEVERAGE STATION’ they go to get tea, coffee or some lemons to ADD a little flavor to their water. Others want a version of water from a major company, these choose Coke, Pepsi or Dr. Pepper (and lines are drawn as to which is better).

Still others don’t like any of these flavored waters but despise the taste of regular water. These folks go to the ‘BEVERAGE STATION’ for the filtered water, to TAKE AWAY what they don’t like about the water.

The ‘BEVERAGE STATION’ is just a simple way to illustrate denominationalism. These divisions are nothing more than folks adding to the WORD of God or removing from the word so that the WORD is more palatable to one’s personal tastes. [cr. Deut 4:2; 12:32; Rev 22:18-19]

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

[1Corinthians 1:10]

The Strange Church

There’s a bittersweet scene in Ezra chapter 3 during the time when the exiles, returning from 70 years of captivity, were rebuilding the temple that had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.

As they laid the foundation, all the younger folks, “…praised the Lord, because the foundation was laid.” But the older ones, the ones who had seen the first temple built by Solomon, “wept with a loud voice.” [Ezra 3:12; cf. Haggai 2:3]

Why such a disparity in the reaction between the two groups? It is the answer to this question about which I want to speak.

The reason for the weeping was that the older one’s could still remember how beautiful the first temple had been. They could remember the gold plating, the cedar paneling, the incredible beauty. The younger ones had no point of reference, therefore they rejoiced while the others wept.

POINT OF REFERENCE

The religious world is suffering from this same thing today. Many religious, churchgoing folks are looking for a church based upon their social programs, entertainment and food options. Why? It would be easy to just say that their stomachs have become their gods.

“Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” [Philippians 3:19]

You would be mostly right. But let me suggest that another part of the reason this is so is since people have been separated from the truth about a sound church for so long they don’t even recognize one when they see it. There are some who have never even heard the truth on certain matters. They’ve never seen a sound church.

You may think I’m referring to denominationalism, but no sir. I’m speaking about the Lord’s church. The Lord’s body is suffering from this failure in having a sound POINT OF REFERENCE.

It is certainly true that denominations have ruined the truth about worship and the work of the church, Paul called it a perversion, and therefore many people of the world only think of the church as a benevolence or social welfare institution. They don’t even consider the church as a teaching organization.

The Strange Church

There was a time when Christians were thought of as strange. Peter said, “Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you” [1Peter 4:4]. He also said that members of the Lord’s body were, “a peculiar people” [1Peter 2:9].

Many of our ‘denominational’ minded brethren have never heard the truth on subjects like, institutionalism or the errors of the social gospel. Instead they’re rejoicing that they have ‘youth pastors’ & ‘children’s church’ and many other such perversions of the Gospel.

I know this to be true because I’ve asked of their members, “Do you know why we’re separate from you?” To a person they say no! One person was super excited to tell me the news that they found a ‘youth minister.’ I asked, “what is that, aren’t the biblical youth ministers the older people of the congregation?” [Titus 2:4] Yes, they think it strange.

Think about this; it was the strangeness of Christ that drew people to Him and His church. Strange in that He taught the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. [John 17:17]

He didn’t give His life on a cross to bring about an earthly kingdom and earthly bliss [Mat 10:34]. No Sir! He died to bring reconciliation between mankind and God. [1John 2:2]. This is not to say that joy cannot be found, it’s just not the work (responsibility) of the Lord’s church. Peace & Joy are blessings for people who, having put on Christ in baptism, are in Christ [Ephesians 1:3].

The Lord’s church is a teaching organization [1Timothy 3:15]. We are to reach out to the spiritually lost of this world with the Gospel message and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Then we are to teach these Christians “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” [Matthew 28:18-20]

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” [Romans 14:17]

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

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.