QUESTIONS YOU SHOULDN’T NEED TO ASK?

Ok, I got it, the only stupid question is the one not asked. However, I did come across a question that shouldn’t have needed to be asked.

At a local eatery, I asked, “can you make sure the egg on my sandwich isn’t burnt?” This is a question no customer should have to ask, but then the clerk asked the cook, “Do we have any GOOD EGGS to serve?” Had I not just written last week about asking questions, I may have never noticed, but this question immediately made me chuckle. THERE IS SUCH A THING AS A STUPID QUESTION. There are questions people shouldn’t need to be asked. It should have been the SOP that there is “GOOD FOOD” to serve.

Disclaimer: When you have a new hire, or beginning a new thing, you may need to ask these questions. However, after you’ve been trained, the answer should be automatic. If you need to ask, then you may not have understood the instructions.

SOME EXAMPLES

A person should never need to be asked, “are you going to work today?” Work is a basic function of life, whether you are of working age, retired or a child. Work is good, commanded and profitable. Taking care of your home is work.

For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

[2Thess 3:10]

A person should never need to be asked, “are you going to stop at red lights?” (obey the laws of the land?) Most human laws are there for organizational reasons. Not many will make you deny your faith. We follow the laws of the land as much as they don’t interfere with living faithfully. [Acts 5:29]

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. [Romans 13:1]

ARE YOU GOING TO WORSHIP GOD OR MAN?

Hananiah, Mishael & Azariah were faced with this dilemma, and they didn’t need to be asked this question, although someone went ahead and asked. You see, they were given the command to worship a golden image set up by the Kings decree. When they would not, they were brought before the king and given the option to worship a gold image or remain faithful to God.

They responded to this question by saying, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.” NKJV [Daniel 3:16-18]. What happened next is astounding, they were thrown into a fiery furnace that was seven times hotter than normal AND LIVED!!! As amazing as that was, what happened next is also truly amazing.

I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.” [Daniel 3:29]. Did you see it? The king that had once decreed that worship only be done to his gold image reversed and commanded that no ill word be said of The One True God of the Bible. Wow! Such a great example of how a few faithful followers of God can influence a nation.

IF WE KNOW WHAT IS RIGHT, WE SHOULD NEVER NEED ASK AGAIN.

  • Did the Apostles need to ask, “Should we keep preaching?” Acts 5:40
  • Did Joshua need to ask, “Who am I supposed to serve?” Josh 24:15
  • Did Noah need to keep asking God, “How many arks am I to build, how many doors?” Gen 6:14

QUESTIONS WE SHOULD HAVE ALREADY ANSWERED.

Are we going to worship on Sunday? Are we going to worship while on vacation? Are we going to give thanks for our meals? Are we going to cancel evening services Super Bowl Sunday?

WE KEEP ASKING.

Naaman asked, “Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?” Maybe, but who cares, the instruction from God was to dip 7 times in the Jordan. That was it, no other river, no other way, no other method.

People read the Bible and ask, “Can I not be sprinkled, or skip out on baptism?” Or they might ask it another way, “What about the thief on the cross?” It’s the same thing, asking a question which ought not be asked. Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” [Mark 16:16] If you love Him, if you want to be called His friend, just do it. [John 14:15; 15:14]

QUESTIONS WE OUGHT TO ASK.

  • What must I do to be saved? – Acts 16:30
  • What wilt Thou have me do? – Act 9:6
  • What doth hinder me from being baptized? – Acts 8:36
  • What shall we do? – Acts 2:37

Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” [Acts 2:38]

 

WE LOVE QUESTIONS.

As said before, when a person is learning there are no stupid questions. We love questions. If you have a question, feel free to ask it and we’ll do our best to answer it with scripture.

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION?

Have you ever had a question but were too afraid to ask? You’ve already been told that there are no stupid questions, so ask. If you have a question you’ve always wanted to ask, ask it (privately or personally) and I’ll do my best to offer a biblical answer. Below is a sampling of questions people should be asking but aren’t…

  • Why is attendance of religious services falling around the world?
  • How do I join the local church of Christ?
    1. Variation: Do I have to identify with a local group of Christians?
  • Are all churches of Christ the same? Does it matter?
  • What is the most important aspect of our Assemblies?
  • How come the churches don’t have crosses in their buildings?
  • Can we eat in the building? How come we don’t eat in the building?
  • How come we don’t have community benevolent programs?
  • What is the work of the church?
  • Why does the evangelist get all bent out of shape when someone calls him ‘pastor?’ Or when I use “church” as an adjective?

