Vol. 45, No. 11
ALL AUTHORITY Levi Sides, Jasper, AL Jesus had lived on the earth. He had been crucified on the Roman cross. He had been buried in Joseph’s new tomb. He had been raised by divine power. Unto His witnesses He had given ocular, tangible, and audible proof of His resurrection. Now, before His ascension to the Father, Jesus says, “All authority hath been given unto Me, in heaven and on earth…” (Matthew 28:18). In the great moral and spiritual realm, Jesus is supreme. In matters pertaining to religion, His word is final, and His teaching alone should be heard. Unto His authority every word, deed, and thought should be brought into captivity (II Corinthians 5:10). Unto Jesus Christ all mediatorial authority has been given. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man, Jesus Christ (I Timothy 2:5). In the Christian era, it is the privilege of every child of God to go directly and immediately to the throne of grace in the name of Jesus Christ, without the aid or assistance of a human or angelic mediator (Hebrews 4:16). Unto Jesus Christ all legislative authority has been given. Since He has all authority to legislate or make laws for God’s people, there is no such authority left for any man or group of men. “Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely
unto every good work (II Timothy 3:16-17). Biblical instruction is all sufficient as a guide in the moral and spiritual realm. Unto Jesus Christ all executive authority has been given. He is the Lord of lords, and the King of kings. He alone has the divine right to rule and to reign in the hearts and lives of the sons of men. Since the risen Christ possesses all ruling and reigning authority, there is no such authority left for any man upon the earth or any angel in heaven. Unto Jesus Christ all judicial authority has been given. “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son” (John 5:22). He alone has the divine right to sit in judgment on the souls of men and to determine their eternal destiny. Unto Jesus Christ all authority over death and Hades has been given. When the glorified Jesus Christ appeared to John on Patmos, He said unto John: “I am the first and the last, and the living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and Hades” (Revelation 1:17-18). Having “the keys of death and Hades, Jesus Christ has all authority over death and Hades. Since all authority has been given unto Jesus Christ, it is evident that no such authority is left for any man or group of men. WOT
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ATONEMENT Imagine that you grew up knowing that the law of the land in which you lived taught you that it was wrong to take someone’s life. You also knew that the penalty for taking another’s life was that your own life would then be forfeited under penalty of law. Knowing full well what the law taught, and fully understanding the penalty for committing such, you then go out and end someone’s life through cold, calculated murder. You are taken into custody by the authorities, and are made to wait in a dank, miserable cell until time for your trial. As you make your way into the court of law, you already know that you are guilty and that you must pay the penalty for your wrong-doing. Peering into the eyes of the judge, and gazing intently into the faces of the jurors, your pour out your soul, throwing yourself upon the mercy of the court. You realize that you do not deserve leniency for your transgression, but your remorse for your action causes you to long for another opportunity to show yourself a law-abiding citizen. The case against you is air-tight; you know you are doomed to lose your own life. As the judge begins to pronounce sentence against you, he pauses, and instead of condemning you under penalty of death, he offers an alternative: he will allow his son to die in your stead. In so doing, he will have met the demands of the law, while also allowing you the opportunity for a second chance. This offer of mercy is not contingent upon any good you have done, nor is the judge in any way swayed by the words you may have offered in your defense. The offer of another to take your place in order to satisfy the requirements of the law gives us some idea of what atonement is. The above scenario is extremely unlikely to occur in the courts of law throughout our land, or anywhere else in the world for that matter. However, while the illustration falls miserably short of truly describing the atoning sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross, it does give us a glimpse into the Biblical idea of atonement. Perhaps you have heard atonement described as “at-onement” with God. While the atoning blood of Jesus certainly brings about reconciliation with God, putting us at one with Him, the terms are not synonymous. It is only through an atoning sacrifice that reconciliation with God
