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.