Future articles in 2019 will be dedicated to answering, with scripture, many of these questions.

CAN WE EVEN QUESTION THE BIBLE?

Jesus was asked a bunch of questions by folks. He never rebukes us for asking, unless we’re asking to justify ourselves or refuse to be honest with the answers.

In one such encounter, the Pharisees asked Jesus about His authority, “And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?” [Mat 21”23]

Jesus’ reply was not a rebuke for asking, for He said He would answer them, “if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?” But they refused to answer, as either possible answer would rebuke themselves. It was then that Jesus refused to answer their question, because they weren’t being honest about the truth.

In another place, the Apostle Paul went about preaching and came to some folks who took what he preached and searched for some verification. The Berean’s, “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” [Acts 17:11] You see, they took the preaching of Paul and compared it to the scriptures. Oh, if more people in denominations would do that!

Paul also told the Galatians, “though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” [Gal 1:8] He was ok with them verifying what he or anyone else preached. The problem was they had stopped following God’s word in favor false teaching.

He also told those in Thessalonica to, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” [1Thess 5:21].

In another place, John wrote to the saints and told them to, “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” [1John 4:1]

The moral of the story is that it’s OK to ask questions. It’s OK and even encouraged to verify whatever anyone teaches or preaches.

There are just a few criteria…

  • Be honest with yourself, even if it means you may be wrong,
  • Be willing to search for the truth and
  • Be willing to accept the truth and to follow it.

We here in this local body of Christ want to know the truth and to obey the truth. We don’t mind it when someone asks questions and we often invite folks to visit with us after services to ask questions. Just be honest and be willing to accept the truth. If you’re unwilling to listen to God’s word for the answer, don’t bother asking us, because that’s the only qualified answer. The Bible is our only Guide. If you don’t want a bible answer, don’t ask any of us.

There are many false places to which people appeal for the answers to their questions….

  • False teachers – 1Tim 4:1
  • Yes men – 2Tim 4:3
  • The book of ‘opinions’ & ‘I think so’ – Mark 7:7
  • “that’s how we’ve always done it” Mark 7:8

None of these are the source of sound doctrine, and there are many more. Jesus warned the Sadducees, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” [Mat 22:29] We must be careful from where we get the answers to the questions of life and eternal life. God’s word gives us all we need for life & godliness [2Pet 1:3].

Would you like your question answered, and do you want it to be from God’s divine word? Then you’ve come to the right place. Come, let’s reason together.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” [Isaiah 1:18]

Hearing Jesus

There was an old TV commercial where an actor in some public place would say, “My broker is EF Hutton, and Hutton says…” then everyone would immediately go silent, not a sound could be heard. You could hear the proverbial pin drop. Then the narrator would break the silence saying, “When EF Hutton talks, people listen.”

You’ve had that feeling before. That moment when you knew you were in the presence of someone with whom you cherish, or someone who’s words would have a profound effect on the world. It may have been that time when a loved one was taking their final breath and you held yours straining to hear their final words.

That’s what it was like for some who were in the presence of Jesus as they listened to His final public teaching, prior to the cross.

After Jesus cleansed the Temple, He was teaching them daily. Whereas some were seeking a way to destroy Him, others hung on His every word.

And could not find what they might do: for all the people were VERY ATTENTIVE TO HEAR HIM.” [Luke 19:48]

According to Luke’s account, He TAUGHT and PREACHED the GOSPEL [Luke 20:1]. Oh, can you imagine hearing the gospel message from the very lips of the one who was about to endure it? The Gospel is “how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” [1Cor 15:3-4]. They may not have realized the full meaning of what they heard, but Jesus did. In just a few days He would be betrayed, falsely accused & tried, scourged & then death by crucifixion.