is possible. Understand that our God is a God Who desires to show mercy (2 Corinthians 1:3), but His desire to show mercy must also be balanced with the demands of justice according to His law. He cannot merely overlook man’s sins and extend mercy without a price being paid for sins committed (Romans 11:22)! The Old Testament word translated “atonement” (or one of its cognates) is derived from the Hebrew word meaning “to cover.” It is often equated with the mercy-seat which covered the Ark of the Covenant. This is understandable, not solely based upon the idea that the words translated “atonement” and “mercy-seat” share a similar root, but mainly because that the mercy-seat was the place wherein God promised to meet His people. Upon the mercy-seat the high priest sprinkled the blood of atonement for his own sins and the sins of all the people, thereby appeasing the justice of God through the lifeblood of another (Leviticus 16:14-15; 17:11). While many indicate that this speaks of the idea of man’s sins being covered through sacrificial offerings, it is more likely that the idea of covering born out of atonement refers to the covering of God’s wrath by virtue of His justice being met. We cannot fully appreciate the grace, mercy, and longsuffering of God or the atonement of Jesus unless we also understand God’s wrath and His hatred of sin. Take note of the number of times Paul mentions the judgment of God and the wrath of God in Romans chapters two and three (2:2, 3, 5, 8; 3:6, 19). It is only when armed with this understanding of “the other side” of God’s nature that we can then contemplate the beauty and the magnitude of the vicarious suffering of Jesus upon the cross for our sins! The New Testament equivalent to the Old Testament idea of atonement is the word propitiation (Romans 3:25; I John 2:2; 4:10). What is atonement or propitiation? It is an act or offering whereby one attempts to appease the wrath of another. In regard to our spiritual condition before God, it is the offering of His Son in our stead so that His justice might be met, and so that His mercy and grace might be effectual in the lives of all who would believe and obey. Understand the difference between grace and mercy: grace is receiving that which we do not deserve, while mercy is being
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spared that which we do deserve. As we seek to better understand atonement, it behooves us to see the connection with mercy. Through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, he suffered that which we rightfully deserve (1 Peter 2:21-24)! Our desire to gratify our own lusts led us astray from God, and brought upon us the condemnation of death (James 1:13-15). But, through the offering of the blood of Jesus, there is no condemnation for all who obey him (Romans 8:1)! Condemnation, justification, propitiation—these are legal terms employed often in the book of Romans, and are tied together based upon the legislation of God’s word. Without His law, there can be no realization of sin and the penalty of death it brings upon us. Without this understanding of the nature of sin and its consequences, there is no sense of the justice and holiness of Almighty God. Without a knowledge of the demands of His justice, there can be no appreciation for the propitiation of Jesus. Without an appreciation for the atonement of Jesus, there can be no comprehension of the need for justification and reconciliation. Without seeing the need to be reconciled to God, man will continue in sin, separated from every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3) in this life, and eternally separated from God in the life hereafter (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). That the Bible talks of reconciliation speaks to the fact that we have been separated, or estranged, from God (2 Corinthians 5:18-19; Isaiah 59:1-2). When we violate God’s law (all sin goes beyond the boundaries of God’s law—1 John 3:4), then we have offended the Almighty. He is of purer eyes than to behold sin (Habakkuk 1:13). The blight of sin upon us causes God to have to avert His eyes from His own creation! God despises sin, and, therefore, requires that a penalty be paid for transgression (Romans 6:23). While our God is a loving, merciful, gracious, longsuffering God, His justice cannot go unrequited. The demands of His law must be met (Romans 3:23-25). In