Can you hear Him pleading? Can you imagine His passion? If you could sit in on that sermon, in our time, what would you be doing? Would you be playing on your phone? Would you be thinking about lunch? Would you be wondering how much longer He will go on? Would the cares of the world block out the voice of the Savior?

The Gospel Message:

The message of the cross is so important to our lives that it must be heard and understood. Although we can’t go back to that time, it becomes even more important for us to pay attention. We have not His voice, but we have His words.

“He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” [John 12:48]

It’s so amazing and yet so sad that a message so important is being ignored by our friends and our family. If that weren’t bad enough, there are those who seek to destroy it. Just as there were back then. Earlier in Luke, Jesus warned, “He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.” [Luke 11:23]

The message of the cross is still strange to many ears today, just as it was foolishness to some back then [1Cor 1:23]. The message is too difficult for some today, just as it was to some back then.

Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? … and walked no more with him.” [John 6:60,66]

As the new year approaches, and as we ponder our resolutions, let us take time to silence the noise of the world and take time to listen to the Son of God through His revealed Word. To read it, ponder it and to incorporate His teaching into our lives. Let it continue to convert us and be incorporated into every aspect of our lives so that others may see a light of hope emanating from us. May we hang on His every Word. [2Timothy 3:16-17; 1Peter 3:15; Matt 5:14-16]

“You guys think you’re the only ones going to heaven.”

Has anyone ever challenged you with this statement after telling them to which church you belong? Did you know what to say?

Before we offer an answer to this accusation, we need to identify it for what it is; it’s an intellectually dishonest accusation based upon an unstudied position. It’s emotionally charged based on another similar question; “will God actually send good people to hell?”

Here’s another way of stating these charges; “do you mean to tell me that God is going to send people to hell who disregard His authority and choose not to follow the whole counsel of God?”

When stated this way, you can begin to see the answer to their claims.

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. [Acts 20:27]

Most, if not all, attacks come from a position of partial understanding of God’s word. The real answer to most attacks should be “who has all authority, and how do we know what it is?” when faced with an emotionally charged criticism, I ask this question; “What does the bible say?

Jesus has “all authority” [Mat 28:18], and He alone has the right to determine under what conditions salvation is determined. He said that judgment will be based upon the standard of God’s word [John 12:48] and if this is true, are we to teach it accurately? Do any of us have the right to teach less or to add more to His word? Certainly not!

If the bible teaches that only those who have been added to the Lord’s church are saved [Acts 2:47], then to teach otherwise is to be a false teacher. To belong to a church not mentioned in the Bible is to disregard God’s word, the word upon which the determination of saved or lost is made.

The Lord’s church.
  • Jesus said; “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” [Mat 16:18] He could have built 1,000 churchES, but He only promised to build ONE.
  • Jesus purchased ONE church; “… the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” [Acts 20:28]
  • Jesus is the head of His church; “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body,” [Eph 1:22-23]
  • Jesus will save His body; “…Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.” [Eph 5:23b]

How many bodies (churches) did He build, purchase, is the head of and is the savior of? We read about followers of Christ assembling in local congregations called ‘churches of Christ.’ [Rom 16:16] These are not different denominations teaching different doctrines. These are adherents to God’s word assembling as commanded in their home towns.

Some argue that there are many members of that one body in all the denominations. Can that even make sense? Don’t forget about the word that judges us in the last day. Denominations teach different things about salvation, sin, worship, faith, apostacy etc. Some teach & bind MORE than what the bible teaches on these subjects. Can we be a part of a denomination that adds to or takes away from God’s word and say you’re following the whole counsel of God? When we examine the scriptures, we find the expectation that the same thing be taught to every person. [1Cor 1:10-14]

For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.” [1Cor 4:17]

A word of caution; not every person who attends a “church of Christ” belongs to Him. There are some who are in unrepented sin or practicing error. Revelation 2 & 3 also teaches that entire congregations have left their first love, hold the doctrine of Balaam, allow false teachers in, are spiritually dead, and are lukewarm. Jesus said to one congregation, “for I have not found thy works perfect before God.” [Rev 3:2]. They were not completely following God’s word!

If those who are in the Lord’s church are in jeopardy for not following His will, what makes you think He’s going to overlook denominational error?!

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.

Every NT Scripture authorizing Instrumental Music in the Worship

Years ago, as we were beginning our walk as children of God, we had a few ‘why’ questions. Why don’t we have crosses on the building? Why does everyone correct us when we say, “going to church?” One of the why questions was, “why do we sing Acapella music without instrumental accompaniment during worship?”

The gospel preacher at this congregation would always give us a bible answer to all our questions, but this time, the bible answer was so different than all the other answers he had given. He said, “I’m going to read to you every single passage in the Bible authorizing instrumental music in New Testament worship.” And he did.

The lesson was so powerful that I have used it myself when others have asked this question and I want to share it with you. The chart below lists every single passage in the Bible authorizing instrumental music in New Testament worship.

New Testament Scriptures Authorizing Instrumental Music in the Worship

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(this page left blank intentionally)

 

That’s it, every single passage. You may be saying, “but the chart is blank” and I would say, “yup, because that is what God has said about instrumental music in New Testament worship, NOTHING.”

Speak when the Bible speaks, and remain silent when it’s silent

There can be no clear instructions, no command keeping if we don’t have a respect for silence. “The bible doesn’t say I can’t” is NOT a valid reason to play an instrument during worship of God. If silence doesn’t restrict our actions, then we can’t get upset when Mcd’s gets our order wrong. All they need to say is, “you didn’t say we couldn’t.”

God The Holy Spirit told us what He wants in our worship regarding music, VOCAL. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;” “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” [Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16]

When you tell your child to make his bed, and later you find out he made it and painted it, are you going to accept, “you didn’t say I couldn’t?” Certainly not! Why? Because what is expressly stated eliminates all other options and additions. Imaging trying to give instructions if you also must include all the things you DON’T WANT.

Some will say, “Well David used instruments to worship God.” Really, you’re going to follow an OT example? [Colossians 2:14] Are you going to also slaughter bulls and goats, because that’s what David did? Here’s a question for you, did God authorize David’s use of the instrument? David also had multiple wives, can I do that? What did God think of David’s use of the instrument? God rebuked His people in Amos 6:5 saying, “Who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments, And invent for yourselves musical instruments like David;” It seems God was no more happy with David’s instrumental music than He was with the multiplying of wives [Acts 17:30], and you want to use that for permission? Let’s just do this, respect what God has commanded, and leave what He hasn’t said where He left it…SILENT.

Just Preach Jesus

I met a fellow this week who during his conversation with me said, “instead of looking at what we’re doing differently, we ought to be celebrating what the denominations are doing right.” He then cited the example of a denomination’s sound finances. As the conversation went on, he repeated this sentiment, the idea of “celebrating what’s right and ignoring what’s wrong. This has mass appeal in our ecumenical society.

When shown the passage; “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.” 1 Corinthians 1:10 (emphasis mine), he swept it away as just a request Paul had and not a requirement of the Lord. [cf. 1Cor 14:37]. He said, “I’m not about logic and reasoning.” Then the conversation was over.

They tell us to JUST preach Jesus, His love and His grace. The thing is…we are preaching Jesus, His love and His grace, we’re just including the parts that they have left out. Leaving out key parts of the information is not to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Abram’s HALF TRUTH

Before we go on, let’s take a small detour back to the time when Abram (later changed to Abraham) was in Egypt [Genesis 12:10-20] when he was afraid the Egyptians would kill him to take his wife. He told the Egyptians the truth, that Sarai (later changed to Sarah) was his sister. Scripture tells us that she is the “daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife” [Genesis 20:12]. Abraham and his brother had married sisters. This made Sarah both Abraham’s wife AND his sister in law. So technically, he didn’t lie. However, we all know that the whole truth wasn’t conveyed. He told a story to protect his life but didn’t identify her as his wife. With that before us, let’s return to the main point.