His desire to show mercy, God offered His own Son in our stead (John 3:16). In so doing, God showed Himself to be perfect in justice, demanding that the ultimate price be paid for sin, while at the same time showing Himself to be perfect in mercy, allowing man the opportunity to escape that which we truly deserve. How often have you stopped to fully consider the atoning sacrifice of Jesus for your sins? Here is one who did no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), yet he was made to suffer as though he were the vilest of the vile! The innocent Lamb of God (John 1:29) suffered from the foundation of the world (Hebrews 9:26), knowing that he would offer himself willingly to appease the wrath and justice of God (John 10:18)! Here is one who en-
dured the shame (Hebrews 12:2), the pain (Isaiah 53:26), and the loneliness (Matthew 27:46) of the cross so that we might escape condemnation! Not only is the blood of Jesus powerful enough to satisfy the demands of God’s justice, but it is efficacious enough that he had only to offer one sacrifice for sins forever (Hebrews 10:12)! To refuse the blood of Jesus is to invite the fullness of God’s wrath and justice in the last day. There is not a soul on earth who longs for justice in the Judgment Day; all will long for mercy. The dividing line between the wrath of God and the mercy of God is the atonement of Jesus for the sins of the world. On which side of the line will you find yourself in the last day? Christ paid the price for your sins through his death upon the cross. Will you respond to that sacrifice by obeying his will, so that his blood will continually wash over your soul, thereby covering not only your sins, but the wrath of God against you? Or will you live a life of self-service, ungrateful for the blessings found through his blood, and unwilling to apply that blood to your soul? Wrath, or mercy—the choice is yours. Jesus paid it all, so that you might be free! WOT
FREE BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE If you would like to study the Bible in the privacy of your own home and at your own pace, enroll in a free Bible correspondence course. All materials are free of charge, and you are under no obligation to continue the study. Brother Hap Johnson will be glad to get you started in study of God’s word today. Request your free study by writing to the church office at the Sixth Avenue Church of Christ, 1501 Sixth Avenue, Jasper, Alabama, 35501. You may also call us at (205) 384-6446. You may also visit us at www.sixthavenuechurch.org, and under the “resources” tab, request your free Bible study course.
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USING THE BIBLE PROPERLY Chad Ramsey, Tupelo, MS The Bible is made up of sixty-six books. Thirtynine of the books are contained in the Old Testament; twenty-seven are found in the New Testament. Importantly, the Bible claims that both the Old and New Testaments—called the Scriptures—are inspired. Making this argument, Paul wrote: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Since the word inspired literally means “Godbreathed,” Paul’s claim is that the very words contained in the Bible were chosen by the Holy Spirit of God. In other words, “…prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). The authors of the Bible wrote exactly what the Holy Spirit told them to write! With that being said, the importance of the Bible should be obvious. And in reality, its importance is recognized by many. Nevertheless, it is one thing to say that men should obey the Bible; it is another thing to correctly interpret the Bible so that obedience results. This idea of correctly interpreting the Bible is what Paul had in mind as he wrote to Timothy: “Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness” (2 Timothy 2:1416). Several facts are immediately apparent from Paul’s admonition: (1) There are some things that men argue about that are simply not profitable. Included within this category are questions about which we just aren’t certain. Where did Cain get his wife? When did God create the angels? Or why did Nicodemus come to Jesus by night? In truth, the answers to these and many other questions, though perhaps interesting, are not pertinent to the salvation of man. (2) We must diligently study the Bible in order to be approved by God. Simply being present at worship or a Bible class each week does not qualify a person to answer a religious question. It takes diligent study to learn God’s plan. If we don’t care enough to even read our Bibles daily, it is certain that our actions will not be approved by the God who gave us His word.
(3) There is a right way to divide the truth. This point is so significant that it is impossible to overemphasize. We cannot simply pick up the Bible, flip through its pages, and choose whatever passage we like. Instead, we have to read the Bible with the understanding that certain passages qualify or perhaps even alter the authority of other passages. An example of a passage that qualifies another passage is Matthew 19:9. In that context, Jesus provides one exception to God’s rule regarding marriage. The original plan intended for one man and one woman to be married for life (see Matthew 19:4 -6). The qualification of that plan is in the instance of fornication. An example of passages that alter other passages can be seen in the many New Testament assertions that the Old Law has been fulfilled. These passages show that there is a distinct difference between the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ. More specifically, they show that the Law of Moses had a purpose—to identify sin (Romans 3:20) and to prepare men for Christ (Galtians 3:23-25). Since that law was nailed to the cross with Jesus (Colossians 2:13-14), it is not feasible to claim to be a follower of Christ and a follower of the Ten Commandments. You have to choose one or the other, and the only way that you can know which one to choose is by diligently studying the Bible so that you can rightly divide the truth. (4) Profane and idle babblings must be shunned. Since critics of the Bible are everywhere, there will always be stories designed to destroy your faith. Paul’s advice to Timothy was to disregard them. Do not allow yourself to get caught up in the hysteria surrounding the “Jesus bones,” “the Gospel of Judas,” “The Da Vinci Code,” or any other fictional claim that comes along. Once you have examined the proof for the Bible’s inspiration and have seen that it sufficiently supports the idea that the Bible came from God, you can as Paul advised, “shun profane and idle babblings.” Application Unless you understand how to use the Bible, you will be powerless to answer the many misuses of it that people will make. Remember, just because someone quotes the Bible or uses it to prove their point does not mean that they did so correctly—even the devil quoted Scripture (see Matthew 4:5-7). Possessing a good understand of how to distinguish between the Old and New Testaments will enable you to answer the objections that many will raise to the truth. WOT
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GOD’S PLAN—THE ONLY PLAN OF SALVATION Tim Childs, Baldwyn, MS Before the foundation of the world was laid by the Lord, God formulated his plan for man's salvation (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20). Although his foreknowledge enabled him to know beforehand that sin would enter the world through man's failure to obey his command and though He knew the terrible consequences that would ensue, yet he wanted all of us to be recipients of his grace, mercy and forgiveness as indicated by Jesus' teaching of the Father's love in John 3:16. In short, he wanted you and me to have continual spiritual blessings, abundant life, joy of faith and close fellowship with him. He wanted us to live unto Him, bring glory to His name in walking with Him in righteousness, and live with Him throughout eternity in heaven. Since the days of Adam and Eve, Satan has worked exceedingly zealously to destroy God's work. Satan is the author of every form of disobedience, rebellion, and spiritual defection entered into by man. Further, he is the source of every disabling disease, affliction and death. Concerning Satan, also known as the devil, Jesus said, "He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it" (John 8:44 KJV). Just as he worked among ancient Israel to get them off course, and caused many of them to be destroyed due to unbelief and disobedience, he continues to work today to pervert the right ways of the Lord so you and I may also be destroyed. His messengers, whom, in number are legion, and disguised, being suited in sheep's clothing, bring different gospels, different faiths, different forms of worship, different creeds, different churches, etc. Through these men and women Satan snookers people into thinking different is good and that different, opposing doctrines promote spiritual unity. He seems to suggest that Jesus has spoken conflicting messages through forked tongue, and many of the people love to have it so. However, God foreordained a means of redeeming Adam's wayward, fallen race through the "last Adam" who came to bring life to us through his obedience (1 Corinthians 15:45; Romans 5:12-21). The gospel of grace is for all…for every man, woman and young person throughout the world; it is for every generation until our Lord comes again. The Hebrew writer pens, "And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Hebrews 5:9).
So, where do you and I fit into God’s plan? On whose side do you and I stand? Are we honoring God by receiving his only begotten Son as our Lord and Savior? Does our faith compel us to walk in the light with Him in obedient trust? Have you surrendered yourself in gospel obedience through confession of faith, repentance of sin, and the washing of regeneration through baptism into Jesus’s death? (Matthew 10:32; Luke 13:3; Titus 3:5; Romans 6:3-4). It is imperative that you and I obey the same (identical) form of doctrine that was preached by Christ's chosen apostles during the first century A.D. (Romans 6:17). To do otherwise is to build false hope of salvation through giving heed to Satan's messengers. WOT
THE SHEPHERD CAN SAVE YOU Eva Nell Brown Naramore The Shepherd is searching. Could it be for you? Answer his calling! Your soul he’ll rescue. Anxious and wandering, how far have you gone? We’ll never reach heaven, without him, alone. There’s peace in the valley for those who obey, Rejoicing in heaven when one finds the way. Safe with the Shepherd we’re so richly blessed, Where the ninety and nine so peacefully rest. Away from the Shepherd, away from the fold, Alone in the darkness, lost out in the cold, With cliffs and high mountains, there’s danger outside. Away from the shelter, there’s no place to hide. The Savior is calling to all who are lost. There’s no hope without him, so great is the cost. The Lord is our Shepherd. There’s no need to fear; When we’re safe in the shelter, he’ll always be near.