JUST PREACH JESUS

When they say, “JUST preach Jesus,” they are saying to focus ONLY on His love and His grace which is to preach ONLY half of the truth. Just as Abraham told the partial truth about his wife Sarah, to preach JUST Jesus love, is to preach a partial truth about Jesus, that is, to preach faith only. James, using another example of Abraham, points out that no justification is by ‘faith only’. “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” [James 2:24]

God IS love, and we are saved by grace, but that’s only half of the story. [cr. John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8] There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Salvation is a gift of God, something none of us can earn. [cr. Romans 5:8-10] But we are not allowed to declare only half the truth, we must declare the “whole counsel of God.”

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. [Acts 20:27]

PREACHING JESUS

What does it mean to “preach Jesus?” To learn that answer we turn to Acts 8:26-40, the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. Philip approached the eunuch who was reading Isaiah while returning from Jerusalem. Philip asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The eunuch invited Philip up into the chariot to guide him in the text. Philip then, beginning at the same scripture, opened his mouth and “preached unto him Jesus.”  [v35]

This next part is extremely important, please pay close attention and notice who speaks in the very next verse. “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” [Acts 8:36] The eunuch spoke and asked about BEING BAPTIZED!!! How did he learn about baptism? How did he learn about water being the type of baptism? How did he learn that baptism was immersion? How did he learn that it was a requirement of salvation? Where did he learn the answer to each of these questions? The answer is simple, and we already read it in verse 35, Philip “preached unto him Jesus.” To preach Jesus it to “declare the whole counsel of God.”

To preach the Love of Christ is to talk about how to love Him…

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:15; cf. 1John 5:3

To preach the Gospel is to tell about obeying the Gospel…

In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

2Thessalonians 1:8; cf. 1Cor 15:1-4; Rom 6:1-4

To preach the Grace of God is to include how one can fall from it…

Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

Galatians 5:4

Preaching anything less is to come short of salvation. Let us speak the truth about Jesus, His love and His grace and let’s do it with LOVE.

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: Ephesians 4:15

Why I left the Baptist church

via Biblical Insights, April 2005, pp 20,21

There’s a proverb that says, “a wise man learned from the mistakes of others; a fool learns only from his own.” When asked to prepare a short treatise on my conversion, I jumped at the opportunity to do so. There was a time in my life when I was a lost person who thought he was a saved person, just like Cornelius (Acts 10) and the “many” of Matthew 7:21-23. Anything I can do to help other people who are either personally deceived, or are working with those who are, 1 will always do.

Reared a Good Calvinistic Baptist

My immediate family didn’t attend any church regularly until I was about 12 years old. We began attending church when an associate pastor of the local Baptist church moved across the street from us and invited our family to join them at services. Perhaps realizing that it was not wise to neglect the spiritual development of their children, my parents agreed to go, and my active spiritual life began. Having not really been involved in church earlier in my life, I really knew almost nothing about the Bible. I developed a strong spiritual interest, and I was eager to learn all that I could.

In my late teen years, I began to play guitar professionally in a Christian rock band. Also, I took a job working at the local Christian bookstore. Part of my job requirement was that I’d be very well read on the inventory within our store. As a result, even at the young age of about 18 years old, I had read probably hundreds of books on theology, doctrine, and Protestant church history. I probably understood Calvinistic theology and Premillennial eschatology as well (or better) as the Baptist Church staff I attended. My reading would have been essentially what those in mainline protestant denominations or evangelical churches embrace.

I distinctly remember the day that I told my family of my desire to go to seminary and become a Baptist pastor. They encouraged me in that, and said that people had prayed for generations that a preacher would arise out of the family. The Baptist Church of which I was a member also encouraged me, and I began to do a considerable amount of work within the congregation. Ultimately, I began doing preaching work at Baptist churches, presentations before youth groups, and worked as an assistant to the Sunday school director.

While I was working with the Baptist Church, I was also attending a Baptist University in preparation for my seminary studies at Dallas Theological Seminary (Ground Zero for the modern Premillennial eschatology movement). It was fairly normal for me to give “faith only” invitations, work at evangelistic rallies, deliver sermons and messages, and teach classes involving sometimes intricate areas of Calvinistic theology and eschatology.