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THREATS TO UNITY Cliff Goodwin, Ironaton, AL Perhaps nothing delights Satan any more than causing division among God’s people. “He that soweth discord among brethren” is listed as one of the things God hates (cf. Prov. 6:16-19). Satan uses discord and division to undermine the faith of the weak and to diminish the church’s influence before the world (cf. John 17:21). Truly, the devil’s cause advances, and Christ’s cause loses ground, when the unity and harmony of God’s people is disrupted. Let us note two occasions in the book of Acts when the unity of God’s people was threatened. A Threat To Personal Unity It is in Acts 6:1 that one notes the first real threat to the unity of the church of Christ in Jerusalem: “And in those days, when the number of the disciples were multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.” The Greek word translated “murmuring” carries the idea of “a secret grudge or displeasure.” So often this is how the devil’s assaults on the unity of God’s people begin. The evidence suggests that the early church in Jerusalem was comprised of a significant portion of impoverished people (cf. James 2:5). The present text reveals that the needs of the widows in particular were met with a daily distribution of food. In the carrying out of this good work, however, the Grecian widows (Hellenistic Jews likely born outside of Palestine) were being overlooked—their needs were not being met as were the needs of the Hebrew widows. A couple of observations would be helpful at this juncture. First, points of contention may be either real or simply perceived. Acts 6:1-7 indicates that the Hellenistic Jews had a legitimate complaint—that is, their widows obviously were being overlooked. This is seen in the fact that the apostles acted quickly and decisively in appointing seven men to “manage” the daily distribution of benevolent help. Murmurings do not always arise, however, with regard to a real, legitimate problem. It is often the case that slights, snubs or insults are merely perceived by the complainant. Sometimes people “feel” that they have been slighted, when in actuality, that is not the case at all. One must ever be careful not to “wear his feelings on his sleeve.” Second, even when complaints are legitimate and real, it is not always the case that the wrong was intentional. With regard to this question, it does not seem
that the inspired text is definitive. Accepting that the Grecian widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution, there is still no evidence as to whether or not this was the result of an intentional, discriminatory plot. This is also a very important lesson for all to consider. When one has been truly slighted or insulted in some way, the first inclination might be to assume that the fault was perpetrated intentionally. This is a mistake! Such an assumption only serves to worsen the pain felt by the offended party and to agitate his mind in a direction that would not be spiritually beneficial. One must remember that true, Christian love, “Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things,” (1 Cor. 13:7). The benefit of the doubt should always be given to a brother or sister who has wronged another. Perhaps the wrong was intentional, but hopefully it was not. What can be learned from the first real threat to the unity of the Jerusalem church? A notable lesson would be this: problems arise involving people and personalities. The cliché is well-known, “Where there are people, there will be problems.” Everyone in the Lord’s church must understand and accept this simple fact. All people are creatures of dust (cf. Psa.103:14), and as such, are subject to inaccuracies, errors, and even sins! Realizing this, however, helps one to seek resolution and forgiveness when such problems arise. In this way, threats to unity can be avoided, pitfalls to unity can be spanned, and obstacles to unity can be overcome. A Threat To Doctrinal Unity A little later in the book of Acts and in the history of the church of Christ at Jerusalem, there is revealed another threat to the unity of Christ’s people. This time the threat does not merely involve people and personalities—it involves doctrinal error. And certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question... But there rose up certain of the sect