To be completely honest, most people attending Baptist churches don’t really know their theology. Baptist theology is deeply rooted in Calvinism, yet most Baptists would deny they are Calvinistic. The entire basis of “once saved, always saved” is that you cannot be lost, because you did nothing of your own accord to be saved in the first place! I was a little unique in that my reading schedule at the bookstore had resulted in me not only knowing what I believed, but also having a thorough understanding of exactly why I believe it. Further, I was extremely zealous and evangelistic in teaching the “truth” of Calvinism, and all that it contained: original sin, the impossibility of apostasy, unconditional predestination, etc.

Although churches with Calvinistic theology are perceived as teaching “faith only” salvation, in truth they teach “nothing only” salvation. A genuine Calvinist would tell you that you have done absolutely nothing for your salvation — you were unconditionally selected before time began by God. A common Calvinistic line is “you did not choose God; God chose you.” Because this essentially makes all evangelistic activities pointless, this element of Calvinism is generally forgotten.”

My Beliefs Radically Changed

I met a young lady who was attending the church of Christ in the neighboring town. We started dating, and I agreed to visit her church on Wednesday evening. When I got there, I was astonished to find that I disagreed with almost the entirety of their doctrine and theology. This was clearly not the “faith only salvation,” “once saved always saved,” unconditional Calvinistic theology that I embraced so dearly. In fact, I had determined that my new goal was to convert the entire congregation to the “truths” of Calvinism, and committed to attending their midweek Bible study every week until I had succeeded.

Because I was now attending their Bible study, the church there began a new Bible study on denominational error. As our study went along, we evaluated characteristic error taught within various denominational churches. Much of the error we were studying were things that I held very dearly as true.

Perhaps the very first element in my theology to fall was the idea that denominations were acceptable. Within most denominational churches, it is often accepted as a good trait that there are so many different churches to choose from. That way, people can always find a church that they agree with. Of course, the problem with this is it sets man as the ultimate arbiter of truth, rather than the scriptures. God’s expectation of us is that we conform ourselves to the truth of the word of God, not that we just move around until we can find people who agree to ignore the same portions of scripture (see Rom. 3:4).

Much to my surprise, I found myself completely unprepared to deal with the rather pointed questions I was being asked about my beliefs. What about men with long hair who claim to be godly? (see I Cor 11:14). This was problematic for me because I was a long-haired hippie type playing in a Christian rock bank. When asked about the frequency of which we observed the Lord’s Supper at the Baptist Church, I could only reply that we did so quarterly, four times a year, for no other reason than “that’s just the way we do it” (see Acts 20:7). When asked why I didn’t teach baptism was essential to salvation, I would rely on passages such as John 3:16, while admittedly ignoring passages such as Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38. I did not understand the principle of homogeny of scripture (John 10:35; Acts 15:15), and was genuinely surprised to learn that I had significant holes in my Bible knowledge.

I had preached. taught. and performed concerts in and around Baptist churches for years. I was attending a Baptist University. I had at this time read extensively on doctrine and theology. I had been formally educated in Biblical languages. But one thing I had not done was actually read the Bible much. Amazingly enough, I had logged thousands of hours in studying about the bible, but comparatively little time actually in the Bible itself I began to see where my studies had almost systematically avoided large segments of scripture. You can imagine my shock when someone read me James 2:24. I think I probably responded somewhat like Martin Luther. and thought to myself, “that just doesn’t belong in the Bible.” I was amazed that I had never seen that before.

I remember sitting in a Baptist worship service when the senior pastor’s wife went to the pulpit and proclaimed, “Many people are proud to be Christians. But I want you to know, that I’m proud to be a Baptist.” I remember exactly where I was sitting. I will never forget it. Never. I was absolutely devastated. I remember thinking to myself, “This is so wrong! We have a woman preaching about how proud she is that we have divided up the body of Christ. I just can’t do this anymore.” I determined right then that I would not be a Baptist pastor. Instead. I changed my plan to pasturing a nondenominational evangelical church. I was making progress, but I still wasn’t there yet.

My plan to “convert” the local church of Christ was not going as I had intended. Instead, I found major tenets of my theology being shot down one right after another. Clearly man had a free will, as God had given men many occasions to make a choice. It was also evident that the Bible taught about a faith that did not save. Even with my Baptist Church invitations, I appealed to Romans 10:10 which teaches the necessity of confession. For years I had managed to miss that faith plus confession did not equal faith only. Our salvation was not unconditional, but was very conditional upon an obedient faith.

And then I had the night at the church of Christ that I will never forget.

I was sitting on the back row, when someone in passing read I John 3:15: “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” This was the straw that broke the camel’s back! I remember feeling somewhat shell-shocked at that passage. I had to have been visibly stunned. I turned to the person next to me and said. “Do you realize that this passage says if you are a murderer, you don’t have eternal life?” She said, “Of course, everybody knows that.” I replied, “You’re wrong — everybody doesn’t know that.”

Within Calvinistic theology, once a person has eternal life, it can never be forfeited. I had already determined that man had a free will. Therefore, I knew it was within the realm of possibility for a Christian to choose to commit murder. And if that Christian could choose to commit murder, I John 3:15 said he would not have eternal life. “Once saved, always saved” was not true.

I spoke with a preacher at the church of Christ, and told him my concerns. He pointed out that I took passages out of context in order to support a position I had already decided upon. To avoid this problem. I read through the entire Bible in essentially one sitting over the course of three or four days. Thereafter, I went back to the Baptist Church and told them I was leaving. My final stop that day was for scriptural baptism (Titus 3:5; Col 2:12). I am now privileged to preach “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

Denomination Dictionary

In Genesis eleven, the story of the Tower of Babel, we read where God confounded the language of mankind. One of the lessons we learn from this true story is that language has the power to unify people. Sometimes for evil, but it can also unify people for good.

To be united we need to speak the same language, and equally important, we need to define the words the same way. Though we can use our smartphones to communicate with folks who speak another language, it’s challenging to communicate with people who speak the same language but use different definitions.

One of the complications of evangelism is the fact that the terms we use are defined differently in the denominations. It’s nearly impossible to communicate with another if we’re not speaking the same language.

So that we can evangelize more effectively allow me to provide a list of common Biblical words and what they mean to the person in a denomination.

CHURCH: A building where believers gather to worship, fellowship, have trunk or treat or play games.

What Does the Bible Say? The church is the ‘Called out.’ It is the group of people which God adds a person to when they have obeyed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. [ Acts 2:47]

The church is the body of Jesus Christ, and there is only one. [Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22-23, 4:4]

One must be in the church to be saved for Jesus is the savior of the body (the church). [Ephesians 5:23]

CHRISTIAN: Any person who believes in Jesus, but not necessarily an obedient or repentant person.

What Does the Bible Say? A Christian is what scripture calls those who have obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ and are faithfully following the doctrine of Christ.

WORSHIP: The feeling that one’s whole life pays homage to God. The activity one does to pay homage to God, as long as it feels good, includes mechanical music and is followed by a lunch. It is not necessary to follow the biblical pattern to ‘worship’.

What Does the Bible Say? Jesus said that the people who worship must do so in spirit and truth [John 4:24] which means that it is heart filled as well as scripturally authorized [Matthew 18:20]. He also said that it’s possible to worship in vain [Matthew 15:9].

BAPTISM: An outward sign of an inward grace.

What Does the Bible Say? Baptism is IMMERSION in water [Ephesians 5:26] which models the DEATH, BURIAL & RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ in obedience to the Gospel [1Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 6:1-4; 2Thessalonians 1:8]. It is an essential part of salvation for the person AFTER he, Believes that Jesus is the Christ, Repents of their sins, and Confesses that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God [Matthew 16:16-18; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Rom 10:10].

GRACE: The free gift of salvation that Christ gave by dying on a cross. There is nothing a person can do to accept that free gift…except believe (unless you’re a Unitarian who thinks every person is saved without believing). Repentance is also not required, unless you’re a member of the church of Christ, in which case that person must repent of believing that repentance is an essential part of salvation. However, if you don’t bring forth fruit of the non-requirement of repentance, then you probably weren’t saved in the first place.

What Does the Bible Say? Grace is the gift of God [Ephesians 2:8], through Jesus as the perfect sacrifice, becoming the propitiation of our sins [1John 2:1-2]. Everyone can access this gift through HEARING the Gospel, BELIEVING, REPENTING of our sins, CONFESSING that Jesus is the Christ and being BAPTIZED into Christ for the remission of sins. [Romans 10:10, 17; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:27].