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of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter (Acts 15:1-6). Simply put, matters of faith matter! It does matter what one believes and practices. John wrote, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son,” (2 John 9). Christ’s people cannot be unified unless they “speak the same thing” (cf. 1 Cor. 1:10) when it comes to matters of doctrine. This lesson is clearly seen in the opening verses of Acts fifteen. There were “believers” who obviously had not given up their Pharisaic doctrine (v. 5). They would have essentially made the law of Moses an “appendix” to the law of Christ, or vice-versa! The book of Galatians makes it abundantly clear that the two laws cannot be intermingled. In the following passages, Paul admonished his brethren who had been impacted by false, Judaizing teachers. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love (Gal. 5:1-6). One would do well to note the strong verbiage used in connection with the doctrinal error confronting the Galatian congregations. Such verbiage includes “entangled” (v. 1), “Christ shall profit you nothing” (v. 2), and “ye are fallen from grace” (v. 4). Doctrinal error will not only divide the body of Christ, but it will also cause souls to be lost! This is why the apostle Paul opened the Galatian epistle with such strong language in chapter one (Gal.1:6-9). Thus, doctrinal error can and will threaten and compromise the unity of Christ’s church. When error is openly espoused in an assembly of God’s people, the potential is always there for some, if not all, of the hearers
to be deceived by that error. When this happens, division is the natural result. The faithful, who maintain and hold to the truth, are unavoidably divided from those who digress from the truth in error. Paul wrote to both of his well-known preaching protégés concerning this trait of doctrinal error. To Timothy he penned, “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith…” (1 Tim. 6:20-21). And to Titus he wrote again, “Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth” (Titus 1:14). One final passage needs to be cited and considered with regard to the disunity caused by false doctrine. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple,” (Rom. 16:17-18). When doctrines that are contrary to Christ’s doctrine are taught, divisions and stumblings (offenses) are tragically the result. As noted above, divisions inevitably follow error, for error pulls souls away from among the faithful (cf. Acts 20:29-31; 2 Peter 2:1-3). When error challenges the truth of God’s word, the faithful are often found in the position of Paul when he wrote, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” (Gal. 4:16). In other words, a stand must be taken for truth (cf. Php. 1:17; 2 Tim. 4:7; Jude 3). The seeds of error produce a harvest of division. Error would be disastrous enough if only it produced division. However, in Romans 16:17-18, Paul also mentioned the consequent occasions of stumbling (i.e. offenses). One must remember that doctrine affects duty. Sooner or later, a person is going to practice and teach what he truly believes. Christianity is not purely a theoretical religion. What is taught by God in His Word, the Bible, directly relates to how a child of God must live in everyday life. The pure, unadulterated doctrine of Christ involves innumerable implications, conclusions and consequences that directly affect a person’s life in a very practical way. Old Testament history bears out over and over again the fact that doctrinal (theological) digression inevitably leads to moral digression. This is why idolatry and immorality are found so intertwined throughout the first thirty-nine books of the Bible (such a correlation can also be seen in New Testament examples, especially that of the Corinthians, cf. 1 Cor. 6:9-11). Simply put, one cannot believe error and practice acceptable righteousness (cf. Gal. 5:7-9). WOT
ASK A BIBLE QUESTION QUESTION: I want to study and interpret just the Bible for myself. Where do I start? ANSWER: Hermeneutics is the science of interpreting the Bible. The Greek word is, "hermeneuo" which means to "interpret or to explain." Scripture can be interpreted by commands, examples and necessary inferences. Direct command is a clear directive of what is to be done. For example, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel...." is a command (Mark 16:15). Apostolic examples are accounts of things early Christians did under the direction and with the approval of the inspired Apostles. Paul, an apostle, wrote: "The things which you learned and received and heard and SAW IN ME, THESE DO..." (Phil. 4:9, emphasis mine, MNP). Necessary inferences – Sometimes the Bible states something indirectly which still leads us to an inescapable conclusion. These unstated conclusions necessarily follow when one considers all that is stated on a subject. For instance, at the baptism of Jesus, the Bible does not say that Jesus went down into the water, but it is necessarily inferred by what is said: "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water..." (Matt. 3:16 - KJV). If he went up out of the water, then he must have gone down into the water. The conclusion is inescapable. When we consider how the Bible authorizes, it enables us to approach the Bible without prejudice and preconceived ideas. We must study and interpret the Bible by saying, “I am going to look for specific statements given by God, divinely approved examples, and then draw the necessary conclusions to find out what God wants me to do.” Frequent is the case where people study anything and everything but the Bible to determine scriptural authority. I commend your desire to study JUST the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16-17). —Mark N. Posey Decatur, AL
Words of Truth November 2008