LOVE: An emotion one must have toward everyone regardless of their lifestyle which does not judge or condemn, neither does it try to convince others to change.

What Does the Bible Say? Love is PATIENT and is KIND [1Corinthians 13:4], but it also REBUKES (convince of right or wrong) and CHASTENS (discipline / instruction). “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” [Hebrews 12:4-11].

These are just a few examples of the many Biblical words that have been redefined by denominations. My intention is not to mock, rather it is to point out that there is only one truth, and that truth is God’s word. The redefining of these words is causing many to be lead astray. Effective evangelism recognizes that the world is speaking a secular language different from the language of the Bible.

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. John 17:17

Crowdsourcing Sin

Crowdsourcing is the new term being used to describe the method folks are using to raise money. Due to the people connecting power of the internet, crowdsourcing has become the way to finance business projects, or to assist in paying medical expenses after an illness or injury. However, crowdsourcing is also used to gather information, as in the example of Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, which gains all its information through crowdsourcing. Contributors from around the world write, on the website, about any and every subject under the sun.

Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining information, money or input into a task or project by enlisting the services of a large number of people, either paid, or unpaid, typically via the internet. The practice has become so common, that Wikipedia has become a valid source of information, and a new TV program is set to air that uses the power of the crowd to catch criminals. This idea is not new. The Mormon church has been using crowdsourcing for years through their Ancestry website. When people sign up to do genealogical research, the information gathered allows them to practice their error of “baptism for the dead” as the one being baptized is immersed multiple times for the unfaithful deceased of their family.

Which brings us to our topic, Crowdsourcing Authority. As the years progress, and each new generation grows more dependent upon an internet connected society, we’re being trained to see crowdsourcing as a legitimate method of understanding Biblical Authority. THIS IS DANGEROUS!

Every generation has had to overcome the use of erroneous sources of Biblical Authority…

  • Men / Parents – “Well my Daddy said…” or “My Pastor told me…”
    • The Bible Says: “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” [Matthew 7:7]
  • Tradition – “We always did it this way.”
    • The Bible Says; “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” [Colossians 2:8].
  • Feelings & False Reasoning – “I think this” or “God wants me to be happy”
    • The Bible Says: “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” [Jeremiah 10:23]
    • “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” [2Thess 2:10]

Now we have a new one to deal with, crowdsourcing. But it isn’t new, nothing ever is (Ecc 1:9), crowdsourcing authority has been around since there have been crowds.

  • In Babel – “And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” [Genesis 11:4]
  • In the Wilderness – “And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!” [Numbers 14:2]
  • Jesus warned about the crowd – “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:” [Matthew 7:13]
    • And again, “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?” [Matthew 7:22]
Crowdsourcing Sin

What we find from these passages is not the crowdsourcing of authority, rather, we find the CROWDSOURCING OF SIN. In each example, if the source of the activity came from the crowd, God condemned it. Do you suppose that we’re any less susceptible to this problem? Sin is never acceptable to God, no matter how many people are doing it. Your momma may have said it, but God gave her the idea, “if everybody wanted to jump off a bridge would you follow them?” As we view the crowds in our society, we see the biblical warnings being ignored as crowds (majorities) try to shape it. Crowds become nothing more than bullies when driven by the emotionalism and confusion emanating from the ignorance of God’s divine Word. [Hosea 4:6; Matthew 22:29]

There is only ONE source of Authority, for life AND godliness. It’s found in Christ Jesus. “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:” [2Peter 1:3] Jesus made this very direct claim; “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” [Matthew 28:18] This statement of fact covers a lot of ground, HEAVEN AND EARTH.

When Paul wrote to the Colossians, he reminds the church of this fact about Jesus when he wrote, “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” [Colossians 1:18] Some claim that Jesus was a good teacher, ney ney. Christ Jesus is PREEMINENT. Preeminent means He surpasses all of us and is superior to all of us. Jesus is not A SOURCE of authority, HE IS THE SOURCE OF AUTHORITY! This information will never be found through crowdsourcing, but only in His word, which He promised to give.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”

John 16:13-14